Over the weekend, I had a really fun, active and amazing beach camping trip with fellow CouchSurfers and friends at Grande Island in Pagbilao, Quezon. We played Frisbeach (frisbee at the beach), Tug of War and Takeshi bang bang! Add drinking brandy under the stars, eating smores and Banana de Hanne (chocolate-stuffed char-grilled bananas), playing with magical luminous planktons, and the pleasure of CouchSurfers’ company — yep, an awesome 27th Frisbeach Weekend indeed! Home to the so-called Puting Buhangin (translation: white sand), the Grande Island also has the Kwebang Lampas as it’s main attraction. Kweba means “cave” and Lampas (with the meaning earlier debated in the group) in this case means “through” — you can enter the cave from the main beach on one end and then come out on the other end of the beach. We only went to the cave at low tide so no swimming through for us! We were so enamored (big word! haha) with the beauty of Puting Buhangin –sand so white, sky so blue and water so clear — that we only checked out Kwebang Lampas the morning before we departed!
How to get there: The area where we stayed is not the easiest to reach, especially on public transport. We left the Jam Bus Terminal in Buendia at about 3am (fare P210), arrived at Lucena Grand Terminal at about 7am, had breakfast and then got on a rented jeepney to Pagbilao to do our supplies shopping. From there, we proceeded to Brgy, Ibabang Polo (fare if total commute: P20 (?) to Pagbilao, P35, for Ibabang Polo and 50-100 for tricycle) as our final land transport stop. Towards the end of the Pagbilao Power Station, a coal-fired thermal power plant, we took a short banca (outrigger boat) ride to Grande Island (P185, including camping fee). From this point, and carrying all the supplies, the 18 weekend campers set on foot for about 10 minutes (seemed like forever!) navigating through some kind of forest trail. It was almost 10 or later I think when we finally reached the “entrance gate” of Grande Island. Give or take our stops, that’s about 5-6 hours of travel! But again, the charm and pull of Puting Buhangin and Kwebang Lampas more than compensated for it!
Located at Land’s End in Bandra, this area kissing Mahim Bay and overlooking the Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a favorite spot among young Mumbaikaars, families and tourists. Further from the rocky shore, it was really fun playing with the strong waves of Mahim Bay, praying that we don’t get washed away! (ah, memories!) At the end of the kilometer-long Bandstand Promenade, you will find Bandra Fort (also known as Castella de Aguada or Fort of the Waterpoint). While the remains of the castle/fort no longer serves the purpose it was built for by the Portuguese before, it still serves as a viewpoint for the entire Mahim Bay and the Arabian Sea. From here, you can see the towering glory of the 5.6km-long Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Constructed to ease traffic congestion, the Rajiv Gandhi Sea Link (official name) connects Bandra in the Western Suburbs and Worli in South Mumbai.
Surfing is an adrenaline-filled water sport that is increasingly becoming popular among Filipinos, not just for adventure- and thrill-seekers but also for families wanting to try something new and exciting. I never thought I’ll ever be able to go surfing because a) I didn’t realize we have it here; b) I always thought it’s expensive and c) well, I was never sure if I’ll ever be able to stand on my board and look cool like everyone on TV!
I like sunsets a lot and while I find sunrises equally magnificent, there were just a few times when I was able to summon willpower to wake up that early, and the chance to see the dolphins of Bohol Sea was one. Twas back in early 2011 when, with a group of friends, we woke up before dawn and set sail to cruise the Bohol Sea and search for one of nature’s darling creatures in their natural habitat. From Alona Beach in Panglao island, it took a while before we reached the dolphins but it was a rather smooth sailing journey (perhaps coz weather in that time of year was [used to be] quite cooperative. The breaking dawn (sans vampires) and watching the dolphins (though they weren’t all jumping/flying up and down) of Bohol Sea followed by a Balicasag Island snorkeling was indeed worth the early morning wake up call!
In my desperate attempt for a weekend escape from all the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila, I turned to newly-found and not-yet-met CouchSurfing friends and folks to go surfing at Zambales!
But of course, backtrack a little bit: most of us got bottomless on tequilas and hit the dance floor first (Payback Friday mode at Agave and 7th High) before hitting the beach! Special thanks to Jen for organizing, Craig for keeping our bags at his pad, and Abby for the magic password for Guest List at 7th high!