Monday, January 7, 2013

Iligan Adventure and Airport Mishaps

We woke up real early that day to catch the first van going to the port. It was said to leave at 5 in the morning and the barge will be leaving at 6. There was a slight delay in the van but fortunately we were still able to catch the first barge. We were also lucky to catch the sunrise while at it. 

We continued to our plan of going to Iligan to see two famous waterfalls before heading back to CDO airport for our flight home. We thought it would just be a quick and easy sidetrip but it ended up as the most exhilirating, butt-numbing, jam-packed 24 hours of my life. It started with a 1 hour barge ride, followed by a quick 5-minute pedicab, then a 3-hour ordinary bus ride going back to Agora bus terminal, CDO proper. I thought we will be able to find a bus there going to Iligan but nope, we still needed to ride a habal-habal to reach another bus terminal, Buru-un Terminal. Upon reaching the terminal, we quickly had a lunch there and rode a very nice bus bound for Iligan. It was a flat 2-hour journey. So now we're there but the Ma. Christina falls is still yet another bus ride away. We again hopped on a bus bound for Pagadian and begged asked the conductor to drop us at the waterfalls jump off point. We spent 7 hours and 35 minutes on the road for this:

Worth it! What a huge treat from mother nature!
The giant falls powers a hydroelectric plant. The whole complex is called NPC - Nature's Park which includes a mini zoo, picnic spots, ziplines, walls for rock climbers and of course, the waterfalls. Entrance fee is 30 Pesos, plus 10 Pesos shuttle fee. 

Upon exiting the gate, we saw an old man wearing a hard hat shoveling some sand as if he works as a laborer. We asked how to go to Tinago Falls. He smiled, put away his shovel and showed his motorcycle. He said he'll take us there and will wait for us to take us back to the Iligan terminal afterwards. Deal. Just like that, his hard hat was now used as a helmet, dual-purpose, umeextra si Kuya! Yes he's old but it doesn't mean he can't drive at crazy speeds. My goodness, my heart was racing the whole time! I have always been a calm and relaxed passenger all my life but this man's different! Really, I was in panic while he took every chance he gets to overtake and took sharp curves without ever slowing down. We reached our destination in no time. We hired two porters to guide us down the falls. It wasn't called "Tinago" falls for no reason, it was really well-hidden. My knees were still shaking from the driver's recklessness when we descended on the 365 steps of stairs towards the falls. Now my knees are twice the shaky. To tell the truth, I was an itty-bitty disappointed with this one. Not because it's not beautiful (God, it's majestic), but because I just somehow thought it would be quiet and peaceful where I can soak up all its beauty without the feeling of commercialism. Seeing numerous people wearing their rented bright orange life vests while paddling their rented rafts was a little bummer (I can be selfish at times, yes). 

There are even more people outside the camera's frame.

After yet another heart-pounding habal-habal ride, we reached Iligan terminal. The usual 2-hour bus ride was now getting longer and and longer due to unexpected traffic and I'm getting a bit nervous already. Computing the distance that we still had to take from Buru-un terminal to Lumbia airport, I'm afraid we might miss our flight. We took another habal-habal ride that will directly drive us to the airport and told him our check-in time. He was the same driver we had the morning (not the reckless one) and upon knowing we were on a tight time frame, he switched his crazy driving mode on and thanks to him, we didn't miss our flight. 

We arrived at NAIA nearing 11pm. We asked around and knew buses bound to Pampanga will not  yet start until 2am. Crazy. How will we spend those 3 hours now that we're dead tired? Sleep. Yes, I slept on the floor just like those people from the movies who sleeps in the airport. I did that. Except that they're from far countries and maybe have to wait for 12 hours layovers while I live on a nearby province and it's just 3 hours - damn so what, I was really tired. 

We reached home at 5:30 in the morning, we spent 24 hours on land, water and air transports and that's without ever brushing our teeth and taking a bath. On my defense, our toothbrush was tucked deeply inside my backpack and I was too tired/lazy to get it and use it on public toilets. Gross? Yes. Fun? Totally.

Camiguin Day Tour

This is our tour proper. We agreed on an 8am - 5pm motorcycle rental. We woke up at 5am to have time for an energizing breakfast. As my husband went out for a smoke at 7 in the morning, the motorcycle guy is already outside our hotel, waiting. He's so early! We rushed dressing up and took advantage of that extra hour. Our first stop: the White Island. We had no tour guide, all we have is a map and the locals. After asking several people for directions, we reached our destination. To reach the sand bar, one should hire a boat. Rental fee is 400 Pesos. Travel time is just around 10 minutes.

It was stunning. How could such a pretty thing exist in the middle of an ocean?

The famous sand bar
The sun was scorching - which means FUN!
One of our rare couple photos - thanks to our tripod!

Photo op after snorkling. Too bad there's not much to see underwater.
We stayed there for a good hour or two. I rarely check the time during vacations so forgive when all I can do is to estimate time. I also suck at directions so any corrections are welcome. So moving on...

We stopped by to cherish this cliff's view. It overlooks the sunken cemetery.
With the sunken cemetery in sight, we decided it would be our next stop. Before arriving there, we saw another spot where tourists flocked, it was the Via Crucis (or the Way of the Cross). The route to finish the station was an uphill trek which took us an hour to finish. It was at high noon and we haven't eaten yet! Truly a wonderful sacrifice to finish the station. As we reached the Resurrection station, we whispered a little prayer then hurried back down as we're already starving.

The First Station --> Me --> some wild flowers --> the Resurrection.
We ate the first eatery we saw. After lunch, we then proceeded to the Sunken Cemetery. There are locals who volunteers on taking pictures without naming a fee, but of course, tips will be greatly appreciated. One of them was a young kid who insisted we do cheesy cliche poses as if we're holding the cross on the palm of our hands. Okay fine, pagbigyan si totoy, aspiring directory siya. But sorry, I won't post the photos :P

It was a quick drive then we arrived at the Old Church ruins. This is an old church built in the 16th century which was then mostly destroyed by a massive volcano eruption in the 18th century.
The Church's main body

The bell tower behind me
Without having any major stops in mind, we just decided to ride the whole circumference of Camiguin road, stopping at any interesting spot we see. We stumbled upon signs of a spring somewhere out of way. Why not! I've read it's an interesting spring for its waters are said to be soda in nature.
Yes, true enough, the water is naturally bubbly like a soda.
Next stop is the Giant Clam Sactuary. I love clams, I love eating them that is. But seeing how giant these were, I think I would pass. One could even swallow my face!

That concluded our day. Our whole night was spent inside our hotel room, eating take-out chicken while watching television - my ideal kind of night!