The Kawasan High

Credits:  Papers by Queen of Quirks, Elements by Scrap Matters’ Life Simple Surprises Kit

Remarkable diving defines Moalboal and many combine it with a side trip to Kawasan Falls in nearby Badian town.

Just an hour away from Cebu’s diving destination, Badian is known for its 3-tiered waterfalls called Kawasan Falls.

A short trek will take you to the first falls where one can enjoy it with nary a need to swim if that is the preference (bamboo rafts are available to take people to the falls).

The beauty of the waterfalls cascading into turquoise pools and the lush tropical vegetation surrounding it already provides a natural high.

What more if, for 4 hours, you get to swim, trek, and jump into several of the turquoise pools along the way to Kawasan Falls?

We entered the falls from upstream, near the border of Badian, at the Matutinao Valley geared with a pair of booties, a life jacket and an adventurous spirit.  Canyoning at the Kawasan is not your ordinary Kawasan Falls excursion.

It requires swimming, river trekking, jumping off waterfalls and a bit of rappelling.  Canyoneering, as they call it, is a sport of exploring a canyon by engaging in rappelling, rafting and waterfall jumping.

The adrenalin started pumping at the Matutinao River, just a short distance from our jump-off.

We scrambled over rocks as we get use to the art of river trekking.

We sort of rappelled down a mountain slope to reach another canyon.

We swam when the water was deep.

We jumped from big boulders 4 times, sometimes over waterfalls, other times into a small basin with little room for error.

It was terrifying at times, but for the most part, it afforded us an ultimate high, non-stop adrenalin rush.  It was a high like no other.

The Aquaholic team made us feel safe all through out, guiding us through the magnificent sceneries of gorgeous blue lagoons and spectacular canyons and rock formation.

The remoteness and lack of habitation have left this valley a sanctuary.  In the course of our 4-hour escapade, we bumped into a few locals at the start and another canyoning group that explores the river the harder way from below, which they call river climbing.  Otherwise, we had the river and the beautiful riverscape all to ourselves to take pleasure in.

We reached the top of the 3rd cascade of Kawasan Falls at around 2pm.  Contrary to the tranquil environment we came from, we were greeted with loads of people enjoying their Sunday.

Caught off guard and surprised to see people out of nowhere walking down from atop the falls, they watched us with wonder as we walked pass them, exhausted but exhilarated.  Their facial expressions seemed to ask, “Where the heck did they come from?”

Going back to the van we walked this bamboo bridge which ironically was more frightening.

Why, one might wonder, do we take the grueling route when it only takes 15 minutes, 30 minutes tops to reach all 3 falls?

The answer to that would be because we love the challenge of an adventure.  Because we like doing things the unconventional way.  Because we are adrenaline junkies.  Because off-the-beaten paths are always more breathtaking…

Useful Info:

Philippine Aquaholic Diver’s Inc.
Club Serena Resort
Moalboal, Cebu City
Contact No: +63 (32) 516-1847; +63 (32) 474-0050; +63 (917) 717-3333
Email: dive@aquaholics.com.ph
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Making Tradition

Birthdays are always a good excuse to get together.  Since we graduated from High School many moons ago, we still keep in touch but seeing each other often is fantasy today, with different lifestyles and priorities as the number one culprit.  Not to mention that 10 in a group means 10 birthdays and busy bodies that we are, it’s complication to the max. Determined to keep the bond, it became a tradition of sort for 5 of us with birthdays close together – if you consider a span of 3 months close – to treat the group to something special, each year transcending to finer and more enjoyable experiences.  It started with extravagant dinners to out-of-town lunches to dinners prepared by a chef to this.

We don’t travel well together.  It’s the difference in travel styles.  That said, the travel planner that I am dared to plan an overnight trip to Laguna and Quezon for the group last year.  They complained – about how far the trip was… that they don’t like airbeds as it is difficult to share the bed… and why were there only 2 bathrooms for 9 of us… fun, isn’t it?   😯

So we had lunch at Ugu’s and so impressed they were, they stopped grumbling about the 3-hour drive.

We then headed to Sitio de Amor, our home for a night.  Again, they oohed and ahhed… until they realized the bathroom and bed situations.  I told them to live with it (for a night).

I have eyed that tree house since I first saw it.  So I booked it.

It had a balcony with seats built all around.

The back of the pool

And beautiful views of the grounds to boot.

A close to perfect setting to gather together and catch up with each other till the wee hours of the night, the only thing is… it had only 1 bedroom which could only fit 4 of us.

Not bad at all.

The rest had to trek back and forth to their room, called Lanzones – a room with a beautiful view of the lagoon that fits 6 and yes, with only 1 bath.   😛

The motley crew before heading back home.

All is well that ends well.  They were happy despite the bathroom and bed dilemmas.  The breakfast was as usual, superb.

