DAY 3 — NOVEMBER 7, MON:
1:00 pm – Head to Iloilo River Wharf > Buy Ferry Tickets
Our third destination on this ‘Backpacking Visayas’ is Bacolod, the City of Smiles (the nickname is for being a relatively friendly city *wink*). We arrived in Iloilo Ferry Terminal at 2pm and luckily, the next ferry leaves at 2:50pm. Weesam Ferries going to Bacolod costs 230php for tourist plus the 30php terminal fee.
There were a lot of people inside the terminal but they have plenty of seats so no problem. It actually looks like an airport, complete with charging stations, fair-enough restrooms and not to mention, the well-maintained facility. I dunno, it’s probably a newly constructed one.
I think we left Iloilo at around 3pm and we’re thankful for the good weather. It was my 2nd time to ride a fast craft (the first one was from Cebu to Bohol). Got no problem with it, seats are fine, has TV on board, toilets and you can also buy snacks and drinks.
4:40 pm – Touchdown Bacolod
Someone picked us up at the BREDCO port (connections hahaha) and since we’re a bit tired from all the travel for the day, we headed straight to our hotel. We checked-in at Pleasant Travelers Pension House since it has a lot of good reviews online plus my dad recommended it as well. We got an airconditioned room for 780php a night and this one’s more spacious than our room at Raymen in Guimaras. (I’m mentally taking a note to take photos of our room next time. Haha.) We got 2 single beds, TV, vanity table, cabinet, plus hot and cold shower.
6:20 pm – Dinner
Dinner time, we had quite a hard time trying to figure out where to eat. All we aim to try out in Bacolod is “Calea” and we’re really not sure if they serve meals so we ended up eating in a restaurant near our hotel. Good thing we’re near Lacson St., Bacolod’s main road I think (?) and it’s a busy one so it’s kinda safe to just walk around. There are actually a lot of restos/cafes in the area so you can actually have a lot of options.
After dinner, we headed straight to “Calea” and we’re so happy it’s just few blocks away — a huge help from Google Maps. Hahaha.
7:00 pm – Calea
They say that “Calea Pastries and Coffee” is one place you should not miss when visiting Bacolod City. We arrived at around 7pm and I was a bit surprised that there weren’t a lot of people at that time. I’m not really a fan of cakes/pastries so I was just totally there for the experience. In fact, I’ve totally forgotten what we ordered. Hahaha. The number of cakes on display was so overwhelming I had a hard time choosing.
We were able to catch up about random things in life over coffee/tea and cakes. After probably an hour, we decided to call it a day and headed back to our hotel, but we had to pass by 7-Eleven to buy supplies like bottled water, toiletries, etc. So happy we found one along Lacson St.
8:30 pm – Back in Hotel
When we got back in our hotel, we decided to just chill-out as we prepare for the next day’s activities. We even had the luxury of time to put on face mask and fool around before going to sleep. Haha! We felt like we’ve done a lot yet we’re just on Day 3 of our 7-day adventure!
—end of Day 3—
DAY 4 – NOVEMBER 8, TUE:
Prior this trip, while I was doing my research on what to do in Bacolod, I was actually torn between Campuestohan and Mambukal. The choice got easier when I asked Karla if she’s up for an adventure resort, and she said pass. So maybe next time Campuestohan? Haha. Campuestohan is actually a theme park mountain resort. They have many rides to offer like zipline, rope courses, sky bicycle, horseback riding, hamster wheel and probably a lot more. A 5-hectare property situated at about 800-meters above sea level, I bet the they offer a breathtaking view and scenery. Know more about them on their website (http://www.campuestohanhighlandresort.com/).
So anyway, I got no problem choosing Mambukal since it was the original plan before I was able to read about Campuestohan. It’s a bit older than Capuestohan and if you prefer the more nature feels resort, this one’s perfect.
8:30 am – Bus to Mambukal
There are buses going straight to Mambukal. Terminal is somewhere near the market and fare is 35php. I was hoping we could leave at exactly 8am but we still had to look for an ATM and the traffic in Bacolod in the morning is somewhat comparable to what we have in Manila. Wait, what? Yes. Uhuh. I know right?
So anyway, we were the first passengers in the bus and we still had to wait for few more people before the bus finally decided to leave. It wasn’t an air-conditioned bus but no complains ‘cos we get to have some legit fresh air. Also, along the highway, sugar-cane plantations is a typical scene. That’s probably why there are a lot of good dessert shops in Bacolod.
9:40 am – Mambukal
You won’t have trouble how to know if you’ve reached Mambukal already since the last stop of the bus is actually the Mambukal Resort itself. Haha. We’re the last passengers to get off the bus by the way and I even had to remind the bus conductor to drop us off at Mambukal, not knowing that there’s no way for us to miss our stop. Hahaha.
At the gate, there’s an entrance fee of 50php and they will instruct you to go next to the admin office so someone can assist you. When we got there, we asked what we can do in the resort for a day tour and the receptionist gave us options. They have swimming pool, hot sulfur springs, boating lagoon, butterfly sanctuary, waterfalls and etc. Know more about their facilities (http://mambukalresort.negros-occ.gov.ph/index.html).
We’re intrigued by the waterfalls so we decided to check it out first. There’s a total of 7 waterfalls in Mambukal. We had a tour guide with us for the waterfalls and it was quite a walk from the office to the entrance of the trail. We were able to know a bit of info about Mambukal thru our guide. We found out that it’s actually about 24 hectares and it is owned and managed by the Provincial Government of Negros Occidental. Wow.
