Toward Mt Daguldol’s Summit

I am never the sporty type. I don’t get to stretch and use my body the way others do.

I tried playing volleyball back in gradeschool only to prove myself I was a total shame in that field so I stopped right then and there and never tried another sport, except for those needed in my Physical Education subjects. Up to this day, the only physical activity I am into is walking, and walking I do as part of going to places and back home, and whenever I have to think hard.

But when Des, a friend and former co-writer, chatted me on Gtalk inviting me and two of our other friends, Mao and Champy, to join her and her friends in their upcoming minor climb at a mountain called Mt Daguldol, I got really interested and accepted the invitation. It might be a crazy idea for someone like me who isn’t exactly in shape, but I was up for an adventure and something new, so I thought, why not try it for experience.

First-time hikers (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

First-timers all set for the hike (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

The Mountain, the Neophytes, and the Adventure

Established by the UP Mountaineers as a hiking spot in the 90s, Mt Daguldol is a small mountain range located in San Juan, Batangas.

The adventure started not from mountain itself but from the 30-minute trek at the Laiya Beach, a nice beginning if you love the seashore and the sunrise, if you’re there very early in the morning. So we walked on the sand, which either entered our shoes or sunk them, saw other people taking photos and having fun at the beach, then passed by the rocks, then more sand, until there it was, the mountain to climb.

Taking advantage of the nice scenery. SMILE! :)

Taking advantage of the nice scenery. SMILE! 🙂

A walk at Laiya Beach

A long walk at the Laiya Beach

Walk at Laiya Beach 2

Photo by Desiree Quijalvo

:)

Photo by Desiree Quijalvo

Walk, walk, walk

Fellow hikers (Photo by Desiree Quijalvo)

Mt Daguldol has a difficulty level of 3/9, but although they say that numbers are precise, the hike wasn’t as easy as was claimed. And I am not saying it just because I’m new to the activity. Des and her friends aren’t part of any mountaineering groups but they’ve been climbing mountains as a hobby since 2006, and they sure had a hard time with this, too.

We were a group of around 20 and were divided into subgroups, and ours was at the tail. We only had an hour of sleep before the big day that’s why the climb was extra tiring. So we took the time and stopped for some rest every time we felt like it, and which made the usual five-hour challenge to the summit longer. But just like what Tito Fred, the eldest in the group, said, we shouldn’t exhaust ourselves too much by rushing to the top, we should just take it easy to save more energy. And so that’s what we did.

Des taking some rest.

Des taking some rest.

Of course, I had my precious moments, too.

Of course, I had my precious moments, too.

During the climb, even just a few seconds of rest was priceless.

During the climb, even just a few seconds of rest was priceless.

Never forget to smile and laugh despite the hard times. :)

Never forget to smile and laugh despite the hard times. 🙂

I was actually quite cool about it at first, Champy was even joking me that I walked like I was on a runway and was wearing high heels. But come our first real rest at the first waiting shed, after we all stood up and started hiking again, the sides of my vision went dark and I had to ask our little company to stop again because I was feeling nauseous. Champy gave me a candy, but instead of making me feel okay, I found my breakfast on the ground after a few moments, and I didn’t allow anything else, except for some gelatin and softdrinks, in my tummy the whole day. I was afraid to puke again and it was one of the things I hate, so it was better to be safe. The humiliating  scene made me much better, though, and my effortless stride on the runway continued.

Trail food: Lychee-flavored gelatin.

Our trail food: Lychee-flavored gelatin.

I think everyone in our group would agree that aside from the peak, it were the resting areas that we were all waiting for. They were the oases in a desert of trees, grasses, rocks, and soils. Among them is Mang Lizardo’s where Halo-halo and Mountain Dew are sold. Since I was already exhausted and I was taking care of my tummy, I didn’t order a Halo-halo, but it would have been refreshing if I got to taste it.

At Mang Lizardo's. Time for some unwinding in the midst of the mountain.

At Mang Lizardo’s. Time for some unwinding in the midst of the mountain.

Mountain Dew sold in the mountain. Makes sense. :P

Mountain Dew sold in the mountain. Makes sense. 😛

What I learned about this day event is that hiking is really a test of endurance. There were a lot of times when I thought of throwing in the white flag along with my treasured pride, because I couldn’t do it anymore, and just go down and wait for them to come back. But it was proving myself I’m not a wimp that kept me going. ‘Cause I’m not. I am not the type to give up easily, so I persevered, though the back of my mind was pleading me to do otherwise. That’s the spirit.

