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For a weekend escapade, Sorsogon is probably a less popular choice compared with Boracay or Bohol or other places in the country renowned for white beaches and luxurious vacations. However, Sorsogon would be THE CHOICE if you want to encounter the whale sharks. So I thought adventures in Sorsogon starts and ends in Donsol alone. But our recent trip to Sorsogon changed my whole perception of the province. Sorsogon has a lot more to offer than a short encounter with the whale sharks. And no, there are no mercenaries or men with bad intentions who would abduct you when you go on your own exploring the southern part of the province.
When we got promo fare tickets to Legazpi, we decided to maximize our time in the Bicol Region and give ourselves a chance to explore Sorsogon, too. We did not avail of any tour packages and just went around commuting our way to and fro.
We initially planned for whale sharks encounter in Donsol. But we put it off on the first day and head to Irosin and Bulusan. We settled our things first at Fernando’s Hotel in Sorsogon City, then commute our way to yet another town we’ve never been before.
On our way, I can’t help but be impressed with vast rice fields and rows and rows of coconut trees on both sides of the road. It was like a journey 30 years back when local communities were still young, fields were still green and mountains are still covered with thick green trees, no touch of harsh developments, nature and community in perfect harmony. And normal daily scenes include locals enjoying their little siesta under a tree or feeding their chickens and goats, or plowing their fields with their carabao, or drying their harvested palay—the simple laid-back lifestyle we miss and would love to go back to when city life gets too intoxicating.
The sky was gloomy when we reached Bulusan Lake. Bulusan Volcano is covered with thick, gray clouds thus disappearing in the background of the lake.
As much as we love to explore the waterfalls and take a relaxing dip to natural hotsprings near the area, it was already getting dark. So we called it a day and went back to the center of Irosin, spent 5 pesos for bread with home-made peanut butter spread, and took a passenger jeepney that would take us back to our hotel.
The next day, we still did not push through the whale shark encounter in Donsol and contacted a boatman in Matnog instead. Matnog is actually the southernmost part of the island Luzon. The ferry terminal here is the jump off point to the Visayas.
From the municipal building of Matnog, we met Kuya Lopito’s daughter in law. She accompanied us to the market to buy food and off we went with the friendly boatman who toured us around with pride for Sorsogon’s hidden gems. We didn’t really know what to expect with our itinerary for the day, but remembering now how it went, the butt-numbing trip (form Sorsogon City to Matnog) to the southernmost tip of Luzon is all worth it! Surprisingly worth it.
First stop: Tikling Island. It suddenly felt like summer time upon seeing the relaxing pristine blue waters of Tikling Island.
The beach is white. Some parts of the beach has fine powdery sand, while some parts are covered with pebbles, crushed corals and shells.
Our boatman accompanied us to the other side of the island where waves are crashing against big rocks. It is very cool to see how waves do high fives with the rocks. \m/
Fully charged with natural happy pill, we climbed one of those rock formations. If I could swim, I’d jump from this rock and do a splash. But no, I can’t and I won’t. The gigantic waves are just waiting to eat me alive and banish me to the ocean once I take a wrong move and slip.
Kuya Lopito’s brother lives in Tikling Island. We ate lunch with them by the beach. Oh, they have a wild boar! The wild boar was walking and sitting around just like a dog, waiting for us to throw some food. Kuya Lopito’s family here also gave us coconuts fresh from the tree for free. They’re the sweetest coconuts I’ve ever tasted. They said it is because the nearer the coconuts are to the beach, the sweeter its fruit becomes. I instantly believed so.
Next stop was Subic Beach in Calintaan Island. I’m from Subic, Zambales, but hey, their Subic Beach is THE OTHER SUBIC BEACH—the way better and way more gorgeous Subic Beach! It is actually a cove with fine powdery sand. It is popular for its pale pink sand—pink due to the presence of dead and pulverized pink corals in the area.
There’s a bigger Subic Beach nearby that gets touristy during summer time, but we preferred the smaller Subic Beach. There were no other tourists around during the time we were there. Waves here are calm, water is strangely cold, and you got lush green trees in the background—yeah, it’s my kind of beach. 🙂
We were no longer able to go for whale sharks encounter in Donsol the next day because we already head back to Legazpi to see the famous Lady of Albay, but we’re not disappointed at all. Exploring Sorsogon is a bliss! We’ll go back for the whale sharks maybe some other time, but I think the overwhelming pleasant surprises that the Southern part of Sorsogon offered us in this trip would suffice to hold still our itchy feet, for now at least. 🙂
On a side note, here’s a glimpse of the laid back city of Sorsogon:
“There it is! She let us see her peak! She likes us!” I told Jep as we were approaching final descent to Legazpi Airport. From the window of the aircraft, I was like a child at the window of a candy store when I first saw Mayon Volcano. I was so excited to see the “volcano with the perfect cone” as described on my Sibika at Kultura textbook in grade school. Oh, how I prepared for this trip! I brought along my 75-300mm lens with me, no matter how it’s gonna be a pain in the neck (literally) to carry.
