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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Surigao del Sur: Three Philippine Gems Unlocked!

So we've just finished another #WonderfulMindanao trip! This time, we went out exploring a couple more hidden Philippine gems around Surigao del Sur.

Surigao del Sur is a province in the Philippines located along the northeastern coast of Mindanao facing the Pacific Ocean. It is home to the famous Enchanted River (Hinatuan River)—a river so mysterious, no one knows how deep it is, Tinuy-an Falls—tagged as the "Little Niagara of the Philippines", and Britania Group of Islands—a group of islets that boasts powdery white sand and beautiful sand bars.

If you plan on doing the same trip, which I strongly suggest you do, you may check out our detailed itinerary at the end of this post.

Britania Group of Islands

I have never imagined white sands, peaceful beaches, and a relaxing swim under the sun when I said yes to this trip. Who would have thought Surigao del Sur has this piece of paradise, most people only think they'll find in Boracay or Palawan?

Britania Group of Islands in San Agustin boasts of 24 beautiful islets scattered all throughout the island complex as if some nature fairy landscaped it. And yes, these islands are surrounded by creamy white sands!

Enchanted River

Located at the town of Hinatuan is a majestic river that attracts tourists from all over, not only because of its breath-taking beauty that will leave you speechless, but also of some unexplained mysteries. Aside from the fact that no diver has ever reached the bottom of the Enchanted River, nobody has ever caught a fish in this river even though the schools of huge and fat fish you see swimming around look calm and gentle. Enchanted indeed!

Tinuy-an Falls

Another popular tourist destination in Surigao del Sur lies at the town of Bislig. Tinuy-an Falls, known as the "Niagara Falls" of the Philippines, is a 4-level white water curtain about 55 meters high. It holds the record as the widest waterfalls in the Philippines.

More photos here. Or follow me on Instagram @enjayneer for real-time travel updates. :)

Detailed Itinerary:

Surigao Trip: November 8 – November 11, 2014

November 8: Saturday (Manila – Butuan) – NAIA Terminal 3
Departure: 12:00 PM Arrival: 1:30 PM
November 11: Tuesday (Butuan – Manila) – Bancasi Airport
Departure: 3:30 PM Arrival: 4:55 PM

Day 0 - November 8
Manila – Butuan – 12:00 PM
ETA Butuan Bancasi Airport – 1:30 PM
ETD Van to San Agustin (McArthur’s Place) – 2:30 PM
ETA McArthurs Place – 6:30 PM
Free time
Lights Out

Day 1 - November 9
Breakfast - Free
Britania Group of Islands Tour Whole Day
Free time
Lights Out

Day 2 - November 10
Breakfast - Free
Enchanted River & Tinuy-an Falls
International Doll Museum 
Lunch - Ocean View Park Restaurant 
ETA – McArthurs Place - 8:30 PM

Day 3 - November 11
Breakfast - Free
Back to Manila

ESTIMATED BUDGET FOR 8 PAX: Exclusive of Lunch, Dinner, & Entrance Fees etc.
P15,000 – Van Rental to all Tours
P2,000 – 1st night accommodation with breakfast
P1,500 – Boat rental with tour
P2,000 – 2nd night accommodation with breakfast
P2,000 – 3rd night accommodation with breakfast

Total: P22,500 / 8 = P2,812.50 each

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Conquering Mount Pinatubo

It was love at first sight yet again! I don't mind trekking for hours on a rocky terrain to get a sight of paradise! I will never get tired. Not at this age! :)

We left Manila at around 3am via a public bus in Cubao. By 6am we're already in Tarlac. From Tarlac bus terminal, we had to travel by tricycle (Philippine tuktuk) for another 1.5 hours more to the local tourism office where we had to pay the fees. From there we start the 4x4 ride to the crater lake, which takes approximately 1-2 hours.

The 4x4 jeep can only accommodate us up to a certain point because as you get near the crater, the rocks and boulders get huge, and the only way to go about these is by trekking. It was around 8am when we started walking - it's still cold, the sun has just started showing up, so walking was not much of a hassle. Actually, you'd enjoy taking selfies and groupies because of the majestic views of the skies and huge rock walls in your background.

By 10am, we're already at this camp with nipa huts where you can rest and refresh for a while, have snacks, or take a short nap. It would tale about 20 minutes more to get to the world-renowned volcano crater. The excitement intensifies!!

20 minutes later...

My jaw droppped, LITERALLY when I saw the view...

Another love at first sight moment! I finally got to see THE majestic Mount Pinatubo crater lake, in the flesh! It was surreal and heart-stopping.

After a lot of picture taking and sight-seeing, we cooked our lunch, ate, a few more photo shoots, and started our descent. We stayed at the crater for about 2 hours. That's more than enough to appreciate the beauty of what was once a fierce peak.

By 5pm, we're back at the tourism office. And if you're wondering if there are rest rooms around, yes, there are locals offering rest rooms/shower rooms for a fee.

At the end of the day, everything was all worth it.

Traveling is therapeutic. It teaches you the basic values of life - patience, courage, value for relationship/friendship, love for the environment; that as you travel and explore the four corners of our earth, you get to appreciate life, even the smallest things. Something you will never pick up if you keep locking yourself at your comfort zone.

Just go ahead. You will never know what could be on the other side. :)

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Talk soon!
- Jaypee