Indochina Adventure Part 1: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

This post is actually long overdue, but I would still want to share this unforgettable trip of my life. On December 22-29, 2009, my travel buddy and I embarked on one of the greatest adventure of our lives: to finally set foot on a foreign country. What I made it more exciting is that, we made it not to only one but three countries! We made it through three of Indochina countries: Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand! Our adventure started off in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Getting There

Our plan is to enter Indochina via Vietnam and leave via Thailand. We booked our trip through Cebu Pacific. We spent about t 10,000 Php (233 USD) for a round trip ticket. We arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport at at 12:20 AM. From the airport we rode a taxi (10 USD) to the hotel were we had a reservation.

Helpful reminders:

  • Philippines is 1 hour ahead (GMT +8) of Vietnam (GMT +7), you can adjust your watch to avoid confusion.
  • If you don’t have VND (Vietnamese Dong, currency of Vietnam) at hand you can change your US dollars (1 USD=about 21,000 VND) at the money changers in the airport. Make sure to count your money before leaving, because when we arrived at the hotel, my money is short of 150,000 VND. I hope it was just an honest mistake, not a scam.

Accommodation

Prior to our trip, I made a reservation at Thuan Duc Hotel through the Lonely Planet website. Thuan Duc Hotel is located along Pham Ngu Lao St., which is the backpackers’ area in HCMC. The hotel is not really along the road, so you have to traverse a small alley to reach it (thanks to the taxi driver for helping us!). Thuan Duc is small family run hotel; the first floor of the hotel is where the family lives, and the upper floors are for guests. We only booked for a one night stay, which cost us 16 USD (about 700 Php). The room has a bed good for two persons, with AC and private bathroom, which is a good deal!

Thuan Duc Hotel– shown here is “ate” the manager.

Our bed.. quite messy 🙂

We actually arrived earlier than what I told the manager, so the room that we reserved was not yet available. The manager was very kind to let us stay in her room until morning when the room is available. The manager (we don’t know her name) was very accommodating and helpful, but I think the language barrier made it difficult for us to talk to her more. When we’re already settled in our room and ate our breakfast (Lucky Me noodles and Skyflakes hehe..) we started our day tour of the city. We asked the manager for her recommendation of places to see but instead, handed us a helpful map.

Places to See

You can actually reached several tourist sites near Pham Ngu Lao St. by foot. Just make sure that you’re wearing a good pair of walking shoes, comfortable clothes and a reliable map! A day tour will only allow you to see few sites, so just squeeze in what you can (just like we did).

BEWARE:

Do not accept tour offers from the cyclo drivers! This is from our own experience. Even if you say “No”, they will still insist and follow you around, say good things about your country until you finally give in. After the tour, they will ask you to pay triple of the price! Even if you will tell them that it was not the price that you agreed upon, they will pretend not to understand you and will cause a scene.We got so scared that we decided to just pay them anyway. Just avoid the cyclos for a hassle-free day in HCMC.

Beware of the cyclo drivers!

Reminders: The streets of HCMC are filled with hordes of motorcycles! I mean hordes! There is no distinction between the road and sidewalks. The pedestrian lanes are useless when crossing the road. Crossing the road was a stressing task for us to do! To be safe, join some locals when crossing the road.

The kings of the road!

Hint: “Do the Nguyen Du!”. After our day tour, we realized that you could actually reach all the sites that we went to just by traversing Nguyen Du St.

Do the Nguyen Du!

Parks

We had a morning walk in the Park 23-9, which is a big park along Pam Ngu Lao St. During the night, we saw a large group of women having an aerobics session at the park.

The park along Pham Ngu Lao St.

Another park is also across the street, at the end of Pham Ngu Lao.

 Lots of parks around.

Reunification Palace

Also known as the Independence Palace, this was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. This is good place to learn about the history of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Entrance is 15,000 VND (about 31 Php).

The facade of the Reunification Palace.

