Tag Archives: photoholics

Dustland Fairytale – MuiNe

High Road to Mui Ne

Last Minutes in Hoi An

I  went back to the hostel 30mins before the scheduled bus pick-up time so i can take a shower and share one more round of beer with my swedish triad crew Peter, Jakob and Max. only to find out that the bus was ready to go, ahead of time. i asked if i can pull a 3minute quick shower( its a looong 12-hour bus ride i wanted to be fresh, clean and comfortable the least,ok don’t judge me if my idea of fresh and clean is a 3minute shower). but the driver said NO, we have to go.

so, with sweat from whole day of biking under the sun and some salt particles left on my hair/skin from swimming in the beach, i grabbed my backpack and hopped into the sleeper bus.

its time to leave the swedish triad in Hoi An and head to the Dustland Fairytale that is Mui Ne. at 6pm, we hit the road.
***
High-Fiving with new buds

in the bus i met Maggie & Adrian and Manfred- the german franks and the spanish bread meet pinoy pandesal.

the scenery in the bus window was totally changed. it looked like a different country altogether. from the thick forest mountains of Dalat to the dry deserted dunes of Phan Tiet. from the nippy chill to humid, warm atmosphere.

i am in sheer amazement of how varied Vietnam’s topography. theres just no two place(at least to where I’ve been)similar landscape-wise. Sapa is mountainous and all but not a tad similar to Dalat.

sun was up. mid day. the thousands of pine trees that divides the highway and the beach were motionless. no wind from the sea. tall pine trees were as still as a lampost.

bus was at least faster than the ones i took in Northern Vietnam. but of course it was still slow when it comes to Negros’ Ceres bus lines standards.

***
High-Rolling in Mui Ne

How does Lacoste for Dinner sounds like? high-rolling, eh?
i know its hard to picture that. me and high rolling just can not belong to one sentence. but this is a fairytale.

our accommodation was a PRIVATE room. on the topmost floor, make that a penthouse.
and…
and…
we had Lacoste for late-dinner.
posers wear that….us, it was our entree for dinner that night.
juicy and tender. soft to the bite.
almost-melt-in-your-mouth
so unreptile-ish of it.

maybe, its the wagyu of the crocodile world. now thats high-rolling, right?

after dinner, we headed to this bar to taste its premium offering which happened to be a draft beer; San Miguel. the place was neat, a sports bar by the beach. it was a pleasant surprise to learn that they serve San Miguel. and it was the priciest among their beers. which my latino friend insisted that it is a spanish import. he was so damn sure about it that even me who grew up on this beer made me harbour second-thoughts(thanks to google, i, now, know it is a Philipine brand).

***
High-Balling in Mui Ne

we rented motorcycles to better explore this vast deserted plain.

a hearty serving of Pho was obligatory before we headed out. so a healthy, filling and cheap at 20k dongs was the best way that kickstarted our long day of dustland adventure.

the Fishing Village harbor is along Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street or Ham Dien; which is pretty much the highway where all the happenings in town..errr.. happens. Its a long stretch where the hostels & hotels and bars are located. It is on the northern part of Mui Ne bay.  it was dotted with hundreds of traditional colourful wood vessels which were moored at the bay. it was a splendid view. it reminded me of old quaint european fishing villages( as per Game of Thrones)- very picturesque.

it was a hot-bike-ride(literally) going to the white dunes. its a little far from the town center.  but the roads were well-paved and the view was scenic. the endless sand banks on the left and the infinite sea on the right.


we had so much fun running around and tripping down foolishly in the dunes. we were like hansels and gretel left in the house of sweets, fun. the sweltering heat was only noticed when our skins started to turn as red as the Vietnam flag. the view of the sea from afar was equally stunning.

tumbling down the dunes

we made several stops on our way back to Ham Dien. rock island. fairy stream, red dunes etc.

at night, we capped off the day’s oppressive heat with cool big slices of watermelon, the best watermelon. it was refreshing. nights were usually spent on the sports bar by the beach over beers and billiard games.

***
High-Flying in Mui Ne

Mui Ne is the watersports capital of Vietnam. para-sailing and windsurfing can be a wise alternative when the sun rays get really harsh for biking to the dunes.

there is nothing extra-ordinary about the beach but it does the trick. on a blue-skyed day when roaming around and playing watersports become too hot(literally) to handle; grabbing a good book and a cold beer on the beach can be a delightful option.