Upon the start of our climb, I just had to ask our guide if there are snakes going up ‘cos y’know me, I have a phobia. He said yes, sometimes, but nothing to worry about ‘cos that’s why we have a tour guide with us. Well, I survived climbing 2 mountains already in the past and my fear of snakes didn’t stop me so why worry? And besides, what are the chances that we’ll actually encounter a snake in this place? Well, in less than 20 minutes of walking, I saw one and I freaked out. It’s just a small one, but I had to really compose myself before we continued. Hahaha! ‘Twas so funny, ‘cos I was so excited to have our photo taken on this bridge (photo on the right) and I was even skipping like a 5yr old when I saw the snake in front of me, and I freaked out, rushed back, screaming. Few moments after, I was just laughing ‘cos it all happened so fast. But hey, I was still able to smile in the photo, see? Hahaha.
It’s actually good to see that there’s a path complete with handrails made by the guides themselves even if they’re not considered as regular employees of the resort. He said they live on top of the mountain and the local government decided to somehow “partner” with them by offering them jobs as tour guides, since they are already familiar with the trail. That’s a good thing right? Downside however is that they just live on whatever amount the tourists give them. There’s no fee for the waterfalls sight-seeing so it’s up to you how much tip you want to give your guide. We decided to give him 200php btw, since they only get about 1 shot to serve as a guide per day, and because he saved my life from the snake. Haha!
We were able to see 3 waterfalls and decided to not continue since the trail going to the remaining 4 is a bit far and I’d say it’s quite a jungle out there. Haha! More chances of seeing snakes so no thanks. Unfortunately they don’t allow swimming but it was refreshing to do a bit of trekking, even without warm-up (HAHA), and once you’re up there, all you can hear is the water and the birds and if I’m with you, you’ll probably hear my heart pounding ‘cos I’m always on the lookout for anything crawling like another snake. HAHAHA.
Going down, we were able to enjoy a good view of the flying foxes. These are nocturnal bats and it’s said to be the largest bats in the world. They live by eating fruits and they can grow up to 1.5meters in length. Whuuuttss?! Well, that’s what our guide said. Haha. Felt like we were in Jurassic World just watching them fly above us and hear them make their bat sounds. Cool huh?
So after the waterfalls, we decided to check out the hot sulfur springs. I really wanted to try it out since it was one of the things I really looked forward to do in Mambukal when I did my research, but it was so hot that day and we’re afraid we’ll melt in the water (plus we don’t think we can take the rotten egg smell ‘cos of the sulfur) if we push the idea so we decided to just go with the big swimming pool. Wohoo! It was a Tuesday so there are not so many people in the whole resort. We were even able to enjoy the pool all to ourselves. Yay! The entrance fee to the swimming pool is 50php. Their facilities have separate fees btw.
At 1pm, we decided to shower and dry our clothes beside the pool. Hahaha! We don’t have time to dry our clothes when we get back to our hotel since we’ll be arriving a bit late in the evening and we’ll be travelling very early the next day. Literal, nilatag namin sa sahig. Buti na lang talaga kami lang tao dun. :p
3:00 pm – Head back to Bacolod
After taking our lunch (they have a canteen), we’re ready to go back to the city and head straight to The Ruins. Since Mambukal is the last stop, there are plenty of buses waiting just outside the resort. It was a slow ride at first, I think we spent about 30 mins. going about 5-10km/hr (haha IDK, basta mabagal!!) because the bus is trying to wait for passengers. Grabe sobrang tagal. If I only knew it would be like that, we should’ve left Mambukal earlier.
We arrived at the terminal at almost 5pm, and thankful we had someone to pick us up and drive us to The Ruins. BUT, we were stuck in traffic ‘cos it was City Mall’s grand opening. Huhu. I really wanted to be at The Ruins just right before sunset ‘cos it would be so beautiful, right? Google even stressed me out ‘cos when I searched on the internet until what time the place is open, it said, “TUESDAYS – CLOSED”. Wow! And we’re stuck in traffic. I was starting to get disappointed as I try to tweak our itinerary if we can squeeze The Ruins the next day before heading to Siquijor. I was able to have a plan B in my head but that would be so stressful. We just decided to still check out the place and see for ourselves if it’s really closed.
6:00 pm – The Ruins
We arrived at The Ruins at 6pm and we’re so happy it’s not CLOSED!! Waaaahhh! Imagine my stress thinking we’re going to miss a must-see place in Bacolod (I had to tell them that they need to clarify info with Google). So even if we weren’t able to witness the sunset, we’re still super excited when we got there.
The Ruins is also known as the “Taj Mahal” of Negros. In case you want to know more why it’s coined with that term, read more here: (http://www.choosephilippines.com/go/heritage-sites/2441/love-story-and-ruins/)
When I first saw the structure, all I was able to say was, “Perfect lighting!”. It was so beautiful! All the stress before reaching the place was so worth it. There’s a live acoustic band at the restaurant which made the vibe even more romantic. Haha. We decided to take tons of photos (HAHA) before having dinner.
8:00 pm – Back In Hotel
There’s no safer way to go back to our hotel than “Grab”(taxi). The Ruins is found in the middle of sugarcane plantation and it is a long, dark, (okay a bit scary) road before you’ll be able to reach the hi-way. There are tricycles available, but it was a cold evening so nvm. When we reached the hotel we packed our stuff and went to bed early since we’ll be leaving at around 6am the next day.
Overall, we had a nice experience. Too bad we weren’t able to stay for a few more days but I’m sure there’s still a lot of things you can do/explore in Bacolod. As for us, it was a perfect break in our itinerary from all the sea and sand and the island life.
We’re down to our last 2 stops in this trip. Next is the beautiful island of Siquijor!
—end of Day 4—
Breakdown of Expenses:
|November 7, Monday|
|Pleasant Travellers (1,560)||
|November 8, Tuesday|
|Mambukal Entrance Fee||
|The Ruins Parking||
|The Ruins Entrance Fee||