Hotels

Second (and Definitely Last!) Stay at Selvina’s Hotel, Sorsogon City

I was debating with myself whether or not to still post this because I really regretted our second stay at Selvina’s Hotel in Sorsogon City. Just thinking about it now is still upsetting even though it’s been a month. It’s such a shame because I raved about this hotel during our first stay, that experience was a far cry from the second time we were there. So what happened, Selvina’s?

First, let’s start with the good points. Same as before – they have good firm beds, the room has a terrace (dirty by the way), complementary coffee and toiletries. List ends there.

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Now, the upsetting part.  First of all, there was no personnel manning the reception and we rang the bell many times. We took the liberty to fetch someone from their resto or we would have spent hours waiting in vain at their reception area. This employee who checked us in acted like she did not expect us. She stared at the confirmation booking for too long without actually having an idea which room to put us in, like looking at a complicated puzzle and no idea how to solve it. So, maybe she’s not the receptionist. After all, she was fetched from the resto. Still, any decent establishment that dares call itself a hotel needs a receptionist. And still, it’s more than a bit awkward for the guest because they made us feel like an inconvenience for them. Something I mind a bit when I’m paying more when I could have spent a lot less elsewhere if I’m just getting lousy service.

One more thing, their cleaning lady (who arrived, I assume, to assist Ms. Clueless) was rude. She made a rude remark after I asked if the room was on the second floor. Something about “Duh, of course all our rooms are on the second floor” but in Sorsoganon dialect. Ok, I was tired and the important thing was we finally checked in, so I let that pass.

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You can see the highway from the terrace

It got worse, the A/C in the room was very noisy and unable to cool the entire room. Summer here in the PH has a reputation for getting really nasty hot so I was already contemplating of complaining at the front desk. But thinking there was probably nobody manning the front desk again anyway, I decided against it. Instead, we went out to visit my parents, put the A/C on timer to run for two more hours and hoped that it will eventually cool down by night time when we got back.

The heat wasn’t as bad at night and we were able to sleep. The room they put us in had a queen bed and a single bed. I expected just one queen bed, just like the one we booked on our first stay, but since they really did not know what they were doing, gave us the wrong room. I should be grateful for the extra space, but I really would much rather have the room we first stayed in because it had a functioning air conditioning unit.

So maybe you’re thinking it wasn’t that bad. You’d be wrong. They cut the water supply of the hotel at 10:00 in the morning! Without so much as a warning. Can you believe a hotel cutting the water supply on their guests? Were they even aware that they still had guests to begin with? Fortunately, we woke up and showered early but what if we didn’t? We’d be stinking and all thanks to them. The pseudo receptionist mumbled some poor excuse of a water leak or something but not even an apology. What kind of operation are they running blah blah blah? (BLAH because I. Have. No. Words. and Blah because that’s how I feel about this hotel now. How was my stay? BLAH.)

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The outdated bathroom where we could have missed a shower if we happened to wake up late the next morning

So, against my better judgement, I am posting this to mark my second and DEFINITELY LAST STAY at this hotel.

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Food

24 High St. (Triangulo, Naga City)

Hi guys! I’m happy to report that this is my third post for the month of April and I think I’ve outdone myself in the posting department. As another blogger friend, Anne, told me just weeks ago, even if I come up with only one post per month, the important thing is to not give up. Thanks a lot for cheering me on Anne! Means a lot! ❤

So, last Monday after office hours, I went out with two of my friends from work, Irene and Arleyn, who took me to this new food barn in Naga City called 24 High St. It was really nice and thoughtful of them to ask me to eat out just because they thought I could use it for my blog. Well, the place is blog worthy anyway, so why not?

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Ooops, the drinks are almost gone but where are the burgers???

24 High St., located in Brgy Triangulo,  is easy enough to find and not just because of the classic VW Beetle which was hoisted and placed about 12 feet from the ground as landmark but because it is just at the back of St. Joseph School and very near Bicol Access Health Centrum. However, it is not included in the jeepney route so you will need to take a tricycle to get there (fare is Php8.00 per person).

