Monday, May 20, 2013

Zambales -- last beach ballyhoo for summer 2013

This getaway is unlike my other beach getaways in many ways. For one, we were with Zaby (my 4 year old step daughter), this is the first time we took her with us on vacation because --now don't judge especially if you don't have your own kid yet -- Zaby doesn't enjoy going to new places. She clams up and starts being clingy, whiny and basically a pain in the ***. I'm sorry, but it's true. I'm not going to deny that it totally gets to me when she starts acting up like that. I first witnessed this when we first got her and we took her to Fun Ranch for her birthday --when we got Zaby, she was 3 1/2 years old, and boy, was she an overly pampered kid. Poor child was babied so much she was scared of her own shadow.

We've witnessed this many times already --birthday parties of kids she's meeting for the first time, new places (like Chinatown and new restaurants or playgrounds) etc. So why subject her to something she doesn't enjoy? Not only won't she enjoy but we ourselves won't have a good time.

But lately, I've been really spending a lot of time with her and I've been showing her pictures of the beach. See, this trip is Karl's birthday celebration and I really want Zaby to come with us --not only did I want this to be a family bonding moment but more importantly I want to introduce her to what I like to do and hopefully she'll like it too, you know, more stuff to bond over.

I've been showing her pictures of beaches I've been to and kind of building up her excitement. Zaby, just like me, likes nature. She gets excited when she sees flora and fauna --so I decided to bank on that. Everyday, I'd take a bath with her and teach her to hold her breath underwater and I told her stories of diving and showing her pictures of marine life and stuff and things she would be able to see underwater.

The day before our trip, I asked her if it was her first time to go to the beach --she said yes (although I think she went with her biological mom once). I asked her if she was excited --and boy! did she jump up and down!  She barely slept that night and just small noises (I was packing our stuff in the next room) and she'd get up and ask me if it was time to leave. sah kyat!

We left the house at around 6am --since I had to finish working on some stuff for my boss. Again, we relied on Google Maps but once again, it has failed us! I searched for directions on the computer as well as regularly checked my phone's GPS. the map kept telling us to take JASA (Jose Abad Santos Avenue) and not once did it suggest taking the SCTEX route. It took as 6 hours to arrive in Crystal Beach Zambales, including our stopover at Chowking --so maybe more or less 5 hours.

The pine tree lined "Kampsite" at Crystal beach --full of  not very approachable Manilenos

We arrived in Crystal Beach Zambales just in time for lunch. We ate at their restaurant --a meal of fish fillet with tausi, lechon kawali and ginataang gulay. Each serving cost about 150 plus something and was good for two persons. While waiting for lunch, Zaby and I went to check out the beach.

It was my first time in Zambales and my first time to see a beach with pine trees instead of coconut trees. I've been trying to search online for a scientific explanation of why this is so, since Zambales is not particularly cold, but I can't find any articles. If you know why, please leave a comment or a link!

After lunch, we checked in to our room and --you guessed it, Karl fell asleep. The three of us, Say, Zaby and myself, headed to the beach to see what Zambales had to offer.
Despite the forecast being "flat" --the waves here were bigger than usual beaches I've been to. The color of the sand reminded me of beaches in Antique (Panay Island) where I spent most of my youth.

Zaby holding on for dear life -- that's Say, Karl's favorite cousin. Remember her? she was with us in Tarlac.

I showed Zaby how to stomp on the waves "see! we're stronger than the waves!", which made her laugh, and after a while, she was no longer scared!

The waters were too tempting so I went back to our room, deposited my phone so we can be worry free while we play on the beach. We walked and frolicked along the beach and even caught some waves and a lot of sand. Zaby was gamely playing with us which made me really happy. To the south of Crystal beach is where the surfboard rentals are so I asked them how much --it was Php200 rent per hour plus php400 per hour for the instructor. I didnt want to pay php600 for an hour especially since there were barely any waves so all I can do is just paddle paddle. I'm naturally athletic and I was confident I'd learn real fast so it would be a waste of 600 pesos just to paddle paddle on the baby waves --anyway, I had a body boarding date with my friend on the first weekend of June so I decided not to. Yeahay!

