Sohoton in a Day

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It always brings joy to me to be in Sohoton, I used to come during summer months when weather is bit considerate and the park full of action. Unexpectedly I was transported into this remote islands for work, I was thrilled in a way though I know the objective is not about carousing in the waters.  The past week was indeed incredible, after a wonderful Sagada weekend I went straight to Bucas Grande islands.

Setting aside one day after a bloody workshop, with my workmates we explored the islands.  Although I have wanted to visit my jelly friends in Tojoman Lake, it was nil. They were not in season yet.  Everything was in a rush but was able to fit in with our time schedule. It was without doubt a wet trip.

We explored Bolitas and Crystal Caves after descending from Tiktikan lake, got scratches after I came out from Bolitas. Only then I knew that only five people are allowed inside due to low oxygen supply inside. We sailed then to La Fortuna, a small patch of white beach under the coconut trees.  The turquoise waters was irresistible and as if the sea water wasn’t enough, we walk a bit and immersed ourselves in the lake.  We rushed off to Cinnamon for lunch, swam again in its waters and hop on a floating raft enjoying the surrounding vista.

We burped after a sumptuous lunch and not wanting to waste our time, we rushed off to Sohoton Cove making most of the low tide.  I was transported again into another world, like my first visit I’m still  mesmerized in awesome wonder.  Exploring Hagukan and Magkakaub Cave was an adventure for my mates, it required courage and endurance especially for non-swimmers. But it was worth all their effort, there wasn’t  similar wonders they visited like the cove.  The day ended up with another swimming in Marka A Island – white beach, turquoise waters, marine life. It was all to ourselves!

The sun and sea water on my skin and the sea air in my lungs gave me much pleasure.  Simple things that gave simple joy.There was that sense of well-being that made me spring back to life. The orange horizon in the dusk and the cicada singing reminded me that the day was over.  For awhile it was enough, but I will be back soon…

A Time and Space…

Beautiful horizons…

I’m still grieving for my mother’s demise, I can’t deny it. The hole in my heart is still there, there seems a forlorn feeling deep in me.  And I wanted to be away, alone in a deserted place to be just by myself. I need a quiet time, to reflect and embrace the pain and hopeful to cast it away soon inside me. I was weighing my options what to do and where to go, embattled by management principles yet I need to pursue it for my sanity’s sake.  I have to limit expenses, for the past months there was too much cash outflow yet the inflows were in trickles and I need funds for my scheduled trips. But the holidays is gawking at me as if pointing a finger – getting a leave is not easy and I’m allowing the free days go down the drain – such opportunity loss! Last minute I decided to escape to Sohoton but without neglecting the essentials: attend the flag raising for the 112th Independence Day – singing the Pambansang Awit head held up, my right hand on my breast watching a 20×50 feet flag waving proudly up there gives a different kind of feeling; birthday breakfast with a good friend and catch up with her – women talks are too long! ; visit my optometrist for consultation and order my dailies; finish the laundry and grab some needs at the supermarket. Left on a Sunday after attending mass and a relaxed breakfast, I was bidding my time after all I’m on a vacation… Great Escape I was thankful I arrived in perfect shape and just in time, although I left CdeO with the 10am aircon bus, I step in at the reception center of the park at 620pm almost dark. The timing of the connecting vehicles was just perfect, when I arrived Hayanggabon port at Claver, my guide and the boat was already waiting. Joseph (the guide) said we should do some marketing for food, we did it hastily as it was almost getting dark. We sped off for the cruise riding on the waves, which is natural during late afternoons. Halfway, the waters have cleared and we cruised freely, orange skies in the horizon as the sun finally sets for the day. I haven’t arrived yet and I’m feeling good already, riding on the small boat with cool sea breeze on my face, surrounded by the vast blue sea and the green islets!  The little mermaid in me is rejoicing, this is where I belong….

Boats for Bucas Grande group…

Until now, there’s still no electricity in the place, so when it gets totally dark the stars started to decorate the skies and illumined the waters. DH said I would spend the night at Tiktikan Lake since the guest house is fully booked. I admired the expertise of the boat people, the could easily operate the vehicle even in darkness. So we cruised to the lake and climbed the path to the cottage, it was like camping. It’s an open cottage but large, and I have an airbed with matching mosquito net, which is actually what I need – I don’t like the mosquitoes! My bed was on a corner, so I get a good view of the stars in the sky!  DH said, I’m the “princess” of Joseph & Ranil during my stay. Indeed I was, they took care of my needs including cooking my food – such opulence! I woke up at dawn when the wind blew hard, in different directions my mosquito net is flying up – a little while it started to drizzle. Then I found out I got a message from Angel, which left me wondering since my bed spot has no signal!  Nobody knew my escape except one little sister at home (in case for emergencies) and have no plans to chatter about it even to Angel!

