Flowers in her hair,
(Moi ;) )
Photography by Stef + Naomi Photography
Hair and Make up by Alain Adeva
– Frederic Lawrence Knowles
It’s easy to make your mind up about something. Sometimes, unconsciously, we shut an idea, a person, or a place out due to certain triggers out there.
I’ll be honest, though the abduction of the tourists in Dos Palmas happened when I was only 17 years old, I’ve never quite forgotten about it.
Maybe that’s why I never gave this place a chance. I never once added this to my list of resorts to go to.
I’m glad that I was inspired to change that this month as I would never have discovered the perfect quiet getaway for those weekends wherein you long for a lil less of the craziness, and more of you…well you (and the special person or people you travel with), and nature.
Some things, or places in this case, deserve a second chance.
I’ll list my reasons for eventually, throughout the weekend, falling in love w this place.
But first, here’s a collage of what my weekend was like over there:
Special thanks to Trio for the wonderful app which I now use for my mash-ups(to download, here’s the link: http://tap.trioapp.co/jamiefournier).
Now, back to my reasons:
1. It’s Easy!
They make everything so easy. We booked through Globe Trek Holidays, Inc. (A big thanks to them too) and all we practically had to do was confirm and pay for our room. Once we were done with that, all we really had left to do was make sure we’d make it to our ridiculously early flight (5:20 am). We were picked up at the PPS airport, brought to the wharf for our one hour journey to Dos Palmas and all the facilities, kayaking, snorkeling, and the like were for free. All we really had to pay for was our food and, ahem, drinks.
2. Excellent Customer Service
And I mean the-going-beyond-what-is-expected-consistently kind of deal. All smiles from our first minute there to our last. This applies specifically to their servers at the restaurant. We didn’t really get to explore much as we had built a routine during those three days: Room-Pool in the morning (aka Sun Time) – Lunch at the resto – Beach time (aka Sand and Music time) – Dinner time (aka Grown-Up drinks time – Room time ( aka Movie and/or Balcony w A Wonderful View time). The point is the staff members we got to interact with were so accommodating!
Erik from the midshift, yes you, we love you!:p
3. The Food
Prawns. Crabs. Delicious Grilled Chicken. A good buffet for breakfast. Best part? All reasonably priced! Well, may I just add, the buffet breakfast comes with the room package. Free, yes.
And, yes, I’m awful. Why? I didn’t get to take pictures of the food. We were following a strict no-phone-on-the-dining-table rule.
If you go, try their Inasal (Grilled Chicken), Gambas, Prawns, and their Crab with either Coconut Milk or Sweet Chili Sauce. And, yes, we had both. We are now about 5 lbs heavier but who cares when it comes with priceless holiday memories. Okay, we do. Pilates and gym time this week, yep. 🙆😋
4. For its Stillness
Throughout the weekend, we kept wondering where the other guests were. There were times when we felt we were the only ones there, apart from the times we spent at the restaurant.
This place is perfect for couples and families.
My Overall Experience
Because of the specific reasons listed above, I came out of that weekend trip feeling rejuvinated and a lil more ready for the hectic week ahead.
Although it was a quick getaway, it was enough to give us beautiful memories, badly needed for individuals like us who are mostly stuck in the metro. And yes, it was enough for me to conclude that someday, maybe even sooner than expected, I’d find myself there again.
I meant what I said, I have discovered the perfect hideaway!
Thanks GLOBE Trek Holidays, Inc and Dos Palmas Island Resort and Spa for making this amazing weekend possible!
You can contact GLOBE Trek Holidays, Inc.:
GLOBE Trek Holidays, Inc.
Unit -B 322 Villareal St.
Pasay City 1304
Tel: (63-2) 8816558/8335388/8339349
Telefax: (63-2) 8335388
Mobile: (63) 917-8991648
Or contact Dos Palmas Island Resort & Spa:
Contact details are found on their website – dospalmas.com.ph
When one of my best friends asked if I could travel with her after her residency, I said yes right away. Best friends for more than 15 years and this was to be our first trip together, other than our educational tour of asylums during our uni days. It was definitely easy to say yes!
“Where?,” She asked. Well after three trips to Thailand, that was off my list. Indonesia was far too much of a hassle for a quick getaway and brought about slightly unpleasant memories so that was off the list too. Cambodia will always be one of my favorites, but I wanted to see something new. Cambodia off the list as well. I’ve never been a fan of busy cities for holidays so places like Singapore and Hong Kong were off the list too.
“How about Vietnam?” It felt like that was the best option for a quick getaway after the narrowed down list.
And so there we were, with a trip to Vietnam to plan. We had 4 days, 3 nights. After some research, we opted to head over to Ha Long Bay.
Beautiful Ha Long Bay, yes.
1,960-2000 islets, mostly made of limestone. An unknown territory for me. A UNESCO world heritage site; was there even anything else left to consider?
We booked a family room to be shared by my best friend, her sister, and I with Paloma Cruise.
That was all we needed to do, aside from the airline tickets to Hanoi, of course, and our hotel for the night in the said city. Post that, we were counting the days to our trip away.
The Trip to Hanoi and Ha Long Bay
From Manila, we took a Cebu Pacific flight to Hanoi. If my memory serves me right (which normally isn’t the case), it took us three hours to get to Hanoi. Since we got there at midnight and our trip to Ha Long Bay was at 8 am, we had to book a room with Serenity Hotel in the Old Quarters area in Hanoi.
The trip to Ha Long Bay took 3 hours as well from Hanoi. We were happy with the comfortable van ride, especially since I claimed the front seat right away.
Once at the port, we checked in at Paloma Cruise and our beautiful journey began.
A Quick Stop in Hanoi
We really had nothing to see, considering we only had a few hours in the city and we were dead set on resting before our 3-hour van ride.