***
Dustland Fairytale

these famed dunes and harbor are dreamy and stunning. they make striking subjects for photographs. I’m sure even non-photography enthusiasts would admire the lovely landscapes and seascapes.

in this fairytale, there is also a witch. the witch was the girl in Hoi An who sold us bus tickets for HoiAn-NhaTrang & MuiNe-Saigon(HoChiMinh). we paid for sleeper bus rates but she tricked us by issuing ordinary bus tickets as per advised by the booking office in Mui Ne. information on the tickets were in Vietnamese. we were subjected for extra dongs to upgrade for sleeper. witch bitch.

and just like any fairytale, theres a prince -charming and thats me( lol).

sharing the adventure with these nomads made the this trip more fun. as the maxim goes: we all start as strangers. later on the trip, me and the spanish bread travelled south to Saigon then east to ChauDoc etc etc then Bangkok. til he eventually visited Manila. the german franks still keep in touch.
this dustland story and just like all the other fairytales, it ended up with a happily-ever-after.

*dustland fairytale is a song from The Killers. fave band.

Advertisements

backpacking.Mindanao

the story started with a free ticket, a fake ID, and one poor, adventure”ful” ass. yes, thats mine me.

i never intended to visit this side of Mindanao. eastern side.

plainly because its the favorite setting of news men when reporting on kidnappings and bombings. and as much as i would want to appear on tv or newspaper, well, certainly,  not on these circumstances.

but, during one stormy afternoon. Nic of www.pinoyontheroad.com gave away his round-trip ticket to Zamboanga. and being the happy-go-lucky cheapskate, adventure”ful” ass that i am. i said yes, even before my brain comprehended what it entailed. you know, like, actually, going to this side of Mindanao and be, physically, in those backdrops  i only see on Tv Patrol.

since i am not fully knowledgeable about the geography of  this part of the country, i googled some maps and to my surprise horror, Zamboanga city is apparently 1 centimeter away from Basilan, an inch away from Jolo etc etc.

scared? terrified.

i kept this trip a secret since i do not want anyone to worry about my travel stupidity. you know, incase, there are, actually, people who feel that way.

all i said at home was i’m going out for a shoot and hike in Bicol. and that i’l be gone for a few days.

the day before the travel, my stupidity, apparently, started to kick in(mala “Liu Kang’s flying kick). and it did scare the hell out of me.

after all, it is the first time i am travelling with a different name and a fake ID to a place i had only seen glimpses of during 2-minute-Newsflashes or excerpts from TV Patrol or sometimes on a front page of a newspaper. not very enticing, right?

but i knew that if i let this opportunity pass by, i will never be able to get myself there, ever.

and since i love giving myself a good scare, at times. i single-handedly braved this trip.

i had two options Zamboanga-Basilan-Tawi tawi and Basilan-Zamboanga-north-west-south Mindanao. i followed the latter.

so how did it go, you say? well, i am back in Manila and still alive, obviously, so thats good news… right? oh yeah, of course it is. =)

few highlights:

-the airport scene that played in my head prior to my flight wherein some suspicious men with shades and sahal would follow me and my every move until finally cornering me outside the airport in Zamboanga didnt actually happened. buang.

-was able to fly with a different name and a fake ID. i dont advise this though =)

-zamboanga is the sh*t. i would walk in the streets back to my hostel past midnight, drunk, its safe.

-even my new-found friends in Zamboanga got scared to go with me in Malamawi in Basilan.

-Merloquet falls is charming. Malamawi is the best beach in the south( but thats just me). Tinuy-an Falls looks better in photos(opinion ko lang din yan). Had a good swim in Hinatuan enchanted river. failed to get awed by Glan… for the second time.

-dont camp by the beach when a storm is brewing.

-Greenwindows dormitel in Davao is the best backpack accomodation in the PI( wasnt paid to say that, but if you guys are reading this, i wouldnt mind a free sleep next time.) affordable at 188. its clean. safe. airconditioned. =)

-buses in western Mindanao are better than those on the eastern side.

-10,000pesos is enough to circumnavigate the main island of Mindanao( ala true blue explorer.lol)

-satti is delicious. and so is knickerbucker.

-slept in a bus for several nights to save on accomodation. sayang. pangBeer din yon. lol

-things will not always go smoothly. there will always be that one stranger who will fukc things up.

-if you want friends, first, be a friend.

-i dream of time when people would go to Mindanao without hesitance, just pure excitement.

Braving.Babuyan


one photo
was all it needed to send me backpacking in one of the more neglected(tourism-wise) island in the country.

