Tag Archives: Beach

Chapter XVII : The Circle Hostel

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After an amazing time at san fernando, we (Karyl, Aris and Myself) arrived in San Juan La Union to start our one and a half day vacation. we have a whole sunday planned ever since this trip was conceived – our plan to go surfing and be at the beach the entire day dominated our list.  in order to achieve our goals (since surfing costs approximately 400/hour), we agreed to look for a place to stay that is well within our budget and is a place wherein we can be comfortable, and not too ashamed to talk about or tell our friends about.

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The first i’ve heard of the Circle Hostel was when i attended an event our company sponsored (Travel Massive Manila). For quite some time i have been really curious on what can be seen, or what is special about the place. My officemate Karyl then told me that she stayed at the circle hostel during one of her surf trips and further reinforced the curiosity as she found it to be an amazing place to stay at. lo and behold, the night of saturday (January 26) welcomed us with an amazing discovery – an environmentally attuned haven – and a place that i concluded to be ripped out of a page from a fantasy game (think Kilika of Final Fantasy X , or Destiny Islands from Kingdom Hearts).

Upon entering you’ll notice that the Circle Hostel is composed of different structures made entirely of wood (which i later found out to be the common area, the restroom/showers, and the sleeping quarters). for 400 pesos, you can enjoy a bed that is very much social friendly and environmentally sustainable (no rooms, just a personal space for you) – the sea breeze makes it impractical to wish for aircon even, the only thing that you may actually wish for is an additional blanket. for those more adventurous travelers who wish to be like cocoons whilst asleep, a 350 peso hammock rental can also be availed in Circle Hostel. (considering my size, and my sleep moves,  getting a hammock is a no-no!).

Why i fell in love with Circle Hostel

1. It is Affordable – in places like san juan, visitors are expected to be away from the hotel/inn/hostel for the entire day. why pay 1k plus for a room that you would barely use anyway? pay 400 for a bed, bring a padlock for the locker, and prepare to meet new friends, – as this hostel is a place where walls does not exist.. you are bound to make friends – making 400 pesos a cheap investment for comfort, fun, and socials.

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(L) Stairway to the bunk beds, (R) my bed and personal space during the 27th

2. It is Eyegasmic!- appealing to the visuals. upon entering the area, colorful tiles surrounded by neautral colored pebbles will capture your attention. quotes and markings have been left by guests, hostel admins, to make the place more homy. every area is photo op worthy!

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(L) View from the common area, (R) me playing around the common area outside grounds

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(L) view from the gate (reception, residential, comfort room zone) (R)shot of me in the common area

3. Promotes Interaction – this is the place to be when you want to meet new people – – new friends guaranteed! when we were there last sat- sun, i felt i know the guests staying there at that time. heck, we even spent the entire afternoon together at bacnotan beach to surf, and was united when we opted to stay for more than two hours (more on this on my surf post soon!). i loved that all outlets are located at the common area, to increase the chances of making new friends, or hearing other people’s stories!

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(L) at Bacnotan beach with friends we met at Circle Hostel, (R) common area shot

Circle Hostel does not only offer residential answers, it offers opportunities! opportunity to meet new people, to experience freedom and the feeling of not being confined by solid blocks, opportunity to escape the normal and relax. definitely the place ill return to when i have the urge to surf at la union again!

–Behind Thick Framed Notes

1. Follow the Circle Hostel in Facebook 🙂 –> Circle Hostel Main Facebook Page
2. Check out Circle Hostel’s Website –> www.thecirclehostel.com
3. Some photos by Me, and some by my ever present and loyal personal photographer Aris Suarez, check his blog out –> Aris’ Narcissus Chronicles

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Chapter XVI : Thunderbird Resorts

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For me to actually say that a hotel is spectaculary-awesome, it needs to pass three criteria

