Saturday, May 25, 2013

A day trip to Burot Beach

Our trip today started from an impromptu planning to visit the beach by my neighbor friends in Cavite. Less than 12 hours before the scheduled departure, it has been decided to have an overnight camping trip in Burot Beach and everyone hastingly prepared for the logistics the for our trip with last minute shopping at the mall.
 
As we came from Cavite, we traversed the route passing through Governor's Drive to roads leading to Tagaytay City (vs. the usual via SLEX or Aguinaldo Highway route). We left past 5AM and in less than an hour and with a convoy of four vehicles, we stopped over in Tagaytay for fuel before continuing our journey for another to Calatagan, Batangas. We have with us a family who have been visiting this place a number of times since earlier this year so they already know the way.
 
In Calatagan Town Proper, we stopped by the small market behind the Municipal Hall to buy some picnic items and seafood before finally heading over to Burot Beach, passing by a couple cemeteries (Calatagan Municipal Cemetery and Eternal Garden Cemetery) before finally reaching the gate. We stopped at the gate where the security guard recorded our arrival then proceeded to pass by the dirt road of around a kilometer before finally reaching another gate.

At the second gate, another security guard stopped us to collect entrance fees. For day trips, each person is charged PHP60 while for overnight campers, PHP130. The rest of the group planned for overnight camping trip while we opted for a day trip so we paid accordingly.

It was around 8AM when we arrived and there were not a lot of visitors at that time. Trust me, the people on the pictures are not that much compared to later that day, specially right before lunch time when more groups started to arrive. The place was pretty serene and the water was very calm when we arrived.
 
Our group settled on a shade under the tree by the beach and rented a couple of big tables and chairs (PHP200 per set) where we started to prepare the food and have breakfast soon after.
 
And just after having breakfast, the kids (and kids at heart) in our group started to go swimming while others are busy preparing food for mid-morning snacks and lunch later that day. It is common for a lot of visitors to prepare food in the vicinity (while others bring in cooked food). We have a portable stove and grill at hand so everything was a breeze. Other guys in the group started the drinking session early on.
 
grilling fish and eggplants
 
other huts and tables for rent
 
There is a small store selling food and items but is a bit expensive. I see a lot of visitors buying from this store though as there are no other options and it's quite far to go out just to buy some necessities.

By lunch time, more people are in and some groups have started setting up their respective tents. The crowd has grown to perhaps a triple or more times from when we came in but a lot are either busy preparing for lunch or eating at this time.
 
At this point, my son Ethan has taken a break from swimming and started playing with the sand under the scorching heat of the sun.

our group's area with tents already settled and fixed up


For others visiting Burot Beach, the issue with the place is the lack of facilities. Although I expected it to be like it as it is an undeveloped place. The lack of ample comfort rooms, as well as their sanitation has been a problem that day and a lot of visitors are lining up on the few comfort rooms provided. They aren't comfortable at all but good thing is that there is enough water supply.


There are also jellyfishes on the beach. Although it is expected, it may be a turnoff for a few others. Honestly, they aren't that big deal and I don't think there has been serious incidents that day. In fact, the kids happily got one and have put it on a pail for their liking before freeing it back to the sea.
 
There were also a lot of starfishes and I hate it when a people take the out from the water for a long time. Other groups even had piled up quite a few and effectively killing them. I still believe one must respect the nature and should clean up their own rubbish and take nothing from the natural resources.

By mid-afternoon, the crowd number has started to shrink as a lot of daytrippers started to pack up and leave.
 
me, Roshie and Ethan

Ethan stayed for around a couple of hours sitting on the tree trunk which he found amusing and refused to come down for quite some time.

By late afternoon however, the water has come down so gradually (low tide) that one has to walk a couple or so hundred meters to reach waist-level water.
 
I left with my family around 6PM while leaving others behind who are in for camping. I forgot to note that the road leading to the beach is quite scary and seems to be landfilled. Actually it is enough for one medium size vehicle and that when there's another one approaching your way (like a tricycle or worse, another car), it would be hard to get into the side of the road as there are areas where both sides are surrounded by water.

What I don't like about driving to the place is the quality of the road. There were sharp stones all throughout and I felt like it may be capable of puncturing the tires.

At last, I arrived at the gate, about to leave the premises. The guard was very friendly and heartwarmingly bade goodbye after thanking us for coming. By the way, I didn't mention that the guard has an SM logo on his shirt. A few searches over the internet says that the place is owned by the SM group and may be up for development like Pico de Loro in the future. Glad to be able to visit the place before that happens!

