Wednesday, April 8, 2009

UBBE Caramoan with Travel Factor

UBBE is a term coined by Travel Factor which actually is an acronym for "Ultimate Beach Bumming Experience" - a phrase that best describes this escapade that they organize. It all started when Patrick sent me a text message asking me if I want to join this trip. I've heard about this group months back but I was a bit hesitant at first to say yes until we had a firm confirmation that we really are joining. He invited others but there's this small problem in our group when we always draft plans for outings, getaways or even simple meet-ups but we always end ditching it out (a.k.a. drawing) so I already got used to plans staying just as plans and nothing really gets executed.

Anyway, as the date draws nearer, he texted me that he already registered and paid for the trip. Having said that, I immediately asked Leia of Travel Factor if I can still register and was informed that there are still a couple of slots open. This is my first time to join a trip from this group.

The initial iterinary are as of follows:
Day 0 (April 3) - meet-up in McDonald's El Pueblo by 8PM and leave for Sabang port in Camarines Sur thereafter
Day 1 (April 4) - boat to Caramoan in Camarines Sur, island hopping and tent camping in Bosdak beach
Day 2 (April 5) - island hopping, trekking and overnight in town proper
Day 3 (April 6) - Camsur Watersports Complex and leave for Manila
Day 4 (April 7) - early morning arrival in Manila

Day 0 was a hectic schedule for me at work. I had a customer meeting in Mandaluyong in the morning, back in the office for another meeting after lunch, and another customer meeting in Quezon City until 5:30PM. I still had to catch up and buy some stuffs for the trip so I did my last minute shopping around 6:30PM in SM Makati for toiletries, snacks and necessities and then tried to race to El Pueblo after 15 minutes.

I arrived a bit late from our 8:00PM call time but it was fine since registration haven't started yet. I ordered dinner food and a few minutes after eating, registration had commenced and we boarded the bus. When everyone had already settled in, the bus immediately left and went to the other pickup point. After a few intoductions plus reminders and a couple of hours of music, lights were turned off and all 48 trippers slept, looking forward to next morning's activities.

Day 1 - I woke up and saw that traffic was bad on our way to Sabang port because of road constructions and lack of coordination from the passers-by. We were already behind schedule by around 4 hours and we haven't arrived in the port yet so they our iterinary was tweaked a bit to accomodate the loss of time:
Day 1: overnight in Caramoan town proper
Day 2: island hopping and tent camping in Bosdak
Day 3: Camsur Watersports Complex and leave for Manila

Although there was a bit of hesitation from others, it later turned out to be a good decision, timing and weather-wise for all of us.
Because of the delay, we arrived in our stopover in Naga by 9:30AM of Day 1 and by that time a lot of us were already hungry so a number of trippers went to the nearby eatery for a quick-eat.

A couple or so of hours more of land travel and we arrived at the Sabang port in Camarines Sur where a big boat was waiting to take us to Caramoan.

The boat's capacity of 50 passengers and above is the biggest I've seen for a boat of that type so far. A similar boat was beside us which states "Maximum Authurized Passenger Capacity 66".

We braised ourselves for that 2-hour long boat trip to Caramoan. It was a good thing that we sat near Leia where she eagerly and excitedly entertained us by sharing her stories and escapades about her other trips and experiences. Because there is nothing else to do, I decided to just take pictures of the sceneries on our way.

damaged boat

house on top of the hill, overlooking the water

fisherman's boat

16 hours after we left Manila, here we are in Caramoan at last! So far this has been the longest trip I had to get anywhere in the Philippines and by this time I was hoping that it should be well worth it.

We arrived in Caramoan, specifically in Guijalo port - yes, that is correct. However, we still had to ride a jeepney to get to Caputatan where we will have our lunch and stay for the night.

Half of an hour later, we arrived at this house, owned by Caramoan Mayor Constantino Cordial Jr., where our lunch was served.

Because we were such a big group, others ate their lunch inside the house while others had theirs in a hut just outside.

Food at last! By 3:00PM we were already having our lunch - steamed crabs, fried fish and ginataang langka (jackfruit in coconut milk). I was so happy to see food, especially the crabs which is one of my favorite dishes. Usually I enjoy it by dipping the meat in soy sauce with calamansi and chili peppers but since the sauce was not available, I just got vinegar and enjoyed the meal.

Later that day, the group congregated and everyone had to introduce himself to all the trippers. It was fun to know that most of us share a common interest in life of travelling and majority of us are in the IT industry. A number of them have already been together in other trips but since most of the participants are also of the same age bracket as mine, I didn't feel left out.

group photo

Minutes later, we left the mayor's house and walked to the villas where we will be staying. We were the first guests of these villas which is partially under construction. Because other rooms are not yet ready, a few others were left in the mayor's where they will be staying for the night.

