Friday, September 23, 2011

Last September 22, 2011, I went to Tagaytay for a solo daytrip and take note that it was my first time there.

Here is the detailed timeline:
8:20AM - Departure from Mactan International Airport.
9:30AM - Arrival at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
9:35AM - Rode a taxi from NAIA to Pasay Bus Station.
10:00AM - Bus departure from Pasay to Tagaytay city proper (Olivares Plaza).
12:00PM - Arrival at Olivares Plaza Tagaytay City.
12:10PM - Rode a jeepney to Mahogany public market to eat their famous Bulalo.
12:20PM - Bulalo lunch at Len's Kitchennette.
1:00PM - Rode a jeepney from Mahogany public market to Bag of Beans.
1:20PM - Dessert at Bag of Beans. I ordered Apple Pie ala Mode and Iced Caramel Machiatto.
2:00PM - Rode a jeepney back to Olivares Plaza.
2:20PM - Rode a jeepney from Olivares Plaza to People's Park in the Sky (aka Palace in the Sky).
2:45PM - Picture taking in People's Park in the Sky.
4:00PM - Took a tricycle to Picnic Grove.
4:10PM - Horseback riding and picture taking at Picnic Grove.
5:30PM - Went back to Olivares Plaza.
6:00PM - Rode a bus that will drop me off Baclaran.

Here are my detailed Expenses:
Taxi fare from NAIA to Pasay Bus station             - P250.00 (why so mahal? I will post the story soon.)
Bus fare from Pasay to Tagaytay                           - P77.00
Jeepney fare from Olivares to Mahogany Market  - P10.00
Bulalo lunch                                                          - P130.00
Jeepney fare from Mahogany to Bag Of Beans      - P8.00
Iced Caramel Machiatto                                       - P110.00
Apple Pie Ala Mode                                            - P145.00
Jeepney fare from Bag Of Beans to Olivares         - P10.00
Jeepney fare from Olivares to People's Park         - P18.00
Entrance People's Park                                        - P15.00
Multicab fare to People Park's view deck             - P10.00
Tricycle fare from People's Park to Picnic Grove   - P60.00
Entrance fee Picnic Grove                                     - P50.00
Horseback Riding at Picnic Grove (1 hour)           - P350.00
Jeepney fare from Picnic Grove to Olivares           - P11.00
Bus fare from Tagaytay to Baclaran                       - P77.00
Total Expenses:                                                     P1,331.00

My thoughts on Tagaytay City, Taal Lake and Taal Volcano:
Tagaytay is a city but it doesn't look like one I must say. The view in Taal Volcano is superb. The air is fresh, there is no pollution, you can see greens anywhere - perfect for a great escape from the hassles in the city. The place is perfect for picnics and daytrips too - Palace in the Sky and Picnic Grove. I think it is also nice to have overnight stay here (maybe next time). I didn't get a chance to take a closer look at the
volcano though and I also opted not to go to the crater lake because the boat fare costs too much and I'm all alone so it would mean I'm gonna pay for all the expenses. I'm sure someday I'll be back in Tagaytay and I hope I'll be with my friends next time. It would be my honor to tour them to this beautiful place.

Here are some pictures I took at Tagaytay:

Yes I went to BOB's place.

Bag of Beans.
I asked the waitress to take this picture. hehe.
Apple Pie Ala Mode.
Iced Caramel Machiatto.
Very very delicious slurp!
Superb view from Palace in the Sky.
I don't the name of the mountain but it looks nice from afar. hehe.
Tagaytay city as seen from the mountain heights.
Spectacular view right?
Can't help but take a lot of pictures. hehe.
Taal Volcano and Taal Lake.
I've had enough pictures of the volcano, it's time for me to shine. Aw! Haha.
You can also buy souvenirs in their souvenir shops.
I didn't go to the top since it was really hot. hehe. This statue reminds of Brazil's famous statue (I forgot the name).
Yes I was here! I just couldn't ask somebody to take a picture of me with this as a background. Huhu. :(
It was sunny when I went there but the air was cold.
Horseback riding at the Picnic Grove.
You can see up close Taal Volcano and Taal Lake here.
Nice subject, Nice background - Perfect! Aw hahaha... :P
My guide said that the owner of this land area is Willie Revillame. Oowws.
My horsy was a bit tired so we went for a little break. (Am I that heavy?)
Photo credit to my guide who was by the way a Bisaya also.
Wahaha! Too much drama can kill you!
A closer look at Taal Volcano and Taal Lake.
Nice nice nice view - I couldn't help but take a lot of pictures while riding the horse.
Couldn't look away from the breath-taking view.
Fernando Jose ikaw ba yan? - a close friend commented on facebook. Waaaaah!
Waaaah my tummy is a major agaw eksina.. tsk tsk :(
Souvenir shops in Picnic Grove.
Small cottages in Picnic Grove. Perfect for picnics.
It was already dark so I took a last picture at the lake and volcano before I left.

