Hey there! This is the very first time I'll be putting together a photodiary (well, I've been meaning to make one for my Hong Kong trip last year-- which I still might post about in the future). This one's about my trip with my family to Albay, Bicol. I was very thrilled about it for two main reasons: (1) it's my first time after many years to spend summer at a local destination, and; (2) it's also been a loooong time since I've spent a legit summer (that means experiencing the heat, going to the beach, etc.)!
(Okay, this post's going to be lengthy, you've been warned, But they're full of photos
*most of which clearly denote that I need to work on my photography skills* and informative stuff/reviews on places to go to and eat at! I hope you enjoy reading it.)
We stayed at Albay for three days and two nights. During that time, I very much enjoyed the peace and order in the province. Stores and malls closed earlier than I was used to, but it was alright because it still felt safe walking the streets at past 10 o'clock or so. Honestly, that's a rare experience in urban Manila; take it from me who's lived in the country's capital ever since I was born.
Our 45-minute flight to Legazpi, Albay was on the morning of April 26. Upon arriving at the local airport, the Mayon Volcano-- the region's most famous sight-- already greeted us with its breathtakingly-perfect cone shape. The volcano was just aptly called, given that its name was derived from the Bicolanos' native word for "beautiful" which was "magayon". The location of our hotel was also blessed with the view of the Mayon. (Well, the volcano could be spotted from pretty much everywhere in the province, really.) We initially planned to head over to Cagsawa and drive an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to the volcano on our first day, except doing that in the afternoon would be like a self-imposed torture under the sun's heat. So instead, we devoted Day 1 to food-tripping.
First Colonial Grill
Pacific Mall - Legazpi
As diligent tourists, we ordered the specialties. For lunch, we had kandinggan (sp?)-- a sizzling dish made of different pork parts like ears and cheeks (I think; really loved it anyway!), and pinangat-- which is mostly taro leaves with coconut milk and ginger. Both dishes (like most Bicolano food) have chili peppers in them because they like it hot lol. No but seriously, it's like their trademark. In fact, the restaurant we ate at even served sili (chili) ice cream! Of course we had to try it, together with their tinutong (toasted rice grains) ice cream. The two flavors were veeeery delicious and complemented each other perfectly.
(On our last night in Albay, we ate dinner at the same mall and dropped by First Colonial again for a dessert of Bailey's ice cream and calamansi ice cream.)
Small Talk Café
Doña Aurora Street, Legazpi City
The cafe-slash-restaurant offers classic dishes with a Bicolano twist. For our dinner, we ordered a duo of Pizza Bicolana and Hawaiian pizza. The crust was thin and crispy (which I loved). The two flavors basically had the same ingredients except for the main toppings; the former had pinangat while the latter had pineapples and ham, the usual. We also tried their pili basil pasta. Pili nuts are also one of Bicol's pride; however, the dish tasted like a normal pesto pasta, and the pili flavor was nowhere to be found (not exactly complaining though because I like pesto over any other type of pasta). But the highlight of our visit to Small Talk would be the Bicol Express pasta. It was unlike any other, and undeniably delicious.
But of course, I'm also posting about my outfit that day! It's always important to be comfy when flying, so I resorted to this loose green top and tribal shorts. The bracelets on my wrist were inseparable from me during the whole trip. They're not just for the sake of having "armswag", really. Some of them are pretty sentimental. For example, the braided bracelet is actually a Yabang Pinoy bracelet, one made of abaca, a famous Filipino material. The rainbow bracelet was one I bought two years ago in Cozumel, Mexico which was one of the destinations of our Summer 2012 Western Caribbean cruise. For my feet, I decided to wear outdoor sandals because, why not? Sandals and sliders are the "in thing" this season, so I went with the trend but added my own twist by wearing these sandals which I only previously wore once several years ago.
Top, snapback & bag: Forever 21 || Shorts: H&M
Braided bracelet: Yabang Pinoy || Beaded bracelet: Claire's (comes in a set)
Braided bracelet: Yabang Pinoy || Beaded bracelet: Claire's (comes in a set)
Outdoor Sandals: Tribu
On the second day of our Albay trip, we took a day tour of Misibis Bay Resort and Casino. The said place is known for being a lavish destination. True enough, the amenities of the place live up to its reputation. Misibis was an hour away from Legazpi by land. Transportation was included in the tour; we were picked up from our hotel at 9AM, and we left the resort at 5PM. Also included in the package were the lunch buffet, the use of their high-end facilities, and the non-motorized water sports/activities. We made the most out of our stay there and tried out all the watersports-- sailing, kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing, and paddle-boarding. Out of all the activities, I enjoyed windsurfing the most. It was a total workout, but it was extremely fun! The buffet was alright; their Bicol Express was the best one I had during our stay in the province, in my opinion. Their desserts were plentiful and scrumptious, too.