One of the rooms in the palace.

This place is located in the basement of the palace.

The burning monk — he burned himself as a sign of protest during the Vietnam War.

War Remnant Museum

Also known as the Museum of Chinese and American War Crimes, the War Remnants Museum is consistently the most popular museum in HCMC. The atrocities of Americans during the Vietnam War are well documented here. Just be prepared if you a weak stomach and heart, because there are grisly photos of war victims. Entrance is also 15,000 VND (about 31 Php).

In front of the War Remnant Museum.

The Vietnam war casualties includes children 😦

Victims of dioxin,a chemical that the Americans used during the Vietnam War.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Vietnam was a former colony of France, so it is not surprising to see French influence in the city. One of those is the Notre Dame Cathedral which was established by French colonists between 1863 and 1880. No entrance fee.

In front of the cathedral.

The cathedral facade up close.

Central Post Office

The old post office is another remnant of the French colonist, located just beside the cathedral. This grand old edifice was constructed between 1886 and 1891 by Gustave Eiffel. Also, no entrance fee.

The Central Post Office building is reminiscent of Vietnam’s French colonial past. 

Old telephones booths inside the post office building.

Benh Than Market

Of course who would forget the “pasalubong”! The Benh Than Market is a good place to buy souvenir items, from keychains, shirts, chopsticks, etc. You can also buy cheap Northface bags (they say it’s class “A”) here. Also try to visit the night market for “pasalubong” hunting. Don’t forget to bargain, it can also work here 🙂

Benh Than market is “da place” to buy pasalubongs 🙂

Places to Eat

What a better way to experience a place by tasting their native food! Of course when we say Vietnam, we think of Pho and coffee!

Hoa Dong

This place is near the Benh Than Market. We’re actually clueless on what to eat, so we just ordered what the people beside us is eating hehe.. The fried crab spring rolls we’re so delicious!

Hoa Dong is like any other ‘carinderia’.

Our first taste of Vietnamese food. Yum!

Pho 24

After a long day of sight-seeing and a scary ripped-off experience (cyclo drivers grrr..) we needed to refuel our bodies with good food. Near the cathedral is a restaurant called Pho 24, which of course sells Pho, the famous noodle soup of Vietnam. Aside from Pho we also ordered iced coffee and egg custard. We also bought spring rolls from a vendor outside the restaurant. After eating, the memories of the cyclo drivers just disappeared hehe 🙂

Pho is the best at Pho 24.

My pho bo (beef noodles)!

Fresh spring rolls we bought from the vendor outside Pho 24.

ABC Bakery

This bakery is along Pham Ngu Lao St. We just love their tiramisu cake and blueberry cheese cake. We also bought French bread and baguette for our dinner.

Try some sweet treats from ABC Bakery!

How I wish I could eat them all!

After a long day in the city, we had our dinner (noodles and French bread) inside our room and slept well. Our destination the next day is the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh!

Just see my next post, Indochina Part II: Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

My Thoughts

Vietnam was the first country that I visited. Though our spirits were dampened by the unpleasant encounter with the cyclo drivers, we still enjoyed our short stay in the city. This experience taught us a lot; it was sort of a crash course in “backpacking 101” 🙂

Lovely lotus…

*********

DISCLAIMER: Prices may go up, establishments may go bankrupt. It is recommended that you also check or research about the fares, fees and prices for your own convenience. The author of this blog is not connected with any of the hotels, resorts or establishments mentioned.

Exchange rate during the time of travel: 1 USD = 43 Php

Advertisements

Revisiting Ilocandia Part 3: Side Trip in Laoag City

From Pagudpud, we went back to Laoag City to catch a Partas bus back home. But before going home, we managed to squeeze little time to see the city. All the following sites could be reached by foot:

Ilocos Norte Museum

The museum has lots of artifacts about the Ilocandia traditions. It’s a good way to remind the young generations about their roots and traditions. The museum has a life size replica of a Spanial colonial house inside, which you can enter and experience the bygone period. Entrance is 50 Php, but there’s a discount for students and teachers, just provide an ID.

