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Have you tried eating live sea urchins?

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Day 1 - Exploring Albay
Day 2 - Whaleshark Interaction
Day 3 - Survivor Caramoan
Day 4 - Camsur Watersports Complex
Bicol Tour Itinerary
Bicol Tour Expenses

Well, it's been quite some time since I last wrote in my blog because we didn't have any major trips after the Cebu-Bohol tour. But here I am, writing again because I want to record what happened in our most recent trip so far.

We spent 5 days and 4 nights exploring the Bicol region. Everything was already planned out and I had a wonderful contact for the Legaspi-Donsol leg of our trip, Judith Rinon (09228338323) of Eat, Play and Travel tours. I don't usually avail of package rates becaue I prefer DIY. It's cheaper. But in this case, I'm glad we did because the itinerary I prepared called for different accommodations every day plus sites and attractions far from each other. Time (and stamina) was of the essence.

Anyway, it didn't really feel like a package rate because we planned the itinerary together and Judith gave me a breakdown of the costs, plus it wasn't a per person charge. We divided all the total expenses by the number of people in our group.

Day 1.

So off we went to the land of spicy Filipino food. Fortunately, no untoward delays occurred while flying with Airphil Express although our flight going home (on Feb 9) was adjusted by an hour which I only found out when I called (on Feb 3) to double check our schedule. Good thing I called since they never told me. Oh wait, they did, but the text came only 2 days before the actual flight when they already knew about the change more than a week ago. Oh and their PC hanged in Naga while our tickets were being processed.

Anyway, we arrived promptly at 9am in Legaspi airport where Judith was holding a sign with my name on it (again). The nine of us piled into the van and we headed straight for our first stop, Lignon Hill.

View from Lignon Hill

Now, if it hadn't been so cloudy and dark on that day, I would say that the hill really did afford a picturesque view of Mt. Mayon. But sad to say, we could only see the lower half of the volcano. Still, we enjoyed our photoshoot at the hill's landscaped garden and at the terrace overlooking the airport runway.

Our next stop was supposed to be the Japanese War Tunnel but we were informed that the lights were brokent inside the tunnel and no one was allowed in so we skipped that. Actually, we skipped all of the sites dependent on Mayon because it was still in hiding.

So after Lignon Hill, Judith took us to the Abaca factory in Bacacay where we observed how the abaca was woven to make brightly colored bags and ornaments.

Abaca Products
Then we headed for DJC in Tiwi where we sampled their famous halo-halo. It had a generous helping of leche flan, ube and cheese and was indeed superb. We also took lunch here before going out touring again.

We visited the Philippine Ceramics at Putsan in Tiwi. I was expecting the usual pots and jars but the pottery here was simply beautiful with unique designs of butterflies, fishes and trees. The colors used were also elegant. Shades of gold, black, silver and white were most common. The products were also very cheap. We couldn't decide which designs we wanted to buy.

Tiwi Ceramics

Men at Work
The plan next was to go on a sea urchin catching trip on a nearby island. I think San Miguel was the name. Now I don't know why I thought this but I got the impression that sea urchin catching involved wading near the shore and picking up urchins. I'm so ignorant. So I was surprised and a little apprehensive when we got onto a small boat (with no life vests) and after about 15 minutes, I still couldn't see land. Lol. The waves were high and all my companions sitting in front got drenched by both the rain and sea water. When we finally arrived on an island after 30 mins, Eds wanted to go back already. Hehe.

It turned out that we weren't supposed to disembark but just stay on the boat because our boatman would take us out a little to the sea again where we would stay and they would do all the catching for us while we did all the eating.

Sea Urchin

Eating Sea Urchins
Judith showed us how to murder, I mean open a sea urchin by using two spoons positioned back to back and just dig into the urchin's mouth until it cracked in half. It was full of black stuff which she rinsed in sea water and when she showed us the clean shell, only the edible orange part remained. She scraped this off and dipped it in soy sauce with calamansi and offered it to us.

Personally, I found it delicious. Although I already tasted a sea urchin in Virgin Island in Bohol, I didn't really like it. Judith said that the urchin I ate was probably already dead and that the live ones tasted the best. I was glad Charles found the taste to his liking too and kept cracking urchins open for me. Lol. By the way, the urchins would still move even when you're already eating them. Creepy.

The boat ride back wasn't as eventful as before. The rain had stopped and the waves were calmer, which we were all thankful for.

Our next place of interest was Busay Falls in Malilipot. There are seven levels to this falls and originally, we planned to trek until level 3 but we were running out of time and we only had 45 minutes to stay in the falls before we needed to head to Donsol. So we only stayed in level one. The water was so cold. After the windy sea urchin boat ride, I was already shivering and though I wanted to try the falls, the cold just wouldn't let me. Charles and Tim seemed to have a great time in the freezing water, however.

Busay Falls
Next, it was time to take the long ride to Donsol, Sorsogon, where we would have our whaleshark interaction the next day. When we arrived at around a little before 7pm, Judith took us to their favorite carinderia which served local Bicolano dishes. Charles and I tried the "ulo ng baboy" and "daing sa gata". Of course, both were extremely spicy but delicious.

Vitton Resort

Vitton Resort

Interior of our room

We checked in at Vitton Resort. This resort looked nice and spacious and we rented 3 rooms for the 9 of us. We only had time to leave our things before we were off again for the firefly tour.

We rode the van to Ogod River where we were to start our tour after registration. I'm so glad I checked the lunar calendar to make sure that we had this tour on a moonless night because according to our boatman, on nights when the moon was visible, the fireflies are still there but aren't as bright. On our tour, we saw hundreds of fireflies gathered in the trees of Ogod river, rhythmically shifting and pulsing as a group. Our boatman strategically positioned us under one of these glowing trees so we could stand right on the edge and pull down the branches to get a closer look at the fireflies. I caught one and held it in my cupped hands and remembered an Ewoks movie I had seen as a kid where a character was holding a tiny fairy the same way I was.

Without the moon, not only did we have a surreal experience with the fireflies, but the stars that night was also a sight to see.

I also spied two fishermen doing the "sudsud" shrimp catching and thought of how I had wanted to add that same activity to our itinerary and felt glad that I didn't. The men were waist deep in cold river water and only had a single lamp for illumination while holding nets to catch the shrimps.

We spent the rest of the night talking while the guys did the drinking. It would be another full day tomorrow.


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