Travel Essentials when Out of Country

Travelling to South Korea or any country outside the Philippines? Thinking of what to bring? There should be a lot of things but just always make sure that you bring what is needed and to travel light. Note that travelling abroad means more walking.

So what to bring?

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  1. Passport – number 1 to check on your bag is your passport. You should always bring it wherever you are going even if you are just eating in a restaurant near your hotel. Why? Because it will be your identification and that you will be identified that you are a tourist. If in any case, you can do something you do not know then it might be a way for you to avoid being punished.
  2. Camera – of course! You should not forget this. You have to take all the places, the moments and the people you will meet. Every moment you will spend there might not be repeated. It could be a one time experience. So record every single moment.
  3. Cap – it depends on you but for those time that it is really hot, a cap is a big help. I used it during our Everland tour and it saved me from the heat. ๐Ÿ˜€ Though, since #OOTD is important for the millennials nowadays, just do your mix & match.
  4. Face Mask – another not so important but can be useful in any way. I used my mask when I am sleeping during the flight. hahahah..
  5. Cookies – roaming around can get you hungry and buying foods anywhere might be difficult or expensive, bringing cookies or sandwich can save your tummy’s pet. My tip? Book a room in a hotel that offers free breakfast. Then during breakfast, take out some foods for you to bring while you are touring around. That will be a big saving for you!
  6. Bottled Water – bring a bottled water from the hotel. Most of the tourist destinations have free drinking water scattered around the place and so bringing your own bottled water will save you from big expenses.
  7. Wallet – never forget to bring your money! Of course! You need to purchase tickets, foods and souvenirs.
  8. Subway Card – most of the places abroad have subway or train which will give you big savings in your rides. And so, make sure to purchase a subway card when you arrive in the airport. It can be purchased in the convenience store or there is a booth selling it. Subway is convenient to use. My tip? Book a hotel that is close to the subway and/or bus station.

So, plan your trip now! Check your essentials. And make sure that you will have fun! Cherish every moments until it last. ๐Ÿ˜€

P.S. Make up kit is not included in my travel essentials because I am not so into it. Hahaha.. I can go out without make up. But for those who cannot,ย kilay is life, you can add this to your list. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Day 0: Journey to South Korea

June 9, 2017

Who would have thought that we will be given the chance to visit our dream destination?

Wellโ€ฆ If God works, nothing is impossible.

Since our visa was just released the day before our trip, we did our last minute to-do tasks in the morning of June 9.

We went to Alco Money Changer in Raintree Mall (at the back of Mango Avenue Jollibee) to have our peso be exchanged to won. So far, this is one of the best exchange rates in Cebu. The exchange rate for Korean Won is 1KRW is equivalent to 0.046PHP.

At around 11AM, we went to the airport. Thank God that it was not traffic.

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When we arrived, the check in counter still does not open. It opened 3 hours from the flight schedule.

Once done with the check in, we then paid the Travel Tax that costs Php 1620 and claimed our boarding pass at the check in counter. After that, we paid the Terminal Fee that cost Php 750.

We then headed to the immigration office, since I am travelling with my sister, we approached the immigration officer together. He just asked us where we worked and what our travel date in South Korea is. Ate Tzhe, my sisterโ€™s friend, was asked to show her payslip or COE or something that could prove she has a work.

Basically, the interrogation with the immigration officer depends on them. Mostly, they will ask a lot of questions if someone is suspicious with their purpose in traveling. That is their work, though.

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Yay! We are flying to Gong Yoo! ๐Ÿ˜›

Tsaran! Another thank you, Lord because we finally are going to South Korea. Woooohooo!

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Bye Cebu! See you soon.

We waited for about 4 hours for our flight to Incheon. We departed at around 3PM and arrived in Incheon at around 9PM (South Korea Time), which is an hour advance to PH.

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Ate Jane & Ate Tzhe so excited to go to Korea. ๐Ÿ˜€

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We are in Korea! Dora is so happy. ๐Ÿ˜€

What I love about Incheon International Airport is that it is very clean and there are flowers all over the place.

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After deplaning, we went to the immigration, have our passport stamped then claimed our baggage.

