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Friday, April 27, 2012

Buenavista, Quezon: Now and the probable Then

I was born in a mystical place called Buenavista, a fourth class municipality of Quezon. I heard so much legend about the place where gold is rich and nature flourish; from my departed grand mama. The most unforgettable tale she shared with us was the story of a golden cow. She said that this golden cow roamed Buenavista and excreted gold. She said that she saw it with her own eyes and was able to see the excreted gold herself. I didn't believe her. But 'twas a lovely story coming from my grand mama. This story was told even before miners dug gold in my hometown. Now, I am having a second thought that maybe she was telling the truth after all!! Hahahahhaa.. Ok, i won't ponder much on the unbelievable stories of grand mama but tell you on my great experience visiting the known and unknown places of Buenavista.

Before i tell you the thrills we got from visiting some of the places in Buenavista; let me give you some background on how to go there.

Travel by Bus - There is a daily direct trip in Starmall, Alabang going to Buenavista. Please inquire to P&O Bus Liner for the time of departure. However; you can also ride a bus going to Lucena and from Lucena Grand Terminal ride a bus going to Calauag. Just ask the driver to drop you off in Lopez. Another possible route is riding a bus going to Bicol with Lopez as its drop off point.

From Lopez, Quezon; ride a jeep going to Buenavista. Ensure that you are ready for a bumpy ride due to rough roads that you will pass through. The good news is that; when we went there this April, 2012, the Lopez to Buenavista roads are being re-constructed. I am seeing great hopes that in a few more years; we will be having a smooth travel going to my beloved town.

Travel by car - If you were traveling by car; pass through SLEX to San Pablo; then just look for the direction sign going to Bicol. You will never get lost. Tips, do not attempt to travel by car if it's not a 4-wheel drive vehicle; your car may have difficulty to pass through the rough road when you choose the Lopez-Buenavista route. However, if you only have an ordinary car; I suggest you travel through Bondoc Peninsula route. Upon reaching Atimonan Zig Zag Road; you can see a sign going to BonPen. Just go straight ahead going to San Narciso. This is a longer route but offers a smooth travel. From San Narciso, look for the sign going to Buenavista. A shorter rough road will be experienced.

Travel Time: approximately 6-8 hours from Manila to Buenavista, Quezon

Travel Expense: approximately PHP500 including your travel meals for a one-way travel

Travel Date: April 19-23, 2012

Okay; now, going back to my story; it took us 7 hours to reach my hometown using our car since we traverse Lopez to Buenavista route. It is NOT a four-wheel drive car; sad to say :(


We reached the province safe and sound. An hour after we settled at home; I asked my uncle to accompany me to the nearest beach. He said; we can either go to Cawa beach or to Mabutag Beach. The decision depended whether the latter is passable with a tricycle or not. We opted to go to Cawa beach since we have to hike going to Mabutag; although my uncle said that Mabutag has better sand and beach than Cawa. We rented a tricycle to drop us off to the beach front of Cawa and wait us to go back our house (located at the town proper). We were charged 400 PHP for the round trip. It was a cheap deal considering that we were 4 passengers.

It took us 20 minutes to reach Cawa beach from the town proper. As we passed-by the greenness of Buenavista; I awed in disbelief; how gifted my hometown is with huge ricefields; tall and plenty coconut trees and birds that fly and animals that crawls.

the rice fields of Buenavista
Buenavista Quezon Rice Field
Coconut Trees in Buenavista Quezon
a mini-rice terraces in Buenavista, quezon
A view in Buenavista, Quezon
Cawa beach was not fully developed. The beach has a mixture of greyish sand and rocks. It was low-tide then.

There were cottages out of nipa that you can rent with a minimal charge of PHP100.

When you dipped into the water; you have to be careful as rocks beneath could hurt your feet. However, we felt fine sand underneath the rocks. The beach has potentials when the rocks are removed and the sands are cleaned with debris.

One thing that Cawa beach boast is the water. It is clean and contoured in such a way that swallow part is wide and it goes deeper as you move towards the ocean.

Cawa beach is also connected to a clean river. Usually, the mid-part where fresh and salty water meets is dirty; but, NOT in Cawa beach. The picture will show you what I meant. Look at the shadow and my foot.

Where the river and the sea meets
At low tide; a small island of sand separates the river and the sea
How clean the river water is...
Water for bathing after soaking in salty one can be bought on nearby houses. PHP 20 per container.

