Tag Archives: Scenery

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 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 V : My Encounter with the Steps of Doom!

“4  more items crossed out” I told Myself.

As soon as we were done with the place, Franz led our party towards the sanctuary of the Good Shepherd.

Justin ventures into the Unknown

My sources told me that Good Shepherd is  a Convent. Knowing that info alone destroyed the image that was built in my head because of many of my friends that has gone to Baguio. all the while, i thought that good shepherd was an agora or a banqueta filled with vendors. partly because, they kept telling me to buy all those pasalubong and gifts there.

The Gates of the Sanctuary of Good Shepherd

the Foggy path to the Convent

The fog is thicker as the position of our next destination is higher as compared to every place we have been to. Aside from being a Convent, Good Shepherd produces some of the “Only-in-Baguio” products like Ube Jam, Choco Flakes, Strawberry Jam and the Peanut Brittle.

4. Visit the Sanctuary of the Good Shepherd

the ever famous Ube Jam for 140 pesos ea

After getting provisions and gifts for our family and friends back in Manila, the four of us ventured to the Mansion. Think of it as a summer palace that the monarchs travel to during the extreme high temperature months. While there, I noticed the seal of the current head of the nation fronting the actual mansion. I asked myself, if that has always been the case?

At the Mansion courtyard
13. Visit the Mansion of the High Head

APES at the Mansion grounds

The park of Wright is just across the Mansion. the rain was making an appearance once again, but that didn’t stop us before, why should we let it bother us now, right?

The Quest for the Hundred+ steps of Doom

The Gazebo at the park of Wright

The Slippery Steps of Doom
8. Traverse the Parks of Wright 

Franz kept talking about a hundred steps located somewhere in the park of wright. we searched and sought it out. after a relatively long stroll, we found it. Our objective was to go down. From where we stood, i could see the landscape downhill, i could see horses a hundred steps away. my party went ahead while i tried to take a mental picture of the scenery –  the Lush terrain, the wet colored flowers and the long aged old beaten stone steps. As soon as i was done, i rushed off to catch up to my party. i remembered catching up to Justin and even had the gull to warn him about the steps. “Its a bit tricky, ain’t it?” – slippery to be exact due to the rain. Almost instantly after me uttering “Tricky”, i found myself sliding downwards the steps, butt down. if not for Justin’s quick reflexes, i may have plummeted down 10-15 more steps. i said it before, and ill say it again. Thanks Justin!

Wright Park and the Steeds

After recovering from the fall, and after significantly laughing about it, the four of us set out for our last scenic stop in Baguio. We ventured to the Lakes of Burnham.

— Behind Thick Framed Definitions
Party –  A Band of Heroes joined together by a common purpose/goal/mission
Agora –  Marketplace.

photos without “Francis Romero Photography Signatures” belongs to Jaypee David.

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