Bicol Express Day 3: One lazy afternoon in Caramoan

April 27, 2012. 12:45++ PM. 
Caramoan Peninsula

Still strung up from the killer boat ride and hankering for decent food, we decided to postpone our island visit to Caramoan group of islands the next day. Besides, Mr Sun was too befuddled that he rarely come out to say hello. There were drizzles here and there

So what did we do on that fine and lazy afternoon in Caramoan?

Lunch at Lutong Bahay
A 5-minute pedicab or tricycle ride from West Pen Villas, Lutong Bahay serves Filipino home-cooked meals. They serve regular Filipino dishes but has a Bicolano twist to it. There were no fastfood joints which you normally see in the city. This is the fastest fastfood you can get. It's not 5-star kind but it's worth every penny. The price range for each dish is about 40-70 pesos. The pictures will speak for themselves.

caught in the act. 
evidence. bow.

Long walk along Centro
Centro is where the bustle is in the peninsula and where establishments connecting you to the outside world is situated. ATMs, Dry markets, Cellphone loading stations are among the establishments available. With a scope of ice cream on hand, we took a stroll and feasted our senses with how locals go about their day. Breathe in the calmness amidst the chaos off of market transactions while licking on slow melting ice cream. [Oops. Dirty-minded barred!] It wasn't like the city, of course. Their streets are has minimal clatter and the air doesn't smell like burnt gas. People are friendly and wouldn't hesitate to answer your queries if in case you got lost.

playground [slash] washing area
A candle and a wish at Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel
It's an old belief that if it's your first time visiting a church, the angels grants you 1 wish. I don't know how to true it is but when I asked for a bright sun-shiny weather the next day, it came true. :] Founded by Franciscan Missionaries on early 1600, the reddish-brick-made church stands firm hiding on its pocket a hundred years worth of history. It has a well-stretched out and well-maintained lawn ready to accommodate your tired bums. The church is just along the way back to West Pen so we didn't wasted time having a courtesy call with Daddy Jess.

Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel

Bring a piece of your Caramoan trip home. 
We passed by a shop with a very catchy lour for tourist - the sea turtle. We stopped and decided to go window shopping as souvenirs are not yet part of our budget. I thought I wouldn't find anything that'd connect to me but boy, was I wrong. The store has a wide array of goodies and stuff that window shopping was no longer an option. I'm specially fond of sea turtles and it so happened that the store was full of it. You could imagine how big my eyes turned out when I saw the pieces.  We were like kids on a candy store. We couldn't stop blabbering about the excitement and it was all in Cebuano! It just so happened that the co-owner, Ms Daisy of Island Wonders, was a Cebuano too! Imagine how relieved we were to finally talk in my home dialect. She nice enough to walk us through some Bicolano words. They even gave us discounts from all the turtles and stuff we bought. To finish it off, Ms Daisy helped us out with our return flight home, as her husband works at AirPhil. She was kind enough to arrange and remind us of our flight schedule.

the new endorsers with Manager, Ate Daisy.
Lazy pazy afternoon at West Pen Villas
After our walk, we decided to spend the whole afternoon at the resort. Fruit shake+Pool+Sun+Food+music=bliss. It was nice to finally get away from all that corporate stress for a while. Ahhh..vacation mode.

Goto or some Caramoan street food overload
As if the lunch at Lutong Bahay wasn't heavy, we decided to gubble up some light chow after our swim. Goto [porridge] was the perfect remedy for the riot happening in our stomach. We weren't that hungry so we thought it'd be fun to get some appetizer first to get the tummy grinder going. Enkkk! I was wrong, again. Each one of us ordered a different flavor so we can get a taste of each. De-liiiii-cious!

The goto proved to be heavy in the tummy so for dinner, we decided to just get a quick bite at a stall for some streetfood - isaw, or Filipino street barbeque. In Cebu, street barbeque is best coupled with poso or hanging rice. I forgot that they don't have poso in Bicol. Learned it the hard way. Tsk. 

It was a light day for us in Caramoan. The next day will be the most-awaited highlight; the reason why we're here. Caramoan islands, just you wait. be continued.

Whacky Notes: [EXPENSES]
Lunch [Lutong Bahay] = 150.00 / 3 = 50.00 each
Ice Cream = 30.00 each
Snacks [GotoHut] = 50.00 each
Dinner [BBQ Isaw] = 195.00 / 3 = 65.00 each

Caramoan West Peninsula Villas

This is not a sponsored post.

