The Destination: Caramoan Islands, Camarines Sur. Famous because it is the favorite venue for the reality-TV series Survivor, among the countries that chose Caramoan islands are Serbia, Israel, Bulgaria, Sweden, France, India and just recently USA.
The Challenge: Survive on a Php2,500.00 budget (less than US$60) for an overnight escapade in Caramoan from Manila and back, all-in.
The Route: Cubao, QC – Sabang – Caramoan – Sabang – Naga City – Cubao
The Date: September 19-21, 2012
The Cast: Ivy, Eena, Faye, Balong, Me, Zarina, Timo, Arvin and Ed
It was a no-plan, no-itinerary trip born out of tipsiness 2 days before we exactly leave Manila. I don’t have anything to do that weekend plus I havent been to Caramoan yet and so I posed a challenge that everyone would want to join- I said, “Php2,500 lang ang budget, lahat na.” And everyone was surprised. Me? I don’t know if I was just tipsy or sleepy but I felt a little nervousness of what I just said. Hmmm… I will be putting my name on the line. This should work out or else…
And so Friday came and Arvin was in-charge of buying the tickets ahead of time. He went early at Alimall Bus Terminal and bought 8 tickets bound for Sabang, Camarines Sur. Leaving at exactly 7:30pm for a cheap price of Php650 only. This is the cheapest way to get to Sabang compared to getting off at Naga City then transferring to a van that goes to Goa or Sabang.
After almost 12 hours of butt-numbing ride, we arrived at Sabang port 7:00am. Just in time for the boat trip that leaves for Caramoan at 7:30am. As there was still time, we opted to have a quick breakfast of boiled fish at the near carinderia. It was fresh, sweet and cheap- the benefit of being close to the sea!
We registered our names and boarded the big boat that will bring us to Guijalo Feeder Port at Caramoan. The weather was gloomy but the sea was calm. Even though the colors are not as bright as the photos we always see on travel blogs, we were excited as we don’t know what to expect in Caramoan.
The day before the escapade I booked a room at Rex Tourist Inn (0939-204-3692, look for Glenda) as one of the staff there has helped me during my ISANGDAAN Challenge when I was in Donsol, Sorsogon. I also arranged for a tricycle that will pick us up when we arrive at the port c/o Rex Tourist Inn.
Since this is just a 2-day, 1-night escapade we have no time to lounge around. We headed to Paniman port the moment we change into our beach attires. Oh yes, we ordered lunch first before we rode the tricycle to where the island hopping tour would start.
Because of Balong and Ivy’s sun dance, the sun goddess somehow managed to give us some heat as we are heading to the islands. We enjoyed the sights even though we half-awake or just plain tired of the overnight trip.
We went to four islands- Lajos/Lahos, Matukad, Cagbanilad and Minalajos. Our first stop was Lajos and everyone enjoyed covering Arvin and Eena with sand. We went on snorkeling and I noticed that it was rocky and seaweedy down below. There were only few fishes though and they were not as colorful as those in Palawan or Siqujor.
By 11:30am, the whole island was all ours so instead of having our lunch at Matukad we opted to dine there at the beach. It was really fun to eat with your barehands (and barefoot too) with friends, trying to hoard rice and bits and pieces of meat. We feasted on Bicol’s cuisine- pinangat, ginataang puso ng saging, Bicol express and many more. In just 15 minutes, all we brought were no where to be found. *burp* excuse me.
It is time to go to the next island- Matukad. Here slowed down and played with the sand and sea. Our boatman told me that there is a secret lagoon that can be reached by climbing among the cliffs. Being adventurous that I am, I followed out boatman and checked it out. It was just an easy 10-minute scrambling among the rocks and the view from the top is just awesome!
If not for the starting rain, I would have more time taking photos but I have to get down as the footholds are becoming slippery already. Good thing I have a new foot gear called ZemGear Terra, my new outdoor shoes which I really love because it is easy to dry and perfect for water and outdoor activities. I will make a review of this barefoot shoes soon.
