I love you Albay!

With Richards Herrera and Hardin,
Philippines team of the Amazing Race Asia 4
(This iPhone app is awesome!)

What a way to spend my first week of being 30! (Mentioning my age out loud always results to an exasperated muttering of “Shet!” in my head, lol.)

Last weekend, I sent out a couple of tweets about my experience in Legazpi City. First, the view from my plane before the final touchdown (sorry, got no pics of that as I was sitted in aisle): freaking gorgeous! It was my first time in Bicol ever, and I didn’t expect that full-on assault of Mayon’s beauty. Truly spectacularit was my best flight view ever! (A contributor for Men’s Health however, said that I should wait ’til I see Batanes. Now, I can’t wait for that.)

We were there to do an exclusive story on the Philippines team’s experience, particularly that of the Richards or the ‘Riches’, during the Albay leg of the current season of the Amazing Race Asia. (Buy tomorrow’s copy of the Philippine Daily Inquirer for the story on that :-D)

From the airport, we were whisked off to Misibis Bay, member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), an upscale resort that can get pretty affordable for the young urban professional should it have promo packages. The resort manager, Ian Varona, said that last year, they had a P16,000 package that included airfare, transfers, 3 days/2 nights accomodations, meals and guaranteed 30 activities for guests to choose from.

The resort is situated at the foot of Cagraray Island, so needless to say, the view was breathtaking. Too bad, we didn’t really have much time to lounge and laze around as we had a full two days of activities ahead of usthat’s why I promised myself to be back soon.

Misimis is not fully constructed yetthey are in the middle of constructing a church (Imagine, a view of Mayon and the Pacific, while getting married) and a convention hall. I’m also sad to say that I wasn’t too happy about the service. Don’t get me wrong, the staff were extra pleasantthey were all smiles, and constantly greeted us with pleasantries every time we crossed paths with them. Unfortunately, the employees (80 percent of whom are residents of Bicol, which I think is awesome) tended to forget orders, or were not as proactive enough to ask what drinks we wanted or fill our glasses with water. Surely, it wasn’t a major issue for usbut this might be a problem for discerning guests with high expectations of this SLH member hotel. I also couldn’t figure out why my order of Mojito turned out to be cloudy white with shreds of buko meat, lol. (The margaritas were awesome, fortunately.) I’m not sure about the cultural quirks of Bicolanos, e.g., do they have a problem with the concept of servants, but the staff needs major HRM help.

Misibis Bay’s Amphitheater. May serve as venue for your wedding or for that special dinner.
At night, resort staff can fill this with hundreds and hundreds of candle lights.

The rooms are spacious: I found it spare perhaps because of the size, but it has high, airy ceilings and there is light everywhere. The bathroom is hugeyou can stage a catwalk inside, lol. The same goes for the balcony, which includes lounge chairs and a jacuzzi. The toiletry set is by L’Occitane. Entertainment facilities include a 32-inch flat LCD TV, DVD player and an iPod dock.

The master’s bedroom
photo by Jill Lejano

The adjacent room with day bed
photo by Jill
The bathroom: so long we didn’t manage to include the shower
(should have been in the foreground, left side) in the shot.
photo by Jill

One of the many breathtaking views at Misibis Bay
photo by Jill 

For the activities, we were able to try the ATV island tour. Development in Cagraray Island is fairly new, and I imagine the owner of Misimis to be super-super, as in really, reaaaally rich, lol! You see, he’s actually the one who has been building highways and viewpoints in the island. He even built a helipad near Mayon (!) but more on that later.

The roads are fairly new (we rarely encountered another vehicle) 
so you have them all to yourself. Check out Mayon in the distance.
photo by Jill 

Our convoy of ATVs plus one buggy.

So since the roads are fairly new, there are no public transportations plying the routes yet. Actually, private vehicles are extremely rare (I don’t think we came across one during our two-day ATV trip). So you can just imagine the freedom of riding the ATV through the wide, open roads that cut through cliffs and hills, with the ocean and nearby islands as your viewit was the BEST!

It took a lot of effort to concentrate on the road and not stare at this while driving.
Our breakfast view: the Misibis staff arranged cookies, bread and fruits. Walang toilet so demure lang kami kumain, lol.
photo by Jill

We were also able to ride the owner’s private helicopter. (Misibis Bay guests may arrange their own chopper tour for a fantastic view of Mayon.) As I said, the owner built a helipad near Mayon at a place called Lava Wall (basically a bed of igneous rocks from the mouth of Mayon during one of its eruptions), and I was nearly reduced to tears upon seeing the beauty of this place. The operative word is ‘nearly’ because we were distracted by our 15 minutes of camwhoring, lol.

Misibis Bay photo taken from the chopper
photo by Jill 
At the helipad. Look at that breathtaking view.
photo by Jill 
Before the descent to the ATV ride of our lives.
photo by Jill 

From there, we descended to where our ATVs were parked and rode for one hour going to Caraga, place of the buried church tower. Oh God, that trip was beautiful. (Never mind that I had libag and mud all over my body at the end of my journey because the road was dusty and we crossed river streams.) Seriously, it’s one of the things every Pinoy must do before he/she dies. Perhaps you can skip the chopper, lol, but seriously, the ATV ride from the lava wall through the towns of Camalig and Daraga was amazing. I loved how the locals would actually step out of their houses and watch us pass by. The kids would wave at us and the most of the older foks would smile. I smiled and waved back at them. Hello, Venus Raj.

This trip was absolutely worth my uneven tan and sun spots.
photo by Jill 

Caption this pic, lol.
photo by Jill 
I loved the kids!!! They were really happy to see us for some reason.
photo by Jill 
Finally arriving at Cagsawa and showing off my dimple, lol.
photo by Jill 

And you’ll have to buy tomorrow’s Philippine Daily Inquirer to find out what this was all about 😛
photo by Jill 
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3 thoughts on “I love you Albay!

  1. heyjay says:

    A few comments:-How does it feel to be in a Rich sandwich? Hehehe!-Misibis Bay's Amphitheater. May serve as venue for your wedding or for that special dinner… or the perfect place for a virgin sacrifice.:p-Why were the guys under umbrellas while the girls weren't minding the sun? (6th pic from the bottom)-After reading your blog entry and seeing the pics, parang I wanna go there na tuloy. Kaso mukhang mahalia jackson.

    Like

  2. Jason says:

    LOL!1./ As ordinary as hanging out with one's homies, chos! :-D2./ Oo nga no, good for 5 pa! One pillar each :-P3. Becky yung nasa kaliwa and he's Australian, so feeling ko concerned sya sa cancerous properties of the sun. As for Hardin, oo nga, ewan ko dyan, hehe.4. Medyo expensive nga pero napag-iipunanan naman. Check out these packages:http://www.govisitphilippines.com/temp-pdf/2010.05.07/MISIBIS-BAY-CAGRARAY-ISLAND–3D2N-MAGNIFICENT-MISIBIS-PACKAGE–%5BMAR-2011%5D.pdfOr, you can also stay at Hotel Venezia or Hotel St. Ellis and book your ATV/sightseeing tour there. Isa lang may-ari ng mga yan.

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