Over-all our trip to Cawa Beach was fun. How much more if this beach is developed by the locals? :)

The Grotto Resort

The following day, was our Family Grand Reunion. I was lucky that it was held in the newly developed and the only resort in Buenavista so far; The Grotto Resort. It is located in Cadlit; one of the nearby Barangays of Buenavista. You can reach it by foot in 15 minutes. You can ride a tricycle too.It is near the town proper.

The Grotto Beach was currently being developed. You can only see a kiddie pool; nipa huts; a Grotto and a mini-church inside it. Some faunas can also be found. The reunion was great! :) I hope to visit The Grotto resort again when it is already fully-developed.

The kiddie pool

Inside the mini Church
The water in the pool is fresh and non-chlorinated. I wish to see how the adult pool will look like as well as the reception hall. Just a side comment; it would be better if the pool floor is not made up of pebbles as it reflect a yellowish water. My suggestion is to make use of either white; blue or green tiles for pool floors.

Our Kanlukot Falls Adventure can be read here...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quezon Province - Abound for Nature Adventure


Quezon Province; my bloodlines stay with you..

Quezon Province is known as the the 8th largest province in the entire Philippine Archipelago. In the middle of Sierra Madre; the Philippine Sea; and Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon Province boast for its natural resources where land and water provide the basic needs of the Quezonians. Needless to say that tourist destinations abound the islands of Quezon. Just by entering the first town of Quezon; you do not have to hunt for the scenic view. It will just appear continuously as you travel the vastness of the land.

As a native born of Quezon; Buenavista to be specific; I knew by heart that Quezonians are peace-loving people and they do define what fun means on their festivities.

My Family and I; as usual as we can, drove back to our province last April 19, year 2012 to attend our Grand Reunion. Since I started to do this blog and listed the places I would wish to visit; I already planned of showing you the possible or even existing tourist attractions in Quezon.

I also would want to impart my ideas of improving each of the places I stepped on to attract visitors from other places.

To go to Quezon; expect a long and winding road showcasing the forest and the sea. We tried two of the possible route going there and returning to Manila on this trip. We took the infamous "Bitukang Manok" or the Atimonan Zigzag road; derived it's name on the chicken intestines. This is not just an ordinary road to travel; extra cautions are necessary as it is very steep. However; there is a ready diversion route that may have been considered winding roads too but not as steep as the Bitukang Manok if you want to play safe on your travel. The good thing about choosing the "Bitukang Manok" is that you will also experience the beauty of the Quezon National Park; a well-kept forest that offers travelers the full view of Manila and Quezon at its peak.

Estimated Travel Time to reach Tiaong; the first town of Quezon from Manila is about three hours traveling by car and bus. Buses going to Lucena and Bicol are your options. Depending on your destination; the travel time increases. On our side; it took us 6 hour-travel time to reach Buenavista, Quezon. It could be more if you're commuting. Stop-over to Lucena Grand Terminal is offered on long-distance travel.We opted to take our lunch in my father's favorite restaurant just along Gumaca's Highway; Lita's Carinderia. They offer variety of Quezonian's favorite viands like "ginataan", "sinigang", etc.

Continuation of this trip:

Buenavista, Quezon: Now and the probable Then
San Narciso, Quezon: A Clean and Green Haven

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wensha, a Place of Pampering Yourself

Summer unleashes the heat-penetrating waves! Sauna? Steam bath? Anyone?

Well; surprisingly, 6 hands rose and got excited of having again their sauna and steam baths done in Wensha; including mine :) The 6 hands belong to THE BESTIES not to bother thinking of the heat of the day and just remembering the first wonderful experience we had in Wensha.

We marked our calendar for a fun-filled and relaxing escapade to Wensha. We agreed to have it on April 14, 2012. Same Wensha branch we went then; in Timog.

Wensha Timog Map
If you came from Manila; the easiest way to go there is through Quezon Avenue. Either you take a cab or take a jeep going to SM Fairview and off to Timog. Walk a few steps to find Wensha Spa. Now; there is another Wensha branch in Pasay near World Trade Center. Both branches operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

Wensha Branches Address and Contact Information:
Timog Branch
Address: 1st and 2nd Level Pasda Mansion Bldg.
#4 Timog Ave. Cor Panay Ave, Quezon City
Contact Numbers: 375-13-98 or  372-58-22

Pasay Branch
Address: Boom na Boom Grounds, CCP Complex Roxas Blvd
Cor. Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. Pasay City
Contact numbers: 833-98-78 ; 832-05-15 or 832-58-77

Re-living our First Experience:

We arrived in Wensha way past 3PM. Just outside Wensha, the sun's heat excruciatingly pierced in our skin. Two of my friends were patiently waiting for me at the Lobby Area as we parked just in-front of the establishment. Side note; the parking was small in Wensha Timog Branch. Good thing my driver was there to wait for an empty parking space. We headed towards the reception and chose the 1-hr body massage package that cost us PHP 780.00 each. That's cheap; knowing that we can enjoy all their services including the buffet; the use of the wet and dry saunas; the use of the Hot and cold Jacuzzi and of course their timed hot and cold showers.

