Sunday, January 8, 2012

Visayas Honeymoon: Catbalogan & Calbiga, Samar

After a two-hour jeepney ride from Allen, we got off at the terminal in Calbayog, Western Samar. We walked around the block to the gas station where the Van-Van's vans were parked. After the sticky jeepney ride, this airconditioned van was a treat. It only costs P80 for an hour ride to Catbalogan.
From the terminal in Catbalogan, we took a trike to Rolet Hotel (P950/night). Catbalogan is a sleepy town. Nothing much to see or do here, but a number of tourists stay here because it is close to the caves and other adventure destinations.
The next morning, we walked around the block and found our way to the plaza. There is a Rizal statue on almost every town we passed. Although I don't understand why his bust is being lifted by three naked men here.
We had lunch at Flaming Hat and had some papayas sold on the street for dessert.
I love these chevron-patterned, sunset-colored pedicabs.
I'm glad we were able to rest a bit in Catbalogan, because the next couple of days were quite an adventure.

Rode the trike to the Grand Tours van station the next morning. Public transportation around Samar is very efficient. Vans leave for neighboring provinces every 30 minutes to 1 hour.

A little over an hour and we were finally in Calbiga, Samar. Our gracious hosts (and PJ's family friends and former neighbors in QC), Mayor Mel and Tita Bebot Nacario invited us into their home for the most amazing meal we had during our entire trip.
They served local brown rice from Calbiga, lato seaweed for me and ginataang gabi--stuff that my foodie dreams are made of. Of course, there were all kinds of seafood dishes for PJ to enjoy!

That afternoon, we walked to the plaza where we met up with our tour guides for the trip to Lulugayan Falls
 There were about 6 bikes in our group. Rode a bike with Peej + the driver and held on for dear life.
 It was a 30-minute rollercoaster-motorcycle ride on rough roads as we wove our way through the mountains.
 This town is the entrance point of the trek to Lulugayan.Humble homes are solar-powered!

It had rained earlier so the 30-minute trek that was supposed to be a breeze turned out to be a challenge. The soil was so soft that you couldn't stay put for too long, otherwise, you would sink.
 Mud, mud, mud.
I gave up on my sandals and just trekked barefoot. (After this experience, PJ and I each bought vibram fivefingers.Haha :P)

We finally made it to the falls and the view was breathtaking. Low and wide, Lulugayan Falls is dubbed the Mini Niagara Falls by some locals and tourists.
It had just rained, so the rapids were crazy strong.

 There are NO HOTELS in Calbiga, and we stayed in Estefania's Homestay that night. The next morning, we rode up the mountains for our trip to Calbiga Caves.
 The trek was about 1.5 hours (each way) up and down the mountains.
 There's a resting place just outside the cave entrance. The Calbiga Caves have been explored by many foreign tourists (professional cavers) and it is said to be longer than the Underground River in Palawan. It is the second deepest/longest cave in Asia, next to Malaysia's. If I'm not mistaken, only 22 cathedrals have been explored, and there are quite a few more in there.
 The development of stairs makes it easier to reach the entrance of the caves. But after that, you're on your own!
 You know how dark it is in there? Close your eyes. Uhuh. THAT's how dark it is.
We were warned that you must always bring extra batteries and that you should head back to exit when you have used up HALF of your resources. It's impossible and extremely dangerous to walk on the rocks when there is no light. One time, a group of tourists were stuck in there for days because they ran out of light and couldn't find their way out! Good thing the search crew found them. (After 3 days! Yikes.)
After a couple of hours, we decided to head back (we still had to trek up the mountain!) because we were scheduled to leave that afternoon for Guiuan.
And just our luck: no seats together in a no-a/c van, 3.5 hours to Calicoan Island.

Continue reading our Visayas Honeymoon. Next entry: Calicoan Island.