Dec 9, 2010

Gingoog City: Climb-turned-roadtrip

Northern Mindanao Solo Roadtrip: Part 1 of 3

November 27, 2010

Sometime July I promised myself that I will visit Camiguin again (my last time there was November 2008), and climb the highest mountain in the island, Mt. Timpoong. However due to the circumstance that I already went there last November 1-2, 2010, I decided to reroute and go backpacking/mountain climbing someplace else instead.

At first, my target destination was just Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental, having been almost there the other time. But then... one dreams of covering as much land area as possible. So my horizon expanded to Butuan City in Agusan del Norte, and even Surigao City in Surigao del Norte.

My 4D3N solo journey in Northern Mindanao started when I boarded a plane bound for Cagayan de Oro on November 27, 2010. Cagayan de Oro, or what we fondly refer to as CDO, is one of the gateways to Mindanao. You can hop on a plane to CDO, land on the northernest airport in Mindanao, and travel your heart out whether by land, by air, or by sea.
Best sunrise ever

Good morning CDO City!
El cheapo travel is a mantra that I am struggling to live by. Having that in mind, I am resolved to avoid any unnecessary expenses... especially airport taxi costs, metered or otherwise. So, whenever I am in CDO, I always commute to and fro the city.

Back here in Manila before the trip, I have been researching on the best breakfast place in town. Whenever I am on an out of town trip, and my arrival is in time for breakfast, I always look for a place where value meets food quality meets ambiance. Cheap hotel breakfast is always a welcome option, but when you see a tapsilugan in town... who could resist?

Opting first for classy breakfast place in Pabayo-Hayes area, I walked about in search for an appropriate place to dine. It's already 6am and the streets still seemed to be a little bit sleepy, with shops closed and alleys empty. Good thing I saw this tapsi place which specifically caters to early birds in want of brekkies. 

It's Tapsi Time!

Hmmm... I remembered I ordered something else but turns out they don't have it so I settled for daing na pusit-silog (php85.00) plus 3in1 coffee (php25.00). Their doors and windows are all glass so you get a full view of the street. By this time the town is slowly waking up, and I can now see people walking, increasing in number as time went by.


Going to Gingoog City
After the hearty breakfast, I then proceeded to Agora Terminal. Buses here ply to Davao, Butuan, Iligan, Bukidnon My destination is Gingoog City, a place where Mt. Balatucan and Mt. Lumot-Sumagaya ranges meet. Butuan-bound bus passes by Gingoog terminal so off I went to the Butuan bus that I first saw. We departed 7:30am, and the CDO-Gingoog fare is php190.00 via Bachelor bus.

After almost several stops and 3 hours of land travel, I arrived at Gingoog City for the first time. The afternoon heat was unbelievable. First thing I noticed in the terminal was the empty Tourist Assistance Center. A big signboard for Gingoog Mountain Air Hotel caught my attention. I have read good reviews for this establishment, and I have heard that the price is a bit higher than standard as well. So I went there to check the area out, room rates, dining and all. Hmmm... the standard single room goes for php900.00 plus. Without seeing the room, I went to the nearest inn that I could find. I already have a place to stay in mind but it still pays to check out everything to get the best deal. No...this "Inn and Out" is not for me. Onward Inn? Another no-no place. Php400 for double accommodation but the place is dusty, unsecured and the bathroom is moldy.

Century Park View

So I had no choice but to go to Century Park View. The inn itself is not very well known so you have to tell the pedicab drivers there to drive you to Ruby Hardware. The rate here is quite steep, Php610.00 on double accommodation (they don't have single), but the room is quite spacious. 

Can you guess what movie I was watching?

There were little problems with the bathroom, but I had it fixed. There were also holes in the bathroom ceiling, and that really creeps me, lest there be voyeurs while I take a crap or a shower.

After settling down, I went out to have lunch, but were distracted by the call of the internet. I surfed for half an hour. After satiating my cyber hunger, I went back to my room to get my umbrella. 

Tourists as cash register$$$ ???
I wandered around the highway in search of useful information regarding my target destination. But first, I need to load myself with cash...not that I am expecting heavy expenses. Afterwhich I walked to the terminal to go to the Tourist Assistance Center that I earlier saw. Getting there, I was told that it was unmanned and will not open till the next few months. I had no choice but to ask around and gather information from the local bystanders. 

I chanced upon a group of men in a parked multicab. A multicab is a small version of our Manila's jeepney, and the main transport in most of the Mindanao area. I started asking questions in broken Visayan dialect, complete with accent to mask my being a Tagalog. Somewhere in between struggling conversation, one of the guys managed to smell the Tagalog in me. "Tagalog ka?" he asked. I reluctantly admitted that I am. He is ready to answer my question on how to get to Badiangon Cold Spring via commute when his fellow tambay signaled and coached him to ask me for Php500.00 special service to Badiangon. I am well researched (well not that well by the looks of it), and I know that that amount is a gross swindle on their part. I stormed off in anger, cursing them as I walked out. I am lucky to ask some locals in the bakery store who directed me on the cheapest way to get there... via a multicab commute for roughly less than Php10.00. The backpacker/mountaineer in me is grossed out by the fact that I was mistaken for a kaching$$$ tourist.

