Siquijor , Island of the Witches or Hidden Paradise?

Growing up, I always here about stories of witchcraft about this Island. Unbeknownst to me and this island is also very beautiful.

After I saw pictures of my former co-worker who is  local of the island and some bloggers, I made a decision to visit it when I have my vacation and last April I finally had that chance.

At first, I was discouraged to find out that transportation to Siquijor from Cebu takes more than 12 hours by boat and will arrive in the island around midnight.

I found out later from a friend that you can either fly to Dumaguete City and take the boat from there or take a bus from Cebu City to Dumaguete (direct) via Oslob and take a slow or fast boat from there.

If you are planing to take a bus from Cebu, you need to go to South Bus Terminal. Take a Ceres Liner that goes directly to Dumaguete City.

We left Cebu City around 7 am in the morning and finally got to Siquijor around 1:30ish pm.  As of this writing, bus fare was about 205 pesos + 75 pesos for the ferry. You can ask the bus conductor to drop you off the port so that you don’t need to take a trike from bus terminal to port again.

From Dumaguete, the fast boat is about 200(economy seat) pesos and will take only 40 minutes and the slow boat is I think about 120 pesos and will take about 1.5 hours – 2 hours.

We had a little problem with our accommodation but that is another story.

After we got settled down, it’s time to see the beauty of Siquijor.

Majority of the Resorts and Guesthouses are located in San Juan area.

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Early morning at beach front of San Juan.

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The Sunset and the boat.

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My not-so-little cousin and the sunset around San Juan

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A panoramic view in front of our apartment.

There are two ways to see the Island, follow the coastal road and go around or take the mountain road and explore the inner Siquijor.

Our group decided to do the coastal tour instead. We rented a multi-cab for day, which is 2000 pesos for the whole day, including driver who was supposed to be also our tour guide but a dear friend from college who is currently working there and who I have not seen for the past 15 years, became our tour guide.

Our first stop was the place called Enchanted tree, which a very big Banyan tree. At the foot of the tree there is a pool of water with fishes that can eat away calluses. Each person has to pay 5 pesos to enter.

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Beautiful Big Banyan (BBB)Tree

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BBB Tree and it’s guest.

Next stop is the beautiful Cambugahay Waterfalls. There is no fee but you need to pay the parking fee for all vehicle.

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We can already see the very blue waters.

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Very very blue. Everybody or the boys took their sweet time swimming here, while me and my friend were just chatting and catching up. There are no cottages or places for rent to leave your things.

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The upper part of the waterfalls, and the last area accessible to the public. The more higher part is closed to the public.

An hour or so later, after we convinced everybody to move, most were getting hungry, we arrived to Salagdoong Beach.

I think we paid about 25 pesos each, to get in and you can rent a cottage if there are available ones. There is also a restaurant but I find them really pricey and the waitress snotty. So if you have your own food, just rent a cottage or two.

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T went to the highest jumping area, and then just jump. It was me who screamed and not the jumper.

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We stayed for most part of the day here. You can also rent a Kayak for 150 pesos/hour. T and my friend had there snorkel so they were out of the water most of the time. By the time we left, everybody have sunburn.

My friend took us to the marine preservation site, free too, but the tide was so low and we found several sea urchin so we decided to call it day and go home. We did found many interesting sea creatures just along the shore.

There are lots of fresh fish and is cheap but unfortunately, the San Juan Market barely had any fresh veggies or fruits. We tried going to the other town of Larena but it was still very expensive.

Majority of the local have their own little farm and use it for there own and the rest of the things they need is bought from Dumaguete City, hence the expensive price.

I was expecting the Island to be abundant with fruits and veggies and more cheaper, but it’s actually more expensive than Cebu.
There are still some areas that are still unexplored and maybe good for snorkeling or diving. So if you plan to visit Siquijor and is staying in one of those apartment-style inn where you can cook, just make sure you get ingredients first in Dumaguete.

It was fun, and I’m glad I went. 1 island down , 7000++ more to go. 🙂

The Rakugo(落語) Experience

Rakugo(落語) , literally mean fallen words. It’s a Japanese style of storytelling.

When a dear friend invited me to her friend’s Rakugo , I was very happy. The price was also discounted, later found out that the seats assigned to us where the one which are normally does not sell, the farthest corner of the hall.

The artist was Katsura, Shunchou and it was his 20th Anniversary as a story teller. I thought that maybe it will last for only an hour or so, but it lasted more than 4 hours and during that period, I laughed , cried and was moved by the emotion he put into the story telling.

The second part of storytelling was about a letter or lyrics that a father once wrote and was found by his son after his death. Instead of just reading it, Katsura-san decided to sing it for us.

The title : 手紙~親愛なる子供たちへ(A Letter – A Parents Love for a Child).

There are lots of emotional part of the lyrics but my dear friend who is a parent could not hold it any longer and was sniffing and sobbing beside me.

During the part where it says: ” When I could no longer stand up or tie my shoes.. please Lend me your hand.” The tears just decided to come out and would not stop.

By the end of the song, my friend and I were a mess.

The third story was about Ertuğrul Fırkateyni, a Turkish ship which was caught by a storm at the coast of Wakayama Prefecture around 1890 . The boat sank but 69 survivors where rescued and nurse back to health by the resident of the island. The 69 sailors were safely returned to Turkey and vowed that this kindness will never be forgotten.

This promised was fulfilled during the Iran Crisis in 1985, when 200 Japanese were rescued by Turkey and was safely brought back home.

I don’t know why, but this story made me cry. I guess I was so moved by a 100 year-old promise that was kept.

To be moved liked this, Katsura-san is a really good story teller. I guess you will not stay in this business for 20 years if you don’t have talent.

