Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Bicol Experience: From Laiya to Lucena City, part 1

La Laiya San Juan Batangas
Last year, we planned to go to Legazpi City to see the famous Mayon volcano. But, when I read the reviews and the number of hours going there, I was stumped. According to those I read, it's a ten to twelve hour drive, about 400 plus kilometers away from Manila. That's the distance I took when my family and I went to Ilocos Norte, specifically Pagudpod. It was a hellish ride for me, because I'm the only one driving the Adventure. 

There were occasions when I want this plan realized, but one thing led to another and it's always a no-go. First, I'm forty. Second, I don't feel as strong as when I was twenty years old. My tonsils are still hurting and just thinking of that looong drive makes me reconsider.

Great idea for a nap
Anyway, last Thursday, my family and I decided to go South. First, I just want to stay in a place where there is solitude. Me and the beach and the bitches of my life, that's the only thing I can think of. 

Of course, when beaches are being considered, you don't have to look far--there's Laiya, in San Juan Batangas. It's just a two to three hour drive. 

Initially, my family checked and Bataan is another great place to go. There are hidden white sandy beaches in Zambales, but you have to ride a boat to get there, and the place is still undeveloped. It's okey if I'm alone. I'm a backpacker and I can definitely take a challenge. But with two whining kids in tow, scratch anything near "heat" or "rough roads" or "boats".

Want peace and quiet? It's Laiya.
There's also this hotel in Subic. I planned to get their membership card but when I learned that this hotel, which is owned by a Korean and how they mistreated their guests and how tourists were robbed of their belongings there, I backed out. I don't want trouble. The least that I want is going to a police station to report my stolen goods.

Anyway, I called my mother, and she told me that its traffic going to the North. So, it's South then.

Traversing South Luzon expressway is a joy by itself. The roads are pretty much well maintained. It's just 177 pesos going to the Calamba exit. When you reach the end of the expressway, you'll find that there is a connecting road leading to the Star expressway. This is very convenient and I thank Vilma Santos for this.

It's not a long drive. After about an hour (?), we reached the end of the expressway and it was smooth driving all the way to the Ibaan exit. Admittedly, I don't really know the exit going to San Juan. Some say, it should be Batangas city exit. Fortunately, there's a streamer in one of the overpasses which directs one to use the Ibaan exit going to San Juan.

We went to different beach resorts before we ended up at La Luz beach resorts. As usual, the place is fully booked. However, there is one, a place being rented out by a resident of the place. The price? 4,000 per night. That's the cheapest in the area, since every beach resort is booked for two to three days.

great time to lazy around
La Luz beach resort is an ideal one. One, it's quiet. There's people around but they're not the crazy or the rambunctious ones. They respect the serenity of the place. Laiya is just sand, sun and laziness. It's not your usual Bora where everything happens. If you want to relax, get that  hut and just enjoy the breeze. 

For me and my family, this is not as simple as it seems. If you're a day tripper, the cost is 750 per head, equivalent to 4,000 pesos (overnight). Their usual rate is between 2,500 to 4,000. In this season (since it's their "peak one"), getting that peace and quiet would cost you more. 

Anyway, we decided to just take some photos and go our merry way. Casa Rosales is inviting but no thanks too. 

After some snacks, we decided to go to Bicol. I reasoned that we are in Batangas anyway and Lucena is just around the corner, why not go there? My family agreed.

So, off we went to that road leading to Lucena. The highway is just 11 kilometers away from San Juan. Afterwards, we traversed the road leading to Lucena.

It was around 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening when we reached Lucena City. We ate at Max restaurant and asked where's the best place to stay the night. They all chorused---Queen Margarette hotel.

Queen Margarette hotel is your usual 2-3 star hotel. A deluxe room costs 2,000 plus, not bad since the place has a pool, a jacuzzi and the sorts. There's another one, the Quezon Premier Hotel, but it's fully booked. For those on a tight budget, settle for King Alexander Hotel. It's just 750 pesos.

Since we were just spending the night over, we decided King Alexander Hotel. It's clean. Its reasonable. All you really need is an aircon and a heater. And life is okey.