Once we were back at Legazpi, we ate dinner at Four Seasons, a famous Chinese restaurant in the area. Unfortunately, I failed to take photographs of the food (my phone died and we didn't bring our camera with us). Nevertheless, their fried chicken is a MUST-TRY.
Cami top, floral headband & maxi skirt: Forever 21
Sunglasses: Marc by Marc Jacobs || Flip-flops: Havaianas
Swimsuit: Coco Cabaña (available at The SM Store) || Shorts (not seen in photo): Cotton On
Day 3 was spent with a tour of Albay province's tourist destinations. For that, we hired a very efficient driver-- he was kind and had several connections which led to us getting discounts. First on our itinerary was the Daraga Church (Daraga is the Bicolano for "maiden"). We then headed to the Cagsawa Church ruins (which apparently was already a park). We then hired ATVs-- one which I drove myself, and another which my dad operated (with mom as his passenger), and were led by a tour guide through an off-road journey to the Mayon Volcano. Unfortunately, the volcano was covered by thick clouds that day. We took the Green Lava trail (of Bicol Adventure) which turned out to be an approximately 3-hour drive that left our thumbs numb, our skin singed by the Sun, and my arms aching (because it was pretty difficult braking when going downhill). Despite the heat and the cloudy view, the experience was one that I truly enjoyed. In fact, I felt so badass haha! Important things to remember if you're thinking of taking the ATV to Mayon: WEAR LONG SLEEVES, COVER YOUR LEGS (especially your thighs), and WEAR SUNGLASSES. Bicol Adventure will provide you with a face mask to help you avoid kissing all the dirt and dust that will come flying at you, but you'll have to provide the protection for your eyes and skin yourself.
We also went to Camalig and Tiwi, where we ate lunch and merienda, respectively. Let's Pinangat is a humble restaurant which is known for-- well, their pinangat. We also ordered their tilapia dish (cooked in coconut milk-- another ingredient which Bicolanos seem to be incredibly fond of), and their Bicol Express. Our chauffeur-slash-tour guide shared with us a tip when eating Bicol Express: since the said dish is usually spicy, it's best to pair it with pinangat. In that way, the spice will be equalized by the mild sweetness of the latter.
DJC Halo-Halo & Snack Inn
THAT *points to photo above* is definitely one thing that you shouldn't miss when going to Albay. Their halo-halo (a signature Filipino cooler with ingredients like ube/yam, bananas, leche flan, etc.) was p e r f e c t. It was perfect for the hot weather and perfectly delicious. The best part of it? Cheese!! Most halo-halos would be overflowing with tons of different ingredients, but this "inn's" was just right. I loved all that was in it!
(Sorry, Razon's, I think you have a challenger.) Aside from their halo-halo, DJC is also proud of their toasted siopao (with asado filling). I wasn't able to try it for myself personally because I was full at that time, though.
While Tiwi, Albay is known as a place with DJC (the other being in Legazpi, near Pacific Mall), the place is also famous for ceramics. Our last stop for the tour was Ligñon Hill. The spot provided an overlooking view which definitely would have been more wonderful in broad daylight (hence, the absence of photos).
Pacific Mall - Legazpi
When dinnertime came, we went to this restaurant which was known and widespread (through its numerous branches) throughout the province. They took pride in their crispy chicken which we tried. It really is delicious-- not the typical fried chicken. They have many branches in Bicol-- I personally saw 3 of them in Legazpi-- but my favorite would be the one in Pacific Mall. The look and vibes of the place was so cool that I had to take snaps of it. (No photo of the food though, but that definitely doesn't mean you shouldn't try it out for yourself!)
Our fourth and last day was just solely for our flight back to Manila. We ate at Graceland, another locally-known restaurant (a fastfood one), for breakfast. They also have a bakeshop from which we brought home lots of bread lol. They're kind of like Bicol's own version of Goldilocks, I guess. Our flight back home was delayed though because of US President Barack Obama's departure from his state visit in the Philippines. But that's okay because the delay gave us time to buy and bring home Guinobatan longganisa.
So that concludes my Bicol 2014 photodiary! I hope you guys enjoyed reading through it. Don't forget to leave a comment below and/or follow me on GFC or on Bloglovin! I'll make sure to reply and follow back. :)
x Erika Rosales