The airport is about an hour away from the town proper. It’s located in a secluded area in the middle of vast lands. There is actually a point where you’ll have to go through rough roads. But your eyes will surely feast on the greeneries. Well, technically, not really greeneries (they don’t have much vegetation and trees hardly thrive), but yeah, you get my point. 😛
Our van (from the Calamian Islands Travel & Tours) dropped us at Mi Casa. The room is neat and cozy, and the staff are very accommodating. We shared a room with three beds. My ‘bedmate’ for the entire trip was Maki while Ate J shared with Ate Mavic. Mia had to use one on her own although she was quite insistent on one of us sharing with her. (If you’re planning to stay here, you better reserve rooms ahead of time.)
A peek inside our room
Anyway, after dropping our luggage, we went straight to a restaurant called “Santino’s Grill”. You just have to ride a tricycle and tell the driver where you want to go. The tricycle is quite different from the usual tricycles we see in the Metro. It’s 8-seater! The fare is 9 pesos but someone told us (not sure if it’s the hotel staff or the tour guide) that we could give the drivers 10 pesos (a little help from us tourists). So yeah, we paid 10 pesos each.
Santino’s Grill serves Filipino cuisines, mostly seafoods. The food was so-so. We ordered fruit shakes, kangkong with sweet sauce, grilled tuna, calamares, and ensaladang ‘lato’ or seaweed. We had to ask the waiter to do the tuna again since it looked undercooked. You have to be very patient in waiting too. They served the food almost an hour after we ordered. Gaahh! There are only two groups eating at that time (the other one’s us!). So I can’t imagine the waiting time if the resto’s actually full. Eekkk!
Food trip at Santino’s Grill
To kill time, we played a game. Each one of us will have to tell something we have done that we think the others haven’t. I can’t really explain the mechanics clearly, but basically, the first to get 10 wins. I suggest you do the same. Play or whatever. Haha.
After digging in, we went straight to the hotel. There, we met Ate Mavic and rested for awhile. We then freshened up and prepared for the next activities. We waited for the van to pick us up at around 4 pm. The tour guide named “Naru” (but we call him Naruto) brought us to the local souvenir shop.
Everyone, meet Kuya Naru, ze tour guide!
I expected a street full of souvernir shops or at the very least, a huge local shop. So I was disappointed to see a small shop with products I know, are made in other areas. There are souvenir shirts, ref magnet, accessories, swimming apparel, cashew nut, and other items. I left the shop with nothing but a blue hat (for my boss) and a pair of pearl earring. I was really upset but I soon took in that it’s because Coron doesn’t have products other than seafood and cashew nut. Trees and other crops hardly grow because it seldom rains in Coron unlike in some other islands. And as we have observed, they do not have good irrigation system.
Kuya Naruto came prepared with animated stories and kept reminding us that we should listen carefully for he’ll have a quiz later on. Being the competitive that we are, we really paid attention to everything (well, maybe not really everything, most, I guess. haha) he said. We stopped in Coron’s pier, just near the town market, and took some pictures. There’s a zipline there but it’s not really appealing. The tour guide told us it’ll cost us 500 pesos for the zipline and I don’t think it’s worth it.
Zipline in the pier of Coron
The tour guide then brought us to the foot of Mt. Tapyas. The moment I stepped out of the van, I knew I’m up for some real action. 724 steps! Woohh! I hoped and prayed my legs would not fail me. We didn’t have any physical preparations and that kinda bothered me. As far as I know, my friends aren’t physically active as well… so yeah, good luck to us! Haha
Equipped with nothing but hats, camera, and a bottle of water, we started trekking; teasing each other of whose legs will first give up. I bet it’s going to be Ate J. It just got to be her. Haha
First few steps
The first few steps are quite steep so it was a bit difficult. We started in fast phase, not wanting to be overtaken by small children trekking with us. The first two hundred steps passed in a blur but the succeeding steps took our energy down the drain. It was hot and we were sweating and panting hard. It’s a good thing though that the steps are paved and there’s handrail. There are also shaded parts and benches so we were able to rest every once in a while.
The ascend — first 200 steps
Sidenote: We were frantically laughing because of the comical bouncy strides one tourist was doing. She somehow kept me keyed up.
After almost an hour, we finally reached the summit. Mt. Tapyas offers a scenic view of Coron. Atop stands a large steel cross painted in white. It’s picture-perfect! We rested in the view deck for a while and marvel at its beauty. The scene is very serene. The rigorous ascend is all worth it!
After watching the beautiful sunset, we decided to start descending. Oh goodness! 724 steps, we meet again! On our halfway down, my knees started trembling so I tried walking fast, aiming to walk ahead of the group so that I can rest on the bench while waiting for them. Maki was doing the same technique so we had some moment of private talk while waiting for the others.
