Eversince i read the Naked Traveller, a book by Trinity, i always wanted to go to Philippine. This country which looks mostly like Indonesia somehow attracts me. Trinity described Philippine as a casual country, with several magnificent old buildings and historical area, and not to forget mentioning its beautiful beach and resort. Philippine consists of several islands, and to get to another one, we should use a plane. But then due to our limited leave from work, we decided to just explore Luzon, the largest island in Philippine.
From south to north, there are beaches. But aside from that, there also many beautiful old areas with wonderful buildings like church, museum, and fort. There is this area that we visit on our first day in Manila called Intramuros an integrated area of old Manila and favorite tourist spot. Name it; Santiago Fort, Nasional Museum of Manila, the oldest church St Agustin, Manila Cathedral etc.
One thing that impress me, the people here are so friendly and good for its hospitality. They can speak English, a good one, and some are mix up with Tag Lish (Tagalog – English). But somehow, they often mistaken us as one of them if we forgot to mention that we are from Indonesia.
Anyhow, soon that night me and my friend took a bus head north. The city named Pagudbud in area of Ilocos Norte, which famous for its beach and nature based tourist spots. There is a law here for littering. It is hardly stated that anybody who litter should pay huge amount of fine. Its vary depends on where the location is. Just like Phuket, Thailand, this place hang on their tourism as their prime income source. Just said Vigan old city, Batad in Baguio which is famous for its UNESCO heritage site, a far ranging rice terrace built in during 2000 years!
Luckily we were offered a tour by a tricycle driver named Mr. Ferdinand.For southbound and northbound tours, visiting around 10 places, we should pay 1000 peso for two (20 dollars). Its quite cheap, but we should pay for the entrance fee by ourselves ranging from 20 to 100 peso per people. It was drizzle that morning. We decided to have a breakfast near the bus station but then we got tricked! Actually, seems like not all Filipino was as great as i described before. Just be careful in paying something with no stated price, and always try to bargain for anything. I mean it!
When the rain almost stop, we started our journey. First, the Bangui windmills. The windmills really is big and super giant and its located next to the shore. Compared to my self i felt like an ant really! The sand is not so good, its brown with steep shore. After buying some unique souvenir to bring home, with a good after bargain price, we continued to Cafe Bojeador lighthouse. The lighthouse is not as tall as the one i saw in Belitong, Indonesia, but it still quite magnificent with its dramatic view to the sea. It is located up of the hill but the road was bad, it was in process of renovation.
In the northbound tour its much of a conservation area and beaches. There are Kabigan waterfalls which needs 2 km hiking to reach, and Patapat viaduct, that looks like a sea side road pass with super amazing view. I like the water, its so blue, as also with the clear sky and very bright sunshine. My friend even cover his head with his jackets. Come on, i am the girl anyway.There is also a picnic park named Agua Grande. But it was off season but this place really is pretty. Only two of us there with our driver, and the owner come in the next minutes. We paid 50 peso each to get in. This place is a private places as they claimed, but i am not really sure about that. We also visited another places named Paraiso ni Anton, Timmangtang Rock, Bantay Abot Cave, and see Dos Hermanos Island from the sea side along our way.
We stop finally at Blue sea lagoon beach which so much looks like Nusa Dua in Bali Indonesia. Some area belong to a resort named Hannah’s and the other are free for public. The weather still is hot and heat our head so much but i do love it. Sitting at the beach playing sands on my feet, and then tried to catch the waves while it hit the shores. And there are some fisherman who just come back from the sea. I tried to talked to them but they did not understand English, so yes, i just captured their after fishing activity.
We take another night bus head back to Manila that night. It safe our hostel cost. Next morning, without taking a bath (Opss), we just clean up and change at the nearest Mc Donalds. We get some hot coffee and pancakes and then get ready to explore the south of Manila, Tagaytay. Tagaytay is like Puncak, Bogor in Indonesia which is famous for the cool weather and fantastic view. Many old buildings and memorial thingy lied down here, there also some graves of important hero of Philippine, but beside that, there is this famous smallest active volcano in the middle of a lake which named Taal Volcano.
To reach this small mountain, we need a boat. We can share it with other groups but actually the boat only capable of 4 to 6 people. We rent it for three of us for 1.400 peso. To reach the boat, you need a tricycle or jeepney, and then to reach the crater from the boat harbour, you just need another transportation, say it, a horse! But i did read some review regarding this, and they so not recommended tourists to ride the horse because of its steep road, aside from the abnormal fare around 500 peso per horse per person. We take the walk for 40 minutes and pay permit 50 peso per person and another guide fare for 500 peso per guide. We walked for 40 minutes and then, when we reach the top of the mountain, seeing by ourselves the magnificent scenery of the crater which still eject some sulfur and smokey down there, all the tiredness is just fade away. And then when we turned back, what we saw was something more fascinating. The calm lake with tagaytay city as the background, and another non active mountain on our left. So great! Even though when we get down to our boat again the rain just started to pour, its just fine. We enjoy it!