The museum’s facade.

My friend posing inside the museum 🙂

Sinking Bell Tower

This landmark is easily spotted because it dominates the diminutive sky line of the city. The tower bears the signature baroque architecture of the Spanish period. According to legends, the tower use to have a large entrance that even a man riding a horse can enter easily. But now the entrance got smaller, because the tower is sinking.

Tobacco Monopoly Monument

Just across the street from the Sinking Bell Tower, the plaza is just a stone throw away. The monument is found in the plaza, which marked the eradication of the tobacco monopoly in Ilocos.

Ilocos Norte Capitol Building


The capitol building is found at the end of the plaza.

After a little sightseeing, we headed to the bus terminal, and reached home after almost 12 hours! The long trip was nothing compare to all our unforgettable experiences that we had in Ilocandia! We will back definitely 🙂

To see my previous Ilocos Norte trip, click here.

To see Revisiting Ilocos Part 1: Vigan City, click here.

To see Revisiting Ilocos Part 2: Pagudpud, click here.

Revisiting Ilocondia Part 2: Pagudpud

From Vigan, we headed to one of my favorite place (and beach!) in the country, Pagudpud. This quaint town is located in the northern most edge of the Luzon Island, and it’s the last town of Ilocos Norte in the north.

Getting There

Welcome to Pagudpud!

From Vigan, we rode a Partas bus to Laoag City. I forgot how much the fare is but I think it was 100+ Php (around 3 USD). The trip lasted for about hours. From the Partas station in Laoag City, we rode a tricycle to the bus terminal for Pagudpud. The tricycle fare is 50 Php (a bit more than 1 USD), although you could always bargain—but be clear of the price first before riding the tricycle. The bus fare from Laoag to Pagudpud costs 80 Php (2 USD), and the trip lasted for 2 hours. Btw, the buses are much smaller and have no AC, but you don’t need such because the wind is cold and fresh. From Pagudpud town, just ride a tricycle to your chosen hotel or resort. If you have no reservations yet, and you’re in tight budget, tell the driver to bring you to Saud beach and to an inexpensive resort, and they know where to bring you 🙂

Accommodation

The well-known beach in Pagudpud is Saud beach, although there are other beaches around town. The tricycle driver will most likely take you to Jun and Carol’s Beach cottages at the rocky end of Saud beach. Though at the rocky end, the beach is just few meters away, plus the rocky beach front is good background for photo ops. Tip: Beachfront resorts cost much than those at the rocky end.

Romaville beach resort’s facade.

Our room beside the stairway.

We originally intended to stay at Jun and Carol’s Beach Cottages (we stayed here during our first trip here), but it was holy week so there were no vacant rooms. Fortunately, our tricycle driver helped us to find another place. We stayed at Romaville Beach Resort, just beside Jun and Carol’s. We got a room good for 4 persons (but we’re five), which costs Php 3,000 (70 USD) per night, but the manager was kind enough to let us bargain and lower the price to 2,500 Php (58 USD) per night. The room is located at the first floor, which have 2 double beds, AC and own bathroom. The room was quite small for five people, but better than having no place to stay at all. There are small open cottages in front of the resort where you can stay during the day, free of charge for Romaville’s guests. Romaville has no store or restaurant, but you could always ran to the nearby Jun and Carol’s for all your needs 🙂

Small cottages in front of Romaville.

For more info and reservations, you can contact Romaville Beach Resort’s manager (ate Maribel) at these numbers: +63919 620 9151 or +63915 454 3488. In my recent trip to Pagudpud last November 2011, ate Maribel is no longer connected to Romaville Beach Resort.

