End of the Year Day Hike: Mt Sembrano

17 01 2015

Sunday, 7 December 2014
Pililla, Rizal, Philippines

B1 and B3 informed me of their hike Week1 of December. But when typhoon Ruby international name “Hagupit” planned to hit the country, they aborted their plan. They together with B2 ended up joining J and I to Mt. Sembrano, a 745m above sea level or 2438 ft high located between Rizal and Laguna provinces.

Our itinerary:

1-Target Mt Sembrano5:45 Jollibee Edsa Shangrila

8:00 Brgy Malaya, Pililla, Rizal, Registered at the Barangay hall, 210 m asl.

2- Registration Brgy Malaya 
08:00 Started trekking

Trail and flora nearing Manggahan.

5-Flora at Manggahan

09:00 Manggahan

3-ManggahanI was expecting the Manggahan that I used to know. However, we didn’t catch the sight of the swing made of used tire anymore. The manang (the feminine term for older sister) who used to sell banana or mangoes (depending on the season) was not there too. Instead, we saw the kids of Manggahan (manggahan is a local term for mango plantation) cutting some woods in preparation for their lunch.  I told myself that I had to document it. I wanted to share what was happening to the kids back home who for sure were busy with their PS4 or tablets.

While killing time, I suggested B1 and B2 to prepare their lunch as well. 

4-Manggahan10:45 Continued trekking

6-Nearing South Peak11:45 First or South Peak 

7-View towards North Peak from South Peak.12:45 Lunch

After lunch, I guided B1, B2 and B3 to the summit. We were lucky that typhoon Ruby was not there! We took the pleasure of no scourging sun and no rain before us.

8-Reaching North Peak13:20 Second or North Peak

10-View at North PeakUpon reaching the summit, H took some time with baby digi (my digital Canon) 

9-At North PeakWe all paused for a while and enjoyed the picturesque view of Laguna Lake and nearby landmarks like Talim Island, Sierra Madre range, etc.  14:45 Went back to First Peak

15:45 Manggahan

16:30 Back to Jump-off

We logged out at the Registration. That was the time I realized I forgot my bullcap at Manggahan! For sure it will be of use for the kids anyway :0

HOW TO GO THERE: From Edsa Shaw Boulevard, take the road to SM Angono Rizal. Then from Binangonan, take the Tanay Laguna side, Morong then Baras. Once you reached Brgy Julo of Pililla, the next barangay would be Brgy Quisao. Stop at Brgy Malaya Barangay Hall or Multi-Purpose Building (see 2nd photo above) to register. h



What’s up with Mt Maculot via Rockies in December 2014?

2 01 2015

Cuenca, Batangas, Philippines
Thursday, 26 December 2014

I am into weekly training hikes this month in preparation for an upcoming major event in 2015.
So my friend J and I decided to do our favourite 87km or less than 3 hour bus-ride to Cuenca Batangas where Mt Maculot is located

Since there are 2 access points to Mt Maculot – one via grotto and another via rockies, we decided to do rockies. Upon registration, we were requested to pay 400php (9USD). As expected, we did not agree. We know the trails to the summit and even to the boulder side. Most of all, we know that it used to be more or less 20php sometime ago (less than 1USD)

We aborted the rockies side and did the grotto. h

Related blog >> https://adventureh.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/want-to-hike-maculot/

Hiking Mt Batur in Bali

31 12 2013

Kintamani District, Bali, Indonesia

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Bali is equal to beaches, art and temples, so I said..

Who would have thought that Bali then is also a place for hiking? Not me!

Two days before my flight, I realized that there was a hiking potential in Bali on Mt Batur (Gunung Batur), an active volcano. I started packing with the hope of doing the sunrise hike together with my snorkelling and touristy get-ups.

Upon landing Saturday wee hours in the morning, I told the driver-guide Edy to find a mountain guide for me. After our day tour, Edy was able to contact Komang. It was like a sparkling moment.