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Then we bought T-Money for our rides within SK, checked for Pocket WiFi Rental but we decided not to rent so that we can avoid just always on the phone surfing the net, and asked on how to get to our hotel.

We are staying in Hostel Korea Original. I booked it through Agoda for Php 8301.18 for 3 persons for 5 nights. So cheap right? Plus it has free breakfast (the breakfast consists of bread, cereals, cookies, steamed rice, coffee/milk/tea) . I also checked it with TripAdvisor (as I always do) and found good reviews. It is located in Jongno-gu. The nearest station is Dongmyo. It is also a walking distance to Dongdaemun and Myeongdong. It has a lot of convenience store and restaurant around the area.

We were advised to take a bus number 6002 from the airport directly to Dongmyo Station. The fare is 10,000KRW.

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Ate Jane lining up to buy the bus ticket.

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I can see Lee Min Ho all over the bus. ๐Ÿ˜›

Approximately, an hour after, we arrived in Dongmyo Bus Station. We crossed and looked for our hotel with the help of Google Map that we loaded in the airport. After a few minutes, we found the hotel located in a quiet neighbourhood.

We were welcomed by the owner who is nice and can speak English (Thank God). He gave us this guideline and we negotiated also for an extension on our check out since we will be coming from Jeju Island on that day. And since we wonโ€™t be staying for a night in the hotel, he let us check out at 1PM instead of 10:30AM.

The hotel is your typical budget hotel but the price is good, the location is right and the owner is nice. We were guided to our room (Room 101) just near the common toilet & bath and the door to the reception area & outside. He gave us the WiFi password, the key and instructed us for the pin if in any case the main door will be closed.

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This is one of the beds in our room. Ate Jane is just tired. hahaha

And since we havenโ€™t eaten our dinner yet, we just placed our stuff then asked the owner where we can eat. He draw us the location and the direction. After a few minutes and getting lost (haahahah), we found this small restaurant. We met the two Pinoys who are staying also in the same hotel. They came from Manila and just arrived too. Their food costs around 5000-6000KRW but it is worth it because it is delicious and the serving is big.

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Yuuummmy!

Then we rested after the dinner because we still need to get up early the next day.

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Annyeong haseyo Seoul! Still day 0 but I have seen a lot of your beauty already.

Thrilling Visa Processing for South Korea

Annyeong haseyo! ๐Ÿค—

That famous greeting most of us have heard nowadays even from not Koreans. K Dramas and K Pop are getting popular here in the country. As they have said.. Kinain na ng K Drama. From teenagers to young adults and even to the oldies, they know about Lee Min Ho and Gong Yoo. Thanks to ABS-CBN and GMA for showing Korean Dramas.

I was able to watch few Korean Dramas like Endless Love, Full House, Boys over Flowers, etc. But my sister is really the fanatic. She watched a lot of K Dramas, listen to Korean songs and even self studied Korean language.๐Ÿ˜‹

And so when Cebu Pacific Air has a promo fare to Incheon, Korea, we then grabbed the chance. Our fare was just Php 5000 plus and that is already roundtrip and direct to/fro Cebu. Great deal, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Months before the trip, we were already getting the requirements for the Korean Visa. Read blog posts about Korea and the processing of the visa. We also started making itineraries for the trip. That is how excited we were.โ˜บ๏ธ

We agreed to process our visa after we get our 13th month pay so that we can add it up for our show money. I did not know getting a visa is nerve-breaking. hahaha

Below are the requirements that we found online. This is for those going to South Korea as a tourist like us and are employed.

  1. A completed handwrittenย visa application form. Just put N/A for those fields that do not apply. Do not leave anything blank except for those portions where you chose NO. You may download the form here.
  2. One (1) piece 35 mm x 45 mm colored passport photo against a plain white background. Paste it on application form.
  3. Philippine passport. Must have at least 6 months remaining validity.
  4. Photocopy of passport bio page (page 2).
  5. If available, original and photocopy of valid visa(s) and arrival stamps to OECD member countries within the last 5 years. Valid visas to OECD member countries will greatly increase your chances of getting approved so be sure to submit these if you have them. CLICK HERE for a list of OECD member countries.
  6. Original certificate of employment to be printed on your companyโ€™s official letterhead. It must contain your position at the company, date hired, salary, office address, HR landline number (cellphone number is not allowed), and HR e-mail address.
  7. Original personal bank certificate. It must include account type, current balance, account opening date, and 6 months average balance (ADB).
  8. Original or certified true copy of bank statements / passbook for the last three (3) months.
  9. Photocopy of income tax return (ITR Form 2316). Frequent travelers who have traveled as tourists to OECD member countries within the last 5 years are exempt from submitting an ITR.
  10. Copy of PRC or IBP card (if applicable).

