A travel adventure to date in a distance land, kilometers away from Metro Manila separated by massive lands of Visayas and Treacherous seas of the Philippines. I landed in a place where the oldest “balangay” was found and modern historian is claiming that Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet arrived here and made blood compact with Raja Siaiu. Baron was here, at Butuan, Agusan del Norte.
Upon our Arrival at Bancasi Airport (Butuan City), we immediately headed at the information helpdesk slash tourism office to ask for direction, must see in Butuan and the location of the Bus Terminal bound to Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. The Officer gave us a pamphlet where tourist spots and town’s map is imprinted. We’re on track
|Enchanted River | Surigao del Sur | Wonders|
A few meters away from the airport located the Public Terminal. Just noticed MutliCabs (Mini Jeepney) and Tricycles (Trisikad) are dominant means of transportation in the City.
First Stop, Regional Museum. From the airport we travel via MultiCab and dropped off at Gaisano mall and ride a Trisikad. Since the Museum is closed for renovation we google the location of Bansa Church Ruins in our Smartphone for our next destination. We went back to Gaisano Mall and now we’re bound to the tricycle terminal.
In the tricycle terminal, we asked the locals that we’re off to the Church Ruins, they’ve said ride a trisikad off to Bansa. We patiently waited for other passengers to fill in the remaining seats.
We passed thru the Magsaysay Bridge beneath the Agusan River. Roads and Infrastructures are well constructed here in Butuan City. Smooth travel, I must say. Cool
Feeling anxious because Arem and I was the remaining passenger of the tricycle, we’ve inquired to the driver if the Ruins were near. Oopps! Wrong Chruch! The driver politely apologizes for the misunderstanding. He continued by negotiate with us if we wanted to ride again his vehicle going back to the terminal. For the fair price of 100 pesos we agreed right then and there.
Beautiful Ruins Indeed! There’s a bell tower and facade of the church near the Agusan River. Wow
We took pictures and left the place in time.
Pure Trip! We decided to pose in the [Magsaysay] bridge while passing vehicles watched our power act. Feeling stupid and I don’t care just for the sake of souvenir photos.
According to our research, we’ll be travelling for 4 – 5 going to Hinatuan. Since, we’re starving and far away from the main City. We look for a decent eatery near the terminal just to fill in our empty stomach. No picky eater here! We just ate.
The signage we’re looking for is Mangagoy (Bislig) and bus conductor, dispatcher and alike were negotiating to us to ride their bus or van. We chose riding a van, first for a fare deal of 180 pesos and 4 hours land travel (speedy transportation) compared to Bus with 196 pesos fare and 5 hours.
While travelling and overlooking in the window, I felt I’m just somewhere in Quezon Province or Luzon area. Just near home as I close my eyes and journey to my dreamland.
I woke up sweating, checked my watch and we’ve been travelling for 3 hours. According to the driver we’re near. The spirit is still high! Enchanted River wait for us! We closely observe the signage along the road to make sure we’ll not pass by our drop off place.
After an hour, we’ve seen the tarpaulin of Enchanted River. Yehey!
Tatay (Sorry, forgot his name) offered to us his Habal habal (Motorcycle) for 200 pesos. Since the daylight will fade soon we grab the opportunity to travel with him.
Enchated River is 12km away from our current position. We started our joy ride with so much excitement while having good times talking with Tatay.
We seized the moment to ask him about the “must see” or “must visit” spot here in Surigao he named a few such as “Britania Group of Island”, “Tinuy-an Falls”, “Enchanted River” and “Doll House”. FYI I have separate blog entry with all the mentioned place because we managed to visit it all. Lucky us
Since, Arem and I both understand a little bit of Visayan words, it’s easy for us to comprehend Tatay and throw question spontaneously to satisfy our desire for our ultimate travel adventure to date.
