Travel Highlights Of The Year 2014

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Before 2015 kicks in, join me as I take a look back on some of the destinations I've been to this 2014. It has been a great year for me and to my travel buddies as we've unlocked and explored new places -- specifically in the Philippines. Although I hadn't worn my travelling shoes 'til the end of the quarter (due to some circumstances), I am still thankful and grateful for the 9 months of non-stop expedition.

Travel Highlights...


The Island of Camiguin

My 2014 expedition started in the region of Mindanao. The province of Camiguin was the first stop in our itinerary. Our group stayed there for 2 days in which let us to visit the beautiful naked island of Camiguin called White Island, the famous Sunken Cemetery, Guiob Church Ruins and Katibawasan Falls. We also found time to relax in Ardent Spring Resort -- a known hot spring resort in Camiguin.

Related Blogposts:
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/01/white-island-of-camiguin.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/01/sunken-cemetery-and-guiob-church-ruins-of-camiguin.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/02/ardent-hibok-hibok-hot-spring-resort-camiguin.html


Water Rafting in Misamis Oriental

I considered myself as an adventurous type of traveler. Thrilling activities never fails to excite me. That's why I was very excited when I got to visit Cagayan de Oro of Misamis Oriental because the said province is widely known for water rafting activity. Despite the bad weather during the day of our actual water rafting, we're still blessed and lucky as the authorities didn't stopped us. The stormy weather gave an additional thrill to the experience and it was a day to remember.

Related Blogpost:
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/02/white-water-rafting-cagayan-de-oro-cdo.html


Island Hoping in Oriental Mindoro

Puerto Galera is not just about beach bumming and night life because it also showcases moving activities and amazing views. Along the shore of White Beach you'll find people or agents that offer island tours going to Tamaraw Island and Virgin Island, and cross island tours on the neighboring islands and islets. I've also experienced snorkeling while being dragged by a bangka (small boat). Sounds crazy huh?

Related Blogposts:
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/03/white-beach-of-puerto-galera-oriental-mindoro.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/03/tamaraw-falls-and-virgin-island-beach-oriental-mindoro.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/03/island-hopping-snorkeling-caving-in-puerto-galera-oriental-mindoro.html


Back to Basic Stay in Camarines Norte

Calaguas Group of Islands, Camarines Norte is notable for crystal clear beaches and stunning views. But just like what they've said... you can't have it all. Because in Calaguas, electricity still haven't reach the islands. Phone signals are even hard to find there either. But again, who needs all of those if you have a long, wide & bluish beach water and fine sand waiting for you, right?

Related Blogposts:
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/04/maculabo-island-of-calaguas-camarines-norte.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/04/tinaga-island-of-calaguas-camarines-norte.html


Vigan ala Metro Vigan Inn

A free tour in Vigan along with other bloggers was another experience to remember. Thank you again to Metro Vigan Inn for an all expense paid tour in the historic place of Vigan. I've got to crossed out another item on my bucket list when I finally saw and walked on the marvelous street of Calle Crisologo. Roaming around Vigan riding a calesa also made my visit a special one.

Related Blogposts:
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/06/metro-vigan-inn-vigan.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/06/metro-vigan-cafe-of-vigan-ilocos-sur.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/06/metro-vigan-inn-calesa-tour-in-vigan-tourist-spots.html


Ilocandia Tour with Friends

A month after my visit in Vigan through Metro Vigan Inn, I came back again along with my friends. That time, we went to tour all possible spots in Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte and not just Vigan. We did church hopping, museum tours, sand boarding, nature tripping, beach bumming and a whole lot more!

Related Blogposts:
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/07/sand-dunes-ilocos-norte.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/08/malacanang-of-north-paoay-ilocos-norte.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/08/kapurpurawan-rock-formation-burgos-ilocos-norte.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/08/bangui-windmills-bangui-ilocos-norte.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/08/tourist-destinations-in-ilocos-norte.html


Kayaking in the Islands of El Nido

El Nido of Palawan is a world renowned tourist destination. It has been featured to different travel magazines, travel channels, movies and blogs. And I felt very blessed because this year, I was able to visit and explored the islands and islets of El Nido. No wonder why tourists of this place fall in love with it because I, myself, fall for its beauty and grand.

Related Blogposts:
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/07/island-hopping-and-tours-in-el-nido-palawan.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/07/el-nido-island-hopping-combination-tour-c-and-d.html
http://geejaytravellog.blogspot.com/2014/07/el-nido-palawan-island-hopping-combination-tour-a-and-b.html


Final Thoughts...

2014 has been a pretty and amazing year for me. It was filled with memorable moments where I met new people. People whom some of them turned into friends.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support on what I do. Thank you for reading and sharing my blog posts (even if it is full of wrong grammar hahaha). Thank you also for commenting on and sharing your own experience, stories and tips. I really appreciate them all.