You can check the blogs online for the requirements for other type of traveler like businessman.

We were able to provide 9 out of 10 (except #10 because we do not have a PRC or IBP card).

Since we are from Cebu City, we processed our visa at the South Korean Consulate General inย 12th Floor Chinabank Corporate Centerย Lot 2, Samar Loop Cor. Road 5 Cebu Bussines Park, Mabolo,ย Cebu City. Just near Lexmark and Keppel Bldgs. The processing of visa is from 8:30AM to 10:30AM while the releasing is at 2PM to 4PM. They are very strict with the schedule so better be early.

The visa for tourist going to South Korea for less than 59 days is free.

Our travel date is on June 9-14, 2017. We were able to complete the requirements May 26, 2017 because my Certificate of Employment was delivered on that day. So, the three of us agreed that I will process the visa on Monday, May 28, 2017. This is just so right because the releasing will be 5 days as per on the blogs. Yes, anyone of you can process the visa for all even if you are just friends. No authorization needed.

So, when I went there on May 28, there were few people processing the visa. When it was my turn, the in-charge (Korean lady) scanned all our requirements. Then she returned all the requirements with an attachment to our ITR. She said that we lacked ITR or FORM 2316 BIR Authentication (any of the following):

  1. “BIR Received” or “BIR Certified True Copy” Stamp (RMC No. 24-2015)
  2. Copy of Alphalist with BIR Stamp
  3. Copy of Notarized Sworn Declaration, Transmittal Form with BIR Stamp submitted by company to BIR in compliance with RR No. 2-2015

In addition, the processing of visa starting April 2017 will take 7 business days. So we really need to process it on or before May 29, 2017. But we still have to secure the additional requirements.

As I informed my sister (Ate Jane) and her friend (Ate Tzhe), we were all confused on how to get it. And so I told them that they ask their HR and I will go to BIR Office to ask how to secure this.

As I was in the BIR Office, the in-charge told me that processing of the BIR Stamp takes 7 business days because they need to route an approval. Plus, me and Ate Tzhe need to secure it from Manila since our ITR is coming from our Manila office.

Later that day, Ate Tzhe was able to secure the Copy of Notarized Sworn Declaration, Transmittal Form with BIR stamp. Then Ate Jane was able to get a copy of the Alphalist with BIR stamp. I told them that they just process their requirements first because our HR is absent, unfortunately. So Ate Tzhe said that she will process the next day.

That next day (May 29), she was waiting for my requirement to be available so that she can process. However, the HR still did not send it. So, she just processed her requirements. Me and Ate Jane should be processed together because we declared that we are traveling as a family. So Ate Tzhe did process her requirements and was given a claim form with date of June 8. Then she requested if she can follow our requirements and the in-charge give her 30-minute extension.

Unfortunately, our HR was able to send the requirements at almost 11AM and Ate Tzhe still needs to print it and ran to the consulate office. When she was able to print and ran to the consulate office, the door has been closed because it was already 11:10AM.

And so, the three of us that Ate Jane will process our requirements the next day (May 30). It was so thrilling and nerve-breaking. We were really played by the universe. hahaha..

The next day, Ate Jane was able to process the requirements and was given a claim slip with date of June 9. It would be totally difficult if the passport will be released on that day because the releasing is at 2-4PM while our flight is at 3PM. We really need to do some ninja moves if this will be released on the same day. Fortunately, the in-charge let my sister signed a request for early release and instructed us to call in the morning of June 8.