Hey!

Hey!

Perseverance

Perseverance

is

is

the

the

Key :)

Key 🙂

Then at last, we reached the summit. The vast area is covered with green grasses, is windy, and perfect for picnics and even overnight stays if one would wish to. Being there was the time when we all felt all our efforts paid off. Too bad we left our lunches in one of the resting areas, that’s why we had to cut our blissful relaxation and proceed in going back.

Mao and I rested on the grass while our legs were raised--an anti-varicose vein move. XD

Mao and I rested on the grass while our legs were raised–an anti-varicose vein move. XD

Des' jumpshot at the summit....

Des’ jumpshot at the summit….

... Meanwhile, Mao and I were far too exhausted for some jumpshots of our own.

… Meanwhile, Mao and I were far too exhausted for some jumpshots of our own.

The pairs of shoes that helped us to the top, and would do the same in going back.

The pairs of shoes that helped us to the top, and would do the same in going back.

Photo op with our fellow hikers. We made it! :)

Photo op with our fellow hikers. We made it! 🙂

From our experiences in stairs, we learned that it’s easier going down than up. But with Mt Daguldol’s case, it was the other way around. With every step I made on our way down, all my weight would go to the foot that made the move, and with repetition, it became quite unbearable, and so we had to stop more often. Tito Fred said it was because I was wearing sneakers, not rubbing shoes. He said that the latter have cushion at the sole, thus, it isn’t so painful when the shoes hit the ground. So a friendly reminder to you, dear reader, if you’re going hiking for the first time: Rubber shoes, not sneakers. Again, rubber shoes, not sneakers.

For me, the best part in all of this, aside from reaching Mt Daguldol’s peak, was the next day when I woke up anticipating the tell-tale aches all over my body, especially in the legs, but I didn’t feel any. I even asked my sister’s boyfriend if it was possible to feel the pain the day after next, but my brother just interjected and teased me that maybe I was born for the mountains, and they both laughed and sang Lady Gaga’s Born this Way.

It was when I realized that all the walking I love doing actually made me fit for such physical activity. Good thing I was unconsciously trained for this. hehe

I swear, we're not fond of photos.

I swear, we’re not fond of photos.

We just love to smile, that's all. hehe

We just love to smile, that’s all. hehe

Yes, even if we're very much tired. :P

Yes, even if we’re very much tired. 😛

My first hike was tiring and frustrating in the process, but looking back… Hey! I’m very proud to announce that I survived my first hike at Mt Daguldol!

Will I do it again? Well, I guess so. My door’s open for invitations. 🙂

—–

REFERENCE:
Pinoy Mountaineer

—–

All photos by Champy Cachola–who didn’t get tired of taking all our hiking pictures–unless otherwise stated. 

My Heart Belongs to Hong Kong!

The first is always the most memorable. And in my first travel’s case, it wasn’t just unforgettable, I even left my heart there and made sure it stays just there.

Hong Kong skyscapers at night

Hong Kong skyscapers at night

I am lucky to once belong in a company where travelling abroad for event coverage was part of the job’s description. During my one year and four months with it, I was able to attend and write about two international trade fairs of Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC). The first, which coincidentally was also my first time abroad, was the Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair in April 2010, and the second was the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) in October of that same year. Among the two, the former has always been the one that’s on my mind.

Filipino Overseas Journalist at Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2010

Filipino Overseas Journalist (OJ) at Hong Kong Gifts and Premium Fair 2010

That first time opened my eyes to a dream that’s almost the only reason why I want to earn money nowadays. It made me realize how I want to travel the world and get to know other cultures and how their places look like. The best part of it was that the air fare, terminal fee, accommodation, and daily breakfasts were paid by HKTDC, it was only the other expenses that I had to take care of.

Solitary in An Unknown Place

The 22-year-old me, alone in HK. :)

The 22-year-old me, alone and busy working in HK. 🙂

HKTDC allows only one overseas journalist per media firm. And as a homebody who was a greenhorn to travelling even just around Metro Manila then, one would expect that I felt scared with going to a foreign country alone and it even made me want to back out, but no, it was the other way around. It was thrilling, just thinking about it. I consider myself as the independent type and I get excited over anything new, so I didn’t mind the solitary experience at all.

