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Trip to Camarines Sur

~Camarines Sur! Yay! Our family went to this place last March 21-25, 2011. Yeah I know that this blog is very late. It’s not my fault if inspiration just hit me this week, right? :)Enjoy reading guys!~

The good news came from my sister Katkat. She sent me a text message one boring day that she got qualified for a Mathematics training sponsored by the Mathematics Trainers’ Guild Philippines. Katkat happily told me that the event will be held in Naga City, CamSur. I was very happy for her. Little that I know that I would tag along in the trip too. Yay!

Excitement was alredy fluttering inside my heart as we boarded the airplane going to Naga City. It has been a long time since I traveled to a new destination. During the course of the flight, I only had wakeboarding in my mind. Pardon me, but that is the only thing I thought Camarines Sur could offer, along with the view of the Mayon Volcano of course. But I stand corrected now as my experience brought more than that. :)

Woah! Naga Airport is far from the city. Thankfully, there was a Regent Hotel van that took us to the city. My sister Katkat stayed in that hotel, so we got a free ride as well. I didn’t expect it to be such a long ride. It took approximately 20-30 minutes from the airport to the hotel.

During the course of our visit, we traveled using the local forms of transportation. There was the tricycle that went around the city. There was also the option to ride either bus or van.

My mother and my aunt are very religious. So it’s not a surprise to me that the first place that they wanted to visit was a church. Mama recommended it because she had been there the night before. Her flight was a day ahead of ours, so she already went to some places in advance. The church was called  Our Lady of Peñafrancia Basilica. Honestly, it was the first time that I heard of it. According to the locals, the Basilica is also a visited by pilgrims all over the world.


The façade of the church is shown below. My aunt said, “Wow!” , the moment she saw it. The photo above the facade is the Altar. 





Second Day (March 22, 2011):


Our first priority was to see my 10-year old sister Katkat in the MTG Training Camp held in Regent Hotel. It’s been a year since I’ve seen her, and it made me excited. We came to see her during the 9AM visiting hour.  She grew taller and bigger, almost at the same height as me. The big change in her is the fact that she now wore spectacles.

The MTG Poster at the stage:



Katkat and I talked about a lot of things which circulated around school and Harry Potter. She is now a Potter fan, she said. Well, I am not surprised. We read a lot of books. During our conversation, I told her that I will be going to the popular CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC) with Mama and Auntie later on in the afternoon. At first, Katkat was very skeptical about it. She knew that I couldn’t swim. Truth was, I was also doubting if I could dare the extreme sport called wakeboarding. Hahaha!



The CWC was far from the city. The locals instructed us to ride the bus, and go down at the place they called "Capitol". I thought that was all. But apparently, we still need to ride a tricycle going to the exact spot. If we didn't want to commute, riding a taxi was also an option. Of course, we want to save money, so we decided to take the local's word for it by riding the bus. It took us almost an hour on the road to get to CWC.. When bodies of water came into view, I knew that we were in the right place. 



CWC was a beautiful place. I didn't know that it was a man-made resort until my aunt told me. There are a lot of excellent natural resorts in the country. There are no arguments to that. But man-made resorts that almost resembles nature? Hmmm… This is what makes CWC unique. It is rare to find places that are extraordinarily man-made in the Philippines.

The resort was still in its developing stages, but even so it was still a breathtaking place. There was water everywhere, and the wind blew strongly at me. Furthermore, the whole place was shouting extreme sports as the professional wakeboarding lake greeted the visitors at the entrance; a picture of it is shown below. 





I was very happy to know that there was no entrance fee and the wakeboarding rental was very affordable. As of our visit, I was required to pay P125 for one hour and P500 equipment deposit. The P500 was refundable. There were also other rates available.

Wakeboarding was totally new to me.  Fortunately, the resort also conducts tutorials for beginners. I also couldn’t swim, so they decided to have me learn on the 4-feet Beginner’s Lake, rather than on the 8-feet Professional’s Lake. Here are a few shots of me on the board. The picture below shows me and the instructor



It was fun learning this cool new sport. Fun but extremely difficult. The technique of wakeboarding is to keep your legs apart and remain in a seating position until you get a balance, only then can you slowly stand up and do some tricks. I have also learned to just let the cables take you off to the water, but take my word for it: it’s hard to hold on to the cables. I felt as if it would pull my arms off from my body. It was that strong.

Of course, being in a learning stage, I fell most of the time. But here comes the good news: the lake was freshwater. So I didn’t have to worry about stinging eyes. I was very happy that the instructors were very supportive. They knew a lot of techniques that they shared with me. After a few failures, they told me to try the water start, it’s a technique where I would submerge myself and lie in the water, sporting a seating position on my back. After that, I would just let the cables do the rest. And woah! I was shocked that I got my first successful wakeboarding lap at this technique. Yay! Over all, I got two or three successful rides. I only stayed for one hour but it was already more than enough. 