Wow! I do not know if what is more nerve-breaking. Processing the visa, waiting for the release of the passport or both.๐Ÿ˜–

We cannot do anything but pray that God will grant us an approved visa.๐Ÿ™๐Ÿผ

June 6, Tuesday, I called the consulate office to check the status or if there are requirements that we need to submit. But as per the one who answered, no status as of the moment.

June 8, Thursday, is the moment of truth! I called at 8:30AM asking about our passport if it can be released but the lady told me to call at 11:30AM. However, I have a meeting from 11AM to 12NN which I cannot skip. So, I told Ate Jane but they cannot outside call. Ate Tzhe does not have an own phone in the office. And so I asked a favor from my colleague, Clavel.๐Ÿ˜ฑ

At 11:30AM, she called and the staff told her that we can claim it at 2PM. Wow! It feels good but still I was totally nervous. The release of the passport does not guarantee if we can travel.

2PM here we come! I went to the consulate office and me & Ate Tzhe will meet there. When I arrived, the office is closed yet and Ate Tzhe is still far. So when the office opened, I claimed ahead of her. My priority number is 2 so when the first person was done, I immediately approached the counter when the in-charge called my number. I handed her the claim slip and she checked it and gave me a paper and have it signed. Then she handed mine and Ate Jane’s passports. Then I asked her if it was approved and she said yes. Wow! Thanks God! Super thank you! I cannot even believe it did happen! But God really has his own way. He let us experienced all those thrilling moments because we need to work for the things we want.๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜‚

That’s it! Our journey in processing the visa. ๐Ÿ˜

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  • How much show money needed?
    • Before we processed the visa, we have been searching on how much money we need for the show money. Well, the answer is that there is no definite or fix amount. You just have to save enough money on your bank account that can be used for the trip. And do not deposit in bulk as they will wonder. Also, do not deposit a large amount that they might get confused on how you get it. For example, if you are a regular employee like me. They will wonder if I have 1Million Pesos on my account. So just make sure that it is sufficient enough to support your trip and that you can really earn it.
  • Is there another way to enter South Korea if the visa is rejected?
    • We were thinking of Plan B if in any case our visa get rejected. We were thinking that maybe we can go to Jeju Island instead since they did not require visa. Upon checking, tourists entering Jeju Island through Incheon Airport still needs to secure the visa. Otherwise, we need to get a plane ticket directly going to Jeju Island. Unfortunately, most of the trips are going through Incheon Airport. So this idea is not valid as of the moment. But there was a news that tourists going to Jeju Island can stay and visit Seoul without visa. That if they will get a tour package by an authorized tour agency. However, this is still not being implemented yet.
  • What additional requirements to be provided aside from the above mentioned?
    • We prepared a copy of our plane tickets, hotel reservation and itinerary if ever they will require it. But they don’t so do not submit it. Too much documents might be a caused for rejection too. In any case there is an additional requirement needed, the consulate will call you.
  • What is the best time to process the visa?
    • The visa is valid for 3 months. Just make sure that your travel date is within that range. But, just to avoid the same panic attacks that we got, better to process it at least a month before the travel date.
  • Are there tour agency that will process the visa for you?
    • Yes, there are a lot. Of course, for a fee. But for me, if you are just in Cebu, better do it yourself. Because the experience that you will get is unforgettable. Unless you are really have a hectic schedule. But the processing and especially the releasing will not take you an hour or even 30 minutes. You just have to be there earlier so that you will be entertained first.

 

HERE’S MY TIP

Never get so confident that things will be okay. Never take it for granted. Take it seriously. Because we do not know what will happen during the processing period.

The important tip is to go to the consulate office and ask for the requirements. Because what was posted online might not be updated. From time to time, they can add any requirements they need. So better double check. If getting there is difficult, then you may call the office.

 

So, what you are waiting for? Check for promo fare, prepare for the requirements and process the visa! And maybe you will wake up one day in South Korea surrounded by the friendly Koreans.๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Š

 

Next post is Day 0: Journey to South Korea! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Unleashing Daanbantayan

When you talk about traveling to Cebu, people will always suggest Oslob Whale Shark Watching, Tumalog Falls, Moalboal, Simala Shrine, Mactan Shrine, Camotes Island, Bantayan Island, Malapascua Island and the list goes on.