Uganda Mishaps

You get what you pay for. We were on a budget and we decided to take the bus to save some money. We could have asked the taxi driver to drive us there but it would cost us 4x more than if we took the bus…

After our rafting stint in Kampala, we headed west. We took the wrong bus and ended up in a small town called Kamwenge with no inns to accommodate us. It was our first taste of the local Ugandan life. We should have been alarmed when we entered the bus and saw zero foreigners.

bus-to-kamwengeCredits:  Frame (for all photos)  by Sweet Shop – Cycle Carnival Frame

The trip was supposed to have taken 4 hours. 5 hours later, we realized we were nowhere near our destination.

kamwenge-enroute1

Along the way, I was scouting for places to sleep and can’t seem to spot any and as the town gets smaller and more remote, my fear gets bigger and more foreboding.

vendors

When we finally reached the end of the road, we got out, got our bags and tried to muster an act of normalcy, probably to no avail. The people were staring, probably wondering what brought these 2 Asians to their town (if they’ve even seen an Asian upclose and personal before). On the bus, dear boyfriend befriended a young local residing in the city, who was going to visit family. Dear boyfriend’s thought balloon – “I’ll force this young guy to take us home with him for the night!”   😯 He probably sensed it because he waited with us for a matatu (their version of our FX) and was I relieved when we were finally on our way to where we were supposed to be 6 hours ago. The driver even helped us find a good hostel, stayed with us until we were guaranteed a room. We were warned by friends to be careful in Africa and so far all we had experienced was kind accommodation from everyone.

OK, that was our scary moment, we also had our fair share of funny moments and one such moment was when we had to take a matatu in Fort Portal to Lake Nkuruba (near Kibale Forest, where the Chimpanzee tracking is). We were the first passengers and had to wait till the car got filled up.

squeeze

The matatu, a Corolla, finally left with all 10 of us – 5 passengers at the back and 5 in front including the driver – but not without a flat tire.

flat-tire1

Don’t ask me how we fit in that poor Corolla. It was hilarious! It didn’t help that dear boyfriend is a big guy and I refused to sit on anyone’s lap nor have any one sit on mine so one guy was practically standing (squatting was more like it!) all the way. Poor guy but I wasn’t budging.

lakeside-cabin

The misadventures did not stop there. In Lake Nkuruba, we booked for the lakeside cabin. It wasn’t what we (or rather I) envisioned it to be and the lake was practically the only thing that was going for us, at this point.

admiring-nkuruba

First of all, the bath is an outhouse on a hill. Secondly, there was no electricity, good thing we had headlamps. But the worst thing was when we were about to call it a day, (headlamp) lights out and all, as I lay down, head resting on my pillow, I felt something moved! MOVED! I was sharing a pillow with a bush rat! Let’s just say that the pillow (and the rat) got thrown out of the cabin, and I shared a pillow and a bed that night! The next day, we checked out and moved to a $45 room in Fort Portal.

So did we save? Learn from our lessons, my friends. If unsure, take a cab and be wary of super budget prices. As I said, you get what you pay for, as simple as that. Not their fault.

Despite the mishaps, this trip was exceptionally memorable (and on hindsight, quite enjoyable) precisely because of the risks we took.  The experience was all worth it.  No regrets. It’s all good!

River White

white-nile

Credits:  Papers:  KPertiet Fairy Dreamer, JSprague Red Solid Paper, KPertiet Botanist no. 7-2; Elements:  Jack n Me Alpha blank, KPertiet Brown Stitching, KPertiet Quotes;  Brushes:  DD MWise A La Mode, KPertiet On the Edge Flourishes 2-1G;  Frames:  KPertiet On the Edge Flourishes 3-6G, KPertiet Snap Frame

Navigating the White Nile or the source of the Nile, in Uganda, is a once in a lifetime experience.  The Ugandan government has every intention of constructing a hydroelectric dam at the Bujugali Falls to provide power to the country, as their frequent power interruptions can last a whole day.  In a few years the exciting rapids will just be a memory.

We would raft rapids labeled as “the bad place”, “overtime” and more.   The day trip is a 30 km stretch of world-class white water rapids, mostly grades 4 & 5.  I was in for a turbulent ride!  But hey!  How often do you get to raft the longest river on earth?  The White Nile is a beautiful stretch of river with abundant bird life and rich, green-forested banks.  While the whole experience gives you an adrenalin rush, strangely, a calm assurance sort of settles in because well, wasn’t I rafting with some of the best river guides in the world?

Useful Info:

The Outfit: ADRIFT Adventure Co.

Plot 14, York Terrace,
Kololo (near Kololo airstrip & MTN Nyonyi Gardens)
Kampala, Uganda
E-mail:     raft@adrift.ug
Telephone:   +256-(0) 312 237 438
Mobile:   +256 (0) 772 237 438

 

Fear Conquered

02.21.2004 – Canopy Walk, Cagayan de Oro

First you have to know that I have this great fear of heights.  Scared to rappel, scared of ridges (especially if it drops more than 10 feet), scared to look down the balcony of a tall building and definitely scared s**t to zip down to the first platform and walk on slippery (angled) bars and wobbly hanging walkways.  No way Jose!  But peer pressure and the thought of being left behind got the better of me and I lived to tell the tale. 😀

momentsforever_web

Credits:  Amy Teets whitie tighties paper; Jessica Sprague Echoes of Asia dark blue solid paper, lt. blue solid paper; Jessica Sprague Echoes Ribbon – striped; Jessica Sprague Echoes frame 7×5; Katie Pertiet stamped moments-forever

So will I do it again?  Are you kidding?! 😛

Update:  Click on here for more information.  Thanks B!   😀