Friday, June 25, 2010

Tishie's Travels: Bicol Express

I've been remiss. I often say that the irony of having so much to blog about is having no time to actually sit down and do it. Instead of boring you with excuses, let me give you a little photo of somethin' purty...

That is the beach at Calaguas Island in Camarines Norte, Bicol. Believe you me, that photo doesn't even do justice to just how beautiful the beach is--one of the most gorgeous I've ever seen. Fine sand, comparable to Boracay's. Crystal clear water that takes on a refreshing aquamarine shade from afar.

Hamil and I found ourselves here on Independence Day weekend. I desperately needed a break, and we had been wanting to take a trip to this little-known place after seeing such awesome photos online. It looked like paradise. And since we had so much fun on our previous camping trip, we had grand plans of doing it again.

The deets, in case you want to go to Calaguas yourself:
  • We took an 8:30 pm Piltranco (or Philtranco...the signs are different) bus to Daet from Cubao.
  • We arrived in Daet at around 4:30 am, had breakfast at a pares and tapsilog place, and waited and waited and waited for other people who were also headed to the island.
  • We then took a jeepney to the dock, then took a two-hour (!) boat ride to Calaguas. Be warned: It isn't exactly a boat with proper seats. More like a barge.
After two hours, you'll see...

Paradise, no? Not quite. Once we got to the island, we found that it was just overrun with campers. Tents three inches apart--my husband called it a concentration camp. We decided to pitch our tent elsewhere and were dismayed to find trash strewn all over the place! How disappointing.

We found out that a certain beer company had some sort of event the night before, complete with bands. So much for obscurity. But that supposedly accounted for all the trash. I really really really do hope that the inhabitants would take care of their home, and that the local government would implement an efficient waste management system. Otherwise, I fear there won't be pretty pictures like these much longer...

We were so bothered by the big crowd, considering we were there for peace and quiet. And it was scorching hot and uncomfortable--a tent feels like a sauna during the day. We found respite under the shade of a tree and a makeshift open tent that Hamil (and a friend of his) erected using bamboo that he found around the island! But after a few hours, we changed our plans and decided to head back to the mainland.

The original plan was to stay in Calaguas overnight, then spend the following day at Bagasbas Beach before boarding a bus back to Manila in the evening. We decided to head to Bagasbas that afternoon.

Bagasbas, one of the popular surf spots, didn't offer a beach as pristine as Calaguas, but I liked how laidback it was. Most visiting surfers had left, which made the place feel like a sleepy surf town, as chill as the stereotypical surfer dude. Just the kind of place I needed.

We checked into Surfers Inn, where we feasted on...

Sisig, fried chicken, grilled squid

Hamil caught a few (itty-bitty) waves that afternoon while I opted to while away the hours with Jane Austen. The next afternoon was pretty much the same, with my husband trying his hand (er legs?) at a short board for the very first time.

While he was in the water, he overheard a couple of foreigners who were floating nearby. "It feels like bathwater!" one commented, utterly relaxed. "I don't even want to surf anymore!" I sat on the shore and watched my husband and his valiant attempts with the more challenging new board. I also spent more time with Ms. Austen, and was tickled to see a little surprise across the sky when I looked up...

I've seen loads of rainbows before, but it doesn't get old. Seeing one always makes me smile! While Calaguas offered all this natural beauty enveloped by chaos, the less attractive Bagasbas gave me the relaxing environment I was pining for. It was kind of like Bagasbas was raising a colorful middle finger up at Calaguas, and smugly telling me that I had come to the right place at last.


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