Happy 2017 everyone! Before 2016 ended, I had the chance to go to two provinces near Manila. The first one is in Zambales which I’m about to write, and the last one was in Laguna, both together with my friends from work.

TRAVEL TO ZAMBALES

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Originally, we we’re supposed to go to Isla Verde in Batangas as one of my co-worker spent her childhood in the island, but we ended up going to Crystal Beach instead. You know how plans work, it’s a good thing this didn’t end up drawing. LOL

When leaving the city, and traveling to provinces near Manila, we usually leave at or past midnight so there would be less traffic, and finally maximize our first day of traveling. We decided to bring our own car than ride a bus. We left at 2:00 am, and arrived in Crystal Beach Resort at around 6:00 am. That’s around 4 hours of travel by land. Traveling by land is the only option to get to Zambales.

The place was packed with people when we got there. We didn’t make any reservations prior our arrival so we were offered a place to pitch our tent. Not the kind of thing we expected, but we decided to take the offer until a room gets to be available. We ended up staying in a nearby guesthouse called Johneva Resort.

CRYSTAL BEACH RESORT

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Crystal Beach Resort is probably the most well-known resort around. Aside from few resorts nearby, expect the place to be fully booked especially during the holidays or weekends.

The beach is ideal for swimming. During high tide, people can surf. Otherwise, you can hang out with the locals, and ask them to teach you how to do skimboarding. If you want to keep away from getting yourself wet, you can do beach volleyball, basketball, and billards instead.

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SKIMBOARDING WITH MARK

We met Mark, a local in San Narciso who has been skimboarding for two years, and it was all self-taught. If you, guys, have no idea what skimboarding is, it’s like skateboarding, but without the wheels. The skimboarder uses a board, made of either wood or foam, and glides across the water’s surface.

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Observing him was one thing, and actually doing skimboarding is another. It felt harder than surfing, but my friend, Rigor, had no diffuclty doing it! Maybe it’s just because I’m left-handed (Sus, reasons!)

CAMPSITES IN CRYSTAL BEACH RESORT

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If you prefer pitching a tent instead of a room, there are 2 campsites in the resort. The first campsite is where mostly people camp as there are abundance of pine trees around. The other campsite is near the beach, which in my opinion, is cramped. The first campsite isalso more accessible to the public comfort rooms than the latter.

MORNING SKY IN SAN NARCISO

As a person who loves to sleep, waking up early is the hardest part. At 4:30 in the morning, we were on our feet, ready to welcome how the sky would look like– and it didn’t disappoint!

The sky was lit with a crazy hue of pink and blue, you’d actually thought the sky is a cotton candy. It felt magical. At those times, the world was still and quiet, about to get ready for what adventures may come that day.

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There were few locals around aside from us. Two men gathered their nets to catch fish for their breakfast. I’ve always been fascinated on how locals live. Growing up and living in the city, stuff that we need and want can easily be acquired. It’s fast and convenient as long as we have money to spend. In the province, on the other hand, it requires labor to get such things. For me, it’s something that I admire.

ITINERARY

There was no fixed itinerary when we got there. Crystal Beach is perfect for those who wants to do nothing but stay by the beach and try some water activities for a couple of hours.

ESTIMATED EXPENSES

We opt to bring our own car than commute this time. Expenses are tabulated and summed per person and totaled to 5 pax. Food is excluded here.

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HOW TO GET THERE

From Manila (via public transportation): Take an Iba-bound bus, and ask to be dropped off at San Narciso, Zambales. Nearest landmark is San Sebastian Catholic Church. Once there, take a tricycle going to Crystal Beach Resort. Travel time is approximately 4 hours.

From Manila (via private transportation): From Balintawak, exit to NLEX then on SCTEX which is the last tollgate of NLEX. Take route going to Subic/SBMA. Turn right on Rizal Highway when you reach the SBMA tollgate. From Rizal Highway, go straight until you reach the dead end then turn left on the right tollgate to Olongapo City. Turn right on the first intersection (Canal St.), and exit to Kalaklan gate. Turn left going to Zambales, Subic town, Castillejos, San Marcelino, and take shortcut (see shortcut signage) in the middle of the road. From the town of San Narciso, turn left after Municipal Hall, and just follow the road signs going to Crystal Beach.