Tag Archive | Travel

A Dip at Malangaan Spring

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The bluish-green water of Malangaan Spring. This also serves as the starting and end point of Malangaan Cave adventure.

          It’s pretty much impossible not to see Malangaan Cave without Malangaan Spring. To start, let it be known that the spring, more than a tourist destination, is a spring in its truest sense. It provides water for the locals of San Rafael, Bulacan for several beneficial purposes. I’m  not sure if it’s potable but water here is colorless and odorless.

           People do their daily errands here like washing their clothes and their vehicles – mostly motorbikes and tricycles. Their domestic animals also benefit from the spring and recently, the spring also provides another source of income to the locals through tourism.

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Malangaan Spring is an essential part of the every day lives of Bulakenyos in San Rafael.

           I literally just took a dip to Malangaan Spring. I brought a spare set of clothes with me but Patrick just cannot have a cold bath. He’s a baby standing 5’11” tall! Anyway, two men were enjoying their baths at the spring and from the looks of it, water level can be as deep as 6 feet or more. It was low tide when we got there.

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Best visited during summer, the spring is a tad too cool for the weak during colder months.

          Maybe because we were the only visitors that time and the locals were actually doing their own things with the spring, taking a bath was a bit intimidating. We had our quick lunch on one of the cottages by the spring free of charge. In preparation for the summer, more new cottages are being built when we went there.

           Bring your packed lunch if you want to make sure you won’t get hungry. But just in case, there’s a small sari-sari store in one of the cottages beside the spring. You can buy canned goods, bottled water, alcoholic drinks and chips here.

            Depending on the situation, you can park as near to the spring as shown below for free.

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Basic toiletries and food for survival are available in a cottage just beside the spring.

            If you would be driving to Malangaan, you might find your car out or low on gas. Don’t fret, as this mini gasoline station can be found just a few kilometers from the spring.

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Mini-gasoline station to pacify that blinking fuel alarm.

There are more places and things to explore in San Rafael. Maybe by our third or fourth trip here, we may not be lost anymore. Hopefully. Our first trip here was back in December, 2016 at San Rafael River Adventure.

In case you missed it, our Malangaan Cave is featured on my previous post. Please check it out.

 

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Malangaan Cave: Spelunking in Bulacan

          Let’s start by saying we wasted too much gas trailing the wrong highways. We started our trip from Tabang Guiguinto Bulacan. I knew in the beginning that Plaridel Bypass Road is the fastest route but since we had to grab breakfast and packed lunch at a fastfood in Sta. Cruz, Guiguinto, we took the highway passing through SM Baliuag instead. As a result, travel time going to the cave took additional 1 hour. Going home, we purposely took this route again as we intended to watch Matt Damon’s “The Great Wall” at SM Cinema. Good movie, by the way.

           One good advice when lost is to might as well enjoy the view of your own path. Bulacan is a probinsya but these parts of San Rafael offers really luscious views of greens with all its mango farms, rice and vegetable fields. I am a promdi by heart and our own house in Malolos has a vast yard of forest-like tableau but I couldn’t help but be amazed by San Rafael’s distinctive charm.

I even saw old houses like that of my Lola’s before it was renovated. So the view going to Malangaan offers a free trip down memory lane of some things cheery about my childhood. Let’s stop at that as I could get more sentimental and corny than necessary. There is a resort named Mango Farm along the way and that got me curious. Maybe one of these days we could side trip there.

Here we go…

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After 2-3 minutes of trek from the spring, we already reached this prominent rock formation of Malangaan. This spells and smells spelunking already.

           We went to Malangaan Cave and Spring in San Rafael, Bulacan on a Tuesday. I just felt like January, though really productive and rewarding at work, was too darn long (because it had 31 days perhaps?). So I took this weekday on a vacation leave then set Patrick, though unwillingly, and I for an adventure. I was researching blogs on this. Some of the blogs I found helpful were that of Pusang Gala and Justin Vawter.

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Cave has water and mud in it but nothing that a good sturdy rubber shoes can’t handle. By its physical appearance, the rock formations are sedimentary. Please comment below if I’m wrong. What I’m sure of are the vandals on the cave walls.

