CamSur na Sure Mauulit Ito!

Written September 1, 2012.

During a session with our manager a couple of weeks before, he asked each one of the performance coach’s pool member what is it that we want to do if we were not in our current job post. More than half answered, to travel. I myself replied to travel and write. That’s the dream.

Now, while I was going through my laptop’s picture files in a valiant attempt to free up space (I just find it hard to delete even random photos), I saw a lot of pics from my previous trips: to beaches, out of town sojourn with family and friends, anything that involves bodies of water and food trips and team-buildings and sunbathing and (not-so-long-ago) inebriated nights that I only vaguely remember.

So while I’m whiling away time until the next trip, I want to relive some of the of these trips, what I remember, saw and felt during these happy, tiring, exciting and memorable times. Cue sappy music.

I’ll start with my most recent trip to Camarines Sur, July 20-22, 2012.

Jown, one of our managers, organized a trip for her team, since she snagged some promo fares online. She invited me to come along, so I booked a flight the next day, although the ones they got were sold out so I got a later flight home. I also wanted to surprise someone from her team so I connived with them to keep it a secret for three months (the trip was July and we booked late in April).  Whew!

We left Alabang around 10 PM. We were riding a bus going there via Penafrancia Lines, which had lazy-boy-like seats and its own toilet. It was very spacious, the lights were low and conducive for slumber, and was very cold, well worth the PHP 900 fare, rather than what would have been a butt-numbing ten-hour trip had we ridden a regular bus. The bus seats less than 30 so we were left with a lot of leg room.

After the initial kodakan moments, we settled in to sleep for the night. I was not able to sleep well, probably due to excitement, and also because I wanted to pee but the thought of the tiny cramped toilet scared me. I finally gave in and chose the right time to pee: while the bus was winding a particularly zigzagey road. I thought the door would pop open mid-stream in front of all the other passengers! We had two stopovers, one in McDo (somewhere in Batangas I guess?) and farther down south, a small rest area. At around 4 AM or so, though, the infant seated behind us started crying and wouldn’t stop completely until we reached Naga.

We arrived in Naga at around 7 and proceeded to a hole-in-the-wall eatery, Kinalas Twin, that served well, kinalas. By Jown’s recommendation (who is incidentally, a Bicolana), we ordered their specialty, which is like Bicol’s answer to Batangas goto or Iloilo’s la paz batchoy. They looked kinda like lomi, fat noodles with garlic and onion and pork liver and egg and I don’t know what else, eaten with a side of puto and of course, endless supply of siling labuyo. A huge bowl costs only PHP 36 and the puto was less than ten bucks. Solb!

Next we rode the Camsur Watersports Complex (CWC) shuttle and got there way before check in time. Good thing they let us in early without an extra charge. The complex was expansive, and there were bigger, more expensive cottages in kubo style, condo-like rooms and larger villas. But if you’re on a budget, the trailer’s good enough: it’s fully air-conditioned as well, the beds were nice and comfortable and there were towels, toiletries, cable-ready TV and hot/cold water.

We rented two trailers, a two- and a four-person which cost PHP 1200 and PHP 2850, respectively (although we were 13 all in all haha!) The girls’ took the bigger one, which had a kitchen, microwave and what I call a sexy shower.

CWC is a water sports park that offers wakeboarding, wakeskating, waterskiing  and other activities. It’s a popular haunt for amateur riders and professional wakeboarders in and out of the country. There are also restaurants, shops, spas and sand bars to entice visitors with other interests. It’s a mere 20-minute drive from Naga Airport and offers a shuttle service too.

Our group decided to save the wakeboarding for the next day and just spent time at the inflatable playground in the middle of the lake. We paid PHP 200 each for four hours. We donned life vests and spent hours (cut only by a quick lunch in the complex’s resto) swimming, climbing the iceberg, kayaking and jumping up and down the trampoline. And of course, pictures galore!

Afterwards, we stopped first at a couple of souvenir shops then took a bus to Our Lady of Penafrancia Basilica, where the others toured the old church and lighted candles outside. Dinner and grocery shopping was next and we went to nearby SM Naga. I was feeling sleepy so I had a huge cup of kapeng barako from one of those bibingka stalls. We bought chicha and drinks and breakfast stuff at the supermarket, then had dinner at Molino Grill. We feasted on local fares such as sisig, laing and bicol express. I had chop suey with a bicol express twist. Thankfully, not everything is ear-smoking hot, since I have a low tolerance for anything spicy. We bought pasalubong there too: shirts, key chains and pili nut products. Bonding, chikahan, drinks and chicha followed in our trailer then lights out at 12… just because RA decided to end the session by spilling her glassful of mai tai on the floor!

The sunny weather the entire day belied the heavy rains that greeted us when we woke up Sunday morning. Jown told us the morning flights were cancelled, and ours were scheduled at 1:30 (mine) and 4:30 (theirs). We were a bit apprehensive, since also most of them were first-time flyers. Still we braved the heavy downpour because we can’t leave CamSur without trying wakeboarding right? Unfortunately, the beginner’s area was closed, so we went to the pro area and opted to just try knee-boarding. Hourly rental was PHP 165 which included the helmet, vest and board. There was a PHP 500 deposit which you can refund after the stuff was returned. The rental also included an hour of pool usage.

It was a lot harder (and more painful) than it looks, since the cable pulling us was really strong and the prospect of not turning in time and hitting the ramps was daunting. After a few rides (where I wiped out in the middle of the course and I had to carry the heavy board all the way around the lake) and swallowing about two gallons of murky lake water, I gave up trying to complete the course and just jumped into the pool for some underwater pics. Kudos to the others (RA! Jovan! Who else?) who finished!

Afterwards, we hurried through baths and packing up to catch the shuttle to the airport. We had spaghetti and chicken delivered for lunch from Bigg’s Diner (PHP 165) and it tasted homemade! True enough my flight was delayed, so I was able to wait for them at NAIA 3 since I was the only one with checked in baggage, carrying all their bottles of perfume and lotion and folding umbrellas. Some celeb-spotting and fan-photo op with former Senator Miguel Zubiri (who is either really nice or it’s just nearing election time?) and Yael from Spongecola (who is either a snob or just really tired to even muster up a smile).

It was technically just a two-day, two-night trip, but even though the activities were tiring, weather was bad and flights were delayed and all, we still had so much fun! It was my first time for a lot of things: surprising someone on a trip, going to Bicol, traveling on a lazy-boy bus seat and then alone on a flight back, knee-boarding, and jumping off a really high inflatable ice berg! And more important than the actual place I visited, it’s also the company that made it even more fun. Thanks to Team Autobots for making me feel welcome! Sa uulitin! =)