In no time, we’ve reached the entrance of Enchanted River since its pass 5 in the afternoon. Visitors were not allowed to swim in the river. We bid farewell to Tatay and told him wait us around 1 o’clock tomorrow in the entrance gate. We graciously raised question to the Tourism officer of Hintuan about the accommodation near the place and suggested to us some resort.
One thing that I was excited with, will be traversing the famous enchanted river bound to the sea just to scout for our accommodation. Adventure it is!
I must commend how organize the Tourism Office of Surigao del Sur, on how they treated their guest, they are courteous and interactive. Road Maps, Tarpaulins and Signage are scattered in strategic location, very helpful and informative. There’s communication radio (walkie talkie) to guide and monitor traveler’s safety. Like bus terminal, boats are lineup for passenger and there’s fixed rate of 160 per hour. We told Kuya Norberto Viola, our Bangekero to fetch us around 6 o’clock in the morning for our island hopping, we agreed right away. Two thumbs up for this, I’m amazed with their services. I heart Surigao del Sur
We visited two resort type in the middle of the calm sea and ended up at Sibadan Fish Cage, for only 300 pesos per night it’s a fare deal. A fish cage is situated in the middle of all the rooms. Little sharks and other unknown fishes to me was there waiting to be caught. Fascinated with the concept of the place, I was just mesmerized that’s it.
I wanted to go fishing, unfortunately there’s only limited fishing item to be used. We just bought kasag (Little crabs) and one whole fish for dinner. After our delicious dinner we slept comfortably in our room. One of a kind experience, sleeping in the middle of somewhere. That marks my day 1. Very Tired but satisfied.
DAY 2: Waking up in the middle of the sea
I usually wake up earlier than my alarm and in my cellular phone it’s 5:30 in the morning. I left the room and headed at one of the cottage near the entrance to watch the sunrise and feel the breeze of the air.
Very relaxing, that’s one good thing about traveling, leaving the stress in the city and enjoying the moment with nature.
Just in time, Kuya Norberto together with his assistant arrived before 6.
We packed our belongings, changed clothes and paid our bills in the cashier; imagine we shell out an estimated 500 pesos for our accommodation and food including service charge and condiments. Just for one night stay. So cheap, cool
We left Sibadan Fish Cage around 6:10 am and we started our journey. First destination, TINAGO RIVER.
Literally, Tinago River is hidden somewhere near the opening of Enchanted River. The river’s water is crystal clear as if it’s a mirror. Amazing!
I’ve seen islet and wooden houses along the river. Wonderful it is! I kept asking Kuya Norberto about the next place we’ll visit because I’m personally excited with our Island Hopping. Lucky me, He answers my question cheerfully.
Next in our list SARSOZA PONTA CAVE, in my internet research, i thought its just a small opening with a Statue of a Virgin Mary. But the tour guide slash care taker of the place told us that the said cave was once been a refuge camp for Japanese soldiers. Inside the cave was spacious with eye catching stalactite and stalagmite formation. I'm speechless and overwhelm with what i saw inside.
Our bangkeros were patiently waiting for us on the other side of the cave. We paid 160 pesos for the entrance and tour guide fee. I was thirsty then and our bottle runs dry. We’re very blessed that the near island that will be visiting is just a few minutes away. Fresh Buko!
MARGARETTE ISLAND PEAK RESORT was spectacular in terms of shoreline, white powdery sands and clear water with Nipa hut near the beach.
The caretaker of the place was really jolly she always smiles, fond of our jokes and story plus she's very accommodating. She informed us that there’s a view deck above, just 100plus steps and we'll reach it. Very comforting seeing from a far the Pacific Ocean and some islands.
After taking pictures we're bound to our last Island. PANGASINAN PACIFIC SHORE the entrance of the island is really promising, long bamboo and wooden pathway with Nipa. It’s also surrounded by mangroves, Coconut tree and other unknown plants to me. Wow! This would be perfect barkada getaway, cozy place with Nipa houses and well constructed bamboo cottages and powered by generators to light up the island in the night time.