Badiangon Cold Spring
It is not that far from the city proper. A 10-15 minute ride will get you to a waiting shed with signage indicating that you are indeed in the right place.

waiting shed

A local whom I have riden the multicab with, directed me to where the spring is. But before that....

I got curious and tried the mango for php3.00

The place was crawling with people who wants to cool themselves at the springing water out of nowhere. Lol.

cool relief!

I must be a sight to these people, me being alone wearing very unsuitable clothes for the place. I was in my trek pants, and I had a hard time pulling it up lest it be soaked in the water.

At first touch, the water was unbelievably cool despite the afternoon heat! A perfect place to go for family outings, group get-togethers or just like me, chillin solo.

where the spring meets the bay
cool blue sky
desolate beach? me thinks not!
wooden hut goes for php100.00

And of course, I wanted to know what the clamor was all about. Cool. Super cool. Brrrr cool. I wonder where this came from.

I wonder....

Tiklas Falls no more
Before leaving Badiangon, I asked the friendly local whom I met in the multicab for the directions to Tiklas Falls. She said that I should go back to the market, and ride a multicab to "Concepcion", or something like that. I thank her and her busy brother who wouldn't be bothered. 

So off I went back to the market to do as told. But before that, I asked several locals again for directions. They all told me to go to the gasoline station as there is the multicab bound for Tiklas. I was approached by several gawking habal riders as I was interviewing the multicab driver. They've got $$$ looks in them. Kaching-kaching $$$. Well that is one downside of wearing blue-eyes contact lenses. I decided to proceed to the police station instead and ask for assistance. The police there are readily helpful in getting me to Tiklas Falls which is by the way accessible "only" by habal habal according to them. The standard fare is php35.00 one way, and the policemen themselves are the ones who suggested that I should give the riders php100.00 for roundtrip.

Well that could have been easy for me to do, had I not assessed that my resources are not enough for my 3-night backpacking that requires decent accommodation. So again I stormed off angered, walking out before their chief could even finish his sentence. I know that was rude, but I was so pissed with them.
After a tiring and emotionally exhausting afternoon... I went to everybody's favorite fastfood and had a meryenda con lunch of Mango Caramel Ice Craze and small Fries.
nomnom time!

Pahayhay sa Pantalan

Gingoog City is adjacent to Gingoog Bay. It is not a surprise if the city have their own port. Pantalan is a native term for port. Pahayhay... I don't know what that meant. Lol.

I slept after I went back to the inn, which is right after I finished my Jollibee meal. I woke up with no idea of what time is it. I checked my cellphone and it was already past 7pm. I collected myself and went out for dinner. Based on my research, there is a nightly event every  Friday and Saturday at the Pantalan. So I expected that there will be food stalls there where I can have my dinner. I hailed a motorella to take me there. The driver was surprisingly honest in asking for only php5.00, the minimum, where I am the only passenger that he took to Pantalan which is a bit way off the highway.   
Arriving there I cannot help but notice the silence, and the few scrawny food stalls in the area. Looks like there is nothing much today here either. I checked out the stalls, I was very hungry at the time. Lookie what I got....
how to eat the yummy cucumbers? :(

I am still mystified as till today on how those people expect you to eat the cucumbers with a stick. Lol. With that I got the most delish cassava cake I ate.

After I temporarily satiate my hunger, I went to check the dock. There are seats for visitors, which are mostly couples. That explains the question of the motorella driver as to why I want to go there alone. The ambiance is romantic, cool wind in your face, and dim lights with the sound of crashing waves lulling me to sleep again. I stayed several minutes and wandered off in search for places to discover this time of the night.
oh so quiet....

Before leaving the place, I decide to check out the mango stall. I found myself wandering and being drawn to a loud music and warm lights as I munched on the mango I bought. 

ripe mango

Then I realized this must be the town plaza. And I wondered before where could their government be. Had I known that this place exist I should have went here earlier and caught the sunset at the Pantalan. Tsk.

lonely plaza

European Cuisine 
My hunger is manifesting itself by this time. It doesn't want to be ignored. I remembered a place that seems decent when I passed it by earlier on the way to Pantalan. It was along Rizal Street.

I didn't have any of those!

The place was cozy, and what draw me here was the warm lights again. They have European dishes on menu, as displayed on a chalkboard up above the counter. The people frequenting this place seems to be the who's who businessmen in the area. I sat on the counter with the high chair since it is near the telly. I ordered a vegetarian pizza (php65.00) and a mint milkshake (php55.00).

too bad I didn't get to take pic of pizza

I was so full after all my noms that I had my leftovers in a doggy bag... 3/4 of the whole pizza. I dropped by Mercury Drug Convenience Store (beside Jollibee) to buy some things. They are open till 10pm.

I went to my room, moved the bed closer to the telly, and watched Bear Grylls for the first time. Before that, I ensured that the door is locked. Then I had my mandatory precaution whenever possible.

chair on door. check!

Up to sleeping time, I am still undecided on my Mt. Lumot climb the next day. The ordeal I went through with the locals was a big emotional exhaustion for me. It is a big factor in my decision on the road that I will take. Before closing my eyes, I was more than sure that I am going to backpack my way to Surigao City instead.

And from there, I slept with a hope that the morrow will be kinder to me.

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