We played in the water for over an hour and then we remembered that we had one other companion holed up in the room. We went to wake up Karl and urged him to come out and play with us.

Crystal beach had a playground with 3 big trampolines --Jumpoline according to Zaby, a more appropriate name in my opinion. Zaby and I had the time of our lives there and if it werent for Karl saying he wanted to see the beach we wouldn't have stopped jumping like monkeys.

cropped myself out of the picture because my jump was so unflattering

pure bliss on Zaby's face

Zaby much preferred to jump with me because she can go much higher --she's so small that she barely can jump a few inches LOL.
Not only was the trampoline real fun but it also was very useful in removing sand from our bodies.

Family jumpshot -- we can never get a shot of Zaby in the air. This is the best one we got.

Karl grew up in Tinian so just like me, he grew up close to the beach, that's why I don't understand why he can't swim and he is not a beach nut like me.  He likes looking at it though, haha

teaching Zaby the proper stance so she won't topple over when there is a wave.

Say, Zaby and Karl waiting for a wave.

Zaby bravely meeting the baby waves.

hammock near the shore. Free for use for everyone!

Don Quixote dela Pisot surveying his land

can you see the cool tornado like cloud?

we wanted to show you the pine trees!

Zaby trying to do a jumpshot again

This was a candid picture of me fixing my hair -- I think I look sexy here, yes? LOL

you know that intro they show before some movies, Lakeshore Productions? It shows a kid running then jumping off a dock and the picture freezes with him mid-jump. i wanted to recreate that --unsuccessfully.

better looking jumpshot
giant "Tupperware" we saw under one of the huts. we dragged it out and flipped it over  so we can pretend we were being microwaved.

chilling in a giant tupperware

the twins
We played some more in the playground --trampoline, balance board, with Chiquita the monkey, slide, tyre swings, running after the pigeons etc. but i think  you've seen enough of us jumping like a kangaroo. They also had 2 tortoises in Crystal Beach --I felt sorry for them. :(

After playing till sunset, Zaby and Karl went back to room for showers and Say and I drove to the town proper to buy us some fruits and ice. It took us a long time to get to the palengke and back to Crystal Beach owing to the many Mayflower processions. We bought a whole watermelon for only php50 and the famous Zambales mangoes for only 50 per kilo. We had dinner outside by the picnic tables --my special adobo, rice and fresh fruits.

We planned to go to the bonfire at the Kampsite by 9pm -- we were excited to roast marshmallows and make s'mores! plus there was a band playing that night, "Never Summer" or something and I told Say i'll show her how to catch sand crabs.

By 830 pm we were all freshly showered --we were watching TV waiting for the bonfire to start when we all fell asleep. So much for S'mores.

I woke early the next day to go for a jog and to plan out our activities.

Here's Crystal Beach Zambales in the early morning.

There is some trash in the area and I couldn't help but clean up a little.

At first I thought these men were trying to stop the big rocks from crashing on the shore with the waves then I thought "wow, what a really mundane and lousy job" --then i realized they were trying to catch fish. stupid me.

After a big breakfast of instant noodles, eggs, fruits, sausages, smoked fish and pancakes we got ready for a day of island hopping. Island hopping was php2500 for 3 islands --Capones, Anawangin and Camara.

I remembered to charge my phone just as we were about to leave so I squeezed in about 15 minutes charging time. I hate myself! We were not able to take photo of Anawangin and Camara Island! Camara was really very beautiful!

So we walked to where our boatman, Joven, was waiting-- I was surprised that the outrigger was so small! And no roof! This will be the first time that I'll be going on a whole day trip on a boat with no roof!