Third Day (March 23, 2011):

Our third day was laid back. We visited Katkat again and then went to SM City Naga to take a look at it. It was like most of the SM malls all over the country, with a few unique restaurants like Bigg’s®, and Graceland®. We decided to eat merienda in there. And wow! I had one of the yummiest Halo-halo ever! I bought a petite size in Graceland® and their version of the Filipino delicacy had tasty soft cheese that was prominent in the concoction. The milk was sweet as well. Too bad I forgot to take a picture of it; I guess I got lost in my own delicious piece of paradise.

When night came, my aunt and mother wanted to try out the local cuisine. I didn’t argue at this. I love food! And what better way to know the culture than through food. The Halo-halo earlier was impressive, so I was on a spree to try more. Naga Garden Restaurant was the perfect place for it. We have observed that their Yangchow Rice was the bestseller. Seeing that, we ordered one for ourselves too. It never failed us. The rice was yellow in color, with lots of toppings (usually peas, shrimp, and some greens). It was so good and spiced just right. I could taste subtle margarine and seafood flavors. Funny thing was the quail egg topping; there were three of us, and it was very coincidental that there were also three quail eggs on the rice. Hmmm… What do you think? Ah well… The food was worth the money. For only P90, the serving was big enough for the three of us. Yay!

Sorry no pictures of the Yangchow Rice, guys. I guess I lose it when food is near. Hahaha!

After dinner, we went back to our hotel. When 7PM came, I was very happy that Katkat was allowed to depart from the in-house Math training. She stayed with us in Golden Leaf Hotel where we read Harry Potter books six and seven until 11:30 PM. 





Fourth Day (March 24, 2011):

The fourth day of our trip was the best ever! It was the last day of Katkat’s MTG Training and we attended the closing ceremonies (photo shown below). I’m sure that Katkat was very happy to be able to participate in an event such as this. 





The mothers then planned to go to on a tour to Legazpi to see Mayon Volcano. They were the mothers of the students from the school where Katkat was. Mama wanted us to go with them as well. It’s more fun to go with a large group. One mother acted as the leader of the group and she hired a van for us. The group shared the payment of around P5000 (price as of March 24 2011) as van rental.

The trip to Legazpi took two and a half hours. Sigh! Boredom followed during the first hour. But when Mayon Volcano came into view, the group’s spirit was lifted up. We were awestruck as the volcano graced us with her beauty. The kids cheered and the van suddenly got noisy. The mothers took out their cameras and began snapping the landscape. Unfortunately, clouds covered the perfect cone, so we were a bit disappointed. The van driver, who now acted as our tour guide, told us that the ideal time to see  Mayon is during the morning, around 6AM-9AM. The photo below showed my shot of Mayon Volcano from the van. 




The kids also laughed hard as most of us were trying to take a good shot of Mayon Volcano. However, the whole stretch of road was graced with billboards. So it was difficult for us to capture the volcano alone, just like here in my picture:




The three hour ride was worth it! We finally got to our destination: the Cagsaua Ruins! Yay! I finally got a good shot of Mayon Volcano and the belfry of the once standing church: 




I didn’t expect it, but a woman selling photos of the scene approached me. She asked me if I wanted to buy photos taken by professionals. But I slowly rejected her. Then out of the blue, she offered to help me take pictures of the place. She was very proactive in suggesting trick shots, as shown below.

This is the first jump shot of my life (the kid on the photo is Katkat). I didn't know that a digicam is capable of taking this kind of shot... but now, I do.




The Giant trick shot. Wow! That vendor was very skilled at this!:



Some information about the Cagsaua Ruins:


The whole place was beaming of souvenirs.  Keychains were P35 and up, fridge magnets: P50 and up, hats around P100, and T-shirts P300 and up. Other pasalubong were three for P100. (prices as of March 24 2011): 



It was around 3PM when we departed from there. Our next stop was the Albay Park and Wildlife.  I was elated to see rare birds and other animal. Unfortunately, the digicam was showing low battery. It wouldn't even turn on. Sadly, I got no pictures of the place. :(


After about 30 minutes of zoo time, the van driver told us that there is still one more place to go. The location was in Daraga, Albay. It was also on the road going back to Naga so the group all agreed to pay it a visit. 


Our last stop of the day was in The Church of Our Lady of the Gate. As shown below, it was one of the old churches dating back from the Spanish era. The whole place was very historical. I was very happy that my camera gathered up power to give me this one shot:




Fifth Day (March 25, 2011):


Our last day in Naga City. We didn't visit any tourist spots anymore. This day spelled Home Sweet Home for all of us. 


In my case, back to Manila and enjoy my pasalubong (my favorite is the chocolate with Pili):




:)

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