The placid Tiktikan Lake

The stars slowly fading out when morning came, watching the placid lake as I wake up is just too wonderful! Just One Day for Me I think it wont be too much to ask to just have a day for myself doing things randomly in the sanctuary of nature, in a different time and place. I leisurely take my breakfast while sending messages to Angel (I hardly do these on early mornings!) until other guests came to the cottage for boating at the lake. I talked with DH previous night about my planned activities, but I was aghast when I found out that Spirit was missing and not anymore at La Fortuna! The stingless jellyfish is out of season already and so my plan to snorkel at Tojoman Lake is cancelled.  😦   So my itinerary goes: Explore Crystal Cave and traverse to come out at the Mangroves in the other barangay Snorkel, snorkel, snorkel Island hop at nearby islets Visit Hidden Island Resort

Overlooking view near the fish sanctuary

Not quite spectacular or strange but one of those simple things that give simple joy to a soul who loves the water. It was still drizzling as we set out for our exploration, I was with Reggie and Joseph – my reliable guides. It’s good to be back at Crystal, we crawled tunnels, climb slopes, walk, look up, crawl again, entered holes but we never got out. We searched every corner for a tunnel leading to the exit but there was none. We retraced our steps and went round again. We found a snake wallowing in a pond, we found vandals as early as 1957, found nests of balinsasayaw with eggs, touch a chick not capable of flying yet and feel the balinsasayaw darting back & forth perhaps disturb by our presence. I told my subjects to abort and just got out from the cave. Well, got blue and scratches on my legs from the crawling! We went next to snorkel at Marka A Island, a nearby islet with a patch of white sand beach. The corals were colorful and amazing but I was wondering about the dead corals and rubbles and the locals offered these explanations: • During rainy season, the corals discolor due to waters losing tis saltiness • During low tides, in shallow waters the corals were exposed to too much heat and they tend to die • Corals in near shallow water tend to break and got destroyed as splashed by big waves especially during the habagat

A patch of white beach

We went to another spot in Caasinan (because in the olden days, the community used to produce salt from this place) for another snorkel. The corals are more colorful, tremendous and varied and there was fish life although juveniles but it was too wonderful to behold – oh, I miss my cam! I could have taken pictures of the anthias over a table coral, the bright red clown fish on anemones, butterfly fish, wrasses, angel fish, bat fish, damsels and more. I spend more time just going around and around. Then we sailed back in time for lunch. In the afternoon, we went to another islet Pulong Gamay near a marine sanctuary and climb on its top and had a good overlooking view on surrounding waters. Then we sailed on the vast waters and visit Hidden Island Resort, which was somewhat deserted when we got there. We were allowed to come inside after telling we’re guests of DH. I was surprised when they have two sharks, five  turtles, napoleon wrasse and other pelagics wading in the water pen! How could they do that? They are supposed to be in the wild… We didn’t stay long as the people there were not too friendly, perhaps disturbed by our presence. It’s a good place though but not as attractive in the pictures at the net!

Quiet beach, blue horizons, calm waters…

We cruised to Dahican, an island with white beach and few cottages. DH was suggesting to stay overnight there but I cant imagine sleeping in an open cottage near the sea, it would be too cold! It’s a good place though – quiet, serene, idyllic – and the caretaker was friendly and the kids also are kind. We stayed for awhile, me just sitting on the beach watching the horizons – the vast waters in front of me and the green patches. Soon I’ll be missing the view. We cruised back to the reception center, it felt free cruising the vast blue waters in front of us. I arrived at the reception center  bit exhausted but refreshed and renewed.  Before it got dark and my stay drawn to a close, I went for a swim in front of the reception center, it was  already late and there were no more guests. I wade, swam and practice getting down with no weights but no success – someday I will. Angel and I aimed for that.  Like, I can control my buoyancy and I can scuba dive with only one weights with me!  Then a small brownish jellyfish came near me, pulsating and floating, I took the time to play with it. it was some kind of manifestation and assurance that my friends are just around.  Later  I ate my dinner (fresh broiled fish & baked mac I brought with me) with a kerosene lamp, isn’t it some kind of romantic? 😛  I spend my night at the guest house, I need a good rest as my day was just too full! Another Next Time I was telling DH that next time I should be able to traverse the cave and he should be ready with a good guide, and I should not miss the jellyfish in the lagoon! I wake up the next morning opening my window and watching the placid lake in front me – so peaceful and so quite, it simply feeds your soul… I promise to be back again, I’m sure I would be missing again the vast seas surrounding me – away from the land, the crowds, man made structures. Here, it’s all nature – ordinary but so pure and true. The serenity is all consuming…