Just a disclaimer --I couldn't really see what the pictures looked like at the time I took them. It was literally just point and shoot and hope for the best for me because the sun was so bright and I forgot to adjust my phone's brightness so all I saw was gray screen every time I took a picture.

tiniest boat for island hopping

the waves fighting against our little boat

Little rebel that I am refused to wear a life jacket because my tan lines would look weird

riding in front -- with Zaby standing between my legs. I can feel that she was scared of the waves. The waters pretty calm --surprisingly calmer than I expected it to be

first time I saw a rainbow around the sun. So pretty!

nearing Capones Island

I marveled at the color of the ocean because it was a deep royal blue. Again, unlike the other beaches Ive been to.

I love Karl's pose! this is in Capones Island --the other side --not the lighthouse side. The sand was really very nice. One thing that bothered me were the bits of trash left by stupid, inconsiderate tourists! again I ended up picking up some rubbish before snorkeling --with Zaby and Say helping me. Our boat had so much rubbish when we arrived back in Crystal Beach. 
The waters were very calm here and the sand, as you can see, is white. The corals at Capones were pretty decent. I had a great time feeding the fish. Zaby was too scared to go to the deeper parts so she just stayed by the shore.

now on our way to the Lighthouse side

Im trying to take a picture of the interesting flora that grew all over the rocky mountains. these were fern like bushes that were light green in color. Kinda like small pine trees.

the mountains in Zambales were almost barren save for the interesting bushes .

This was as far as the boat can go --the waves were kinda strong and there were big rocks there so the boat cant dock any closer. We had to swim to get to the island.

Brave girl Zaby! At first she didn't want me to carry her and said she'd stay in the boat because she was too scared --so I told her she'd have to stay by herself (not including the boatmen) and she'd miss seeing the lighthouse. So she obliged and let me carry her across.

so proud of my brave little girl!

Not captured in the photographs are the mounds of rubbish, mostly slippers, left behind by idiot tourists. I really don't understand how they could be so inconsiderate and disgusting! i mean, do they think that this trash will just magically disappear??

Zaby is actually smiling here in this photo. She was mimicking my panting LOL funny child

the place reminded me of Batanes

was not able to take a photo but zaby climb up till here

Last picture before my phone died on me.

Anawangin was not very impressive for me --crowded and dirty. We did however meet some good people. Luz and her kids were so happy that we gave them the rest of our snacks that they gave us souvenirs they made themselves -- shotglass and a whistle fashioned out of bamboo. So nice!!!

We had lunch there and proceeded to Camara Island. Camara island was beautiful!! Camara is a like big rock with a small shore --just a really small isolated island. I want to show you the beauty that I saw with my own eyes so here's a picture a I grabbed off google. Just click on the image and it will lead you to the blog where I grabbed it from.

Camara is the smallest island (or maybe it's more appropriately called an islet) I've ever been to. On the way to Camara, Zaby was already pretty comfortable on the boat that she was singing nonstop and even gesturing like an opera singer while she was at it.

I don't think these pictures really do capture the beauty of Camara Island. I want to come back and camp here for a day! I swear I'll come back next year!

It was already close to sunset by the time we left Camara --only because of the urging of the boat men since it was not very smart to be out at sea come nightfall.

On the way back, Zaby kept us entertained with her made up songs --songs about her dad sleeping after a meal, songs about the place being so beautiful, songs about the ocean --all to the tune of twinkle twinkle little stars. She was now no longer scared that she would ask me to hold her so she can reach out and touch the water.

Such a great vacation!

I'll end this post with a photo of a new kind of fruit we bought on the way home. I think the lady said they were called "Amerba" --they were like a cross between Santol and guava. Do you know what these fruits are called? please do leave a comment. 

I spoke with my aunty who I borrowed the snorkel and masks from (she's a biologist) and asked her why there are Pine trees growing in the beaches of Zambales. She told me that it's the same thing in Baler, which is all the way down the south of Luzon island. She said these weren't actual pine trees but what we call "false pine trees", the same thing we have all over Iloilo. She said they looked like Pine Trees but are actually from a different genus. Since she is a marine biologist and not a botanist she told me to research more about false pine trees or what we call Agoho in Filipino. This is what I found:

The Pine Trees on that Sandy Shore
Casuarina equisetifolia