Archive for the ‘Travel Tuesday’ Category

Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa is located in Marinduque, Philippines. The island could be accessed directly via private helicopters. There are also chartered flights and luxury yachts from Manila to Marinduque. Our group however took the cheaper route and hopped on a commercial flight to mainland Marinduque.

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From the airport, we were transferred to the town of Lipata, where Bellarocca is located. Our flight was delayed by a few hours but the guest service staff were patiently waiting with water, cold towels, and our private vans when we arrived.

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After around 40 minutes, we arrived at the marina where we got to have our first view of Bellarocca which literally translates to “Beautiful Rock”. One could immediately see the resemblance of the design to Santorini.

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We then had to board a speed boat for a brief 5-minute ride to the island. On the dock were more hotel staff waiting for our arrival. We were welcomed with a beautiful local song and leis made out of indigenous materials.

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Then we were whisked off on a golf cart to the resort’s front desk where a refreshing drink (and more cold towels) await us. A personnel gave a short briefing of the island and its amenities, and which amenities come free with our accommodation.

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After the orientation, we were led to our rooms where a personal note and fruit platter welcomed us. We were in four separate rooms and I was bunking with Anna. I loved our bed, especially the soft pillows.

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After settling down, we went to the restaurant to have our lunch. While waiting for our food to be served, we wandered around and checked out the entertainment area. We played a couple rounds of intense Foosball until our hands felt bare from all the twisting and turning. We also saw DVDs that are free for guests to borrow – I got a copy of The Beach as I actually haven’t gotten around to finishing that movie.

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Soon after, we went back to the restaurant for our lunch. Every meal at Bellarocca starts off with their bread rolls which we loved so much, but sadly I do not have a photo of. I shared the grilled seafood platter with Neri and it filled us up nicely. The food in the resort is priced higher than usual restaurants but that is to be expected in a luxury resort.

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After our lunch, we jumped back on the golf carts (no, we didn’t get to drive 😦 ) for a tour of the island and other private villas. We stopped at a villa where John Lloyd Cruz apparently stayed before. It had its own private pool with a sweeping view of the surrounding water. I especially loved the bathroom which is equipped with a jacuzzi. Fancy!

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We moved on to the seaside swimming pool where lots of water activities could be availed. We mostly just checked out what it had to offer and planned to go back the next day.

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We circled back to the hotel and decided to swim in the lap pool while having a drink and some chips. We were hoping to catch the sunset but failed terribly because the view was obstructed by the hotel LOL. The sky was pretty though.

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When it got cold and dark, we retired to our own rooms to wash up for dinner. The restaurant is beautifully lit at night. I cannot find other food photos so I do not remember exactly what we had. But I’m sure we still enjoyed the rolls haha. After dinner, we convened in one room and played charades til wee hours of the morning.

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The next day, we asked to be dropped off at the seaside pool where we lounged and swam to our hearts’ content. We also asked our lunch to be served at the seaside pavilion so we do not have to drive to the hotel restaurant and back to the pool again. After siesta and some drinks, we kayaked and snorkeled until we got all wrinkly from staying in the water for so long.

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As if that was not enough physical activity, we decided to climb up the highest point of the island. At this point, two of our friends begged off and retired to their room to rest instead.

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Our dinner was an indulgence because it was our last main meal in the island. We had a repeat of the delicious Crispy Pata which we loved during lunch and a number of other dishes (incomplete photos again).

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After dinner, we retired to the cigar room for some drinks and karaoke! There were two other groups when we got there which was quite a surprise since we barely ran into other guests during our stay. Guess everybody loves karaoke, eh?

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The next morning, we had to bid our goodbyes to the beautiful island and the very attentive hotel staff. A group of staff event sent us off with their now familiar friendly waves.

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I loved our brief stay at Bellarocca and if given the chance (and budget), I would go back to the island in an instant.

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Bantay is the Ilocano term for mountain, and abot translates to hole. In direct translation, Bantay Abot could mean ‘mountain with a hole’. However, it’s not really a mountain, LOL. There’s actually no cave there, too. I think this makes my title very misleading haha! (*scratches head*) But to my defense, that’s really how the locals call it. :p

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After a very relaxing afternoon at Blue Lagoon, we decided to check out Bantay Abot which we saw earlier on the way to the beach. To reach the mountain (or more like a hill), we had to go from the road down a very steep path with uneven steps. The path leading to the hole can be menacing too – one wrong step and you could slip and crack your head open in one of the sharp, jagged rocks. So mind your footing! 🙂

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I was taken by the beauty of this wall of rock. The colors are so pretty and you can clearly see the difference of textures of the lower part (where the waves hit it) from the upper part (still jagged and pretty much untouched). For easier walking, stay close to the walls because the flat stones in the middle area are very deceiving. They can be very slippery due to moss.

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We climbed up through the hole and were greeted by this. From inside the hole, we had a clear view of the waters of Blue Lagoon. It was also colder in that part I guess mainly because of the trapped air in the concave created by the walls of rocks. You can also hear the echoing sound of waves crashing to the shore. So serene…

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The hole is purely natural though I don’t know exactly how it was created. Some say it might have been due to an earthquake way back. Others claim that strong waves that battered the mountain/hill eventually created a hole.

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These last two shots were snapped on our way back up to the road. Mountain + clouds + sea = perfect. ♥♥♥

I just came back to the Metro from attending my sister’s high school graduation in Ilocos. Separation anxiety is hitting me big time so I guess I should just blog about the places I got to visit for the very short time that I had to spend with my family.