My thoughts on my first solo trip:
It was a nice experience and a very challenging one. It was my first time to have a solo trip in a place where I'm a stranger. At first I was really nervous and hesitant about the trip but I decided to push through with it and just believe in myself. It's a little awkward to travel alone when you are used to having trips with a lot of companions. Honestly, I felt really lonely that time. I think that this kind of trip is perfect for heartbroken people or for those who really want to be alone.
I found it hard to take pictures of myself because at first I was shy of asking other people to take a picture of me. Hehe. What I did at first was to put my DSLR Camera in the table and set it in a timer mode. But it was a little uncomfortable and inconvenient too, so I just took the courage to overcome my shyness and ask for strangers to take even just one shot. Well, I was glad that the persons I asked were all nice and didn't turn me down.
Another disadvantage of traveling alone is that you'll have to pay everything yourself. For instance, I paid P60 for the tricycle fare from Palace in the Sky to Picnic Grove when I can trim it down to P15 only if I have companions. I had an option though - to wait for other passengers but I was in a hurry that time so I just gave in with the P60 fare.

Now, did I enjoy my solo trip?
Well, YES of course! It was a great experience and I learned a lot in this trip. My primary reason for doing such was to know how it would feel and to know if I can really survive traveling all by myself in a place where I'm a complete stranger. Someday, I am aspiring to travel the world and I think that this one is the first step. I am super thankful to God that everything went well in my trip.
I guess I'll be having more solo trips to come but maybe, If I will go on a solo trip next time, I must see to it that I must be heartbroken or I just wanna be alone. Hehe. =)

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's official, I'm going to take N3 again for this year's JLPT Exam. Last year, I took N3 and damn I failed. Although I put on my best efforts from April until November to study hard, I still got 70/180 score (95 is the passing score by the way).

At the start of this year, I promised myself that I'll definitely be back and take N3 again with revenge. But unfortunately, I was assigned to a heavy project and until this month, I still can't find vacant time to study for Nihongo. That's why, I decided to take N4 instead because with a little refresher, I think I can manage to pass this exam. But the company won't allow me: "N4 is nothing in the eyes of the client" as they say. So I think it's inevitable, I have to take N3. (huhuhu) As we jokingly say, "Donate napud tag P800 ani sa Japan Foundation... LOL" (referring to our P800 examination fee.)

If I carefully analyze things, I can say that I only have 30% passing percentage for this year's N3 exam, unlike last year which I think I got 50% passing percentage. See last year, when it was September, I already stopped going nighouts on Friday nights, studied nihongo on weekends, woke up early everyday to review, and spent 2 hours of office time to take mock exams. But the result of my major efforts was also major, major failure. :(

Well, It was not a pleasant experience but it didn't affect me or anything though. The moment I took the exam, I already know that I won't pass. What happened actually was during the exam especially the reading comprehension part, I did not really read the questions and instead, answered it right away. Hahaha. I didn't know what came across my mind but I was really idiot that time. It was late when I realized that I wasted the couple of months I spent to study and prepare for the exam and when the final moment came, I just played with it. Anyway, there's no point of crying over spilled milk. Hehe.

This year, I was really frustrated when I was not allowed to take N4 instead of N3. I understand the company's point so I just have to follow them. With barely 2 months to prepare, I am like doing mission impossible. For me, it's either easy or impossible and for this case, it's impossible. My Nihongo level as of the moment is still N5. I really forgot all of the basics in Nihongo, like I can't even remember the most basic words.

Last month,  I took an internal N4 mock exam and yeah I failed. Maybe because I was super late that time (came in 10:20 for an 8:30 exam), and I was not really determined to pass that If I find a long question, I just did my "bantut-bantut" technique again.

Our sensei said that if we'll spare 2 hours of our time everyday, we could have a 50/50 chance of passing, but with my schedule for the upcoming weekends, that would rather be impossible. I think only 1 weekend in October, and 2 weekends in November are still not occupied which I think will soon be booked also for my relentless adventures. Haha!

