Monday, September 24, 2012

Trekking Dumaguete City and Beyond

  • Rizal Boulevard, Dumaguete City
    (picture from
    Finally, the journey that I have been thinking of since last year has unfolded but it turned out to be unplanned. 

    While at work, it suddenly came into my mind that I should try venturing for a trip down south of Cebu to the island of Negros Oriental which is another province in the Central Visayas region. Right after my shift, I packed my things up and immediately headed to the Cebu South Bus Terminal to catch a trip going to Liloan, Santander where I could hop on a ferry going to Sibulan, Negros Oriental.
    Aboard on a non-aircon bus going to Santander, I left Cebu around seven o'clock in the morning and arrived in Santander past one o'clock in the afternoon which was just perfect for me to catch the ferry leaving for Sibulan at two o'clock. I arrived in Sibulan 30 minutes later and took a jeep (locals call it easy ride) going to Dumaguete City. Since the trip was unplanned, I had to figure out what to do next while in Dumaguete. I dropped by in an internet cafe to browse some recommendations about interesting activities while in the city but the entire city was experiencing black out at that time so I ended up basking around the place while waiting for electricity to come back on. I did not know exactly what to do and where to go -- I just followed where my mind would find interest to. I ended up strolling around the market and eventually, electricity was on so I had time to sit and browse on the internet for some reviews from fellow travelers and backpackers. I suddenly remembered that a friend and travel buddy was a graduate from Silliman University in the city so I immediately sent her a text message. She responded with a handful of suggestions. She even contacted a friend to meet me. It was indeed so random and to add excitement to what has already been exciting, I logged on to my Facebook and sent message to my Dumaguete based Facebook friends. I got an immediate response and we're up to hang out the immediate night. Take note that I haven't met any of these people in person. I have known them because of an online forum.
    Silliman University Museum
    (picture from
    I don't know if my friend was just bias but Silliman University was on the top of her recommendations. Well, putting any biases aside, I followed what my friend suggested and followed the street signs and my instinct and walked through the path that might lead me to Silliman University. Yes, my instinct and the street signs should be correct as I was brought to the markers of the century old Silliman University. There were lots of things to explore inside the campus but it was a Sunday so most of the buildings were closed except for the library which required me to leave an ID to enter. I chose not to get in and headed towards the other departments of the institution. I had been hearing about Silliman before and finally I was there. I found a street leading to Rizal Boulevard so I walked through the passage and dropped by in some of the restos which were kind of cool places for hang out. I then walked along Rizal Boulevard and enjoyed the relaxing views of the place and so with the gentle people that I met along the way. It was getting dark and I needed to find a place where backpackers find it affordable and comfortable. I was not able to find any dormitory style inns in the city but there was this place called Vintage Inn where the room rates are affordable compared to others. A fan room with own CR and wi-fi costs 300 and when I checked the room it was so good for 300 pesos. The place is just within the heart of the City and it's walking distance from the parks, malls, and some hang out areas. I took it without any question in mind.
    I wanted to experience local food so I went where most of the locals pack for tempura and squid balls. Food stalls started to pop out along the boulevard as soon as the sun started to set and I had my own share of local dining. I don't know if it's just me or their squid balls and tempura really taste different from those in Cebu. The city has its own style of serving these street foods also and I had to sit and wait until my order would be served with variety of sauces on a plate.
  • Hayahay Tree House and View Deck Restaurant, Dumaguete City
    (picture from
    Just when I thought that the night was going to end that way, I had to move for yet another exciting meetup with some random people. Travel to me is not just all about visiting all the tourist attractions I heard of but more than that, I love meeting people along the way. I hanged out with new found friends in Hayahay Restaurant where affordable drinks are served but I love their pizza with their signature hot sauce. Every seasoned traveler who will visit Dumaguete for the first time should give the place a try for cold beer and pizza, not to mention. They also serve a variety of cuisines which will surely suit your taste buds. However, everything was not all about the food and the drinks I had but the discussions I shared with new found friends -- a discussion which went freely as wild animals in the jungle. Sexism, freethought, religion, philosophy, travel were just few of the topics we randomly talked about.
