To pay it forward to the blogosphere and forums which helped us intricately plan this CDO-Camiguin vacation, I am posting with complete travel details like time duration, supplier name and cost of various stuff. I hope this'll help future travellers seeking adventure in CDO/Camiguin :-)
* Read about our DAY 1 here. Detailed account of DAY 2 starts hereupon...
JUNE 29, 2007
6:45 AM - We hailed a cab from Casa Crystalia to catch the Balingoan-bound bus in Agora market. The cab driver warned us/kinda scared us with hold-up/bomb scare stories about the bus and having a longer travelling time due to the multiple bus stops (asus! style!). He offered to bring us straight to Balingoan wharf for a contract fee of Php 1,000. We declined and told him that we were on a tight budget. We bargained and finally sealed the deal at Php 800. Still mighty expensive compared to just commuting by bus but we were in a hurry to catch the ferry at Balingoan...
8:20 AM - Arrived at Balingoan Wharf (CDO). Bought ferry tickets costing Php 107. We took a quick pee at the relatively clean tourist hall just beside the ticketing booth. We boarded the M.V. Royal Princess to Benoni Wharf (Camiguin) after that. It was scheduled to leave at 8:30AM but it waited for more passengers to board. We ended up sailing off around 9:30AM. What a long wait! Anyway, I did not feel any motion sickness at all. The waves were moderate and the ferry wasn't wobbly.
10:40 AM - Yahoo! Nakatapak na ako sa Camiguin! We finally arrived at the Benoni Wharf. From there, we were picked up by our tour guide/aircon van diver Mr. Allan Ebarle (Celfone: 0917-253-7878). He drove us to Secret Cove in Mambajao where we checked in quickly and then ate lunch at the nearby Paras Beach Resort. We treated Allan for lunch and we told him which Camiguin tourist spots we intended to see. He then proposed an itinerary to maximize the day.
PRONOUNCIATION TIPS: Balingoan is not pronounced "ba-li-NGO-an" as we had thought. It was actually pronounced by the locals as "ba-LING-wan". Mambajao is also not "MAM-ba-jao" as we wrongfully pronounced. The right pronounciation is "MAM-ba-haw". These'll come in handy when you talk to the locals and ask for directions ;-)
1:00 PM to 6:30 PM - Allan toured us around the island of Camiguin. Our first stop was Katibawasan Falls (there's a minimal entrance fee ... around Php 15/pax if I remember it right). We intended to swim at Katibawasan but chickened out when we saw that there was a bunch of guys in one of the ground tables with a case of beer. We were pretty much been ogled at as we took loads of pictures of the magnificent waterfalls and did kooky poses. The beer dudes left after awhile so we decided to venture on the ground level of the waterfalls. The water was icy cool to the skin and it relieved my sunburned knees temporarily.
After Katibawasan, we went to the Philvolcs Observatory Station situated high above the mountains. It affords quite a bird's eyeview of the island but really not much else to see.
We then visited the now closed Ardent Hot Spring. They said it was closed due to some political hullabaloo. Something about the present political figure not supporting the place (the politician who previously took care of the place just lost in the recent elections). It's a shame coz the place has a potential. The surroundings looked really untidy though due to the fallen kapok/cotton all over the grounds. We were allowed to go in and take some pictures after Allan asked the permission of the caretaker. We were surprised to see a handful of locals bathing in the hot spring so we're not quite sure why it's closed. Dipped my foot into the water and it wasn't that hot -- just lukewarm.
After Ardent Hot Spring, we visited Sto. Niño Cold Spring (again, a minimal entrance fee of about Php 10 - Php 15/pax). The place had lots of people bathing around. We just posed for some pictures, took a quick pee in their restroom and were tempted to drink/eat fresh buko at Php 10/pc. They kept the coconuts inside a net which was submerged in the cold spring (all-natural ref!). The buko juice was sweet and mala-uhog. Yum! After we finished drinking the juice, the tindera cut the coconut with a bolo and using a shard of the buko shell as a scooper, we ate the coco meat. At first, I was squeamish about using the shard of coco shell as a scooper coz I could see remnants of dirt on its edges. But then I saw She, Ces and Rose happily eating away so I thought, what the heck, a little germ won't kill me :p
After our refreshing coconut snack, we headed to Catarman Church Ruins/Gui-ob Church. The historical marker which tells of the eruption of Mt. Volcan was very well-written -- it was evoking to the senses and it painted a vivid picture of what happened. It's a shame though that it was slightly vandalized and some engraved letters were a bit faded. There is a small (new) church inside the ancient ruined walls. It started to drizzle so we only managed to do one kooky group shot which elicited some smiles from the locals nearby.
The last tourist spot we visited was the Cross Marker/Sunken Cemetery. I wanted to photograph it in a duskier backdrop but it was only 5:30PM at the time so I didn't get my most-desired orangey-pink-blue sunset sky:-( It was also drizzling so the clouds were quite gloomy. There were boatmen offering a quick boat ride to the cross marker itself but we didn't venture anymore coz it was already getting dark.
