Breathtaking Zambales

I was once asked by someone I met on the road during my backpacking adventure.

“What is your favorite place in the Philippines?” I answered, “Well, I haven’t been to many places around the Philippines, but so far with its scenic view which is breathtaking, it must be Zambales.

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Recently I browse through my old pictures and some recent(delayed) uploads on Facebook from my friend who took pictures during our trip to Nagsasa Cove, I realized how beautiful this place is. This province has so much to offer. The fairy godmother of nature must have lived here once. With the beautiful falls, beaches, islands and rivers, no doubt that this place is one of the most visited place by tourists in Luzon. Distance-wise with only 2 to 3 hours from Manila the capital of the Philippines, most of the people from the city who would want to spend a vacation for the weekend would end up spending it here.

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I have been to a few towns in Zambales. I have been to Subic free port and the town area, Pundaquit, San Antonio, and San Felipe. If you are into beaches and still get the city ambiance, Subic is the place to visit. The free-port area offers hotel accommodations, restaurants everywhere, mall, shops and bars. The accommodations are a bit pricey as compared to San Antonio and San Felipe.

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If you want to island hop, hike, see some falls, and be in a not so crowded beach, Pundaquit is the place to be. This place is well-known to those who are into adventure. Most backpackers I know have visited this place. Anawangin Cove, Nagsasa Cove, Capones Island are the most popular destinations in Zambales. I have only been to Nagsasa Cove and Capones Island. But I was not able to roam around the Capones Island.

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For surfers and people who just want a laid back weekend and relax, I recommend San Felipe. Liw-Liwa beach in particular. This is a surfing spot and most surfers come here during the weekend. Like I said on my previous post, this is way better than La Union(which is overrated). Not crowded, long shoreline, laid back and friendly people. No internet signal here so you can really make the most of your break by spending your time totally on surfing, swimming, reading books and rest.

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Accommodations in San Antonio and San Felipe are backpacker-friendly.

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If you are traveling to this province, make sure you sit beside the window to your left. That’s where the most amazing views are. I really love this mountain/countryside view once you are on your way to San Antonio. Amazing and breathtaking!

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Be wise when traveling. Always ask for a discount. It won’t hurt you trying.

Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? Feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or you may send me an email at victoriousjay1@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter. Please follow me @gladJAYtor. Your comment will be greatly appreciated! Enjoy your trip and keep safe!

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Enchanting La Union

I had a recent attacked of my “Wanderlust” disease. It brought me to La Union this time. I was solo again with no preparations at all. Like my Boracay trip last year, I went there with no advance booking of my hotel. Just a few research on how to get there.

Saturday morning right after my shift with my new backpack. I went to Cubao and I was lucky enough to catch the 9AM trip to Laoag. (I was lost looking for Partas bus station but I considered it as part of my adventure.) It is in Aurora Blvd going to Sta Mesa Area.

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I got off at the San Juan municipal hall at around 3PM. I started asking around for The Circle Hostel. (Tip: when you ask for a place make sure you ask at least 2 or 3 persons to make sure. Don’t ask a driver to bring you to that place without securing the fare. They overcharge!)

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I rode a jeepney going back to Urbiztondo where the hostel is located. I checked in at around 3:30PM. I ask Ate Maribel, the caretaker, if they offer surfing lessons as I was planning to surf that day. Kuya Larry the instructor said that it would be best if I just rest for the day and wait for tomorrow as the waves in San Juan are way too big for beginners. I walked around the shoreline and watch the surfers enjoy the big waves.

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I learned that there is a spot which gives you the view of the China Sea. I went to Forest Lake en Ceilo, a memorial park, where you can witness the majestic view of sunset.

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The following day, Kuya Larry organized a surfing lesson with 11 other newbies and brought us all to Bacnotan, a haven for most newbies in surfing. This is another town next to San Juan. According to Kuya Larry, they always bring their students here when San Juan waves are not ideal for beginners.

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So I had my surfing lesson and had my first ride. It felt so great! Something you wouldn’t forget in your entire life. The moment your surfboard glided the waves while you are on top of it, feels like you made a Guinness book of world record for yourself.

Mostly of the people who surf here are beginners. And lucky me, I get to meet a famous blogger. Bogart the Explorer.

I was stoked with surfing and enchanted by the place!
I also met some med students from UERM. (Why am I always linked with med students? Hahaha… Hi ex!)
I also met the Pollack siblings(Tim & Lisa) from America and Remy from Canada.