1. Comfortable Bed, Clean Bathrooms, and Excellent Hotel Service (the Residential Criterion)
2. Excellent Ambiance, Fun Factor through hotel amenities, and  Spectacular food (the Entertainment Criterion)
3. Photo Opportunities that are brag-worthy (the Vanity Criterion)

just three minutes upon entering the vicinity of Thunderbird Resort in Poro Point, San Fernando La Union (on a tricycle no less – how unclassy – joke!), i thought to myself that this will be a different kind of hotel experience for me. i am really picky, and “maarte” with hotels, as i was a kid that grew up abroad and had the opportunity to visit different hotels that makes you want to be filthy rich just to be able to live there forever. the feel of Thunderbird was similar to the Grand Hyatt and Al-Bustan Hotel back in Oman (some of the very classy and top of the line hotels back there) – it was a piece of heaven on earth!

3. Vanity 
If you haven’t discovered this already, i am a very vain (sometimes conceited) type of individual. taking pictures of myself takes up about 30% of my day, and having good photos always make me happy. Thunderbird resorts was like a comicbook store to a comicbook addict, a toy store to a kid, and a buffet of deliciousness and wonders for the eye. i have always dreamed of visiting a particular place in greece called Santorini, and Thunderbird has (in a way) made me feel that i was there even just for a day. the architecture and color compliments the sky pallete even if the sun is at its peak – therefore compliments every shot that me and my friend took of me.  i was silently praying that the Digital Influencer Marketing Summit of 2013 (the main reason why i was here) starts late, so that i could abuse my photographer to photograph me in every area, with all the poses that i possess. but due to the fact that arrived a bit late (8:30am) i had to make do with a couple of shots during daylight and go through the event and resume vanity after it. suffice to say, with the number of shots that me and aris had, we have enough photos to last three profile and cover photo changes in facebook!

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2. Entertainment
The pool was already something that would scream “quota” on my entertainment needs, but noo, thunderbird resorts have more to offer than a pool worth spending the entire day at. Thunderbird resorts la union has a casino (which is about 2 minutes away from the hotel itself – thunderbird shuttles go back and forth transporting guests to the casino and back to the hotel) and a golf course as well.  Me having no interest whatsoever in trying my luck with cards and chips, or teeing off while watching the spectacular sunset appreciated the fact of the diverse entertainment areas made available to guests. i, however, particularly liked the greenery area wherein you can watch the sunset (hand in hand with someone you love), take sunset photos or enjoy the scenery as night envelops and the hotel lights go on. the food was awesome as well, as we (event participants) were treated to a buffet of pallete orgasmic (pallgasmic!) feast –  it is just what everyone needs to compliment the eye treat (eyegasmic!) that is thunderbird resorts!

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1. Residential
the most important of the three reasons for me. no matter the reason of the check-in, we always choose the hotel wherein it is worth spending a day or two at, that offers the chance to escape from the routine, and enjoy something different. (so if my hotel room is just similar to my house in manila, how can i call that an escape?). Right after our Casino appreciation, me and my friends were given the privilege of entering one of thunderbird resorts’ villa (based on the price given by their marketing dudes, one night in this very awesome villa costs about 25k – but can house more or less 8 people comfortably.) come to think about it, this would be a good barkada outing venue for very special occasions. we managed to enter this villa, and tour it, i even tried lying down on the beds to determine how comfortable it is to stay there (wrong choice, i ended up wanting to sleep as soon as i felt the matress!). the villa also has a kitchen and plenty bathrooms, a receiving or common area, and a dining table. this three storied villa also has balconies enabling the guest to marvel at the spectacular view the scenery fronting their villa.

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the experience (though brief) was something awesome! i do hope that when burdened by the chaos of manila, i get a chance to retreat to this paradise, and experience everything it has to offer! indeed, Thunderbird Resorts deserves the awards that it has gained because it truly is world class!

