Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dumaguete Day 2: At Lake Balinsasayao

Day 2 of our Dumaguete trip. The first thing on our itinerary was to visit the Twin Lakes in the morning, get back to Dumaguete in time for the Buglasan Street Dance and dine at Cafe Antonio during the evening. And since we were extremely pleased with the food and the customer service in Hayahay, we planned to go back to the resto for some drinks to cap off the night.

BUT, since I felt a bit groggy from last night's margarita, I was not able to work on my articles. I ended up writing early in the morning instead. So instead of the planned 7am trip to the lake, we went out of the hotel at around 11am. Preeeety late. 

Anyways, we decided to have early lunch so we won't have any problems later. We strolled the city streets again and found this food joint called Scooby's. They sell pretty good homemade food and burgers. I ordered menudo, rice and coleslaw while Janjan had a double burger. Scooby's, I think is a very popular food joint in the city. Surprisingly, there are more Scooby chains in Dumaguete than there are Jollibee's.

So right after lunch, we hailed a trike which took us to the Ceres bus terminal. We got on a bus heading for San Jose (20 PhP). We had no idea where to get off so we asked the driver to drop us off at the crossing point to Twin Lakes. The Twin Lakes National Park is actually found in the municipality of Sibulan. Its just a 25-minute ride so please, please DO NOT fall asleep. Sometimes, the driver can totally forget about you so its best that you keep your eyes wide awake. There's a huge sign at the left side of the road that will tell you where to get off, just in case.

Luckily, manong driver is not the forgetful type and he dropped us right in front of the sign. There are several motorcycles parked at the side of the road. An old man greeted us and offered his services. I've read a lot of travel blogs saying that a ride to and from the lake can cost around 300 PhP per head. Some say they have managed to haggle it to 250PhP. So we tried our luck. To our surprise, we were met with a totally different price: 400 PhP for a round trip. I was shocked! I haggled for a bit but to no avail. It would be senseless to turn away and go back home. So we agreed to the rate and I hopped on the motorcycle, grumbling.

The ride was long and it was scary. Janjan and I had to ride on two different bikes so I was even more scared. But slowly, the views got more and more beautiful and manong driver got more and more friendly. Before I knew it, I was totally enjoying the ride. It turned out that my old trike driver was a well respected guy in the area. People called him Master (yes, seriously). One time, we stopped by a store to buy some gasoline and people were extra polite to the old guy. He was more like Yoda. Master of the rough roads, he was. (Haha, sorry. Couldn't help it).

Forty five minutes later, we were at the park entrance. We paid the 10 Peso entrance fee and drove on towards the lake. There's actually a shallow pool of water right beside the the entrance area which looked pretty neat too. Sadly, I forgot to take a photo of it.

The road ended at the park's restaurant. Since we were already done eating, we proceeded on to the trail that led us down to the first lake, Lake Balinsasayao. After a few minutes of walking, we were greeted with this:

Girls and guys, meet Balinsasayo. Breathtaking, eh?
The park offers a range of activities. You can swim (only when there's a lifeguard around), go trekking to Lake Danao, rent a boat (250 PhP, with a guide) or a kayak (100 PhP/ hour). We decided to get the last option. It was much cheaper and way more fun.  

So we paddled all around and across the entire lake. It was scary and peaceful at the same time. Surreal. I felt small and so fragile. But most of all, I felt a huge sense of gratitude. This was all incredible handiwork. It was getting quite hot so we paddled all across the lake where the viewing deck was located. We tied our boat to a tree (very, very tightly - on paranoid mode ) and made our way up the trail. Once at the top, we finally got our first glance of the shy twin brother, Lake Danao. He was smaller, but just as beautiful and majestic. The best thing to do at the viewing deck? Camwhoring. =)).

After taking in all the sights, and sounds and smells, we went down and followed a short trail to see Lake Danao himself. He looked even more beautiful up close. There was this huge log that fell right at the side of the lake which added more to its mystery. 

Lake Danao. He has a completely different feel.
After a few shots, we decided to head back up and start rowing back to the main station. We were gone for almost an hour and I was afraid that it'll start to rain. I DID NOT want to get stuck in the middle of the lake rowing a small kayak. We got back, paid 100 PhP for the kayak and went back up to the resto. Master was not there. The attendant told me he went out to buy gas. Fine by me. This gave us enough time to take more pictures.

Grateful to see this in my lifetime
A few minutes later, Master arrived and we were back on the road. This time, I felt more at ease. I did not mind the 400 Peso trike ride anymore. I'm glad to have helped. This was a pretty dangerous road and well, every single penny was worth it. If I was ready to spend a Thousand Pesos on a mechanical roller coaster ride in Singapore, why not a few hundreds for the real thing, right?

Master wanted to buy me marang at some store along the road. A local fruit which I told him I loved. He said these babies are sold for 5 Pesos a piece here. Crazy and cheap! But unfortunately, they ran out. We finally reached the highway, paid him 800 for the ride, said a million thank you's and hopped on an Easy Ride back to the city. The experience was surreal. Not just because of the lake but of the ride and the people we met along the way. It was not the destination indeed, it was the terrifying, butt-aching journey.

To Master, you'll probably never read this but you made the trip extra special. Thank you for the stories and for bringing me back in one piece. Master of the Rough Roads, you truly are. =))


  1. wow! really breathtaking... do you have master's contact number? thanks :)

  2. hi blissfulguro. =). unfortunately, I was not able to ask. but there are several motorcycle drivers parked right at the side of the road. i LOVE your blog by the way. =)

  3. galing ng entry. nalilito ako kung ppunta ba kami dyan o sa Casororo Falls na lang, san mas maganda?
    Thanks :D

  4. was it 400 per way for a total of 800 roundtrip or 400 roundtrip and 200 per way. I'm confuse with your info. 800 is quite pricey for a roundtrip!

  5. hi, when you paid for the motorcycle ride was that 4oo pesos back and forth? and also for the kayak fee?