Excited as I was, both Edy and I left the hotel at 1:30am the following day. We drove in a dark and rugged cemented road to the northern area of Kintamani from Kuta. We reached the foggy jump off* around 2:30am, 1,215m asl.  At the parking area, I saw some hikers from some parts of the world.

Komang and I started our adventurous hike around 3am in the cold 15 deg coupled with the morning breeze. He lent me his torch. While on trail, I started doubting the weather for a promise of sunrise. But it didn’t stop me. We continued our hike until we reached a flat area near a tree after about 1 km walk where I removed my jacket due to my self-“steaming” condition. I was already perspiring in the cold environment! There I met a teenager who offered to sell soda. I didn’t buy. I don’t really like sodas. I pulled out my water container and took a sip instead.

We continued trekking up to the trail where one could see a small Hindu temple. Komang had to do puja, or called sembhayang a prayer ritual to honor a deity, the “mountain God”. I waited. I took that opportunity to pee in the bushes! Yes, out in the woods.

Good thing that the trail was generally hiker-friendly composed of greyish to blackish soft soil emitted by the volcano. It is no joke when you do “night” trekking specially on a very challenging trail. As you hike up, expect some small, medium rocks to boulder-type. We finally reached the summit lodge area at 4:35am after the 3km walk from the jump-off. It took me 1.5 hours to reach the summit of Mt Batur at 1,717m above sea level I was expecting a 2-hr hike, based on the reviews. I have ascended about 500 m asl in the dark!

I sat on the wooden bench, had breakfast and waited for the sunrise. No bright sky out there. Venus was not visible. I could not even see the woman hiker sitting next to me. After 30 minutes of my silent moment, Komang was already offering the hot Balinese tea since he saw me already feeling cold and sleepy. I only had 1 hour sleep before the hike. Komang offered the area near the kitchen so that I could warm myself while waiting for the sunrise. I went inside where all the guides were staying. Then I fell comfortably asleep with my feet up rested on the wall. After 45 minutes, Komang woke me up. It was time to do the Mt Batur tour.

We started hiking around the summit and went further down towards the volcanic steam. I never thought that Komang is also a magician aside from being a mountain guide. He created more mist at a vent that made all the monkeys around the area wondering. When I saw 3 monkeys already near me, Komang and I continued our adventure towards the bat cave. There was a small temple inside the cave. However, we didn’t go inside since we didn’t have the traditional clothing worn during worship that locals and tourists use to wrap around from waist down. This clothing is equal to the “malong”, a traditional tube skirt. Since Hindu worshipping varies depending on the deity and place, it is not appropriate for locals and tourists to face this temple in their pants.

At the mouth of the cave, I saw the photographer’s side of Komang. He made me strong! He got a palm-sized stone and held my baby digi (my 60D canon) and took a snap. Lo and behold! I really looked like I had muscles!  

Then we paid respect and offered thanksgiving prayer to the small Hindu temple, also a marker of Mt Batur. We saw some international and local tourists. I had snaps with local tourist upon their request. I didn’t know why they like having photo with me. Then snaps around the caldera where monkeys abound. I have confirmed that these monkeys were friendly since two tents were still standing freely! It could be dangerous at times..

At 7am, Komang and I started descending to the longer trail. It was a refreshing view. I had a different vantage point of Mt Batur and I saw some flora within the area. “Pelan-pelan” (slowly) was the Indonesian word of the day. It could be a good mantra while descending since small rocks could be so tricky.

Upon reaching a pavement, Komang’s other side surfaced once again. He taught me how to descend the cemented road facing back instead of facing the trail ahead of you. I admit. It was easier. Five minutes before 8am, the phone rang. Edy was already checking on us. Suddenly, it rained. Good thing we were already few steps away from the jump-off. It was my cue to use my umbrella. As a gratitude to my trustworthy Mt Batur guide Komang I gave him my bush hat, more appropriate apparel for his profession so he will no longer use his bullcap. The bush hat symbolizes our new friendship so more mountains to climb in Bali.