I have been traveling for quiet some time but always I got to travel less from where I have been staying. We always aim on visiting those places far from home. I know many would agree. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I always wish on visiting Malapascua Island since I was able to visit Camotes and Bantayan already. And so, when Tropang Laagan planned for a summer getaway for May (yeah, you heard it right? we have been planning on traveling almost every month.. haahaha), there was a suggestion to go to Daanbantayan.

We are blessed that one of our bestfriends came from Daanbantayan. Toj planned everything and coordinated all the things that we need. ย The plan would be Day 1 in Malapascua Island (finally.. hehehe.. dreams do come true ๐Ÿ˜), overnight at their house and Day 2 in Carnaza and La Manok island.

And when the day came, everyone is very much excited. But instead of our call time at 6AM, it became 7AM and we departed around 7:30AM. Pinoy time! ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ˜

We hired a van that is exclusive for us and for another group (3 guys) from Manila since they are in a hurry. Normal bus fare is around Php 170 for non-aircon and Php 180 or Php 190 for aircon.

We arrived in Casa de Tohay almost 11AM. They were already preparing us lunch. And they prepared a lot: Tinolang Manok Bisaya, Crabs, and that squid. ๐Ÿ˜„

After lunch, we changed and then headed to Malapascua. We rented a boat for the whole trip including island hopping for Php 3,000.00.

IMG_9707Our boat can occupy up to 22 passengers and we are only 8. Imagine, how big it is for us that we can sleep and party. hahaha..

And as planned, we headed to Malapascua Island. It is just 30-45 minutes away from Maya Port. Look what welcomed us! Paradise! ๐Ÿ˜

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Malapascua Island has a stretch of white sand with beach resorts lined up. It is peaceful and serene perfect for those who want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The water is crystal clear. Though the shoreline is not that long as Boracay but still it is perfect for beach lovers like us.

Since, there is not much we can do and after a few minutes of strolling and taking picture, we decided to do the island hopping.

First stop is the area for cliff jumping. It measures 50 feet (if I am not wrong) and it is only for those who have willingness and strong courage. Definitely not for those who have a weak heart like me. ๐Ÿ˜

Only Neil and Toj did the cliff jumping. And the rest were just swimming near the boat. There is also an area in the cliff where you can have a good pictorial session. Brave hearts though! And they got a whole boat of cheerers. hahha..

Near theย cliff is the Sunken Ship. Since when we were done with the cliff jumping and swimming, there are many tourists in the Sunken Ship so our boat captain suggested to go to Chocolate Island instead.ย  And off we go!๐Ÿ›ณ

IMG_9731This is Chocolate Island. I am not sure why it is called that because I haven’t seen a single chocolate instead there is a lighthouse. Well.. Let it be that! hahhaha.. no whys!

Once we got there, we then went to the lighthouse. We still have to climb for a couple of steps before getting there. But you can appreciate more the view if you will climb up to the top of the lighthouse.

It is a 360 view. And just so relaxing and calm. ๐Ÿ™‚

That ends our Day 1. Later that night, we gatecrashed a party of Toj’s cousins thanksgiving. Literally, we just ate and ran. ๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ™ˆ

Unfortunately, that night there was some incident happened and so we decided not to proceed to Carnaza and La Manok Island. Toj’s family suggested to go to the a nearby beach which is Nalundan. Good thing, Tolits and Che can join as well.

So the next day, with all the foods, the drinks and everything that we need, we started trekking for 15-20 minutes. And along the way, we saw Maya RORO Port and another relaxing view.

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that island is the Chocolate Island we went to the day before.

Just when we got there, this welcomed us. The water is clean and crystal clear. There is just few people mostly within the area since this is undiscovered yet. But you just have to bring tent or something for your stuff because there is no cottages.

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We really had fun swimming, cliff jumping, eating, chitchatting and just savoring the moment in this paradise with the people we love.

Carnaza and La Manok Islands are a must-visit places but being able to visit Nalundan is enough. We still enjoyed and got burnt by the heat of the sun. Literally, I was kissed by the sun as I have sunburn! hahaha..