There was one experience that is new to me in this journey. We did couched or hosted by a real Filipino. One of my friend sent couch request to one of Couch Surfing member in Philippine weeks before we touch down in Manila. And then, with her kindness, she allowed another two of us to join and stay that one night. We talked and shared experience. She has been to 17 countries -i envy her so much. We talked more about places we have visited and the places we would love to explore. She made us breakfast and that whole experiences just started a new friendship between us. She said we should visit el nino in Puerto Princessa, another part of Philippine. Well, may be next time Brenda! 🙂
I was so curious finding out from a friend’s photo that Belitong is such an amazing island. Its not pleonastic, i just said the truth. What lying there, the unique beach, the big and giant rock, the jungle, waterfall, its all beyond ordinary. Since the first time we landed in the airport of H.A.S. Hanandjoeddin we already love the sky and the clouds very much. Its rainy season actually, but the sky still gave as such magnificent view, which includes the great and white bunch of clouds, i know it has nothing to compare with. Thanks God its not rain all the time so that we can enjoy the sun shine and cool wind through our rented car window.
We already rent the cars from Jakarta -we need two of it since there are 11 of us- already booked the hotel, Martani which is one of the oldest hotel exists in Belitong and also one of the cheapest. Then about the itinerary, hemm, you would not want to know how difficult it was for us to finally made and agreed the decision about the itinerary since none of us really ever been there. Some people said that Belitong is just a tiny island which need only a couple hours to travelled it around -which then we recognized as a lie- since in spending 3 days, from friday to sunday, we only was able to enjoy half part of that dangerously beautiful island. Literally. We only visit West and North Belitong and skip our East and South trip since we have no enough time.
In the first day we did explore West belitong to the North. We came to the capital city of Belitong, Tanjung Pandan, which you may called a town, since it is so small. They use one way route for the traffic line, so we need to turn around and turn over at the same place almost for three times. We cannot turn back at that place to come back to our first place, hence we need to turn it around and once again make a lap. We try the famous mie belitong that looks like a casual noodle with sauce. But what made it special is the taste of its sauce, which contains some taste of shrimp, sweet and and thicky sour. Well its not so bad though. Then there is also ‘jeruk ponci’ with ice, something like lemonade juice, but specialty of Belitong.
The first stop was kawah Kaolin. It is something like a lake, with the green almost white color or we may called it ‘tosca.’ Not so deep but it might captious. Surrounding was tin block and they still do the mining using dredging machine. We was not allowed to get any nearer. We take some pictures in here, but not close enough to the lake or kaolinite crater since the edges might be too weak and we could fall inside of it – for the worst case-. Some rumor said that the lake also might become sucking mud.
We also visiting a unique animal, Tarsius, which only exists in Belitong and Sulawesi, another part of Indonesia. So lucky that we can saw them both in the separate cages which was ever used in a research by a professor from Sriwijaya University. Otherwise, we would never be able to saw them because Tarsius is a nocturnal animal. They only show up at night, and the hunter, i mean, the real hunter, sometimes need more that one night to found them in their real habitate, which is Belitong jungle, which laid in Gunung Tajam, the place where we headed right after this. Based on the information from the guardian we found out that tarsius love light, i mean, something like camera flash. Yup, they ll show up and make a move after being ‘shot’ with a flash. They have a very long tail which slightly looks like mouse’s tail. And it has those pretty eyes that ‘puss in the boot’ showed in shrek movie. They have brown skin or feathers, but its so thin and little. I wonder, dont they feel cold?
Guruk Beraye waterfall is fantastic! The water’s sprinkling is pure and refreshing, and suddenly make you felt like you wanna swim. Its cooling our mind after a quite long journey we made to be here. It was a narrow path, only suitable for one car, gulch in your right and escarpment in your left. Which mean, IF there is another car coming from the opposite direction, we should, i dont know, i cant even think about it *creepy
It was drizzle when we done enjoying the beautiful waterfall. We all decided not to get wet and continue our journey to paramount hill which, i can guarantee you, have nothing related to Paramount Picture home production :P. We did imagine that this gonna be a hiking, a tracking and something like that. But we surely never imagine what we should have predicted from the beginning. Remembering that it is rainy season, the weather changes all of sudden, the land became muddy when the water poured from above. It was just a little rain but quite decelerate our speed. Well, finally we were trapped in a spooky jungle, where we need to climb up and climb down, with so big stones all over the area. Big stones means the really big one, about 5 meter in high and 3 meter wide. I am sure we can say it is a giant rock and i keep wondering where did this whole rocks and stones coming from. I mean, there is no volcano around, which might could throw away such a giant things. There is also no big river to flowed it down. So i guess the most appropriate idea of where its comes from, was to said that it is a meteor rocks. Somehow its just passed out to our Earth from somewhere in the outer space *think
We can enjoy the view of South China Sea from above here, and also the Lengkuas island, the one with very old lighthouse on it. We will visit that place on our second day here. With some mist and clouds, and of course coll wind, we enjoy that little time in one of its giant rocks. But you should be careful for pacet, some kind of leech but smaller. It will cling to your skin, usually feet and toes, and then will only be able to be detached when they are full. They suck your blood you know! Our guide showed us some jungle leaves that can be used as a dill to help some of us that get attached. It called ‘kesemek’ leaves. Exists in some jungle in Indonesia. Thanks God it really help.