Town Tour

The tricycle drivers also act as tour guides, so you can hire them for a tricycle tour of the town. There two town tours available, the north and the south, which costs 600 Php (14 USD) each, for maximum of three persons. I recommend that you spend a day each for the two tours, just like we did.

Driver na, tour guide pa!

First Day: The North Tour

The north tour includes spots within the town, usually will take half of your day. Start the tour around 8AM, and end at about 12NN or 1PM. The itinerary includes the following:

Patapat Viaduct

The Patapat viaduct is a bridge connecting Ilocos Norte to the Cagayan province. At the side of the mountain, facing the South China Sea, this bridge boasts a scenic sight of the endless sea and the cool ocean breeze will surely captivate you!

Scenic Patapat.

Jump for joy!

Kaibigan Falls

The Kaibigan falls is located inside Pagudpud’s lush tropical rainforest. We trekked for 30-45 minutes to reach the waterfalls. The trek was quite easy and very enjoyable. Our efforts were rewarded by the magnificent view of the falls. We also tested the ice-cold water of the waterfalls—a refreshing way to cool down in a hot summer day! The entrance fee is 20 Php per person, and tour guide for 100 Php.

The trekked to Kaibigan Falls.

The water is cold and refreshing!

Timagtang Rock Formation

On the way to the view lagoon, we passed by this unique rock formation, shaped by the currents and tides.

Photo op with the rock..

Look, I’m touching it!

Batay Abot Cave

It’s not really a cave, but a huge rock carved by the action of waves. Really amazing!

I’m a dwarf! 🙂

Group pic in front of the cave.

Blue Lagoon

I was really disappointed at the sight of the Blue Lagoon! The last time I was there (about 3 years ago), the beach was like an untouched, pristine island… but now a beach resort is standing in front! But the water is still the bluest of blue… I was lucky though to have seen the place before it was altered by the force of commercialization 😦

The water is still blue though…

Paradise lost 😦

Second Day: South Tour

The south tour includes three spots located outside the town. Start early because these sites are quite far. The itinerary is consists of the following:

Cape Bojeador Lighthouse

The lighthouse is located at the town of Burgos, and about 45 minutes from Pagudpud. This is actually the oldest lighthouse in the country! There were a lot of people when we went there, so arrive early to have more photo ops without the “extras”. The last time I was there, we were allowed to enter the actual lighthouse and climbed the spiral staircase all the way up the “light” and enjoyed a 360-degree view of the sea and mountain. But this time, entry is prohibited, people are allowed only around the foot of the lighthouse and to the small museum.  You can still enjoy the view of the sea from the foot of the lighthouse. No entrance fee, but at least donate some amount to help in the maintenance of this historic place.

At the foot of the lighthouse.

I feel like a princess in a castle hehe..

Bangui Windmills View Deck

On the way to the windmills, we stopped by the view deck, perched at the side of the road. From here you can enjoy a panoramic view of the mesmerizing windmills.

Behind me are the windmills.

Panoramic view of the windmills from the view deck.

Bangui Wind Mills

Like a déjà vu, I was walking underneath these mammoth structures for the second time! The windmills are located at the town of Bangui, which provide a green source of electricity for the nearby towns. The windmills never failed to impress me and make me feel like I’m in Netherlands!

Just amazing!

All we can say is wow!

Saud Beach

If you came here to party, well, you came to the wrong place (go to Boracay instead)! This beach is not for the party people, but for those who just want to chill and relax. During the holy week (especially Good Friday), loud music and videoke singing are prohibited. I was quite impressed because the even tourists followed, so everybody had a peaceful and relaxing weekend. Holy week is supposed to be a time to reflect, not to have wild parties and booze overdose (just my opinion)!

Early morning in Saud beach.

Things To Do in Saud Beach

Watch the sunrise and sunset

You’re in Pagudpud to enjoy the beach, not to snooze! So wake-up early, have a leisurely walk at the beach (buy souvenirs too!), and catch the sunrise. Beach sunsets are always romantic and beautiful, so do that as well.