Inside the food barn are several food stalls selling assorted food and drinks from barbeque, chicken, noodles, coffee, fruit juices, soda, french fries, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, nachos and even lechon belly. There is even a bar that sells beer and other alcoholic beverages.24 high st naga city 10

I ordered from the stall of a coffee shop called Single Ancestry. I was in a less than adventurous mood that time and I already know this shop so I got the Matcha Over Ice which is a sweet green tea milk drink and the Shrimp Pesto Pasta. To be honest, the Matcha Over Ice was delicious but a bit too milky for my taste. I should remember to ask for more green tea and less milk next time.

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Matcha Over Ice (Php100.00)

The pasta was delicious as well. They did not scrimp on the pesto sauce and the black olives balanced the nutty flavour of the dish. The only let down maybe was the shrimps being on the small side, and oh, the portion was not a lot. I could eat two servings, and I eat like a bird.

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Shrimp Pesto Pasta (Php146.00)

My two companions were just there a few days before and Irene really liked the Hong Kong Style Noodles that she ordered again and the black gulaman drink. I liked this noodle too since I used to have this for lunch or snack when I was still working in Manila. It included two pieces of siomai and crunchy mung bean sprouts topped with sauces (teriyaki, soy sauce, chilli garlic, etc.) that is added according to your taste.

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Hong Kong Style Noodles
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Black Gulaman

Arleyn had the Watermelon Shake from Single Ancestry, which she said was really refreshing, and the Burger Platter with three small burgers (cute pink buns), nachos and fries. The taste of the food on this platter was satisfying but I think the portion was just enough to feed two people, not three. It’s a shame I do not remember the name of this stall that sold the burgers but I remember clearly that it took them almost an hour to prepare and serve the food. So, service was sluggish.

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Watermelon Shake (Php65.00)

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The ambience of the place though is really nice. Even though there were a lot of people that time and they were showing something on the big TV screen and playing relaxing music at the same time, we were still able to hear ourselves talking. When night time came, even more people began to arrive, mostly students and yuppies. The atmosphere of the place was warm and friendly. 24 high st naga city 924 high st naga city 11

Over all, we had a nice time eating, chatting and just spending quality time to talk about everything under the sun (Yes, you can actually hear yourself talk). I hope 24 High St. will continue to grow and improve to become a top foodie destination in Naga City.

 

Everything Else

Summer Feels from our Garden

How do we know it’s summer in the PH? For one, the sun feels really hot outside that I need to use my umbrella even in the morning, the usually cold A/C can barely be felt anymore because it is just way too hot. Summer is here, and it cannot be denied when it’s all over the TV – special features about where to go this summer like beaches, spring pools, resorts and just about every activity that families and adventure-seekers can do this season. Even in our office, people are already planning the (mandatory) summer get-away where it is conveniently called “team building.”

For me though, summer means the garden will come back to life again. Like right now, flowers are all in bloom which is a real nice view to wake up to every morning.DSC00520DSC00521

The impatiens and periwinkle always go together rather nicely in our plant boxes  located outside of the fence.   DSC09930DSC00233

But wait, the bougainvilleas will not be outdone. They have been boring and flowered sporadically for the past months but they are finally coming out!DSC00505DSC00570DSC00509

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My little model is always up for this =)

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This summer is also the first time our cacao tree yielded its first fruits and hopefully the summer sun makes the fruit really sweet. We plan to roast the beans and make them into tsokolate or tableya after. DSC00498

Yesterday, I came home after work and harvested these eggplants. Our eggplant “tree” is about 6 feet tall already. It grew so tall because it has to compete with other plants to catch the sun’s rays. It has been around for so long, around three years maybe, and every time we try to cut it, it just yields more fruits/veggies. So I guess it has amazing survival tactics lol.DSC00500