On the way back, our tour guide Allan brought us to one side of the road lined with stores selling souvenir shirts and stuff. He pointed us the rightmost store which he said offered the least expensive souvenirs. We bought shirts for Php 90/pc. (XXL size sells for Php 150). Got myself a shirt that read "Yahoo! Nka 2nob ko sa Camiguin" which was translated to me by the store guy ("nakatunob" means "nakatapak"). The tinderos here were very patient and helpful. They handed us shirt, after shirt, after shirt as we chose our pasalubongs.
For our second day, we decided to transfer to the nearby Paras Beach Resort after being turned off with the customer service of Secret Cove.
SECRET COVE = 1.5/5 RATING (This hotel should just remain a secret! Its only saving grace is the yummy food. But I'm warning you about the scowling waitress as early as now.)
We checked into two twin sharing rooms. Each room costs Php 1,050 (off-peak rate) which meant Php 525/pax for the four of us.
PROS: Room has aircon, hot water, mini bar. Food is excellent! We ordered scallops sauteed in butter, prawns sauteed in white wine and chicken cordon bleu which was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Had a yummy blueberry apple pie (?) for dessert. They offer gourmet dishes which are definitely not run-of-the-mill. Our dinner total was Php 990.
CONS: Room has no TV (Room with TV is available for a higher price). They say they're a beach front hotel but when you get there, the place is covered with tendrils "roofing" most of the place so even at daytime, the place looks dingy. I didn't feel a good aura/vibes in the place.
The water coming from the shower was too fine that it was hard to wash off our shampoo, conditioner and soap. Thus, it took me more time to finish taking a bath.
Tom the Canadian owner was quite snooty/condescending. The short-haired waitress who served us was masungit and had a scowling look. She started frowning when we asked her how long the brownout will be/if it always happened/why was there a brownout. (We surmise that the island is switching power sources at night because a short less-than-5-mins. brownout also happened when we were at Paras). She also gave us an evil stare when we told her that we would be checking out the next day and therefore cancelling the 2nd day booking. The ultimate kabastusan she did was when she thrust the black bill case on our table... Our bill was Php 990 so we gave her Php 1,000. We were expecting to see a Php 10 coin returned to us as change but apparently, they so assumed that they could just keep it for themselves. Appalling disrespectful behavior! Argh! I don't know what planet she is from but the usual custom is for the restaurant to give back the exact change to the customer and then the customer, upon leaving, would leave an appropriate amount of tip tucked inside the black leather bill case. Argh! Kainis talaga! So assuming! We got totally irritated after that so we didn't care to leave any tip.
And if we give benefit of the doubt for erratic human behavior, then what about that rude-sounding/not family-friendly sign posted on the restaurant? I wondered if I should chuckle or be totally turned off by it upon reading what the sign said: "This is not a playground. If you cannot contain your children, please bring them somewhere else." Wow. Ibang level ang rudeness!
PARAS BEACH RESORT = 4/5 RATING (Very Good!)
CONTACT NOS.: 0926-944-3606; (088) 856-8562
We checked into a Standard Triple sharing room w/ extra bed. They gave us 10% discount so the total amount was Php 1,864.50. Thus, Php 466.13/pax for the four of us.
PROS: Paras is one of the premiere beach resorts in Camiguin (The other one being the Camiguin Beach Club) and for the price which turns out to be cheaper than Secret Cove, it is way more worth it to spend your night here. Since it is off-peak season, they gave us 10% off.
They have a very accommodating and courteous staff.
There are gazebos facing the shore wherein you can dine anytime and savor the serenity of the beach. They have a sweet mango shake and yummy Pizza Deliciosa. Clean restrooms are near the dining area.
There's a 4ft swimming pool. They offer Php 400 two-way boat rides to White Island which is just across the resort (about 20 mins. boat ride away)
They can also recommend a local masseuse (non-employee of Paras) who can give 1 hour reflexology massage for Php300.
CONS: The day before, I had already signed a reservation slip for 1 standard triple sharing room. They even allowed us to do an ocular inspection of the room so it was definitely vacant. I was to call the night before to confirm if we could do an early check-in. When I called, they suddenly said that no reservation was made under my name. Apparently, the person in charge during the daytime forgot to log my reservation into their computer. They said that there were no standard rooms available for us (somebody checked in on the standard room) so they suggested that we take the superior room which is of course more expensive than the standard room! I negotiated that they give us the superior room at the same rate they extended for the standard room since the problem was due to their incompetency. I was asked to call after 15 mins. as the girl was going to consult her supervisor first. When I called again, the standard room was magically available again (thus, all previous arrangements remain the same). I was like, duh, a few minutes ago she said it was already booked! We thought this was another "style" on getting us to take the more expensive room. Hayyy!