Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Adventure Weekend Part 2

After a short but relaxing stay on Camiguin Island, we were ready for a fun-filled adventure in Cagayan de Oro.

Day Three

We didn't wake up so early this time. We were rushing to get to the port in time for the 11 o'clock ferry back to the mainland. We got there on time, but the ferry didn't leave on time. Karen's mom was already waiting for us on the other side way before we left the port.

I really have to give a shout out here to Kar's mom and bro. Tita and Ken: you guys are great! We can't thank you enough for making our trip so much more fun and smooth!

We were taken straight to the Macahambus Adventure Park. There we took a walk on the Skybridge, 150 meters above the ground. It was much scarier than I thought it would be. To get back, we took the Zip Line, flying down 12o meters of rope over rocks, water and trees. Total adrenaline rush. I wanted to do it again, but we had to rush to get ready for our cave adventure.

Trekking, rapelling and spelunking all in one. For the first time for all of us. But we completed it in two hours instead of the three it was supposed to be. I felt like Super Woman afterwards. A very stinky Super Woman. We came out of our caving adventure alive and quite proud of ourselves, but covered in mud and bat shit. And I did it all in slippers. Yes, pretty little light-duty beach slippers. Whew! I'm giving myself five stars for that.

The sad part is that we didn't have photos of this one great adventure. They run out of dry bags so we couldn't take any cameras. Boo.

Tired and aching all over, we booked ourselves for another adventure, worked our way through a great big buffet dinner, stopped for a relaxing Thai massage, and happily settled into our rooms at the Mallberry Hotel. Good hotel everyone. :)

Day Four

This was the day I looked forward to the most. Whitewater rafting, yeah!

Our guide Sky picked us up early at the hotel and after picking up some other adventure-seekers in town, off we went up the mountains and down again to the great big Cagayan River.

We slathered on sunscreen, lots and lots. Some guy came up to me and offered to pay me for some lotion. Maybe I should have let him pay me, haha.

Aries, our guide, briefed everyone on the rules – basically what to do if you fall off – and we pushed off.

I don’t know how to begin to tell you how much fun it was. The sun was high in the sky, the river banks on both sides were lush and green, the breeze ever present. We passed fourteen rapids all in all. And each time we went through one, a nervous scream, a shout of exhilaration or a joyful laugh would erupt from one of us.

“Playing”, as Aries called it, was the most fun of all. At one point, he told us to paddle in such a way that the raft went in circles, on and on, until we got out of the rapids. I wanted to do it again, but I guess it was safe to do that only at that particular spot.

We finished the course shortly after noon. We would’ve wanted to tarry awhile and have lunch by the river, but we had to rush again to reach the hotel before check out time.

And thus our four-day adventure ended. We had lunch and dropped by the Kagay Whitewater rafting office for our photos and proceeded to the airport. We were almost late for the plane (we had to get those photos!) and were the last to board.

Tired but happy.

Oh, I just heart CDO. Good food, great adventure, warm, generous people. I’m definitely going back. :)

p.s. I have more photos here:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Adventure Weekend Part 1

For the Holy Week / Easter holidays, Doris, Jay and I flew to Cagayan de Oro. We had two things in mind: to take a short trip to Camiguin Island and to do some white water rafting in Cagayan.

Day One

We flew in on Good Friday, only to find that the usual transportation system was not the usual. The buses weren't running from the city to the port, and no one could tell us for sure if there was a ferry to take us to Camiguin.

I decided to call Karen's mom to ask for more information only to be most pleasantly surprised when she offered to take us to the port! Wilting under the Good Friday sun at the almost already deserted airport after an early flight and no sleep the night before, I never felt more relief in my life.

And so Kar's mom and brother took us to the Port of Balingoan, more than an hour away from the city, where we caught the last ferry leaving for Camiguin Island. We really got lucky that day.

That's how we felt on the ferry anyway.

When we got to the island, we went around different resorts but all were fully booked. Let me tell you, I am not going on another Holy Week vacation without making reservations for accommodations! We had imagined that there would be no one going to Camiguin with everyone else going to Boracay, Puerto Galera, Baguio, etc., but we could not have been more mistaken.

It was almost evening when, tired, cross and hungry, we finally found this small place in promixity of White Island, the main tourist attraction of Camiguin. We probably paid thrice as much as we should have on a normal day, but well, it wasn't a normal day.

We felt lucky again. We're easy to please. :)

Day Two

We woke up quite early for the first item on our agenda: diving. All three of us hadn't gone diving in so long so we were kinda apprehensive. (Or maybe it was just me.)

Without any briefing, off we went in the direction of White Island. I didn't (and still don't) know our instructor's name, nor the dive site we went to. Maybe I should have asked?

Anyway, to cut the story short, I went down so fast the first time, I think I nearly ruptured my eardrums. I tried again but I really couldn't equalize under. I wanted to wait awhile and get my groove on but the instructor seemed quite impatient so I told him to go ahead without me instead.