This is the room assigned to me and Patrick. We are sharing it with Marvs and Glenn who have been travelling with Travel Factor for quite some time. It is an airconditioned room that has its own bathroom so we didn't have any problems taking shower use the restroom when needed.

Later did I find out that we have a bit of inconvenience (but not really a problem) in town - electricity was out for some reason! I was looking forward to charging my phone that went battery empty on our way here. Later that night, when I felt the urged of turning on my phone, I brought my laptop out and charged my phone via USB cable. Yes, I had a laptop all these time because in my line of work, I need to be reachable and able to pull out information in almost any time of the day. Another inconvenience that struck me is that there was no carrier signal on my phone when I turned it on. When I went out of the room and by the roadside, I was relieved when I started to get messages again but I thought to myself that I was there to relax so it must have been a blessing in disguise for me - no disturbance and I'm disconnected with the world.

There was nothing else for us to do until that night so the group instead went to a nearby church. They said it was just walking distance but it turned out to be 20-30 minutes away by foot. It was a good thing that I was riding on the vehicle of the villa that took us to the church while others walked their way. St. Michael Parish Church was built in 18th century out of stone, adobe and clay.

A lot of the trippers were there for a photo opportunity. A lot of Filipino youth are camwhores and we are proud of it! So after taking pictures of individual moments, group shots and even jump shots, we then proceeded to a nearby market which is 3-minutes walk from the church to buy necessities or just to stroll around.

Going back to the villas from the market, Patrick and I, as well as a few others, decided to walk back since there are nothing much to do for the rest of the night. It was dark but the moon was shining bright that evening, which led us on our way back. A few stories and scaring each other on the way and we finally reached our villa where a candle is lit outside. So far the trip is going basic - no electricity, eating with bare hands and cool fresh air while doing nothing at all and I'm loving it!

Dinner was finally served - fried fish, calamari (fried squid rings) and sauteed snails with vegatables. I didn't know it was snails at first so I readily munch on them thinking it was squid. When I was informed what's in it, I suddenly lost my appetite. Must be psychological! :P

Next activity was the socials or "fellowship". Fondly called as alcohol drinking session, it started early right outside from the veranda of our room. After having around 4-5 shots, people from the house and other villas started pouring in which lasted until an hour past midnight. Shown here is Au who mixed and passed around the drink shots to everyone - the alcohol and escape queen. It was a concoction of gin (Ginebra), pineapple juice, lemon-lime softdrink (Sprite) and purified water.

Day 2 - Everyone had to wake up and leave early to make the most out of our time for island hopping. We left for Bikal port by 5:00AM and was there 30 minutes after.

We had to wait for everyone else to be there before we boarded our boats. So while waiting, we just took picture of the boats and the sunrise which started to peek right before we left.

Patrick and I were assigned to boat #1 with 4 other girls and a guide whom we found out later is the mayor's daughter. I believe there were 7 boats rented out for the whole group. I actually find this setup better than getting one big boat because it will take time to wait for everyone and with this, we will have more control of our time.

On our way to the first island stop, we passed by Gota beach - a place everyone is looking forward to visit. Nestled in between hills, this place is closed off from public until July of this year because allegedly a series of Survivor Israel is shooting from here. Months back, Survivor France (Koh Lanta) also shot a series here and around the Caramoan peninsula.

This island greeted us after 40 minutes of boat ride - Matukad island. Since we were the first boat to leave from the group, there were only a few visitors to the island by the time we arrived, mostly those who camped out in the island the night before. There were no establishments in the island, aside from the tents the campers used. Only pure white sand beach, pristine clear waters and lush greens. I cannot help but be amazed by this island so I took a dip in the water from this island but stayed away from the sun.

patrick and me

We left the island and proceeded to the next one an hour and a half later, just a few minutes after boat #7 arrived. But before that, we first had a group photo before we took off

Our next destination was in Lahus island. A sandbar between hills of rock formation with both sides facing the sea welcomed us to the island.

boat #1 - patrick, me, joan, bq and aloe. erma is behind the camera and michelle (our guide) remained in the boat

Because everyone else is doing their jump shots, I indulged and had one of myself taken in the island.

It was past 10:00AM in the morning when we left Lahus en route to our campsite. On our way, it was funny for me to see cows at the shore of one of the islands, sunbathing and probably relaxing themselves.

Our campsite is in Bosdak cove. The beach area is also owned by the mayor and we were allowed to set our tents and stay overnight in this place where there will soon be a developed resort.

Yes, it was almost lunch time but we haven't had our breakfast yet. I had a few chocolates with me while others in the boat have a few snack items so we shared food to keep ourselves up until we had our breakfast. A few other groups were ahead of us because they weren't allowed to proceed to Lahus due to a shoot where they will be closing off the island. I guess we were lucky that time because there were only 2 groups who were fortunate to visit the island. Breakfast was already served so we immediately helped ourselves and ate with our bare hands. Fried fish, dried fish and chopped pagi (manta ray) were served.

