Travel Blog

Amazing Journey to Nepal

Amazing Journey to Nepal
By Victor Zapanta Manlapaz

Nepal is an amazing country to visit, not just for the sheer beauty of the panorama of the Himalayan mountain ranges, but for the peace and spirituality of its people. I will forever be grateful to the friends I made during my stay in Kathmandu, especially to Ganesh Dharel and Badri Prasad Aryal, who were not just my guides on my trip, but my constant companions along with me along the way. My trip would not have been half as enjoyable without their help!

I began my journey with a few days in Kathmandu, staying at Hotel Friends – the #1 rated value hotel according to the TripAdvisor write ups – and when I return, I look forward to staying there again. Endless rows of shops selling all kinds of mountaineering and trekking equipment as well as Nepalese arts and crafts, t-shirts, bags, cashmere and pashmina shawls are just a few minutes away from the hotel – you will ALWAYS find what you are looking for, and you will NEVER run out of shops to visit. Food is always good and VERY affordable. My regular meals were bowls of Nepalese fried rice or noodles, which were, on the average, 200 Nepalese rupees – believe it or not – only US$2. (My most expensive meal was 700 rupee or $7!) And when I say bowls, I mean servings as big as what Filipinos would consider 3 cups of rice. (Sulit!) Of course, aside from the endless rows of shops in the Thamel district where I was situated, I also got to visit the ancient cities, towns, and temples in and about Kathmandu – don’t forget to pay visits to Changunarayan, Bhaktapur, and Patan Durban Square for that old world feel.

But definitely the highlight of the trip was the 5 day, roughly 50 kilometer or more(!) trek from the airport city of Lukla (2,860m above sea level) to the upland town of Namche Bazar (3,440m) and back again. Namche Bazar is also a town of good friends, good food, and a warm place to stay for the night, as well as a popular stop where one can pick up any last minute items on the way to the Everest Base Camp (5,364m), in itself another 4 days of hiking. For the serious adventurer, it would take you another 30-45 days to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak at 8,840 meters above sea-level! Whether you choose to go all the way to Everest, the base camp, or simply to Namche Bazar, it is a journey you will never regret. Along the way, you will hike across endless valleys, snow-covered mountain ranges, hanging bridges, rivers, and death-defying drops! You will also meet many other trekkers along the way, both young and old (81 years old!) from all regions of the world! Don’t forget to greet each traveller with a friendly “Namaste”, a greeting of peace and a way of honoring the kindness and the kindred spirit in the other. Take time to stop by some of the temples and turn the “Mane” wheels three times for positivity and prosperity! Pick up a Tibetan Singing Bowl for only 1300 rupees (USD$13 depending on the size) which would be a great way to bring home some of the spirituality of the Himalayan people – the bowl is made of a copper-bronze metal that when stirred with a wooden pestle, creates a calming, soothing sound used in meditations to help clear one’s mind and ward off negative energies. Ohm Mane Padme Hum is the mantra of the Nepalese people to foster in themselves and in others the spirit of kindness, oneness, and peace. Walking through the trees of the forests in this region will always be one of the most amazing memories of my life – just make sure to bring a little bit of food to eat along the way! One can also buy fruits – apples bananas oranges from the Nepalese women selling these near Namche Bazar. Eat a heavy breakfast, and bring a full water bottle for your trip. Enjoy the lunch breaks – you will need those 3 cups of rice or noodles for your long trek – especially good if served with grated cheese – my favorite meal of my trip. Wear comfortable shoes! Rubber shoes are fine, but weather and rainproof footwear would be better – even though on my trip it never rained once – clear blue skies all the way! Also make sure to bring many layers of jackets and clothing. A good sweater, gloves, cap, and scarf are a must – as well as a thick, padded winter jacket for the early mornings and late evenings where the temperature can drop to below zero. Otherwise, you can remove layers of clothing as the weather gets warmer. Travel light! Only bring what you are willing to carry yourself over 50 kilometers of uneven terrain – just a few extra shirts will do as you are bound to purchase a few things here and there along the way anyway. There are so many things to see and do in Nepal. So you can simply just do what I did – throw caution to the wind and just enjoy every step of the way – you won’t regret it.

