My trip to Dumaguete City and Siquijor City last week was not good. It was not great either. It was the BEST 3 nights and 4 days of my life… so far. I’m not much of a travel blogger so I’ll probably just share some of the highlights of my trip and some random thoughts, reactions and comments here. But first, there are three things that you must know before perusing this blog entry. It is crucial that you know these to be able to comprehend why I did what I did or why I did not do what I was supposed to do. ^^
- I cannot swim. I cannot even float. My body seemed to be made up of rocks or something. -.-
- I had my period. The moment I set foot in Dumaguete, it came out. Seriously, I wanted to punch my uterus or whatever for being such a pain – literally. I waited for it the PREVIOUS week coz I know that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy this trip but it just had to come out on the first friggin’ day of my wonderful vacation. Ugh.
- I have a terrible case of motion sickness, specifically, seasickness.
Now that we have that out of the way, I’ll start my rant.
So I kinda intruded on a family trip. I have this 3-day vacation from work (coz of the Korean Chuseok holiday) and I really wanted to grab this chance to travel somewhere by myself. I ended up joining my high school friend and her family on this Dumaguete-Siquijor trip. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision and the next thing I know I was on a plane to the city of gentle people. The weather did not cooperate well so my flight was delayed. The pilot could not land the plane at the Sibulan airport due to the rain, low clouds and zero visibility or something like that. We had to stay up in the air for a while and we were informed that if we were not cleared for landing, we might have to land at the Mactan airport in Cebu. It was my first time to experience that sort of thing and I was traveling alone so yeah, I was pretty edgy. When we finally landed, I flagged down a tricycle but was immediately disappointed when the driver told me that his rate was P150. Wagas. I was warned by my friend and she told me I should only pay P50 so I tried another one but he was asking for P120. Even though it was drizzling, I decided to walk up to the airport’s gate and luckily I found a tricycle that did not have a problem with my good ol’ 50 pesos.
Anyway, we stayed over at Harold’s Mansion which is a backpackers’ haven. Not only is it near the airport, it is also accessible, convenient and cheap. Plus, you get free breakfast – coffee/tea/choco and toasted bread. The dishes on the menu are pretty decent and not overpriced. BTW, coffee and tea are both unlimited – you could drown yourself in coffee/tea all day long. It could not get any better than that.
Silliman University: Of course our first stop was the famous Silliman University. According to Wikipedia:
“SU is an American private research university in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Philippines. Established in 1901 as Silliman Institute by the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions, it is the first American university in the Philippines and in Asia. The university is named after Dr.Horace Brinsmade Silliman, a retired businessman and philanthropist from Cohoes, New York who gave the initial sum of $10,000 to start the school.”
Highlight: The long queue of parked motorcycles, scooter bikes and Vespa outside – all owned by students. It’s like; if you don’t have a motorcycle you are not part of the ‘in’ crowd. Haha! I would love to study in that university just so I would be forced to buy a motorcycle too. And possibly get a driver’s license. LOL.
The main point here is to take a look at the Anthropology Museum. However, we arrived there at around 4 pm and the ‘curator/student’ told us that it’s already closed. The sign on the door clearly says: 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Umm, dude, it’s ONLY 4 freakin’ PM and you’re closed?! Got somewhere to go? Plus, she should have just let us in coz we came all the way from Manila (well, I came all the way from Baguio XD). Anyway, the amusing thing is we went back the next day at around 8:30 AM just to make sure that it was already opened. It was still closed. We waited until 9 AM and the freakin’ curator never came. WHAT.THE.HELL. Do they open the freakin’ museum, like, ever?!
MOVING ON… Of course we had to take a picture at the I LOVE DUMAGUETE sign along The Boulevard.
Then we went to this resto called Kri to grab a bite to eat. I was still full from my bacon & egg brunch at Harold’s so I just ordered this tapioca & cheesecake.
Well, it was pretty weird and I’ve never tasted anything like it before. I don’t mean to bash it or anything but the food in that place was kinda overpriced, IMO. I didn’t like it that much. We went back to Harold’s to take a rest and a power nap. After that, we decided to visit Café Antonio.
Unfortunately, it was already closed when we got there. Too bad. I was looking forward to it coz I heard they serve delicious and affordable dishes. Anyway, we just headed over to Sans Rival – the home of the popular delicacy, Silvanas. I LOVE THIS RESTO. Like, seriously. Everything is perfect: the ambiance, the lighting, the chairs, the music and OMG the cakes! Haha. Plus, the food was affordable and sumptuous!
Sans Rival Spaghetti – for only P38, I got to taste heavenly pasta with the right amount of sauce and meat.
Pritchon – it’s got crispy letchon bits, a bit of veggies, taco wrap and an assortment of sauce. Perfect appetizer.
Silvanas – OF COURSE. When in Dumaguete… go figure. I highly recommend the chocolate silvanas. I’ve tasted the ordinary silvanas before but it was my first time to taste the chocolate ones and they were divine.