We left for more island hopping after lunch time. We were headed towards Cotivas island but we saw a group in a sandbar so we changed directions and stopped here first, which is near Manlawi island.

boat #1 - me, michelle, joan, erma, bq, aloe and patrick

It was more of a picture stop so we only stayed at the sandbar area for a few minutes, took our pictures, dipped in the water for a while and we headed off to our original destination - Cotivas island.

Cotivas is one of the islands used for filming the survivor series. Here is the set used during elimination nights where they set out fire on both ends.

A few picture-taking and photo opportunities in Cotivas, and a bit of relaxation and we're off again to visit another island. We wanted to go to Basud island but out boatman warned us that the wind is getting stronger and going there is dangerous. We settled to go instead to Manlawi island.

By mid-afternoon, we left Manlawi to go back to our campsite. Lunch was already waiting for us and we were already getting hungry. After lunch, we tried to look for our boat but it seems that it left us already so we instead explored the nearby area for something to see and check if there's a cellphone signal above the hill. We were surprised to see a walkway above the hill. At first we thought it was a deserted island and later did we knew that it is actually connected to a barrio nearby (Daraga).

The sound of flowing water led us to a water stream down the other side of the hill. We were told that this is where we get water supply for our stay.

Going back and further up the hill, we passed by this luscious green grass area and I can't help but had my picture taken.

view of the beach from above the hill

Back at our campsite it started to get dark as it was getting late. We had to move our tents twice because the water started to go near.

They have served us boiled kamote (sweet potato) that afternoon. We were told it was best eaten with bagoong (sauteed little shrimps) but I didn't dare to be that adventurous. By this time, Au started to make her alcoholic mix again which you can see at the background here. Drinking started from this time and ended up in the wee hours after midnight.

Patrick and I took a rest at our tent late that afternoon. We are supposed to share the tent with Marvs and Glenn, our roommates back in the villa but only Glenn slept that night inside this tent.

After dinner, I decided to rest and watch the stars while the others continued in their drinking session. A videoke machine and generator was also brought to the island so we had entertainment throughout the night (actually until dusk the next day).

It was hot inside the tent so I decided to sleep out in the sand. I even thought of sleeping out that night while I was gazing at the sky and the stars. A camp fire was set for us but only a handful of people actually stayed around to hangout while others are busy in their drinking sessions at the table or singing their hearts out with the videoke machine.

I was lying on the sand when it started to get windy and later on chilly. I also started to felt something crawling on my body but since it was dark, I cannot see what it was. I got up and saw an almost empty bottle of tequilla lying near our tent. No, I wasn't drunk at this time. In fact, I stopped drinking the shots a couple of hours back. I just thought it's a good photo opportunity and pretend. I don't think I will ever drink tequilla straight from the bottle either. :P

I went back inside the tent and tried to sleep. Music from the videoke machine is on the air throughout the night, and actually until the next day.

Day 3 - I had a hard time sleeping because of the videoke music but I still managed to wake up early just in time to catch the sunrise and take snapshots. This is the scene that greeted me when I opened my eyes.

sunrise at Bosdak beach

The other groups left early during sunrise for a hike in Mt. Caglago but Patrick and others from boat #1 wasn't up for it so I decided to stay with them. We had our breakfast in the island and started to break the camp. While we were folding our tent, we saw this scorpion-like creature underneath our tent. I hope these are not those I felt crawling through my body last night!

A few minutes later and we are off the island on in a boat ride again, this time back to Caramoan main island.

If cows sunbathing at the beach side left a smile in my face the day before, today I saw cows lined up, hiking up the mountain. My thoughts were like "what's up with these cows?!".

We reached Bikal port an hour later but there were no "parking space" for the boat left. What happened next is challenging, transferring between boats to get to landside. Just imagine the boats that came after us - they have to walk from their boat to ours and then to another one to reach the port area. Because our boat was one of those who left the island early, we caught up with those who hiked up in Mt. Caglago who were very hungry by this time.

A jeepney was waiting for us in Bikal port which took us to Guijalo port with a short stop-over the mayor's house to pickup some things. It took a while for the rest of the group to arrive so while waiting, we had a little food trip, eating ice cream, ice drop and even the snacks we had in our bags. This ice cream vendor is a life-saver in such a hot day like this.

A little more than an hour after, the rest of the group came and we were complete again. We got in a big boat going to Sabang port and the hikers finally got their breakfast aboard packed in plastic bags. How they ate it is up to your imagination and your guess is just as good as mine.

As we are getting near Sabang, I saw these beautiful island circled around by white sand - must be a good place to relax!

