STORY: Travel Diary - CDO, Camiguin, Bukidnon


Here it is! My first detailed travel post in fulfilment of my promise to be a better neighborblogger. It's been a week since the trip (how fast time flies!) so I'm hoping I get all the details, more importantly the prices, correct. I hope that this post helps you enjoy your trip to CDO-Bukidnon-Camiguin because there are so many things to do and places to explore in these three provinces. I am actually already looking forward to heading back to Camiguin, soon! Three days just wasn't enough.

DAY 1: CAGAYAN DE ORO

Here we go. Jose and I took the second earliest flight out to CDO. We left Manila at 5:15 am and got to Laguindigan Airport at 6:40am. It was my first time to fly Air Asia and I am not disappointed. Both flights to and from CDO, we got to our destination fuss free and without delays. If only Air Asia offered more flights, I would book with them more often.

(Side note: As we were landing, the phone of the old lady beside us (a first time flyer which she shared when we were checking in back at Manila) began to ring. I was pretty nervous by the third ring but I just completely lost it when she answered the call. And she was in that call fin what felt like forever! I kept imagining the airplane exploding or something but thank God it didn't! And to think the clouds were breathtakingly beautiful that time and I was already composing my blog about how beautiful the world is in my head... but all that was forgotten and replaced with fear! How's that for a trip starter?)

Anyway, outside the Lagunidingan airport is a swarm of drivers and conductors trying to grab your bags and get you to ride with them. So getting a ride is no problem at all. There is just a flat rate of P199/head to get to any point within the city from the airport. There is no ATM at the airport (as far as Jose and I know! We couldn't find one) so make sure you have at least P500 cash ready. Jose and I were "convinced" by a man driving a private car amongst the vans and services available. We rode with two other passengers who we dropped off along the way to our hotel. 

I booked our tickets online. After I've successfully booked and paid for the tickets, hotel suggestions popped up. The cheapest and most decent one was Tune Hotel. I read reviews of the place and a lot of the reviews did say that the rooms were tiny. As a traveler, the least of my priorities is accommodation. My basic requirement is just a clean toilet and a comfy bed. Of course, since I'm traveling with Jose, airconditioning was another mandatory. Tune Hotel had all those three items so I booked it right away. I didn't mind that there was no closet and no table (besides the side tables). They had a steel bar with hangers (instead of the closet) and a foldable hanging desk (instead of table) so we survived. 


The location of the hotel (which I didn't search beforehand) was also really convenient. Centrio, Robinsons and Limketkai Center were all walking distance and Agora Terminal and Macabalan port were just a few minutes ride away. 
Originally, I had planned for Jose and I to take the first of two rafting sessions at 730am. Since the rafting company told that me had to be at the hotel by 730am for them to pick us up, I had to move our session in the afternoon to be sure (in case there were flight delays or traffic). I didn't predict that we would get to CDO earlier than expected and at the hotel at 730am. I called the rafting company if we could still catch up for the 730am session instead of 1230, but they said that they had already arranged for us in the afternoon.

Long story short, Jose and I had a lot of time to kill. We paid an additional P300 at the hotel for early check in (cheap considering we checked in 5 hours earlier than the 2pm check in). Since we were still very sleepy from the 5am flight (we were at the airport by 3am!), we unloaded our bags and slept. 

At around 1030am, we got up and looked for a place to grab brunch. Since we were lazy to go anywhere far, we walked towards Centrio and looked for a place to eat at there. Most of the restaurants were still closed so we ended up eating at KFC. Another one of my "rules" as a traveler is to never eat at a place I can eat at back home. But every time, I end up eating at a familiar place for my first meal. So, looks like I have yet to break the habit.

After brunch, Jose and I headed back to the hotel to change into our rafting gear. I bought myself some board shorts and Jose got himself a rash guard a week before. We both bought rubber sandals, too. I was so excited that we were wearing "correct" gear for the adventure that I kept taking photos of our outfit! Haha. 

