Talk about Bicol and it’s hard not to tag one of the region’s signature dishes – the Pinangat. I had fond memories of this spicy and aromatic dish growing up. Whenever relatives from the province would visit our home, the pinangat is mostly one of the treats they would bring. Packed frozen and wrapped tightly in layers of newspaper to keep it fresh. While I had seen how the dish was made from our kitchen, it is interesting to see how it is mass-produced in a backyard industry setting. My recent visit to Camalig found me fascinated by both the sight and smell on how one of the most sought-after pinangat was concocted.
North Sulawesi, found at the tip of the K-shaped island of Sulawesi, may not be as popular to the “eat-pray-love” crowd of Bali or the enlightenment-seekers meditating on the multi-tiered levels of Borobudur in Yogyakarta, but explorers and adventurers seeking a refreshing side of Indonesia will find something to like in this region. There’s an interesting mix of culture, islets teeming with diverse marine life, imposing volcanoes, enchanting lakes and a slew of activities that can keep people under the sun longer than intended.
Day 4 of my journey in Myanmar has been great so far, especially with that magnificent sunrise over Old Bagan. We made our way to the village of Myinkaba, just along the road between Old Bagan and New Bagan. Breakfast was the first order of the day and it was also a great way to observe the locals on their more relaxed pace. I noticed the similarity with Myanmar’s neighboring Indo-China country like Laos and Vietnam who likes to have breakfast at the streets, particularly tea houses. I pulled out a chair and sat down with Mime and ate like how the Burmese eat.
In the afternoon of our first day in Claveria, we decided to visit Taggat Lagoon. This was the place which really caught my attention first time seeing it under the heavy rain and gray sky during our Lakbay Norte tour. I was excited to see it again in better light condition this time around. We took a tricycle from the Claveria town center (P70 whole tricycle) then got in Taggat Lagoon with an entrance of P10. It was a wonderful afternoon of beautiful light and curious eyes as we walk into the picturesque cove.
“Okay! Enough with the chicken!” I hear someone from my back say as the two boys continue to batter the poor live chicken in front of me. It’s not really an eye candy to see a chicken getting battered lightly to death nor music to hear the pounding and the moans just to get the best tasting chicken soup one could have. The people in Cordilleras call it the Pinikpikan Chicken, a chicken-stew done Igorot-style. For some who have tasted it like myself, the broth is really flavorful and is a far cry from the regular tinola (stew). But of course the process of preparing the chicken is not easy for everyone to see.
5:00am I came down at White Rock’s lobby and joined a table that turned into some sort of internet café. I think I only had at two and a half hours of sleep and opening my laptop seems like a heavy task. Its day 6 of Lakbay Norte tour and I still wish I could have tried those other rides at Treetop yesterday. But I already got used to having only portions and a taste here and there. Besides this is a familiarization tour. The point is to get “familiar”.
It was already afternoon when I arrived in Pakse. I changed some of my dollars to Kip then had dinner nearby. A few years ago, dollars were accepted in Laos but now the government urges tourist to use their local currency instead. At dinner, I was plotting where I would go the next day. Pakse is a fairly small town and most of the sites in Champasak are at least an hour away. The only way to go around was by motorbike. There are motorbikes for hire around Pakse but I don’t drive bikes so I decided I should find a driver/guide with me so it’ll be easy to find the places.