Change of plans. I love it when my companions are just ready for anything. Meeting hiking buddies Christine and Marky early Friday morning in Cubao, we were supposed to go to another mountain. As fast as the changing wind, we decided to visit another mountain at the vicinity of Daraitan – Mt Mamara. A smaller brother of Mt Daraitan in Tanay, Rizal, Mt Mamara was opened as an alternative to climbers who got cut-off from the maximum 300 pax per day limit of climbers for Mt Daraitan. It may be a minor mountain but the rewards of the climb is equally captivating.
Just a short boat ride from Tiktikan Lagoon are three caves open for exploration. The popular Crystal Cave and Bolitas Cave are easy and accessible which are often visited by tourist. The third cave, Tundan Cave sees less visitors as it is longer and requires an extra fee for exploration. Since I have only limited time to explore I picked what the guides considered the best among them, Tundan Cave. It may be more than half a kilometer long but the cave formations are remarkable.
Just checking in at Sohoton Bay Resort was already a preview of what Bucas Grande Island holds. This municipality has often been overshadowed by the nearby island of Siargao. There are even day tours from Siargao for Sohoton Cove and their stingless jellyfish which people often mistake as being part of their municipality. But Bucas Grande is a destination of its own. My tour starts at Tiktikan Lagoon (also referred to as the Tiktikan Lake), a serene body of water concealed within Sohoton Cove.
Scenic drives, sumptuous Ilocano cuisines, rich heritage, awe-inspiring megastructures and stunning landscape are some of the reasons which makes Ilocos Norte an all-time favorite for travelers. Memories of Ilocos Norte goes way back to my childhood road trips with family. Even if I had been here countless times, its always a welcome visit to this northern region. The recent Lakbay Norte 7 had me revisit the familiar places again with new companions this time. In just a day, we had the exciting rides at the La Paz Sand Dunes, to marveling the gigantic windmills of Bangui and a fun swim at Saud White Beach of Pagudpud.
It was a night of the “super blue blood moon”. A rare celestial phenomenon that last happened in 1982. We were in the midst of our Lakbay Norte 7 tour in Tarlac that time that I firmly requested we hurry to our accommodation that evening to catch the “super blue blood moon”. The Farmhouse by EDL was our host that evening and I was ecstatic when we arrived on time. We hurried to capture the moon spectacle and after that I couldn’t help but look down at the attractive setting we have that evening. Inviting pool, lovely warmly lit garden and my companions starting their full moon party at the bar.
There’s a pleasant scent lingering in the air when you pass by Anao in Tarlac. The line of ylang-ylang trees (cananga odorata) along the national highway are a giveaway. Their blossom emits a natural aroma that’s both delicate and calming. Lakbay Norte 7 begins the day at the small town of Anao, Tarlac considered as the ylang-ylang capital of the country. Anao started extracting oil from fresh ylang-ylang flowers since 1994. They are dreaming big this year and hope to export more Ylang-ylang essential oil around the globe.
It was a long first day for Lakbay Norte 7. From an early call time of 4AM, we rushed to Malolos in the morning for the heritage walk. In the afternoon we rolled to San Rafael for some river adventure. Evening finds us in Tarlac for a brief museum walk at the Aquino Center. Shortly we found ourselves at Kart City Tarlac. Even with my head heavy and eyelids starting to shut by itself while having dinner, who wouldn’t pass up the chance to go karting? I know I still have enough fuel to last a few more hours and channel a bit more adrenaline for the night.