April 27, 2012. 10:30++ PM. 

happy as can bee. ^____^

Prior to our trip, we scoured the internet for a good place to stay but not heavy on the pocket. It was advantageous to book near Paniman Beach as that is the drop off point for the island hopping. But Paniman is a bit far from Centro which might be challenging for us considering that we're planning to eat out on friendly-priced restos. With that said, Riz narrowed the search and found the perfect place for us to stay - West Peninsula Villas.

We originally planned to call for reservation but decided not to. I was too lazy to contact them. :] Luckily, they were able to accommodate our walk-in request.

Bums in the open area, with billiards table in the background.
Caramoan West Peninsula Villa  is comprised of cozy cabanas made of anahaw and nipa. Though it has the native feel to it, the cabanas are made of concrete. Each one is clean and well-maintain; has a hot and cold shower, air-conditioning and toilet fit for a guest.

The villa is located some 5 minutes from the Centro, the center of the town. It's situated at the end of a small one way uncemented [it can get muddy when it rains] road. Just tell the tricycle driver you're planning to stay at West Pen. They'll be more than happy to bring you there.

[left] our shelter.

Surviror relics.
Receiving Area, Survivor's tribal council style.
Polynesian-inspired tiki statue with a real tiki god on the right. :]
They have a open area where guests can chill or party at night, an open-air dining area, a mini bar, small pool table, a swimming pool and a bar tucked near the swimming pool exclusive for guests. You can also ask them to cook any food that you want if you don’t find it on their menu. Plus, coffee and mineral water are free! I know, I know, most resorts offer those. But sorry, this is the first time I had free coffee and mineral water since, ahm, ever! #loser

open-air dining area.
The Lake Bar. WPV's night spot.
According to the staff, whenever there's an on-going Survivor taping, they house the overflow of guest and crews if Gota Village Resort cannot accomodate them. Thus explains the decors that looked like they came from one of the challenges off of Survivor. Amongst the Survivor franchise they have catered to are Survivor Israel, France, Slovania and India.

The place has a vacation feel to it. Every corner has a piece that has a perfect blend of native and modern design truly a home away from home...but with a twist. 

Whacky Adventures* recommends:  WEST PENINSULA VILLAS

Whacky Notes: [EXPENSES]
3 days-2 nights accommodation = 2589 / 3 = 863.00 each

Bicol Express Series:

Bicol Express Day 3: Getting to Caramoan in 1 piece.

Bicol Express: Day 3. April 27, 2012. 4:30+AM. 
Camsur Watersports Complex.
Ansarap ng kain ko. 'Di ko namalayan na basurahan pala ang nasa tabi ko.
Wake-up call. Bid goodbye to our hosts and took a quick breakfast [sort of] before taking the rides bound for Caramoan. There are no 7/11s in Cebu so you could imagine how excited I got when I saw slurpees.

How to get to Caramoan from CWC?
Start: CamSur Watersports Complex to Sabang Port
resulta ng wakeboarding kagabi.
Ride a bus going to the town of San Jose. Ask the conductor to drop you off at San Jose Church.
The bus going to San Jose would either be JC Liner [orange bus] or Florencia [green bus].

Travel Time: 2 hours
Fare: 62.00
Mode of Transportation: Bus

Whacky Tip: Read the sign board and make sure that the bus is bound to pass by or for San Jose. To be sure, before embarking, ask the conductor if it's heading to San Jose.

We took the JC Liner. I planned to stay up the whole duration of the bus ride. But I spoke to soon, Riz told me I blacked out about 5 mins after we paid the conductor.
Quick Stopover: 
As soon as you get down, San Jose Church's edifice is the first thing you'd see. 

CamSur is all green. Andaming palayan men.
Right in front of San Jose Church is the road leading to Sabang Port. Ride a jeepney or hail a tricycle to Sabang Port. Jeepney fare is 17.00 while tricycle is 50.00. 

Travel Time: 20 minutes
Fare: 50.00
Mode of Transportation: Tricycle or Jeepney

We originally planned to take the jeep but it was already full when we got to the jeepney stop. A tricycle driver approached us and offered what we heard was 15.00 each. But he claimed he said 50.00.  
Note to self: Verify fare before taking the ride. Clean ears more often.