It was definitely a nice afternoon spent with friends and tears :).

Have you ever been to a Rakugo? How was it?

Hiking through Mt. Jubu

Early autumn Mr.R organized another fun hike from Ujitawara going through Mt. Jubu all the way to Kasagi. Well that was the plan, let’s find out if we made it all the way to Kasagi.

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Approaching the entrance to the mountain through this little temple.

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The name. Can you read it? Sorry I can’t.

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On our way to the summit of Mt. Jubu.

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The back of the “Golden Fetus Temple” based on our literal translation of the Kanji.

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A small pagoda, with Miss K 🙂

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These two were supposed to be my temple models. Can’t seem to get a good shot of them.

A few minutes later we got to the summit had our lunch and short rest.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GbmcONnisEU Here is a short video taken by Mr.RB (outdoorholic) of Mt. Jubu’s summit

After lunch it was decided that we will take the “interesting” way down to the mountain. It was an exhilarating experience that made my knees weak and shaking.

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We ended up at the end of the trail and all I could see is this boulder of rock. Mr.R told us that the waterfall is just below this cliff but I could not find a way down until he pointed this ..

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This is the way down. As soon as I saw this, my first thought was “I’m too young to die.” Okay, I’m exaggerating but I was scared to hell but it do our turn around alone.

I could not take some decent picture of our decent as my hand were busy grabbing the roots and rock and holding out for my dear life 🙂 but as soon as I reach a more safer area, I was able to get a shaky picture of these two , having fun. Boys 🙂

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As soon as we reach the bottom , Mr. R lead us to this boulders of rocks and we are supposed to pass through it. Don’t worry I did not have any problem passing through it 🙂
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Of course Mr. R was there to lend a helping hand so nothing to worry about.

We finally reached the “Thousand Hands Waterfall”.

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At this point my knees were like jelly, I was really surprised I did not fall on my face. It took a lot of control and concentration to command each part of my body not to give up on me.

A little later, we reach Tea Planet again 🙂

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So the question now, did we reach Kasagi? Well, the 3 girls did not through walking but by train.

After we reached foot of the mountain, S had a big blister, P had to go back to Osaka for some other appointment. So the group decided to just walk to the bus stop passing through the tea plantation and catch the bus to Kamo Station.

On our way we took a short detour and admire this very old tree.

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Sorry I forgot the name of the tree or how old it was.

When we reach Kamo Station , the boys decided to call it a day and us girls decided to travel all the way to Kasagi and enjoy the onsen.

All in all, it was a really great adventurous day. Going back if we decided which route to take again, I definitely will still choose the route we took. Of course, it will depend upon the group but with this group, definitely.

Thank you guys for a great day and to Mr. R for organizing and help. 🙂

Till the next adventure.

Summer 2014: The Dam Adventure

The next morning during breakfast we finally met with Miss I who arrived in Matsumoto a few days ahead of us. After a few minutes of discussion, it was decided that we will visit Kurobe Dam, which is considered to Japan’s highest dam.

Miss I drove us around and took a really great route to Kurobe Dam. The parking area were full so we had to park a few minutes away , where we could take a bus to the top. Then from there, we well take the electric operated bus all the way to the entrance of the Dam.

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The electric operated bus that will take you to the entrance of the dam itself.

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Noticed the electric cable attached to the back of bus?

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We took the route that will take us to the top to have a better view of the dam and it’s surrounding.

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Even on summer, the nearby mountains still have snows on them.

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The dam.

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We were able to get closer.

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Watching it on top, we saw a rainbow.

Y and I took a short walk around the dam, while Miss I and Mr.G decided to take the cable car to the top.

Took a panoramic view of the place. It was really beautiful.
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A view from the dam itself.

If you ever find yourself in the area, I definitely suggest visiting the dam itself. It was great work during the time in Japan where technology was still in it’s infancy. A real work of Japanese ingenuity that will hopefully stay on and continue for future generations.

Summer 2014 : To Matsumoto We go !!!

It was Miss I who actually gave us the idea to visit Matsumoto as she had live there for several years. Since Y and I did not really have a definite plan for the summer , why not right ? 😀

So after our lunch at Nagoya Station, we boarded the train bound for Natsukagawa and from there change to another train for Matsumoto. It was about 3 hours train ride all the way to our final destination.

We both wanted to read and relax in the train but I think the excitement of seeing a new place is getting me all hyped, I can’t concentrate on reading. So taking pictures instead.

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A town we passed.

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Nakatsugawa Station. Took a short stroll outside to find some manhole 🙂

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Mountain and rice field.

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More mountains.

By late afternoon, we finally arrived in Matsumoto City. First thing first, we need to find our guesthouse, find an onsen and food. In that particular order.

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Naruto characters ?

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We are in Matsumoto !!

After we got settled in the guesthouse, we were able to borrow bicycle and it’s onsen time. Base on the guesthouse staff recommendation, we went to Menoyu(目之湯) in Asama Onsen. It was very hot and humid during our stroll in Nagoya, that the thought of soaking our very tired body is amazing. The temperature has cooled down significantly in Matsumoto and we had the rotenburo all to ourselves.

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Menoyu

After onsen, now its time to feed our tummy. Of course, when you are in Matsumoto, you have to try Soba or buckwheat noodles. The owner of the onsen, a nice old man, pointed us to a nearby place which is also a favorite among the locals there.

It was a soba feast. A few minutes later Y and I finished all our food.

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Soba Tempura.


Soba ( I forgot the name )

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The Soba Place.

Onsen, Dinner and adventure. It was a great day indeed. When we finally made back to to our guesthouse, both of us are ready for bed. As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out and the next thing I know , the sun was shining. A new day has started and of course a new adventure. 🙂