Friday, February 12, 2016

Grandcanal Mall in Mackinley Hill

Venice, a place that has always brought out the romantic from each one of us is finally here, just in time for the red letter day.

Grandcanal Mall boasts of a small Venice with gondolas and gondoliers traversing the waters. The gondoliers are garbed in style. They are wearing the traditional black and white stripes with a red neck kerchief.  A white hat completes the ensemble.
Along the tiled pathways,  people are delighted by paintings propped on crates. Costumed mimes are everywhere. Masks, chocolates and flowers are being hawked alongside each other.  Italian opera floats in the air.
The Grandcanal Mall is part of the Italian themed Mackinley Hills. Mackinley Hills is the newest place to be in Taguig, Metro Manila. Condominium buildings have risen in the past five years.

Gondola at 500/pax

Masks and a lady


Copies of paintings being hawked

Restaurants- Amici, Macdonald's, Agave ,Tokyo Cafe, Seafoods Restaurant, Starbucks, etc.

How to go there

By taxi
It is just a few minutes from Market, Market (via C-5), Serendra , SM Aura, NAIA airport or Resorts World Hotel by taxi .

By Public transport
1. From Guadalupe EDSA,ride jeepneys  that are bound for Market Market. Get down at the corner of Fifth Avenue and McKinley Road and look for jeepneys bound for FTI Gate 3. This will pass by McKinley Hill.
 2. From Ayala EDSA, look for the bus terminal of The Fort buses (at the gate of Forbes across Shell Station) bound for Fort Bonifacio. These are air-conditioned buses that go around Fort Bonifacio. Get down at the corner of Fifth Avenue and McKinley Road and look for jeepneys going to FTI Gate 3. This will pass by McKinley Hill.
 3. From Guadalupe EDSA, There are jeepneys in Gaudalupe that are bound for AFP Housing and Fort Bonifacio. You can ride either of the two, both of those routes pass by McKinley Hill.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Valencia, Negros Oriental in the Rain (Pulang Bato Twin Falls)

Ruggedly beautiful Valencia, a place at the edge of Dumaguete, was where we found ourselves snaking around the abundant forests and mountains that hugged each other. The motorbike or habalhabal wove us in and out of the asphalt pavements and sometimes through rocky bumpy inner roads. The green was all over, the blue was above us and the tricky clouds kept chasing us to the waterfalls.
The weather was uncertain and different states of water came from all directions, vapor from the craggy hillside, mist from the higher grounds, steam from the hot spring and sprays from the falling water.

The rain kept on dancing on our heads, sometimes with huge droplets that pummeled our scalps, or tiny prickly pelts that was itchy on my nose. The roads were slippery and we didn't have helmets on. We opened our arms to the brazen wind. It was all we could to do keep ourselves from shouting
"It's great to be alive!"
We failed to see the Casaroro Falls. 

Yes, we were humbled by the river that was in the way. The raging waters that lay between hikers and the Casaroro Falls was too much for us city dwellers. They said it claimed a few lives, those who were too stubborn to take a hint from mother nature. It was the rainy season, so someone should have told us that the Casaroro Falls "cannot see us".  The habalhabal bikers had to reroute us to other natural wonders.We passed by a lot of resorts in Valencia like Isla del Rios and Tejeros Resort.

On the way back from the Casaroro Falls was Harold's Ecolodge. A few minutes of biking down from higher ground it started to rain again. We got off the bikes and asked for sanctuary.
 The innkeepers of Harold's Ecolodge were only too happy to see people since the place was in the woods and very few people pass by there.

The place was filled with organic flora and we were able to taste their young papaya straight from the tree. We drank coffee and chatted with the couple who took care of the cottages.
The bikers told us we could detour to Pulang Bato. So we rode for one hour or so to the Pulang Bato Falls and Twin Falls. When we got there, we found out they were just a few meters apart from each other.

The Pulang Bato Falls at that time was majestic owing to the fact that it was rainy season. The rain fed the humongous waterfalls, which spewed, gushing and unabashed. Another falls, presumably its twin was a few paces away but it didn't really made an impression.

We were soaked but happy. Our bodies ached for something warm. So we scurried for warmth.

The Red Hot Lava springs is not the title of a titillating FHM article. Nope. It's a place where you get to immerse yourself in deep, soothing water, sufficiently warmed by a sleeping volcano.
Mist, rain, hot springs, what more can one ask for, except... time.

Raging Pulang Bato River

Twin Falls

Tejero Resort

Isla del Rios

The House with no walls at Harold's Ecolodge

Harold's Ecolodge