Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bacolod Experience: TomnTom's, The Ruins & Silay side trip

We started our day by trying TomNTom's, a Korean coffee shop franchise. It was actually recommended by my officemate who hails from Bacolod, her cousin is the co-owner of this branch. My sister and I wasn't able to try it in Korea so we dragged our parents and aunt there =)). 
The place is huge, it's a 2 story building with simple industrial interior.
The coffee serving is bigger compared to Starbucks AND I can finally eat this big Korean cafe bread with whipped cream, again!!
choco bread
Our plan for our 3rd and last day in Bacolod is Museum hopping! We rented the same taxi for the whole day for PHP1500 again. It turned out to be a bargain because aside from the Bacolod, Talisay Silay musueum hopping, the driver will also send us off to the airport.

Our first stop is The Ruins, we paid a PHP100 entrance fee and got a free tour guide/photographer as well. My sister was taking photos when the male receptionist suddenly got her phone and started to direct our on the spot photoshoot.
The Ruins, Hacienda Sta Maria, Talisay City

He knows all the good spots for touristy and artsy shots. At one point he even bent to have this unique and funny photo of my parents.

When we finally entered The Ruins, he asked us to sit and started to tell the story of the house and their family. He claims to be one of the heirs of the famous ruins of the grand mansion built for the 1st wife of sugar plantation owner, Don Mariano. From what I remember, during World War 2, the Japanese wanted to use this place as a hideout so the Americans set the mansion on fire. The structure's foundation remained because it was solid, the secret was adding eggs on the cement. That's all I can remember from his talk, the other memory is filled with all of us laughing from his jokes.

We went to Silay City, famous for the heritage houses preserved from Spanish era. I studied at University of Santo Tomas, and I really liked the tall ceilings, intricate designs that are signature for Spanish era structures.

Balay Negrense, is the 1897 ancestral house of Gaston family that was converted into a lifestyle museum. The big rooms, furnitures, high ceilings gave us a glimpse of the luxury enjoyed by the family of another sugar plantation owner. 
Balay Negrense
The museum also displays the antique furniture and memorabilia of famous people in Bacolod that was donated to the city.
my aunt & mom =))
Located on the same street is  the Pink house or the Bernardino-Jalandoni House Museum. It is another heritage house that provides a glimpse of the elite life in 1900s. We explored the house along with a foreigner couple who was also amazed by the history of the family and their house. 

A harp is located on the living room, my sister suddenly said, "imagine you're drinking coffee while someone plays the harp, sosyal!"
True enough, 2 days is enough to explore Bacolod! By 3PM, we've checked our must see places so we asked the driver to drop us off at the airport. We had two hours to spare before our check in time and it will be complicated if we go back to Bacolod - we ended up sitting in the airport waiting area for a long time =))

We really enjoyed our laid back Bacolod trip, the food and weather is great. We're lucky that we're 5 pax so the cost of taxi rental is cheaper. I like the mix of busy downtown and the nature resorts are just 1 hour away. I wish its just a few hours away from Manila!

Bacolod Experience: Campuestohan Highland Resort & Calea

After a buffet breakfast at our hotel, we waited for our service taxi. My mom texted the driver who picked us up at the airport, 45 minutes later he's still on the way! We decided to hail the next Avanza, big cab that passed by the lobby. It was 11am and we again negotiated and rented the cab for PHP1500 from 11am-6pm. Our destination for the second day is Campuestohan Resort located on the boundary of Bacolod and Silay city. It's another 1hr+ ride from downtown Bacolod, we passed by Bacolod City Hall, San Miguel building before finally seeing the mountain area. We arrived at around 12:30 in the afternoon and the sun welcomed us =))

Campuestohan Resort is famous for its Tagaytay like weather and scenery. We're able to walk around and enjoy the area because it's chilly. There's an Indian village, where guests can rent this tent like structure for an overnight stay.
Scorching sun
beautiful panoramic view

Or they can choose to stay on Igloo rooms..

There are 2 swimming pools, a regular and wave pool,  but we want to try something new for that day.

The resort is also known for the fun outdoor activities, such as this rope course. We watched this young couple as they went through different rope challenges, we felt exhausted for them. Imagine, doing different rope challenges with a harness under the scorching heat of the sun.
Not for us
We considered the zipline but we already tried that in Tagaytay so we ended up trying the Sky Bicycle instead. We let our dad be the guinea pig and when he finished it, we had the guts to try it as well.

It felt safe because you have a harness and the bike's wheels are also connected on that metal string, the only catch is that the wind can blow very hard which makes the ride shaky! And, you will control your speed, if you stop peddaling, you'll just stay put on where you are.

me & Yoyin
We went to the restaurant to rest and have a late lunch
I had my 2nd chicken inasal for this trip and we also tried the refreshing Binakol, chicken in buko juice stock pot.
Chicken Binakol
Chicken Inasal
After eating and exploring the resort for the 2nd time, we went back to the city and had a nice massage and pedicure on the spa accross our hotel. I've spent PHP300 for the 2 services and covered the tip as well, gotta love the province rate =)). 