Mr. Victor Zapanta Manlapaz, 39 years old, self-employed, loves traveling and community service. He availed a full service travel product arranged by Wayfair Tours called “10Days Nepal Himalayan Hike package”.

An Ilocos Treat!

AN ILOCOS TREAT!
By Marites Pastorfide, Sales Manager

Trip to Pannzian Resort, Ilocos Norte and City tour of North and South ILOCOS

Left Manila at 9:30 p.m. aboard a special trip by Farinas Bus with two shorts stops; we arrived in Pannzian Beach and Mountain Resort at 7:30 am. Normal bus ride will take 12 hours.

You will love the smell of nature fresh air from the forest. Excitement has begun after seeing the beach on your West and the mountains on the other side where there are farmers plowing the rice fields at the feet of the mountain and you will see the rich greens towards the top, slowly being covered with clouds.

Their head waitress, Manang Upeng a native of Ilocos welcomed us.

Manang Upeng suggested a sumptuous breakfast eating fried rice, Vigan Longanisa(local sausage) and Bagnet(Especially preserved fried pork), American breakfast like bacon and egg are also available.

Pannzian Beach and Mountain Resort is now owned by the family of Ortega & Sta. Maria. The family’s siblings are managing it, headed by the original “Ading” Ms. Bing Ortega-Alonzo. Boasting from a a 50-hectare property including the stretch of beach to the mountain where the rice field and other crop bearing trees in the springs are included. Situated at the northernmost tip of western Luzon, last town of Ilocos Norte before the boundary to Cagayan Valley. It faces the Luzon Strait, the meeting point of the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. It has been used by several celebrities for movie shooting.

You can do a lot of activities in the area:

Day One: First, walk around the resort and beside the beach and Swim in front of the Pannzian beach.

Day two: Went to the nearby Maira-Ira White and Sand Beach. After a 20 minutes Jeepney ride and 15 minute tricycle ride. It was worth the trip seeing the breath-taking view of the fine white sand and blue-green waters of Maira-Ira beach. We paid P20 per person to the tricycle white one mini-cottage is P50 to the care taker where she welcomes and guides you about the current of the beach and acts as the life guards as well.

Day Three: In the morning, we were accompanied by the little boys as they try to go fishing in the mini-fish pond located near the beach. They had the hard time because they could not catch worm bait in the area. The big boys can do the professional fishing in front of the beach after a boat ride where one of the biggest catch so far is a 35-kilo Blue Marlin.

In the afternoon, we put on our rubber shoes, and went on trekking at the mountain fronting the resort. A professional climber or the local residents there can accomplish the trekking in 15 minutes but beginners like us will take about 30-minutes or more. We started passing through the muddy rice field, then to the wet forest, smelling the fresh wild trees and plants of the forest, passing several rivers and running waters. After sliding twice, few cuts from the trees and aching legs, finally we reached the clean cold spring of the mountain which they said to be medicinal. We took a cold bath coming from the fresh waters of the mountain for around 20 minutes and begun to go down again. This time, starting with the smallest member of the group (a grade four student) to the oldest at the back. Arriving at the foot of the mountain full of mud, we could not be happier realizing that we can accomplish minor mountain climbing!

Day Four: We woke up at 4:30 am so we can catch a Catholic mass at the St. Jude Taddeo Church at 7:00 am. It was a 45 minute ride to the Pagudpud Town. The mass was in Ilocano (Local Dialect) so we read the read the readings in English before the mass. It was an old church in the middle of Ilocano Village where a local resident receives a mass once in two weeks. Good thing the homily is given in English by the priest.

Went back to the resort around 9am, had a hearty brunch. We went to a 10-minute Jeepney ride and 45 minutes motorbike ride to visit the Adam’s Valley Village. After crossing 7 mountains, 4 hanging bridges, we reached the municipality of Adam’s Valley, visiting their Mayor’s residence, their view deck overlooking the valleys and mountains of Adams, seems like the hills of the Sound of Music, (the Movie!) We then proceed to big river and experience a 10 feet dive and swim with the strong current of the river, assisted by the local tour guides. Mountaineers can also do rock and mountain climbing is some parts of the area.

We went back to the resort had a late lunch, visited the Pannzian View Deck, overlooking the whole town of Pannzian, full view of the beach and the mountain. Beside the View Deck is the boundary of Ilocos and Cagayan Valley.

