Monday, 31 August 2015

Affordable Getaways | Daranak Falls - Experiencing Its Magic Personally!

Daranak falls

Finally I get to see the breathtaking Daranak Falls!

My hubby and I, together with my brother, decided to ride our way to Tanay, Rizal. My hubby had been adamant on taking me there via a motorcycle ride for ages as he wanted to share its magic with me. We asked my brother to come along with us as I knew he wanted to take his bike for a spin, as well.

So early last Saturday morning, we left Valenzuela City to embark on my longest motorcycle ride ever. 

Since we left about 5.30 in the morning, we didn't encounter any major traffic jam along Mindanao Avenue and Katipunan Road. Probably because it was the start of a long weekend, too, and people were still sleeping in.

Traffic was really light on our way to Daranak falls in Tanay, Rizal.
Hubby was happy to bank along the curved road with me.
I think from Cogeo, this sign will guide motorists on which way to go.

We decided to have breakfast first. Hubby and I only had coffee before leaving and we were already hungry!
Along the road of Tanay, Rizal, this hard-to-miss sign will guide you on where to go.

I got  excited after seeing that sign. It was a short ride after turning right and the tree-lined concrete road made the journey even more pleasant.

It was a long and winding road, but not boring at all.

We passed by this sign on our way and decided to explore it on our way back home.

Kudos to the locals for putting up several reminders like this.
Motorists can get overwhelmed with the smooth ride and might speed up

More reminders!

This is where we paid our entrance fees. This kiosk is located at the right fronting the parking lot for cars.

The parking area for motorcycles was further ahead where the space is narrower. We quickly chose a shaded area and proceeded to the kiosk to pay 50 pesos each. In my previous post, I was able to upload an image containing the fees. Both adults and children pay the same amount and a picnic table will cost 200 pesos while a shed will cost a hundred more. Individuals who come for photo-shoots need to shell out 1,500 pesos. You may visit that post here for more details.

Wow, tourists would even be issued receipts! Impressive!

Yes, we're finally here!

Balancing rocks welcome you to Daranak falls. And, they aren't glued. For real.

Proof that the rocks weren't glued. We saw a staff building one!

A picnic shed.

There's an area for washing.

Clean toilets are available, though they are quite tight for someone as healthy as me.
And that's hubby over there having a chat with the caretaker.
And oh, you'll need to pay 5 pesos every time you use the bathroom.

There's even a "locker" for those who don't want to rent a table and have nowhere to leave their belongings.
But since it's a cabinet, which exposes all shelves, it's good to remember not to leave any valuables behind.

Daranak falls is quite organized with all the facilities available. At least we know the fees they charged are used to improve the place. Way to go, LGU of Rizal!

After changing quickly and depositing our stuff in the "locker", a staff locked it and kept the key with him. So we sped off to the falls. I can't wait to see it!

OMG! And we got the place all to ourselves, sans the onlookers sitting by the rocks.

Daranak falls with all it's splendor and glory. The staff says this place can get packed during the summer.

The water can get very chilly especially this early. It was only 8.30 in the morning.

A smaller waterfall.

 There's another waterfall on the right side. But the only way to reach it is to get through the slippery rocks on the right. Extreme caution must be taken. Better to wear trekking sandals, though I was able to feel the surface off the rocks and judge how slippery it is with my bare feet.

The smaller waterfall up close.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         We had fun lying down beneath the raging but soft waterfalls. It's like having a massage! But, I had sore muscles until three days later!

Another waterfall, glee!

      That smaller waterfall leads to another waterfall, but bigger. This one's just in front of the main falls. And that protruding rock is good jump-off spot!

A view of the stream from the waterfalls. That bridge leads to another waterfall, Batlag falls.

The way to Batlag falls.

 Indeed, the water from Batlag falls go down to Daranak falls. And the only way to Batlag falls is to pass by the entrance to Daranak falls, meaning adults pay 150 in all and children 100 pesos. In short, we weren't able to see the place as we had limited budget. Plus, we decided to enjoy Daranak falls some more. After all, more people are coming and we plan to leave the moment it gets crowded.

Remember the sign pointing to a cave? We checked it out before going home. But, just a warning, it was a good 15-20 minute of rough roads as only about 20% of the path is concrete. For motorcycle riders, it was really uncomfortable. And hubby kept on fussing about his tires..

Sharp stones and dirt made the ride uncomfortable.