So with only my baggage, the company name, and myself to carry, I went to Hong Kong alone and full of anticipation.

Just a few walks at the Hong Kong International Airport, and it already made me realize that one of my favorite quotes which says, “Perfect arrival is not arriving at all,” is not always true. The airport is humongous, in fact, it has a train inside. And first timers won’t be anxious in Hong Kong since it is very tourist friendly.

HK map, my travel buddy.

HK map, my travel buddy.

In fact, maps in English, Chinese, and Japanese languages are in abundance at the airport and one can get as much as they want. They’re easy to use and comprehend, that’s why I always say to people that if they can’t understand it, I don’t know what else I’ll think of them. Those colorful papers are complete with information from street names to all the possible exits in subways. They’re perfect even for people like me who are not exactly good in reading maps, and geography in general.

Then there’s the weather. The whole time I was there, it was quite rainy and the temperature ranged from 19°C-21°C during daylight. I don’t get cold easily that’s why that temperature, cool enough to make me wear a jacket and just right to make me still feel comfortable, is what I loved most about my stay in Hong Kong. I could just walk endlessly on the streets (which are, mind you, don’t only look safe, but are also really safe), without feeling even the tiniest bit of exhaustion. It was even during those walks when I always thought that I finally found the right place for me.

But with my work as the priority of that trip, I only had time for leisure in the evenings and the morning of my last day–the fifth one. So I was only able to wander around Wan Chai, Central, and some parts of Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan, and Mong Kok.

Lots of buildings in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Lots of buildings in Central, Hong Kong Island.

Central 2

Central 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I wasn’t able to go as far as Lantau Island for Hong Kong Disneyland and Aberdeen for Hong Kong Ocean Park because:

1. Time constraint

Where to?

Where to?

2. I had limited resources, my salary then was just right for everyday living in my homeland

3. At 22, I still didn’t have enough guts to go that far

4. Besides, I couldn’t imagine myself being truly merry in an amusement park and oceanarium all by myself. For me, it’s a place where I need to have somebody with me whom I can instantly share my excitement with.

I also failed going to Victoria Peak, which entrance is just in Central, for the same reasons.

Up close with Bank of China Tower, one of the most noticeable skyscrapers in Central.

Up close with Bank of China Tower, one of the most noticeable skyscrapers in Central.

The Golden Bauhinia Square, located just outside Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is one of the popular spots in HK.

The Golden Bauhinia Square, located just outside Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, is one of the popular spots in HK.

Standin in Ave. of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, I was pointing to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the fairs take place.

Standing in Avenue of Stars in Tsim Sha Tsui, I was pointing to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the fairs take place.

Somewhere in Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Somewhere in Jordan Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But though I missed what could have been three of the best in Hong Kong, the places I had been to were enough to make me fall in love with the region. Solitary walking is when I think and observe most so I was able to witness the beauty of Hong Kong and the discipline of the Hong Kongers. And I began admiring the place for those.

 

An old man playing a string instrument outside Wan Chai Station

An old man playing a string instrument outside Wan Chai Station

People

 

My Temporary Home Sweet Home

As I said above, HKTDC pays for the accommodation of its OJs. And maybe because it has a connecting path to Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC), but Renaissance Harbour View  Hotel Hong Kong is the chosen lovely abode for OJs during their stay in Hong Kong, and I felt really fortunate for it.

Located at the scenic Wan Chai Waterfront, Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong is a four-star luxury hotel complete with landscaped pool, gym, restaurant, and amenities from cable TV, to iron for clothes.

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from bookonline2save)

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from bookonline2save)

I was given a room with two single beds, one for me and one for my messy stuff. It was nice and comfortable with almost everything I need already there.

Inside my hotel room

Inside my hotel room

My two beds

My two beds

This is how messy I can be. And I didn't bother tidying everything up since it was the housekeepers that did that for me around lunch break. hehehe. XD

This is how messy I can be. And I didn’t bother tidying everything up since it was the housekeepers that did that for me around lunch break. hehehe. XD

 

The hotel boasts of its harbour view, but my room was located at the other side so what I saw whenever I looked at the big glass window was the garden view. It was alright, though. It was still relaxing to stare at.