Filled with bikes and busy roads. That pretty much sums up my experience of the city.
I have to say, though, that staff members at Serenity Hotel were extremely helpful and friendly.
Paloma Cruise: Exploring Ha Long Bay
The minute we caught a glimpse of Paloma Cruise, we knew we had booked with one of the nicest cruises out there. 4 decks, 22 cabins. Beautiful interior design.
Day 1 – Checking in Paloma Cruise
The cruise’s car picked us up at our hotel in Hanoi. Stayed at the Paloma Cruise office by the port to wait for us to get onboard. Took a quick small boat ride to the cruise. Delicious lunch. Trip to the floating village. Sunset party. Vietnamese cooking demonstration. Dinner. And squid fishing (for those who wanted; obviously this list did not include us).
Breakfast on the boat. Transfer to the smaller boat for Lan Ha Bay excursion. Three Peaches beach. Lunch (supposedly on the beach) but we ended up having lunch on the boat that day. Visited a quaint fishing village. Kayaking to find colored jellyfish (where I bid my iPhone goodbye, thanks to my oh-so-efficient waterproof bag). Swimming. Back to the big boat. Sunset Party. Dinner.
Breakfast. Trip to The Amazing Cave. Check out. Back to the wharf. Back to Hanoi.
My Overall Experience
I fell in love with the place. Initially, it was more like a hmm-I’ve-never-been-there-so-why-not kind of mindset towards the place. But that way of thinking was thrown out the window the minute I saw Ha Long Bay. Even more so, when I went onboard Paloma Cruise.
Beautiful. Magical. Romantic (of course when with your SO).
It felt like I was in a place where I’d be forgiven for forgetting the rest of the world. And that is exactly what I did while I was there.
Note to self: I must go back someday!
I hope you fellow Nomads will find your way there, if you haven’t already, someday soon.
I had always known about it; there’s so much beauty up in the northern part of the Philippines. One place I’d always think about was Ilocos, particularly Vigan.
I’ve always been in love with charming old towns and that is definitely the perfect description for Vigan. Before having seen the place, I would often find myself in awe of all the Vigan posts I’d see online.
Cobblestone streets with colonial European architecture. It is no wonder that it has been included in the New7Wonder cities in the world.
With that said, I’d always known I’d go someday given the right opportunity.
That happened over the weekend.
Triple 8 Travel & Tours invited me over to see Vigan and so much more. On their Ilocos package, the route was to be Laoag, Pagudpod, and Vigan.
I immediately said yes and scheduled my weekend getaway to finally see a piece of time in our Philippine history frozen for us to revisit, relive, and enjoy.
It isn’t for the faint-hearted. A tour like this requires an individual willing to be in a very comfortable (dependent on your height of course – lol) van for hours on end.
Here’s the breakdown: 9 hours en route to Vigan. Hours exploring different tourist spots throughout the whole tour. And another 9 hours en route to Manila.
The beauty of it, though, is being able to fit in all the beautiful places you want to see in Ilocos in a span of three days!
The drivers of Triple 8 Travel and Tours are oh-so-friendly and entertaining too!
Oh and for those who are obssessed with Karaoke sessions, may I just share that some vans have karaoke systems built in so make sure to ask for a van that has this, if you want to sing the hours of transit away! Given all passengers give their consent of course.;)
There is sooooo much to see in Ilocos.
Vigan – Calle Crisologo. Hidden Garden. Ruby Jar Factory. Bantay Church Bell Tower. Saint Augustine of Hippo Parish Church/Bantay Church. Chapel by The Ruins. Paoay Church. Malacañang of The North. Paoay Sand Dunes.
It was such a treat to come home to a pretty room like this. Spacious and with customized notes everywhere.
With all that we did on Day 1, I automatically passed out as soon as I found myself in bed.
So what happened on Day 2? Some of my favorite stops, yes!
Pagudpod! Hannah’s Beach Resort/The Blue Lagoon. Kabigan Falls. Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Bantay Abot Cave. White Rock Formation. Bangui Windmills.
We ended day 2 making one of my dreams come true! I’ve always wanted to send some lanterns up in the sky and Raisa and Mark of Triple 8 made it happen for me when they found out! I can’t wait to witness the real lantern festival in Ilocos!
Lanterns up in the sky. Wishes made. That was such a beautiful way to end Day 2.
We left Subli Subli resort at about 8 am and headed to Vigan where we were given 3 hours to explore and have our lunch. Post that we we started our journey back to Manila.
9 hours on the road, yes.
It was quite an adventure to see all the tourist spots in 3 days! For most of us who only have a short period of time to get away though, this is the perfect tour package. You get to witness and experience all that you need to in Ilocos in one quick getaway.
I am so happy to have finally seen part of what makes the northern part of our counrtry beautiful and a peek of what the Philippines was like back in the olden days, a place that shares so much about who we are as Filipinos and how we got here.
Some may frown upon being stuck on the road for hours, but I will have to say that it is worth it at the end of the day.
Beautiful historical and scenic sights, priceless memories.
Thank you Triple 8 Travel and Tours for a wonderful weekend getaway!
Are you ready for your Ilocos adventure?
Spend P2,999 and you get to experience the best that Ilocos has to offer!
Triple 8 Travel and Tours FB: http://www.facebook.com/Triple8Travel
Their site: http://www.triple8travel.com
Their contact numbers:
(0906) 281 6578; (0918) 669 9578; (02) 512 0337 (Manila landline number); (077) 677 1448 (Ilocos landline number)
Oh and when you go, bring loads of sunblock, comfortable travel outfits, swimwear, cameras for all the scenic places, and lots of patience for the long rides in between!
I hope you’ll go for this adventure soon!