Sabang Port, San Jose to Guijalo Port, Caramoan
The jeepney or tricycle stops at the drop off point for outrigger boats bound for Guijalo Port. Don't hesitate to ask for the boat ready for boarding. 

Travel Time: 2 hours
Fare: 120.00 each
Mode of Transportation: Killer Outrigger boat

The outriggers for Guijalo are not that big. Frankly, I can't blame you if you feel wary. There isn't any door leading to the seats. You have to hurdle over the window to get it. The space is very tight. Like I told the girls, this is  what claustrophobics would describe as a very very bad idea. 

I can't help but map out a flight plan as soon as I enter the dragon through the window. All I can think of is not to panic grab a life jacket, and pull the girls out, if that catastrophe ever happen.

The ride was not at all comfortable. It was like riding a mechanical bull in a roller coaster cart. It was that bad that there were occasional water splashes and water starts to sip into the boat. This is what paranoids would describe as a very very bad idea. 

But I tried my hardest not to fret. It wasn't at all bad if you have this view to compensate for the occasional mini heart attacks.  This is just a sneak peek of Caramoan, my friends.

April 27, 2012. 10:00++ AM. 
Touchdown Caramoan!

Finish: Guijalo Port, Caramoan to Centro, Caramoan

Photo bum. At naki-pose pa talaga si koyang stranger.

As soon as my feet stepped on Caramoan grounds, I felt relieved and ecstatic. We registered on tourism office's booth. We're on the right track as confirmed by the friendly tourism officer. A dispatcher approached and offered a tricycle to ourselves but we thought it was too expensive. Unanimously, we decided to commute and take a regular tricycle ride going to Centro.

Travel Time: 20 minutes to Centro
Fare: 25.00 each
Mode of Transportation: Tricycle

Whacky Tip: Right on the entrance of Guijalo Port is the terminal for the tricycle going to Centro. Initially, they'd offer you about 300.00 for the ride going to Centro Proper. You'd have the tricycle for yourself, yes. But if you plan on getting to Centro in a cheaper way, just tell them you're planning to commute. As of April 2012, fare from Guijalo Port to Centro is 25.00.

Caramoan is a 1st class municipality on the Caramoan Peninsula, in the province of Camarines Sur, Bicol Region, Philippines. It is a hilly peninsula, with deep gorges and a rough, rocky terrain. The place has a National Park which has caves, limestone formations, white sandy beaches, an islet lake and a subterranean river, make it popular with tourists. It is accessible by public transport from the town of Caramoan, and local people have established trails in the park for visitors. --from Wikipedia

Famous for: Caramoan Islands, home of the Survivor series franchise

There are a lot of places to stay in Caramoan. You can scour and bug google on information regarding that. If you plan not to make reservations or if you simply take the leap of faith then by all means, go. The tourism officer stationed in the port arrival area will be more than happy to help you with your crossroad.

April 27, 2012. 10:30++ PM. 
Touchdown West Peninsula Villas. be continued.

Whacky Notes: [EXPENSES]
Quickie Breakfast = 80.00
Bus [CWC to San Jose Church] = 186.00 / 3 = 62.00 each
Tricycle [San Jose Church to Sabang Port, San Jose] = 150.00 / 3 = 50.00
Outrigger Boat [Sabang Port, San Jose to Guijalo Port, Caramoan] = 360.00 / 3 = 120.00
Tricycle [ Guijalo Port, Caramoan to Centro, Caramoan] = 75.00 / 3 = 25.00

Bicol Express Day 2: Sun-less wakeboarding at CamSur Watersports Complex

April 26, 2012. 04:00++ PM. 
Touchdown Naga City!
after almost 3 hours ++
no, it's not Mayon on the background. It's Mt. Isarog, accdg to the taxi driver.

amarines Sur is a province of the Philippines located in the Bicol Region in Luzon. 
 Its capital is Pili and the province borders Camarines Norte and Quezon to the north, and Albay to the south. To the east lies the island province of Catanduanes across Maqueda Channel. --from Wikipedia

Main language: Bicolano.
Famous for bicol express and laing. :]

The van terminal is right across SM Naga. It was about 4:30PM when we finished buying supplies. We initially made reservation at Camarines Sur Watersports Complex [CWC] but we weren't successful in contacting them to confirm our reservation. We tried to find the CWC shuttle but according to the SM Naga guard, it was no longer commissioned for the day. Our options were to either to commute via jeepney then bus then tricycle, or hire a taxi going there. We did mentally weigh the options, comfort VS price - comfort won. The road to CWC from SM Naga looked familiar. Only to find out that we passed by that road on our van ride from Daraga, Albay. It would have saved us time had we told the van driver to drop us by CWC. Dang!