I touched down at Laoag International Airport late Saturday afternoon, no thanks to Cebu Pacific Air’s perennial delayed flights. Hay naku, what’s new. That day was put to waste because of a delayed flight. Tsk. So anyway… On Sunday, my mom finally brought out the lobsters that were frozen for a long time (coz they were waiting for me to come home, sweet! ♥♥♥), and decided to go out of the house and spend the day at the beach.

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We drove for more than an hour to get to Blue Lagoon in Pagudpud. I have been to Pagudpud many times over the years but I’ve never really been to Blue Lagoon before. We always used to go to Saud, mainly because it is relatively nearer from where we live. Driving further up north was worth it, though.

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The weather was so nice that day. One thing I love about being in the province is that it was still very breezy despite the sun being all out Mr. Bright. We rented out a small hut where we could feast on our lunch. After filling up on lobster and watermelon (yum yum yum!), the oldies settled down for siesta time. The young ones, including me lol, opted to bake under the sun.

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The best part is that we felt like we had the beach all to ourselves. Apart from our group, there were only a few others who were around that area. I guess most tourists were drawn to the more famous and much more crowded nearby resort – Hannah’s. I especially loved watching those three kids play around the water.

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The water at Blue Lagoon is so mesmerizing. The varying depth of the sea resulted to a beautiful mix of blue hues. The clean, white sand provides a perfect base for all the blue colors. One needs to be wary when getting in the water, though. It might be scary for non-swimmers because the waves could pull you in farther into the sea really fast and this could be disastrous because the sea bed dips low so suddenly.

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The waves are so strong I actually saw this girl lose her bikini top. LOL. And I might have seen a few too many buttcracks that day. O_O

Two other tourist spots to visit will be featured in my next entries. Stay tuned!

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Hiked up more than 700 steps to reach this giant cross on top of Mount Tapyas a couple of weeks ago during my trip to Coron, Palawan. My calves hurt like a bitch the next 5 days rendering me almost useless in all physical activities. But all the pain was worth it. The view on top was nothing short of gorgeous. Took my breath away. And I am missing Coron everyday.

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After parasailing over Manukan Island, we decided to head back to the waters and explore some more. Armed with our rented snorkeling gears and life vests, we made our way to the docks where we earlier saw lots of other tourists lying face down in the water. 😀

The water was kinda murky plus I was using a so-so camera so the photos are far from excellent quality. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed that snorkeling session. There were not that much corals but surprisingly, there was an abundance of fish! Schools of fish would just swim by every now and then.

But I was most entertained by an oddly shaped coral. Can anyone else see BUTT? 😀

And it kinda looks like it just shat a buttload too! LOL! 😀

When we got tired of swimming around, we headed to the shore to devour our lunch before our boat takes us to our next island destination. On our way to the picnic tables, we came across a dead fish.

Poor fishy. 😦

 

In my previous post about Manukan Island, I promised that I would share more pictures of our parasailing adventure.

I actually impressed myself this time because truth be told, I have an irrational fear of heights. It took me two decades to climb up to the tower of the lighthouse in our town. I have been to the lighthouse for like dozens of time, but I never ever dared go to the highest part because I am such a wuss.

So anyway, when the tour officer offered the parasailing deal, I was really hesitant to go. But then I said, fuck it! I am on a vacation and I’d better do something out of my comfort zone! So we went up in the air and the rest is history, lol.

 

On to the pictures…

 

During “take off”. The crank sounded really squeaky and that did not help with my nerves. I was soooo afraid for my life!

 

A different point of view. I took an underwater camera up in the air with me.

 

I was trembling all over during the first five minutes. But that did not stop me from camwhoring while we’re up there.

 

Then I took the time to look around and enjoy the view. And boy, WHAT A VIEW! The panorama of the whole island was so beautiful. I couldn’t stop myself from relaxing. But then the boat down there would take a turn and the chains would adjust with that scary sound, and then the little panic attacks start again. Oh boy!

 

From time to time, the boat driver (or whatever they call the one that controls our flight) would adjust the chains so the balloon would go down so we could dip/drag our feet into the water (think bungee jumping in slow-mo). So much fun!

 

The next thing I know, we were already going down to the boat. I really enjoyed the ride up there with the gentle breeze and awesome view. I almost wished it would never end. ALMOST. I was more than relieved when my feet touched the boat’s wooden floors. But when the opportunity presents itself again, I would go parasailing in a heartbeat.

 

 

Our second day in Kota Kinabalu was dedicated to spending time on the beach. From our lodge, we walked towards Kota Kinabalu’s Jesselton Point jetty where we booked a tour from one of the many tour operators in the area and got a pretty good deal including stops at two islands (Manukan and Mamutik), snorkeling gears, and a parasailing package (!!! – more on a separate entry).

 

 

After a short 15-minute boat ride, we arrived at our first destination for the day – Manukan Island. We were instantly taken by the gorgeous view of trees, sand, water, fishes, and well… people in bikinis. Haha! 🙂

 

 

We proceeded to pay the conservation fee in order to gain access to the island. There’s a lot to do in the island – from simply lazing under the sun to trying out scuba-doo (an underwater scooter ride). Us? We availed of their parasailing package! 🙂 We hurriedly looked for the boatman to take us parasailing and were the first batch to go up flying that day.

After almost an hour, we went back to shore and put on our snorkeling gears. There were a lot of fishes that day since the water was very calm. They especially were clustered near the boat deck since that’s where the tourists throw the feeds.

After being in the water for quite a while, we found a spot under the trees and ate our lunch. The view while eating was spectacular.

 

 

Stay tuned for more island hopping adventures in Kota Kinabalu. 🙂