There is more to Daanbantayan than a jump-off point to Malapascua. There are many undiscovered places that should be visited. There are delicious foods that can be bought for an affordable price. And more than that, there are people who are very much hospitable and nice.

Thanks a lot to Tohay Family especially to Uncle Diomeng and Ante Lacion for taking care 7 noisy people, for the warm welcome and for the makabusog na foods. We still have to go to Carnaza and La Manok so we shall return. Hahaha..

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All the love from Tropang Laagan! โค๏ธ

Twin Falls & Lake in Negros Oriental

It is summer again and everybody is looking for some place to relax and ease the hot temperature. Some would go to the beach, some would have a staycation and dip in the pool all day & night while some wold go to the mountain, the falls and the lake. With all these various choices on where to go, you can really tell that Mother Nature has it all.

As I was starting my new venture, which is Backpacker Travel Getaway, a travel agency that help you to travel the way you want it. My first package is the Apo Island-Pulangbato Falls-Twin Lakes that can be found in Negros Oriental.

Thanks to my first clients for the trust. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Two weeks after that, me, my family & friends went back having the same itinerary.

So for this travel blog, I will share our journey for the Twin Falls and Twin Lake.

It was on the second day of our tour that we had this destinations. Twin Falls can be found in Valencia, 30 minutes drive from Dumaguete City. This is the home for Malabo Falls and Pulangbato Falls or the Twin Falls.

The entrance fee is Php 50.00 per adult.

You can take a bath and relax in the falls. They had provided cottages, comfort rooms and store for foods & drinks.

It is not called Pulangbato for nothing. Literally, the stones here are red. There is even a reminder not to wear white shirts when taking a bath to avoid stain.

After a few minutes of taking pictures, drinking shake and eating sweetcorn, we headed to our next stop which is just a few minutes away, the Red Rock Hot Spring. This is a private property opened to public who wanted to take a bath in a pool with water from a hot spring.

The entrance fee is Php 40.00 per adult. They have tables & cottages from Php 50.00 to Php 300.00, respectively. ย They also have store where you can buy anything from drinks to foods to bath soaps etc.

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Red Rock Hot Spring is really perfect for relaxation and just those who wanted to dip. Plus the view is perfect. Everyone will really enjoy.

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We then headed to our last stop for the day, Twin Lakes Balinsasayao and Danao in Sibulan. It is located an hour to 1.5 hours away from Dumaguete City. This requires a lot of walking. So better get your feet prepared. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Once you arrived, you have to walk going down for a few minutes to see Lake Balinsasayao. The in-charge will then ask you if you will have a boating to the waterfalls and the other lake, Lake Danao. The boat fee is Php 250.00 for an hour which only include either Lake Danao or the waterfalls. For both, you need to do the boating for 2 hours.

We chose to have an hour of boating to Lake Danao. Since we are already there, and twin lake is not twin lake if we cannot see the other one, right? ๐Ÿ˜‹

A boatman took us to the other lake. It took around 30 minutes of boating under the scorching heat of the sun. And for some trivia, the boatman said that Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao emerged because of a volcanic eruption. The lake is a couple of hundred feet deep. It is not allowed to throw a garbage and even to use motorized banca in the lake because it is a source of drinking water for a couple of baranggays in the area. Lake Danao is the home of the animals. Animals who got disturbed in Lake Balinsasayao will transfer to Lake Danao.

This is in Lake Balinsasayao. That’s my Papa helping the boatman row the boat. He is an expert though. ๐Ÿ™‚

This is Lake Danao, that made it twin. You can reach here by riding a boat manually being rowed by a boatman for a few minutes then trek for a couple minutes.

Lake Balinsasayao and Lake Danao, though are called twin lakes, but they are not connected. They are being separated by rocks. Though it is far and kinda tiring but it is totally worth it. The peace and relaxation is exceptional. You really know, Mother Earth is the best. ๐Ÿ˜„

This ends my journey in Negros Oriental. There are a lot of things to do in Negros Oriental but for now, these three first. It is just an hour away from home so gonna be discovering and visiting more soon.

Sorry it took a long time to post this. ๐Ÿ˜Œ๐Ÿ™ˆ