On the second day we start exploring the islands on the west side of Belitong. Its not visible in the map, since its so small in size, but it surely unique and fabulous. The water really has nothing to compare with. The gradation from green into blue, started in the shores to the deep sea. Since it was a rainy season, again, we already aware of a huge waves that might comes on our way. Some of us, mostly actually, cant swim. So we put on our live jackets soon when the boat started to sail. Everyone try their goggles, fin, and snorkle. We laugh, we smile, and started the journey through the salty wind and sunshines. Yeah, the sun shines brightly that morning, as it welcoming us to the wonder land :D.
My current group was united with one alumni, which is University of Indonesia. We barely know each other for almost 4 years and more. There are also some other who were colleagues. But all of us can mingle for sure remembering that almost all of us are sanguine :P. Well then, after enjoying the view in Lengkuas island, climbing up to the top of lighthouse, taking some amazing pictures, we started snorkling. Its start to drizzle again so we fasten our move. We received some advice and tutorial from one of our guide which already has diving license. But most of us did not listen well since we already cant wait to snorkling in the middle sea, enjoying pretty corals, beautiful fish and another unexpected sea creature. We aware of sea urchin which already hurt my other friend when we were snorkling at Bira island, jakarta. They have sharp spine which could stabbed your feet if we did not use fin. Actually this animal looks like tennis ball with sharp spine all over its body except the lower part, where their month exists. The body was soft and easy to smashed. But better not swim around them anyway. But if in any case you just get hit by this animal, it can be neutralized using urine. A little disgusting but it did work because urine contain ammonia in it.
We swim around Lengkuas island and then continue our sea journey to Gusong island. Well honestly, i love this island much more than Lengkuas. There a lot of starfish all over the island which only looks like a sand bar in the middle of the sea. So many kind of starfishes from the little tiny one into the big and spiny one. You can touch and play with it, but dont forget to get them back to the water soon after they moved their leg, or arms, which mean they were dehydrated.
Before going back to the island where we are going to stay that night, Babi or Kelayang island, we did one small movement to protect mother earth. We did coral planting which cost us 50k which mean nothing if we used it for something that last may be forever. The coral we plant today might be an adult beautiful coral someday after couple of years later. It was addressed for our grand grand children anyway. And also to protect what had been destroyed in most of sea part of earth. Just mark it as a little step, but we would be happy if many others come and participate.
We can plant it by ourselves. It use cement slurry to be its mediation. We just put that mini coral into the table that has been provided about 4 meters deep in the sea. You can dive by yourself or else, ask for help from the guide to put it there for us. I face the challenge, i did dive! It was frightened but it also fabulous and advantageously in the same time. I should remove my life vest, then i was pulled by the guide to make me IN the water. I have no idea why its hard for my body to dive and be inside. May be i need more weight so that the water pressure wont work that hard on me. And yeah, i officially vanishing my water fear anxiety. Bravo!
It was full moon that night. We were in the middle of South China Sea. Not that ‘middle’ actually but it was part of that huge sea anyway. Well then, that night, under the moonlight, we play we laugh we smile and we gather in harmony. The dinner served by the guide. It was crispy shrimp, roasted fish and also some chips. But it really is delicious. Simple, humble and really far away from city life. The electricity only available from 5pm to 11pm. At night, we really need to stay in quite and dark atmosphere. Accompany by the song of the sea that fling smoothly to the shore and white sand.
Back to the city, or town, we visited the Tanjung Tinggi beach for one more time. It was dark yesterday so we cant explore the beach so much. It was the place where the movie Laskar Pelangi or rainbow troops take place. Still many of giant rock all over the beach. We can even climb up and enjoy the view from above. But for this time, we wont get wet since this is our last costume to get back to Jakarta.
But Belitong really is save the best God creation in that tiny island. We just explored the north and west Belitong but we got so much of experience already. Well Belitong, i shall return. Your east and south treasure were not yet explored by me. Just waita 😀