Hello, Negros Occidental!

My friend, Gail, and I found a promo fare from Davao to Bacolod early this year. When September came, off we went to the City of Smiles! As we landed, this is what I saw:  vast plantation of sugarcane!


With that in mind, our first stop was at Calea,  a pastry shop.  We had luggage in tow and the cafe was not yet open when we arrived but we were willing to wait.  It was an easy breezy trip. It was still around 9AM and we were not expected in our next destination until around lunch time.


Our tummies can only handle 3 cakes.  Besides, we have 4 days in this place. We have more opportunities for more cakes.


Off we went to the mountains. We spent our first night in Negros at the Campuestohan Highland Resort.  We went there for the experience of sleeping in a house that looks like that of a hobbit’s. This is called a Bonita Hut.


The bed is so biiiiig. On the website, it states that this can accommodate up to 6 people.  Oh, the bonita hut has no air-conditioning, which was okay because this was already in the mountain. Cool mountain air was enough to give us a comfortable sleep that night. Actually, I found myself reaching for the blanket in the middle of the night.


The resort offers other accommodations  like the log cabin rooms…


… and the teepee accommodations.


Our only beef  was the transportation. The resort did not have a shuttle service during weekdays. We had to hire a taxi to get us there. We haggled for Php 600 taxi ride in reaching the place and we paid Php 1000 for the taxi driver to fetch us the following day and bring us to Mambukal.

Mambukal is another mountain resort in Negros which is run but the local government. It is at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon so it has several springs and waterfalls.  Good thing that I made reservations months before and I saw my name on their calendar. The resort was fully booked. Some local government units had seminar there.


It was raining when we went there. We had to wait for the rain to stop before going to our next activity- trekking to the falls. There are 7 falls in Mambukal.  The guide brought us to three.  We opted to just go to 3 falls. It was already raining. Plus, my legs were already tired with all the “climbing”. There are paths, steps and railings towards the falls but because it was raining, there was an extra effort on my part to avoid slipping.


Since our clothes were wet, we decided to just change to our swimming clothes.  Included in our accommodation  is a free entrance to their small pool. All the swimming made us hungry. I opted for batchoy and halo-halo, I think. This is what I found in my file. hehehe


By the following morning, we wanted to try the hot sulfur spring. This is called a Japanese Ofuro.


We had breakfast after dipping in the spring. We still have time before checking out of the resort so went to the boating lagoon to see if we could try boating. We decided to just take some photos there.


There are mini-buses just outside of Mambukal resort so transportation was not a problem this time. Waiting time for the bus to get filled took some time. Beggars can’t be choosers. The fare was only ₱35! We were not in a hurry. We tried to be patient but our tummies were not. It was merienda time and we did not bring snacks. Poor us! Hehehe

In Bacolod, we stayed at Go Hotels. We snagged a promo months before. Room rate which only costs us 1,200 for two nights.

If I was travelling with my aunt, we would hit popular food chains for food. She does not eat anything unfamiliar to her. Restaurants intimidate her. Since I am with Gail, my foodie friend, we went local. We tried to explore Bacolod’s homegrown restos like Cafe Bob which had a branch in the mall.  Gail opted for Satay Babe (pronounced as ‘Satey Babeh’)…


… while I chose Angus beef tapa.


 For dessert, we shared this pavlova.


 For snacks, we went to a branch of Calea  inside the mall and ordered ice cream cake.


Our destination for the day is The Ruins in Talisay City.  The Ruins is the mansion of  Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson. Sometimes,  this mansion is also called the ‘Taj  Mahal of Negros’. Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson built the house for his wife, Maria Braga. Maria died before it was completed.  During World War II, guerilla forces purposely burned down the structure to prevent the Japanese from occupying the space and use it as headquarters.


We read that it is best to go there during sunset. We went there from sunset till night time! Sayang ang Php90 entance fee! We went there on a Thursday and, for some reason, there were lots of tourists! Hello, photobombers!


 I finally had an opportunity take that shot I wanted with few intrusions.


It was already dark when we left. It was Gail who did most of the planning in this trip especially where we would eat. She learned that a Vietnamese restaurant called Rau Ram Cafe was just near the area. We hired a trike to get us there. Look at my friend’s happy face after our order was served.


 I know she’d protest over her solo picture being posted. Hi, Gail! This is our photo together.


On our last day, we went to Silay City to visit heritage houses.  Our first stop  was the Hofileña Museum. We arrived there without appointment that my friend caught the owner, Ramon Hofileña, resting in his living room. Somebody really lives in this house. He was gracious to accommodate us by calling his assistant/guide to tour us around. Edwin, the guide, was very entertaining. He told us a lot of trivia and history of the mansion which was really fascinating. I really suggest not to miss this tour when visiting Silay.


We had lunch at Cafe 1925 as suggested by my blogger friend, Lady. Silay is her hometown.  There were items in the menu that we were interested of trying but was not available. So I settled with fried chicken. My expectations were not high. I always think that the best fried chicken came from the fast food chains. To my surprise, it was delicious!  The serving was huge. Four pieces of fried chicken for Php160!


We had dessert at El Ideal bakery and tried their famous guapple pie.


 After lunch, we visited Balay Negrense.


There was no guide to usher us around and this greeted us by the door.  I watched a few Filipino horror movies and this scared me. We toured around the place with much care. We did not want to disturb the spirits we concocted in our heads.  Hehehe!


 There were other heritage houses in Silay but we decided to go back to Bacolod shop for souvenirs.

We had an early flight to Cebu the following day so we had dinner  again at Cafe Bob and started packing.

The trip to Negros was a laid back one. We did not aim to go to as many tourist spots as we can. We did not aim to try different activities. We visited a few and just relaxed. We napped when we wanted to nap and ate when we wanted to eat (which was often! hehehe).  After all, this would not be my last visit to Bacolod.


October 2015 Stories

Lately, I have not found time to blog that I feel the days and weeks slipping away.  Was I just uninspired to post or was I just too busy to find time? Instead of posting each of my story separately, let me compile them all in one blog post.

I have finally made pastillas that we all loved. The balls were firm this time that I do not need to wrap them individually. 


I also got chicharon bulaklak (fried pig intestines) from my cousin.


And it seemed like all the unhealthy food was not enough. I bought some interesting snacks from the grocery.  Coincidentally, these are all Oishi products. Must avoid them!  I consumed all these in a day.


I decided that by November, I will start eating healthy to loss a few inches to make way for December.  Christmas is around corner.

I did some artwork in October. I still have pending commission work. I do not want to put out work just because there is a deadline. I want to put some thought in creating them.  Some of these are exercises to try some technique. The other are commission work.


Oh, I finally tried to color Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden.  I only tried a page.  With so many inspirations from those who sent their colored pages to her website, I did not know how to make my coloring work uniquely my own. I kept thinking that if I mess this up, I can no longer re-do this.  I know. I can overthink thing.  Then, I just decided to just color and not stress over the outcome. This is supposed to be a stress reliever. Ha!


My friend introduced me to a friend who taught me how configure my DSLR manually. Yes,  I used to shoot in auto-mode. I did not understand how to control my camera the way I wanted.  I am trying to learn this time.


While on a shoot, this man came from the mountain with chopped wood oblivious to us. We were intruders in his path.


Sunset is beautiful in this part of my city. I am glad we still have areas with this clearing with some fresh air and splendid view.


These are my October stories. I am thankful for the simple things that made me enjoy life to the fullest.

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