Overall, I still find the place nice, despite lacking facilities (specially CR). The sand is soft and is golden white (not as white as Boracay) and the water were very calm. Very family-friendly! Perhaps I would come back when the government does something to the roads leading to the vicinity and that the SM group does something as well on its road inside its property.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ritz-Carlton experience in Jakarta

I am writing this post as I wait for my flight back to Manila coming from here in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. I flew to the city last Monday morning from Manila with a stopover in Singapore via Philippine Airlines.
 
early morning flight!
 
Food in-flight. Little servings, but just enough to fill you in for the slightly over than 3 hours flight.

At the stop over, all passengers, including those continuing to Jakarta, has to transit thru Singapore by deplaning and boarding the same plane again so I had a chance to sneak a little time to buy some macaroons in TWG at the terminal.
 
 
 Jakarta bound!

snacks served in-flight
 
After arriving in Jakarta, I met up with a hotel personnel who led me to the executive taxi I arranged prior for transportation between the airport and the hotel. It is a first for me to finally stay in a Ritz-Carlton property. I've always longed to experience one however the price per night is usually preventing me from doing so (specially on personal travels). It was a good thing that we have a corporate rate with The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Mega Kuningan, that I managed to sneak a few nights stay here. A sister property The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place would have been more convenient for me as it is located just across our office but the steep rates and lack of negotiated price would not permit.
 
As I enter the hotel security gates, my service car was stopped and went into the usual full physical inspection done to vehicles in most hotels and establishments in the city. Here I was greeted by a staff by my name so I must be on record. Upon reaching the driveway and ultimately at the lobby entrance, I was whisked into another security point where they do x-ray for baggage and persons entering the hotel. It has been a very pleasant experience so far.
 
As I finally enter the hotel door, I was greeted by my name by a staff named Diantika who then led me to my room on the 17th floor. Then I was awed when I saw the room. It was huge and spacious and later did I know upon checking my reservation online that I was actually upgraded as the staff didn't tell me about it. I originally booked using company rate for USD125 for a Grand room (63sqm) with 1 king bed, inclusive of breakfast and internet but I was given a Tempus Grand room, with 1 king bed, which is actually a corner room and has 75sqm of space.
 
Upon entering the room, a welcoming ambience of the closet that actually contains the honor and mini bar greeted me. On the left is a walk-in closet, connected to the bathroom and on the right is the bedroom with a space for sofa and working table.
 
minibar items

walk-in closet, walking inside and further to the right leads to the bathroom

The room is very spacious indeed! The ceiling was high at 3.5 meters which emphasizes the feeling of having a big room. The window is very inviting as well and has a view of the surrounding area outside the hotel.

The working desk is ample enough for my business duties. Wireless and wired internet is available for free (or inclusive) and for power, they even provided an adaptor for those who brought home devices with a different plug (they use rounded 2 prongs here).
 
the working desk
 
view of the room from the window
 
A big highlight of the room of course is the bathroom. Spacious and luxurious if I may say, marbled throughout. The tub is separate from the enclosed shower which I always prefer so as not to slip while climbing out of the tub when using the shower. A couple of sinks is always welcome so that a couple sharing a room wouldn't have problem having his or her own space.
 
 
bathtub

toiletries
 

welcome fruits
 
Bottled water is provided, around 4 bottles in different areas in the room. They recommend that even for tooth brushing to use bottled waters for health and sanitation purposes.
 
view from the room at daylight, overseeing the Mega Kuningan area
 
 view from the room at night

Breakfast is served at Asia Restaurant, located at the lobby level of the hotel. It features cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, American/Western and of course local Indonesian food. There is a wide variety of food available for diners, and servers does rounds on tables for freshly baked breads and pastries.
 
my breakfast plates for the first morning and second, respectively
 
I didn't get a chance to go around the city for food due to weather and for most of my meals, I just had them at the restaurants housed at the nearby Oakwood Shopping Arcade. The area is the same where I stayed 2 years ago for my first business trip in the city. I went back to a restaurant where I've eaten local food that time but I remember it was named as Waroeng Kampong at that time if I'm not mistaken. Right now, this restaurant is called Pawon Nyonya.
 
Again, I had my favorite food in Indonesia - Sop Buntut (or oxtail soup). There's another variety of this dish that I like better called Sop Buntut Goreng where the oxtail is fried and usually separated from the soup.

On another occasion, I ate at Eaton Restaurant - Ah Mei Café, who serves Singaporean and Japanese style food, together with some baked goods at the café.
 
nasi bebek
 
lumpia udang mayonaise
 
wonton soup
 
all together now!
 
 
Such a short trip. I was to stay for 3 nights but my flight falls at the wee hours of Thursday so I had to checkout Wednesday very late at night and headed back to the airport. It is regretful for me that I didn't get to experience this city much, knowing that it may be the last of my travel to this city for quite a long time due to a realignment of my job role.
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