Early morning souvenir shopping.

Sunset at Saud beach.

Search for “Bahamas”

Want to have your own Bahamas-ish beach? Just like we did, we woke up early, and after catching the sunrise, we walked to the far end, deserted part of Saud beach. Warning: the far end seem “near”, so be prepared for a long walk. Bring enough food and water because there are no resorts or stores nearby. The reward: you own beach in Saud! We pretended to be celebrities vacationing in an exclusive resort in Bahamas haha 🙂

Deserted at the far end of Saud beach.

Our “Bahamas-ish” experience– no paparazzi haha 🙂

Leaning Coconut Tree

The leaning coconut tree is the like the “leaning tower of Pisa” of Pagudpud, so a photo-op is a must! In our search for “Bahamas” , we passed by the leaning coconut and had tons of photo hehe 🙂

The leaning coconut of Pagudpud!

A photo op is a must!

So the next time you plan your vacation, consider Pagudpud, and you’ll keep coming back for more! 🙂

To see Revisiting Ilocandia Part 3: Side Trip in Laoag City, click here.

To see Revisiting Ilocandia Part 1: Vigan City, click here.

To see me previous Pagudpud trip, click here.

Kaibigan Falls

*********

DISCLAIMER: Prices may go up, establishments may go bankrupt. It is recommended that you also check or research about the fares, fees and prices for your own convenience. The author of this blog is not connected with any of the hotels, resorts or establishments mentioned.

Exchange rate during the time of travel: 1 USD = 46 Php

Back to blog!

Wow, it’s been almost a year since my last post here! I have been busy with a  lot of things that I neglected my blog. I’m glad though that my account was not deactivated he he. The last quarter of 2009 brought a train wreck of emotional ups and downs for me. Well, maybe it was just another phase of my “quarter life” crisis. But now I’m back from the pit s of “emo-ness” and excited to share my adventures!

At the Vietnam-Cambodia border.

Last December, my travel buddy and I embarked on one of the greatest adventure of our lives: backpacking in a foreign country. What I made it more exciting is that, we didn’t only been in one, but three countries! We made it through three of Indochina countries: Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand!

Still in Cambodia.. behind me is Thailand!

On these coming days, I will be posting the details of this epic trip. For now, I welcome myself (again) in the blogging world! 🙂

Potipot Island: cheapest get-away (so far!)

Whew, the nights are still warm and summer is still hanging in the corner. The best way to beat the heat: BEACH! In a tight budget? Well, may be you can try what we did last year. Our original plan was a week-long road trip to Bicolandia, ultimately culminating in Gota beach in Caramoan. But because of budget constraints, that did not materialize. Still, my travel buddy and I can’t afford to pass the vacation without feeling the sun, sea, and sand! With a little research in the net and a limited budget, but infinite sense of adventure, we decided for Potipot Island.

Getting there

Potipot Island is located roughly 1 km from the mainland shore of Uacon, Candelaria, Zambales. To reach Potipot, you have to reach Candelaria first. There are two ways to reach Candelaria. First, you can ride a Victory Liner bus going staright to Sta. Cruz, Zambales, which will pass by Candelaria. The second option is to hop on an Olongapo-bound bus, then in Olongapo ride another bus to Sta. Cruz. In our case, we did the second option. We hoped to catch a Sta. Cruz bus in the Victory Liner terminal, but the manong in the ticket booth told us that the Sta. Cruz bus leaves at the Caloocan terminal, and were in Cubao! For more info on the trip schedule of Victory Liner buses, check-out their website at http://www.victoryliner.com/.

The location of Candelaria (map from Wikipedia)

The travel time from Cubao to Olongapo is about two hours, and from Olongapo to Candelaria is about three hours. But since we traveled in the evening, I think we’re much faster. Btw, before you snooze inside the bus, don’t forget to remind manong konduktor (ticket officer) to drop you off at Dawal. Dawal is the area in Candelaria where the resorts nearest to Potipot Island are located. The drop-off point to Dawal is in front of a waiting shed, which will assure you that you’re in the right place, (thanks to the signboards of the resorts). Just cross the street and walk straight to the alley where you will find the resorts.

