Thursday, May 19, 2011

My First Solo Backpacking Trip

Travel Period: November 27 - 30, 2010
Destination: Zamboanga City and Great Santa Cruz Island

From Ten To One
This is another PISO fare promo that we have availed in a budget airline, lucky for us. Initially, there are two groups of different flights are going on this trip. We searched for available fares among the destinations and we found some  slots and booked quickly bound to Zamboanga from Davao. In our group, we consist of 6 guests, 3 college schoolmates, a friend and one of my college instructor. In the other group, another 4 guests will be joining on our trip making it a 10-cast trip. As the date came closer and itinerary was already prepared, 2 of guests backed-out because of lack of budget for the trip or security issues about the destination. Then there goes the domino effect and I have no updates of confirmation from other companions and to the last minute I waited for confirmation on one of my companion but she was not able to made it. So this is it, my first ever solo backpacking trip.

The plane I boarded

At Zamboanga airport

Wrong Impression
As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons why they hesitated on the trip is because of security threats on the area. So I researched about the incidents happened in Zamboanga and I found out some kidnappings in the past. Luckily, I have encountered a user on a social networking site who's living on that area and asked her assessment on the current situation and she said everything is peaceful there, she even recommended some places for us to visit and so no issues on security. When I asked about the issue, I somehow felt the same way as the user because most of us generalized a particular place and then have this impression about the place. For example, when some Filipinos are asked about Davao, their impressions that come right away is that the city is a violent place, full of terrorists, common to bombing incidents and so on. Well, they are mistaken, Davao City is far away to that impressions, now its one of the progressive cities around the country and to mention that it ranked 10th on "Asian City of the Future". Big thanks to our local government who works hard for the development of the city and specifically to our Vice-Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for keeping the peace and order around the city. Same case goes to Zamboanga and another thing, their dialect is Chavacano which a pleasant to hear and it feels like you're on the Spanish era or watching Dora The Explorer, Bienvenidos Estoryahey! :D

The Gateway [Entrance:Entrada | Exit:Salida]

Jose Rizal monument near city hall

Zamboanga city hall

Sunset at Paseo del Mar

Ciudad de Zamboanga
Back to the course, when the day came, I packed my bags, went to airport, boarded the flight and this was it. There's one thing I noticed about the airplane I boarded is it somehow smaller than any other airplane before, it has only 2-seater on each side unlike with the others that have 3 seats per side. As usual, I requested for a window seat in the check-in counter and I'm glad there was available.  Arriving at the Zamboanga airport, I went outside and told myself that I should blend to the local and act as if I'm not tourist. :D. From the airport, I walked almost a kilometer around the city proper to get familiarize with the streets and establishments. I passed the Ateneo de Zamboanga University and the famous Modern Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Then I reached Mindpro Mall and took my lunch there, after that looked for the hotel David's Inn and checked-in. I spent the rest of the day walking along the city streets, went to Fort Pilar Shrine and watch the amazing sunset in Paseo del Mar. When the evening came, I went backed to hotel and here comes the funny part, the hotel is accessible by passing in a food chain entrance and when I asked the security guard if there's a curfew hour and replied a long conversation and advise, I realized that I checked-in in a some kind of den only for couple. :D

Modern Metropolitan Cathedral of Immaculate Concepcion

Passed along AdZU

At Fort Pilar Shrine

Bells at the shrine

Amazing view during sunset in Paseo del Mar

Cathedral And Pasonanca Park
On the next day, I woke up early to attend the mass on the famous cathedral which is just located two blocks away. After the mass, I took my breakfast and then I went to an internet cafe searching for some hotel because I need to transfer, I jotted the hotels and its contacts. Finally, back to the room and checked-out. I roamed around the city looking for the street where a specific hotel is located and settled on Pension Inn, a better place compare to the first I've been. Took a rest and by afternoon, another destination to reached, this time its the Pasonanca Park. I looked for some jeepney with a sign board going to that place and boarded. Dropped at the park and started the tour. I visited the the tepee tents, the tree house and the swimming pool.

Tepee huts on Pasonanca Park

The tree house

Trees beside the road

Me at Pasonanca Park

Great Santa Cruz Island And Baywalk
On the third day, I proceeded to the Department of Tourism and coordinate to have a visit to Great Santa Cruz Island which is famous of the rare pink sand it have. I rented an outrigger boat and off to the island. When I arrived, there are some families on the island and I toured the island, from one end of the shoreline to another, went to the mangrove place and have a whole view of the city from the island. Indeed, the sand of the island is pinkish which was cause by the mixing of the pulvarized red organ-pipe coral on the shore. Back to the mainland, I checked-out and transferred to a hotel nearer at the airport because I'm going home by the next day. I checked-in to Marcian Hotel, took some rest and proceeded to the baywalk for a sunset view later in the afternoon. I've watched the horizon as the sun goes down, felt the sea breeze and tranquility on the place. When the evening came, I proceeded to the mall, took my dinner and bought some foods.

Protected area

Shoreline at Great Santa Cruz Island

Blue ocean at the background

The rare pink sand beach

Zambo for the first time


Great white sand beach on the background

Silhouette photo

Another silhouette photo

Beautiful sunset at Zamboanga

Home Sweet Home
I woke up early for the flight and I was surprised at the airport when I hand a 200 pesos to the collecting officer and she said that only 57 pesos for terminal fee, oh great! Boarded the plane and I have the chance to take some photos to our majestic Mt. Apo up above the clouds and up close. Arrived at the Davao airport, went home, prepared myself and went to the office, working time. After the trip, there is the confidence added when I traveled alone and it felt like I'm a certified traveler. Also, I never hesitated to spent a cash and even swiped on the credit card, I did enjoy the trip and have some nice accommodation. Credits will be dealt later just like famous line "fly now, pay later". :D

Boarding the airplane

Mt. Apo above the clouds

Majestic Mt. Apo

Shot of Abreeza mall taken last Nov. 30

Durian monument at Davao International Airport

Thank you and God bless us all!

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