I'm a believer of second chances and an advocate of repeat trips. However, there is one area in the Philippines that I don't want to go back to for the longest time because of a series of bad experiences - ALL in ONE trip. This happened way back end of November 2008 and I could still remember more than I want to until this day. I guess I was still an inexperienced traveler (also not yet a blogger) and new to planning DIY trips. So now, I think it's about time to move on from that unfortunate trip and consider exploring Bicolandia in the near future (if the opportunity comes along to travel with those who can show me what it's really all about). I want to explore Naga and Bicolandia once more to put the past behind me and make up for the things I wasn't able to do in this trip! I'd like to start the healing process by telling my CamSur story haha. After all, there are quite a lot of happy pictures with childhood friends and I got to Caramoan (where they filmed Survivor), the CamSur Watersports Complex (wakeboarding site) and back home (Manila) in one piece ;) Still, I'm giving this another shot because it's a different thing to say that you've been there and you got to do something in the itinerary, right?! Just read my story below and you'll see what I mean haha.
8 a.m. Day 1 - Arrival. We took an early morning Cebu Pacific flight to Naga (Pili Airport). We had arranged, booked and fully paid for everything (bank-to-bank) before we even arrived via http://caramoanislands.com/ (Read my full story below before you book).
Misfortune #1 - We still had time to smile but they put us in an overloaded public passenger boat with chickens and live animals! We were to sit on these planks with our feet hanging for a few hours. Below us were the cargo loads and in front of us lots of people.
Our package included Land and Boat Transportation. It was supposed to be private but they said that since we were only 5, we did not qualify for the private boat (they only told us this when we saw the boat). Mind you we paid around P40k..
I think they were better off on this boat..
Hello, Mayon! How you doin'?
12:20 p.m. We got to the Gota Village Resort in the Caramoan Islands. I loved the small Log Cabins. It's tiny inside but it's really one of the finer things of this trip. They said the crew shooting the Survivor Series stayed here and these were built for them (while the Survivors just get trees, sand and sun haha).
2:30 p.m. We have an order-all-you-can for the food in the package (by the end, we were sick of the eating the same things..). Ready for half a day of island hopping!
2:40 p.m. 10 minutes away was a nice beach. I don't remember the name, forgive me.
Misfortune #2 - We had fun taking pictures and played around for 30 minutes. But then the weather got worse. See the gloomy clouds behind us?
Misfortune #3 - We had to seek shelter from another island with an armed (big armalite-clad) man because the rains just wouldn't stop pouring.. Traumatized about the big gun and crazy weather.
10 p.m. Well, we were able to go back to the resort and cancelled the rest of the island hopping. Jeff taught us some neat camera tricks so that part was fun.
8 a.m. Day 2 - Revenge!
Misfortune #4 - We were up early to see if the weather is clear. By 8:30 a.m., it was a NO go because the waves were high =(
9:15 a.m. They said we can go caving instead and check out the Yamashita treasure site. They said it was near and charged us P300 (5 people) for the caving fee with guide (poor man I think only got a P100!) and P200 (5 people) for the helmet.
I was in my slippers and we had to walk through farms (pilapil-wide).
9:45 p.m. Are we there yet? I don't even see a mountain!
Help! Turning back would mean I'm weak and I would have to go back alone. Manong, how can you even do this barefoot?!
They said there was a boat waiting for us on the other side. We had to cross a river,
climb straight up (we met the crew of a TV show going down and I had to be helped by people and none other than Born to be Wild himself long-haired Kiko Rustia.. he's not in the pic haha)
10:45 a.m. then climb down to enter the cave!
Misfortune #5 - No light! No Yamashita's treasure! None! Nada! Zilch! I was just carrying on for my life and the boat that was waiting for us on the other side!
Misfortune #6 - Then they tell me I have to go straight down 90 degrees several meters above ground without any gear and in slippery slippers!
11:45 a.m. I was so glad to be alive and that Manong could probably see me near tears and dehydrated. He climbed a tree and gave us each some fresh buko as a reward (I remember finishing the whole thing haha). There was also a bit of shade.
Moving forward, there is a swamp as you can see. They said there's an opening to the sea (far right) and the boat will be waiting there.
12:10 p.m. Misfortune #7 - The water was murky (some parts waist-deep for tall people) and I was starting to panic that I will just sink or get pricked by something. It took forever to get to the opening. Then - there was no boat in sight, I was hungry and it was super hot. They said there's another way - into the Mangroves and back to the Resort!
2 p.m. Misfortune #8 - Oh, midway through the trekking in knee-deep mud. Manong says there may bayawaks in the mangroves! And I couldn't choose between having my slippers on (it stuck to the mud and more difficult to lift) and taking off my slippers to hurry up (baby mangroves prick your foot). Either way, you're feet are dead and tired. We reached the Resort after 2 hours!
11:30 a.m. Day 3 - It was still raining in the morning and we just waited for the boat that will take us to CWC.
Their only explanation - We already paid for it as a package so no refund will be given =( Next time - Pay for things separately. Do not get a packaged tour here.
2:15 p.m. It was a 2-hour boatride and another 1.5 hour by car to get to CWC. We arrived at around 6 p.m. It took us the whole day to get out of there.. We were also snubbed by the waiters at the CWC restaurant =( Good thing the Laing Pizza was great.. =)
10 a.m. Day 4 - We decided to check out the rest of CWC. I'd like to stay in a small trailer next time just to try it out.
We stayed in these rooms below. The rooms, both in CWC and the Gota Village, are my only comfort in this trip!
and we were watching people doing it from a distance at first. As if it would make a difference haha.
1 p.m. Misfortune #10 - This was the last straw - the wakeboarding machine broke down!!! And we were really the next ones in line. =( They said to wait it out, maybe an hour or two so we went back to our room and waited until 5 p.m. and still nothing. At least we got a refund.. And buti na lang - I was with good company for the whole trip! hahaha.
7 a.m. Day 5- Misfortune #10.5 Pahabol - Our plane was delayed.
I'd love to hear from you! Please feel free to tell me below:
Have you been to Naga, Caramoan or other parts of CamSur? How was it and what places/food/activities would you recommend? What do you think of this adventure? You think my luck has changed? :)