*thanks to eazy traveler for showing
***
Of Angels and Baboys

i was coming from Kalinga and my friend Angelika( haha, Lek) from Manila, we decided to meet up in the coastal town of Claveria(our jump-off to Calayan Island, Babuyan) around 5am the next day. btw, online data about the island are scarce and inaccurate( parang yon kampo lang ni Claudine Baretto sa latest NAIA mishap).

plan was to catch the last trip of vans from Tabuk(Kalinga) to Tuguegarao, Cagayan 5:30pm. but, then, i missed it by a few minutes( very typical of me,lol). i had no choice but to rush to the next terminal and hope that one passenger is tumatae pa just so i could catch the trip. called my dad, hopped in his motorcycle, then we speeded up to the van terminal in the next (mini)town.

the adrenaline of backpacking, the excitement of being on the road, ooohlala, was ignited again. felt my backpacking mojo was back alive and kicking. sweeet.

reached Tuguegarao after 45mins.  then i took the last bus trip that passes by Claveria, 7:30pm J&Wbus,  and and just hoped that there are 24/7 burger joints or eateries in Claveria where i could wait til morning for Lek and the boat.

***
Of Dogs and Baboys

the bus dropped me off on the national hi-way in Claveria. the street was poorly lit and dark. and at 11pm, its empty. no people in plain sight. its a 10-minute walk to the town center. but those 10fukcin minutes were long and scary and doggy.lol. the minute i started walking, which i did as discreet as possible as not to attract any unwanted attention, the dogs on the first house started barking… or should i say howling. it was loud enough to awake all the ten thousand barking animals of the town. they swarmed the street. i walked with caution as those furry creatures were following and trailing behind close enough to bite my ass, if not only for my karate stance.

i arrived in the sleepy town center safely( karate stance was believable at least for the dogs).

things continued to go against my luck. all the town’s establishments were closed, not a single convenient store or burger joint.

i chanced upon the solely awake soul, the security guard of a pawnshop. last resort was to strike a conversation with manong guard and stretch it til dawn, so strike and stretch i did. i half listened to guards litanies about his boss whom he suspects has a thing on him( pero 9yrs na siya dun at la pa din nangyayari, labo lang).

after 11 times of him repeating the same story,( i had to be nice, and being nice takes a lot of effort on my case, i wasnt born nice i guess. lol)  he let go of the 12th time and offered his bench for a sit and nap. since its a small bench, even too small for him to lay down, i declined and used my old malong instead and laid down on the concrete tiled floor. malong was too thin for the cool ocean breeze and the cold cement floor. i curled up, cold and hungry, and hoped for time to tick fast. ahhh backpacking.

***
of Majinbo and Baboys

i, 10 pandesals & 2 ensaymadas went to the fish landing at 5am and by 6am leck arrived. we bonded with other 2 waiting passengers by sheer absence of other options. lol. there was the curvy mom with two kids and majinbo. majinbo was on the phone 7 of the 6hours we waited. she just cant take away the phone from her, then, red and swelled ear =) . she phoned gaudily her family( every single one of them: nico, alex, mama, papa, kuya boy, tita baby, ton ton, tan tan, tin tin, ten ten etc) and asked them every 30 mins if they had eaten. just by listening( she was loud and we had no choice) to her calls, we already mapped out her entire family tree up to their 11th generation. lol.

and as if sleeping outside of a bank on a cold night and listening to majinbo wasnt bad enough, things worsened. no boat was leaving for the island that day. wow.

***
Of Boats and Baboys

we returned to the fish landing the following morning. at 5:00am, the curvy mom and majinbo were already there, plus some new peeps including the two anorexic pretty nurses on the waiting line. every one was ready and eager for the cruise except for the boat’s motor whose paddle was missing.

after some 30mins and majinbo dashing to the convenient store on the last minute for pic-nic foods, we were ready to sail. Its a small boat that has 3 noticeable passenger seats. i asked the boatman if me and lek could still tag along since majinbo, curvy mom and one of curvy mom’s daughter already occupied the 3 apparent seats. he said yes.

then after some more minutes… on the humble boat, there we were all 14 adults, 2 children, 1 bicycle, 19 bags and 3 roosters; jam-packed. thats a lot for a small boat eh? obviously, theres no room for say… another 16 life-jackets( i heard Babuyan with his evil life at this time, ride at your own risk he chuckled)

backing out was never an option. there were many things i sacrificed and heading back home was just not acceptable.

