Monday, June 17

Tierra de Camarines

photo credit to Sarah Ortega

One of the few things that I love as much as traveling, is reading. Sometimes during my lull moments, I'd read more than a couple of dozen books (literally that many!), burying myself into an elaborate series of fiction that allows me to be someone else for a few hours while lost in its pages. I'd be reading so much for a period of time that my journal would be filled with quotes in every entry!

But there will always come a point in me when the few hours in my head would no longer contain the life that's bursting out of it. I HAVE to take off for a few days to a week, to become someone else . . . to be lost in the streets of the places I will go to.

In both times that I went to the Caramoan Peninsula, it felt just like that -- like waking up after being asleep for months. Stepping out of my house after months of seclusion. So I went out to see what was at the center of the Bicol Region in Luzon, and I saw Camarines Sur surrounded by active volcanoes, two of which are Mt. Isarog & Mt. Asog. I saw that its shore inland have towering exotic rock formations & steep lime-stones. I saw its beaches have coral reefs, with white AND black sand -- like fine asphalt! And I even saw their magic bangus (on my second time around)!

(who had taken this picture -- was it you Nikki?)
climbing up the limestone cliff with our boatman -- on bare feet! (photo credit to Sarah Ortega)
what was I checking out in the 1st place: the magic bangus! (photo credit to one of our boatman)

On the year I first went there, it was driven out of curiosity from the choice made by the popular foreign reality TV series: SURVIVOR at making it their favorite filming destination -- France, Israel, Bulgaria and Serbia all used the whole peninsula for their version of SURVIVOR.

(photo credit to Sarah Ortega)
photo credit to Sarah Ortega

photo credit to Sarah Ortega

In the two times I went to Camarines Sur, each experience had varied vastly from the other. The fun part traveling with a group of friends is that you hardly notice the hard bits of the traveling itself. When you're on your own, or just partnered with a buddy, you tend to take notice of the challenges, the way it tested my patience & endurance on my return to Caramoan.

I don't think the boat-ride lasted 2-hours, the way it did on my second time around. And I don't remember the seats being that narrow at all (I couldn't feel my ass and thighs anymore half-way before getting to our destination). How could a trip be boring at all when it starts off with something like this, just to board the boat?!?

my friend, Mitch being carried to shore (photo credit to Nikki Roque)
Ace and his 3 porters (photo credit to Mitch Celis)
 A group can also be sillier -- much, much sillier than you can ever be, alone or with a buddy:
Karate Kids. Aided head-stand. Power Rangers.

You also spend less with a group: I spent just a little over 3k all-in for that long weekend VS the 5k+ budget for the 3D/2N trip I took with a friend. But I owe it to myself to not always go on a budget!

So I went back with a friend (who wanted the novelty of a personal butler), because I find her pleasant to be with -- I liked her even more after traveling with her! Sarah is a clean-fun travel buddy: Able to endure an insanely uncomfortable 12-hours seated in a jump-seat of a non-AC bus, and hardly complained when we went straight to a 1.5 hour van ride where the driver doesn't seem to know what the breaks are for. She has a good eye for comfort; knows what luxury is without being pretentious. She keeps grounded by acknowledging what's expensive and what is a good deal. She is generous without making a big deal of it. I find her funny -- she makes fun of others without seeming mean and laughs at her silliness in a self conscious manner. It's not often that you get to travel with someone like that (never made me feel like I want to ditch her half-way through the trip LOL!).

my travel buddy: Sarah, on my second time around (and I'm still wearing the same dress!)
Tugawe Cove Resort has a man-made lake that was low-key but definitely has its beauty to it. Their infinity pool wasn't a match for Punta Fuego's, but the elevation it was situated on and the view it offered was quite beautiful. The nearby restaurant was a sweet spot for a "wind-blown" breakfast, or any meal with the light of the day to show you the view.

Clear mornings will show you how pristine the water still is at the beachfront and how invitingly sandy it is for a leisurely swim. And at night you can enjoy spotting clusters of luminescent plankton in the dark.

Tugawe Island Cove Beach Resort beachfront (photo credit to Sarah Ortega)
We had a spacious "cottage" up  at the hill. The comforts it offered was much appreciated (I could see how conducive it would be for couples who go there to stay in and devout hours making love in that set up). Even the walkway was quite romantic when lit at night.

lake front cottages of the resort
The resort is a little bit more that what I usually set for myself, but I think I would like to go on pampered trips like this every once in a while . . . The butler though, (I would have to say) in actuality, really is just a person who tags along and on occasion thinks ahead of you for what you might need or might've forgotten. In general, I felt that a butler just took away all the opportunity for privacy.

The peninsula of Tierra de Camarines is fabulous! -- too bad there's never enough time to lounge around and develop amnesia from everything that's out there in the real world . . .

coconut-monster (photo credit to Nikki Roque)
photo credit to Sarah Ortega
photo credit to Nikki Roque