Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Majestic Mayon and Whale Encounter

     Albay and Sorsogon were not on my list for 2009 travel plan, not until when Cebu Pacific had a zero all-inclusive promo last December 24-25, 2008.  Since  Manila-Legaspi City had the lowest roundtrip airfare of Php 56, I booked it right away before it’s too late just knowing a little information about the province.

     I researched first about the tourist spot, the mode of transportation, where to stay, and what to eat on the internet.  My friends and I usually do this in order for us to plan the itinerary and the budget.  Only to find out from blogs of travelers who have been there that there are many places to see.

     We traveled to Legaspi City last February 21, 2009.  Our flight was delayed for an hour because of the bad weather.  During the flight, the pilot announced that we will be forced to return in Manila if the weather will not be good for our landing.  Of course, nobody wants that to happen so we waited and prayed for a safe landing.  Thank God we reached Legaspi City Airport just on time.

Legaspi City and Cagsaua Ruins

     We arrived in Legaspi City at 1:30PM and outside the airport we boarded a trike for Php 70 to take us to Sampaguita Tourist Inn.  A passenger of the same flight recommended the Inn for budget travelers like us.  We booked for the double occupancy aircon room for Php 575 per night.  The room is small, clean, with private bathroom, near to main road and malls are just a few steps away.

     First stop was Cagsaua Ruins.  From city proper, we took a jeep to Ligao for Php 15 only and asked the driver to drop us to Cagsaua.  Then we went on foot for 15-20 minutes to the Ruins.  While walking, a Spanish Woman named Vanessa and a European guy (we didn’t ask for his name) joined us on our way there.  At the park entrance, we paid Php 10 each for the entrance fee.

     This Church of Cagsaua built after 1724 by Fray Francisco Blanco, was buried by rocks and lava during the eruption of Mayon Volcano last February 1, 1814, recorded as the worst eruption which killed 1,200 people and only the belfry remains prominent today.

    Before the sun goes down, we headed to Cathedral of San Gregorio Magno in Legaspi City, also one of the old churches that were modernized today.

     We reached the LCC Mall before 6PM to check if we could find some local food, a Bicol specialty, but we ended up at eateries in front of the mall.  We ordered laing and grind pork with diced potatoes for Php 90 only.

     The next morning, we climbed up to Ligñon Hill, where you can see the 360-degree view of the town and a closer look of the Mayon Volcano.  At the top of the hill, the view is so beautiful, so green, quite and breathtaking.  You will also see here the Japanese-built World War II tunnel used as the holding or storage area for ammunitions of Japanese soldiers during their occupation of the city and its environs.  If you want adventure, you can try their sky rider zipline, rapelling, airsoft, tunneling, firefly watching, Mayon trekking and lava watching on this hill.  But time did not permit us, so we went down the hill before 11AM in order for us to checked out on time in Sampaguita Inn.

     More pictures at Legaspi City Album

Donsol, Sorsogon

     At Central Bus Terminal in Legaspi City, we boarded a shuttle to Sorsogon for our Donsol trip but this route doesn’t go directly to Donsol, so we’re lost.  We reached the Sorsogon City instead but with the help of the shuttle drivers they instructed us how to get there.  According to them, we should have boarded a shuttle directly to Donsol from Legaspi City.

     We arrived in Donsol by 3PM and we billeted ourselves to Casa Bianca for Php 700 per night.  The resort is owned by the Vice Mayor of the town and is managed by his son Raffy.  It is a beach front resort, surrounded by coconut trees, with one 3-storey concrete building, with 3 small nipa huts room, and the other rooms are still under construction.  The beach sands are brown and grayish in color and the sea water is so clean.

     Neighboring the resort of Casa Bianca are Amor Beach Resort, Vitton Beach Resort, Woodland Beach Resorts and the local villages whose main occupation is fishing.

     That night, we went for fireflies watching in the river for a bargain price of Php 700/2pax.  The fireflies are so lovely at night and looks like a natural Christmas lights on trees and mangroves.

     The main attraction in Donsol is the whale shark encounter.  Since, this experience should not be missed; we registered at Department of Tourism located beside the Vitton Resort the moment we arrived in Donsol for tomorrow’s morning whale encounter.  We were asked to view a 15-minute video about the whale and the safety precautions.

     The following day, we were at the Tourism office by 7AM and we shared a motor boat with the foreigners (Marika of Sweden, Paulo of Italy, a Denmark couple, and Gladys of USA) for Php 3,500/7pax.  We also paid Php 100/pax for the registration fee and rented a snorkeling set for Php 150.  Another Php 150 for the fins.  One Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) and a spotter were assigned to us to help us with our needs and to serve as our instructor on the encounter.

     The interaction site is just 10 minutes away from the shore.  Once there, a spotter will look for the gentle giant, then the BIO will give you a signal to get ready and will shout go when it’s time to jump.  We will then swim with the whale of about 5 to 10 meters.  The interaction can last from 3-10 minutes, then after that we will return to the boat and spot for another whale again.  We’d been there in the middle of the sea for 4 hours but I could no longer remember how many whales I saw.  The experience was so fantastic and tiring, so before you go out in the sea, eat well and use fins for faster swimming.

     After our whale encounter, in the afternoon, we went back to Legaspi City and stayed at Sampaguita Inn at Php 400 a night for fan room.

     More pictures at Donsol Album

Sto. Domingo, Albay

     We dropped by at Legaspi Church first before we rode a jeep to Sto. Domingo parked in front of Gaisano Mall to visit the old Church of Sto. Domingo.  This old church that boast old brick-walls was built during the Spanish colonization centuries ago.  The view could be perfect if not with the clouds that covered half of the Mayon Volcano standing tall at the back of the church.

My Birthday Dinner

     We returned to Legaspi City before it gets dark and had our dinner at Colonial Restaurant located at the ground floor of Gaisano Mall.  The foods are great and it really satisfied our cravings for Bicolano dish.  While having our dinner, we were joined by Gladys our companion from our whale encounter in Donsol.

Back to Manila

     On February 24, time to go back to Manila, we packed early and headed to the airport for our flight.  We reached Manila at 1:30PM and went straight to the office for a half day work.  Then at my work area, I just smiled and felt great of my Mayon and Donsol trip.

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1 comment:

Nard said...

Sama ako! Sama ako! sama ako! waaaahh, tindi tlga, very informative, ipakalat ko to para sikat,
follow me back, sayang kasi hehe onti lang mga follower ko hehe, Galing galing!