We landed in Sabang by lunch time and had to travel to Pili, Camarines Sur for our lunch. We ate in Bigg's Diner, a well-known chain in Bicol region. I also ate in one of their branches in my previous trip to Bicol Region a few weeks back and posted pictures in my multiply.

Camsur Watersports Complex was our final destination before we leave for Manila. We had free time from 3:00PM - 8:30PM to take shower, dip in the pool, wakeboard or have a massage. The whole place was packed when we arrived because there was an international championship event the previous day. Before swimming and taking shower, we chilled out in one of the cottages and had a few food and drinks (for an early dinner) under the heat of the sun in this hot afternoon.

I also managed to take a few snaps while waiting for our food and drinks to be served. We were situated beside the lake where the wakeboarding is so it was a perfect opportunity to capture some moments.

girl with a large floating havaianas slipper


jump shot

walking beside the lake

pulled by the cable




cottages. we stayed in this cottage until night time

massage area

wakeboarder, waiting for his turn

We got up just in time when the sun's getting down and the place is getting dark. We saw Lago Del Rey where we could have spent time in water activites instead of just bumming in the cottage but it was too late.

We left CWC before 9:00PM and headed back to Manila. We arrived the next day around 5:45AM in El Pueblo.

The trip brought me a whole new experience and adventure when travelling. In fact I've earned a lot of firsts from this getaway - first time to join a youth-oriented organized trip, longest trip within the country, first time to stuck my butt in a 2-hour boat ride just to get into one place, camping out at night, etc. It was a nice experience to be in a back-to-basics mode of eating with bare hands, staying in a place with no cellphone signal, electricity, television, or technology whatsoever, no running potable water but it was all good. After all the mishaps that happened along the way, it definitely is one of the most memorable experience I had when travelling locally. It was almost like a backpacking trip with a suggested iterinary.

More pictures are available in multiply. Just add me as a friend to view them.


shiels said...

it was indeed one memorable trip :) haha.. sorry di ka pala naka sleep. kami yung mosh pit gang! :) i grabbed some pix from your multiply! you have some really nice shots there! i also enjoyed reading your blogs! :) wish i can travel as much as you do..hehe :)

Jasper said...

@shiels haha thanks. i don't think it was you guys pa singing in the wee hours. and iba na yung accent. yung kumakanta ng hero ni enrique iglesias group ang nakakabulahaw haha

eunice said...

WAAA!!! so much fun there!! The seafood must be great!! N wow you guys camped there! COOL!!

Jasper said...

@eunice haha i told you to come up here to the Philippines!

Patrick said...

talagang may sleeping pic pa ako. ha ha ha. there were only 8 songs after I put on the PMP before I woke up and didn't realize na may ganung shot. ha ha ha ha.

Jasper said...

@patrick sure ka 8 lang? kasi mag di dinner na nung magising ka eh :P

Ivana said...

I've just arrived in one conclusion : You are really a PHOTOHOLIC,hehehehe

eunice said...

yes yes definitely will visit the Phil!! I always think it's under rated as one of the world's best travel destinations! Guess it does not have enough tourism publicity in Singapore too cos I don't see a travel ad about it. But I always tell my friends to go! hehe

Check out my post on "Stolen pic" :(

RennyBA said...

What a wonderful adventure and what a great story in all the details with great pics too!

I wanna do that UBBE thing and I love crabs - I'm a Norwegian you know, so I love seafood.

RennyBA's Terella

Travel Feeder said...

Hi! Jasper. I love many of your interesting and beautiful photos in The Backpack Boy! I should have dropped by your blog much earlier! Thanks Eunice for bringing me here...
It seems that Philipine should be in my 'Next-to-go' list of travel destination...
p/s: It's strange that when I key in my url, it appeared to be 'incorrect OpenID url'...

Lavern said...

Wow, I miss caramoan beach... Do they already have electricity in Gotha Beach?

Jasper said...

@renny - thanks for visiting! you should UBBE sometime! norway is one of the countries i wanted to visit in europe. maybe i should get that visa after all!

@naked ozone - yes! philippines is a great place to visit. if you're coming just let me know so i can give you some tips. about the open id thing, let me check and will message you separately :)

@lavern - honestly, gota is closed to public due to shooting so i wasn't able to visit the place. i was told that yes there's electricity and all but not sure if it's via generator or via the power grid line.

Anonymous said...

i wish i can travel as much as you do, kaka-inggit naman ang life mo *sigh*.

Euroangel said...

wow love the photos here....miss ko na tuloy lalo ang pinas...thanks for the visit..happy easter!! God bless you in your trips!!

Jasper said...

thanks guys! :)

Unknown said...

i have just one correction to the place u mentioned in ur travel. . .u mentioned of NATO port instead of BIKAL port. .

Jasper said...

@vic - thanks for the information. i made the necessary corrections already :)