After paying, we were provided with a bracelet locker key and we surrendered our shoes in exchange of their in-house slippers. We headed up the stairs as we were all starving! Blame it on the late-comers; like me :)

Indulge on a a sumptuous buffet: The best time to go to Wensha is during lunch when you can really enjoy the "eat-all-you-can" dishes. They offer shabu-shabu; prepared dishes as well as drinks and even cakes. We ate almost everything that Wensha had on their wares. Note: Do not get servings that you cannot consume or you will pay extra for the left-over food.

Wensha Timog offers two dining rooms; non smoking and smoking. We opted to settle in a smoking room and prepare our shabu-shabu. The waiters were attentive to our needs; offering us what we cannot see on the buffet table but can be ordered without extra charge. The best part of dining came when we started our "chit-chats". Laughter broke out of the place and we shushed ourselves as the place was full of people trying to relax. But, the laughter was never stopped :) The food tastes good; but, the soup they use for shabu-shabu needs some improvement on taste (or maybe we just forgot to use the condiments? I wonder.. hmmmm).

The BESTIES having their buffet lunch in Wensha
Enjoying MY FOOD! :)

Submerge, Soak and Get Wet: The tummies were full; it's time to start the pampering. We entered a dimly-lit room enhancing the cozy ambiance of the place. The rooms for female and male are of course separated. Upon entrance; we were given our towels, and bath robes. We have to get naked to enjoy the hot and cold jacuzzi. All our things were securely locked up in our individual lockers.

We headed towards the shower rooms with translucent doors. The water runs cold and after a few minutes it turned hot and the cycle continues. Good thing was that the dining area had a cool air conditioning to soothe our skins before we had the hot showers :)

The Jacuzzi was enticing! Okay, we cannot just simply submerge into the hot water. It requires timing! little by little we submerged our body parts. It's like following the nursery song; my toes, my knees; my shoulder; my head :) If it's hot then it means it! I couldn't stand the heat; so, after 30 minutes I head up on the cold Jacuzzi. There, I enjoyed so much! haha :)

I saw Jojo and Tengay in the sauna. I wished to try getting inside; but, cowardly i backed-out. I knew how it felt the first time we went there and maybe I'm one of those who cannot stand the heat that long. Well; yeah, cold water and ice were provided. I might as well stay in the water dispenser then? hehe..

If you were to have your body scrubbed; you will be required to take the steam bath. It loosens the dry skin. I tried that too then; but this time; I passed the body scrub. Risa did! I love the body scrub then; but, i fear the steam bath (hehehehe). I can assure you that maybe I am just one of the few who would rather stay in Alaska than in Middle East :)

The Ultimate Pampering: So, why did i still go to Wensha?? It's the massage that lure me to come back and wanted it bad!

We headed on the private rooms where massage is rendered. Surprisingly; we were appointed to a room where 6 people could fit in; unlike before when we stayed in a room with 2 beds only. Still, the ambiance is so relaxing that invited us to readily fall asleep. The masseuse entered and gave us the best massage that only Wensha can provide. A combination of Shiatsu and Swedish Massages; I guess?

The 1-hour massage ended to be with an excess of 30 minutes more. 'twas the Best Massage I've ever had :) I would pay 700 or more for this service!

I wished to show you the rooms; but "NO PICTURE TAKING ALLOWED!" :)

You can sleep after the massage. You can enjoy the place for 6 hours; it's in the package. Before, it was 8 hours; but, they shortened it to 6.

Feast again?: Well yeah! the massage seemed to get all the calories we had on lunch. Eat again! Enjoy the buffet! Taste the cakes! Get some caffeine (not free ok, you have to pay PHP16 for a cup). And of course, long chit-chat with friends.

The beauty of relaxation relies on good pampering; best services and enjoying them with real good friends.

Over-all, our Wensha experience was all worth every penny. We will do this again; hopefully, not on Summer :)