Vacationista: Legazpi and Albay, Bicol: Day 1 (Saturday)

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Airfare: So I found myself booking a trip ticket to Legazpi, Bicol via Cebu Pacific (P2160 inclusive of NAIA 3 terminal fee) for the middle of October. Was supposed to be my first solo local flight (but a friend joined so yey!) and I figured Legazpi was solo backpacker-friendly. I’ve always wanted to visit the place not only for their scrumptious, spicy food but also for the Mayon volcano, which I’ve studied as a kid from history classes. It’s a shame that I’m only able to visit it now. But better later than never. And what perfect time than when the volcano is said to erupt soon, according to Philvocs and the news. But of course, locals say that that’s just an exaggeration, which I think is true since it was very calm when we arrived in Legazpi. No lava, fumes or ashes. So much for my so-called ‘disaster tourism’ experience.

Transportation: Basically, me and my friend took the tricycle during our whole trip because it was very convenient, like a hop-on-hop-off. Haha! My friend fondly dubbed them the ‘taxicle’ because we just hail a tricycle like a taxi and tell the driver our destination. Fare would be expensive if you’re alone as it starts from P30 for less than 10 minutes ride. From the Legazpi airport, tricycles await outside. Going to the hotel cost us P70.

Accommodations: Following my airfare, I searched for a decent place to stay in. Being a backpacker, a backpacking inn was an option but I didn’t find any that I liked in Legazpi. The next best thing I found was the Ellis Ecotel, located at a mall called Embarcadero de Legazpi (which I’ll dub as EL). Since it was in a mall, very accessible and fairly near the spots I wanted to go, plus the fact that it was on sale for about 50% off, I booked my two nights there via agoda.com (P1320) for their Single Standard Room, which has its own restroom, TV with cable and aircon. The bad: Seeing the hotel in person was very underwhelming, so underwhelming I forgot to take pictures. Haha! So just take my word for it. The photos in the web were too nice for the actual hotel. I was actually surprised of the good reviews I read. The mall itself was dark and sad, not so much people or activity in it. Most of the shops were even closed. The hotel lobby and hallways were dark, gloomy, hot and scary, something like a set for a horror movie. Haha! Perhaps because of the pending volcano eruption, there weren’t a lot of hotel guests. I only passed by a couple in the hotel hallway once. Anyway, if the hotel lobby was underwhelming, the room itself was so much more disappointing. But this is because of my high expectations from the photos and reviews. The first thing I noticed was that the chair was dirty with molds. Even the bathroom floor had a few spots on it. They forgot to give me toiletries and a towel so I had to request for one. The phone is only able to call the operator. The remote controls of both the TV and aircon are defective. My friend, who was in another room, experienced loss of electricity when she came back so she had to call the staff. There were a lot of small ants who came out of nowhere and also small cockroaches/ bugs. The good: The elevator works. The staff were nice and accommodating, even when I was inquiring via email before we arrived. A grocery store, a small pasalubong area and Bigg’s Diner are located downstairs. Their free wifi actually works. Not only that, it was pretty fast considering a lot of the reviews I read said they couldn’t access the wifi in their rooms but only in the lobby. The bed was comfy, the pillows were soft and the sheets were clean. They have hot and cold shower. They have cable (though signal got lost when it rained). Since I’m a cowgirl, I don’t mind the bad since what’s important for me are clean sheets, a comfy bed, clean CR and hot and cold shower. BUT I would not pay the original full price for it. That said, for the half price I paid, I choose not to complain.

Bigg’s Diner: After checking in and freshening up, we had late lunch at Bigg’s Diner right outside the hotel. I’ve read reviews that tourists should try this local fastfood chain so we did. I ordered their best seller, one-piece fried chicken with rice (P95) and a side of mac n cheese (P35). It was ok, nothing special. I wouldn’t highly recommend it though it served our purpose of quickly filling up our stomach. The interior though was nice. Loved their colorful pop culture designed paper place mat and personalized hot sauce and soy sauce bottles.

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Lignon Hill: From EL, we arranged for a tricycle to bring us to Lignon Hill then to our dinner destination, Small Talk Café (P250 fixed price fare). At the foot of Lignon Hill, we walked towards the entrance (P20 fee) and since we were too tired to hike, rented a habal-habal or motorcycle to bring us up (P20 each way). The top of Lignon Hill gives you a great view of the whole of Legazpi City as well as of Mayon, which was really grand. We stayed at the top until sunset. Back at the entrance, we arranged for tomorrow’s ATV ride with the Your Brother Travel and Tours group who had a representative at Lignon Hill.

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Small Talk Café: I’ll say it upfront: Small Talk Café is amazing! Everyone should eat here! It’s a small resto-café (get it?) which looks like an old house (it actually is). Good thing we arrived early, around 6:30pm, so we were able to get a table. At 7pm, groups of people were coming in and before long, the small resto was filled. Me and my friend both ordered their bicol express pasta (P120) plus an appetizer of pizza crusts with laing and bicol express dip (P70). I had calamansi juice (P18) and for dessert, a slice of pili pie (P50). The pasta was sooo good! Their bicol express was really delish! Even the appetizer was yummy. We loved the resto so much that we had dinner there the following day. I wouldn’t recommend their pie though. Hehe.

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We then had a night cap (apple flavored SanMig beer for P60) at the bar outside of the hotel and rested for an early wake-up call.

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