On our second day in Bacolod, we're also able to visit the 2 pasalubong stops. We bought mango piayas from Merci and Butterscotch from BongBongs. We also went to Calea, one of Bacolod's must visit bakeries, I've read that it opens at 9AM and it wont fit on our last day's itinerary. My aunt and I rode the jeep from our hotel and went to Calea. The place was fully packed so we just ordered cakes to go. I had the mud pie, chocolate lava with ice cream for my sister and the gelatin cake for my aunt. Unfortunately, I was the only one who enjoyed my cake. My sister was looking for the chocolate filling for the lava cake but there's none and my aunt was dissattisfied with her gelatin.

Later that night, we started packing our luggages, now filled with piayas and butterscotch pasalubongs, to get ready for our last day in Bacolod.

Bacolod Experience: Bob's,Mambukal & Aida's Manukan

I only have 2 destinations in mind for my travel wishlist this year - Bacolod and Tokyo!

I have heard great things about this city and their food from my friends so when my family and I were planning a birthday trip for my daddy, I decided that we should go there. Originally, my parents and 2 aunts wanted to go to Vigan but based on experience, it will be a super long road trip. When I came across a CebuPacific seat sale, PHP3000 roundtrip fare to Bacolod, I immediately booked our tickets. They asked me, "why Bacolod?" I sent them a link to Drew Arellano's 48hrs Bacolod Itinerary. Our itinerary was a combination of his and my friend's recommendations.

We had an early morning flight and arrived at around 10AM at Silay Airport.  We had 3 whole days and 2 nights to explore the city and it turned out to be our most laid back family vacation so far.

City of Smiles
From Silay airport, we hailed a cab to bring us to HillTop restaurant but the driver was not familiar with it. I checked my must visit restaurant list, thanks to Google Maps I noticed that Bob's was nearby and asked the driver to reroute to Bob's instead. It was lunch time and the place was packed, I ordered ribs and Japanese rice. For dessert, I had a hard time choosing because the nearby Bob's Cafe had a lot of cakes and most of the cake slices cost under PHP100! 
Ribs and Strawberry Shortcake
We hailed another cab to bring us to our next destination, Mambukal Hot Spring located in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia. We rented a big cab for 1,500 from 1-6pm and it took us more than one hour to go to the resort. My brothers and aunt were not able to join our trip but it's a blessing in disguise because at least the 5 of us (mom, dad, aunt and sister) can fit in 1 taxi, which seems to be our only transpo option during this trip. Come to think of if, when we divided the fare for day 1, we've spent PHP200 each for airport taxi and PHP300 each for the tour service.
Quick trekking

We arrived at around 1:30 in the afternoon, on the resort's entrance we paid P50 day trip fee and proceeded to the parking lot. To go to the Hot Spring pool, we decided to go on a 5 minute trekking, with our big bags and all, instead of walking on the bridge that leads to the same area. We paid another P100 entrance fee for the Hot Spring pool, it's a relatively small place and there's less than 15 people, mostly foreigners, whose already taking a dip.  My aunt, mother and sister immediately changed into our swimming clothes -  T-shirt and shorts, because there's no dresscode, yay -  while my social media addict, birthday celebrant dad, decided to enjoy the LTE signal. 

I'm "lamigin" so I really enjoyed swimming and just hanging out on the pool with hot water. They say that taking hot baths is therapuetic because it helps relieve muscles, this place was really a good starting point for our relaxing long weekend in Bacolod. 

Another hidden gem
While researching for this trip, I've read that there's a bat-watching area in Mambukal Resort but it took us a long time to realize that those bats were hanging on the trees surrounding the hot spring area. At around 4PM, we noticed that several bats were already flying so we decided that it's time to wash up and return to downtown Bacolod.

When we returned to parking lot, we noticed the Mambukal Resort map and we're surprised that it was that big! There were 2 other pools and recreational areas for wall climbing, spa, etc. We only managed to see 1/8 of the place, the hot spring area but we're satisfied.
We only saw 1/8 of the place
After checking in at Business Inn, we rested for a while before going to Aida's Chicken in Manokan Country, a street of restaurants that sells, what else, Bacolod Chicken Inasal! It's a 10 minute jeep ride, our hotel is really near SM Bacolod and Manokan Country is just accross the mall. 

the menu and sawsawan
We arrived at around 6:30PM, just before the place became fully packed with locals and tourists. The place is decorated with masks, paying homage to their popular Masskara Festival.
We ordered the famous Chicken Inasal, isaw, isol (chicken ass). My mom said that maybe they boiled the chicken before they grilled it because the meat turned out really soft and tender. I think we spent PHP150 each for our dinner and we're really full.  

1st Inasal for this trip
We went back to our hotel with a satisfied tummy, our day started early and decided to rest and prepare for our day 2 in Bacolod.