I was on my way back to the boat when Jay surfaced as well. He said he couldn't find anyone under. I told him what happened to me while we waited for the instructor to come up after him. But the guy didn't show.

Jay and I decided to go down by ourselves. Maybe it wasn't a very wise decision considering we didn't know the area. But why waste the chance to dive again? So down we went, with Jay pulling me along as I wasn't feeling so confident. We circled the area and were lucky enough to see a lion fish, some Nemos and a sea snake. But there really wasn't much to see.

Still, it was good to be under water again. It's good to know I haven't forgotten how to do it. It's just a darn shame that we couldn't find Jay's underwater camera casing! No proof we went diving, haha.

After diving, we asked to be dropped at White Island. My jaw dropped when I saw the place.

It's just this sand bar in the middle of the sea. But my goodness. It's pure white sand surrounded by the loveliest aquamarine waters. Beautiful, beautiful. Despite the holiday crowd, it was for me the prettiest sight I had ever seen.

Hmm. I think I wanna get married there, haha. Okay, if not that, just have a private party there. That would be the nicest, funnest thing ever. (Karen, no need for your Thai island. White Island na!)

We would have wanted to stay longer but the boat came to take us back. We still had the Camiguin Island tour to make. Even though it wasn't recommended, we opted to do it anyway.

The driver took us to see the Sunken Cemetery with the Cross Marker. All we saw was the cross as the tide was high and we didn't want to venture into the water to see the graves. We also stopped by the ruins of the Gui-Ob Church, an old Spanish church that was wiped out by a volcanic eruption. Next stop was the Stations of the Cross. We had to climb the hill to see all fourteen stations, but we only managed to reach the fifth! Haha. Wobbly legs. And unhealthy lungs. We just gave up!

The next site was a refreshing stop. Literally. Doris and Jay took a dip in the cold waters of the Katibawasan Falls but I wasn't brave enough to join them. I was content to watch the water drop from 250 feet up down into the rock pool, warm and dry under my shawl. :)

After that cold stop, we tried the Ardent Hot Spring as well, but it was just too crowded, you couldn't find a place to sit in any of the many pools in the resort. Tough luck for us.

And thus our island tour ended. But not our day. We hied off to Paras Beach Resort to watch the sun go down. And what a lovely sunset it was.

A fiery sunset on the island they say was born of fire. A perfect end to our stay on Camiguin Island.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Hear Me Roar!

Jay has a new cat.

He saved another stray about a month ago, and now he has this so-ugly-that-she's-cute pet that provides him with entertainment when he's bored.

Okay that doesn't quite give him justice. He really does love cats. He wants to take home every stray kitty he sees on the streets!

He already did once before. He adopted this other stray about ten months ago. We loved little Puntili.

But she died while Jay was in Turkey. Landlady claimed she got run over by a car. Claimed, that is. But that's another story.

Why am I talking about cats anyway?

I'm really no fan of cats. (Sorry cat lovers out there.)

But I have to admit, they do grow on you.

This cat, which we still have to name (I had a name in mind, but it doesn't work), is crazy. She really is. I just know it. But she's playful, obedient, and useful! Kills cockroaches, that kitty.

Yesterday we caught her jumping up and looking at herself in the mirror. She paused awhile and seemed to nod in approval and went back to playing with the curtains. One of the few times I thought she was completely adorable and funny.

This morning, I saw this really cute photo. I had a good laugh. I had to send it to Jay. Doting dad to this yet-to-be-named kitty that he is.

This comes at a good time too. When I'm dealing with some self-esteem issues of my own.

I have to learn how to look into a mirror and say: Today I know in my deepest level that I am an incredible woman. I am all that and more.

Oh yes! Rawr!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Excited, excited!

I shall be studying in Olomouc in the Czech Republic and San Sebastian in Spain come this September for a Masters Programme in Euroculture. So excited, I looked up these places and got some photos.

I'm sure the real thing will be even better. But in the meantime, I am whetting my appetite with these previews.

Olomouc Town Square -- I shall be expanding my architectural knowledge in no time.

Cathedral of St. Wenceslas -- I think I shall be going to church more often when I'm there!

Map of Olomouc and its surrounding areas -- places I most definitely will visit! Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, and Bratislava to name a few.

Aerial view of San Sebastian, a picturesque city by the bay.

Sidewalk cafes on a San Sebastian street after the rain.

Map of San Sebastian and its surrounding areas that I must visit! Bilbao, Salamanca, Zaragoza, Barcelona, Toulouse, Bordeaux, etc.

Haha, Jay has been reminding me that I'm going there to study. I tend to forget. No worries, I plan to make good on my studies. But I sure plan on doing a lot of travelling as well. Food tripping, shopping, sight-seeing, visiting old friends. So many things to do, so little time.

Ooh, I can't wait.