16 unsecured souls, 1 humble boat and 1 vast Babuyan channel. wow. i know i am not the best tourist, as im a cheap backpacker, and no stash of money can Babuyan squeezed out of me( but, Babuyan, really? youre not being friendly, your acting like a pig. hmmmp)

in fairness to Babuyan, it was a warm welcome. i mean, on a boat, no vest, Babuyan channel, of course, i sweated profusely.

since i was life-jacketless, i made sure i had a firm grip on the stern the whole 7hours while our boat shuffled through the Babuyan Channel( supposedly 4hour ride, if not for one of the boats motor breaking down)

plus, the Cagayan sun was scorching that day( just like any other day really).  the sun was ruthless, and to make matters worst, our boat was roofless. we were like fishes getting all dried up. dang. danggit.

***
Of Baboys and Ooohs and Aaahs

we conquered Babuyan channel and reached Calayan island past 3pm.

then, tables turned, the island paid back all the horrors(kababuyan).  and left us gaping in awe for the rest of our days in the island. just look at this

Sibang Cove

and this…

Nagudungan Hill

*will post all the pictures and stories of our Babuyan trip next
fin~

***

Babuyan 101
its only Batanes thats being mentioned when people would speak of northern Luzon islands. i, myself, admit know next to nothing about it prior to my visit. well, actually that is aside from the assumption of the abundance of baboys(pig) in the island( i mean… uhm. right?)

Babuyan Islands is consist of five outlying islands namely Fuga, Dalupiri, Camiguin, Babuyan Claro and Calayan. Excluding Fuga, the four islands comprise the municipality of Calayan(Fuga is part of Aparri; a town in mainland Cagayan) and Calayan island serves as the capital.

van Tabuk(Kalinga)-Tuguegarao: 80pesos
bus Tuguegarao-Claveria: 210pesos
other jump-off points to Calayan, Babuyan Island: Sta. Ana, Aparri
Claveria takes the shortest boat-ride time at 4-5hrs, fare at 500
*there are no definite boat schedules. all depends on weather, the sea, passengers and gin blue
spend the night in Agri-Base in Claveria; 75/person/night. 150/person/night if room with tv.

Food. Paradise. Penang


after a few bottles of Tiger, i bade goodbye to M.Y. girls jm and bel.. and bob marley who had been plastered smiling at us through out our drinking session in Reggae bar in chinatown that night.

it was still an hour before my trip when i arrived in the terminal. i must say its really neat for a bus terminal complete with mirrored walls and comfy couches. Plus liner; 30 RM( Malaysian Ringgit; 13Rm=1US$),Penang bound, 11:59pm. a quick 3-hour-plus ride since freeway is pretty much free during this dead hours of the night.

hopped into the bus. intently eager to leave Kuala Lumpur and all that unfortune done deal with the hindu.

now, a couple of bucks less on my budget;
holds no more ids aside from my passport;
and no more safety net as all my cards were now lost and  left in kuala lumpur( somewhere there) together with my sanity and security. just some of the things that bugged my mind during transit.

onward i braved my backpacking trip carrying a lighter pocket and a heavy heart( damn i did really lost that fukcin wallet.) phew.

i arrived in Sungai Nibong bus terminal past 3am. taxis fixed rate at 20fukcinRM. haggled with the driverSS. i told my story me-then-walletless but damn they just coudnt be shaken. i gave up and let go of the ringgits. the cab dropped me off in Bukit Jambul, the couch i was crashing for that leg of my trip is sree’s- my fukced up indian boy.
my broken hearted indian boy do keep a decent stash of liqours and cigs. a couple of shots of vodka before i hit the sack.

first on my itinerary was to hit the beach. Batu Ferringghi is one of the better beaches on this side of Malaysia; Georgetown. from B.Jambul i took a bus to Komtar( georgetown central terminal) then hopped on a bus 102, 2rms, to B.Ferringghi. bus charges normally range from 1rm to 3m. its cheap to move around.

its a nice beach but not spectacular. fine sands but not pristine. the beach caters more for water sports than lounging around. i suspected watersports cost cheaper here( just a hunch since there are lots of people doing it… and its not that those people didnt appeal to me as affluent or something, just saying =)

since its a muslim country, its very conservative as evident on the beach sans babes in bikinis. what?.  yes, its missing the best accessories/ornaments to beaches.

a beach without babes in bikinis, i mean, is no beach at all. lol

George Town is beautiful with its well-preserved colonial buildings turned to shophouses and cafes. the town is very laid-back and charming. no one will suspect it as the second largest Malaysian city. theres no city vibe at all( i mean it in a good way.)

