Mt Pulag – film

The last of my lomo smena 8 before it officially departed. 😦







​ Had a really lovely break chasing sunrises and the sea of clouds, waking up to cows outside our tent, sleeping under a million stars, soaking in nature’s calming playlist – the rhythm of the rushing waters, the hushed whispers of the waving trees, and the gentle pitter-patter of the rain. Running into the vast embrace of the grassland, in that moment stripped of all responsibilities. So blessed, so thankful, so happy :’) Special mention to my Pulag partner @moonlitsunsets, and to @ganworm for challenging me to take on more difficult routes, always. 😘


Mount Pulag: Sea of Clouds (Summit hike)

When we woke up we heard murmurs of others in our surroundings. More had joined to pitch their tents. We set off to our 500m hike to the summit to catch the sunset.

We stumbled out of our tents at 4am and made our way towards the summit, against the forceful, howling wind. It wasn’t too long before we ascended. Earth was growing bright. The sea of clouds could be seen. Happy hikers aplenty.

sea of clouds 
Sunrise at Mount Pulag!
I love so many pictures from this series, it was hard to choose.

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Mount Pulag, Philippines – Akiki Trail (3D 2N)

Our humble abode for the night
All ready!

What I liked about Mount Pulag was the fact that they conducted a talk with the hikers before we started our hike. They highlighted to us the importance of keeping Mount Pulag clean, and not to litter or wash our things along any water bodies because the residents around the area relied on Mount Pulag as a watershed for its clean water supply.

Looking at the map of the Akiki trail 🙂
The first part of the trail, approaching the Eddet River
love the sound of the rushing waters
The climb was alright before the river, but after the Eddet River it was uphill all the way. Up, up, up. Took in the beauty of everything around me. The pine forest and its needle-like leaves, the cool breeze tickling my ears. The blue dragonfly that whizzed past my shoes. Strands of thoughts weaved in and out of my head. Work, school, colleagues. I sincerely tried to shake these thoughts away and focused on the surroundings instead.

All ready to immerse in the beauty of Mother Nature 😊

My hiking guide shows us the trail route. All hikers have to pay and hire a local guide.

“Many locals are trying to convert the forest into agricultural land for commercial farming. To minimise the conversion of the forest, the only way is to give them another source of $$$ income – tour guiding.”

Watershed area that provides water to the community and dams. That’s why rubbish is not allowed to be left there. Everyone is advised to bring down garbage, and to wash their things away from water sources.

I love the calming sounds of nature – the rhythm of the rushing waters, and the gentle pitter-patter of the rain.

I heard the sound of a motorbike in the distance, except it had been going on for awhile. Where was the route for a motorbike, and why has that motor sound remained for some time? I asked Kyle, our guide. He tells us that that’s the sound of a chainsaw. I was surprised. I learnt that illegal logging meant lifetime imprisonment as imposed by the government. They were allowed only to saw the trees for their own uses. Buffalo tree, sticky sap…
Almost there. The guide hiding water in the middle of the grassland. LOL
Apparently they do this so they have extra water here (for cooking etc), hidden in their secret spots.
We reached the base camp at about 5pm. Before long it started raining and we hid in our tents, already set up by our dear porters and guide. In the drizzle and the cold we were greeted by a surprise knock on our tents – dinner, served! Room service! We exclaimed excitedly. Yummy hot rice with corned beef. In the cold and after the long walk, everything tasted like sweet relief. I finished Persepolis 1 and started on Persepolis 2 while Jolene blabbered on (LOL). Eventually we fell asleep.

Room service despite the rain!!! Actually I loved the rice – the somewhat hard texture of the rice, and the treat of eggs, maggie noodle on 1 day, the corned beef (YUMMYYYYY) and tuna!

Day 2:
We awoke at 8am and set off at 9.30am.



The vegetation took a gradual shift with an increase in altitude, from the pine forest to the mossy forest, and at the end, we emerged to the grassland – my favourite!


we got incredibly excited waking up to cows strutting outside our tents, and squealed way too early in the morning. HAHAHHA

random cow


So happy. So so happy. We reached at about 11.30am to a vast field of grassland. There was nobody but us! I wanted to roll around in the sunshine. I wanted to shout with joy. I did. I wanted to lie on the grass and read my book while soaking in the warmth of the rays. It was not so practical, and though I loved the cool breeze I crept back into the tent instead. We had all the time in the world, in the middle of this vast field. My usual day had barely begun but here, in this time and in this moment, I relished in the joy of not having to do anything. I had a blank space of time for myself, for the rest of the day, to do nothing. Absolutely nothing, if I wished! Stripped of all of my responsibilities, the large sacks I burdened myself with back home. So happy. I finished the rest of Persepolis 2, made a mental note to read up on the Iranian Revolution / Iraq-Kuwait conflict / Iraq-Iran & Iran-Kuwait relations and fell asleep to the lazy afternoon heat.