Dinner at the resort’s Ka-Yo Restaurant, where you can also enjoy a karaoke operated by using a token. This is a restaurant that offers fresh catch of the day and greens from their own garden, and seafood’s depending on the season. The tables and chairs are made from the trunk. It is an also attraction for several international and local tourist giving themselves a treat for a special meal and a special place.

Day Five: “ILOCOS CITY TOUR”

This time, we are headed to view the top Ilocos’ tourist spots.

First stop Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, very old but still operating. We call its care taker, “Manong Richard”. A top of the Lighthouse is a spectacular view of the cliff where actor Richard Gomez and actress Dawn Zulueta used the place for shooting for the movie “Hangang sa Dulo ng Walang Hangang”.

Ilocos is also popular with beautiful, old Spanish Churches and of course the hometown of the former President Ferdinand Marcos and the Marcos Family.

We went to Laoag Shrine, a sinking church, Surprisingly a lovely church from outside and when we entered inside, it was more beautiful, the altar, the podium at the back area where the priest used to give their sermon. It was designed with the Christmas décor and the aisle is decorated with white flowers for a wedding ceremony.

Then we proceeded to the famous wedding church of Irene Marcos-Araneta, Sta. Monica Church, located at Sarat. A church build with brown bricks, inside was huge ceiling and back podium are designed with big and long trees. There is also a provision for a church reception, where Irene and Greggy Araneta had their reception. The whole area was decorated with white flowers and including the front street, the residents painted their houses with white and it was also decorated with white flowers. There was a funeral service going on when we visited. We made a wish and left at once.

We made a quick stop at Fort Ilocandia Resort, build through the efforts offormer firs lady Imelda Marcos, part of her beautification projects used for entertaining VIP’s, then the property after taken over by the government.

On the way to Paoay Church, we viewed the Paoay Lake where the residence of Ex-President Marcos beside the lake is located, believed to be a mini-Malacanang.

Arriving at Paoay Church you can’t help but be fascinated by its beauty, how old and big it is that trees and plants are already growing in its walls. Build during 1593, outside is a spectacular view with its bell tower on the side, used by the Filipino Katipuneros (rebels) during the Spanish time as their observation point. This time, there is Christening service going on. What a coincidence!

5pm we arrived at Batac, the residence of Congresswoman Imee Marcos. We saw first the lovely church of Batac, and then visited the Batac Museum where some of the memorabilia and the museleo of former Pres. Marcos are found. His body lies there below a wax made replica of his body.

Then, we went to the exiting place of Vigan, famous for its lovely Cathedral, Villages, Old Spanish Houses, food, weaving products and wood furniture.Arriving there we had romantic Kalesa Ride (horse carriage vehicle) around the area. Passing through the park full of people, enjoying the ambience, the food in the streets like Empanada (local pastry), Bibingka (rice pastry) etc. then to the Vigan Cathedral, a shopping street, another old church, then to the popular Crisologo Street, where the old Spanish Houses are located where the first floors are converted into novelty shops of antique wooden upholstery and Ilocos Made woven hats, blankets, fans etc.

Finally, we had a late dinner at Oasis Restaurant and Resort, La Union at 9:30 p.m.

We arrived at Manila at 2 a.m.

Other useful information :

How to get at Pannzian Beach and Mountain Resort:

  • From Manila, Philippine Airlines will bring you to the Laoag International Airport in 45 minutes. Or just call Wayfair Tours and we will do all the travel preparations for you.
  • There is also an 8-12 hour Bus trip by Farinas, Maria Deleon, Florida, Partas and RCJ Bus companies, buses can be hired also for special trips. Their terminals are found in España and Cubao. Making early reservations are highly suggested

For those who have their own transportation, here is the route:
From Metro Manila, take the North Diversion Road to the national highway. This should lead you straight up to Ilocos Norte (about an eight-hour drive through the provinces of Pampanga Tarlac, Pangasinan, La Union, and Ilocos Sur).