Cakes– now, if only I had enough space in my stomach (AND more money) I would have eaten my heart out. I only got to try the mango cake, Concorde and the dates & walnuts. The best one was the latter.
HAYAHAY TREEHOUSE BAR & VIEWDECK
Now if you’re ready for some night out with your pals, this is the best place in town. They serve a variety of dishes – from seafood to pizza and pasta. There is also a cozy sushi bar. Plus, the band that was playing when we were there was absolutely AMAZING. We all fell in love with the vocalist’s voice. I would marry that guy for his vocal abilities. Hahaha. It’s a very chillaxing place to hang out.
While having breakfast at the comfy rooftop of Harold’s, we received some bad news. It was not raining BUT the wind was too strong (perhaps due to the typhoon in the northern area) so the waves were also too big. The boat trips to Apo Island (where we were supposed to go snorkeling) were cancelled. Change of plans. We decided to head to Siquijor already. Which turned out to be a bit of a bad decision. Haha. Well, when they said the waves were big and strong they were not fucking kidding. We rode this small ferry boat and I was already fretful about this coz REFER TO #3. Yeah. So I swallowed two Bonamine pills and braced myself. I had my barf bag ready and I also bought a bottle of water coz I read some motion sickness tips over at the port’s waiting area. It says you have to close your eyes, keep your head still, drink lots of water and choose a seat in the middle or at the back of the boat. Unfortunately, the locals (who probably read the tips as well) already occupied the seats at the back and in the middle so we had no choice but to sit up front and boy was that the worst seat ever or what.
Long story short: the boat ride took forever and we all concentrated and tried our best not to vomit all over each other. I swear, even someone with a strong stomach could not withstand that wave-y boat ride. It was terrible and I would NEVER, EVER, do that again. >_<
So I heard that this mystic island, which is known for witches, voodoo, potions and black magic, was yclept by the Spaniards as “Isla del Fuego”, “due to the intensity of fire flies”. It looked pretty normal, at first; lots of trees, less houses and no tall buildings or establishments. We hired a multi-cab which took us to JJ’s Backpackers Inn.
It was pretty decent and the beach was fantastic. I had some ‘me’ time and even took a nap on a very comfy hammock by the beach.
It was so windy the whole time we stayed there. I could practically hear the howling of the wind along with the rustling of the leaves of coconut trees.
After eating lunch we started our Siquijor City tour. First stop was the Capilay Pool. Nothing really special but I thought it was pretty cool that they have a public pool like that. It’s a cool place to hang out with your family and friends on a weekend, I guess.
Lazi Church and Convent
Photo op time~ If you’re into ancient structures and churches, which are probably infested with spirits and termites, then this place is a must-see. I was amazed at the huge wooden doors and the stone walls which were made out of corals. I really wanted to go up the bell tower… and probably ring the bell but it was closed.
Balete Tree & Fish Spa
When you think about something scary, a Balete tree would always come to mind. So we dropped by this ginormous Balete tree which towered over a small pond-like stream where you could just sit, dip your feet and let the fish feast on the calluses.
I was looking forward to this coz I saw some pictures of the famous Tarzan jump into the water. However, REFER to #2. So yeah, I thought I would not be able to do it coz of that. But as I watched my companions do it one by one, I was like, “I have to try it too.” Another problem is, I am confident about jumping but not about swimming. REFER to #1.
However, one of my companions brought a life buoy so I borrowed that. I really wanted to do the whole Tarzan thing – swinging a bit by holding onto the vine before jumping into the water – but I couldn’t coz I was holding onto the life buoy. T_T Anyway, I was able to do it and when I emerged from the water, I immediately hugged the buoy.
I was so scared of losing it and drowning. Haha! The thing is, I was supposed to kick a bit and swim towards my friend’s mom but for some reason, no matter how much I flail and kick, the water kept on bringing me backwards – near the falls and away from the bank. I kinda panicked at that time. I thought I was gonna drown or something –even when I was hugging the buoy tightly. LOL. I was saved by my friend’s brother, eventually. XD I wanted to try jumping from the top of the falls but I thought better of it. Plus, we did not have enough time to do it.
Salagdoong Beach – CLIFF JUMP!
This was something that I was extremely excited about. The jump at Cambugahay Falls was sort of a practice, I guess. I watched some videos of this cliff jump and I thought, “Oh, it’s not really that high.” But when we got there – ohmygosh, it was definitely HIGH. And of course I had to think about #1 and #2 all over again. >_< I swear if only I could swim, I would have jumped without thinking about it.
