giovedì 21 maggio 2015

Cagayan de Oro: a place full of energy

CDO lies on the southernmost island of Mindanao. This island has always strangely attracted me since the first time I was planning a trip to The Philippines despite Mindanao has a very bad if not scary reputation because of Muslim terrorists/independentist. During my stay almost 50 soldiers were killed in the provinces of Cotabato and Maguindanao, nonetheless Elio had a waiter from this area who was supporting his fellow citizens because he said Philippine government try to steal their land in any way whereas they lived these places long before the Spaniards and then the americans colonized this region.
CDO is a middle size town, 600.000 inhabitants, quite congestioned by heavy traffic, some nice place like small street with tiny carenderia, coconut and fruit stalls, a shabby park, in other words it's not a charming town. Davao neighter is but before it has the beautiful Samal and Talikud islands for example. Surigao also is not a charming place but has a nice Luneta Park, many small islands and not only Siargao (famous for beginner surfers), but CDO has really nothing else than a modest but famous White Water rafting and at 3 hours distance a huge and tall zipline park in the beautiful region of Bukidnon.
But I loved this town because his dwellers are so amazing, curious, friendly, warm, sometimes crazy like a few freelance prostitutes who offered me many different services for a pizza or jollyBee meal.
The nightlife in CDO is surprisingly hectic, too many pubs, live music bistrot (Lexis Bar, Lokal and Led), a couple of discos and for the nightclub addicted also several strip-tease clubs like Coras and Coras 2. But also youngsters training their dance steps, their instruments or their tango coreography on the divisoria sidewalk.
At lunchtime I enjoyed one of the many dirty cheap and friendly carenderia whereas for nighttime an uplevel meal of various types was available on the Limketkai area (Jerry's Grill, Siam Thai and Ramentei).
Pure energy, this place was just great!!!

sabato 9 maggio 2015

Camiguin Island: a pearl of beauty

I talked with my friend about Camiguin Island as a beautiful place, or at least this was my feeling after reading some travellers' report. It could not be more true than it was, a couple of hours of Bus from Cagayan de Oro and then 1 hour by ferry toward this small island which has the highest number of volcanoes (all of them exctinct and just one dormant).
Caminguin has not huge, sandy beaches like Boracay or Bohol, however despite its tiny size (23Km long and 14km wide), this island is a real concentrate of natural beauties, populated by friendly people, no thieves (Guido's wife told me you can live your shopping bagon your motorbike without any risk)and a deep atmosphere of pure relax. No wonder that Camiguin is populated by many foreigners, also lot of italians, who settled here to run a business or just to live here. And no wonder this was one of my 2 months trip highlights.
You can get cheap, medium or expensive accommodation near the capital Mambajao, then by a rented motorbike or by bicycle you can start to explore the island chossing between the many waterfalls: Katibawasan Falls, Tuasan Falls. But also snorkel between the waters on an old Spanish cemetery sunken during the 1871 Mount Volcano eruption is a nice way to see many corals and fishes other than a huge ancient cross. Ardent Hot Springs are such a lovely place, open all the night also, where you can relax at a very cheap price (fortunately in The Philippines foreigners dont pay more than locals like in Thailand or Indonesia), not to mention Bura Natural Soda Water Swimming Pool, you can swim there but you can also drink this alcaline water and if I were living there I would spend a couple of hours per day there. There is also a Giant Clams Sanctuary, not easy to get there, but once you arrive you can really enjoy some snorkeling among this nice, anormous clams but be careful not to put your hand inside them ehehehe.
At the Sunset I and my friend had a delicious fish soup (chowdury) in the Laguna Bistro, a small restaurant built on stilts at the lagoon where the sun creates an evem warmer atmosphere between the waters and the mangroves.
Last but not least Mantigue island, a very microscopic island at 10 minutes of boat from Mantigues, well, when you get here you feel that God exists and did great things (despite we all are trying to fuck our planet in any way..): palm trees, white sandy beach, emerald waters, a huge number of fish on the reef of this tiny paradise island where you feel a kind of Robinson Crusoe.
To add some charme to this destination you can have a delicious dinner at La Luna restaurant where Guido, his wife and Vincenzo will prepare you wonderful pizza, pasta and bruschetta or to have a more international food in a very romantic sunset scenery you can go at Casaroca Restraurant-hotel run by a friendly Canadian guy. Considering that Filipino food is not the best in the world and that Italians are quite piky about food, this island was also a culinary paradise!