Cebu an unforgettable experience

Cebu an unforgettable experience
by Ahlet Silva/Wayfair Tours Accounting Staff

Cebu is known as the “Queen city of the South”. We had the privilege of experiencing Cebu’s well known southern hospitality when we visited the place on June 05, 2009. Me and my husband went there for a much deserved vacation/honeymoon. We arrived there on the morning of June 5 th , took a cab to go to our hotel. After arriving at the hotel, we settled down and unpacked our luggage right away. We went to one of their local malls to have our lunch and also had a brief walk around the city to familiarize ourselves with the directions. We went back to our hotel took our camera and ask the front desk to give us a map of the city’s tourist spots. Our first stop was the Sto. Niño de Basilica shrine.

We took some pictures there and marveled at its beauty and saw how the “Cebuano’s” protect their treasures. We were also exposed at how religious the people are. There were a lot of devotees at the church during that time. We had the chance to talk with one of the tourist there and told us of her devotion of visiting the place every year to give respect to the Sto. Niño.

Our next stop was the world famous Magellan’s cross. We were really excited to see the place personally and to find out for ourselves how beautiful and historical it was.

While snapping some pictures a local lady approach us and offered to say a prayer for our wishes and intentions. After that we took a moment to say our own prayer. The sun was almost setting when we went to one of their local markets to buy some souvenirs and pasalubong for our friends and love ones. After buying what we wanted, we headed back to our hotel to end our field trip. When we got to our room we checked our camera to see the pictures we have taken. We ordered our dinner from room service and after eating took a quick bath to freshen up. It was at eight in the evening when we decided to go to sleep to rest our tired bodies and prepare for the next day’s adventures.

Day 02 – June 06, 2009 “WELCOME TO BOHOL”

We rode a ferry from Cebu to reach our next destination, Bohol. When we arrived at the port, the tourist guides were already waiting to show us the beauty of the city.

We boarded the car and started our trip by visiting the blood compact monument. We were given a brief talk of its historical importance to our country. The sea at the back of the site was very beautiful as well. We took some pictures there then proceeded to our next destination. Along the way we stopped because we came across a small house that was keeping the world’s smallest primate, the tarsiers. We went in and saw the tiny creatures and was amazed at how cute they were. We had a chance to feed them with some worms that were being sold by the locals running the place. Of course, we did not miss the opportunity to take souvenir photos of the tarsiers alone and some with us. We continued with our trip to see the pride of Bohol, the Chocolate Hills.

We came across a highway which was like Baguio’s zigzag road that was surrounded by mahogany trees. According to the tourist guide the trees were all planted by the residents using their bare hands which was truly amazing. It was almost lunch time when we finally arrived at the chocolate hills. We were in awe of how many and how beautiful they were. As we asked ourselves how they got there and how they were formed, the tourist guide shared to us a short folk tale about its origin. She said that the hills represented the breasts of the goddesses who once lived in the place. And also that they change color depending on how the sun would shine over them. After taking pictures of its natural beauty, we moved on to our next stop which was, the Loboc river.

When we got there , we immediately boarded one of their local ferry boats which was made of bamboo. As the boat started to sail along the majestic loboc river, we were informed that the buffet lunch was to be served also. The menu was made up of Bohol’s local dishes. Because we were already hungry with the initial stops that we made, we indulged each other with their delicious food. As we were eating, a local singer started to serenade us with their traditional songs that was unique to us.
Along the way we stopped at a tribe of aetas in the place. We got off the boat and mingled with them, took pictures and watched them perform tribal dance. We returned to the boat and headed back to the port. As our journey continued the tourist guide brought us to a famous store to buy some souvenirs and pasalubong. That was the last stop of our trip and we were accompanied to the hotel that we were to stay at.
The hotel was very nice at the same time it was located at the beach front of Panglao resort. We checked in to our room to put down our luggage’s and to rest for a while. After an hour we went down to the beach and walked along the shore which was made up of white sand. We admired its beauty and enjoyed the fresh air around us. As we watched the sunset, we were reminded of how simple and quiet life is in the province. It was also very romantic for both of us to be in that moment.

We returned to the hotel to take a short dip in the pool and have our dinner. We went upstairs to go to our room, took a shower and went to bed. We wake up early the next day to arrange our things and prepared to go home.

It was sad that we had to leave the place and end our stay in paradise. The three days we spent touring around those two very different cities was very memorable and will never be forgotten for the rest of our lives.