Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Caramoan: Backpacker's Adventure Part 1

A year ago, I was intrigue by the news that the sleeping and remote town of Caramoan made an international news when it becomes the venue of Koh-Lanta, the french version of Survivor- a reality show that is being watched by millions worldwide.
Watch the first episode

This year, upon learning that we have another long vacation, I grab the opportunity, invited friends, plan my itinerary, research the net about the place and when I woke up, I find myself at the Naga Central Terminal wandering... walking in my backpack with Nica.

My friends back-out the last minute due to family affair, my own family can't also come 'coz my little boy has his swimming lesson. So to think that having to trek alone to a newly discovered paradise may sounds crazy to you but it's an exciting experience for me. But don't worry, I am here with my wife's blessing and support to my sometimes crazy adventure :)

So to all backpackers who wishes to ride with me. Pack your things and join me as I explore a newly discovered paradise at the heart of Bicolandia.


It's my usual routine every time I travel in an unspoiled territory to have a prepared research work. Thanks to those who posted their stories on the internet. It gives me everything I need from reviews to directions and people to talked to.

If you are also traveling this holy week like me, expect the intense heat. Just prepare tons of sun block if you are afraid to get dark :) Prepare yourself with light clothings and better travel on shorts and sandals. If you're planning to stay on a beach or camping with your friends, don't forget to bring an emergency flash light and mosquito repellent or sort. Lastly, bring something to record your travel like a video or a camera. It's good that you have something to share when you return.

Good for me I have my Nica who always on the go whenever I travel. She's a witness to all the places I have been through and she never upsets me. She always guided me to get that perfect shot as she glide and hug on my shoulder. Her long barreled legs that I admire..her misty eyes that I sometimes kissed is enough to give me that wow feeling. She's armed with extended batt, filters for her eyes and an amazing 8GB of flash drive enough for a long weekend adventure. I know what you think, huh? My Nica is a Canon DSLR with 18-200 mm zoom lens that I have acquired 2 years ago :)

The Travel

I travel by bus 'coz I don't got an early booking by plane. It takes 10-hours to reach Naga City with stop over (dinner at Lucena City Terminal in Quezon). For P700 fare I would recommend Pe├▒afrancia Tours for a comfortable travel. If you have lots of budget, you can book for a 29- seater with CR.

After an early breakfast at 6:30 I start roaming around the terminal and went to the Van terminal located beside the newly constructed SM City Naga. Unluckily missed the 7 am Van going to Sabang and folks instructed me to have a bus going to Partido instead.

So I hop in a bus going to Lagonoy, paid my P55 fare and we traveled more than half and an hour. We passed by Pili-the Capital of Camarines Sur and from there it took 4 towns before the kind conductor told me to jump off at San Jose junction.

At the junction, I was welcomed by flock of tricycle drivers offering a ride going Sabang. I first visited the ongoing construction of the church of San Jose while observing if there's an alternative transpo aside from tricycle. I spotted a single motorbike LARGA- the counter part of Habal-habal of the visayas. So for P40, you have a better view of the lush green surroundings and the simple lifestyle of the community. Aside from that, you can have an instant tip from these hired drivers and can tour you to any place you like.

We traveled 8 kilometers, dropped by Talisay port hoping for an available boats then we have reach the Sabang beach. The tide is low and boat are far from the beach shore. I ask Mang Boyet about it and told me that boat operators such as M/V Harry finds it more convenient and cost effective if they are in Sabang rather than using the nearby Talisay port. Sabang has no working port so to speak you have to depend on local porter to help you hop on the boat. This add to the inconveniences of local residents but it add thrills to a first timer like me.

For a P10 tip, local porter gives you a back ride. Skinny as they were but they are strong. You have to relax yourself for they make sure that you hop in the boat secured and dry. After a while, two more groups followed me plus some cargo that needs for shipment and by 11:30 noon, the anchor was hanged up and the 50-seater boat started to maneuver in the starboard side.

According to my printed review, the trip to Caramoan would be for 2 hours. You may experience a bit of unsustained waves but according to some folks, this is normal because of the scattered islands that made up the famous peninsula. I have positioned myself near the boatman so i did not feel the intense banging of waves and an advantage for a clear view of the ocean floor.

About an hour, we passed by the lone island in the Caramoan Bay going to Guijalo port. (see my Google Satellite Imagery) The island called Aguirangan is small white sand islet and folks in the boat told me that it is a common camper's paradise in the area. Nipa huts were installed and being rented P300 for a day. Food in the island is not available, you need to pack or you get starved.

I almost got sleep because of the warm air lingering my face and while watching the vastness of crystal blue water. Good to know that I have my iPod with me and manage to spin some favorite local rock bands. I also manage to ask Mang Ruben (who is seating beside me) on why there is no direct bus going to Caramoan. He told me that roads are still not safe for commuters but the local government is making ways to have that project funded and this would ease their travel to 45 minutes. We had talked so much about Caramoan and give me some pointers on what to do when we reach the port. When you are alone better take the jeepney instead of tricycle, he told me. S0, when we docked the Guijalo port, I saw some jeepneys plying centro (poblacion) route and this only cost me P20.

I bid farewell to my short acquitance and here I am at the foot of Caramoan ready to start my own SURVIVOR adventure. Follow me in my next post. In the meanwhile, view my gallery at FLICKR.

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