Sadly this photo reminds me of the timelapse video of our guide setting up the tent that we didn’t receive 😦

copying our guides’ pose, which we thought was genius


The descent down the Ambangeg trail was pretty straightforward. After that, we made our way back to Manila and stayed at DG Budget Hotel, aka Salem Domestic Guesthouse for a night. At $31sgd a night for a private room for two of us, it was reasonable and comfortable after a long hike. Very near the airport too!

That night, we bought lots of polveron from 7-11 (hahaha) and I bought more at the airport the next day.

Thank you, Mount Pulag! You were beautiful and I’m blessed for the experience!

Mount Pulag, Philippines – Akiki Trail

Mount Pulag, Philippines.

4 days 3 nights – I had only this much time in my March holidays, and I managed to squeeze this in. Hurray 🙂 Thankfully Jolene could take the same leave. What’s for next year I wonder? Hmm.

It could have been a relatively easy, scenic route to the summit, with the Ambangeg-Ambangeg trail. But Cz and I read up on this a year ago, and unsurprisingly he wanted the Akiki trail, and we had read up a little on that. We had gone for Mt Batulao and Pico de Loro instead for that trip, but the Akiki trail stuck on my mind nonetheless. No regrets! Of course, on hindsight, once successfully summitted, the pain is but a faint memory.


We landed in Manila. Explored some sights, such as Fort Santiago.

In the evening, we headed to our meet-up place in Cubao. We experienced some drama with the company we had booked with. 

Arcobaleno Trailoutours. We had made arrangements to join the group tour, and had made our down payment. Only the night before (or two), they told us that they didn’t have enough people who signed up, and wanted to cancel the group tour. At this point, after much negotiation, we went for the private tour. Overall, it took some drama, time and negotiation messages to settle everything.

in between 

In the afternoon and evening, we walked around Intramuros and Mall of Asia. The most memorable thing about that day was drinking the chocolate slushee at Krispy Kreme. Yummy! Also tried Jolibee and dinner was not very memorable. We reached the Victory Liner at Pasay at 9pm. Caught the bus to Baguio and reached at about 3am. I tried sleeping on the jerky bus (which had wifi! Pretty decently fast one too!) and we reached the final station, our stop – Baguio city. My brain was not working well in the wee hours of the morning, but Jolene problem-solved and called Jerry. Had some rice with meat and potatoes before taking the shared van towards Kabayan, Benguet, the jump-off point. Showered at the ranger station and ate lunch, before leaving at about 12.30pm.

Our cook and our guide/porter, which we hired at the registration centre. 🙂 Awesome bunch!

Sea of clouds!


Mt Batulao, Philippines

i think this look really suits me
Mt Batulao is probably one of my favourite hikes. Everything was perfect (except the part where my phone dropped in the water) – the weather, the gorgeous surroundings, and the perfect company. 
i have very lovely and beautiful memories here, particularly the few minutes where we lay on the grass against the rock, plugged in our earpiece (splitters and all) and bounced our heads along to the croonings of tdcc, etc.
 golden rays of the morning sunshine
hush whispers of the dawn
crazy people who brought wigs and all along with us LOL
we stopped by a home in the first leg of our journey. the girl waved back shyly. we watched them feed the pigs. gave them a polaroid. i wonder if they remember us.

motivational selfies

loveeee the ridgeline
this is so beautiful
i loved this hike because i loved how evident the undulating terrains were, the ridgelines, and how relatively easy and relaxing it was. 2 hours for this view!

just a sliiiight steep tricky part where you haul yourself up using the rope
on hindsight it wasn’t that difficult
but in that moment i do recall myself wincing a little at its steepness

yummmmm the terrains

q t

yay ascended!!! peaked!! CELEBRATING WITH ICECREAM!!! Both mine wheee

mi cielo! mi gordo!

not gazing at each other, but looking outward in the same direction (cheesy but hehehe am cheesy at heart)