We rested for a while and headed back to our boat. Finally, we can now jump into the famous water of ENCHANTED RIVER; upon our arrival to the said river we paid kuya Norberto our dues. 5 hours of services plus 100 pesos tip, we gave him 900 pesos.
We left our belonging in an area where we can see it while we're in the river. Firsthand experience, the royal blue color of the water indicates the deepness of the river, there’s noticeable current that pushes you away and the salt water fishes beneath. Enchanted it is and until this very moment I’m wondering how it does happened.
A man approached us, He said the old man (Tatay) will not be able to fetch us and he'll be the one to replace him. To be honest I’m really pissed off with him he asked to much from us and I won’t go into details. To evaluate things, we assess the situation, as per our IT, Tinuy - an Falls will be in our third day but according to the locals. The said waterfall is just an hour ride from Hinatuan. Since the feeding of the fish in the Enchanted was over and that's definitely the highlight of our stay in Hinatuan. We decided to change course and pursue to travel in Mangagoy (Bislig) to visit the known falls.
To save time and effort we acquired the service of the greedy man in a reasonable price.
Along our habal habal trip we felt hunger, Arem and I suggested filling in our belly somewhere. We took our late lunch in a carinderia near Bislig. We grabbed the chance to interview the resident there about the must see places in Surigao. They suggested Britania Group of Island and gave us a literal bright idea for our day 3 trip.
We continued our road trip and reached the entry point of TINUY -AN FALLS. Last 2 kilometers of rough road folks.
Around 3 o'clock in afternoon, ravaging sound of the falls welcomes us. Tinuy -an Falls would be the tallest, widest and grandness I’ve seen to date. Now I know why it’s being called the Niagra Falls of the Philippines. I am really impressed.
After capturing the perfect angle of the said falls we've trekked the topmost part of the waterfalls and seen from above the extravagant view of Tinuy-an. Wow!
Upon reaching the baseline of the falls, we waste no time and tried the bamboo rafting. Adrenaline rush arises as we advances near the powerful downfall of the water. Another memorable experience.
Thanks to our tour guide who took pictures while we're having our rafting and we had fun photos to showcase in our travel blog.
I’ve told Arem that my dlsr's battery will be drained soon and advised me to recharge it in the helpdesk office. While waiting, we energetically interact with the people there and again ask for the "must see" in Surigao. They responded well and heard a common answer "Britania". What’s with Britania and all the people we’ve asked best recommend it to tourist like us.
Just noticed, people there were really amaze with our braveness to travel in Mindanao. We always smile and say "in the name of adventure".
Before our day two ends, we scouted for lodging house in the main town of Bislig, we found an affordable air-conditioned room with two separate beds. Perfect!
We paid our habal habal driver and he unexpectedly prays for our safety travel. We thanked him big time for the genuine concern. I as well praise God for guiding and providing us trust worthy people.
To end our hectic time table we pleasured ourselves with full pack dinner at Ocean View Park. In the said place located the International Doll House, expensive dolls only for your eyes.
After the tour in the united nation like doll collection, we graciously ate our food. "Real tasting food" and our tiresome paid off.
We stayed for a while and enjoyed sharing stories with the Willimann, the owner of the restaurant and doll house, they're really please with our presences and felt the warmest hospitality from them.
Big "WOW" when they've heard that my college friend (Arem) and I, fiercely travel Surigao and explored its wonder. We paid our bills and bid farewell bringing sweet memories of that small talk. Tomorrow will be another escapade to conquer.
DAY 3: Let's count 1 2 3
Since, our itinerary changed. We added in our list the group of islands of Britania. Situated at Lianga Bay in Barangay Britania, San Agustin Surigao del Sur and from Mangagoy (Bislig) a four land travel is needed.
We hopped in one bus and terminal before we finally reached the dropped off place. Last 1 kilometer of habal habal ride to reach the port area.
Lucky us, we met Kuya Andy. He’s our boatman slash tour guide for the whole day. Why, we're lucky? He agreed to us that we'll be renting his boat for 1 thousand pesos only that usually 1500 pesos.
