The long road to Kapurpurawan, Ilocos Norte

So this is what the fuss has all been about: huge waves crashing against jagged cliffs, some coming ashore to fill a busy network of canals at the base, no doubt shaped through time. And this has been what we walked an hour for under the 12 noon sun.

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Back to school: First day SCUBA diving musings

Today we went back to school. Our classroom was about 20 feet deep, our tools heavy and bulky and very complicated. Screw this, pull that, inflate this, release that. Right now, our muscles are aching from all the finning and kneeling we had to do. Our minds are reeling from all the jargon and the exercises we had to master. But we are thrilled more than anything.


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Slow, and sometimes extreme, Bohol (GMA News Online)

This piece appeared on GMA News Online.

two2travel | bohol | panglao | gma newsThe picturesque San Agustin Church and the expansive park around are an ideal place to observe locals.

There’s something quite liberating about feeling the cool air against your face as you whisk past huts, children in school uniforms walking side by side, and old women in Sunday dresses biking their way to church.
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The Chocolate Hills via ATV

If the usual sightseeing bores you, doing a little research beforehand may save you some disappointment, and in our case, make a rather tiring commute worthwhile.

Admittedly, though the Chocolate Hills looked stunning, there isn’t much to see at the viewdeck except, well, the Chocolate Hills. For those who want to actually do something while there, this one’s for you:

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We read about this online in our haste to put something together for Bohol, which turned out to be just a mishmash of things we want to do instead of a proper itinerary.

And we’re glad we tried it, otherwise the 214-step climb to the viewdeck would have been the most life-changing, exciting, heart-thumping thing we had to do that day.

There’s only one ATV rental shop offering this activity, and it’s G1 Island ATV Rental, located just before the entrance to the Chocolate Hills Complex (more on the directions at the bottom of the post).

They have eight ATV units and one buggy, and although this is a lean supply, you’re probably not going to have a lot of competition when you get there.

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ATVs on display just off the highway. You can’t miss it if you’re coming from Tagbilaran.

We tried the shortest route, which took us around Buena Vista for 30 minutes. The roads we had to drive through would be exciting enough for a beginner, but those who want more to it are better off with their longest trail that would take approximately 4 hours and pass along five barangays (the guides couldn’t make an estimate on the distance when we asked).

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This roughly drawn map shows the routes and writings from past visitors.

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Unpaved but not rough, these roads pass by huts and plains and hills.

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Meet Carabao Number One

Our destination was a clearing next to The Three Sisters’ Hill, a clump of three hills joined at the base. We also had two other clumps nearer, one of which had a trail all the way up for hikers (we almost tried that too, but we still had a long way back to Panglao where we were staying).

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The Three Sisters’ Hill comes into view

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Meet Carabao No. 2

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On the way back, we passed by forested areas and some inclines

Here are their packages for those who wanna try (as of September 2012):

1. 30 minutes (around Buena Vista | destination is Three Sisters’ Hill)

P400 for ATV
P750 for buggy

2. 1 hour (around three barangays | destinations are Three Sisters’ Hill & Eight Sisters’ Hill)

P750 for ATV
P1,300 for buggy

3. 2 hours (around four barangays | destinations are same with one-hour route plus Mini Terraces)

P1300 for ATV
P2500 for buggy

4. 4 hours (around five barangas | destinations are same with two-hour route plus the Anislag Water Spring)

P1800 for ATV
P3500 for buggy

Whoever finishes the longest route earns extra bragging rights, because there have so far been only four people who managed to finish it since the shop opened in 2008 (one for each year, and 2012 still has to see its first).

If you do get around to doing that, please shoot us an email and a photo. :)

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Fun ride!

And here are the photos from our ‘sidetrip’ to the viewdeck :P

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This is the entrance to the Chocolate Hills Complex. But that’s not the point. Look closely at the two people on the motorbike. :P

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Motorcycles whisk visitors up the complex for P20 each

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Some parts around the hills are forests, but there are patches of fields with huts too

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TWO2TRAVEL | Bohol | Chocolate Hills
Presenting the Chocolate Hills of the Philippines, cited recently by TripAdvisor as one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes. Great view to end the day!

To borrow from Lonely Planet, here’s how to MAKE IT HAPPEN:
TRANSPORTATION

Tagbilaran to Carmen

• Take a tricycle to the Dao Integrated Bus Terminal in Tagbilaran (minimum fare: P10 each)*
• Take a van (fare: P90, 1.5 hours, AC) or a bus (fare: P60, 2-3 hours, non-AC) to Carmen
• Ask to be dropped off at the ATV Rental Shop near the Chocolate Hills (drivers would know this one, as it’s the only ATV rental shop in town. In any case, the shop is at the right side of the road from Tagbilaran & you’ll find their ATVs on display outside).
• After your ATV ride, you can ask one of the guides at G1 to take you up the viewdeck via habal-habal (P20 each). This is going to be a 15-minute climb if you want to walk.
• Buses going back to Tagbilaran are available only until 4 PM. You may wait just outside the Chocolate Hills Complex.

*If you’re coming from Panglao, take one of the Tagbilaran-bound jeeps or buses (fare: P25, 45 minutes), then trike your way to the Dao terminal

FEES

• P50 barangay entrance fee for the ATV ride on top of your rental fee (the barangay issues receipts)
• P50 entrance fee to the Chocolate Hills viewdeck

ACCOMMODATIONS

Chocolate Hills Hotel & Restaurant is located at the viewdeck and has rooms at P1,200 per night. This is excellent for those who want to see the Chocolate Hills in time for the sunrise.

ATV RENTAL

G1 Island ATV Rental
Brgy. Buenos Aires, Carmen, Bohol
038 416 0340 | 0920 556 3114

Read more about our Bohol experience as published on GMA News Online.

River trekking in Cebu

The things we do for work.

I was thinking along those lines as I jumped from pebble to rock to boulder and back in Cebu, lugging two cameras, two lenses, a tripod, a flash, and my phone. A river was raging down below, the waters taking my wits away. I was doing this for an assignment but I didn’t have an inkling about what river trekking was, and how really stupid it was to be carrying as much as I did.

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Camping fun in Zambales

Zambales has been enjoying its fair share of the tourist pie for some time now, and for good reason: its natural beauty guarantees to offer something for everyone—the camper, the not-so-happy camper, the mountaineer, the photographer, or the one who just wants to get out of the slick city and into the peace and quiet of the mountains.

What’s more, it can be as cheap as you want and is very accessible. Hop on a couple of buses, a tricycle, and a boat, and you’re there (in the Philippines, that kind of commute is pretty uncomplicated). So we decided to give camping a try and packed fork and spoon for the first time.

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The long road to Calauit and back

A month ago, we found ourselves in our longest traveling day yet, where every single minute felt like a long grueling hour, and a supposedly two-hour road trip stretched to five and a half.

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When the map says ‘NO DRIVING DIRECTIONS TO BULUANG’, what would you do?
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