Summer Sojourn at Bucas Grande

Early March, I received a message from my cousin that she is coming  home to the Philippines in April for  a few days. You see my cousin was born and raised in Canada and the last time we saw her was 13 years ago. This trip was long overdue.  We were all excited. We agreed to meet her in Surigao to be with her  and her friends to visit Bucas Grande.  I have long wanted to visit the place and this is the perfect opportunity.  I have long wanted to travel with my cousins, too!

Bucas Grande Group of Islands is part of the municipality of Socorro in Surigao del Norte. To get there, you must reach the port of Hayanggabon in Claver, Surigao del Norte to cross to the islands. Claver is an hour and a half land trip from Surigao City.

This is our home in Bucas Grande for four days. This called Cinnamon Island. There are cinnamon trees in this island. We get an unlimited supply of cinnamon tea.  After every island hopping trip, there is cinnamon tea waiting for us.

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Electricity was available from 5 PM to 7 AM the following day.  Who needs power when you are out  exploring the whole day? There is cellular signal in some areas of the island.

On our first trip out of the sea, we visited the Jellyfish Sanctuary. Bucas Grande is home to stingless jellyfishes.

We had to transfer to a paddle boat.

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There is only one passenger per paddle boat.  Here’s my cousin and her boatman.

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I love the boat ride towards the jellyfish sanctuary. The sea was calm and the air was cool.

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Trees surrounded us as we sailed towards the sanctuary.

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We were not allowed to swim with the stingless jellyfish because the lotion in our bodies can harm them.  We were allowed to touch them for a little while though.

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This is the white jellyfish. I would not have seen it had the boatman not pointed it out to me.

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This is the stingless jellyfish that is very visible from the boat. I am glad I was able to capture this photo as it swam near the surface.  I added some calligraphy into the photo.

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Bucas Grande has so much to offer.  We toured inside the Sohoton Cove. We  can only do this during low tide since we need to pass through this inlet.

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There is so much to see.

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We also swam inside the cave. I have no photo to show since my camera is not waterproof. In another activity, they went inside the a cave and the easier way out is to jump off a cliff.   It looked fun but I chickened out. There were so many people. I might cause delay to some people if I take time to prepare myself to jump.

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We had lunch in one of the islands.  We spend some time swimming here and taking some jumpshots.

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There were 11 of us on this trip.

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This island is beautiful.

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Oh, we ate fresh sea urchin, sea oysters that are attached to the rocks and other sea creatures whose names escape me right now. We saw this blue starfish.

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We had this seaweed for dinner.

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We also went spelunking inside the Crystal Cave. Stalactites and stalagmites are encrusted with crystals.

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Three of our friends went inside the Bolitas cave.  It was a narrower cave where there are a lot of rounded stones inside the cave.

We cooked our own food so when we ran out of food to eat, we went to nearest island with settlements.  This is Barangay Bay-ang in Socorro.

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We bought vegetables from a sari-sari store; meat and fish from a supplier’s house.

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This community has a fowl that is a cross between a rooster and a turkey. I do not know what this is called.

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We were able to visit Club Tara. This is the most expensive resort in Bucas Grande.

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Our humble accommodation was okay, too!

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We woke up to this view every day.

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Before we left the island, we had a special delivery! Fresh young coconut! Buko!

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Oh how I miss the island life! Some good things had to end to welcome new adventures. Can’t wait for the next beach trip!

Rewarded For Traveling

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If you enjoy traveling, there are ways that you can earn dollars that can go toward a future vacation. These programs give you points that can be exchanged for air travel, hotels and other aspects of your trip. When you go on a vacation, you earn a certain percentage from the total spent on the trip. Once you have enough dollars or points accumulated, you can use them on a car rental, hotel room or something else that you want to save money on when you book your next vacation.

This is a benefit for those who like to travel through the year. Most of the rewards earned don’t expire for quite some time, and you can sometimes combine other offers so that you save more money. If you have a large group traveling together, then this would be an idea so that you don’t spend a lot of money for a hotel room or air travel. One way to save more money is to book your vacation in advance of a busy season so that you get the lower price while using the savings earned from your points. If you want to travel extensively, learn how today for as little money as possible.

One Saturday in UPLB

I had a work trip and some free time so I made arrangements to meet with my college roommates. We have not seen one another in 12 years.  I stayed for one weekend in the house of one of my roommates and we agreed to meet  my other roommate who lives in Laguna.  All of us needed a break from work and school. We brought my roommate’s kids. Laguna is a perfect escape from Metro Manila.

Because my roommate spent her high school in the University of Philippines Los Baños’ Rural High School, she is familiar with the campus and toured us. We were all roommates at the University of the Philippines in Diliman (UP Diliman). I love the UP Diliman campus but I have to say UP LosBaños (UPLB) has its own charm. I should have cross registered and took some subjects there for one summer.

I’ll take you to some places we visited though my photos. This is the park near the entrance.

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UPLB has a Thai Pavilion.  I do not know what the structure is for but anyone can hang out here.

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One of my roommates and I at the Nihon Koen Steps. It looked like we’re in Japan, eh?

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If you get tired after waking on these steps, there are benches where you can rest.

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Going up the mountain, there is the Boy Scouts of the Philippines Jamboree Site.

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This site is near the entrance to the National Art Center of the Philippines.

