Costa Rica kay ganda!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

So I went to San Jose, Costa Rica for work. Of course being the traveler that I am, I wanted to see the sights and experience the culture of San Jose. So I extended my business trip over the weekend so that I'll have time to wander around the city and maybe try a few adventure trips.

Costa Rican sunset.
Costa Rica is way far from here. If you're wondering, it's in Central America, in between Panama and Nicaragua. Where exactly? Here.

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Actually from the map it's exactly on the east of the Philippines! So how did I get there? By taking a 4-hr plane to Japan, 12-hr plane to Detroit, 2-hr plane to Atlanta and finally, a 4-hr plane to San Jose, Costa Rica. That's a total of 22 hours of sitting on the small airplane chair with cramped legs and an annoying seatmate. And that's not counting the layover time, the immigration hassle, the running around looking for my bags, re-checking them in, and all the running to the departure gates.

When I got to Costa Rica, I hailed a cab from the departure area (so that I wouldn't get scammed) and said my destination in fluent spanish! When we were on our way, the cab driver said, "Costa Rica is beautiful!" I was shocked on how proud they are of their country. Our cab drivers would've made money out of a foreigner, pointed out the trash and pollution or would've made fun of the stand-still traffic. But in Costa Rica, the people are sincerely proud of their country. I was shocked and amazed at them, at the same time feeling a little ashamed for us.

adrenaline rush!
Anyway, I stayed in a hotel by the highway for most of the trip and my office was also along the highway so for most of the week I only saw cars and road. Desperate to see the country, I booked a white-water rafting tour for the weekend. Apparently, haggling is not much of custom there since the tours are government-regulated. However since i am used to it, I was able to haggle a tour (which in the end I think was given to us basically "under the table") from $110 to $80. Savings!

Costa Rican culture is very similar to ours. I learned that they are a neutral country, much like Switzerland. They don't have a military. They are spanish-speaking so I'm guessing they were conquered by Spain as well. They do have rice in their food but they like beans too. Food is cheap whereas everything else is expensive. Being beside water, they also have they same souvenirs as ours except theirs is a lot costly. Souvenirs they have are beads, bracelets, etc.

All in all, i didn't get to experience much of the country. I did go downtown on a Sunday but still there wasn't anything worth mentioning.

Malapascua: Quiet Boracay

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Malapascua is a little island on the northern most tip of Cebu. Yes it's a little dot on the map with a lot of water surrounding it. But do not fret! Going there is as easy as commuting to Makati.

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To go to this beautiful island with orange freckles on the sand, you would have to:
1. fly from Manila to Cebu via Cebu Pacific Air, Philippine Airlines, Air Philippines or Zestair.
2. Take a cab from Cebu International Airport to the North Bus Terminal. This should cost around P200 (with the 40-peso flag down).
3. Take a bus to:
a. Bogo via aircon Ceres bus liner then to Maya Bagay via non-aircon Ceres bus liner. The first bus would be a 2-3 hour comfy ride to Bogo then a 1-2 hour sight-seeing ride with the wind on your hair to Maya.
b. Maya Bagay via non-aircon Ceres bus liner. This is a direct bus which would take about 4-5 hours total. The route is the same as the 1st option but with less wind-blowing effect.
4. At Maya Bagay, pay P80 at the port for the boat ride to Malapascua. You will need to pay P20 for the smaller boats that will transfer you to the bigger boat to Malapascua. The waves can be violent, thus the need for the bigger boat.
5. You have reached Malapascua. Walk around the island (3hours) or bum at the beach.

There are various accommodations along Bounty Beach. Usually inn owners will welcome you from the boat and ask you if you'd like to stay in their place as there are always vacancies even during the summer. We stayed in Sunset Beach Resort where they have a big room with 2 double beds. The room is big enough to add 2 more double beds on the floor. In total, it can accommodate 8 people inside. It has a bathroom, electricity and good running water (that is a little salty but not sticky). The room costs P2200 for the aircon (good for 2 people) and an additional P200 for every person. Not bad! :)

We ate mostly in Ging-Ging's Restaurant located at the middle of the island. You must ask the locals how to get there. Bring a water bottle so the refill only costs P15. Ordering mineral water costs P35. They have chocolate pancakes and food at reasonable prices.

Island hopping! Off-peak we got a bargain with one of the locals. We paid them P1000 for the boat rental. The boat can accommodate 10people or more then P100 rent for snorkels. The island hopping is for 3hours which is more than enough time to see the entire island and swim with the fishes.

Beach bumming is what I really love the most. I couldn't do much during boat rides because i have sea-sickness. haha! So i'd rather lounged on the sand. The beach is flat enough for skim boarding but there are no boards for rent so bring your own. The high tide is during the noon so it's better to swim then than during low tide where there are mostly seaweeds on the water. 

Where I've Been

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