Adventure: Tinipak River Trekking and Caving

It was suppose to be a day hike when two of my co-workers invited to go. But some set backs and an hour of waiting later begged us to down step our planned adventure for the day. We didn’t want to waste our day, I mean I’ve already waited for hours for one of them! Hahaha!

Daraitan, more over, the province of Rizal is famous for its mountainous topography. This part of Luzon is often visited by adventurous mountaineers who seeks the challenges of scaling a mountain over the weekend. Its proximity to the metro is its main draw for nature lovers.

How To Get to Daraitan

Commuting to Daraitan is relatively easy. First off, you have to get your self to Tanay, Rizal. There are a couple of ways to get there. Most popular option is by taking a jeep or a van from Cubao. The other option is by taking the same mode of transportation this time from Shaw Blvd. in Mandaluyong city. From those places, both transport options will take you to the Tanay Public Market.

This is the tricky part and where having friends with you be best. From the public market you will need to take a jeep that will drop you off at Sampaloc where you will need to take a tricycle all the way to Daraitan. However, it could be a better and more convenient option to just hire a tricycle from the public market to Daraitan.

Hiring a tricycle costs 400 pesos one way. We haggled a bit with the driver and got to lower it down to 300 pesos. But once we arrived at the registration area, we actually paid him 100 pesos more on top of the original 400 pesos he was originally asking for. Nope he didn’t scam us at all. It was from our own conscience. The road leading to Daraitan is horrendous! We felt that we are short changing the driver given the incredibly bad situation of the road that his tricycle endured if we pay him just 400 pesos.

The River Experience

Arriving late in the morning and knowing that we need to leave early in the afternoon, we decided to bail out of trekking up Mt. Daraitan. But we did not go home disappointed what happened next was one of the most memorable things I’ve done with nature.

We got a proper guide (which is a requirement) to take us around for a river trekking adventure. The guide gave us a few minutes of orientation about the river and the natural park before heading out. He also gave us some equipment that we will later be using in our adventure.

Our trek started along the pebble road beside a rocky river. The boulders were incredibly big and white and the farther we walk along the trail the bigger they get. The river though was almost dry until we reach to a point where the rocks seem to merge together and become the river bed it self. Crevices allow the water to flow smoothly creating this soothing sound.

After about 30 minutes we arrived at our first stop, the Tinipak cave. Honestly I would skip this one. I didn’t like the atmospher inside as the air was a bit too heavy to breath. We also felt some entities watching us so we were very cautious. I don’t know if all of us were just naturally sensitive to those or maybe they just liked us.

Inside the cave is a pool of cool water, but since we were not feeling comfortable that time we opted to just wade on the side of the pool.

 

We told our guide about what we felt inside the cave and he denied it, of course he would. But when we bumped into another guide, we think he told him about the incident, only in codes.

The best part still of this adventure is tracing the river. We were taken to magical landscapes that I never though existed. It was like the set of a Okay ka Fairy ko (a local tv show) and that Ina Magenta would come out of nowhere.

 

 

 

We spent a couple of hours just swimming and looking at the landscape. It was very hard to move on from one spot to another as our guide suggested because we wanted to stay more. But each and every stop was just as beautiful as the last one, we didn’t want it to end.

Our quick adventure in Daraitan turned from a fail to a huge surprise. Nature really has its own ways of showing you how beautiful God’s creation is. I highly suggest you bring friends with you to split the cost of transportation. They also have camping ground perfect for over night activities. I’m sure mornings by the river will be amazing!

If you have any question or suggestion about this post, you can leave on the comment section below!

Travel Guide: Guam

Guam is an island territory off the Pacific, four hours flight from the Philippine’s capital. Similarly colonized by the Spanish conquistadors and still under the American federal government Guam shares a lot more cultural similarities that we thought we knew.  The island is popular for Japanese and Korean tourist who you’d mostly find at the shopping areas such as the Guam Premier Outlest and the hotel lane which is dotted with good stores to shop at.

Prepping for a trip to the island can be intimidating as not a lot information on how enjoy the island backpacking style is available. So on a recent trip I tried my best to find the best way to enjoy the island without spending so much.

Visa Requirements

Being a teritory of the United States of America, Guam requires you to have a US Visa. There are no special visas for Guam so you still have to go through the usual US Visa application.

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Getting There

Most of the time Cebu Pacific Airlines offers the cheapest fares from Manila. Yes most of the time specially when they are on sale (got mine for $52 RT) just make sure you don’t book your hotels right away or book rooms that are re-bookable in case one of the airlines “Flight Realignment” issues happens again. Other airlines that fly from Manila to the island are Philippine Airlines and United Airlines.

