Our ultra-hip retro-lit van rolled in North Pattaya past midnight. It was an evening AirAsia flight from Manila to Bangkok. To reach Pattaya which is about 161km away, we rode for about two hours. Everyone was excited but also yearning to rest when we arrived at IBIS Pattaya Hotel. The lobby was simple but it was nice staff were still courteous enough to smile while checking us in past midnight.
It took me 12 years before I stepped my foot on back to the island of province of Catanduanes. And what better time than in the midst of their festivities. The 2018 Abaca Festival is on their 3rd year. The month long celebration aims to showcase their native abaca fiber or Manila hemp which is one of the main products of the province and source of livelihood. The month-long festival have pockets of activity culminating towards the 4th week of May. One of the much awaited is the Bicol Festival of Festivals Showdown where contingents from Bicol region participate in a dance showdown. A colorful revelry with heart pounding beats and awe-inspiring performance. An exciting return to what is now known as the Happy Island!
My road trip around Siargao continues after that fun spelunking at Tayangban Cave. I didn’t bother to change to dry clothes as I know, the hour-long trip to Sta Monica, north of Siargao is enough to air me dry. It was a scenic ride passing by the beaches of San Isidro. Our stop was Taktak Falls, the only known waterfalls on the island. Then later head south again to cap the afternoon at Magpupungko Rock Pools.
Siargao may be known as one of the country’s main surfing haven, but for a casual to non-surfer like me, I’m more interested on what other places I can visit on this island. I dedicated a day for exploring Siargao by road and hired a habal-habal to take me around. Upon checking out of Buddha’s Surf Resort, I transferred to another hotel near Dapa port so I can be early next day for the boat to Socorro. Left my other bags and immediately started for our first destination – the Tayangban Cave in Pilar. I really have no idea what the cave features are which made it more exciting.
What does Buddha do on his spare time? He surfs! Well that’s what the owners of Buddha’s Surf Resort in Siargao thinks. It’s just amusing to see a figure of Buddha lifting a surfboard when I arrived at the resort. Located right smack between the famous Cloud 9 surf spot and the bustling General Luna, Buddha’s Surf Resort is one of the pioneer establishment in Siargao that has long catered to visitors of the island.
The city of Pattaya, second most visited City of Thailand feels like one big theme park. It’s a good thing since it used to have a reputation of being seedy. Not only were the stretches of beach a main draw and the Pattaya Sea Adventure, there are several man-made attractions. From the lively night life of cabarets and muay thai arenas, theme parks have popped up all over the place. The Underwater World Pattaya is one that is family friendly and offers a glimpse of the nearby underwater world of Thailand without the need to get wet.
We’re in the midst of the summer season heat and the call of the sea grows even stronger. With AirAsia Filipino introducing direct flights from Manila to Bangkok, there’s another beach or island getaway to add to your summer destination – Pattaya, Thailand. Pattaya, is the second most visited city in Thailand after Bangkok and there’s a good reason why. It’s the closest beach escape from the bustling city. For a full day of tropical island fun, Pattaya Sea Adventure handled our tour (booked via KKday) which includes parachute ride, sea walk, snorkeling and beach bumming at Koh Larn Island.