From blogs, I found out there’s no need to actually look for a guide as any local would be willing to serve the purpose. There is no registration nor entrance fee on the cave and spring. Even the cave guide fee isn’t fixed. In our case, before we could even park near Malangaan spring (parking fee was also free that time, we were the only visitors), a local guy already approached us and asked us if we would be going to the cave. We said yes and right and about he ordered his around 10-year old niece whom we later known as Mylene to get his flashlight. Both he and Mylene, who uses the cave as her everyday playground, accompanied us during spelunking. We paid them Php300 plus food (just an extra burger from our packed lunch) for less than an hour of their service.

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Just look at how easily Mylene ascend the rocks like their actual stairs and how a weakling like me was able to do it as well.

           Yup, that’s just how much time it takes to explore the cave, maybe even faster since I’m a relatively slow hiker plus I wanted to document each adventure through pictures. I’m a proud social media mountaineer, by the way. I have no qualms to prove anything else or otherwise.

           This is a very easy spelunking I should say. I was wearing a trek shoes and Patrick was just on his slippers but we both successfully managed to get by without injury nor scratches, just a little mud on my bum and that was all.

           Before you know it, you’re already descending to some wildflowers and tall grass to be greeted by this unexpected panorama.

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There isn’t much to see inside the cave to be blatantly honest. But I thought these rocks are amazing! Malangaan is surely one chill adventure.

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On a bright day, the white rocks are magnificent on a dark blue sky contrast.

            The sad part is, while we were spelunking, we kept on hearing loud fireworks-like sounds and you guessed it right, the noise was coming from the area’s quarrying activities.

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Nothing is truly black and white but these rocks rock!

            A few more minutes of walking and we’re back on our starting point, Malangaan Spring.

Glamping at San Rafael River Adventure

Regular Glamping Package at San Rafael River Adventure

Regular Glamping Package

      I first heard “glamping”, a portmanteau of glamorous +  camping from a resort in Visayas maybe two years ago. Fortunately, I didn’t get the chance to really give it a try until the 17th of December this year, which is also a day before Weak and I celebrated our 8th anniversary as a couple. I chanced upon San Rafael River Adventure on the internet, checked it out, saw that it was good, affordable and in Bulacan so I had our reservation pencil-marked.

     Weak and I seldom gets the opportunity to travel somewhere far away together, specifically by plane, because of differing priorities. There would be no use in trying to book a because I knew he would decline. So I intentionally looked for a quick day tour getaway just around Manila and luckily, the ideal location happened to be in my beloved Bulacan.

     Nowadays, a number of resorts offer glamping already. It allows a unique experience reminiscent of girl/boy scouting days when you had to pitch a tent and set up  a bonfire. Since glamping claims to be glamorous, you don’t have to sweat it out and figure out how to pitch a tent because the resort will do that for you.

Inside the tent of SRRA Regular Glamping Package

What’s inside the tent of SRRA? Two mattresses, pillows, a roll of tissue and dental hygiene kits.

     If you’re looking for something really low-key but at the same time, convenient, comfortable and still has that lazy and cozy vacation vibe, then glamping is worth a try. Anyway, for most day tours where there are a lot of other activities to do outside of your accommodations, who would want to stay inside?

     Just to set out your expectations, here are the pros and cons of glamping at San Rafael River Adventure:

Pros:

  • Easy to book. Its Facebook page  is responsive.
  • Ideal for couples, intimate family gatherings like reunions.
  • Accessible being very near Metro Manila.
  • Affordable. We just spent Php3,500 including gas. The glass villa is cost-efficient if you’d share it with a group of friends.
  • No corkage. Staff would even start fire for grilling for you, and will provide free iced tea and drinking water.
  • Clean shower rooms. For those who would avail of the Regular Glamping package, you would have to share the same rest room with guests from 5 other tents.
  • Good customer service by staff from receptionist to food handlers to water activities personnel.
  • With AC power. No need to worry about dead batteries nor powerbanks.
  • Camp in Style

    Camp in Style. With mattress, foods served, electric fan, ac power and parking space in front of your tent. How convenient can camping get!

Cons:

  • It still being developed. If you hate traces of construction going on and consider that an eye sore, you might be just a bit bothered. Like how it was in Dos Palmas when we were there 2 years ago, they are still growing the trees and flowering plants in some areas. This might actually be a good point, because it still strives to cultivate beauty more charming that how it is now.
  • Too silent bordering to boring. It was fully booked then, being a Saturday in December but still it was as if no one’s really there but us and the staff. But then, it’s a matter of preference. Personally, I like vibes like that.
  • No restaurant inside the resort. What they’ll do is they’ll get your order for all the meals during your stay as well as the time when you want those foods to be delivered. They’ll order it for you outside.

