Thursday, March 08, 2007

La Luz Beach Resort, Laiya, Batangas

Rating:4/5 11110
Though the rooms don't pass my will-i-walk-barefoot test, the clean beach, clear water and good food make La Luz Beach Resort a great weekend destination.
I've always been impressed with Laiya, Batangas but it can be confusing to choose among the many different resorts that share this strip of beach.

I won't focus yet on the beach because it's common among all the resorts. But here are 3 reasons (that are unique to La Luz) which make the place a great weekend destination:

1. Great website - It's one of the few resorts which has an uncluttered and easy-to-use web presence. They've got what-you-see-is-what-you-get rates (no hidden fees), precise directions to the resort (the kilometer readings are off by about a kilometer or two) and up to date contact information.

2. Good food
- Php900/day includes 3 full buffet meals and an afternoon snack. Each meal has a meat, fish, vegetable dish and dessert. Initially I thought that this was expensive but I realized that i'm willing to pay for the convenience of having a good meal on a beach without going through the hassle of cooking. I stayed for 3 days and the viands never repeated for each meal.

3. Decent rooms - They're not great but it's clean and relatively cheaper than others. You pay per room instead of per person which means it gets cheaper if there are more in your group. We stayed at the Php 2,550 room that can fit four people. It's a tight squeeze for four but it will do.

The bathroom and room don't pass my will-I-walk-barefoot test so make sure you bring slippers. Bonus points for the hot water shower but minus points for the too-thin curtains that force you to wake up when the sun rises.

Unlike Boracay, you aren't constantly hassled by vendors. Instead of massage therapists plying the beach, you call for a booking (php250/hr) which makes it much more organized.

There's no television, no noisy nightlife, no clubs, no thumping music (except maybe for the odd karaoke) it's just you, the sand and waves. The resort is thoughtful enough to have a bonfire set up every night and you can lounge on the chairs, look for shooting stars and listen to the cackle of burning wood.

Bring your own snorkel and have a look at the fish a couple of meters from the shore but don't expect some fancy coral because you'll need to hire a boat to get to the nice spots. Plus points because borrowing life jackets is free. Minus points for the dilapidated state of the jackets.

I wouldn't recommend swimming as there are very sudden drops of the sea floor. This could pose to be a hazard specially that there is no lifeguard.

Just stay within a couple of meters from the shore and you'll be fine. Better yet, just be a camera whore and look for the the hidden places that make for great photo ops.

Four pawikan points. Visit from Thursday to Saturday because the place is pretty empty during weekdays. Plus points for the clear water but minus points for the rocky sand.
Make sure you do the following:

  • Try the yummy and refreshing yellow mango shake (P40)
  • Head on over to the rock at the west side of the beach which looks great during the sunset.
If you liked this review, you may also want to read my reviews of Terrazas de Punta Fuego and White Cove Resort.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Hiking at Bukit Timah

Rating: 1110.50
Compared with MacRitchie Reservoir, Bukit Timah is an easier trek that all ages will enjoy.
Inspired by the last exhilirating hike up to the MacRitchie Treetop walk, I took along Zan The Mountain Man and on a fine Saturday morning, we took the bus to Bukit Timah.

I packed a liter of water, a peanut butter sandwich, bananas (for potassium), an apple and extra shirt. The night before, I carbo-loaded a lot of noodles to give me the extra energy for the hike.

The first kilometer was the hardest-- it's an uphill climb of a very, very steep incline. I was huffing and puffing feeling like such an elite athlete but then I looked around and saw...

And Uncles. And lots more elderly folk, some with canes and walkers, leisurely strolling and not even breaking any sweat! Add to that the young kids who were running up and down and you can probably tell how ridiculous I felt with my backpack of food and water!

So to make a long story short, it was definitely a shorter and easier hike compared to MacRitchie and you could probably complete the whole thing in less than 3 hours.

There's not much to see but trees, trees and the ocassional monkey. because of all the trees, I couldn't find a spot where you could have an uninterrupted vista of Singapore so don't count on a beautiful panoramic photo.

3.5 pawikan points. bring an extra shirt because it's humid. If you're hiking with a special someone, check out the "South View Hut" which is conducive for an impromptu picnic and a little QT *wink wink*.
If you liked this review, you may want to read about my experience hiking up MacRitchie Reservoir.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hiking at MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Rating: 1110.50
Yes there are hills and mountains in Singapore and they're easy enough for beginners to climb.
Cris and I packed our bags with bottled water, sandwiches, fresh fruit and a huge noodle breakfast (carbo loading!) then we hopped on a bus and got off at Bukit Timah.

Our plan was to check out the view from the Treetop walk. So right about noon, we started our 10km trek starting at Lornie road following route 3 (the blue route on the map)

There wasn't much scenery except for trees, trees, more trees and the occasional monkey. You don't feel the sun's heat because of the tree canopy but you will work up a sweat because it's humid, humid, humid.

It's an easy hike with just a slight incline and you'll be fine if you walk slow. You'll tire not because of the slopes but because it's such a long walk and it's very, very humid.

The treetop walk provides a great psychological boost because it serves as the "peak" and you can then finally say "I've made it!". It's not for the acrophobic and make sure you bring your balls right before you cross because it's a narrow bridge and there's no turning back.

Three and a half pawikan points. Great cardiovascular workout but if you want a shorter walk, start from Venus Drive instead of MacRitchie reservoir park. I won't recommend bringing kids below 10 years old unless you want to carry them.

If you liked this review, read my review of Bukit Timah!