What we didn’t prepare well for, however, was our accommodation in Legazpi. We just know that Ellis Ecotel is a good enough hotel which is budget friendly and we can just walk in anytime. We didn’t book early; over-confident that there’ll be available room for us, we went to the 3 rd floor of Embarcadero De Legazpi where it is located, carrying all are bags and luggage. To our disappointment, we were told that they are already fully booked. They referred us to Hotel St. Ellis instead. For a standard room for two, it would cost us Php2388 in Hotel St. Ellis! That’s way too hefty for our budget. We were hesitant to bite it. But after seeing what other “cheap” hotels nearby offer (as worse as really icky bathrooms), we went straight ahead to Hotel St. Ellis, were given welcome drinks, and checked in in a breeze! We instantly thought it’ll be worth it.
Their lobby is gorgeously white and the staff are friendly. We were accompanied to our room in the 4th floor. Oh, the room is gorgeous as well! It is very spacious; the queen-sized bed is very comfy We got an LCD TV, fridge, complimentary bottled water and coffee, hair dryer, slippers, and a view of the swimming pool. And oh, a complimentary buffet breakfast the next day. 🙂
We can say that our 2000++ bucks for this room is properly spent; because if we compare this kind of room to rooms and services of hotels in other places we know (say, Tagaytay or Subic), it would already cost us 3000-5000 bucks! Just my two cents. ^_^
Because our time in Legazpi is limited (we spent most of our Bicol tour in Sorsogon, that is), we went straight ahead to Lignon Hill for an unobstructed view Daragang Magayon. Umm, why weren’t we informed that Lignon Hill is one steep hill? We climbed up the hill on foot! It was tiring! But I find quite a lot of interesting stuffs along the way. One could actually dedicate a whole day to explore Lignon Hill as there are trails, tunnel and exhibits to see.
After consuming two bottles of water, we finally reached the top of the hill. Yay! Daragang Magayon is ever stunning! We were so blessed for a cloudless afternoon that we were able to see Mayon’s full form.
There is also a zipline here for the adventure seekers. I could have tried that too but my legs are still shaking from the climb. Even my shots are evidently shaky.
So we just spent quite some hours till dusk on the hill. We made sure our legs got a good rest before we go down.
We were lucky to witness the fireworks display that night, because it was also the ceremonial lighting of their Christmas Tree.
We doubt that we’ll be able to have enough time to go around town and hunt for authentic Bicol cuisine, so we just get ourselves stuffed with Bicolano sounding dish in Gerry’s Grill-Embarcadero menu.
The next day, we only have until lunch time and we’ll have to say bye-bye to Bicolandia. So to maximize our time, we woke up early, indulged in the buffet breakfast treat of Hotel St. Ellis and went straight to Cagsawa Ruins in Daraga.
I felt like I was in a picture perfect postcard of Cagsawa Ruins with Mayon Volcano in the background. I think Daragang Magayon really liked us. We had another day of good weather, clear blue skies, almost cloudless for us to witness Mayon’s full glory. A perfect time to capture Mayon’s beauty up close too!
She is awesome! I have no idea how to give justice to the beauty that she is through my camera.
Because of a couple of eruptions of this active volcano, its perfect cone as was described in my grade school textbook is no longer so perfect, but still a perfectly stunning sight! So here I give you a closer look of its peak:
Breath taking! I enjoyed the view of Mayon more from Cagsawa Ruins. It looks bare and more breath-taking than the other day from Lignon Hill. Or maybe I appreciate it more from Cagsawa because it looked like a naked beautiful lady in bright day light where I was able to see its stunning curves and imperfections yet sitting gorgeously still in front of us. Seeing her with my own eyes, not just in pictures, is a dream come true. And capturing her beauty with my camera is a bliss. 🙂
Our lightning tour of Albay is satisfying no matter how short. A glimpse of Mayon would leave anyone stunned.
I was not ready to go home just yet. But time get’s crazy fast when you are high in bliss. So off we went to catch our flight back home.
Lounging around Legazpi Airport is pretty interesting:
In my humble opinion, it is the prettiest airport in the country— awesome view of Mayon Volcano here!
I can’t get enough of the thought of how Daragang Magayon liked us, because from first glimpse to farewell bids, she let us see her peak. 🙂