    San Rafael River Adventure Menu

    San Rafael River Adventure Menu

     Visit their website here for more details. More photos of us goofing around below. That is, if you’re interested, haha. As I’ve said we tried SRRA for our eighth anniversary. I threw in bits of information to make this less annoying. ^_^ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Check Mates. We found unique chess pieces beside the inifinity pool.

Check Mates. We found unique chess pieces beside the infinity pool.

Team Building Facilities

Goofing around for photo ops. Guilty as charged. Background photos of flowers are from their garden which I found really attractive. Plants there are for sale!

Happy 8th Anniversary

Happy 8th Anniversary! Pool is clean and is up to 6 feet deep with small jacuzzi. One hour kayaking is included in the package.

Kayaking at SRRA

Kayaking (free for day tours), ATV, jest ski, banana boat are among the water sport activities for additional fees.

Glamping with a Twist

“Glamping with a Twist” is staying in a tent floating on the river.

Misfortunes of Raped Beaches

 

Fortunately(2)I don’t know with you but for some drama queens like me, music and scent can teleport me into a different space and time.For this another quick beach get-away, Modest Mouse’s “Lampshades on Fire” was on my playlist big time.The melody is catchy and just kind of get you on the groove for some adventure and exploration. When you dissect the lyrics and meaning, though, it will strike you with guilt and realization.It speaks of inhumanity to our common home and calls for care for the planet we live in.

I have a spiritual approach to traveling so I decided to make this Fortune Island post revolve around parts of this song’s lyrics.  As it had been with my other travel posts, this isn’t so much about directions, itinerary or budget. There are other blogs who are better at that purpose.  There, I just made a disclaimer.

We’re all goin’, we’re all goin’

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Well, the lampshade’s on fire when the lights go out
The room lit up and we ran about
Well, this is what I really call a party now
Packed up our cars, moved to the next town

Joy, my best friend from college, joined a pool of travelers last January at Bato Springs. We decided to join them once again this time for a daytour at Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas. I was hearing this island last year from my officemates but I wasn’t able to go with them since I was scheduled for a Hongkong Macau trip that time.

We just paid Php1,680 and that includes all transportation, island entrance fee and  hosted lunch. Two vans and two boats took all 24 of us to Fortune Island. We left Manila at 4am.

PhotoGrid_1461844136168Well, the lampshades’s on fire when the lights go out
This is what I really call a party now
Well, fear makes us really, really run around
This one’s done so where to now?

It’s fun! Just the idea of hopping from one beach to another sends chill to my bones (beneath my already sun-burnt skin). I had been to Calaguas just two weeks ago and here I am again on another adventure. Tourism is in bloom, it’s summer, and a lot of people aside from me are making rounds on these “unspoiled” beaches. You know, just about anywhere but the already super populated, Divisoria-like Boracay or Puerto Galera.

received_1003345089754821Our eyes light up, we have no shame at all
Well you all know what I’m talking’ about
Shaved off my eyebrows when I fall to the ground
So I can’t look surprised right now

This “unspoiled” beach isn’t that unspoiled after all. When you look back at this island’s past, you’ll discover that it has been a place where a luxury hotel was erected. After that business did not become successful, it has been a place for campers and backpackers.

7Pack up again, head to the next place
Where we’ll make the same mistakes
Burn it up, or just chop it down
Ah, this one’s done so where to now?

3Buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh, buh-duh-dah
Duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh, duh-duh-dah

We’re all goin’, we’re all goin’

The ruins of the hotel, the swimming pool, the heliport, the remains of a shipwreck and a displayed skull which served as the island’s former attraction and unique selling points are still present. And that’s okay. What will sadden you is the garbage on the white sand beach and in what was left of the old hotel’s cottages. The island is being raped at the moment, not screaming yet, because naive as she can be, she still doesn’t know what’s happening.

4Well, the lampshade’s on fire when the lights go out
This is what I really call a party now
Well, fear makes us really, really run around
Ah, this one’s done so where to now?