And the good old herbs – basil, mint, rosemary, chili peppers…DSC00506DSC00526

Not everyone is aware that due to the implementation of the TRAIN Law in the Philippines, additional taxes have been imposed on the consumers and everything has been getting more expensive than ever now, especially food items. Food should be affordable for everyone as a matter of principle, but our lawmakers obviously think otherwise. What real schmucks they turned out to be. So, why not grow our own food right at home? I have started by putting these green onions in soil so we don’t need to buy anymore. It’s a small start but it’s a start.DSC00511

So there goes the start of my summer feels. I finally know it’s summer when the garden feels and looks like this, as it should. It’s summer!

Thanks for reading! Have a happy weekend ahead =)

Hotels

F2M Tower (Legazpi City, Albay)

Hello there! I’m glad to be back after almost three months of no activity here in my blog. It made me a bit sad and guilty at the same time that I have neglected my blog for that long but I’ve been busy and had some things that required my attention. One thing is for sure, I have made it a point to visit other people’s blogs and read a bit before I go to bed every night so that I still feel in the loop although my own blog has been a bit forlorn lately due to my lack of post haha.

Anyway, I just would like to share with you guys that we have taken yet another trip to Albay and Sorsogon City last week, which happened to be a holiday here in the PH (Holy Week). We’ve been doing this since I’ve moved to Naga City about five years ago to see my parents in Sorsogon. I wish we had a car so we could have taken a lot of detour and see places off the beaten path. That would have made a lot of stories for some worthwhile blog posts. But since we had to take a commuter van (UV Express), we couldn’t do this.  What I can do however, is to share with you our hotel experience during our stay at F2M Tower in Legazpi, Albay.

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The lobby at F2M Tower

When we arrived at Legazpi City Terminal, we just walked for a few minutes and after asking around where F2M Tower was, we finally found it beside Pacific Mall (Gaisano). Check in was a breeze since their staff knew right away who we were and did not even ask for a copy of the confirmation booking. I like it when hotels are efficient and their staff are polite and competent.

When we opened the door to our room, the air felt so fresh and it smelled really nice, like you know right away the room is clean. Yoy and Julienne liked it a lot.  F2M has only 6 rooms that they rent out and I was told by Jho (the staff who checked us in) that their concept is that of a condotel. So there are no staff to cater to your needs after their office closes, but it doesn’t matter when it is located in the heart of Legazpi. Whatever you need, you can just buy from the mall that is just a few steps away.

The bed was really nice and white. The sheets smelled and felt fresh (Ok, I’ve been saying that a lot lol). F2M TOWER LEGAZPI CITYDSC00317

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The faces she makes these days!

Now, let’s  check out the bathroom. It’s real clean too (almost immaculate in my opinion). It was a pleasant surprise how everything was thought of and furnished. There were towels available, hot/cold shower worked, there was a soap dispenser and a hair dryer. F2M TOWER LEGAZPI CITY 3DSC00312DSC00313DSC00315

There was also a water heater, utensils and a mini refrigerator inside the room.DSC00320

I liked the mirror of the closet’s sliding door so I took a selfie (Gaaaaahh!). Not posting this on Facebook, just here.DSC00299DSC00301

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In the evening, Yoy and I had one  bottle of beer each over a plate of sisig that we bought near 101 Mall while the little girl enjoyed her Vitamilk (don’t worry she’s not drunk in this picture, just tired lol)

Over all, I liked it. It was the cleanest budget hotel we’ve stayed in in Legazpi City. And to better get your money’s worth, try online booking for promos and to get discounts.

Summer is here and a lot of people are going on out of town trips. I hope you will find this post useful! =)

 

 

Places

KAWAKAWA NATURAL PARK (LIGAO, ALBAY)

The beginning of the rainy season can now be felt here in Bicol, even though the heat is still the same as if summer is not quite ready to leave just yet. The rain falls every now and then, at the most unexpected times, as if to mourn the death of our soldiers who fought hard in battle to keep the peace and to protect the innocent in Marawi. God bless them. And as the country is torn and heartbroken over the war waged by the terrorists against the government and its people, I myself don’t feel the enthusiasm to urge people to travel and have a fun time just now.