By the way, I've already booked flights for 2015 so expect another year of exploration on Geejay Travel Log.

Cheers!
Geejay of Geejay Travel Log

The Bike Room of Catimar, Pasay

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It has already been 3 months since the last time I went out of Manila and travel. Reason why is because I venture into a new hobby/sport which is kind of money-draining. I am now hook to biking... MTB to be exact. Well, it is my father who has been pushing me for quite some time now to try this activity as he himself is into this hobby (even at his age of 60). So I give in and gave it a try. Then one day, I find myself not travelling anymore because I am always out of money upgrading/purchasing bike parts and stuff.

So why am I telling this? As for this blog post, I am going to feature a shop for those who wanted to build their dream bikes. I want to help my readers who also wanted to try this activity. I think it is somehow relevant to the purpose of this blog... discovering places in PH (this time, helping folks who are bike enthusiasts). The name of the shop where I bought my built bike is "The Bike Room" in Cartimar, Pasay City.

Cartimar is a popular place if you're looking for class A and authentic shoes, clothing and pets (like dogs, cats, fishes, etc). But now it is also becoming a known place for cyclist and bike enthusiasts as bike shops starting to establish along the area. "The Bike Room" is one of those many bike shops in Cartimar and it is located at 2190 Leveriza St., Pasay City. What makes this shop differ from the other shop is, they only sell authentic bike and bike parts. So you'll not going to worry spending tons of your well-earned money guessing whether you're buying authentic items or not.

Another reason why I chose to feature this shop is because I owe this shop a lot. Why? How? Well, this is where I found my dream bike frame. Hahahaha. Yeah, I am assembling my dream bike during my visit coz I'm not fond of buying a whole bike. I want a customized one and frame is the most important part for me because it will state the whole look of my bike. That day, I've been looking to all of the bike shops in Cartimar finding the right frame for me and I found that frame at the Bike Room. I bought here my Merida Matts TFS XC 800 (Matted Version) frame for 13,000 PhP. I know it is quite expensive just for a frame but please don't judge me. Its original dre and it fits me well!

Here's my Merida Bike Frame I bought at the Bike Room
The area of Bike Room is a bit small but it is full of bike stuff so don't give up on looking for the item you're searching for as I found my frame still inside a sealed box. Also, the store is well ventilated with air-conditioner so you'll find it in no sweat! Most of the items here are in their fixed price but I still suggest that you ask the store owner for its last price. And I wish you a big goodluck on that part... coz she didn't gave me a discount despite my total purchase. Aw. But there's no hurt on trying. Who knows... she might give-in to your asking price.

Moreover, here's a quick tour at The Bike Room:

I saw a lot of top brand helmets on this shop
If you know what you want... just directly ask the store owner :)
They also sell biking outfits
For mountain bikers...
and for road bikers
Planning to build your dream bike?
Outside view of the shop
That's it! This will be the end point of my blog feature for The Bike Room. I suggest to visit the place for yourself if you're interested as well on bike stuff. Guaranteed, you'll find a whole lot of interesting and authentic items in this store.

Visit them now!
The Bike Room
2190 Leveriza St., Cartimar, Pasay City
For inquiries: (02) 551 2453 / (02) 551 6228 / 09178989021
If you come by, please tell the owner that you find the shop because of this blog. Please? Thank you!!

Cafe Mezzanine of Binondo, Manila

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Chinatown in Binondo, Manila is renowned as the oldest china town in the world but aside from that, it is also known as one of the best spot if you're looking for some gastronomic adventure. The place is very ideal if you're into food tripping because Binondo, specifically Chinatown, has lots of restaurants in which one will surely delight his or her appetite. One of the restaurant I am referring to is the Cafe Mezzanine.

Located in the heart of Chinatown and on the busy street of Ongpin, Cafe Mezzanine is referred as a Volunteer Fireman's Coffee Shop. The place is a fireman's life inspired restaurant in which you'll see firemen's helmets decorated on the place and images of firefighting actions. But having said that, the place still has the cool and homey vibes that ensures customers' dinning satisfaction. Also, it is said to be that all revenues of Cafe Mezzanine is donated to Binondo Paco Fire Search and Rescue Brigade (as per CNN news). Gee, that's noble!

How to get there? 
There are so many ways going to Chinatown of Binondo but if you're going straight to Cafe Mezzanine, I suggest you take the MRT going to Central Station. Then from Central, take a jeep going to Quiapo. Just inform the jeepney driver to drop you at Binondo Church. Alight at Binondo Church, walk/take the road on its right side (right side if you are facing the church). Just keep walking until you see the Eng Bee Tin sign as Cafe Mezzanine is located on its 2nd floor.