Denuded forests because of illegal logging and building of residential subdivisions are old music now.  Crystal water with floating sanitary pads and beer bottles, white beaches turned to burnt sand because of bonfires, garbage-filled campsites, these are all the rage now. We’re blessed to have 7,107 islands. I’m proud knowing that I cannot keep up in exploring all those in this lifetime. But really?8Our eyes light up, we have no shame at all
Well, you all know what I’m talkin’ about
The room lights up, well, we’re still dancing around
We’re havin’ fun, havin’ some for now

1Pack up again, head to the next place
Where we’ll make the same mistakes
Open one up and let it fall to the ground
Pile out the door when it all runs out

I’m glad that there are beaches aside from that of Boracay, Palawan and Puerto Galera which offers a more serene and less commercialized vibe. But seeing Fortune Island now, it will make you wonder just how short people will get to enjoy this beach. It won’t be long before we need another Calaguas and Fortune Island, and it’s all because of man. Bantay-salakay. The creatures assigned to take care of the environment are the same creatures abusing it.

20160424_143817-01We’ll kill you off and then make a clone
Yeah, we got spines, yeah, we have bones
This is how it’s always gone
And this is how it’s goin’ to go

At least for the time being, there’s no other habitable planet yet. One traveler who was with us in this trip suggested that travelers should have licenses! And she has a point. Without proper education on how to care for yourself and the environment, training, tests and sworn obligations, maybe people should not be allowed to travel after all. Be responsible travelers.  Let’s not wait till all the world is just ruins.

Spend some time to float in outer space
Find another planet, make the same mistakes
Our mind’s all shattered when we climb aboard
Hopin’ for the scientists to find another door.

Bato Springs in San Pablo Laguna

Bato Springs in San Pablo, Laguna

First out-of-town getaway for year 2016 is also the first “packaged” trip I ever got to join. By packaged I mean, I just had to reserve a slot, pay a certain amount then all is done and arranged for me. I just had to pack my own personal things then show up on the set rendezvous. That means I also had the chance to be mixed with a group of people who were entirely strangers to me. Now it must take me a lot of more packaged trips to fully decide if this works for me (personally) but this first time is good that it makes me want to plan the next trip I’ll join with the same trip organizer.

The Foton View Traveller which carried our group to and fro Bato Springs departed from Buendia at 10:20am. We stopped by an eatery in Sto. Tomas, Batangas for lunch then went on the road again for 2 hours more of travel to Bato Springs.

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Cottages are spacious and are convenient for grilling and cooking. To say that videoke is a hit in this place is an understatement.

A few tips:

  • It is advisable to either bring food and water supply or to buy from stores outside of Bato Springs Resort premises. The nearest store outside is around 100m away and that’s where our group bought gallons of mineral water, toiletries, chips and other stuff. There are vast choices of food, beverages, liquor, and even cooked food from Bato Springs but they come very expensive.
  • Big pots for cooking can be rented with Php500 deposit. Appliances can be taken in at Php50 each. Though it has made the area a bit full of flies,the place is convenient for grilling and washing dishes.
  • There are lots of free power outlets for charging mobile phones per cottage. In our case, we had six plus the ones intended for the adjacent empty cottage. We just had to take turns.
  • Life buoy or salbabida are also for rent at Php50. I assume those are for kids even though 2 adults from our group seriously considered bringing their own. Water is at 6feet deep maximum.
  • Videokes are so prevalent (can be rented at Php500 per day, up to 10pm) in various cottages that it’s a bit difficult to sleep at night. The only counterattack is to make noise as loud as nearby cottages with your own laughter during drinking session.
  • There’s a common/public hall very near the springs which has videoke at Php5/song (also until 10PM only) for everyone’s use.
  • Consider a day trip, just leave Manila really early. I think it’s convenient also for day trippers as the public shower rooms are also well-maintained.

My concern with water pressure in some resorts is no problem here; modest toilet and bath are equipped with very useful hot shower. Water in Bato Springs is veeeeeeeery cold it creates shiver to the spine with just a half-hearted dip of your toes. Night swimming here is only for the brave.

 Deepest part is just 6 feet deep.

Bato Springs is famous for its coooool water.

Bato Springs is a fusion of natural and man-made springs. The swimming pool (usually dominated by kids because it’s shallow) is obviously man-made. We spent the first afternoon guessing which parts of Bato Springs are man-made and which parts are natural.

