Friday, January 2, 2015

Baffledchichi's Best of 2014

2014, whoa! What a year! 

This has perhaps been one of the most memorable year of my life so far. I have celebrated my 30th birthday earlier last year and an abundance of travels both here and abroad graced their presence in my life. I would admit, it hasn't been pleasant all throughout but I had my fair share of awesome things as well. There's too many to be thankful for in 2014. I had a fantastic year at work, my family is healthy, I got to travel more than I used to travel compared to past years. Everything seems splendid! 

Now let me share with you my best moments in the year 2014. 

I have spent my 30th birthday in Vietnam, this time in the city of Hanoi. I love Vietnam, and I always will. The food, the people and most specially how affordable everything is makes this country at the top of my to-go list. My time in Vietnam was filled with memories that I will cherish forever. I spent my birthday mid air , inside the plane going to Hanoi as the clock strikes 12, I saw the beautiful Halong Bay, ate sumptuous Vietnamese food once again, and mostly, spent wonderful time with fantastic friends that made the trip worthwhile

A delicious cup of Ca Phe Trung in Hanoi

With a new found friend David and his birthday surprise for me! 

A floating village in Halong Bay

We celebrated my mom's 60th birthday in Cebu and we had such a good time! This is my way of saying thanks to both mom and dad for everything they have done for me. I remember visiting Cebu with the whole family many years ago and was not able to go back anymore. Thank God for giving me a chance to treat mom and dad for a short vacation such as this. :) 

I love the fact that Cebu is a bustling city one moment and a quiet fishing town the next. The food is also amazing! I would go back again and again for the lechon and fresh seafoods. We also had a grand time in a boutique hotel in the heart of Cebu City. Splendid service!

Mama, celebrating her 60th birthday in Cebu

Wellcome Hotel in the heart of Cebu city

Delicious Palanganita of Shrimps in STK Ta Bay!, Cebu City

We had a great stay at Be Resorts Mactan

I had an amazing time with my friend Gladys during this trip. I have long been wanting to visit Iloilo and I think that she was the perfect companion for that trip. We both love to eat and Iloilo is a great place to sample traditional local cuisine. Batchoy, Kansi, fresh sea foods, what more can you ask for? It's a foodie paradise! 

Iloilo's Famous La Paz Batchoy at Netong's 

Great seafood meal at Breakthrough Restaurant

Corned Beef Kansi at  Punot

The majestic Miag-ao Church, a UNESCO World Heritage site

Finally, the beautiful island of Guimaras where you will find breathtaking scenery and delicious mangoes. The highlight of my trip there would be our visit to Guisi Lighthouse. It was such a beauty! I also enjoyed the surprisingly good Mango Pizza from The Pitsop restaurant. 

Ruins in front of Guisi Lighthouse.
Yes, I just have to strike a pose even if I don't usually like having my photo taken.

Guisi Lighthouse

The star of the Turtle Island! 

Breathtaking view of Guimaras

The Mango Pizza from The Pitstop Restaurant in Guimaras is surprisingly good!

Tremendous year of food and travels! I can sense that 2015 will bring me more fun and adventure, so bring it on, 2015! Happy New Year everyone! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Gorgeous Guimaras

Guimaras is a lovely island 15 minutes away from Iloilo. The island is famous for their sweetest mangoes and pristine beaches. My friend and I were lucky to have been blessed with fantastic weather when we visited the island. 

We decided to stay 2 days and 1 night in Guimaras. Some friends recommended to take the day tour but we wanted to fully relax and enjoy the visit. Raymen Beach Resort is your best bet if you're trying to find a good hotel in the island. We booked our room via

How To Go There?

From Iloilo City, head towards Ortiz Wharf and buy a ticket going to Guimaras. The ticket costs Php14 as of our visit on November 2014. 

Ortiz Wharf Ticket Booth

Kuya! Pabili ng ticket! 
Bancas going to Guimaras Island

We traveled for 15 minutes before we reached Jordan Wharf (pronounced as Hordan not Jordan the country). 

Guimaras Island Day Tour

While having dinner the night before we were bound for Guimaras, my friend and I searched the internet for a reliable tricycle driver cum tour guide in Guimaras that would take us around the island. We tried calling a few numbers, some were not answering and some claimed to be the person were looking for even when they're not, when we stumbled upon Kuya Gil's number. Luckily, he was the only person we were able to talk to who seems legit and so we booked him for a day tour around Guimaras. 

Kuya Gil set a price of Php 1500 for a Guimaras Day tour.  He also agreed to bring us to Raymen and pick us up the following day back to Jordan Wharf. 

We sent an SMS to our tour guide before leaving Ortiz Wharf.  He knew where exactly he would pick us up as soon as we arrived in Jordan Wharf. He welcomed us, together with his tricycle whom he called "Perseus", with a warm smile as we start our Guimaras day tour. :) 

Off we go! 

1. Smallest Plaza 

Our first stop is the Smallest Plaza. There was nothing too much to see here. We stopped for about 5 minutes then proceeded to the next destination in our list. 