However, I would like to introduce a place that is great for introspection. A peaceful place that can be a solace for troubled minds. In this time of turmoil for my country, we need to find that peace within ourselves, to extend our hands to God for comfort. Below are the photos of my visit to Kawakawa Natural Park in Ligao, Albay some years ago. It is a place I can think of that made me feel so near to God before, even though God is really within us all in the first place.

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“Welcome to this famous hill without a hilltop” the marker says. The locals have told us that Kawakawa Hill is so named because the shape of its crater  is easily likened to a “kawa” or a wok being used for cooking.

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Every summer is the right time to visit to witness hundreds of sunflowers while in bloom. Unfortunately, when friends and I went there they have just harvested the flowers a few days ago, which then left us with only a few blooms to enjoy.543242_447582698591974_1930491131_n554638_447581715258739_103050721_n536653_447583481925229_1140660211_n

The view from the top was so relaxing that I can easily see myself retiring and living in such a place. There is something about being in a high place that is uplifting to the spirits as well. I remember instantly feeling better.576365_447581998592044_1393260001_n562627_447582368592007_1719302356_n542362_447584278591816_778806875_n525787_447582041925373_1550998116_n

KawaKawa Park is not hard to find. There are markers along Maharlika Highway in Ligao, Albay that points to the direction of the park which is located in Tuburan. So whether you come from Legazpi or from Manila, it is very accessible. The entrance fee happens to be P10.00 only. Also, the locals are quite helpful and friendly so there should be no reason to get lost.

Resorts

AMESOLA SPRING VALLEY RESORT (DEL ROSARIO, NAGA CITY)

Hello again and Happy Mother’s Day to all supermoms out there!

Anyway, since yesterday was Mother’s Day and we really do celebrate every special occasion like Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, every birthday, Christmas, New Year’s Day and the list goes on, we decided to go swimming at Amesola Spring Valley Resort in Del Rosario, Naga City. I remember one of my readers here commented that I really seem to like water. He’s probably right.lol.

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Twin Pool

Now this resort is very near our place, in fact, we probably got there in less than 10 minutes via the tricycle that we rented for P100. However, if you are coming from Centro Naga, you will need to take a jeepney to Del Rosario (P10.00 each person) and tell the driver to pull over at the corner of Del Rosario-Cararayan Road. It’s hard to miss because it is located just right before you pass the arch that says “Welcome to Naga City.” Then, ride a tricycle to the resort (P5.00 each person). However, if you are coming from the direction of Legazpi or Pili, you may take a bus or UV Express van and pull over at the corner of Del Rosario-Cararayan Road.  Then wait for a tricycle to convey you to the resort.

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When you get there, the entrance fee for adults is P150 each while the kids go in for P100 each. The cottages are priced at P600 and above and you get to use their three (3) swimming pools where the water they say is always fresh and cool as the source is the nearby Mount Isarog. The newly renovated pool, which is located at the right side of the resort, is bigger and has lounge chairs for those who care to go sunbathing (although sunbathing is not really a thing for Filipinos). Anyway, I recommend if you go to the resort, get a cottage by this bigger pool especially if you are bringing kids along, because the cottage we got was situated by the Twin Pool (on the left) and the water at the kiddie pool thereat had these things floating around (not sure what). And I thought the water at the bigger pool looked more fresh.

