Hiking at Mt. Manabu…

It’s never too late to start a new thing. I took the plunge and went hiking with family and friends yesterday. I always have respect and admiration for people who love mountain climbing. I have watched numerous tv shows and movies about it which are basically taken from real life events. I am in awe of people being able to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. And so I’ve always dreamed of someday being able to go on trail hiking up in the mountains. After yesterday’s hiking, my respect for mountaineers doubled or tripled. Mountain hiking or climbing is no joke. You must have the stamina for it. I was mentally prepared and it’s the only thing that kept me going (lol)!

My mind was willing but the body was resisting. My fault for being a couch potato the past few weeks even if I knew that I plan to go on a hiking adventure. It was my first time and my body was bruised and battered after the hike. I almost gave up in the middle of the trek. So I guess if you want to try hiking, you must go with people who will encourage you to go on. Even if the answer is always “we are nearly there” or “just 30 more minutes” to your “are we there yet?” question. Even if after 30 minutes you are still ascending and it seems it will never end. It actually helped that people I’m with during the hike were tolerant and doesn’t mind me stopping so I can catch my breath. There were so many stops during the hike (lol). It’s also important to at least condition yourself. Do that 5K, 10K or more steps a day prior to your hiking adventure.

They said that the Mt. Manabu trail is relatively easy as it is classified as 2/9. A single trail lasting 2 hours or less. But for a newbie? I think it’s better to start with 1/9 or very easy trails that are in paved or cemented roads especially if you have a sedentary life like me. But if you are quite the adventurous type and think that you have the stamina for it then by all means go ahead. Trail hiking or mountain climbing is fun most especially if you are with family and friends who got your back! Literally at your back to push you to the mountain top so you can see the beautiful scenery from up above. Ha!ha!

The trail is shaped like a rosary but we did not go to the grotto anymore which is located on the left side after reaching the summit with the white cross. The peak or summit area is not big and if there are other hikers it’s going to be a tight squeeze. Best to take a look and take group photos at the camp site area before the summit. At the back and going down is a small area for a picture perfect shot. There’s a couple of small boulders where we posed and took “aesthetic” photos. But beware because it is literally the side of the mountain top. There’s always the danger of falling! We were told when we stopped at station 4 that it’s about “5 minutes awayto the grotto if we take the left trail. I wonder if the 5 minutes is for seasoned hikers? Might take “30 minutesagain for a newbie (lol).

There are many posts on how to get to Mt. Manabu in Batangas. Our jump off point was in Lipa, Batangas. We rode our own car and used Waze app or Google maps to get there. Just remember to register at the entrance or barangay check point before you start to go up the street towards the parking area. There’s a 30 pesos fee per hiker. As it’s still pandemic time, they will check your temperature as well and log it down. Try to go at the end of the road where the jump off point is located to park your car. It will save you some much needed breath for your hike if you do that (lol). Hire a guide if you don’t have anyone in your group that knows the trail. You can help the locals if you do.

Since we live in the southern part of Metro Manila (Parañaque City) and is very near the entrance to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), it took us less than an hour to travel to Lipa, Batangas. Thanks to the SLEX connection to STAR Tollway, travel time is faster. We took the exit before Lipa which is Sto. Toribio. Probably a must when hiking is lots of water, energy drink like Gatorade or Pocari Sweat and some energy bars. Although, you can also eat at Station 4. There’s a lady selling buko juice and snacks. You can help the locals by buying some. After drinking the juice, eat the coconut meat as well using the improvised spoon. Too bad we weren’t able to try the civet coffee in Station 5 since there were a lot of hikers and no space anymore. Anyway, if you bring your own food make sure to at least follow the rule of “Leave No Trace”. Bring your trash with you.

Also a “must have” is a hiking stick which we forgot to bring! Luckily, there are 10 pesos wood sticks for sale in one of the stations. As for your OOTD, wear comfortable clothes preferably a dri fit shirt and leggings. Shorts is okay but then some part of the trail have overgrown grass or weeds. It’s literally a forest. Shoes is also important. Wear one with a grip if it’s rubber shoes. Best to wear hiking boots or shoes though. Although, I saw a lot of hikers wearing sandals and it’s cool!

Overall, my hiking experience was awesome! I am proud of myself for finishing the trek even if I had a very hard time. I was literally crawling. Ascending the mountain, you are out of breath. Descending the mountain, you fear for your knees and toes. It’s funny to think about it now after the climb but the struggle was real!

I’m turning 50 years old in less than a month. Diagnosed years ago with scoliosis and recently osteoarthritis. I am very happy I was able to successfully go on a mountain hike without injuring myself! I am not yet sure if I’ll be doing it again but who knows when the next invite to climb another mountain will come my way? Maybe next time, it will be an easy hike?


the traveling KANGaroo

Summer time in Palawan…

It’s almost the end of summer now in the Philippines and our local travel destination this year was Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. Our goal or rather my goal is to visit at least one Philippine destination every year. Hopefully and if possible, a new place we haven’t been to yet. Be it road trip, air or sea. It will not only be a fun bonding time with the family but an educational one especially for the kids. The family will get to discover places, have a chance to immerse with the locals and hopefully learn something from their culture.

During one of our local carrier – Cebu Pacific Air (www.cebupacificair.com) fare sale in late 2015, I was able to buy tickets for the family to Puerto Princesa. We’ve been planning a long time ago to visit this place but it’s always been put off in favor of other destinations. Finally, this year it finally pushed through! After purchasing the air tickets, the next thing to do was look for accommodations. And so I checked Agoda (www.agoda.com) for hotel deals. Puerto Princesa City have good resorts and hotels but some are a bit expensive and beyond my budget. 

