Let's go to BICOL! This is my mom's hometown and I've been here four times already. My family go here to visit our relatives in Sto. Domingo, Albay. Going back to our province with my 2 buddies made it a different experience. It was holy week of 2009 back then. Because I was the one who has contacts in the province, I was assigned to layout the plan. Our schedule was a bit tight having only 3 Days with an afternoon flight back to Manila on the last day.
So here's what happened.....
We landed at Legazpi Airport and then went straight to Donsol, Sorsogon! Any clues what's waiting for us in Donsol? If you think its the Whale Shark or "Butanding", then you are right! From Legazpi Airport to Donsol it took us 1.5 hours drive. We decided not to check-in yet because our hotel is out of way to Sorsogon and it will just eat time to dropby in Albay. The signage to Donsol are easy to find, they are placed every kilometer or two.Don't forget to open the windows to experience the fresh air. ;) Most of the view you'll see on the way are green trees and farms.
We reached Donsol around 9:30am. The first thing we did was to register at the tourism office and enlist ourselves for the boat ride. The standard package is for 7 people and costs Php7500. This includes the boat rental and snorkeling with the Butanding. Additional fee of 100 pesos for the snorkeling gears rent. Since we were only 3 that time, it was more practical for us to share the boat with other tourists. Underwater cams were not very popular yet that time so my friend bought a Digital Camera Underwater Case for 1000 pesos.
One of the boatmen stands on the roof to scout for Butandings. They said Butanding rise up from the depths of the sea and once they see one, the boat will rush in to the spot where the whale is going so we can intersect. Our tour guide signaled us to jump in the water and waited for the Butanding to pass under. I swam very fast and looked beneath while the magnificent whale was under me. It was an unbelievable moment! To swim with this huge whale and connect with it was a lifetime experience. Funny thing though, my friend who doesn't know how to swim learned how to snorkel without a life vest because of his excitement to interact with the whale. =))
Note: Do not attempt to touch the tail because it can wipe you out!
|Butanding under our boat|
|The Snorkeling Action!|
We spent 3 hours scouting for Buntanding and swimming. It was already lunch time when we returned to the shore. We had our picnic under a coconut tree where locals also climb to get FRESH coconuts for you. I gave them Php5.00 per coconut. It was a cool picnic! =D
After Donsol, we drove ourselves to our next destination in Albay - Cagsawa Ruins. This is an attraction in Bicol because of its bellfry that is left standing after the Mt. Mayon eruption in 1814. Mayon (derived from the word Magayon, meaning Beautiful) is still considered as an active volcano in the Philippines. My Mom always tell me how perfect the shape of Mayon was before its eruption in the 90s that altered it's tip. Inside Cagsawa, you can also see a magnificent view of the volcano. Luckily, it did not hid behind the clouds so we were able to get a good glance! :) Souvenir items and 'pili' products can be bought at the parking area.
We checked-in at Manhattan Hotel around 4 in the afternoon - located at Calayucay, Sto. Domingo Albay. The hotel is beach front with a view of Mayon Volcano.
The dinner was a Bicol delicacy called Bicol Express! This dish is composed of small chunks of pork and full of chili. Our sweat really came out just by eating this. =))
Good Morning Mayon!
|The view of Mayon at 6:00 AM.|
So we left the hotel 5am for Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) and arrived 7:30am. It was Holy Thursday and as expected many tourist would be going to the park. We lined up to register but was heartbroken to know that we can only wake board for an hour (instead of halfday) and then fell in line again to register. This policy only applies during Holy Week according to CWC so that all visitors would be accommodated. We had our turn 9am to 10am. I tried the main park with the knee board and was able to complete 1 cycle. ;) Then, we proceeded to the beginner's park to try the amateur wake boards. We had fun in the beginner's area because we're able to stand up in the board and complete the stretch. :) We registered again for our next session but given the 4pm slot so we had no choice but to bum in CWC. Our body was very tired after the last session and we decided to go back to the hotel by 7PM. The day was very tiring but extremely fun so we landed in our beds pretty early to catch our morning flight.
|The Noob (That's me)|
Our itinerary was pretty simple but next time I come back I plan to visit the zipline in Mayon and go to the new resort - Misibis Bay. :)
Until the next destination,
my email: firstname.lastname@example.org