Because we finished Batulao so early, we headed to Mt Talamitam

because we ascended mt talamitam too on the same day and we deserve more selfies


one of the last photos cz took before drama happened
before i walked with Russell too quickly and we lost track of cz
the mismatched paths and the return
the darkening sky and the setting sun
couldn’t find him, the sun had set
i had no torchlight, i stumbled upon the stones clumsily in the dark
we went for awhile, russell and i, hoping to find our way back to the car and hoping cz would be there
u-turning upon reaching an unfamiliar zone
me trying to laugh and gasping for breath because russell moved faster than i was, feeling bad for being slow
a villager pointed us the way
the sound of rushing waterfall
walking further towards light
a shout
and you

we laugh, putting the pieces together
how we mis-crossed paths
a household helped us, gave us some time to use his toilet
we gave them a polaroid

played music in the car, headed back
what a day, what a memorable day

such good memories. am amazed that 4 days, a mere 4 days can make such lovely memories i replay over again at times. loved it.

Pico de Loro + Monolith

Pico de Loro, which literally translates to Parrot’s Beak, is one of the three peaks in Mount Palay-Palay mountain range (officially, Mt Palay-Palay National Park) in the municipalities of Ternate and Maragondon, Province of Cavite. The other two peaks are: Mataas na Gulod and Palay-Palay. Though Mataas na Gulod resembles more like a parrot’s beak, mountaineers call the monolith beside it as Parrot’s Beak for some unknown reason. 

Pico de Loro – Parrot’s Beak
We woke up early in the morning, took a cab to the bus station, and took a bus. I had read many guides before this on how to get there, but I sadly didn’t compile / note them down. It’s not difficult though! We asked the hotel reception and they gladly directed us.

sleep-deprived but OK GO


scared of edge 😥
deceptively paved steps. I find going up the monolith rather heart-skipping for me, and probably one of my heart-pounding moments of the year.
finally ascended THE monolith!

how it looks like from our side

my feet were glued to the ground when i first reached the windy top. i glued my butt to the ground as well. i briefly imagined the strong wind hurling my tiny body into the vastness of the rocky earth. i breathed in and out 30 times. my butt could feel the slight rattle of the rock from the wind.
here, we met Russell and friend, who became our driver for Batulao the next day. Such fate :’)
he pointed out a guide, who would go over to the other side, to take a photo of the monolith, with a small tipping fee.
how it looks like from the other side
the ‘2 sides’ to Pico de Loro

descending the monolith:
going down was slightly less scary, but still rather alarming
We went down and around in Russell’s car after.



russell insisted on a selfie

actually, i am glad he’s an azn camwhore like me

I asked Russell how he had learnt to swim. “Oh,” he said, “my province didnt have a pool nearby, so whenever it flooded, the kids would go out and that’s how we learnt how to swim”

We talk about floods for awhile. “You know, I found it so funny when Singaporeans got so angry when Orchard Road flooded.” He continues to laugh. 

yay! love crossing paths with strangers who leave footprints later on

got forced to eat balut -.- WORST FOOD TASTING SENSATION EVER

the crunch of the bones, the bit of black feather still stuck in my braces… 😥 i could not bear to look at it, i could not, i could not

but i admit i googled the pictures later 


We spent the rest of the evening trying fresh oysters (:O), drinking a little at his little rooftop, under the open sky. loved loved such places. calm and quiet and peaceful to think.

nighttime in makati we ate corn and wandered

The grass is greener in the Philippines!


How time flies.

My first time in the Philippines! It was a quick 4-day weekend trip. My last lesson in NIE ended on a Thursday afternoon. I went home, grabbed my backpack and headed to the airport. My 40l backpack and my now-very-much-aquainted-and-highly-dear-to-me-clack-clack-hiking-stick, my chargers and I left. Always hesitant to tell Gramma, I told her I was going for a sleepover. I came back grinning sheepishly that Sunday – tadah! By which she already knew I had gone abroad (and back!).
I can sense them getting used to it though. It makes me quite delighted.
Manila! It was a beautiful 4 days and as I listen to Rachel Yamagata now (always stirs swaying EMOTIONS in me) and I’m glad I went ahead, as I’m glad for my company
I didn’t write then, but some things I do recall:
1. My surprise at the paperbags used in Makati
What a good idea! So pretty too! My initial thoughts exclaimed indignantly
Later I was questioned: Is it necessarily (biodegradable =) more environmentally friendly? Cost? Waterproof – feasibility?

me acting cute

2. Meeting Russell!

home-cooked adobo

the fire video – that disappeared 

when i think back, i still find some bits funny

eating balut – worst thing in my life



3. Oh right, my phone zapped the last of its life in the river that clumsy cz fell into
iCloud, magical icloud did save some photos though
last few pictures it saved before it crashed