Dinner and socials a.k.a. drinking session filled the night. I have high regards for well-travelled people because they always have the most interesting stories to tell. Life is really lived differently by people who choose not to live life in a single place. I don’t drink and I’m a.k.a. Ms. Tulog so after eavesdropping  I was the first to retire to bed.

Breakfast is hosted by the organizers on our second day. We explored the rest of Bato Springs until 4pm then headed on our 3.5 hrs way back to Manila.

Some cottages, we noticed, are still under construction. The land is vast and there are still lots of spaces for potential commercial development.

Joy and I camera whoring in the place.

Us, cam whoring.

 

It's not just about springs if you know where to look. Explore!

It’s not just about springs if you know where to look. Explore!

Personally, this trip for me will be memorable because I was with Joy, my college best friend and Karen, my BFF since first day of high school.

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And it’s such a miracle that you and me are still good friends. After all that we’ve been through I know we’re cool. As cool as the water.

For more information on the entrance fee and cottages rates visit Bato Springs Facebook Page.

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My Days in Hong Kong

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How I want to remember HK. I spent almost 2 hours fighting a staring contest with this view from Victoria Peak.

Have you ever been to a place where minutes before you landed, you already plan on leaving? I have. And in a span of four days, things turned upside down as well. I started hating Hong Kong on my first day only to leave on the fourth day already planning my next return visit.

Why I hated Hong Kong? Read it here. For why I learned to like it please continue reading below. 🙂

HOTEL

We spent all our nights in Australian Guesthouse inside Chungking Mansion. I’ll cut this short. No matter what happens, never book a hotel in Chungking! Chungking Mansion is an entire building with cheap guesthouses every horror-movie-like floor. It’s cheap but you’ll regret it. Might as well spend a little higher for hotels that are clean, safe, and at least comfortable if not aesthetically pleasing.

Australian Guesthouse (and Chungking Mansion) is located at Block D, Flat D7, 16th Floor, 36-44 Nathan Road, Chung King Mansion, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, Hong Kong. It had cost us just Php10,200 for 4 days of stay. Two beds were given for triple sharing. Water in the bathroom smells so don’t you dare drink from the tap.

A Filipina was in charge of the reception when we checked in. It’s a plus point but still, you’ve been warned!

CITY TOUR

We have to be accustomed to the city. On our first day we just wanted to take it easy. As for me, I still feel nauseous because of what happened on sail Turbojet the night before. So no itinerary, just wherever our feet could take me.

Marlyn on the other hand had this agenda of buying Gundam replicas. While she was at it, I was busy checking and trying on some of the brands I don’t get to see often in Manila. Luxury brands abound malls and streets of Hong Kong. If you’d ask me of suggested budget, I’d say, it varies greatly depending on your goal when visiting Hong Kong. Because if you want to take shopping seriously, you can bring Php1M and  still be short!

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There is such a thing as Shu Uemura mascot?!?

I love perfume and I found Jo Malone store in one of the malls. I was able to test some of the more popular scents. I have White Jasmin and Nectarine Pearl bought from online stores so I made sure to compare my purchase to the real thing. In all fairness, those online stores deliver their claim.

My next perfume would be “Chance” by Channel. I’m captured!

So I have this black Salvatore Ferragamo handbag from one of my ninangs. Quality is so good despite being used-stored-used for years so I decided to check out one from the store. Lo and behold, the cheapest wallet is at around Php26K. I’m just not ready for that yet. Window shopping is fun, though.

It was still raining the entire day in Hong Kong. Storm signal no. 3 was raised (storm signals here are up to signal #9) which is somehow equivalent to signal #1 in the Philippines. It sorts of dampens the mood but this trip has got to be one of the most educational for me so far.

We observed  Filipino communities on the streets of Hong Kong – mostly made up of domestic helpers. I learned that they are to spend their days off compulsorily outside of their employer’s household. The unwritten rule is like, if you want to live in my house, you should be working. So for domestic helpers who don’t have enough money to spend on actual recreations during their days off, they have to slump on the streets, lay their mats there regardless if its raining, and end the day there. It’s just the happy spirits Filipinos have despite adversities that made those gathering look merry and worthwhile. Taken from another perspective, that’s their sad plight. Of course, some domestic helpers are fortunately employed by humane families but for the rest, don’t expect to be treated like family.