It wasn't my first time in Binondo but this is my first time to eat at Cafe Mezzanine. I am excited with this visit because I heard a lot of great feedback regarding this restaurant. Not to mention that it has been featured in CNN as one of the best food spot in town. I am not familiar with Chinese dishes so we let Ate Kat decide on what we should eat (plus, it was her treat). Yes! Thanks Bes! :)

Fire awareness campaign mat. Nice!
The interior
I remember the Mcdo TVC when I saw them
Thanks Ate Kat! :)

In the end, it turned out to be a fiesta for the three of us because she ordered a lot! Here are some of the dishes we end up eating with...

Xiao Long Bao (10 pcs.) - 160 PhP
These are pretty delicious
Lo-mi - 115 PhP
Comfort food this rainy season
Soup No. 5 - 250 PhP
I didn't know if there are soup #1 - #4 but wht I know is, Soup #5 is not your ordinary soup. Why? Because it is made of bull's testes and/or penis. This is an exotic food in the country and said to be have an aphrodisiac properties.

Anyone?
Camaron Rebosado - 200 PhP

Lechon Kawali - 115 PhP
I don't know if they serve the dish just like what we've got but it was cold when they serve it in our table. However, it still does tastes great. Also, the pork's skin were crispy despite its coldness which is kind of interesting.

Not for people with high cholesterol :)

Forgot the name of this dish...

Kiampong - 48 PhP
This dish caught my attention. Nuts in a rice? Yes, it is unusual. That's also what I thought when I first ate it but it was actually great. It goes along well with the dishes above and even just by eating it alone. I enjoyed my Kianpong a lot.


Me and my officemates really had a blast and had an amazing time. Our first plan was to really have a food hopping in Binondo but Cafe Mezzanine mess it up. We ended up with bulky tummies. Cafe Mezzanine is another must visit place when in Binondo.


Places to Visit When You are in Ilocos, Norte

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Are you planning to explore the Philippines but couldn't decide yet where to begin at? Hmmm, why don't you start on the northern part? From the top. How about in Ilocos Region? At Ilocos Norte! Ilocos Norte is roughly a 10-hour drive away from Manila and 45 minutes if traveled by air. The province has a land area of no more than 3,500 square kilometers and composed of 22 municipalities which are characterized by amazing beaches, rock formations, old churches and more. This province is not only known for scenic landscapes but also for its rich history and culture.

How to get there?
By land, there are several bus lines that serves Manila-Laoag route. Some of these bus companies are Partas Trans, Autobus and RCJ buses. As what I stated above, travel time is more or less 10 hours. If you're not into long hours of drive or commute, you may book a flight at Philippine Airlines and/or Cebu Pacific. These airlines have daily Manila-Laoag-Manila flights.

As for this blog post, I'll try to cover some of unique tourist destinations and a must-visit spots in Ilocos Norte. Ready? Lets go!

Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino

Heads up! We didn't stayed here so please don't ask me about their room rates and stuff. We still don't have such money to spent in an accommodation like this. We're only there to visit and just check out the place. Although I find the place having a grim atmosphere, Fort Ilocandia Resort and Casino is said to be a 5-star hotel. I'm not sure why I had that feeling but maybe because of our timing when we visited the place. The weather isn't fare and very gloomy that day. Nevertheless, if you want to experience a luxurious accommodation ala Ilocos Norte, this is the place to be. The resort is located in Laoag and it has 24/7 operating casino, swimming pool, beach, in-house restaurant, fitness center, recreation center, salon and spa, shooting range, horseback riding, bar, archery and a lot more! Too bad we were only there for half an hour and didn't explore the whole place.

One of the corridor in Fort Ilocandia
Walk around to learn more about Ilocos

Malacanang of the North (MalacaƱang ti Amianan)

Located in the municipality of Paoay, Malacanang of the North serves as the official residence/rest house of the Marcoses during President Ferdinand Marcos regime. This 5-hectare property was a gift to the president by his first lady and wife for his 60th birthday. To know more stories of this mansion, kindly refer to this blog post: Malacanang of the North of Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Senator Bong Bong room
Nice set at Malacanang of the north

Paoay Church 

Our next stop is the Church of Saint Augustine which is popularly known as Paoay Church. Paoay Church was built during the early 1700s and now renowned as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Philippines. The church structure is a model of a Baroque church which is designed to resist strong earthquakes. The towering 24 buttresses on the sides of the church contributed a lot of its strong build. Want to know more of Paoay Church? Simply click on this link: The Church of Saint Augustine of Paoay, Ilocos Norte

Standing strong through the years
The bell tower - also made of Coral stones

Marcos Museum and Photo Gallery

The late President Ferdinand Marcos is the most famous son of Ilocos Norte. He was raised and grew in the province and done so many things to improve the life of the people here by serving them. That is why it is no wonder why there are so many spots in Ilocos Norte where they commemorate the 10th president and his whole family. Some of these spots are Marcos Museum and Marcos Photo Gallery.

