Road Trip Itinerary: North East Samar Loop

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My solo ride around Samar Island has been one of the most memorable rides I’ve done this year. I got to traverse through three provinces of (Western) Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar. Since it’s the third largest island in the Philippines, it’s is a bit challenging getting around by public transportation. The main cities are geographically located far from each other and vans and jeeps don’t leave regularly. Usually, you have to wait for public transport vehicles to get filled up with passengers, so getting from one place to another usually requires a lot of waiting time. Since my main purpose was sightseeing and ease of access getting around, I thought I could cover more ground on a motorbike.

For riders just after a pure straight ride minus all the activities and sightseeing, they could probably loop the whole area I covered in a day. I allotted four days for this because I prefer driving only 4-5 hrs a day in the morning, so I have more time to enjoy the place and chill out in the afternoon.

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Endless Samar Part 4: Ulot River Torpedo Boat Adventure

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Any solo traveler will tell you that one of the most painful parts of traveling alone is the fact that you have no one to share expenses with. After riding around the coastal road of Samar on the way back to Catbalogan City, I decide to squeeze in one last activity.  When I passed by the local tourism office in Samar, the three main destinations being promoted were Sohoton Caves Natural Bridge in Basey, the Rock Formations in Marabut and the Ulot River Torpedo Boat Ride in Paranas. I’ve visited the province of Samar on several caving trips and have written a detailed travel guide about it, but for some reason, I haven’t been to those three main and most popular sites.

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Endless Samar Part 3: Borongan, Eastern Samar

Everything looks better when the sun is out. The same roads and structures which I found scary the previous night look perfectly ordinary in the daylight. It’s like watching a horror movie with a particularly tense nail-biting scene set at night. Then the scene shifts to a sunny day and you breathe a sigh of relief because you feel the worst is over.

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Brewery Gastropub in Iloilo

Iloilo is one of the best destination for foodies in Visayas. For most people, a trip here isn’t complete without having Ilonggo favorites like La Paz Batchoy, Pancit Molo and Lechon Manok. But if you’re a craft beer lover, Brewery Gastropub should definitely be at the top of your list of places to visit. Brewery Gastropub is the first bar and gastropub in Iloilo City that offers a wide selection of both imported and local craft beers from all over the world. They feature over 100 different varieties of bottled beer that you can choose from including 15 fresh beers in draft form.

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Chase Wonders in Iloilo with AirAsia

The province of Iloilo is known for its rich heritage and churches, vibrant festivals, friendly people and excellent cuisine. Iloilo City, the capital is a major urban center in the Philippines, and the gateway to the Panay island in Western Visayas.

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Endless Samar Part 2: Laoang Island & Mapanas

Desolate. The empty highway seems to stretch on for miles. Except for the occasional habal-habal or van going in the opposite direction, most of the main road in Northern Samar just feels so empty. There are hardly any establishments or houses on either side of the road. Just mountains on the horizon, coconut trees and fields.

While driving from Lavezares to Laoang Island, the only fairly large town I pass that has an actual mall and big gas stations is Catarman. After that, I only encounter small villages with their poblacions made up of a few streets punctuated by a handful of sari-sari stores selling gas in litro bottles. Then it’s back to deserted roads after driving for five minutes. Continue reading

Endless Samar Part 1: Biri Island

Ang laki pala ng Samar, I thought to myself as I drove along the highway on my way from Catbalogan City to Lavezares in Northern Samar. When I ride a van or a bus, I usually just sleep and wake up near my destination, so I don’t really feel how far I’ve gone. I get an inkling of distances when I plan my route on Googlemaps, but the kilometers on Samar island just felt longer than usual.

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Travel Guide: Biri Island, Northern Samar

Like a lost planet right here on the earth, Biri Island’s amazing natural rock formations will astound you. The island’s dramatic landscape carved by the fury of Mother Nature are as beautiful as they are surreal. These gigantic limestone rock formations were formed by pounding winds, raging storms and ruthless waves that battered the coast. If there’s one iconic place you need to visit in Northern Samar, Biri Island would be your best bet.

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The Cave Beyond a Waterfall: Sulpan Cave in San Jorge, Samar

Caves do not have mass appeal. Given a choice between a beach and a cave, most tourists I know would probably be packing their Instagram-worthy swimwear and flip-flops to bask on the sunny shores of a tropical island before you can even say “spelunking.”

I mean, why would anyone want to dangle hundreds of meters in the air to enter a hole in the ground leading to an unknown chamber, stumble around on slippery boulders in complete darkness, crawl through muddy passageways and swim through the frigid inky waters of underground canyons where who knows what could be lurking, waiting to reach up with their gigantic tentacles or venomous fangs to drag you down to the depths below?

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Pinipisakan Falls in San Jorge, Samar

Otherwordly. Ethereal, Magical. Like a scene from a children’s fairy-tale storybook, the two tiers of the waterfall cascade like a white curtain into a basin of clear blue water. From where we stand, the massive boulder formations carpeted with moss, wild ferns and tiny purple flowers provide a postcard-perfect viewing deck.

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