— Behind Thick Framed Notes
1. Follow Thundirbird Resorts in their Social Medias
Thunderbird Facebook

Thunderbird resorts twitter :  @tdrphilippines

2. All photos shot by Aris Suarez <– visit his blog here!

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Chapter XIV : Touchdown Galera

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Rumor has it, that this was a cheap man’s boracay (to be honest, i can not really tell, as i’ve never been to both.), last year, december to be exact, My bestest girl friend Len invited me to accompany them (Vince, Eunice and Gab) to Galera, without hesitation (cause im easy that way), i said yes!

three reasons why i did say yes!
1. i love the beach
2. never been to galera
3. i was with the most awesomest people ever!

remember when we were kids, and our parents brought us to toy stores, candie shops, comic book stores – – have any of you remembered how you moved, acted, spazzed in anticipation? i was all of that on the day that we were supposed to leave for galera. i was very much giddy, to the point that i acted like a little boy holding his very first lego box! haha

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but galera was nothing spectacular in my opinion. there was water, sand, structures, stores, visitors – – just an ordinary beach hyped by rumors and stories. but the beach is still the beach for me, in the end, it was us (me and the party) who made this trip extraordinary!

a destination is just a destination (in my opinion), what makes it memorable are the people who were with you at that time!! and being with these clowns, and nerds were all i needed at that time (aside from the sun, and sand, and super clear waters of galera!)

Vince, Me, Gab, and Len

with Len 🙂

with the gang! galera 2012! gab. myself, eunice, moshen, vince, and len

more beach adventures this year guys!! see you soon!

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Chapter XI : I Surfed, and bid a “See you Again” to Baler (Day Two)

Sept. 30,2012 – Following the events that happened the day before this ( photo shoot, me missing the sun, and a hellova fun with my friends), i find myself waking up early because today was the actual start of our vacation. our top most agenda was to learn how to ride the waves and discover how awesome it is to do so. after prepping for the surfing activity before us, our party of 5 (since je and daisy stayed at a hotel near sabang beach) proceeded to our ever favorite “Rolling Store” for breakfast.

Rolling store is a collection of two-three different karinderyas in one area with affordable yet super yummy food selection. (this has been our source of meals when we were at Baler).

This is me, being cranky and waiting for food to be served.

Right after Breakfast, we proceeded to go to Sabang Beach to plan our surfing activities. we decided to walk to sabang beach from rolling store. Baler is a very quiet and peaceful place, it really is an awesome place to escape the everyday hassle and chaos of manila.

after about 10 mins of walking, we finally reached “Mahdox Surf School” along sabang beach.

Mahdox Surf School

For a moment there, i hesitated in trying surfing out. i was wearing my contacts and have this feeling that i might lose them when the waves eat me. but since, my friends were so insistent, (contact lens or blind) i then pushed through with it!

Sabang Beach filled with Surfers and Surfer-wanna be people (like us!)

Wearing my DLSU shirt since i haz no rash guard

Prior to many wipe outs and achieved long rides 🙂

Oh, and did i mention that my Surf Instructor’s name was Bin Laden? talk about learning how to ride the waves with a man named after a terrorist! but Bin Laden was really cool, and patient, and very encouraging! after a series of wipeouts, and not being able to stand on the board, we finally discovered the method on how to stand on the board without wobbling or losing balance! and because of that, i opted to extend my surfing lesson for another hour. (BTW, in mahdox, you’ll have to pay 350/hour with board and instructor).

Aris, Errol (Aris’ instructor), Bin Laden (My Instructor), Me

Sooo. no utmost form, but fun nonetheless!

Long ride with Aris Suarez

After oh so many attempts, me and my Friend Aris got the technique (although we still fall at times)

So Yeah, Wipeout!

So after our two hours of Surfing, i was determined to perfect this super fun activity the next time i set foot in baler. oh yeah, and i lost my Right Contact Lens, so yeah, i was half blind for the rest of the day. but heck, it was all worth it – as this is something i can never do in manila. with every ounce of excitement within, i vowed to come back soon!

This probably ends the Adventure in Baler, as our last hours in Baler was spent in last minute photo shoots, souvenir, pasalubong hunts and inuman with the group.

The Over-all experience is something irreplaceable and unforgettable. i had fun, and learned a lot about my companions. this is something i would want to repeat with them (although a few, i could do without! haha).

