Dumaguete prides itself as a city with the charm of a town and it is with this trip that I understood further what it means. – 03.14-17.22I’ve been celebrating my past 2 birthdays at home I said to self I cannot not be out of it for this year. I was looking at destinations and Dumaguete came to mind as I love its small town feel. That, plus a bit more research led me to other places in Negros Oriental I could explore nearby.
2 DAYS AT SEA
Some people get turned off when they hear long trips getting to a place but I chose to go on a long ferry ride because I wanted to be at sea for a long time. It’s also a change of pace because unlike before, I had a more or less flexible schedule.
I I booked 2go a few months early so I got a relatively cheap fare at roughly Php1,000. I also got the cheapest accommodation and while some find it convenient, I actually liked the small ‘community’ I was in for about 2 days.
My days on board spent people-watching, eavesdropping while I was resting on my bunk (including the music they were playing on their speakers or playing on the guitar), eating meals (which I didn’t know are included in the fare) and listening to live music over beer at night.
Arrived in the city at 12 midnight. Having not planned this as well, I was homeless for a few hours that I had to find a place to rest. I initially planned to stay in any 24-hour fastfood chain but those nearby were closed, Luckily, I found a waiting area before the exit gate. I think it was a space for S-Pass availment but since some people were taking a nap there, I did the same.
After getting overwhelmed by such this beautiful sunrise by RIZAL BOULEVARD, I had time to spare before my check-in at my hostel that I decided to walk around.
Since the last time I was in the city, I still love the vibe of the place in the morning with people just strolling – either exercising or taking photos. I was getting distracted with such a lively atmosphere it didn’t feel like I was carrying a heavy backpack.
By 6AM, I wanted to check in my hostel. I could have taken a tricycle but ‘inspired’ by all the walking and since it was still early and not as hot, I chose to walk my way to Flying Fish Hostel. It turned out to be not as near and I ended up sweating and all but hey, some exercise huh.
After settling a bit at the hostel with no plan in mind for the day, I was thinking to either walk around downtown or go someplace not as far. I did walk around the church and market area. Since it was too early too, I could not find a place to hang out in that I decided to go to Valencia as it is one of the nearer towns.
To be honest, I was not as excited because I am not a falls person yet I just wanted to do something to fill my day. However, this turned out to be a relaxing experience and made me realize, hey, maybe we should give falls a chance.
Went to Valencia via a quick jeep ride, passed by this random SMOKEY MOUNTAIN which according to my driver/guide has become a tourist attractive of some sort.
Internet says PULANGBATO FALLS is famous for its red rocks (hence, the name) and I’ve read some how some are not as happy with the place as it is touristy or sort of commercialized. The thing is, it is a resort, yes. So there’s the convenience of having tables/cottages and a store for beer (because that’s what matters to me :D) and food most likely. It was also structured in such a way that there’s a suspension bridge and a man-made falls of some sort.
But — and this is a big but, when I was there, it was not the usual crowded tourist destination. There were times when I had the entire falls to myself. A couple of people came and went, some mainly taking photos then leaving, so it was a good place to really just relax.
I even stayed longer than usual that my driver even charged me extra because he said he didn’t expect me to stay that long. I was annoyed of course, but on the brighter side of things. Hey, apparently, I did enjoy it more.
BACK TO RIZAL BOULEVARD
It is in this trip that I realized how the best times to be in the center are night and day.
Of course, there’s the tempura that has been iconic in the boulevard. The first time I was there, I thought it was the shrimp kind. But apparently, the closest comparison to it would be kikiam, except these are thinner and longer. For this trip too, I realized how much I love the sauce as it doesn’t seem like it but it’s really spicy. Aside from tempura though, stalls here offer the usual quail eggs, fish balls, shanghai, and squid rolls. There’s dirty ice cream too. (For non-Filipinos, this is ice cream that may not be as creamy or flavor-defined as your usual ice cream but it is as refreshing and a unique treat from the Philippines. Some even eat it with buns.)
So that’s a lot to munch on as you spend the night watching the strip come alive again. There are locals playing sports, walking their dogs.
Beer and food options are also everywhere across the boulevard. It is a long stretch though and in my case, I ended up drinking in Cafe Racer that’s near Hayahay. Then when I was about to go home, I discovered this speak-ish place which is a Malaysian restaurant.
Tips and How To’s:
How to go to Dumaguete
Dumaguete is accessible from Manila via flight (Philippine Airlines, CebuPacific) or ferry via 2go. For latter, you may book online https://travel.2go.com.ph/ . However, if you want to avail of their Senior Citizen or PWD discount, best to go to an actual branch.
They do offer promos from time to time so can check their Facebook page as well.
Getting around Dumaguete
You may walk around the area near the port and boulevard. Road is dotted with restaurants until night.
To get to relatively far areas, tricycle is the main mode of transportation. Make sure to ask the driver how much as fare tends to be higher given high price of gasoline recently. GrabTrike is also available in area.
How to get to Pulangbato Falls
Take a Valencia-bound jeep from the market near the town church. Travel time is 15-20 minutes.
From Valencia, hire a habal-habal to take you to the falls. On the way there, you will pass by the Sulfur Mountain. Also very near the falls is Red Rock Hot Springs Resort.
Where to stay in Dumaguete
There are hotels/inns along the boulevard.
For backpackers, there are hostels like Flying Fish and Casa Arrieta. Both are clean and well-maintained. Location-wise, these are not as central as the others but if you don’t mind taking a tricycle or a long walk, this should be okay.