The Rocks, The Sea and the Sun in Sisiman

Energized by my venture into Albay, I was pumped into looking for my next destination.  After scouring the net, this beach in Sisiman, Bataan kept calling to me.  And as we say here in the Philippines, I’m very agreeable so I packed my bag and spent a weekend there.

Sisiman’s beach is rocky and  even has hardened lava in some sections. Although sandwiched by two factories, the beachfront itself is a beauty and the local community surrounding it is charming in its own way.  Fishing and making dried fish appear to be the main livelihood.  Videoke is very much alive as early as 7 am too! Hahaha 😀

Until now, pitching tents there is free, and the local community also rent cottages for a minimal fee.  Toilet and bathroom are communal, and they charge per pail.

The best time to go here is either by sunrise or sunset; it looks like it gets pretty crowded later on in the day.  In fact, groups of people started arriving by 7:30 am.  Not by the busload, but it’s getting challenging to take decent landscape photos.

How to get there?

  1. Take the bus going to Mariveles
  2. Alight at Baseco
  3. Take a tricycle–tell the driver to drop you off at Sisiman Beach.

Here’s the cost breakdown:

Cubao – Mariveles RT:  PhP560

Tricycle fare:  PhP13 (Special:  PhP50)

There’s no entrance fee to Sisiman beach

A Day in Albay

No ATV rides, no sili ice cream, but it was still quite an experience.

I swore that this year, I’ll explore Philippines more, so one seat sale or so ago, I looked for a place to go to and decided on Albay.  I want to see Mt. Mayon up close!  But after this trip, I found gems, both in places and people.  So enough with the narratives and on to the pictures!

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View from Legazpi Airport’s runway

Even if you end up sitting at the wrong side of the plane, you’ll still get a nice view of Mayon after the plane lands.  One of the best runway views I’ve seen so far 🙂

Lignon Hill is just behind Legazpi Airport, so I hopped on to a tricycle right away.  Manong was very helpful; he was actually teaching me where to go, how to go around and he practically got that I prefer experiencing the place like how locals do.  He assured me that I, with no exercise at all and practically sits all day in the office, can reach Lignon Hill’s peak.  He said he even jogs there in mornings.  Okay then, I thought, I’m ready!

The road was paved, yes; you won’t get lost, yes; but it was steep.  Not exaggerating here, but I was tempted to crawl up at some parts of the trek haha^^ I was that out of shape.  Thankfully though, I was able to reach the peak and was rewarded with these views:

A lot of people were exercising there too and there was someone selling coconuts.

Lignon Hill has a minimal entrance fee after 9 am but it’s free in the mornings (and personally, considering how hot it can get later on in the day, mornings are the best time to go there).

After Lignon Hill, my next stop was Cagsawa Ruins.  Two jeepney rides away from the foot of Lignon Hill, Cagsawa is hard to miss since there’s a sign pointing to the park.  About half a kilometer’s walk and you’re already by the entrance.  They charge a fee of 20 pesos and you’re free to stay there as long as you like.

There are plenty of souvenir shops and some restaurants inside, and I don’t really like to say this, but it’s a little too touristy for me.  There are plenty of locals too offering to take pictures for visitors for a fee.  What I appreciate about them is they just ask you once and then if you say no, they leave you alone.  Here are shots of the bell tower, the church hall’s remnants and a rice field:

After about an hour, I headed back to Legazpi City to check out Starbucks in Ayala Mall Legazpi.  I chose the seat with the best view of Mayon, but I wasn’t satisfied because a column was blocking the view.  So no picture from there.  After recharging, I headed to Embarcadero de Legazpi, but upon reaching the mall, I realized it’s not worth killing time here for the rest of the afternoon, so I did a quick research and stumbled upon Quitinday Hills.  And I’m glad I chose to go to this place.

From Embarcadero, jeepneys going to Camalig pass by.  So I got on one, and the jeepney driver guided me and had me alight at Sentro, where the tricycles are.  The roundtrip fare costs PhP350 – 500 pesos, and the tricycle drivers will allow probably just 2 or even at most 3 per ride.  It takes about half an hour before you reach the drop-off point.  That half-hour though is through a grueling rough road, so as a tip, don’t eat too much before heading off to Quitinday, and make sure you don’t have stomach problems.

Quitinday is a relatively new attraction which boasts of two viewing points where you can see Mayon (and the rest of the hill formations as well).  According to one of the locals, Quitinday is better than Chocolate Hills because you actually get to climb its hills, while with Chocolate Hills, you just get to see it from a viewing deck.  From my trip, Quitinday is definitely my favorite stop.  Why, you ask?  Here’s why:

I wish I had time to check out Quitinday falls and Hoyop-hoyopan cave which was on the way, but I had to go back to Embarcadero to view the sunset and I had to be within Legazpi City so I won’t miss my flight back home. Still no luck seeing Mayon, and the sunset was on the other side of the port, but I still enjoyed the scenery.

After I had my fill of shots from the port, I had dinner at a local coffee shop then headed to the airport.