He’s very accommodating; He allowed us to change clothes in his house and gave big discount in the "pusit" that we bought from his Dad. They've also provided cooked rice and utensils that we'll be using in our island hopping.
1 2 3. Let the unexpected island hopping be started.
First Island. Hagonoy. Perfect spot to relax and that's what we did while Kuya Andy and his assistant grilled the seafood’s.
|At Hagonoy Island | Britania | Surigao del Sur | Okay|
After eating, we visited Naked Island. Literally naked with just powdery sands. Perfect place for sun bathing and photo shoot.
Along the way to our next island, I've seen unimaginable deep part of the ocean and I wanted to jump into the water to experience myself the deepness of it.
Third Island and the best powdery sands in the land! Compared to Boracay, it would be the best to date. Panlangagan Island, with small grotto near a cavern. It was low tide when we arrived; we had the luxury to roam around the area. Thanked God it’s undeveloped and the rawness gives an exotic appeal. How I wish i can stay longer!
From Panlangagan Island we walked another two islands. Island walking? Funny it may seem but it’s true. We indulged ourselves taking pictures with the said two islands. The sharp and rocky edges plus the big waves of the Pacific are the main concern of our bangkeros to bring us there early in the afternoon. They know best, that's why it’s perfect to visit the said islands during low tides.
Feeling exhausted, we hopped again before we've reached Panlangagan Island. We had some rest while sharing out our adventure in Surigao del Sur. for me this would be the most daring travel adventure I’ve ever done to date, why the fact that we're just two wonderers in the unknown place waiting to be discovered is a major reason to celebrate. We've conquered Mindanao! We’ll definitely go back here early January next year.
As we're ready to bid farewell with the Group of islands of Britania, Oopps! Kuya Andy is heading us to Hiyor Hiyoran Island. Really surprise! Our last island destination. The said Island is one of the most promising to stay with. There's a chopped woods circle around and perfect for night party and bonfire. My eyes filled with so much beautiful places for the past three days.
Okay time to say Goodby, Britania Group of Island! Read Full Story Here.
As we reached the shore and Kuya Andy directed us in the near house to clean ourselves.
We took a bath in an exposed atmosphere and get our water in the deep well. Province life it is!
|Goodbye Britania Group of Islands|
An old lady offered Ironwoods that’s so heavy, an approximately 2 kilos per piece. I bought 3 while Arem has 2.We're really laughing that it might exceed our baggage limit and when it happens will throw it outside the plane.
From the shoreline, we’ve ride for the last time habal habal and just in time the Bus arrived bound to Butuan. Last for 4 tiring hours of travel. The rain was falling and I personally prayed it will stop when we reach the town.
We took the opportunity to close our eyes and let our body rest.
When I woke up, Arem was talking to a Nan [named Sister Yolly] sharing our adventures in the past few days. Again I’ve seen the surprise look in their face. She commended our courage.
It was near Midnight when we arrived at Butuan, we locate for cheap air-conditioned hotel for our temporary shelter. I was really tired; I clean myself quickly and drop my body in the bed
DAY 4: Roaming around
Since we're just waiting for our flight we decided to buy pasalubong in Langihan Terminal. We're very fortunate to have big discounts but there are vendors who used our innocent to overprice some items, lucky us the stall vendor spoke to the other vendor to be true to his customer.
After thanking Ate Vendor we headed at Gaisano Mall to kill some time. Our last stop would be at the Mom's finest buffet house. We overload ourselves before heading at the airport.
At the airport, as expected, we exceeded our baggage limit and just laugh with it.
An hour and half of waiting till we finally bid farewell to Butuan and Surigao del Sur. Funny thing was, I wrote a message for Aizel stating she's with us all the time.
Goodbye Surigao del Sur! I heart Mindanao!
This ends my travel adventure! Till next time, hope you enjoy reading.