Before we headed out, Jose also opened my mom's gift for him. He would wear his new mustard shorts  for our second day.
The rafting company I booked with, Kagay, was on time. They were outside the hotel at 1230pm sharp. Jose and I were joined by another group of 3 who were already downstairs when we came. We all rode in a jeepney with our raft on the roof and helmets and vests by our feet. The trip to the river starting point took about two hours. I was so excited that I was looking out the window the entire time with the cold wind brushing through my hair. By the time we got to our destination, my hair was so hard I could barely run my fingers through it! Haha!
Jose and I booked the advanced course (P1000/head) while the other three booked the beginner course P700/head). That said, Jose and I would ride the raft first and we would meet up with the other three about 45 minutes down (this is where their course will start). But, the guides were able to convince the other three to ride with us and take the advanced course, too. So, all five of us boarded the raft at the same starting point.

The rafting adventure is the main reason I wanted to go to CDO. Although I did enjoy the adventure and the river was nothing short of beautiful, I could have enjoyed the adventure even more if we didn't have the other three people with us. I was actually pretty annoyed that they booked for a rafting adventure when they were scared of going through any of the rapids. The entire time they would whine to the guide to not have us pass through any of the scary rapids... and the guide would oblige! I wanted to strangle the girl every time she whined but I kept my cool. We did go through some raging rapids but I couldn't help but sigh at the ones we avoided. I was looking forward to a raft-turning and people-falling adventure but what I got was a semi-relaxing river cruise.

There are restrooms at the end point. Unfortunately, Jose and I only brought a change of clothes and not our toiletries kit. I thought we would get wet, and not totally drenched. Anyway, we ended up having to shower down the river water before we could change. We also didn't bring a plastic bag for our wet clothes so we had create a makeshift bag with our towel. See, resourceful!

On the way home, I fell asleep. I guess all the paddling wore me out. When I woke up, we were already at the Kagay office. We paid the 1000/person and the additional P450 for the photos. It's pretty expensive for photos but with what the photographer had to go through, row alone in a tiny raft, makes it seem reasonable. While waiting, starved from the two hour travel and three hour rafting, Jose and I bought some barbeque and hotdogs from the griller outside.

The service jeepney dropped us back at the hotel. Once there, Jose and I hang up all the wet clothes, jumped into bed and fell asleep. We agreed that we would wake up at 7pm to grab dinner out since it was Jose's birthday! We had to eat somewhere special, of course. But when the alarm went off at 7pm, we just snoozed it and snoozed and snoozed it! Before we knew it, it was 845pm... 15 minutes 'til the mall closes! No matter how I shook Jose, he wouldn't get up! So, I snuck out of the room and went out myself. I had to get us something special to eat for his birthday dinner. Apparently, the mall, well, the restaurants, wasn't as close to the hotel as I thought. When I walked to Limketkai Center, I had to go through a long bridge and a number of turns before I saw a place to eat. It was dark but I wasn't a bit scared. Every corner I turned at had a security guard and they were all very helpful. When I finally got to the mall, I realized there was no special restaurants to eat at. I left the mall and saw Kagay-Anon restaurant just outside. When I searched for CDO online before the trip, I chanced upon the restaurant and read that this was one of the places to eat at. So, I went there.

Most of the food were reasonably priced. Some were pretty expensive for the serving size, but this was the only place available so I had no choice. I ended up ordering their "famous" (according to the internet!) Ostrich Salpicao (P450), Sinuglaw (P185), Crispy Tadyang (P180) and Kagay-anon Soup (P180). I also bought four servings of rice. On the way back, I bought a 1.5 bottle of Coca Cola and a liter of water.

I totally forgot that we were in a budget hotel and that room service did not include utensils, plates or glasses. When I got back, I woke Jose up with the door bell (I had to buzz it more than 5 times to get him up! That's how knocked out he was). He had to go downstairs and buy us some paper cups so we could drink the coke and water I bought. We also had no bowls so we used the cups for the soup, too. Since we only had plastic spoons, Jose improvised and used the clam shell to transfer the soup into his cup! See, resourceful again!