    A lake at the entrance of Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes Natural Park
    (picture from www.
    The following day, I had to think of other things to do while in the city but I thought I already had an enough dose of Dumaguete. I heard of Lake Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes Natural Park and thinking it's just few kilometers away from the city, I decided to get lost. It's funny because the receptionist at the inn where I stayed didn't know where the place is located. I decided to check out to randomly ask people along the way who might know where this place is. Luckily, I found a stranger who directed me to the place where I could wait for the jeep going to San Jose town where the lake is located. I had to take a motorcycle to reach the place and when I asked one of the drivers about the fare, I shockingly heard 400 pesos. It's a roundtrip fare, he said, as he had to wait for there's nothing I could ride on going back. The good thing was I was able to haggle and paid 300 pesos only. I was hoping not to waste my 300 pesos for a short ride and a man-made lake. When I learned that it's an uphill drive for almost an hour, I thought it was worth my 300. I had to pay for the entrance fee -- including the driver's and the motorcycle's. Locals are charged ten pesos for the entrance fee while foreigners are charged 100 pesos. I remembered my trips in Thailand wherein I had to keep my mouth shut for a while just to take advantage of the entrance fee for the locals and save my day from an absurd fee meant for foreigners. The drive going up to the lakes was breathtaking and I was thinking it was part of the 300 pesos I paid for. The views were mixed of landscapes and seascapes that one will suddenly be reminded how beautiful this earth is. It's purely nature and there's nothing you could think of but appreciate every wonder that comes into your eyes.
    Balinsasayaw Twin Lakes Natural Park
    (picture from
    After the uphill drive and hike (because the motorcycle could no longer carry my weight due to the stiffness of the road), I reached the lakes which, according to the driver, were craters of a dead volcano. The lakes were surrounded with tree-carpeted mountains which are inhabited by species that can only be found in the locality. From the bigger lake, there were two ways to reach the smaller lake. One can go on kayak through the bigger lake followed with a short hike or one can follow the trails leading to the smaller lake. I opted for the second one for safety (both of my own and my pocket). I had to hike through a rocky trail which stretches to more than a kilometer but, again, the hike was all worth it. The end of the trail is a tower where one can see the twin lakes. The view is marvelous that I had to stop there for a couple of hours to realize the wonders of nature. There were more activities that I missed and I will surely come back to try them all. I would like to try camping and trekking the other trails leading to the peak of one of the mountains that surround the lakes. I left the place with an inspiration and full of appreciation to nature hoping to share what I have just seen. At times, it takes wonders to let us realize that there's always something that we can do to protect our natural habitat and it's one of the experiences that I always want to keep from the journeys I had.
As soon as I took off from the mountain, I went back to Sibulan, Negros Oriental and explored the place. Afterwards, I headed to the port and left for Cebu where another journey awaits -- a journey that I am trying to trudge, an uphill struggle that I am trying to battle, a journey called work.

For my fellow travelers' sake, I am posting here the expenses of such travel. I hope this would help. If you have ideas how to make one's journey to Dumaguete and the Island of Negros Oriental more memorable, feel free to leave a comment below. After all, we're all travelers who would always want to make our journey worthwhile.
Cebu City South Bus Terminal to Liloan, Santander -- Php 179 (aircon bus)/ Php169 (non-aircon bus) + Php 5 for terminal fee
Liloan, Santander to Sibulan, Negros Oriental -- Php 62 (includes fare and terminal fee)
Sibulan, Negros Oriental to Dumaguete City (jeep) -- Php 11.00
Vintage Inn (infront of Dumaguete Public Market) -- Php 300 (fan room with own cr and wi-fi)
All other expenses will depend on the activities that you would like to do while in the place.

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