Marcos Museum serves as a mausoleum which houses the body of the president. Yes that's right. Even though he died in 1989, the body still isn't buried yet. Why? It is a long story and I don't want to dig into it. Too bad taking photos and videos is prohibited inside the mausoleum. Then just a few minutes' walk away from the museum you'll see the Marcos Photo Gallery. From the name itself, it is a photo gallery of the Marcoses. It houses hundreds of photos showcasing the life of the Marcos family.

Marcos body is inside this mausoleum
Photos of the Marcoses
More photos inside the Gallery

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

Designed by Magin Pers way back in 1887, Cape Bojeador Lighthouse (also called as "Burgos Lighthouse") was intended to guide navigators during the era of Spanish colonialism in the country. The 65 ft. tall tower was built in an octagon shape using bricks. It is also said that the cupola of this tower is made of bronze. Cape Bojeador is elevated at 386 ft. and offers its visitors a good view of the West Philippine Sea. It is the highest point in Burgos and in the whole region of Ilocos.

Highest spot in Ilocos Norte
Left to Right: Claire, Madam, Ferds, Donna
Old yet so nice :)

Kapurpurawan Rock Formation

Still located in the municipality of Burgos, Ilocos Norte lies a stunning rock formation known as Kapurpurawan Rock Formation. Kapurpurawan was formed by the combined forces of the ocean waves and the wind. This chalk-like textured rock formation is one of the major tourist destination in Ilocos Norte. For further information of this place, click this link: Kapurpurawan Rock Formation of Burgos, Ilocos Norte.

Kapurpurawan from afar
Ahmmm... excuse me, do you mind? This is suppose to be a selfie. hahaha

Patapat Viaduct

Patapat viaduct is one of the major project during the regime of President Marcos. It is considered as the 4th longest bridge in the Philippines having a total length of 1,300 meters that connects the Maharlika Highway (Laoag, Ilocos Norte) to the Cagayan Valley Region. People usually stops here just to take photos of the bridge.

Pres. Marcos project is brilliant!
The bridge is still operating and in great shape

Maira-ira Beach (Blue Lagoon)

Ilocos is not only blessed with rich history, picturesque landscapes and old buildings and structures but it also has pristine and drop dead gorgeous water. Maira-ira Beach for which popularly known as Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited spot in Ilocos when looking for water adventures and beach bumming. This beach in Pagudpod is characterized by fine coarse creamy sand and having a bluish beach water - a reason why it is so called Blue Lagoon. The water here is calm during the summer season but after that, big waves are expected to form into this beach in which activities like surfing and kite surfing takes place. Aside from surfing and swimming, activities available in Blue Lagoon are zip lining, banana boat ride, and jet skiing.

Just look how beautiful the water is! 
My model that day :)
This is another piece of heaven here on earth!

Bantay Abot Cave

Bantay Abot Cave is not really a cave. For me, it is just a hill with a hole in it. As per our guide, the hole was formed due to an earthquake that struck the region decades ago. In the native Ilocano dialect, Bantay means mountain and Abot means hole. Although its translation still does not give justice of its look because it doesn't look like a mountain either, the term mountain is much better than cave. Anyway, it has already been called it that way so lets just move on and leave it as it is.

Landscape at its finest form!

Bangui Windmill 

This tourist spot in Bangui, Ilocos Norte is a project of the city government which started in 2005 to practice and utilize renewable energy sources specifically wind energy. Bangui Windmill has not only generating electric supply for Ilocos Norte but also another reason for tourists to visit the said province. Read more about Northwind Bangui Bay Project: Bangui Windmills of Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Another great project of the government!

La Paz Sand Dunes 

Have you already tried skate boarding and gone surfing? Yes? Hmmm, how about sand boarding? Sounds fun right? Visit La Paz Sand Dunes in Paoay, Ilocos Norte and experience not only sand boarding but also the thrilling 4x4 ride. The activities in Sand Dunes really shake the hell out of me and my friends. This part of Ilocos Norte is really a perfect spot for adventurer and thrill seekers. Here's our full experience in La Paz Sand Dunes: Paoay, Ilocos Norte: Sand Boarding and 4x4 Ride in Sand Dunes

Stress reliever activity!
I want to try it again!

And there you have it! You've already reach the end of this tour. I hope I have inspired you to visit the province and see it yourself. The places and spots above are just some of the tourist destination in Ilocos Norte. There's more spots that one will surely enjoy when in Ilocos Norte.

Can't get enough of Ilocos? How about having a tour on one of the city in Ilocos Sur -- Vigan Tourist Spots: Calesa Tour of Metro Vigan Inn?