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Accommodation

Accommodation in Guam mostly consist of Hotels and Resorts leaning towards the higher end of the market. I guess it is safe to say that Guam is not backpacker friendly but it does not mean that it is not doable. If you are willing to spend more than than your usual trips you may want to look for accommodation around the Tamon Bay area where you can easily access the beautiful Tamon Beach. This area is also the best places to stay for shopping.

 

If you are still not willing to let go of your backpacking principles (lol) the best way to get around the high prices is through Airbnb. You can snag a room, condo or apartment for about $30-$60 a night that you can split if there’s two of you. Make sure to stay near one of the Lamlam bus stop so that getting around the area wouldn’t be an issue if you aren’t driving. Just be sure that you are ready for emergency money that you can spend incase anything happens to your reserved room just like what happened to me. (will post an airbnb review later). Some of the destinations are walk-able (1-2kms) but the heat may be a challenge so just be ready with umbrellas, Guam roads aren’t fans of sidewalks so you might find your self walking on unpaved road sides.

Transportation

Best Option: Car rental – rent a car for just $20-$25 a day. Gas cost around $3-$4 a gallon which is enough for you to go around the entire island at least four times! Just bring your drivers license and you can drive for a maximum of thirty days while in the territory.

For non-drivers here’s how you can get around the island.

Lamlam Bus Service

Lamlam seems to be Guam’s de facto public bus service. The bus service is operated by Lamlam tours company and has several routes around the main area of the island with most of them terminating at Micronesia Mall and Guam Premier Outlets (GPO).  One way single use tickets costs $4 per way while day passes starts at $12 for one day, $15 for 2 days, $25 for 5 days while child pass costs $13. They also have special buses that will get you to special points of interests such as Two Lovers Point and Chamorro Village among others.

If you are trying to get out of the airport, they also have an airport shuttle that will take you to T-Galleria Mall in the downtown are. Bus service usually starts by 10 AM.

Taxi

From the airport taxi service (meter) will cost you about $25 for the entire 2.8 miles (5kms) journey. Expensive yet somewhat convenient except when you are in area where there are no taxi waiting area. See, taxis do not go around and pickup passengers. Most of the time they are stationary in an establishment with a kiosk where you can book their service.

Stroll & LamCar

There’s no Uber, Grab or Lyft in Guam. Instead they have Stroll. Similar to other ride hailing apps Stroll will provide you the estimated price and pick you up from your location. The only set back for this is that there are not a lot of Stroll cars around the island so it may take a while before you can actually hail one. However, it may be worth the wait compared to taxis as the price per mile are way cheaper.

Another option is the LamCar, similar to Stroll this app also helps you to hail one of the Lamlam tour company’s

Food 

There are lots of great food options in Guam. From food courts, restaurants, diners and of course there are fast food options as well. Pricing though does not differ whether it is fast food or a mom-and-pop food store, only the specialty restaurants actually border on the “pricey” end of the spectrum.

To give context to how much you will be spending and should be allotting for your food budget, here are the actual prices I paid for.

Mc Donalds
……….Big Mac Meal ………..$7.90
……….Big Mac (Sandwich only) ………..$5.00

Denny’s 
……….Grilled Chicken Breast with Mash Potato and Brocolli………..$8
……….Hamburger Gravy Bowl………..$8.00
……….Unlimited Hot Choco………..$3.60

Note: Denny’s have breakfast options for as low as $2 some if the servings are big specially those with rice like the Hamburger Gravy Bowl I had to put them on take-away bags so I can finish them later, so maybe you can just share.

Cinnabon (Classic)………..$3.99

Infusion Coffee and Tea Shop
……….Shangri-La Iced Tea………..$2.50
……….Chicken Pesto Pasta………..$2.00

Figaro
……….Java Chip Coffee………..$5.74

If  you are traveling in a group better cook your selves food it’ll be cheaper!

Activities

Shopping

Guam Premier Outlets
Micronesia Mall
Downtown Shopping Lane (Hotel road)

Guam Ocean Venture

Chamorro Village

Watch Las Vegas Style Magic Shows

Beaches

Tumon Beach
Gab Gab Beach
Gun Beach

Food Trips

Guam National Museum

War In The Pacific Nat’l Historical Park

Asan Bay Overlook

Guam Legislative Building

Dulce Nobre de Maria Cathedral

Two Lovers Point

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Crystal Chapel

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Though honestly, the best thing still to do in Guam is to shop. However, there are still a lot of things to do in the island that you don’t have to spend so much. But then again if you see the prices in the outlet stores and duty free shops you would definitely panic and your card may get overloaded. I am not even exaggerating. My favorite store still and probably will always will is Ross, thought it was tough to find something for my size, that store still my heart (yeah we got a long history way back 2006 hahaha).