I saw the group already had fun, the rain drops becoming heavy and the weather gave us chills so we asked if we can go back. Before we went back, we stopped by at two more islands, Cagbanilad and Minalajos.
What made me a little bit sad is how other people don’t know how to take care of the environment by leaving their trash in the island (Lahos) or making a vandal on the rock formations (Matukad).
Tiredness was easily felt as the boat riggers back to where we started. Rain continuously falling and everyone dozed off. After about 45 minutes we were back in mainland Caramoan and we were fetched by our tricycle to go back to Centro.
It was still early and we don’t want to waste time so after a quick shower we enjoyed each other’s company by eating fishballs and kikiam. We also played Pusoy Dos and punished the loser with a shot of brandy, me, always the victim. Poor James eh?
Arvin, Faye and Timo were the ones in-charge of dinner (Balong and Ivy were asleep already), Zarina and Eena continued to win the game as I continue to shuffle the cards and take shots of brandy with cola as a chaser.
Finally, dinner was ready and we enjoyed Sinigang na Lapu-Lapu, Pork Sisig, Adobong Pusit and many more. The food was really good that I ordered 3 cups of rice (*burps* again).
The night is still young so as true Pinoys on a vacation, we sang our hearts out with a videoke and continued enjoying each others company with more brandy. I am not sure how I ended up in my room but it was one of my most memorable out-of-town trips with friends.
In the morning, we just asked for hot water as some brought instant coffee. Talk about saving on expenses, they are learning!
As soon as everyone were ready, we headed to the old Caramoan Church before having a quick breakfast at the Goto Hut.
Tracing back the route, we headed to Guijalo port then waited for the 9:00am for the trip to Sabang. From Sabang port, we hailed a van that will bring us to Naga City for a pigout lunch at Bigg’s Diner.
We still have time to roam around the city because the earliest trip to Manila is 7:30pm. Some watched movie, went window shopping but I went to the spa to have a relaxing massage as I have a very busy week ahead of me the moment I get back to Manila.
Friends who were with me were really surprised at how little we spent during that weekend, now they are clamoring for the next escapade. Hmmmm… I think I should raise the budget next time.
Hope the story and expenses below would be of great help to those who are planning a DIY barkada trip to Caramoan.
Expenses during the entire trip (in Philippine Peso):
650 – AC Raymond bus (Cubao – Sabang) 12 hours travel
37 – Breakfast, boiled fish near Sabang port
120 – Big boat (Sabang – Guijalo port, Caramoan) 1.5 hours
30 – Environmental fee (I really don’t know where this goes as I saw some trashes on some of the islands.)
30 – Tricycle to Centro Caramoan (town proper)
250 – Accommodation (Rex Tourist Inn), we got 2 big rooms with 2 double sharing beds for only Php1000/night
170- Boat, Island Hopping tour (Php1500/9pax)
40- Packed Lunch, we bought at Lutong Bahay
40- Tricycle rental (Php360/9pax) back and forth to Paniman (Islang hopping jump-off port)
90- Dinner (Php800/9pax)
18- Breakfast (Goto with egg)
30- Tricycle to Guijalo Port
5- Terminal Fee
120- Big Boat (Guijalo Port to Sabang)
100- AC Van (Sabang to Naga) 1.5 hours
8- Jeepney to Magsaysay Ave.
100- Lunch at Bigg’s Diner
750- AC DLTBCo Bus (Naga to Cubao)
Php 2,580 (YES, I wasn’t successful with my challenge. I overspent Php80 but that’s just Php2,580 compared to over-priced packaged tours amounting to Php5,000 or more). Also, you can’t buy happiness and good memories right? Anyway, I hope this helps.
Note: Drinks and other personal necessities/expenses not included. Prepare Php3,000 if you want to do this too.
Note 2: Number 1, 4 and 5 photos are from Balong’s camera. I used my Panasonic LX5 and GoPro HD HEro 2 cameras during this trip.