Snapshots from Albay: Pinamuntugan Island and Bacacay

Although it is home to one of the Philippines’ most recognizable landmarks, Bicol still has way too many secrets. This island in Albay is one, despite being next-door neighbors with the ritzy Cagraray Island, home to Misibis Bay. We’re talking about Pinamuntugan, an hour’s boat ride from the town of Bacacay in Albay. Our stay on this island was short, sweet, and (relatively) cheap, since there’s really nothing to do here—dolce far niente, ladies and gentlemen.

TWO2TRAVEL: Bicol - Pinamuntugan Island, Bacacay, Albay
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Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon

Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

It was barely 6 AM and we were already running an hour late from our self-imposed call time. Luckily, we were in the province—in fact, we were in the middle of nowhere, in a small hot spring resort surrounded by dense mountains and tall coconut trees in Irosin, Sorsogon. There was no pesky tour guide to fault us for not waking up according to a printed, three-page Excel document, and our trike driver looked like he had just woken up too.

All five of us settled groggily in the tricycle, Owen and I choosing to sit behind the driver—a decision we regretted as soon as the trike picked up speed and the early morning chill assaulted us face on.

It turns out, as the tricycle made its way past the shady entrance to Bulusan National Park, our timing was just perfect. Before us was Bulusan Lake, its water reflecting the trees and the blue sky with its big, fat, white clouds, so vivid it looked like a rippling mirror. It was so picture-perfect it didn’t seem real.

Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

The opaque waters became real enough, however, when we started pedaling our way across the lake. Our companions had been gone for about 15 minutes when Owen and I decided to follow, partly because we were worried why they hadn’t reappeared on the other side yet.

It turns out the part not visible from the dock was way bigger, and that there are tables on this part for picnics. We wished we had brought food with us on the way, since without anything (not even water), we didn’t get to linger long enough, which was a shame because the shady area was perfect for eating and then dozing off and then eating again.

But it was a sunny day, the air was cool, we were with friends we can race against on the placid waters (which we did), so the food (or lack thereof) was barely an issue, if at all.

Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

Bulusan Lake, Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines

But the lake is barely just a tourist attraction for picnics and kayaking. Rather more importantly, it is a source of food for local people, who can be seen laying down their nets at various parts of the lake in the early morning. Local kids also swim in it without so much as a life vest, and right then we knew that the fun we were having was nothing compared to theirs.

Photos: 24 hours in Donsol

Small, quiet, uncomplicated–well, at least on the surface. That’s how Donsol in Sorsogon province seemed. Coconut trees rose above the concrete, and small fenced resorts lined up the coast, which, to anyone who didn’t know better, could easily look unremarkable.

TWO2TRAVEL | Donsol, Sorsogon

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Donsol, Sorsogon: No whalesharks — almost

“Ma’am, sir,” our Butanding Interaction Officer, Manong Henry, addressed us slowly, choosing his words carefully,”Gaya ho ng sabi namin kanina, wala pong kasiguruhan na makakakita tayo ng butanding ngayon. [Just as we had told you earlier, we cannot guarantee seeing whalesharks today]”

It was nearly lunch time. The sun was boring down on us, a group of nine on a boat bobbing off the coast of Donsol in Sorsogon. The ocean breeze was making me sleepy, and, even as our last meal was nearly four hours ago, I wasn’t feeling hungry at all. Or maybe I was, but the hunger wasn’t nearly as bad as how my heart had felt that moment, hearing the words come out of our guide’s mouth.

Whalesharks of Donsol, Philippines by

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Tips for your trips: Subic Beach, Calintaan Island, Matnog, Sorsogon

We’ve been asked a few times how to get to Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon so we decided to be magnanimous (!) and write this travel guide.

Or you could look at it this way: we just have so much time on our hands to spoil.

Subic Beach is found at Calintaan Island in the town of Matnog in Sorsogon province, which is in the Bicol region. If you can’t picture it yet, we’re providing a map here too.

TWO2TRAVEL | Subic Beach

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Matnog, Sorsogon: The Surprises of Subic Beach

After a while, the excitement for traveling wanes a little bit, just like anything else.

Feeling too lazy to wake up earlier than usual.
Choosing to be on Instagram rather than be out there (oh but there’s free WiFi!).
Not going on certain legs of the trip for no apparent reason.

But Calintaan Island in Matnog, Sorsogon changed all that. | Subic Beach, Matnog, Sorsogon

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Where to stay in Legazpi: Mayon Backpackers Hostel

When we were searching for places to stay in Legazpi City, we really didn’t know what options to expect. Average hotels would be fine anyway, just as long as they fit our P500-per-person-per-day budget and they have proper door locks.

But finding a HOSTEL in this part of the country—now that was a surprise.

Mayon Backpackers Hostel opened late last year and has so far received rave reviews at Tripadvisor, so we decided to give it a go.

Mayon Backpackers Hostel Review by

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VIDEO: Beautiful Bicol

We’ve just come from a six-day road trip to Bicol, arriving in Legazpi City before we headed further south to the tip of Luzon in Matnog, Sorsogon. We traveled with three of our friends, so that made us a (loud) party of five for an entire week. Dealing with a week’s worth of photos and thoughts isn’t easy, so we’re dishing in this video as a teaser first! ENJOY! ;)

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HOT! Chili & other things in Bicol

It is easy to spot quirky food in Bicol without even trying. Random blaring signs like chili shake for sale greet you at almost every corner, so it’s fairly easy to give in to curiosity.

And in times like this when the summer sun is boring down on you, there’s no better diversion than an ice-cold concoction—and when in Bicol, that cold concoction happens to be HOT too.

Two2Travel | Chili and other things

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