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Departure: Partas Bus Terminal, Cubao 9AM
Arrival: San Juan, La Union 3PM

Expenses: base on One-way fare*

*Bus fare – Php 449
Hostel Accommodation: Php 400(for bunk bed) per night / Php 350 (for hammock) per night.
Food: Eateries are all over the place. The price per meal is very affordable.
Surfboard rent.: Php 700 (whole day) or Php 200 (per hour)
Instructor fee: Php 200 per hour(minimum of 2 hours)

Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? Feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or you may send me an email at victoriousjay1@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter. Please follow me @gladJAYtor. Enjoy your trip and keep safe!

A Surfing Haven Close To Manila

I am addicted to surfing lately. I had my skin burnt and had a “toasted” skin color according to my friends. I am new to this stuff and I can tell that I will be stoked for the rest of my life. I have been looking for something I can call my “hobby” and right now, I can say that this is my forever hobby. Until the day that I can do my last “paddle” and “pop-up“.

Again, I am new to surfing. I am still learning the basics and learning how to surf takes sooo much patience. More than that of love I believe. You have to really wait for a good wave and have the right timing before standing up on your board. Many times you will fall from your board, paddle more, ride less, and if you are unlucky like me, you get a souvenir of scratches and wounds every time you go home. It has been like this for the last three weeks and I’m good with that.

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Anyway, I write this entry to share with you a little secret about a surfing spot I recently discovered. I’m pretty sure, some, especially those surfing enthusiasts, have already heard of this place. I am talking about Liw-Liwa beach in San Felipe, Zambales. This spot is not as popular as La Union but surely the waves here are just the same as the ones you get in La Union. Good thing is, it is much closer to Manila as compared to La Union. Travel time would take around 3-4 hours. La Union would take 6-7 hours. I have talked to some people I met last weekend in Liw-Liwa and they said that this place is far better because the shore line is much longer and the beach is not crowded. The people are friendlier and very welcoming too.

Here’s the direction on how to get there.

From Caloocan, you can ride a Victory Liner bus heading to Iba, Zambales. Tell the conductor to drop you off at San Felipe. Once in San Felipe, you have to ride a tricycle going to the beach. Just tell the driver you want to go to Liw-Liwa beach or some drivers are familiar with the “port” area or simply tell them you want to surf.

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FARE: One way* (Just do the math)

Bus fare: Php 272
Tricycle fare: Php 30-50

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FOOD:

You can bring your own food or if you’re not picky, you eat at Ate Phoebe’s eatery. They serve typical Filipino foods. I haven’t seen any cafe or classy restaurants in the area. Price range are pocket friendly. You can have a good meal with your Php45.

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YOU WANT TO SURF? Sure!

FEES:
Instructor’s fee is Php200 per hour (a good 2 hours of surfing, I’m pretty sure, you would have your first ride.)

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Surfing board fee is Php200-300 per hour. Want to surf for half day? You only need to pay for Php400 and for a whole day surfing that would cost you Php800.

See? It isn’t costly to travel at all!
Live your dreams without having a nightmare of your travel expenses!

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Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? Feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or you may send me an email at victoriousjay1@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter. Please follow me @gladJAYtor. Enjoy your trip and keep safe

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How To Get To Burot Beach

Here’s a quick guide on how to get to Burot beach.

The easiest to reach (not so crowded) beach from Manila. If you want to just relax by the beach on a boring weekend, I recommend you bring your backpack and tent with you to this little haven found in Calatagan, Batangas. Thinking about your budget? Worry no more! Here, no hotel accommodation to pay for. No need to book in advance of your plane ticket and if you happen to visit this place on a weekday, you might get the chance to have the whole place solo. I did the last time I visited the place. I got lucky! Just a few hours from Manila by bus and you get yourself in front of a white sand beach, calm water and can witness the beautiful sunset. Let me give you an idea of how much budget do you need to get there.

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TRANSPORTATION

From Pasay, look for BSC bus station near McDonald’s Taft in front of Metroplitan Mall, MRT Taft station.

Ride a bus going to Calatagan. The fare is about Php290 for an air-conditioned bus. Alight the bus when you reached their Calatagan terminal. Don’t worry, you won’t get lost because that’s their last stop.

Ride a tricycle going to the beach. The drivers are familiar with this beach. Haggle with the price as some drivers would charge you about Php200-Php250. Most of the drivers will only charge Php120-Php150. The first time I went there, in a group of 6, we rented two tricycles we were charged Php60 per head. Do the math.

When you get to the guard house, just ask permission from the guard and inform them that you want to swim. They will then ask you if you want to stay for overnight. There is an entrance fee of Php120. I believe that the beach is owned and I heard that they are going to develop the place. So while it is still unspoiled, pack your bags and head over to Calatagan. Let me know and share with us of your experience once you get back from there.