Nevertheless if shopping is not your thing, the Chamorros are one of the jolliest people I’ve ever met, you’ll have a great time around them for sure! Best to bring a friend or two with you to split the cost of your Airbnb, car rental and gas. Lastly stop converting to your local currency! hahaha! yes let lose for a moment when in Guam and you’ll surely enjoy your stay. Haf Adai!

Batanes Itinerary And Travel Guide

Batanes still remains one of if not the most dreamed of destination in the country. The northern most province of the Philippines, Batanes’ next door neighbor is already Taiwan. For years Batanes has been far from an average person’s reach, not just beacause of its distance but because of the amount involved just to get there. However, over the past couple of years Batanes has become a bit more affordable. From the usual 16,000 – 20,000 peso airfares before, airlines now offer deals aroudn 3,000 pesos and sometimes even cheaper. Now that we have an opportunity to explore Batanes, let’s go and check out what are the things we can do in this beautiful Island with this simeple Batanes Itinerary

Getting There

There are two airlines that fly from Manila and one Tuguegarao namely, Philippine Airlines, Skyjet and SkyPasada. Fly time is about 1.25 Hrs from Manila.

Batanes Itinerary

Transportation

Getting Around Basco, Sabtang and Itbayat (The three major islands of the province) can be challenging. There are/is a jeep that goes around Basco at certain times mainly to transport people from the town to the pier. Be sure to ask your hotel/inn/homestay staff about the schedule so you wont miss it. I was told during my stay that I should catch it at the town exit at around 6:30 AM but it came around 7nish. Other than that you’d either have to walk, rent a bike or a motorbike to go around. I rented a bicycle to roam around the island on my own instead of joining tours. You’d have to really adventurous though if you want to go that way. The roads are challenging to pedal as most of them are up hill and you be on the road as darkness falls. There rarely are street lights in the outskirts of Basco.

 

Where To Stay

Contrary to common beliefs, accommodation in Batanes is affordable. You can find home stays, inns and hometels in Basco for your home base. I for example stayed in Time Travel Lodge for just about 500 pesos a night (this was back in 2014 – please check with the property for current rates). The property was near the airport, which is good in a way. However, it becomes a challenge if you frequent the town center where most of the activities are. See Basco lies on a slope, with the Airport at the top of the hill and the pier on the other end. See what I mean? But if it hills dosn’t bother you, say your like from SanFo that shouldn’t be an issue. If you can get a room some where near the pier, the better.

Batanes Itinerary

Where To Eat 

There are a few restaurants that we tried a few that we can recommend are Pension Ivatan for their Ivatan Platter so that you can try all Ivatan food that you can! There’s also Shanedel’s serving standard menus like continiental breakfast and tapsis. One must try though in Batanes are its lobsters and Coconut Crabs. Coconut crabs can be a bit on the expensive side because it is hard to find in the forests, but lobsters here are the cheapest that you can find.

Batanes Itinerary

What To Do

Top 2 things to do in Batanes are sight seeing and food trippin’. I think we covered the later earlier so let’s check out what is there to see in Batanes.

Like I mentioned, Batanes is composed of three main islands; Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat. The most convenient way to see everything is by booking a tour with tour companies like BISUMI. Last time I check they are offering a 5,000 peso tour for three days covering both islands inclusive of food and fees!

I on the other hand opted to bring a map and bike! the bike cost me about 200-300 pesos for the entire day and a gazillion calories! That made me soooo happy! hahahaha~!

I don’t have much words to describe Batanes so heeeere’s some scenery porn… ugh… that doesn’t sound right… hahaha

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

Batanes Itinerary

 

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

 

Batanes Itinerary

Honestly I dont think that gave Batanes any justice. You.Just.Have.To.See.It.Yourself.

Itinerary

The Batanes itinerary should be fairly easy.

Day 1: Arrive, rent bike or join tour, Ivatan feast at Pension Ivatan

Day 2 South Batan Tour, Casa Napoli (Dinner)

Day 3 Sabtang Tour, Shanedels (Dinner)

Day 4 Depart Batanes

>>> Download Detailed Itinerary<<<

Note that you can extend your stay in Batanes and that you don’t have to do everything to quick. See Batanes is more than a sight seeing destination. You need to immerse and feel how peaceful and different this place it from the rest of the country. Not just with geography but with its people. You can also go father and break your limits by going to Itbayat, the farthest of all livable islands. It will take you about four to five hours of travel via Falowa through the rough open waters of the Pacific Ocean.