We weren't able to finish any of the food and the rice. We wrapped everything up nicely into the foil and left it in the table. Come breakfast, we heated the food with the blow dryer (insta microwave) and ate the leftovers for breakfast! See, resourcefulness strike 3!

DAY 2: CAMIGUIN

We started day 2 early. We agreed to be off by 7am but as usual, we were late. We got out of the hotel by 8am and rode a taxi to Macabalan Port. The port has a fast craft that goes off to Camiguin once a day in the morning. The hotel receptionist told us that the fast craft leaves the port from 830-10am and we believed him. When we got to the port at 830am, the fast craft had already left! Apparently, it leaves the port everyday at 8am. So don't be late! Get there by 7am if you can. Jose and I had to suffer the consequences of our tardiness with a two-hour bus ride and a one-hour ferry ride. If we had woken up an hour or two earlier, we could've boarded the fast craft and reached Camiguin in half the time! Hay.
Since the ship has sailed, literally, at Macabalan Port, we had to catch the ferry at Balingoan port which was two hours away. (Note: Macabalan Port is about 15 minutes away from the hotel) To get to Balingoan Port, you need to catch a bus at Angora Terminal (about 5-10 minutes from the hotel).  We rode a taxi but you can easily ride a motorela which will cost you just P15 for two people. 
Once at the terminal, you have to pay a P3/person entrance fee. Then, you pay the P148/person bus ticket to get to Balingoan. When we got off the bus (finally), we rode a motorela (P7/head) to get to the port. It was a one minute ride actually! The port was just a five minute walk away... we just rode one because everyone was. If we knew it was that near, we could've just walked! Anyway...
At the port, you pay the P2/person terminal fee and the P170/person ferry ticket. After, by the gate, you pay another P5/head (I actually forgot what this was for but you can't go through the gates without paying that ticket).
Jose and I got to the terminal past 11am so we missed the 11am ferry ride. At this port, they have a ferry ride heading out every hour or so (unlike Macabalan that only has one, sometimes two, per day) We had to wait for almost an hour for the noon trip. So that was precious day time wasted in an old port doing nothing.
When the boat finally came, we waited for almost another hour inside the boat. I wasn't sure what the boat was waiting for, maybe more passengers, but it felt like our day was ending when it hasn't even began. :( Of course, I was still very optimistic about the trip so I perked myself up about the cruise. It's all about the journey and not the destination anyway, right?
I have never experienced sea sickness in my life... until this trip. I guess I've never been on water for more than an hour in my life to actually feel any nausea. Thank God I didn't hurl!
We got to Benoni port a few minutes before 2pm. Once you get off, a swarm of people would ask you to rent one of their vehicles - multicabs, motorcycles, scooters, etc. Jose and I ended up renting a scooter each (P500/head) so we can go around on our own. We barely had two hours to enjoy Camiguin so I thought we should make the getting-around part count, too!
The island is pretty small and you can actually make a round trip of it in an hour or two. There were so many places to see and I easily got pumped up about all the things we could do in what time we had left. However, about 30 minutes into our journey, all we saw was road, trees, a few houses and more road. And though I was enjoying the breeze and the warm sunshine, I started getting bored and anxious and nervous that we might not be able to squeeze everything in the two hours that we had.
Before our journey even began, we had to get some gas. The rental fee didn't include gas so we spent another 150 for each scooter. As I was getting out of the gas station, I pumped up the accelerator too quickly, lost control and fell over. Although the scratch I got was painful, the shame stung even more. So I sucked it in, got up and drove off like nothing happened.