One way fares*
*Bus fare – Php 290
*Tricycle- Php 150
Overnight fee- Php 120 (optional)

THINGS TO DO

You can do snorkeling, swimming, island hopping and enjoy the sunset, the sand and the view. Please beware of the sea urchins. There is a lot.

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TIPS

Again, no accommodation in this beach so bring your own tent. Also bring a flashlight or lamp as there’s no electricity in the area. Also bring your food and water. There is a store in the beach but expect a much higher price. i don’t think they serve food either. I recommend that you buy your food once you get off the bus in Calatagan. You may ask the tricycle driver to drive you off to the market. Don’t forget your sunblock and most of all your mosquito repellant.

It is also advisable that you get the mobile number of the tricycle driver or ask them to fetch you on the following day.

Warning for girls, their comfort rooms aren’t as good as the ones in a hotel. They have about 3 to 4 comfort rooms already. Running water for taking a bath is available for free.

Do you have any questions or comments regarding this article? Feel free to get in touch with me by leaving a comment here or you may send me an email at victoriousjay1@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter. Please follow me @gladJAYtor. Enjoy your trip and keep safe!

My Defense On Why I Travel Solo

Recently, I have been receiving a lot of comments from friends and colleagues at work whenever I return from a trip. Be it a short or long trip. And most of the comments are really not favorable. Why am I not surprised? At the very moment I returned from my first backpacking adventure last year I heard almost all of them.

What are the common comments/statements/questions I got?
“Why are you traveling solo?”
“You are such a loner!”
“Are you soul-searching?”
“Aren’t you afraid you might get lost?
“Ang yaman!”
“Are you going through some mid-life crisis?”
Some were even morbid…
“What if you get killed while you’re inside your tent sleeping at night in a remote area?”

Even before I started wandering off, I have read them all from other backpackers. Every single solo traveler who writes their own experiences have their fair-share of this questioning from people who don’t understand.

Caught Unprepared
This is just troubling me lately as to whenever I post a picture or status about my upcoming or recent activity, left and right people would have their own piece and talk as if they know me better and what is really going through my head as I post it. One time, I was asked and caught unprepared. I was not able to answer back instead I just shrug my shoulder

I never get tired of telling people how I love to travel and to try out new adventures. I often recommend to friends to try it themselves and give them a little travel tip. I always tell them to browse through some good articles online about solo backpacking as that’s where I started.

Never Say “Ang Yaman Mo!”
So let me defend myself here. This is what really runs through my brain whenever I plan for a trip.
At first, this disease called “Wanderlust” would create a sense of need for me to go out on the road. The thought of going to a place I’ve never been to before causes a tingling sensation and excites me more. The fact that I don’t have enough money on my pocket adds up a little more excitement.(Don’t ask, I don’t know either). So when people gives the statement “Ang yaman mo naman!”, at the back of my head, I am telling them “Only if you know the amount of money I have on my savings you would beg on your knees and feel sorry you have said those words and would treat me for a lunch.”

Secondly, when I travel, especially when I am solo, that’s the only time I get to enjoy the more as I care less about my activities. I could be lazy and just beach bum or swim the whole day instead of running all over the town to see the other landmarks of the area. I hate it when I have to think of what my company wants to do while traveling. Maybe I am selfish in this manner. But deciding for others are really painstaking and could get you into trouble. That’s why I always rely on my companions when I am with my friends during a group trip. I hate arguments!

Thirdly, I travel because I love seeing new places. I want to discover and learn the way of lives of the locals (if possible). By any means, I try to connect to them. When I have the chance to talk to them I do. I am a shy-type of person and the only time I get to talk to a local is when I need a tour guide. Most of the times during the trek or tour, I talk to them. I ask them maybe a hundred of questions. Even the smallest fact about the place, how they survive with the income they get from their job, etc.

Lastly, I travel because I get to meet a lot of people and eventually became my friends. Since last year when I started backpacking, I met people during my solo trips. I even had a trip to Mt. Pinatubo this year with the ones I met last year in Pagbilao, Quezon. Everytime I’m traveling alone, this is one of the things I look forward to—meeting new friends!

What’s important is you enjoy your vacation and you make the most out of it. When you’re back home you have something to tell your friends and inspire them and make them excited to try it themselves. What I can say is try something where you are comfortable doing and you are enjoying minus the spoilers and negativities!

Have a safe trip!

My mantra: “You don’t need to be rich to travel the world.”