All my companions already jumped and they were assisted by my friend’s brother who was waiting below with the buoy. I REALLY, REALLY wanted to jump. It was something that I wanted to try ever since I found out about it. And I know I wouldn’t be able to do it anytime soon coz I won’t get a chance to visit this city again in the next 6 months or so. L But when it was my turn, it was already getting dark and my friend’s mom (since I’m under their responsibility and she knew I couldn’t swim) stopped me. She said we needed to go so we did… I have to admit; I was a bit frustrated and depressed then. I WANTED TO JUMP! I’m not brave about a lot of things but I don’t have a fear of heights! AGAIN, if only I could swim, I wouldn’t have hesitated back then. T___T
The ride back home was fun at first coz we kept on recalling our ‘jumps’. However, we found out that there was a black out in the city. So the roads were really dark. If it was just an ordinary city, I wouldn’t really mind. However, knowing what Siquijor is known for, I was totally creep-ed out. Plus, it was so quiet and there were no other cars or transportation on the road. There was also this high-pitched sound following us and I’m pretty sure those were bats. I was relieved when we finally arrived back at JJ’s. I didn’t get to sleep that well though. I was kinda worried that we’d get stranded in that island coz of the typhoon and then there’d be no electric power and then… yeah, I kinda have a wild and overactive imagination. LOL.
We got an early start and headed to the port the next morning. Luckily, we were riding a bigger ferry boat now so it would not be like the first boat trip. I didn’t need to worry about getting seasick and vomiting my lungs out. I was so happy to see Dumaguete again. I would love to go back to Siquijor but next time I’ll make sure that there is no typhoon or low pressure area or whatever.
APO ISLAND SNORKELING!
No matter how many warnings we get about the big and strong waves in the sea, we still pushed through our plans. Haha! Originally, we were supposed to take the snorkeling package at Harold’s (1K includes the boat ride, transpo to and from the ‘port’, light snacks, snorkeling gear). It was so sulit compared to the others. BUT… due to the weather condition and unexpected circumstances, there were lots of changes in our plans. We ended up renting two tricycles to take us to the place where we can rent a boat (forgot the name ^^). Anyway, the waves were okay at first but they got really NASTY in the middle. It was so freaking windy as well. Now I know how that boy from Life of Pi felt. XD
I experienced snorkeling before. It was in Batangas, I think. I remember the first time I was thrown out into the open waters with nothing but my life vest on and my snorkeling gear. I was terrified out of my wits. It was better this time coz we just ‘walked/swam’ towards the ‘snorkeling site’. Still, it was so hard for me to use the snorkeling gear and breathe through my mouth. I could only stay underwater for like 2 minutes. After that, I’d start swallowing some water so I have to go up for some air and remove my gear. -.-
Moreover, I seemed to be swimming BACKWARDS. XD The snorkeling guide would let me float by myself so I would start flailing my arms and kicking, hoping to move forward as I marvel in the awesome coral reefs and fish below me… BUT every time I try to ‘swim’ I would move backwards, instead of forward. Sometimes I won’t even budge from my place. Am I that freakin’ heavy?! >_< The two snorkeling guides were having a ball as they watched me struggle with my backwards swimming. Ugh. I did enjoy it, despite the fact that I totally failed at swimming and I swallowed A LOT of sea water. Too bad we weren’t able to see the sea turtles on the other side of the island coz of the strong winds. 😦
The boat trip back was even worse than the first one. There were 8 of us so we took two boats and they seemed to be engaged in this amazing race. Or maybe they were just in a hurry to get us home since it would be sunset soon. I changed into some dry shorts coz REFER TO #2. But it was a bad idea. The speed of the boat + the humongous sea waves soaked the hell out of us. We were dripping wet when we arrived on the other side. It was quite an experience, though. ^^
We were all dead tired from the trip to Siquijor so we took a nap and just stayed in our rooms until it was time to buy pasalubongs. As luck would have it, the pasalubong center was already closed. -.- So we just panic-bought silvanas at Sans Rival and then headed over to Hayahay for our seafood dinner. After that, we went back to Sans Rival for some coffee and cake. I swear it’s my fave resto ever. Haha.
Highlight: Our flight was more than 30 minutes delayed coz of the heavy rain in Manila BUT… we saw a sort of celebrity in the boarding area. It was Ramon Bautista. I’m not really a FAN but I’ve heard of his books. My friend and her siblings asked to take pictures with him and he agreed. He was really funny. ^^ There were also these two guys who suddenly came up to my friend’s sister and asked about her tats on her wrist. They started chatting and since they were not cute or attractive, I just ignored them. XD I found out later that they were actually the drummer and guitarist of this Pinoy rock band – which shall remain nameless. Haha! I didn’t recognize them without their vocalist. LOL.
It was the most turbulent flight I’ve ever experienced so I just kept my eyes closed and listened to some music.
I had some frustrations and regrets. I wished and hoped for a lot of things. I hated being a woman because of # 2. I got annoyed, scared and anxious. But the most important thing was I had a wonderful time. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this sort of happiness – the kind that would make me think and look back on the memories. I guess I need to start exploring other local cities before I plan my next out of the country trip.