1:30am ETD Kuta hotel           

2:30am ETA jump-off, Kintamani District

2:45am Briefing for the hike (trail, safety, gadgets, things to bring, time to go back to the jump-off)

3:00am Start ascend

4:30am ETA Summit crater, breakfast, rest

6:00am Continue trek around the entire crater, summit, bat cave

7:00am Start descend

8:00am ETA jump-off, parking lot, board vehicle

10:00am ETA Kuta hotel (due to traffic approx 2 hrs instead of 1 hr)


  1. Hiking shoes
  2. Jacket
  3. Hiking pants
  4. Camera (like my baby digi with wide lens)
  5. Raincoat or umbrella
  6. Headlamp, torch or flashlight
  7. Drinking water in a container
  8. Tips for the mountain guide and driver
  9. Open-mindedness


  1. Make sure you have a trustworthy and English-speaking driver like Edy and Batur guide like Komang J
  2. Pray pray pray for a safe fun hike!!

*starting point of the hike.h

Explore the Deep Sea in Anilao!

26 07 2013
Sunday,  21 July 2013
Batangas, Philippines

To initiate this type of adventure:

1.    Make sure you have done the basic scuba training. Of course, this will depend on your comfortability in water and some basic swimming skills.

2.    Have a clean bill of health. After all, your safety and health are the key areas to have fun!

3.    Have an open mind. Be mentally prepared with the types of creatures you will see under water. When in doubt, DO NOT TOUCH anything that you see

4. Check out the diving resorts in the area like > anilao.backpackers.com


 Then start packing up…

1-Getting ready

and see some ..8-Down under

5-Reaching out

pistol shrimp (Alpheidae), ghost (glass) shrimp (Palaemonetes),

7- ID me

6-You've got the look

2-Don't follow

4-Hair down there

9-Follow my lead











mantis shrimp (with egg and no egg! – awesome!), sea slug  (nudibranch), the brightly colored wrassesswimming around, seapen, and the mushrooming soft corals among others! h


One Day Hike, A Lifetime Memories: Mt Maculot Traverse

22 03 2013
Sunday, 20 January 2013
Cuenca, Batangas, Philippines

After a month or so of no outdoor activities, where else could I gear up? Of course Maculot! Crinkles, Monay and I wanted something more than the rockies itinerary. To make it more exciting then, a traverse hike would be the best! Let me share with you this safest route (grotto traverse rockies). Oh, before telling you the itinerary, I should say why it is the safest for me. Less hikers take the grotto side and traverse to rockies. Therefore, in case of any untoward incidents, more people may respond to you and not just those from the registration area! Besides, after grotto is already a forested area. Better,don’t get trapped in a very unfashionable way! So here goes:

Itinerary: Traverse from Grotto to Rockies side
7am – ETD Makati for North contingents, take the bus bound to Lipa, Batangas
8am – ETD Alabang for South contingents, take the bus bound to Lipa1-Maculot from the local market
10am – ETA Lipa, proceed to any nearby fast food for breakfast; this will be the waiting area for other fun hikers, just don’t forget to send them sms!
11am – ETD Lipa, take the jeepney bound to Cuenca
11:15am – local market, take the tricyle, go to Grotto registration area 
11:30am – start ascend, hike-up
12:30pm – ETD grotto, have lunch, photo op, then descend to the grassland  area – about 3-4 ft tall (depending on the season)
2-View After Grotto
13:30pm – ETD first rope area with bouldering.
Then continue hiking to the forested area
4-View after Rope1
13:50pm – ETD second rope area, but with dependencies on the traffic on trail. Hike up to the rooted area5-Rope2
14:20pm – ETD summit, photo op, enjoy the view of Taal6-Taal from Summit
15:30pm – ETD 7-11, there are sari-sari stores (more than 1 underground economy abound specially during Holy Week selling soda, candies etc). Go to rockies (be extra careful here for visibility may be a challenge specially from 4pm onwards)
16:30pm-  start descend, otherwise leave at 15:45 if rockies’ visibility is not good
7-Trail from Rockies side
18:00pm – ETA rockies side registration area, local market
More of Maculot >> https://adventureh.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/want-to-hike-maculot/

Don’t forget your sunscreen! All for Fun! h

Bantayan Island, another Fun Place to Watch For!