 

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel's garden view

Renaissance Harbour View Hotel’s garden view

 

Going to the hotel wasn’t without a flaw for me. Since the airport is two islands away from Hong Kong Island where the hotel is, HKTDC also pays for the shuttle service called Airport Hotelink Limousine to bring us OJs to Renaissance, and back to the airport on our last day.

What happened was because the staff of the shuttle had a Chinese accent, I didn’t understand him when he asked who would they be dropping off this hotel and that. And the thing is, I didn’t know that there is a Renaissance Harbour View Hotel and there’s also a hotel simply called Harbour View Hotel. I was dropped to the latter. Sheesh. So with my stroller with me, I walked from the latter to the former all while I was completely unsure if I was going the right direction. Good thing it isn’t at all that unusual to walk around Hong Kong with a stroller.

Vanity time inside my hotel room.

Vanity time inside my hotel room.

‘Cause No Man is An Island

I went to Hong Kong alone, but I met a few people during my stay. The first was the Concierge of Renaissance Harbour View Hotel, Dino Recile, who is one of the three Filipinos among the hotel employees. He was introduced to me by the (cute) male receptionist who took care of my checking-in in the hotel. (Confession time: I had an instant crush on the receptionist, and we had a short conversation that went:

Me: *busy looking at the floor*

Receptionist: We have the same birthday.

Me: Huh? What? *I looked at him*

Receptionist: The same birthday, month and day. *smiling and pointing at my birth date on my passport *

Me: Oh. *I smiled, too* How about the year?

Receptionist: No. 1983.

Me: Oh. Okay. *And my instant crush on him was born*

Receptionist: Wait, I’ll introduce you to our Filipino co-worker. *Went somewhere*

Me: *Started counting our age gap*)

And it was then when Dino Recile and I met.

Dino Recile. Photo was originally taken for the profile article I would be writing about him

Dino Recile. Photo was originally taken for the profile article I was to write about him

Dino is a typical Filipino, hospitable, happy, and amiable. He served as my tour guide, in fact, he was responsible why I enjoyed my short stay in Hong Kong. All I had to do was go to him and ask him where best to go given my short time, and he would obligingly pull a map then tell me directions on how to get here and there. Then whenever I got bored and I needed someone to talk to, I just go to his location in the lobby and ask him about his experiences in Hong Kong, and in turn, I shared what was new in the Philippines then.

I also met two OJs at the fair’s Networking Reception. The first was Ms Kim SunJung from South Korea, and the other was Mr Rakesh Desai from India. I think I was the youngest among the OJs so I couldn’t help but be shy on everyone.

With Kim SunJung from South Korea

With Kim SunJung from South Korea

With Rakesh Desai from India

With Rakesh Desai from India

Then during my last day in Hong Kong, since it was also the day when I would be going back to the Philippines, I wasn’t required to roam around HKCEC anymore, so what I did was go to places I hadn’t been to, and it was when I met a few Filipinos.

There’s a Filipino restaurant in Wan Chai called Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant, and the owner, Mang Ambo, is there during lunch time. He learned that I was in Hong Kong just for the fair and he told me that there are many Filipino journalists around the place who also eat in his restaurant, and that if I was interested in working in Hong Kong, maybe I could talk to some of them.

Then there was also an architect who has been living there with his family for already quite some time, and another, an unemployed woman on the look for a job there. It was nice talking in my native language in a foreign land.

After eating, I went straight to the Avenue of Stars located in Tsim Sha Tsui. While I was resting, I was spotted by a seaman in the name of Marny. He asked me if I was a Filipino and I said yes, and so we talked mostly about his family and girlfriend, who is now his wife, by the way. And they’re already expecting a baby soon! ^_^ Yes, we still have a connection until now.

 

Eats Time to Eat!

Of course, a travel experience isn’t complete without our palates tasting what the unknown place has to offer. So although I didn’t have a lot of money to burn, I still made it a point to eat some of the food in Hong Kong.

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On my first day, while looking for Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant, I got lost so I ended up eating at Sun Thai Restaurant where I ordered Fried Noodle with Beef in Malaysian Sauce with free tea of my choice.