SEE you again Baler!

— Behind Thick Framed Notes:
1. Some photos taken from Aris Suarez’s phone, and some were taken by Aris Trinidad using my camera. so thanks guys!
2. click Mahdox’s Surf School to see their page , do check them out! and add them as a friend! cause they really are friendly!

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Chapter X : The Awesome Baler Adventure (Day One)

if you have been following me on instagram, you may have seen a series of pictures containing a countdown to the “Baler Trip” that me and my officemates planned. our adventure was somehow a first for me because i never, yes, NEVER went on a trip (for fun) with officemates in the past (this says a lot!). part of this trip was a “pro bono” photoshoot of my officemate jerald, so without hesitation and apprehension i was in! thus excitement kicked in faster . (beach.surf.friends.shoot- what more can i ask for?)

Sept. 28, 2012 – as the clock reaches 5:30pm, me and 4 of my officemates twitch in anticipation as we ready ourselves to depart come 2:30am the next day. some of our dilemmas includes “not finding the perfect boardshort”, “must buy tanning lotion and sun block lotions”, “where will we buy booze for the two nights” and other petty and vain needs that is really inconsequential to the experience that we are about to face.

Sept. 29, 2012 (2:30am) – our party of 7 (me, bill, karyl, aris s., aris t., dada and baba) departed for baler via the joy bus (genesis terminal in cubao – along edsa). the bus was pretty neat, it was spacious, has reclining seats, readied snacks, blankets, and has an extremely frigid atmosphere (perfect for making a popsicle out of you!)

after 5 hours of travel and (deep) sleep, our party reached the Central Baler Terminal. first thing i noticed was the lack or inexistence of jeepneys – i am not sure if this applies to the entire region, but the terminal was populated by tricycles and buses. after disembarking, our party (divided into two tricycles) proceeded to Rolling Store for brunch. After the meal, we then proceeded to our host’s house to prepare for the shoot commencing in an hour (our team was on a very tight schedule, we wanted to shoot in 4 different locations, with 4 outfit changes.. and we wanted it done on the first day of our trip!).

1st Location : Sabang Beach
This beach was deserted (i don’t know if this is the case everyday) but it was perfect for a planned shoot by the shore. Aris and Myself are not really adept at taking staged photos, like this prenup that we promised our office mate,  but i think we took shots that we think our “client” wants.

We were going for “Simplicity” – Featuring Daisy and Jerald

Awesome waves and scene at Sabang Beach

this is practically my first time to try a prenuptial shoot. my knowledge on conducting a shoot like this is practically zero, and the poses and shots were based on some pegs me and my office mates found on the net. but the only thing that made us smile at the end of the first scene and layout was the remarks given by our “client” and those with us. (and i think, thats the only one that matters at that point.)

Our Second Location was at Digisit Beach.

This Location was practically Love at First sight for me. The awesome rock formations and terrain was enough to make me squeal in delight as photo ideas came rushing to my mind. Aris and myself opted to have our own shoot as we enjoyed a downtime from the pre-nup shoot that we were doing.

a Stolen shot by Aris Suarez. at Digisit Beach

narcissuschronicles.wordpress.com (Aris Suarez)

vanity came first as we near the half of our shoot (the pre nup shots will be featured in a different entry). right after absorbing the beauty of Digisit Beach, our party of 7 went back to the city for lunch. we also took this time to prep for our last location change and shoot for the day.

3rd Location : Caunayan Falls

The travel to this spot consumed about 30 minutes from rolling store. we traversed a very bumpy ride via a tricycle (imagine the situation of our butts).

the falls wasnt that “ultimate sight” to marvel on, however, this also was a perfect location for our last shoot for the day. aside from shooting our “client”, both Aris and i decided to do a separate shoot for the benefit of our blogs. (ill just create a photo dump entry after my day two of baler post!).

the Falls at Caunayan!

photo by Aris Suarez

right after some shots, we decided to call it a day, and head back to Sabang Beach for a night of “kwentuhan” and “inuman”. although we werent able to achieve the best drinking session that night, we were hyped to welcome tomorrow as our awesome baler adventure is just halfway done!