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The resort is rather basic and simple, but I can tell they have been putting in best efforts and invested a lot of money to turn the whole place into what they hope would be a cutting edge facility someday. It paid off somehow judging from the marked improvement of their pools and amenities. For instance, there is a gym now featuring new modern equipment. There are fitness programs available too. Their rooms (for overnight stay) have been newly renovated and clean, although the prices have gone up as well. What with P1,500 for single occupancy! I don’t think it’s wise considering their location is really far from Centro Naga (where the malls, shops and restos are). I mean, if you are travelling to Naga City solo, you’d wanna get a standard room at Nagaland Hotel (for about P700), which is affordable and pretty much close to everything.

 

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They have a waterlily pond

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Anyway, Amesola Spring Valley Resort has been under renovation for over a year now, but there is still much to be done, especially in the area of landscaping. The place is spacious and has a forest feel to it that they should put into good use. I guess because people would love an exotic place where they can feel one with nature. They need to maybe spruce the place up with more flowers and fruit trees. And maintenance staff should be on the look out for people who litter by the pool for goodness sake! We have seen litter all over the Twin Pool area. And if guests (especially small kids) can’t be imposed upon to behave impeccably, then the staff must take it upon themselves to keep the place no less than immaculate.

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My over-all verdict is: I was pleasantly surprised that the resort is very near where I live but apart from their decent sized swimming pools and noisy videoke, there is not much to offer the day swimmers.  A koi pond or a large aquarium, some fruit picking, a vegetable farm, bikes to rent, a zip line, hanging bridge and a wall to climb would have made a world of difference. However, with all things considered, we still had a good time. I guess when you’re with a kid and she enjoys swimming so much, you kinda get the feeling that you’re having fun as well despite the unbelievable noise of three videoke machines playing simultaneously.

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I’m looking forward to when they have made the place truly packed with entertainment and more refined, with stricter rules against littering, especially when their videoke machines are finally placed farther apart. I hope to see some more noteworthy improvements on my next visit.

Beaches

DARUANAK AND MAINIT ISLANDS (PASACAO, CAM SUR)

It was my first time to go to Pasacao two days ago, and it was only about 40 minutes of commute from Naga City, where I live. That near, but it took me nearly six years before I was able to go. I used to hear about it a lot though. I also heard that the beach was not impressive so I was not really in a hurry to see it.

So, it was the perfect opportunity when a family reunion (Yoy’s side) was scheduled on the 3rd of May to finally give Pasacao a visit. Although I learned that it has always been their tradition to hold the reunion on that same date every year, it was our first time to attend. I guess, we always had a valid reason (or some poor excuse) not to go.

Anyway, how to get there from Naga City? Ask a tricycle driver to take you to the van terminal in Sabang near LCC Department Store. The tricycle fare is P8.00 per person while the van fare to the town of Pasacao is P50.00 per person. Upon reaching Pasacao, ask a tricycle driver to take you to Barangay Balogo where the beach is. The tricycles can be rented for P100.00 per trip to transport a whole group of people to Balogo. There should be no problem looking for a place to stay when you get to Balogo as resorts and travel lodges are everywhere.

As expected, Balogo beach was no reason to jump up and down about. The beach was crowded and loud with drunk people singing karaoke the whole night, and a bit disorganized. The sand  is also on the gray side and dogs roam about. So, at the crack of dawn the next day, we rented a boat for P600 to bring us to the island of Daruanak- the one just across the beach. And to Mainit Island after.

Daruanak Island

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Daruanak Island has a nicer beach, it is on the lighter side with broken corals and rocks. It’s a lot cleaner too, even the water looks bluer. A lot better for swimming.

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We did not take a dip that time though because someone said there were urchins, so we decided to head on to Mainit Island, which is so called because there is a spring thereat that spouts hot water.

The view on the way to the next island…

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Mainit Island

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In Mainit Island, the water is a little warm which is great for swimming. The shore is full of pebbles, all of different shapes, sizes and colors. I even found some blunt white crystals that got me a little excited. I had a field day picking my loot, only to leave them all behind on the boat when we got back to Balogo beach =(DSC02905

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It was a good day that went by too fast, then finally, it was time to go back home. Our happy faces though could mean we may be back next year. Same day too!