I really don't know what to do to pass this exam. It has been a long time since I earned an achievement. The last time was when I was the only Josenian who passed the PhilNits Exam for our batch March 2010 (giro mode). After that, it was a long drought and I don't know when and how to break that spell. I missed that feeling of glory that I always get when I was in college. But nevermind, I will just focus myself in enjoying the things which I didn't enjoy in college like exploring the wonders of Philippines. Aw! (sourgraping mode)

So I guess, I'm having a mission impossible this December 4 then. Who would want to join me? :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Last September 9-10, 2011 our team decided to take a break from work, breathe fresh air and have an
escapade at Dalaguete Spring and Alcoy Beach.

Here is our itinerary:
5:30AM                    -Meet at South Bus Terminal
6:00AM - 8:30AM   -Travel time (CERES Bus) from Cebu City to Dalaguete
                                 -Bus will drop you off Dalaguete Spring
8:30AM - 1:30PM    -Swimming in Dalaguete Spring
                                 -Went to Dalaguete Public Market to buy food for lunch
1:30PM - 2:00PM    -Took a tricycle from Dalaguete Spring to Tingko Beach at Alcoy
2:00PM until tomorrow morning -Swimming at Tingko Beach
                                                  -Bonding sessions

Just a little thoughts about the two places:

Dalaguete Spring - Not really a place where you'll be WOWed at first glance but it's nice to drop by there for a while and take a swim at the very cold water. It's perfect for relaxation. If you want to take a break from the busy life in the city, you know... breathe fresh air, listen to birds chirping and see greens all around, this would be a perfect getaway.
Alcoy Beach - Honestly I was surprised when I first saw the beach. It really exceeded my expectations.  The sand is artificially white and fine but who cares if they put the white sand there on purpose? What's important is it's white and fine and I loved it. You'll never be disappointed with the beach because it's crystal clear and clean. There are cottages built on top of a big rock and you can stay there overnight. I didn't enjoy though my overnight stay there because it was so cold and I forgot to bring my own pillow and blanket - make it bedroom showcase. I was attacked by my rheuma or arthritis that night so I was not able to sleep soundly. I suggest that you bring your bedroom showcase along when you want to stay here overnight.

Here are some pictures to tell you the rest of the story hehe:

This is the Dalaguete Spring.

I was really surprised that the Spring is directly connected to the sea.

Planking at the Spring. hehe.

You can rent table cottages for P150 if you want to eat there.

The water is so cold and crystal clear.

It was low tide, so the Spring was also low tide. Aw! haha.

There was a man who sold us these sea shells for P150/pail. He did the honor of getting the meat for us.

Photography stuff... hehe.

It was my first time to eat raw Talaba Shells. I usually eat them already cooked. I think raw and fresh is more healthy but not that delicious as cooked. hehe.

See how clear the water is? 
We rode a tricycle from Dalaguete Spring to Tingko beach at Alcoy. Travel time is more or less 20 minutes. Fare is P20 if I'm not mistaken.

This is the beach at Alcoy.

The artificial white sand. The caretaker told us not to dig deeper  in the sand because it would show the original soil of the beach. Hahaha. There are also some rocky area in the beach.

There are cottages built on top of a big rock where you can stay overnight.

This is the cottage that we took. We paid P1500 good for 10 persons only and P100 for extra persons.

We had our "Tindahan ni Aling Kresia" haha.

Front view of our cottage.

It actually rained at 5PM that day. :( 
Here are the cottages.
Let Mirang do the cooking.

Of course, grilled pork chop is always a part of my recipe. hehe. We rented the grill for P50.

Grilled Talaba Shells. Slurp!

Our actual plan was not to rent any cottages but stay on our tents instead. But there's a fee also if you want to use tent in the beach. I forgot the price but I think it would range from P100-P250.

Since I was not really able to sleep that night, I woke up early in the morning to take some nice pictures.

The beach in the morning.
The aftermath from last night's activities.

Wala lang. haha.

Nice view, isn't it?
Sunrise at Tingko beach, Alcoy.

View from the top.

The cottages as seen from the top.
Last pose before going home.

Expenses (Rough estimate only because I forgot already hehehe):
  • Bus fare from Cebu City to Dalaguete          - P110.00
  • Entrance fee Dalaguete Spring                     - P10.00
  • Cottage rent Dalaguete spring                      - P150.00
  • Tricycle fare from Dalaguete to Tingko Beach Alcoy  - P20.00
  • Food Expenses                                           -P300.00/pax
  • Griller rent                                                     -P50.00
  • Cottage rent                                                -P1500.00/10persons
  • Karaoke rent                                               -P5.00/song
  • Bus fare from Alcoy to Cebu                        -P130.00