2 12 2012
Sunday, 13 October 2012
Northwest of Cebu Island,
Visayas region, Philippines

If you want to have a more of nature and less of crowded people, go to Bantayan island for another year-round fun!1-Bantayan look

Find out why the island is true to its name (“bantayan” which means  “to watch closely” in Filipino). Here are the reasons why:

1. The island has something to offer for snorkeling. From Bantayan island, you need to hire a boat to go to the snorkeling areas2-Bantayan sandbar

2. If you really love the sea, you could go island hopping and see for yourself your Bantayan adventure! Bantayan is the main island amongst the Bantayan Island Group which comprise of more than 16 smaller ones

5-Lazy day 

 3. For a lazy afternoon, you could just bum around, enjoy the fresh air,   savour the seabreeze.

4-You could also do some touring.  Hire a van from your hotel and check out the adventure park and resort for a short caving and little sunbathing beside a pool (if you miss a little bit the city life!).  Then go 4-Bantayan treelineto the Sts Peter and Paul Parish church built during the 1580s. Then after a holy hour go to the interesting wet market where you could see different sea species abound. Bantayan is Cebu’s fishing ground and famous for its guinamos (salted fish) and buwad (dried fish). These goods go to the main island – Cebu, to Mindanao and Manila. So before they leave Bantayan and have more padded cost due to the freight charges, why don’t you do your marketing here and enjoy buying for less!3-Bantayan sundown

HOW TO GO THERE: From Manila, take the early flight bound to Cebu so that you could catch the ferry bound to Bantayan island before night time. Travel time: less than 1.5 hours. Then from Cebu Mactan airport, you could either hire a van or ride the bus that will drive you to  Hagnaya port. Bus terminal is located at the North Bus terminal from SM mall. Travel time: about 3 hrs from the airport to the port. Major areas to your point of destination: Liloan, Campostela, Danao city, Carmen, Catmon, Tabogon, Bogo city. Then from the port, take the ferry boat that goes to Bantayan island. There are organized ferry service companies to choose from. Travel time: 1.5 hrs.

WHERE TO STAY: There are quite a number of resorts and even areas for backpackers. But before you land the island, make sure you have already did some booking to avoid annoying sales agent from the port.

BUDGET: About 200 USD (8k php) for a group of 4 people inclusive transportation, hotel, food and even shopping for dried fish! There are very few banks on the island so please ensure that you have already loaded before you go to the island. It is better to enough that would get you a decent place to stay and food to eat than regret. You could use the limited ATM facilities for shopping.

LANGUAGE SPOKEN ON THE ISLAND: They have a fusion of Visayan language (Cebuano, Illonggo, Waray-Waray, Masbatenyo and Boholano). If you are not familiar with any of these you could either converse with the local in Filipino or English. h

Maximizing your e-Ticket

30 11 2012
Saturday, 17 November 2012
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

When in Asia, e-ticket is normally booking online and not necessarily a paperless airline seat purchase. Sounds absurd, but true in my experience.

So when I went to Brazil last September, I did a travel experiment. I did not print my e-ticket from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre. I just wrote down my e-ticket number and I was able to create my own boarding pass using their kiosk! I felt great!

After one month or so, I did another travel experiment. This time from Manila to Ho Chi Minh and Manila to Kuala Lumpur then back. No printing of e-ticket nor writing down of e-ticket number on my small notebook. I just literally handed over my BlackBerry (BB) to the guards from the terminal gate and they allowed me through. Then from both Philippine Airlines and Malaysia Airlines counter leaving and coming back Manila, both airline attendants warmly welcomed my checking in.

I then maximized my e-ticket while considering saving the environment!

TRAVEL PROMPT: I was 1.5 hours early than my usual terminal arrival time. I was thinking of plan B  (to print my e-ticket) should the airlines will not allow me to check in without a printed ticket! 🙂 h

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