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On our way up, we passed by this open church, where a wedding scene in one of Aga-Regine movies was shot.

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These are the buildings of the Philippine High School for the Arts. Artistically-inclined scholars study high school here. 

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The topmost area in this route is the National Arts Center.

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On this plateau, we can see the Alligator Lake, parts of Los Baños and Calamba. I think.

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All the touring made us thirsty. We dropped by the College of Agriculture.  They sell delicious fresh milk, yogurt, pork and beef products!

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We still have a lot of time in our hands so we visited IRRI (International Rice Research Institute).  This is the Ipil drive on the way to IRRI.

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We visited  IRRI  a month before Bill Gates did. (Not an important information, I just want to mention that. Hahaha)  IRRI is the premiere institution in the world that conducts research on rice.   The top rice scientists from all over the world work here.

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They study different varieties of rice from all over the world.

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They have different enclosures that mimic the climate of a particular country.

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At the end of the road at IRRI, we found the UP Open University Oblation.

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After this tour, we hung out at the open field in UPLB near the fertility tree.  The fertility tree is just a large acacia tree. It is called as such because a lot of things happen underneath the tree.  What are those things? Your guess is as good as mine.

IMG_1413We had dinner at Dalcielo inside the campus and we called it a day.

It was a wonderful day with friends.

Vacation Home Pleasures

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When you go on a vacation with your family, you might think that the only option for somewhere to stay is at a hotel. There are Singer Island vacation rentals and other homes that you can stay in that have most of the amenities that you would find at home. These types of rentals have more room and are ideal for large families or a group of friends who want to stay under the same roof instead of getting a few hotel rooms.

If you want to stay in a location that is quiet and away from all of the sights and sounds of the city, you can often find a vacation home much easier than you can a hotel. There is plenty of space, including separate bedrooms and a living area as well as a kitchen so that you can prepare meals together. Most vacation homes allow pets where hotels usually don’t allow pets. This makes it easier when you are faced with putting your pet in a kennel while you are out of town. While you are in the home, you will likely be in a residential area. You can see what life is like if you are thinking about moving there or if you want to go back in the future.

#WhereToNext with AIRBNB

Airbnb was a lifesaver to us last year. Last year was the first time that my friends and I had to look for a place to stay in Manila without any help from other friends.  A friend of ours, who had a place in Manila, had already migrated to Australia which left us in search of a place to crash (Just an expression. We are nice people!). We did not prepare well for that trip and we were in a budget. It was crunch time. Internet search led me to an Airbnb listing in Quezon City. It was my first time to use this service so I had my apprehensions.  I have read of good reviews from people who have tried it so I was easily convinced give it a try.

We had a wonderful host named Katz. We have not really met her but she was prompt with the replies that it felt like she was really there for us. She sent her assistant, Rose, to meet us when we arrived at her condo. We arrived early from Tuguegarao and I have requested to check-in early. She was not able to accommodate the request because another person was booked at the time. We just wanted to freshen up before we head out so she offered that we use the shower rooms at the pool area. We were also able to leave our things at the reception at the condo.

Her unit was clean and had everything we need to have a comfortable stay. It was better than booking in a hotel. It is seldom that you have your own kitchen in a hotel.  Look how chic her place is! ( And it is so affordable!)   So, we took lots of photos.

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Bathroom is clean.

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We had rainshower!

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This is a loft so a photoshoot in the stairs is a must.  hahaha!

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There are two bedrooms upstairs. Two of us stayed in this room. I did not have a photo of the other room.

Sorry for the bad angle.

Sorry for the bad angle.

The entire unit is air-conditioned.

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We really enjoyed our stay here.

We have a trip coming up and my friends already told me to look for a place to stay. I would have wanted to book Katz place again. However, there will be around 10 of us in this trip. Katz place can only accommodate 4 people.

So,#WhereToNext?

I am eyeing on Gella’s place. Gella just recently listed her place  so I have to ask her for some details of the accommodations because she showed an empty loft. I have already contacted her and she replied quickly. I pick her place because it can accommodate a lot of people. The location is near the malls.  My friends usually rely on me whenever we travel to Manila.  However, I will be visiting other friends in our next trip so getting a place near malls would be easier for them to navigate the area without me.  This is number one on my wishlist. I have yet to show the photos to my friends.

The place looked well-lit and airy.

With Airbnb, I cannot just stop at one listing. I have added another place to my wishlist. Antonio’s place looks nice, too.  However, it only accommodates 8 people  but I am putting this on my wishlist in case someone would not be joining us on the trip. He has good reviews from guests who have stayed in his place.  Plus, there is access to a pool!

One thing I loved about Airbnb is that it allows me to live in a place like a local- like a home away from home.

You get a discount when your book a value of $75 or more in any listing, this is my referral link to get that discount: book now! You can also list your place through the link. If you have extra rooms in your place, you can be host through Airbnb  and earn from it. That is a good business idea.

“WHETHER AN APARTMENT FOR A MONTH, A CASTLE FOR A WEEK, OR A VILLA FOR A MONTH, AIRBNB CONNECTS PEOPLE TO UNIQUE TRAVEL EXPERIENCES, AT ANY PRICE POINT, IN MORE THAN 34,000 CITIES AND 190 COUNTRIES”

#WhereToNext #Airbnb #AirbnbPH

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