Accommodation

Since we were in a tight budget, I searched in the net for the cheapest resort that I could possibly find. We settled for Sunbloom Resort. To reach Sunbloom, just walk straight to the alley, you will first see Dawal Resort, then turn right. Room for two cost 1,200 Php per night (27 USD), it has two comfy beds, AC and bath. The resort doesn’t have its own restaurant, so if you want to dine out, head for the nearby Dawal Resort. The staff of Sunbloom are very approachable, especially the manager, ate Mercy. For more inquiries you can visit Sunbloom’s webpage at http://sunbloomresort.multiply.com, or call ate Mercy at 09165439709.

This way please..


The rooms.

Spacious area on the second floor overlooking the beach and the island.

Potipot Island

Potipot Island boasts almost white, powdery sand and clean blue waters, comparable to other popular beaches that I’ve been to. There’s a small fee of 50 Php for the entrance.  The island does not have any amenities, except for a shower room and toilet. There are small huts and tables which can be rented, but in our case we were contented under the tree shade. There are no restaurants and stores, so you must bring your own food and lots of drinks. If you plan to stay at the island for a night, you must bring your tent and sleeping bag, Btw, there’s no electricity in the island!

White sand and crystal blue water!

Getting to the island

From Sunbloom, the island is very much visible, so it will take just several minutes to reach it by boat. Sunbloom offers boat rides to the island at 200 Php back and forth, which is for the entire boat, not per person. We went to the island at 8AM, and told the boatman to fetch us at 6PM.

Quicksilver… the reliable boat!

To do

O f course we came here to bask and  swim under the sun! We brought our snorkel gears– though there are no corals, we had fun watching the fishes in their natural habitat.

You can have your own photo shoot 🙂

Swim and snorkel..

Look! There’s a fish!!

At midday, the sun was scorching hot, so we decided to lay down and rest under the tree shade. I spent my time reading a novel by my favorite author until I felt very sleepy 🙂

Under the tree shade, checking out our photos.

Reading a novel..

Try to snooze!

When the sun was bearable, we resume swimming and before we left, we trek the whole island.

Afternoon swim..

Exploring the island.

Look! There’s a starfish!

Sidetrip: Masinloc

After spending the entire day at the island, we thought of visiting the nearby town of Masinloc. To go there, just catch a bus at the highway, and Masinloc is just about 20 minutes away! The bus will enter the town proper, and the following spots can be reached by foot:

On a bus to Masinloc– ala Romi and Michelle 🙂

Old Church

Since that was holy week, my travel buddy visited the old church. Though I’m not a catholic I also visited and took some photos for souvenir.

In front of the old church.

Boardwalk

From the church, the boardwalk is just few meters away. It’s a nice place to walk and feel the summer breeze. From a distance you’ll see other islands as well as the Masinloc power plant.

It’s nice here..

Savoring the summer breeze..

I was lucky to have a snapshot of this migratory bird!

Public Market

Summer is mango season, so don’t forget to taste the sweet mangoes of Zambales! We also bought home-made atchara (shredded papaya preserved in vinegar), candied tamarinds and suman (rice cake wrapped in coconut leaves).

Mangoes.. mangoes.. mangoes!

Try the suman!

J’s Diner

After few hours of walking, our stomach bugged us. We walked around hoping to stumble upon McDonald’s or KFC, but there are no fast-food chains! Instead, we found this humble eatery, serving delicious food. The chef is very friendly and accommodating.

No fast-food? Try J’s Diner!

Yum, yum!!

