Albay Myself. ‘Don’t Wanna Be Albay Myself Anymore…

I just went back from my Albay trip in which I enjoyed a lot. I am too lazy to blog about my travel stories but Imma blog about this one—our adventures, gastronomic encounters, and how the majestic Mayon Volcano caught our hearts.

Actually, I was supposed to go here last March 2015. I was about to celebrate my birthday there but something came up and I had to cancel my trip. But since I really, really, really wanted to see the Mayon, I really made sure that I would come here this year with my friend since high school and her 12-year old son (who is my godson). After my failed attempt to see the Mayon last year, I dreamed about it twice. In my dream, I saw her while I was walking in the streets. And when I finally got to see Mayon Volcano, she’s just what I’ve seen in my dream–perfect, beautiful, majestic.

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HOTEL

Hotel St. Ellis had been our home for four days. The hotel was nice, the room was comfy and their service was great, however, their pool was too deep and only tall people could swim there. We had daily supplies of toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, ear buds, soap, bath gel, shampoo with conditioner, body lotion. and bottled water. Daily breakfast and roundtrip airport transfers were included in their service. Overall, I would rate Hotel St. Ellis 4 stars. Sorry, I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the hotel, especially the lobby at the resto.

FOOD

The first resto we tried was Bigg’s Diner. I loved their fried chicken. It has a unique flavor, really tasty. I think the taste was like Chickenjoy at Max’s chicken combined. Then we tried sipping on some Cake Frost which could have been delicious had it not too sweet. We went to buy some pili products at the Albay Pilinut where they sell export-quality pili products so expect it to be a little pricey than the other manufacturers’. They let us taste Crispy Pili with Honey and with Butternut and Mazapan for free. All tasted good. We also tried to dine at Small Talk Café where we ordered Bicol Express pasta, Pili Basil pasta, I forgot the other one pasta and the Mayon Stuffed Pizza which was to die for! It’s stuffed with laing, bicol express and guinobotan longanisa. I consumed almost half of the pizza. Of course, we wouldn’t miss trying the popular Sili Ice Cream in 1st Colonial Grill. We were also able to taste Pili Ice Cream which was yum. Eating Sili Ice Cream was like eating wasabi, except this one has a sweet taste. And to think that we only ordered level 1 (it has 3 levels of spiciness). And the halo-halo (sweet ice shaving) in DJC Halo-Halo tasted really, really good! In fact, we planned to go back to this restaurant to have our second cup of halo-halo but we weren’t able to make it so we were disheartened. Their Bicol Express was also yum! We did our pasalubong shopping at the Legazpi Grand Central Terminal. And dude, I spent 2000php on food pasalubong shopping but it was worth it. My favorite was Suspiros De Pili. I loved it, I’d buy a dozen of it when I come back!

TOUR

We took the car rental service of Tourrific Travel where we met Kuya George, our driver. He drove us around Albay. Right as we start taking the road, we immediately saw The Mayon Volcano peeking above the roofs of the houses. It was beautiful and it seemed so close to where we were. I told myself, this was in my dream. It came true! Our first destination was at the Legazpi Boulevard. Then we headed to the Lignon Hill Park where we got the closer view of Mayon. We were at awe at the beautiful sight. Little did we know, as the tour continued, we were getting nearer the volcano. We just took a glimpse of the Japanese Tunnel façade as were not that thrilled to enter because there might be ghosts in it, lol. We already entered one in Baguio two years ago though. Next destination was at the Cagsawa Ruins. I only used to see that place in postcards and textbooks then but I was able to see it in person now. We proceeded to see Daraga Church which I found fascinating. Kuya George said the church had undergone renovations and it was more beautiful then. Then the next stop was at Camalig where we entered a cave called Hoyop-hoyopan Cave. The cave’s floor was flat so it was easy to walk in it. Anyone can just easily walk and explore the cave which was filled with stalagmites at stalactites. We noticed some interesting and funny shapes inside the cave. I won’t spoil them. You have to see them yourself.

We proceeded to Kawa-Kawa Hill. So, okay, I admit I’m old already. I had a hard time walking up an elevated pavement up the hill which was 1000+ meters long. We stopped at the fifth station and weren’t able to reach the summit. We proceeded to our next destination which is the Mayon Resthouse/ Skyline and we were literally at the Mayon’s body! So from there, we could only see the upper part ng Mayon because we’re stepping on its body already. Mayon went too shy and hid behind the clouds but we waited until she’s ready to show herself. I could literally see its crater! I noticed a few red lines as if something was burning there. Little did we know, level 1 was up during that time! It was cold there because of the elevation. From there, we could see the overlooking of Albay.

We then went down the Mayon to go to Tobaco Church which my friend mistook as a burnt church, lol. It appeared that they colorized the facade using lava powder that they got from lava rocks. Then we went to Busay Falls and we were disappointed because weren’t allowed to enter the 2nd to 7th falls. We only get to see the 1st fall. It was 4 pm already and it would take some time to reach the other falls. So if you plan to come here, do it in the morning. We proceeded to the Black Sand Beach in Bacacay and they indeed had black sand, it was fascinating. Before we go back to our hotel, we went to Sto. Domingo Chuch. It’s a quaint little church which was under renovation that time.

Okay, before I forgot, somewhere during our trip, Kuya George drove us past a short bridge where we could make a wish. All we had to do was to hold our breathing while crossing the bridge while making a wish. If you do that, your wish would come true. We accused him of scamming us but he said it was real and too many people had testified about that phenomenon, including him. We were coaxed, lol. And it was fun. Kuya George was a good driver. We enjoyed touring around with him.

ADVENTURE

We woke up late the next morning after the tour so we started our ATV adventure past 10 am. So we drove the ATV for more than two hours under the scorching heat of the sun. I had fair skin when we started and ended up getting a tan after driving an ATV for 3 hours. We took the service of Majestic ATV Adventure and their guides were good but I do not really recommend them for a few reasons–first, we rented 3 ATVs. 1 of them broke down and 1’s engine stopped a few times. Second, we were expecting we’d have a lot of pictures taken by our guides during our ATV ride but they took less. But despite that, we enjoyed our ATV adventure. At first, we were really scared because we’re not drivers so we had to hire two guides but after a few minutes, fun overrode the fear and we stared driving like racers ha ha ha! It was so fun! Initially, we planned to get the short trail option but because we felt adventurous at that time, we availed the option to drive to the Lava Wall! For 1,850 pesos we were able to get to the helipad surrounded by lava rocks and it was probably the closest spot where people could enjoy the panoramic view of the volcano. The view of the sea was added bonus. That was 360 degrees of spectacular view! But we were a bit disappointed because Daragang Magayon hid on the clouds again. And that is why I think I will come back. Yes, I will come back. I will come back for the Mayon Stuffed Pizza from Small Talk Cafe, the Halo-halo from DJC and Bicol Express, and this awesome ATV adventure.

Overall, this trip was super worth it. I will see you again, Daragang Magayon, and please…  please, when I do, let me see you up close. Don’t hide behind the clouds again.

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