Small signs will you guide on your way.
Oops, what happened to the sign?

 There were signs but we had to stop and ask for directions about three times.

After several "malapit na yun", we finally found the Calinawan cave.

A small sign board informed us how much we need to shell out.

 I am claustrophobic so I am not sure what made me search for the Calinawan cave. Hubby and my brother weren't thrilled to go down, either. Maybe I just wanted to discover something. But since I have low tolerance for tight spaces, we just took pictures of the entrance and left.

It was already past 12 noon so we returned to Mommy Flor's kitchenette and had lunch. She was happy to see us again as she recognized we were in her kitchenette earlier in the morning. She told us there's another waterfalls in Rizal called Daraitan falls. She even gave us her number so we can call her up to order some food and it'll be ready by the time we arrive. Our next adventure's settled then.

The photo says it all.

Well, it was a well-spent Saturday. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the motorcyle ride. And as hubby described Daranak falls, it was magical. And we'll probably return to Tanay, Rizal to see Daraitan falls :)

But if you are a beach person, you can probably try Anawangin Cove or Coron, Palawan. Just be careful when you are wading in the beach and don't step on rocks.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Shopping Adventures | At Divisoria, Manila's Shopping Mecca

Shopping Adventures | At Divisoria, Manila's Shopping Mecca

My mom has branded herself as a Divisoria girl. My grandparents supposedly had a stall there when she was young and they brought her along with them. And so, my mom became well-familiar with the place.

True enough, my mom knew the streets well and she won't get lost while weaving her way in and out of the passageways looking for her 'suki'. She also knew which way to go if you needed to buy something in particular, such as native goodies or beads, and she will advise you to head over to Ilaya Street. If you want something, just ask her and she'll know where to find it.


Naturally, she brought me to her favorite shopping place when I was still young, too. And so, I learned which store to go to if I will buy quality gift wrappers in bulk or which area to head over to get candies for goodie bags. 

#1 Avoid shopping during the -ber months if you want to have a more relaxed shopping adventure.

I learned that it is best to do my Christmas shopping as early as October to avoid the large crowds. For after-Christmas shopping therapy, I learned it is not good to visit before the New Year as merchants usually light up firecrackers on the street to attract customers. For purchasing school supplies for the new school year, I also learned to save up and shop in April to, again, avoid the crowds.

As a teacher, I have always bought presents for my advisory class for Christmas. And it had been an annual routine to make a trip to 'Divi' during the semestral break when there were still less people doing their Christmas shopping. I made a mistake of going to Divi in December once and I never did it again. The place is so crowded that you can't scout items properly as you'll  literally move along the mob without you walking.

Gift ideas for kids.

Thus, it saddened me to learn that the Divisoria mall burned to the ground. What used to be a multi-storey building became a messy site of crumbled concrete walls and galvanized iron sheets-covered grounds. Nevertheless, small entrepreneurs persisted with the only business they knew and put up kiosks along the site. We were still able to find out favorite 'palabok' cafeteria which serves the pasta with squid ink. So please understand why there's no photo of us :D

Good thing other shopping malls have been built to cater to budget-conscious shoppers. One will find several malls such as 168, 999 and 1188 just across Tutuban mall, though I personally believe that though 168 offers the same items like those found in Divi mall, prices were a bit higher. 

And then there's the classy Lucky Chinatown mall which houses signature brands and high-end stores.

#2 Bring smaller bills especially if it's still early. Chances are, the 'tindera' won't have sufficient change for your 500-hundred bill.

Items found in 168 are so diverse you'll never know what to find! Thus, it is wise to go around if you're not sure what to give to your office mates and scout for vendors who'll offer wholesale prices for just three pieces for added savings at the same time.

Bottled wet ones at 3 for 100 pesos! 
                                                                                                                                                   #3 Bring a small notebook or notepad with you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You'll need the notebook to list down the things you need to buy. Since 168 or 999 or 1188 are enormous, it's more fun to go around to check out the things they offer and find what you need along the way. It's better to enjoy walking around than looking straight for what you need- it'll be exhausting.

You'll also need the notebook to jot down the aisle number  or in Divi's case, Pasilio, in case you want to return to a certain vendor later.

#4 Avoid keeping all of your money in your wallet. It is better to bring a coin purse and to pocket some cash as well.

How can you haggle if your suki can see plenty of 500-hundred bills folded in your wallet? Kidding aside, some individuals may just be pretending to shop around but are actually pickpockets. By putting your cash in different places, you minimize exposing how much money you actually have and avoid the prying eyes of thieves. 