Luckily, I found one hotel that I liked. A bed and breakfast hotel named Ala Amid (www.amidpuertoprincesa.com) which is run by a family. Don’t be put off with the name of the hotel. It’s actually the owner’s surname spelled backwards. 😄 The place is cozy, clean and nice. It matched the laid back atmosphere of Palawan. They served complimentary juice drinks upon arrival which is not common for small hotels. The buffet breakfast is good and the little “cafe” at the lobby area named Sabie Bakes had yummy cupcakes! My kids also enjoyed their Say Cheese pizza and the pasta. 

Ala Amid Bed & Breakfast

Reception Area

Pool view

We stayed in Palawan for 4 days and 3 nights. The cost of the superior room was Php 2,300/night inclusive of buffet breakfast for two. I booked two rooms to ensure we are not cramped because we were six travelers and so that we can really enjoy and relax during our vacation. Mind you, the rooms were bigger than we thought and the bed was comfortable. Two thumbs up!👍🏼 Not only that, the hotel helped us book for our tours too which made life easier under the heat of the sun. The hotel owners were pleasant and friendly. They accommodated my inquiries and provided enough information before and during our stay.

Since we arrived in the morning, we decided to take the city tour (cost: Php 600/pax) in the afternoon which brought us to the Crocodile Farm, Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s Hill, Plaza Cuartel and the souvenir shop that sells authentic South Sea Pearls at prices that can only be found in Palawan! 😍 Definitely the South Sea pearls they were selling were a whole lot cheaper than in the big city. I’d rather not tell how many I bought. 😅 Ha!ha!ha! My recommendation is to tell your tour guide to take you to Laila’s Pearls instead of Delma’s Pearls first. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in Laila’s then go to Delma’s which is just a few hundred meters away. 

Crocodile Farm

While waiting for our turn to go inside the Crocodile Farm, we went to a restaurant for refreshments and while there we decided to try the sizzling crocodile meat for Php 180 per order. It was a bit spicy but good. Now I know, crocodile taste like chicken. They probably eat chicken a lot!😜 My kids had fun posing for the camera holding a small crocodile. Good thing the crocodiles mouth were clamped shut or else I think a lot people will lose a finger or two!😅

South Sea Pearls

The price of the South Sea Pearls at Laila’s Pearls was Php 1K for an 8 mm earrings. The bigger the pearls, the more expensive it becomes. Discounted price of a 12.5 mm size is Php 2.5K, 13 mm size is Php 3K. Bigger pearls range from Php 4.5 to 5.5K but you will not regret getting a pair once you see the price in the jewelry stores in the big city. So, I highly recommend buying some pearls while in Palawan!😄 And while you’re in the souvenir shop, try to buy the roasted or fried cashew nuts too. 

We spent our second day in Sabang to visit the Underground River which is a Unesco Heritage site and one of the new wonders of the world. It took one hour and a half travel time to Sabang. Then a 20 minute boat ride towards the entrance of the river in a pump boat. The tour is already high tech unlike before wherein the tourists were the ones holding the halogen light. Upon arriving, each person will be given an audio set and a short distance away the boats are waiting to take you inside the cave. Instead of the boat man talking, you can now to the listen audio voice while he uses his LED light to show the wonders inside the cave which is in sync with what you are listening. It’s a 45 minute boat ride inside the underground river beneath St. Paul mountain. Truly an awesome experience and a must see. We booked our tour in advance and it cost Php 1,740 including buffet lunch. It’s more convenient since you need permits to enter the place and they limit the visitors per day. The tour guide will take care of everything and you can just sit and wait.

Underground River Entrance

Sabang Beach

Entrance to the cave

Exit view from the cave

There will be numerous photo opportunities while in the place since they have an official photographer and you can buy a print out for Php 180 (small) and 250 (big). I usually don’t buy but I had a change of heart. I just think of it as a once in a lifetime trip so better get those souvenirs! 😄 Doing so probably helped the staff earn a little more money.

Back at the wharf, you can see stalls selling fruit shakes and more! Buy one or two to quench your thirst. 😄 The cheapest that we found was the stall in the pic at Php 50 only for a medium sized drink. 

An’zky Fruit Shakes

Fruit Shakes

Our third day was spent island hopping in Honda Bay. If you plan to do this, better bring aqua shoes with you. Your tour guide will recommend it to ensure you are protected from a stone fish sting/bite. And if you are particular with using snorkel gear rental then better bring your own. However, if you prefer to travel light then you can rent them before you sail away to the islands. A bit costly at a rental fee of Php 150 each for the Aqua shoes and Snorkel gear. The tour will bring you to 3 islands. First is the Star Fish island then Luli Island and last would be Cowrie Island where the buffet lunch is served. The first two islands will let you go snorkeling to your heart’s content. My children had so much fun! 

Listen to your tour guide or boatman. If they say do not swim in a particular area then don’t! Lots of jelly fish lurking and you don’t really want to get stung by one. 😄 

Kayaking at Cowrie Island

It was a fun filled summer break for the family. We hope to visit Palawan again in the future as El Nido and San Vicente are waiting to be explored. For now, the memories will stay with us until our next visit. 

Remember this when in Palawan: 

Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, keep nothing but memories…


the traveling KANGaroo