By tram, we also went to the Ladies’ Market to buy some souvenirs. Ate Tere knows of a stall where the kind vendor also speaks some Tagalog phrases. She was accommodating and nice in dealing with customers, too, which I appreciated.

AVENUE OF STARS

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Bruce Lee not only has his hand prints in this avenue but also has a well-deserved statue.

After our purchases and some stroll, we took a short ferry ride to Avenue of Stars. So all in a day’s city tour I was able to ride the tram, MTR and ferry for the first time. In all of these modes of transportation, the octopus card can be used. Ate Tere lent us her Octopus Card preloaded with HKD100. If not for her, we also could have deposited HKD50 for the octopus card.

Because of the weather, the Symphony of Lights was announced cancelled in the Avenue of Stars. Avenue of Stars is comparable to Manila Bay, I should say, only better. Peace! Of course, the walkway is more interesting because of its Chinese Hollywood appeal. I also appreciated the fast internet government wifi here. The view overlooking the sea and Hong Kong’s towering buildings beautifully lighted at night is just so relaxing. The view, the bench, the wind, the jazz music from an ongoing open concert and the fast internet connection just got me. This is the life.

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Night skyline view from the Avenue of Stars.

Note: Free wifi are usually free for the first 30minutes. After that you will be prompted to log in to continue. Maybe that’s for a fee already but no worries. There are lots of wifi detected anywhere so you can just transfer connection after your first 30 minutes lapsed.

LANTAU ISLAND

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“Buddhism is a tradition that focuses on personal spiritual development. Buddhists strive for a deep insight into the true nature of life and do not worship gods or deities.” -BBC, UK

Still because of the weather, our plan to ride glass cable car to Big Buddha through Ngong Ping 360 was busted. Instead we had to wait for an hour queuing up a long line to a bus that could take us through zig-zag roads to Big Buddha. View was spectacular though. Rain. Forest. Mountain. Sea. It’s everything. I played Enya songs all the while to complete the senti mode. Joy ride, I should say. 🙂

Hong Kong roads are left-hand drive. I fret when the bus runs at high speed on zig-zag roads on the left side. Like I wanted to step on the brakes myself.

What’s praise-worthy in Lantau Island, is that it’s very serene inside. There are spots especially inside the museum/exhibition hall (directly under Tian Tan Buddha’s bronze statue) where cameras are not allowed and we gladly obliged. Anyway the view from outside of Buddha’s museum are scenic already.

I didn’t grasp the whole principle of Buddhism in all its entirety. It might be impossible to do that with just a simple day trip in single spot no matter how big the statue is. But I kind of like and agree to what little I have understood. Buddha never claimed to be God and Buddhists might be 300 million people that I can somehow agree with.  I knew that there is only one God all along but that day I was more convinced of that. One God, one love. As Pope Francis said, there is no Catholic God. Maybe some day there are more chances to study Buddhism?

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Marlyn and I (captured by Ate Tere). Entrance to Big Buddha is free.

We started our way through Wisdom Path but it was getting dark by then and because of fear that buses might leave already, we decided to not pursue. We saw different souvenir shops inside Ngong Ping Village, though, where we spent some more time before heading back for the MTR.

BIG WAVE BEACH

Original Plan: I’ll hike alone Dragon’s Back Trail where I’ll be rewarded by a dip in the Big Wave Beach while Marlyn, her mom, and Ate Tere will spend the day in Hong Kong Disneyland.

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The end of Dragon’s Back trail was my start. The Big Wave Beach below is on my background.

What happened: I successfully located Big Wave Beach first then reversed track Dragon’s Back halfway through. The rest of my travel buddies shopped for gundam in the morning. In the afternoon we all went our own ways to Victoria Peak, chatted for a while then parted ways again. They went to buy some more souvenirs while I decided to beat Hong Kong in a staring contest.

First of all, I’m so proud to have located Shek-O. I just followed directions from the net and braved the journey alone. The beach’s official location is Big Wave Bay Road, Shek O, Hong Kong Island. Source: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/au/see-do/great-outdoors/beaches/big-wave-bay-beach-shek-o.jsp#ixzz3qJEOgA2w
From TST Station (Tsuen Wan Line), I made it to MTR Shau Kei Wan Station (Island Line). I just followed the sign, loaded my Octopus Card in a 7-11 store, before exiting at Exit A3. Bus terminals are just beside this exit. After 20minutes or so, bus 9 to Big Wave Bay Beach arrived.