Whacky Tip:  Make sure to book ahead and request confirmation from receptionist or hotel.
Duh! Well, we kinda learned it the hard way. Puff.

It was almost dusk when we arrived CWC. The parking lot was packed with luxury vehicles and people. So ganito pala ka sikat ang CWC, I thought to myself. We were so fired up and ready to wake only to find out that our reservation didn't push through! The whole complex was booked for 3 days by an international fraternal organisation we shall call FM. Anak ng bakang bali! Mukhang sa daan kami matutulog nito! A bellboy, Kuya Arnel, was kind enough to help us decide what's the best  for us. According to him, all the other pension house/hotels around the area are fully booked. We huddled over the receiving area and discussed our options. 

Option 1:  Proceed with the next item on our itinerary. Go to Sabang Port and look for a hotel/pension house to stay in for the night. Take the first trip to Caramoan.

Option 2: Go back to Naga City Proper and find a hotel to stay overnight and get back to CWC in the morning.

Option 3: Wakeboard in CWC. Worry about the place to stay later.

Since we're fearless, desperate, too lazy to go back in the morning and hate passing an opportunity like, we took option 3. Let's wake beybeh!

Mt Isarog on the backdrop.
Wake park for pro's on the background.
I'm not a fan of wakeboarding. I can't get over my  near-death almost follow-the-light moment the first time I tried it. Plus I don't like the part that my feet are strapped into the board. But these girls' hormones are so pumped up that they didn't let my discouragement experience hinder them. 

Time check: 6:00 PM. 
Wake away!
Mixed Emo: Scared. Excited. Hungry.
Wipeout+Face plant. OO, ako po yan. Underwater.
Beginner's wakeboarding area. Asukal nalang ang kulang, parang Nescafe 3-in-1 na!
Not bad for first timers. Long rides on their first 3 tries.
1 out of 5 tries. Fail. Puff.
During the 30-min break, we took the opportunity to ask the staff if they know a place for us to stay for the night. We're good with a home-stay option, anyway that's going to be about a few hours since we're going to leave by dawn. But Daddy Jess was smiling on us. Kuya Arthur and Roland, complex staff, were kind enough to let us stay in the complex until dawn. No room nor warm bed for us to lay our dead-beaten bodies. But knowing that we already have a safe place to stay and bucks to save, we can't complain.
rinsing off the chocolate-mud-cake kind of water from the wake park.
Unfortunately, Lago Del Rey was already closed so playing off of bouncers and inflated water slides were no longer options.
Our hosts. Diyos Mabalos! [Bicolano for thank you.]

 Time Check: 1:54 AM. 
April 27, 2012
[written account using bok-bok, my travel journal]

The girls are fast asleep now on top of the billiard table. Good thing I brought my sleeping bag. From the SOUND they're making, it seems like they really had so much fun. I'm so proud of them for being so good in wakeboarding. [unlike me, lol] Wipeouts here and there but it never stopped them from trying again and again. Daddy's pride, so to say, seeing these girls do long rides even on their first tries.

 Now here I am, a bit tipsy from our socials with our Bicolano hosts. It amazes me how warm they are despite our language barrier, and how eager they are to help us despite the fact that we're strangers. I guess that's how we meet friends. We're all strangers at first. But by some weird cosmic strings and divine influence, we connect and set alignment until we reach equilibrium. We reach a common stepping stone and agree on something. And that, starts our friends.

Tomorrow is going to be a long and exciting day. Caramoan's gonna be waiting. Whacky* out -- be continued.

Whacky Notes: [EXPENSES]
Night Wake [hourly rate] = 525.00 / 3 = 175 each
Lifevest and helmet rental [deposit:500.00] = 270.00 / 3 = 90.00 each
Accomodation = 0.00
Socials [booze] = 150.00

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