At first, the dish was really delicious, but as I consume those thick pasta, I felt like throwing everything up. At the end, I wasn’t able to finish it, and I didn’t feel good the entire day. I wasn’t able to eat dinner because of that, too. 😐

Lesson learned that day: Camille isn’t a noodle person, she still prefers rice all the way!

Besides, food servings in Hong Kong are bigger compared to those in the Philippines, so it was quite overwhelming to eat that much food.

"See? I wasn't able to finish this darn food. :| Thanks for making me lose my appetite, food."--My Facebook caption on this photo

“See? I wasn’t able to finish this darn food. 😐 Thanks for making me lose my appetite, food.”–My Facebook caption to this photo

The second cuisine I tried was at a Cantonese restaurant called Spicy Mama in Jordan, Kowloon with SunJung right after the Networking Reception. Its staff are pure Cantonese and cannot speak English, so its menu for foreigners are all photos, and its customers will have to rely on their sight’s judgment for the food they want to order.

We had the Deep Fried Spicy Crab and another vegetable dish. The crab was scrumptious, but the vegetable, well, I almost didn’t touch it when I saw it was full of onions.

So happy to eat the Deep Friend Spicy Crab! ^_^ I love crabs!

So happy to eat the Deep Friend Spicy Crab! ^_^ I love crabs!

With SunJung at Spicy Mama

With SunJung at Spicy Mama

Then because of what happened on my first day, I became skeptical of almost any unfamiliar food I saw. So to be safe, I ate at Mang Ambo’s Filipino Restaurant during lunch and sometimes, even during dinner for the remaining days.

Mang Ambo's Restaurant in Wan Chai

Mang Ambo’s Restaurant in Wan Chai

The restaurant is a turo-turo style like that in the Philippines, so if you’re a Filipino living in Hong Kong and you suddenly miss the atmosphere of your homeland, this restaurant is the place to be.

For only 23HKD, a customer is served with one rice and one viand of their choice of Filipino cuisine, and it’s 28HKD for two viands with one rice.

Photo of the wall of Mang Ambo's with dedications from people who ate at the restaurant.

Photo of the wall of Mang Ambo’s with dedications from people who ate at the restaurant.

Shopping Time!

Hong Kong is like a big shopping center with some of the richest people in the Philippines going there only to shop whenever they want. And although I was short on resources, I still bought some stuff for my family and myself.

The best place to go to in Hong Kong for affordable items is the night market in Tung Choi St, Mong Kok, Kowloon. I heard customers can haggle all they want until they get the price they desire there, so even if it was raining during that time, I braved the night and was satisfied with everything I bought when I got back to the hotel.

Shopping 1

Shopping 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Here and There

Hong Kong is just a three-island Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, but it’s still big enough for people not be able to stroll around on foot. So transportation is still essential to get from point A to point B. I was only able to ride on two, though (Aside from the shuttle).

A must-try in Hong Kong is the Star Ferry which operates in the Victoria Harbour. For the price of only 2.50HKD Mondays-Fridays and 3.40HKD Saturdays-Sundays and public holidays, a person can already cross from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon and vice versa by sea. Then from Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and vice versa, the lower deck costs 2.0HKD and the upper deck 2.50KD on Mondays-Fridays, and the lower deck 2.8HKD and upper deck 3.40HKD on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

Star Ferry: 2.50HKD per ride

Star Ferry

Star Ferry 2

Star Ferry 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then my favorite is the MTR ,or the Mass Transit Railway, which serves the whole of Hong Kong. I find this really cool, especially the interchanging stations where I didn’t have to wait long for the next train to come.
Cool! MTR serves the whole of Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from Wikipedia)

Cool! MTR serves the whole of Hong Kong (Photo grabbed from Wikipedia)

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But what’s cooler than the MTR is the Octopus Card, a rechargeable smart card used in paying for all the transportation available in Hong Kong, except perhaps the taxi (Not sure). It can also be used in convenience stores, supermarkets, fast-food restaurants, parking meters, car parks, vending machines, and service stations. It’s an all-in-one card that doesn’t have an expiration date. Mine is actually still with me and it still has 48HKD, which I can use on my next visit to Hong Kong, whenever that may be. 🙂

 

 
And that was my whole first experience in travelling and Hong Kong. It was a marvelous experience and I’m looking forward to visiting more countries in the future.

Have you been to Hong Kong? Did you like it the same way I do? 🙂