When we finally reached the van, our tour guide started asking questions. He said that if we were able to answer correctly, he’d give us free cashew nut. It turned out that we’re heading to a cashew nut store. Ha! That store gives samples for free tasting. Cashew nut is quite expensive– ¼ kilo costs P175.00. Since there aren’t much products in Coron for pasalubong, I bought a lot of cashew nuts for my friends, officemates, and family back home.
Kuya Naruto then led us to the Maquinit hot spring. Maquinit, in the local dialect, means ‘hot’. So yeah, if you’ll think about it, Maquinit hot spring’s a bit redundant. Haha. Since it’s already dark (plus the fact that we’re busy munching cashew nut on our way), I didn’t notice the road we were taking. I just realized that we were heading up a rough road. Sobrang maalikabok kaya nakakaawa yung mga nakatricycle. Don’t even think of going there in a tricycle, especially if you have asthma.
There are three hot (around 40º C) pools to bathe in. The water is salty so be careful with your eyes. Kuya Naruto told us that it’s the only saltwater hotspring in the country. We took a dip and stayed there for about 15 minutes only. It was very rejuvenating. It’s definitely a good way to relax your strained muscles after the tiring Mt. Tapyas trek.
Taking a dip at Maquinit Hot Spring
Sidenote: The sides of the pool have algae so it’s a bit slippery.
We headed to the hotel and freshened up. Just a few minutes after 8, we went to Bistro Coron. (Bistro Coron is one of the top searches in Google so we figured that we should try their food.) We were supposed to just order and have the food delivered but they say that they don’t do delivery.
When we got there, I was both overwhelmed and under whelmed. I was overwhelmed with the awful atmosphere and under whelmed by their service. There are broken bottles outside (just near the road) and all of the customers are foreigners. There’s no vacant seat and I somehow felt lost. We can’t find anyone to accommodate us. So we went near the bar counter and were welcomed by two foreigners arguing with the waitress. Geez. Imagine that! I was able to catch their words (since we were just few meters away from them) and they’re arguing because of a bottle of juice! The foreigner was reiterating that she owns the juice and brought it with her when they arrived — turns out the waitress accounted the juice in their bill. Instead of feeling sympathy for the waitress, I felt a bit annoyed. Instead of apologizing for her mistake, she kept on insisting that it wasn’t her fault. Gaaaaahhh! Maybe realizing that the argument is going nowhere, the foreigners just retreated and asked the waitress to be more attentive next time. To my surprise, the waitress counter argued again! What an awful customer service.
That same waitress only took notice of us when the two foreigners she’s arguing with, left. She told us to take seats on the porch and gave us the menu. That was it! No ‘please’ and no ‘wait’. I don’t remember being led to our table at all. Aissshhhhh.
We first took three vacant seats and later on transferred to a different table when a group of customers left. When the waitress went to us, we were still discussing what to order. She looked utterly bored while waiting for our orders – complete with the bored face with her hands on her chin. I was beginning to feel really pissed. What a snub!
She suddenly told us that we should order ASAP because they won’t be accepting orders after 9 pm. And mind you, she didn’t tell that politely but with the ‘in-your-face’ tone. What a biatch. So I quickly googled the food reviews and we ended up ordering beef tenderloin with pepper sauce (with spiral pasta) and Bistro pizza. The beef tenderloin arrived shortly and we started digging in. The pizza arrived about 30 minutes after (but it’s okay since it’s clearly indicated in the menu that we’ll have to wait for 30 minutes). I must say that the foods are really tasty! The pepper sauce was flavorful and the beef was very tender. Certainly, a must try!
Good thing the food is great; otherwise, I’d forever list Bistro Coron as one of my worst resto dining experience ever.
We noticed that there are only two staff (well, aside from those in the kitchen) in Bistro Coron. The barista and the waitress. Maybe that’s the reason why she’s really grumpy. As to not be totally pissed with the waitress, we just reasoned out that maybe she’s already tired blah blah blah. But to my surprise, as I read the reviews of Bistro Coron, I found that we weren’t the only ones who experienced the same treatment from that waitress. Ha!
Pigging out at Bistro Coron — yum!
Ambiance: Appalling (It doesn’t really look the way it was on pictures. DO NOT BE DECIEVED. Else, you’ll be disappointed.)
We didn’t bother staying there for a chat. After finishing our food, we went back to the hotel.
Before retiring for the night, we had a massage. We asked the hotel to arrange it for us. Although we were scheduled to have a massage at 11 pm, the three massaseurs arrived at 11:30 while the other two arrived 10 minutes after. Although we ended up sleeping really late, the massage helped us relax and recharge for the next day’s activities. Ahhhh.. what a good way to end the long day!
<Day 2 coming up!>
Sneak peak of Day 2.
Thank you to Ate J, Mia, and ate Mavic for the pictures. Special thanks to Mia for the video (it pretty much sums up our Day 2 experience). Enjoy!