Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Everything Sentosa


Day 1 in Singapore was Turista-sa-Sentosa Day. We started the day early by having a huge breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam. I had second thoughts on visiting Universal Studios Singapore. I don't know where I got the idea that USS was Disney-ish, with mascots and cute kiddie cartoons stuff.  (A little backstory: in choosing between Ocean Park and Disneyland in Hongkong, we picked Ocean Park.)  I want rides, rides, rides. I want the kind that gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach. I adored Enchanted Kingdom's Anchors Away and I would always sit at the end row where I could feel like I'm almost tipping over. Exhilarating!

Aaron got our tickets prior to Thursday using Mastercard at SG$68 each. A bit pricey if you ask me but good thing it already included a SG$6 voucher for food and another SG$6 voucher for retail purchases. Just add a couple more dollars for lunch and you're good to go.

We went straight to ride Battlestar Galactica: Cyclon at the Sci-Fi City. Rollercoasters attract me like magnet. According to the park brochure, Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cyclon is the tallest dueling rollercoaster in the world. There were only 3 people who took the ride before us (we were there early) and I did not hear them screaming nor did I see them frazzled when the train came back. So I thought.. Pfft.

Battlestar Galactica: The tallest dueling rollercoaster. Blue=Cyclon, Red=Human
But I was wrong. When our turn came, I cursed the whole time. The ride was altogether a different experience because it was a suspended rollercoaster, and there was nothing solid beneath my feet except for the hard cement dozens of feet below. It felt like an eternity. When it was over, I felt a bit dizzy and we laughed all the way out. That was unexpected.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ate My Way Around Singapore


I absolutely enjoyed Singapore's food. Everything suited my palate, from the coffee, kaya toast, and soft-boiled eggs breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam on my first day, up to the sumptuous steak lunch at Marche's on my last. (That's everything except for KFC's hot and spicy chicken, because ours taste better).

KILLINEY KOPITIAM

Breakfast was the first order of the day. A few blocks away from the hotel was Killiney Kopitiam. An unassuming, traditional coffee shop lined up with the other restaurants along Killiney Road. The ambiance reminded us of Bacolod's Kaffe Sadtu

At 9 in the morning, all the tables were occupied by Singaporeans and foreigners alike, all dressed for work. We shared a table with a lady who was poring over the morning's paper.




The usual order was coffee or tea, with 4 slices of kaya (coconut egg jam) toast, and two soft-boiled eggs. I had to figure out how to eat a soft-boiled egg. Apparently, you crack the egg and put it in a bowl, add seasoning, and eat it like porridge.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Crystal Beach: Quick Camping Fix


And an excuse to take a shiny, red pickup truck on a roadtrip.

We were toying with the idea of visiting the municipalities around Laguna de Bay. But the planning was a bit too tedious. So, we ditched the plan and opted to visit Crystal Beach in San Narciso, Zambales instead.

After a few U-turns, shouting bouts with the GPS, almost driving through a couple of boats straight to the sea, and waking up a fishing community in the process because the truck was stuck in soft sand, we finally made it to Crystal Beach at 5 in the morning. By the way, for some reason Google Maps shown the shore as a road. With everyone of us not knowing where to go, we naturally followed Google maps and ended up almost kissing the sea. See the tire tracks here? We went all the way. The moon was so bright it looked perfect for a melodramatic suicide scene.

The guard accommodated us and assisted us in choosing the spot to pitch our tents at. We were the first to arrive and the place was deserted.  Camping rate is at P150 per head. It was dark and we all decided to catch some sleep first. When the sun rose and and shone, we went ahead and bought food supplies from the town's market.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Cagayan: Caving Capital


Spelunking is a highly challenging activity, but the awe-inspiring experience I get in return is more than enough a reward. The stalactites and stalagmites that meet to form a column, the life inside the cave, and the thought of vast connections underneath the land that we walk on never fail to amaze me. That is coming from someone who has only done spelunking twice, both in the famous Lumiang and Sumaging Caves in Sagada, and watched Discovery Channel's Planet Earth's Final Frontier: Caves in HD.

Cagayan, with more than 300 caves, is aptly named as the Caving Capital of the Philippines. The original plan was to visit Sierra Cave, as recommended by Ivan Henares during the Asia Society Philippine Foundation lecture. I called them up prior to going to Cagayan but I was informed that it is necessary to secure a permit from the DENR office to explore the Sierra Cave. Unfortunately, we were going to visit on a holiday and government offices were closed.

We decided to visit Sierra's more popular neighbor instead, Callao Cave. This is probably one of the most visited caves in the country. From Tuguerarao City, we hired a traysi (the usual tricycle) to the Penablanca Traysi Terminal and from there, we waited for 4 more passengers to load the traysi bound to Penablanca.  A traysi can fit up to 7 passengers.

Penablanca is almost an hour's ride from Tuguegarao City. We were cruising half of the time along a national road and the next half was spent on a dirt road. We passed by the Pinacanauan River, packed with families taking their sweet time swimming in the river. The driver took us to the Callao Caves Resort. 

Callao Cave is located across the Pinacanauan River. Boats take guests from both sides of the river for P20 per way. Across the river, guests are met by tour guides of the Callao Eco Tourism Zone. 


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Tuguegarao: Hot and Humid Pancit Country


Believe the weatherman when he says that the temperature is highest in Tuguegarao.  

We woke up early morning in the island of Palaui and after a quick breakfast, we proceeded to see the falls. The falls is easily reachable by a short 30-minute trek from the Bayanihan Hall.  

A few photos here and there then we made it back to San Vicente port. We decided to eat lunch at the carinderia near the van terminal. It is interesting how there is a pancitan (noodle shop) in every corner. Cagayan is one of those places where there is a widespread love for a particular food, much like Iloilo, where I marveled at how manukan/inasal (grilled chicken) businesses prosper with each of them sitting side-by-side in every nook.

We were eating Pancit Batil Patung when a family came in. When it was time to order, all the 4 kids screamed "Pancit! Pancit!". Cagayan really is a Pancit Country!

Pancit Batil Patong