i would spend afternoon walks along old streets adorned with century-old trees. no smog, just fresh provincial air.

and the best part of George Town or Pulau Pinang in general is, unmistakably, the food. i think there are more number of restaurants than people here. i wonder. lol

restaurants and hawker stalls abound every street corners. choose your poison: malaysia’s nasi campurs, chinese dimsum houses, indian curry houses… thais, what-have-you’s. name it, its here. all available and convenient.

eating your way around Penang is cheap in general. a lauriat can cost less than 5rms for 4 dishes.

i spent more days in Penang more than what i planned for and i didnt even notice not until after a couple of days after i checked on my calendar which showed i was way behind my itinerary( i had no itinerary really, haha… it just sounded nice since i was  travelling. and travellers usually have itineraries, right?)

i left Penang one early morning. sree arranged a cab that picked me up in Bukit Jambul Complex at 4am which trasported me to  Sungay Nibong(20rm) where i took the van(35rm) to cross the border to Hatyai in Thailand. Krabi-bound. i intended to reach Krabi before night time, thus the early travel.

my fukced up indian boy did hosted me very graciously. ballerina graceful. lol. sree is an ex of my oh-so-sexy-ex-officemate JM( siya na ang maganda; tirador ng mga malay na walang kamalay malay.. lol… i mean it in a good way. lol) who also hosted me in KL. lucky to have these peeps. a saving grace for all the misfortunes this muslim country had thrown at me.

All in all, Penang is like your typical Filipina barrio lass. Charming. Laidback. Affordable( abot kaya este abot kamay pala haha.)
and above all she is SIMPLE. but if handled well, she could be fun and exciting and definitely will leave you begging for a second round.

I want a second round. NOW =)

Daze in Dumaguete

this trip to dumaguete was unplanned. the decision was abrupt.i was suppose to travel not until the next day. but since i was caught up with so many things that time, i decided to escape from it altogether. i snapped out. so me. some say its stupidity.il say its spontaneiety =)

i packed all my 6-month stuff in a heartbeat that afternoon. im leaving cebu for good. im going back to manila. but instead of heading straight to manila i decided to sidetrip in dumaguete. so i dropped my luggages in a freight company before i, don and ken hit the road.

we rushed through the rainy afternoon traffic in downtown cebu that noon. we catched the last trip to dumaguete in the south bus terminal which departed at 5pm.

it was raining and dark clouds loomed above. ken was throwing tantrums. he hated thats its not in the itinerary. he was also worried travelling under bad weather moreso crossing the turbulent sea to reach negros.

despite the bad weather condition, it was a smooth ride. we arrived in dumaguete minutes past 10. fare was 200 including barge.

my good friend markito fetched us in downtown, we took a quick grub, threw our bags in the car then we headed out. it was a friday night.

dumaguete is very much unlike other key cities. its clean and laidback. first stop was hayahay. its reggae-themed. i heard its the top night-out destination in the city. beer is cheap at 35 and dumaguete special which is seafoods in white cocomilk sauce was great. then we hopped to zanzibar. crowd was mostly kolehiyalas. forgot the beer price though. then strolled in the strip of bars along the boulevard.

it was around 2am and bars were closing down. markito decided to buy some booze then just head out to a beach resort. it was a 20-minute drive to eldorado in dauin. we were subjected to rent a room. 2k. eventhough were only interested to stay at the beach and drink til sun-up. but the heavy drinking and the 5-hour bus ride took its toll and by 4am were cramped up in the double bed wasted. don slept on the floor.

don and i woke up early, 8, to shoot around the resort. it is a pretty, small mexican-themed resort. it housed a couple of birds(parrots, lovebirds etc) a pool and a beach that has siquijor and apo island as backdrop.

around 11am we hit the city. markito toured us around. siliman etc. we ate at this karinderya which serves damn good lutong bahay bisaya. paklay, lechon etc. very good and cheap. we then headed out to buglasan festival. we pretty much strolled all the city streets.

we went to the boulevard that noon. secured a table in one of the bars fronting the boulevard were the festival parade passed through. no better way to catch the festivities with a camera in your right and a pint of ice-cold beer in your left. though i disagree with the beer at first since were still nursing our hangovers but markito just cant be stopped. were leavin that same noon for bacolod so markito pulled out that one-for-the-road punchline. with the alcohol in our systems, we then watched the tennis city-meet finals. his nephew was playing. we cheered. nephew won.

around 5pm. markito dropped us at the bus terminal for bacolod.