#5 Dress casually and avoid wearing jewelry. 

Again, shop wisely and safely. If you can, wear a messenger bag and put it in front of you at all times.

#6 Bring a reusable bag to hold all of your purchases for convenience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               It can be quite a hassle to lug around several bags of purchases. You might drop a bag while paying for a new item or the tight bags may hurt your hands as the weight pull them down.

Invest in sturdy reusable bags which are washable as well.

#7 In a rush and don't have the time to look around? You may find these locations helpful:

For your party needs and give way ideas, visit the Pasilio 2HB in 168.

Support local brands such as Juana, which has several stalls in 168. Find one along Pasilio 2D. More fashionable wear can be found at the fifth floor.

For your gadget and accessories needs, head over to the fourth floor. 

For cheaper medicines, search for the biggest pharmacy in 999 at the ground floor near the escalator.

Need a nice dress with an affordable price tag? Scout the shop along 999 mall, along Pasilio 2AI.

Need to buy bulk candles such as scented varieties and tea light? Look for Columbia wax along Soler street in front of 999 mall.

Hungry, starving, famished? Proceed to the food court at the fifth floor for affordable chows like Turks and Henlin. Over at the Soler Wing, the food court at the same floor offers a more expensive variety such as Chowking and Wendys'.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Affordable Getaways | Daranak Falls

Taking A Motorcycle Ride

Affordable Getaways | Daranak Falls

Hubby has found a new hobby (sorry for the pun). He and some of his old church friends plus new acquaintances have formed a circle of riders and have been going to various places near the Metro.

Sure, riding is quite dangerous, expensive, and exhaustive. But travelling via a motorcycle is way cheaper than commuting or driving a four-wheel car. Plus, no amount of money can provide the thrill of banking and the feeling of the rushing wind as the bike speeds up on the road. Thus, hubby's friends prefer destinations were they can enjoy a smooth, long ride without taking the busy EDSA to avoid traffic jams.

Tips for Riding

But to ensure that the ride is smooth, there should be someone who is familiar with the place and terrain. 

So TIP #1 for those who wanted to ride, let someone who knows the destination stay in front and guide the group.

The anchor led the group.

The first time hubby joined the group, they went to Daranak Falls in Rizal. It took them 2 hours to reach the place and hubby almost had everything documented in his SJ4000. 

So TIP #2, it's great to have an action camera with you so you can record the action and relive the moments.

Hubby attached the action camera on the strap of his backpack. It caught the anchor banking along the zigzag road.

The zigzag road to Rizal isn't for beginners.

The scenery along the way seems so relaxing, no wonder hubby enjoyed his ride.
Hubby said he encountered very few vehicles along the way, which made the ride less stressful, too.

Travelling light is best, especially if you're riding a motorcycle. Hubby just brought some canned goods to eat along the way. But it's much better to get a taste of the local cuisine by eating at carinderias or restaurants along the way as it also helps small entrepreneurs with their businesses, as well.

So TIP #3, just bring enough water and a bit of snacks to munch on quickly. There is no need to pack a lot of food, as food establishments which cater to different customers will surely be bountiful. 

The group stops by a carinderia along the road for a quick meal.

Soon, hubby's group reached Daranak Falls. Entrance fee is minimal and the falls is open from 8 am until 5 pm. Lockers are available for rent as well as clean toilets, though photographs aren't available due to personal reasons.

The water is great for cooling drinks, except alcohol and beer aren't allowed inside. Aww..

 The Dandy Daranak Falls

It is quite unbelievable that something as beautiful as Daranak falls is just hours away from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila. After a busy week, anyone who wants to relax and take a dip in cool waters can just visit Daranak falls. 

Stone steps lead to the falls.

Even the clear streams flowing from the falls looks so inviting!

It is better to travel early in the morning to avoid traffic jams and the scorching heat from the sun. Also, one can enjoy the destination sans the crowd as well. 

So TIP #4, ride early to enjoy most of the trip!

Enjoy the water cascading onto your shoulders gently at Daranak!

Hubby plans to bring me in his next ride. I have searched for other nearby waterfalls and found one near Daranak called Batlag falls, though most are located in Laguna. But I do hope the ride would be as enjoyable and the sight as breathtaking.

Well, till next motorcycle adventure, then!

Photos taken by hubby. To see more of his works, click here.