2011: The Year That Was

And here goes my year summarized in photos taken from all over the Philippines. I have thus proven that once bitten by the travel bug, one can never go back. Thanks to all the friends I met online at first, on the road eventually. I hope 2012 has a lot more in store for me and my itchy feet. ūüôā Cheers!
































Island-Hopping and Surfing in Siargao: Meet the Fast Learners

Paradise still exists. In a land frozen in time and beauty, every waking moment is a dream. Experience walking on a dream in Naked, Daku, Guyam Islands in Siargao.

I love meeting people on my travels. Whether it be some seatmate during a short ride on the public bus, buddies during an adrenaline-pumping whitewater rafting adventure, fellow bloggers during a meet-up at a festival, or some mates with whom to share an island-hopping experience, every encounter is worth remembering.

 

Harvey and I took the fastcraft ¬†from Surigao City¬†¬†for the¬†2.5-hr trip¬†to Siargao. We checked in at ocean101 with the insistence of our habal driver. Come day 2, we were fortunate to have met Myra, Jun and Salse because then the five of us could split the boat expenses for our island hopping plans. More than just sharing the expenses, we shared uncontrollable giggles as everyone was wonderfully jovial. Jun and Salse have been traveling the Philippines and Southeast Asia for quite a while now as a couple. Jun is quite a character and a hit with the ladies at the restaurant because of his ab-forming jokes! Salse mentioned that she wants to travel to Harbin, China. Situated in Northeast ¬†China and¬†once the biggest Russian enclave outside Russia, Harbin (famous for its frighteningly cold winters) seems more Russian than Chinese. I knew of the place because of an episode (of a show whose title I forgot) in TLC. I’m looking forward to your Harbin photos, Salse!

Meet the fast learners: Jun, Salse, Myra, Ella, and Harvey

Jun compares his abs with the boatman's. damn close!

Myra, on the other hand, is a solo traveler who I thought was a local surf instructor when I first saw her. She did so well when we went surfing later that day that we only could marvel and be envious at how easily she¬†could¬†stand and be one with the waves. She works in advertising and graphic design and as much as she wanted to stay longer in Siargao, she has deadlines to meet. Oh well, all good things must come to an end. But then there’s always an opportunity to travel and not too long after this Siargao trip, I received an invite from Myra on FB for a Baler surf trip. (Ikaw na Myra! haha)

 

After the five-hour island-hopping to Naked, Daku, and Guyam islands, we then headed straight to cloud 9 for surfing lessons. Salse was asking if it was possible not to take lessons and just hit the waves, because they (Jun and Salse) were fast learners. From that moment on, we decided to call ourselves the fast learners (though I don’t really consider myself as one). I hope to travel again soon with this rowdy and witty group.

 

I never really admitted that I was a fast learner and I was risking my life on the ocean so I sought the professional help of Jose, a surf instructor. And though I haven’t conquered yet my fear of drowning and crashing onto sharp dead corals, at least I’ve tried standing on my board. (EMPHASIS ON TRIED.) And yes, I drank gallons and gallons of saltwater.

 

This I’ve realized after a hard day of battling the waves instead of riding with them: YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO STAND IF YOU ARE AFRAID TO FALL.

 

I know it would take me a long time to look at a surfboard the way Myra does (she’s totally in love with it) and though I could never be a true fast learner like Jun and Salse, I would always have fond memories of Siargao not only because of the beauty of the island but also because of the people I shared the memories with.

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Where to Stay in Cloud 9, GL, Siargao: Ocean 101 Beach Resort

large viewdeck fronting the ocean101 resort

We didn’t really organize our Siargao trip unlike our previous travel itineraries. We didn’t have any hotel reservation and we didn’t know what GL means until we docked at the Dapa port, Surigao del Norte. Such idiots. haha. Motorcycle drivers were swarming the port and shouting “GL!” “General Luna?!”. “Oh, so GL is General Luna”, I thought to myself in deep embarrassment. And yeah, everyone in the world (except us) knew that the famous surfing spot, Cloud 9, was in General Luna. (cringing to nothingness now)

We went past the swarm of harassing drivers and out of the port. A reasonable price is what we want and not P300. We found such a deal (P100) care of Mang tata.

Upon Mang Tata’s recommendation, we checked in at Ocean101 beach resort. Imagine how surprised we were to spot not a single filipino in the crowd except in the reception desk. Oh wow. Hot and daunting surfer bods were all over the resort. I say, bring it! (lol)

surfer dudes up for some wave action

The published rates were pretty affordable (cheap even) and the rooms were clean.

room at the left was our humble abode during our short-lived escapade

ocean101 by night

Type Rate
Honeymoon cottage    1500
Waterfront air-conditioned room Good for 2 persons 2000
Extra bed or extra person 900
Waterfront fan cooled  Good for 2 persons 1300
Extra bed or extra person 600
Air-conditioned room Surfer favorites  Good for 2 persons 1400
Extra bed or extra person 700
Fan cooled room Surfer favorite Good for 2 persons 750 
Extra bed or extra person 350
2nd floor w/ common T&B
Beach front 600
2 single bed 600
Backside 500

We chose the fan-cooled room (surfer favorite) and it didn’t disappoint us. It even had a heater for the shower. The bed was wide, and the sheets were immaculately white. I also had no problems with the fan conditioning.

This is what our room looked like.

Say hello to ate receptionist

rustic windows

sensual night lamp

And the food was divine. The portions were large (perfect for sharing) yet still very affordable. The selection was vast and varied; you can always find something you like.

These were our meals for our two-day stay at ocean101. Brace yourselves for some saliva action.

super burger for 150 pesos

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