Sunday, June 7, 2009

Vacation 101: Camiguin in the Flesh

Camiguin is a peaceful island. People literally leave their front doors open and the term "crime rate" doesn't apply to them. Quick brawls over drinks are just about it. I understand why most foreigners love this island. It is an escape and a nature lover's haven. There are no heavy traffic, pollution, schedules and unnecessary distractions. Despite being provincial, the roads are well maintained and paved, the telecommunications including cable and internet are good (except for SUN cellular) and the island is easily accessible to Cebu, Bohol, Cagayan De Oro and Surigao via fast craft/sea craft.


On our Tour Day, Mr. Ray brought us to the Philvocs center for a little bit of Camiguin's history. There we were able to beef up our knowledge about volcanic eruptions, how Camiguin came into place and the history of the enigmatic Sunken Cemetery. Most importantly, we saw the new equipment of Philvocs including the computers at the main center that pick up signals from the sensors located a few feet away from the volcanoes.


After the gracious educational tour, we went to Katibawasan falls, the most popular waterfall in the island. The travel time is just about 20-30 minutes.

The road going to Katibawasan falls is a little bit rough at the end that's why you need an SUV or your best bet is a multi-cab. Upon going there, there are make-shift stalls that sell chips and water. It's not actually a rip-off but slightly expensive as expected. The entrance fee to Katibawasan falls for adults is 15 pesos.

From the entry point, besides seeing the annoying monkey that attacks people, you could already hear the falls already. One has to go down cemented stairs to go to the foot of the falls. As it was a weekend there were lots of tourists swimming and taking pictures. Mitch was frustrated at some points because he couldn't get his perfect angle and he was distracted by the tourists. I initially wanted to swim, but I have a thing about swimming in lakes where I couldn't actually see what lies beneath. What really amusedme was that the leaves near the falls were moving in an orchestrated dance from the intense pressure of the water.


After an hour, we packed up and met Mr. Ray at the entrance. It was already at around 11 am at that time and he advised that we should take lunch at Mambajao proper before continuing with the tour. We agreed and he took us to a buffet lunch for 100 bucks per head. The restaurant's owners are the exact makers of the renowned VJandep Camiguin Pastel, a local delicacy of soft ensaymada-like bread with yema-custard filling.


After the buffet at around 1 pm, we drove towards the popular Cold Springs. One look and we didn't want to stay. It was so packed. It was packed with families, tourists and foreigners. I got to view the springs and pool. Viewing is was enough for us. The crowd destroyed it. We just bought some grilled hotdogs and left the cramped resort.


Our next stop was the Stations of the Cross, volcano style. This is a popular tourist destination because you get to climb the mountain and see life size statues. We paid 20 bucks each at the ground entrance.

We climbed the cemented stairs and as expected, city dwellers like us, who are categorized as unfit and couch potatoes, got to the first station panting. Shamefully, we only reached station 2. The distance of one station to another was overwhelming, at least for us. After Station 2, we trekked back with a surprised Ray welcoming us. At that point, he must have thought of us as sissies.


We went inside a cemented drive path going to the edge of a cliff to view the Sunken Cemetery. There is no entrance fee.

It must have been the gloomy weather, but I was not quite overwhelmed by it. All I saw was a huge cross in the middle of the ocean. My imagination took over when I began thinking about the cemetery beneath it. In fact, one can cross towards the church via a banca, but Mitch just wouldn't have it. After finishing his shoot and taking creative shots, we went on with the rest of the tour.


Just a few minutes from Sunken Cemetery, we went to the Guiob Church Ruins where there's a tour guide waiting at the entrance. The properly dressed woman, in English, told the history of the Guiob Church and its demise after the volcanic eruption some ancient years ago. We saw the abandoned convent and stone structures preserved after the eruption.


AT around 3:00 pm Mr. Ray took us to one of the most popular spring resorts in Camiguin, which is the Ardent Hot Springs. This Hot springs is fully developed with a resort and hotel, but not losing its essence and therapeutic significance.

The entrance fee, if you're just a day tripper, is 40 bucks. The grounds are vast and impressive. It's clean with only tufts of cotton from plants floating about. The place is actually good shoot for a fantasy-nature shoot. The area in itself is cool because of towering trees. Upon a few minutes of walking, we saw the man-made structure of the springs and the aquamarine color it releases. The "springs" might be man-made but the water isn't. It comes directly from the mountain and is divided unto categories, very hot, hot and lukewarm as the water passes in different pools.

Most seniors liked the hot pool, whereas for some allergic reasons, I couldn't. Mitch and I stayed at the mid-section of the pool with hot to lukewarm temperature. For the entire trip, Mitch didn't entertain the thought of dipping until Ardent Springs. The water is refreshing and soothing. We even positioned ourselves at the mini-falls area for a quick back massage. We ended up talking and staying there until our fingers got pruned. Mr. Ray mentioned that the springs transformed into a spectacle at night because of the lights attached to the trees. This resort closes at 11 pm.

AT around 4:30 we left and met Mr. Ray at the entrance. On our way home, we stopped over at some scenic views for Mitch to take some shots. By around 5:00 we got home.

Dinner as usual was in Paras Beach Resort. WE decided to go for Italian this time. We ordered two pastas and a whole pizza. It was okay, but unfortunately our bill this time was 800 bucks.

1 comment:

Laura said...

wow, great pics... love the one of the Hot Springs