What’s good in Hong Kong’s bus transport system, is that they don’t wait for the bus to be 100% occupied, unlike in most provincial buses in the Philippines.

So, bus 9 took me to Shek-O village already. Where is the hike trail? Or at least the beach? In Shek-O village I transferred to a bus which I thought would take me to Big Wave. It was just me and the driver who cannot communicate with me – and a lady who I overheard speaking in Filipino! She advised me to just walk my way to the beach as I am near already.

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I made it. Admittedly, I was also scared. I imagined Blair Witch Project coming to life while walking some 15minutes worth from the bus 9 terminal to the beach – alone. There were hardly buses or even humans passing the road and the sides of the street are nothing but forest on my left and vast, empty golf country club on the right. There are lots of things I do in life which I won’t dare do again. This is one of them.

That time, I reached the beach, there were lots of surfers (usually foreigners) enjoying the waves. They were fun to watch. Just a few minutes on the beach revealed the trail I was originally looking for. I saw people coming out from stairs of the mountain beside the beach so I decided to trace it.

View was spectacular. I’m satisfied, though I bet the view from the highest point of the trail is better. If you wanna shortcut your Dragon’s Back trail just do this reverse trail instead.

I was one with nature then. There were black birds actually which I thought would prey on me as I was climbing the stairs. Yup, stairs as Dragon’s Back is regarded as Asia’s best urban hike. Any healthy person can do it. I spent time writing in my journal under a shed I found up the trail. When I went down, it was again raining.

ST. JOHN CATHEDRAL AND CHEUNG KONG CENTER

Like a Girl Scout that I was, I followed street signs on my way to Peak Tram. I passed through St. John’s Cathedral and Cheung Kong Center.

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St. John’s at Garden Road, Central. It’s the oldest surviving ecclesiastical building in the City.

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Nature in the middle of the city.

Cheung Kong center presents nature right in the middle of the city. I saw people in corporate attires walk the park which is a beautiful sight.. This is how all cities should be.

VICTORIA PEAK

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Souvenirs, souvenirs, souvenirs.

What to do with the rest of the day? Victoria Peak, another landmark, it is! Since I already know how to commute effectively, I did not contact Marlyn until I’m already about to board the Peak Tram. Ate Tere lent us cellphones with preloaded sim (she’s just the best!). I called them once I entered Peak Market so we can meet.

I enjoyed the Peak Tram! Another realization: Architecture is to Macau as Engineering is to Hong Kong. Hong Kong has been using this Peak Tram for centuries now. Their transportation system is so amazing that if you have to go to the mountain top, they can take you there in just minutes! Imagine if we can do this with Baguio,at least for the transport of vegetables and flowers. Imagine how the prices of harvest from there would drop. Sadly imagining could be all there is for now, we don’t even have enough provisions for MRT.

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Victoria Harbour by day.

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Victoria Harbour by night.

Two-way ticket to Victoria Peak.

Two-way ticket to Victoria Peak is at HKD83.

On my way down, I still traveled through the Peak Tram. There is another option to return to TST and that is by bus. It’s cheaper but definitely more time-consuming. Had I done that, I will not experience the best part and that is riding Peak Tram by night.

This felt like an amusement park ride! Try going down in a mountain through a straight line. The tall buildings were inclined and you’re going down backwards because the Peak Tram doesn’t reverses on descent. Cool! Super cool.

As in our ascent, descend also entails long queue of passengers.

There are varieties of packages to choose from upon purchase of tickets so plan well and decide early so you can save some dollars. Madam Tussauds, for example comes cheaper when purchased with the Peak Tram tickets.

This is my last night in Hong Kong so I made the most of it. I walked my way from Peak Tram to Avenue of Stars again to while away time while I wait for Marlyn’s reply. She has room key by the way. I cannot enter without her. I passed through a lot of attractive buildings which might be ordinary especially to Hong Kong nationals but that’s the point of traveling, right? To appreciate the ordinary, see things on a different light.

We weren’t big on food trips during this Hong Kong-Macau trip but details of how we survived can be found here.