So, the itinerary:

6:00 am – land at Legazpi Airport

6:15 – 8:00 am – Lignon Hill

8:00 – 9:30 am Cagsawa Ruins

10 am – 12:00 nn Legazpi City center

1:00 – 4:00 pm Quitinday Hills

5:00 – 6:00 pm Embarcadero de Legazpi

6:00 – 7 pm Dinner at Artisan’s Specialty Coffee

7 pm – Head back to Legazpi Airport

 

Breakdown of expenses:

PhP 3400 : Roundtrip ticket (MNL – Legazpi)

PhP 40 : Entrance fees (20 pesos each for Cagsawa park and Quitinday)

PhP 500 transportation

 

 

Viewing the Majestic Mt. Fuji

Being Japan’s icon and rightfully so, seeing Mt. Fuji is definitely a must for me.  There are so many ways and so many places to enjoy the view, but for my trip, I chose to see Mt. Fuji from three vantage points in two days from the Fuji Five Lakes region.  I tried viewing Mt. Fuji from the Chureito Pagoda, Mt. Shakushi and Lake Kawaguchiko.  So yeah, these are the more nature-leaning sightseeing spots for Mt. Fuji.

I’ve read that Mt. Fuji’s visibility is somewhat unpredictable, so choosing the date to see Mt. Fuji (which I set practically four months in advance) was a gamble for me.  But as you’ll see, it did pay off 🙂

Access to Fuji Five Lakes Region Coming from Tokyo

Let me start though by sharing how to get to the Fuji Five Lakes region.  If you’re coming from Tokyo, the cheapest and fastest way to get to Fuji Five Lakes is via bus from the Shinjuku Bus Terminal.  The trip roughly takes 2 hours and it costs JPY 1750 up to Kawaguchiko.  You may purchase in advance and just approach the counter so you can get your ticket and have your seat assignment, or just purchase upfront. This is a hard lesson learned for me: to make the most of your trip, check the timetable and be at the bus terminal at least half an hour early so you can purchase your ticket.

Shimoyoshida

I was originally going to alight at Kawaguchiko Station, but the bus would stop at Shimoyoshida first, where Chureito Pagoda is, so alight at Shimoyoshida station I did.  And then I wish I didn’t, because I felt I was in the middle of nowhere.  Don’t get me wrong; the town was quiet and lovely, but save from a couple other passengers–a lady and a man–who got off, there was no one else around because the town was covered in snow.  And there were no signage near the bus stop that tells you how far Chureito Pagoda is, or which direction you need to head.  So I mustered up my courage and asked one of the other passengers.  She started telling me that I had to walk, and when I asked how far, she was hesitating.  That got me nervous, for sure, until the other passenger spoke up and told me that he’ll show me the way.  So we kept walking for at least 10 minutes until he spoke up and pointed at the mountain on the other side of the road.  And boy, he did point way up to the mountain’s summit.  For the second time that day, first being the moment I got off the bus, I thought of giving up.  But I didn’t want to waste the gentleman’s kindness so I kept on.  He pointed the way to the train station, i.e., my save point, and then he gave me instructions on how to get to the shrine entrance.  I walked on, but didn’t find the way, so I retraced my steps.  I came across another couple and this time, they took me right at the steps to Arakura Shengen shrine (where Chureito Pagoda is).  So here it is, in pictures:

For a second, I wanted to cry after my phone shut down.  I haven’t texted my host yet to pick me up, and it was about to get dark in the next 10 minutes or so.  But I steeled myself and focused on getting to the train station.  Thankfully, I was able to charge my phone when I got to Shimoyoshida station, texted my host, and then waited at Fujisan station.  I then spent the night at Peace & One resort which I wrote about here.

Mt. Shakushi

Mt. Shakushi’s summit is one of the underrated viewing spots for Mt. Fuji, but when you conquer the two-hour hike, it’s said to be worth it.  Note that I wrote “said to be” because it was too cold for me and I didn’t have enough time. But the trail is beautiful, too:

 

Lake Kawaguchiko

Following my failed quests to reach Chureito Pagoda and Mt. Shakushi’s summit, I had to ask my host several times if Lake Kawaguchiko is at sea level or not.  The lake is one of the most scenic spots to view Mt. Fuji and this spot is the most accessible of the three, and is actually within the busy town.  The lake is just a 5 – 10 minute walk from Kawaguchiko bus station and there are plenty of signs to guide the way.  I was running on a tight schedule so I just managed to take a few shots of Lake Kawaguchiko:

This time, Mt. Fuji wasn’t completely visible at all (or maybe I was just looking at the wrong direction^^;;) In any case, it was still worth checking out Lake Kawaguchiko, mostly because I’d lose sleep for days in regret if I didn’t! Haha!

Two days, three spots, priceless encounters with places and people.

Relax

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Sunken Garden, University of the Philippines, Diliman.  Taken on a Sunday afternoon.

Occupied for a week in a year for the university fair; otherwise, it’s pretty much free for everyone to enjoy.  The field is great for sports and the surrounding shade is perfect for picnics, studying or just plainly relaxing.

 

For the weekly photo challenge Relax

Hello there! It’s been a while.

It’s been really busy these past few weeks but I miss writing.  Hope you’re all doing well 🙂

I went to Tokyo and Yamanashi two weeks ago, and I’m excited to share with you my experience.  For now, here’s a preview, and it’s of the resort I stayed in near Mt. Fuji.

Airbnb listing

Musings on a Monday

The only time Monday doesn’t suck is when I don’t have to go to work, like now 😛 Okay, kidding aside, what actually makes anything suck is how you look at it or your attitude towards it, so better be grateful for Mondays, right?

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Case in point – man vs. nature, profit vs. privacy.  Minutes before sunset, the sun behind the camera, taken yesterday. In weeks’ time, the building will have been finished and over the view. I can’t really do anything about it, but at least I can enjoy this part of the sky while it can still be seen.

So here’s to you and (I’m kind of reminding myself too)–let’s choose to see beauty in things and make the most of of what we can control.

Happy Monday!
And to our dear Muslim brothers and sisters, happy Eid!