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Chapter VII : Somewhere in Laiya

I received a call from Len David on the afternoon of Thursday last week. She was asking for activities that could be incorporated to their teambuilding session scheduled Saturday-Sunday that week. Long story made short, I ended up coming with them and help conduct those activities with her.

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Saturday, 25th of August – I departed for Ortigas to rendezvous with Len and her team for the event at batangas. We left as soon as our numbers were complete, and headed for the first stop of our trip. We had our lunch and over all group meet up at KFC, located at Shell along SLEX.

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The trip took about 2 hours, cruising along the scenic and historical looking city of Lipa in Batangas. Excitement and eagerness dawned in as soon as our vehicle parked and my feet touched the sand. beach, finallleh!!!

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The Resort looks really awesome! the room was spacious and could fit a maximum of 8 people (but i reckon, we can put more than 8 if we so want to!). each room comes with its own private bathroom that looks really neat and well maintained. the common areas looks awesome too. an area is devoted to grilling (upon request, and set up). the strongest wifi signal is found in the cluster of benches near the reception (if i wasnt on the beach, i am found here). An upper floor area solely devoted to videoke and billiards (spacious area for a solid drinking session!).

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After checking in, Len and I decided to check the beach. the balconies of the resort acts like little gateways to the paradise that is the beachfront. 30 mins after, we gathered up the troops and started the activities for the day.

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over all, this experience has been awesome! of course, even if this was an official work event for most, the experience was something that can be deemed as personal and a venue for dettaching from the everyday grind. of course, i am grateful that i was invited by ispi to be part of this.

— behind thick framed notes
1. all photos by yours truly,

2. comic app used : halftone

3. changed the layout from the original to a comic header and comic edited photos (staying true to my comic book addiction.)

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Chapter III : Everything ends Well at Swell

After the intense rain and wind that manila experienced during the past few weeks, I, along with friends decided to visit a bar and cafe i used to go to in subic for a chill weekend. i heard that the sun is expected to shine there until wednesday, and i have been longing to dip myself in lukewarm water and lie in the rough sandy beaches fronting my favorite bar in subic.

we decided to leave for subic early. Me and the Apes were accompanied by Len David, a sexy and attractive deviant who excels in eating and critiquing food, and Lloyd – the lost boy, a wandering adventurer known for his many quests in and out of the country. at approximately 7:30, the six of us set forth on our adventure.

Subic was a 2-3 hour trip from the Victory Liner Cubao Terminal. costing 250 pesos (via SCTEX) per person. the trip wasn’t that bad, every one of us had our own personal agendas for the trip. i wanted the beach! some wanted the food, meet new friends, and see new sights. although our main objective in subic is to visit Swell Bar and Cafe. Swell is a relatively new Bar and Cafe in Subic, focusing more on healthy options and offering a very unique lineup of food and drinks.

Welcome to Swell Bar and Cafe

Swell offers paddle boarding to its patrons (more on this in the next chapters)

The very cozy and relaxed area of Swell Bar and Cafe

our party was greeted by Gianne, the operations manager of Swell Bar and Cafe. she had us relax and order some refreshments from their very refreshing drink selection. being a fan of their giant iced tea, i ordered it and even recommended it to my party. at this point, i just couldn’t resist the thought of standing in the bar and neglecting the opportunity to just jump in the water. and so i did, and it felt really good.

At that very instance, i was laying faced up to the sun. i thought to myself while floating around on the wavey ocean, i deserved this break. i told myself that every problem and issues that i may have at that point has been forgotten, even for a brief moment. because at that time, i just felt that everything is going to be SWELL.

—- Behind thick Framed Glasses notes:

1. Swell – word used to describe the rise of waves ; it is also an informal way of saying : good, excellent, superb
2. Photos were taken from Ape: Franz Lopez

Swell Bar and Cafe
Boardwalk Inn
Bldg 664 Waterfront Road
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
(047) 250 2221


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