Going back to Dawal

Ordinary buses back to Dawal passes by J’s Diner, no need to worry 🙂

To sum it all up, me and travel buddy just spent 3,500 Php (about 76 USD) for the entire trip each, including transportation, accommodation and food! Is that cheap or what? 🙂

Potipot Island

**********

DISCLAIMER: Prices may go up, establishments may go bankrupt. It is recommended that you also check or research about the fares, fees and prices for your own convenience. The author of this blog is not connected with any of the hotels, resorts or establishments mentioned.

Exchange rate during the time of travel: 1 USD = 46 Php

A glimpse of Mt. Province

Ph_locator_map_mountain_province

Mountain Province is a shroud of mystery to me. I’ve always wanted to set my “itchy feet” on this place high up in the mountains. I was fortunate to join bryology class (bryology is the study of avascular plants, e.g. mosses), on their specimen collection at Mt. Data. Actually, I have nothing to do with mosses, since my field is microbiology, but hey, this is an opportunity to travel. As my contribution to the group, I was tasked as the official specimen photographer ehe. Btw, don’t forget to bring your jacket/sweater, it is really cold up here!

Going There

Since it was a class, we rented a van. If you will be riding a bus, the starting point is at Baguio City. If you will be going to Sagada, the Lizardo Bus is the only means to get there. The bus terminal is found at Dangwa Station.

Welcome to Mt. Province

Of course, we did not missed the opportunity to have a photo-op at the welcome arc of the province. Nearby the arc, there’s also a viewing point, and the view is spectacular! We also passed by the late Marky Cielo’s grave, which is just beside their house. He’s a young actor who died at the age of 20 last December 7 (my birthday!), still the cause is unclear.

Picture 361

So ecstatic to be here!

Picture 365

Can I take this view home?

Picture 356

Marky Cielo’s grave.

Mt. Data

The location for the specimen is Mt. Data, located at the town of Bauko. It is about 3 hours from Baguio City. Mt. Data’s high altitude and diverse plant life makes it an excellent site for specimen collection, especially mosses and lichens. We went to the forest, and there were no established trails. That was my first time to enter a “real” forest, and it felt like the forest in the “Twilight” movie ha ha ha. The sun can’t hardly penetrate because of the thick vegatation, the air feels damp and cold (I was surprise to see mists everytime I talk or breathe ha ha!), and it smell like fertilizer, probably because of the amount of decaying plants on the forest floor.

Picture 088

A new species in Mt. Data’s forest ehe..

Picture 103

The sisterhood of the “itchy feet”.

Picture 135

With our professor..

We we’re able to collect a lot of mosses, and I was so fascinated with their unique beauty! We also found a small pond, which remind me of the setting in the Jurassic period. On our way back to the van, we were kinda lost, but it was exciting ha ha ha!

Picture 094

Mosses with sporophytes (the spiky structures).

Picture 134

A fern ally..

Outside the forest, the view is equally breath-taking. The endless rows of vegetable field and rolling hills is like a scene from other country.

Picture 154

Vegetable fields outside the forest.

Picture 161

Endless fields and hills..

It was lunch, so before going to our next location, we visited the Mt. Data Hotel. We had our lunch at the house of our professor’s relatives, located near Mt. Data.

Picture 165

Mt. Data hotel entrance.

Picture 208

Yahoooo!

Picture 206

The bryology class (Ph.D. and MS Bio).

Then we embarked on a hike to the next location, but still part of Mt. Data. It was more challenging because it involves hiking up hill and  trekking steep slopes. Again, the view never fails to impress me! We were able to collect more specimens in the second location, especially lichens.

Picture 215

Hike to the second location.

Picture 259

Collecting lichen specimen.

Picture 252

Moss species.

Picture 316

Lichen or slime molds.. I don’t know!

Over all, I really enjoyed the one-day experience. I vowed to return, and head further to Sagada (2 hours from Bauko)!!

To view my Benguet page, click here.

Picture 248

A species of Cladonia lichen (super-macro).

Previous Older Entries