2. Museo de Guimaras

Took a few shots of the place and left right away. We were not able to go inside since the museum is under renovation during the time we visited. 

3. Trappist Monastery

Our third stop is the Trappist Monastery where we said a little prayer and bought pasalubongs to bring back to Manila. 

4. Mango Plantation

We stopped in the middle of nowhere when Kuya Gil showed us a mango plantation which reminded both me and my friend about Jericho Rosales and Kristine Hermosa's movie. Haha! We took some photos for a few minutes and continued our journey towards our next destination, and oh boy, it's one bumpy ride!

Top: Mango Plantation on the left side of the road
Bottom: Spectacular view on the right side!

5. Guisi Lighthouse

The travel time from the mango plantation to Guisi Lighthouse took about 30-45 minutes. The road is unfriendly with all the bumps and dust. That was the time when I wondered how can the tricycle bear tough journeys like that and asked Kuya Gil if his tricycle have a name. "Perseus", He said. One tough tricycle indeed. Dinaig pa 4x4. 

The travel time was quite long, but oh boy, it was soooooo worth it! I will let the photos speak for themselves. 

Gorgeous view right before we walked towards Guisi Lighthouse
This is what welcomed us! Beautiful isn't it. Angkor Wat-ish no? :) 
I rarely post photos of myself but I just have to since the place is so enchanting.

Guisi Lighthouse
View from the top

Kuya Gil said that the best time to visit the lighthouse is during sunset to get the best possible view. We arrived at around 12 noon and I can't really complain. Can the view get any better that that? I mean it was overwhelming! I was never really expecting I would be that enchanted to the place as much as I did when I was there, and I am still up to this very moment. :) 

Raymen Beach Resort

Kuya Gil dropped us off the hotel and bade us a good time. We agreed that he'd pick us up the hotel and bring us back to Jordan Wharf by 11:00 in the morning. 

About the hotel, I was satisfied with Raymen's service. The staff are polite and the service is good. We brought with us a bottle of wine to consume and they gladly took it to chill and even lend us wine glasses. :)  I just find the place a little cramped though. I was hoping the resort would be breezy and spacious but every inch of the property has either a room or a cottage. I heard from our tour guide that there are 2 nearby resorts that could be an alternative. Raymen's advantage is that they are easy to contact since they are present in social networking sites and

The hotel has it's own restaurant. Although there are some carinderias outside the hotel, my companion and I decided to have our late lunch, dinner and breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Food is ok and prices aren't that steep. 

Island Hopping Tour

We asked Raymen to assist us in booking a small boat to take us around and they happily helped us. My companion and I rented a boat for Php 700 for the first 3 hours. Succeeding hours cost us Php 200 per hour.  

Island Hopping Tour Booth

The banca we used was quite spacious and can perhaps accommodate a maximum of 10 people. Rates are per hour basis so the bigger the group, the lesser the cost per head.

Being a lazy tourist that I am, I never really got to remember where and which island we went first. I just remembered visiting a turtle sanctuary where we were able to see and touch a beautiful turtle, took photos in a nearby cave, drank ice cold and crisp Red Horse beer, listen to Ariana Grande's "Baby, I" (yes, I listen to Ariana Grande, bakit ba?! haha!) and taking a quick dip in the sea. The chronology is not important, in my opinion, all I can remember now is how magnificent, how serene, and how enchanting the tour is. And oh, we never had a problem with our tour guides. Mike, one of the boat guy is fantastic with tourist. He knows where to bring us, how to take photos of us, and how to make that island hopping tour a memorable one. 

Here are some photos of the island hopping tour.

Buy beers before you take off, bring speakers, and party while island hopping! 

We ended the tour with the beautiful sunset in our horizon. Before cleaning up and before we get ready for dinner, my friend and I decided to take a dip in the beach while savoring the beautiful amber sunset skies. We rested for a bit and had a sumptuous dinner of sea foods, then capped off our night with some chilled white wine by the beach. 

I spent my early morning next time trying to look for a good spot to get my tan. The resort had an influx of local guests and it was a parteh. Haha! 

Good morning, Guimaras!

As promised, Kuya Gil and Perseus picked us up upon hotel check out. I have The Pitstop Restaurant in mind for lunch and asked both my friend Gladys and Kuya Gil for a short lunch break before heading back to the port. 

The Pitstop's Famous Mango Pizza

The service is relaxed. However we were quite disappointed that the drinks came in our table last. It could have been perfect if everything was brought to the table all the same time. I would definitely recommend anything in their mango inspired menu, though I have only tried two. Their Mango Pizza is superb and is definitely a must try.

We then headed to the port and said goodbye to Kuya Gil and Perseus. I would have to say that this man is very trustworthy and reliable. We sensed that he is a genuine person and we truly enjoyed the time we spent with him. I would personally vouched for Kuya Gil. Go and look for him if you plan to go to Guimaras!

His contact number is +639212365281. I would advice you to call him a few days in advance and let him know the details of your trip. 

I would love to go back to Guimaras soon. It was such a great place to relax and unwind. I was even thinking that people living in Iloilo are really lucky to be that near Guimaras. It was enchanting, relaxing and mesmerizing.