Note that we barely had any money in our pockets at this point. We didn't expect the ferry ride to cost us that much and we didn't want to have more cash than we needed in our pockets. We spent the last money we had on gas so we had to find an ATM in what felt like an endless road. It took us about an hour to get to the town proper where we found the only ATM in the entire drive we took so far.
After we finally got some money, we hurried to squeeze in the nearest tourist spot to the port in the hour we had left. We were able to get to Katibawasan falls after another 20 minutes of fast driving from the town proper (in the direction heading back to the port) The road up to the falls was an exciting route. If we had rented a van, we wouldn't have enjoyed the road to get there as much. About 5 kilometers away from the falls during our uphill drive, we could already feel the cold mist. Jose and I were screaming and shrieking about the cold to each other as we rode up the shady path (the shade from the trees made the path even cooler!) We actually could see the river as we drove up where some people would swim. I was so tempted to jump in but we didn't have the time. Huhu. Hopefully next time!
There is P20/head entrance fee to get to the vicinity of the falls (the river we passed by earlier is free). You can actually swim in it (there is a bathroom in the area) but we only had 30 minutes left to get back to the port so we only took photos. The most I did was dip my hands in the cool water. It would have been nice to have a picnic (there are picnic tables around) by the water, but again, no time.
The road back to the port was more scary and thrilling than it was fun. First, the path was downhill so the scooter would go really, really fast at the slightest twist for gas. I had to actually let the scooter roll on its own and just control it with the brakes. Second, we were racing against time. Once we got back to the main road, Jose and I were so fast that we were even overtaking cars (although there weren't that many anyway) By the time we slowed down a bit, my face had gone numb from the wind!
As we neared the port, I started talking to the ocean (crazy alert!) Imagine all that sea so near me yet I couldn't jump in! I even had my bathing suit on the entire time that was just itching for a photo! (Note that we had planned to go to the White Sand Bar when we planned to head to Camiguin. But since it would take another boat ride to get there, it was impossible to fit in our very short stay in the island) It was so depressing but the day was so beautiful that the sight of the horizon, the sky and the calm waves actually made me feel better.
We got to the port just in time for the last trip at 4pm. If we had missed this trip, we would be forced to spend the night at Camiguin and wait for the first trip out the next day. This is why we were rushing back. I was actually okay to spend the night in Camiguin (although part of me regretted booking two days at CDO when I should've booked one night in Camiguin instead) but Jose was serious, no discussion serious, about heading back to the city the same day. Anyway, we paid the terminal fee and ferry ticket (P170/head) and dashed towards the ferry.
When I saw that the ferry was still boarding some cargo, I dashed to the nearby row of stores to grab something to eat. The last meal we had was breakfast which by this time was 8 hours ago so we were both starving. From all the travelling and racing against time, we didn't have a minute to spare to eat anything nor the time to even feel the hunger! So, I bought some cup noodles and ate them during the ride.

The ride back home turned out to be one of the best moments of the entire 3-day trip. We caught the sunset (imagine the warm sun disappearing in the horizon) while we slurped some bulalo flavored noodles and drank some C2. Jose and I also ended up staying awake and talkingthe entire trip that we didn't even notice how long it took us to get back to CDO. I would always imagine a fancy dinner and swanky clothes when I thought of the word romantic but it turns out, romantic looked way different and way better in person than in my head. Nothing beats a beautiful sunset, I say!
When we got off the ferry at about 530pm, we walked to the bus terminal (we learned our lesson!) and paid the P148/person bus ticket back to Agora terminal. We both fell asleep the entire two-hour trip. When we got off the bus at about 730pm, we rode a motorela (P15 for both of us) back to the hotel.
We decided not to take any naps because we knew we both would be too lazy to get up and eat if we did (remember day 1?) We just freshened up, dumped our stuff and headed out for dinner.
We weren't in the mood to search for a place to eat so we ended up eating at Kagay-Anon restaurant again. Jose had been imagining Sinigang and grilled liempo by the beach since this morning (which we unfortunately never got to do) so we ordered those for dinner instead. We got Beef Salpicao (P250), Sinigang Lechon (P160), Grilled Pork Belly (??), aligue rice (???) and bagoong rice (???). I forgot how much each was but our total bill was just P800 including drinks.

DAY 3: BUKIDNON













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