Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Must Eats for a Cebu First Timer

It was Mac's first time in Cebu so we had to try the famous CNT lechon and experience Sutukil

CNT Lechon is always packed. You have to arrive early to get the parts you want

Mac trying the Puso - their version of rice

This is a kilo of lechon. It is worth P300.00++

For Seafood dishes, Sutukil it is

We chose the No Problem Restaurant

Just beside Sutukil is the Lapu Lapu Shrine

Where you will see Lapu Lapu

Malapascua Island - Things to do and How to Get There

Can you imagine what Boracay was like 20 years ago, The fine white sand, the beautiful beach, the helpful locals, peacefully walking from Station 1 to 3 without people approaching you to offer all kinds of activities?

This was what I saw in Cebu's Malapascua Island and more. On the road going there and upon my first steps in the island, I felt like I was transported 20 years ago. The 1 hour plane ride from Manila to Cebu,  more than 4 hour ride from Cebu to Maya Wharf, the 40 minute boat ride from the wharf to the island was all worth it.

First, how to get there from Manila.

1. There are a lot of airlines flying from Manila to Cebu so this will be no problem. These airlines would usually have deals where you can get tickets, sometimes free. You would only have to pay the airport taxes.

2. Upon arrival in Cebu, ride a metered taxi going to the North Bus Terminal. This is where it gets tricky because the Ceres Buses that will ply the Maya-Bagay route do not follow a schedule of departure. Aircon buses are rare. Because it was already late and we did not want to miss the boat, we decided to ride in a non-aircon bus. The scenery was amazing, you will pass by a lot of fields and seashore. Riding in a non-aircon bus for 4 hourse was such an experience. The fare is P163.00/person. But if you are a big group travelling and have money to spare, I suggest you rent a private van to bring you to Maya Wharf as this will get you there faster and the ride is more comfortable. Going back from Malapascua, we decided to already arrange for a private van to Cebu. We had to pay P2,500.00 for the rent, the van can seat up to 12 people.

3. At the Maya Wharf, you will pay P80.00 for the boat ride to Malapascua. But they also offer special trips of P800.00 - P1,000.00 where you will charter your own boat and you will not have to wait for other passengers before it leaves.

Regular boats which will wait for other passengers before leaving

Or you can also arrange for a special trip
If you arrive late i n the afternoon, your boat will not be able to dock in the shore. You will have to transfer to one of the smaller boats like this to bring you to shore. For tourists, the banca ride is another P20.00
   4. You will arrive at their port in Malapascua, you will have to walk quite a bit to reach your hotel. Or you can also ride in one of the motorbikes. So I suggest you pack light.

Now, for some things to do and places you should not miss in the island. 

1. Swim in Malapascua Legend's pool. They are the only hotel here that has a pool and offers the comforts of a 3 star accommodation. Each standard room costs P5,000.00 for peak season while the native room is P2,500.00. If you are not staying here, you can still swim in their pool by paying P150.00

Malapascua Legends Pool area
2. But of course, you did not go to Malapascua just to swim in the pool. So you have to get one of the island tours which will bring you to several snorkeling sites including the shipwreck - where you will get to see the remains of a ship that sank during World War II

 3. If you are brave enough, cliff dive!

This is my friend, jumping off

4. Have lunch along one of the beaches. We had our boatman Mang Noli, who is a local in Malapascua, prepare the lunch for us. This was the best meal I had in the island. I do not usually like eating fish, but I liked what they prepared.
This is the spot where we had our lunch

5. Spend the afternoon in their floating bar
The floating bar

You can feed the fishes and snorkel around the area

Drinking fresh buko juice
6. Try the specials in the Ocean Vida Bar.
I could fall asleep in these bean bags. What's great about this place is that you can hear each other when you talk. No loud music blasting away.

This was my favorite special drink. They call it the Malibu Bay Breeze (pineapple juice, cranberry juice and malibu)
7. Ride a motorcycle that will bring you to the best parts of the island.
The motorcycle ride. We paid the driver P150.00 for bringing us to the tip of the island

Our country really has the best beaches

You can watch the children play

And have fun yourself
8. Do not miss the sunset

9. Eat at Ging Ging's. This place comes highly recommended by the locals. When we went, the place was packed with foreigners.
Chicken Curry

Spaghetti with Egg & Cheese

Ging Ging's Flower Garden Restaurant
 10. And of course, Malapascua is known for its diving spots. If you have a diving license, then go ahead and dive. They say this is the only place that you can see tresher sharks in the country.
Picture courtesy of www.malapascua.net
Malapascua Island is really another reason to say that it's more fun in the Philippines.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Mac!

Enjoy your gifts!

I'm happy to see you happy!
Bought him a gaming laptop in time for Diablo 3's launch today

Hamilo Coast - Pico De Loro

This year's summer outing with my college buds was spent in Pico De Loro in Nasugbu, Batangas.

This is a relatively new real estate development by the SM group which is open to members only. The current lifetime membership fee is at P500,000.00. We were able to go in because we availed of a deal in dealgrocer.com

Going to Pico De Loro, we passed by Tagaytay and had breakfast at Bag of Beans. This is one of our favorite restaurants to eat in when we go up to tagaytay. 
Bacon is love
Standard silog breakfast
The pancakes look pale
We arrived at Pico De Loro around 10:00 am and we spent the morning catching up in the beach club while waiting for the 2:00pm check-in time.

The place is beautiful in terms of the rooms, landscaping, pools, and recreation activities. And if you have money to spare then go ahead and be a member or better yet, buy one of their units. But I won't recommend it as yet because there is a lot that needs to be improved in terms of its service, quality of food and just generally their staff. I understand that by opening up this vacation place they created a lot of jobs for the locals in Nasugbu, but it wouldn't hurt SM to conduct the proper Customer Service training to these staff.

We stayed at the Pico Sands Hotel. Room prices depend on the view (mountain view or lagoon view). If you are a member, you get a P1,000.00 discount. If you are a guest, you pay the complete amount and you will still need a member to endorse you.

Premiere room at the Pico Sands Hotel. Room Rates range from P6-8,000.00

The bath

Each room has a balcony. Ours was overlooking the lagoon.
And since we were there during Mother's Day, they had a complimentary gift. This was nice
The view from our 6th floor room. All the houses you see here are residential units that they sell

Facade of Pico Sands Hotel
They have two pools. One nearer Pico Sands Hotel and a smaller one in the Beach Club.
The infinity pool
Lounge area in the middle of the pool
 The beach had fine brown sand, and although a bit small (it is a cove after all), it is still beautiful.

They have another smaller pool here
 The food choices and quality needs a lot of improvement though as most of the food that we tried were bland. This is also where we had problems with their service as the food came hours too late from the time we ordered. Each meal/dish is also expensive, they really overpriced.

Even the buffet breakfast that came free with the room was just so so.

The lengua was the only thing that I liked. This one set me back P400.00 already

 In all, Pico de Loro is still a nice, upscale vacation place that I will recommend. But to get my two thumbs up, their service really has to improve.

*To go to Pico de Loro, you have to go through the SLEX and exit at Sta. Rosa. Immediately turn right going to Tagaytay. Just go straight along the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway. There are a lot of directional signages pointing towards the place.