We've always wanted to go camping. The time we went to the La Mesa Ecopark we were determined to camp out there. But they have this policy of having a minimum10 paying campers to a group to hold one. There are only three members in my family - myself, my husband and my daughter - and we could hardly find 3 other persons to go camping with us. Also, our car is only a sedan and could accomodate only 2 more persons aside from the family because when going camping we'd need to bring our own stuff. In other words, disappointingly, we were not able to camp in La Mesa - yet. But the choice of a place to camp was only one of the factors that were being considered. The determination to go through the activity weighed heavier than all other factors. So, we did camp. Not in La Mesa, though, but in the picnic area of the Laiya Coco Grove.
I found the website of Coco Grove while searching for a campsite. Desperate to find a place to pitch our tent and do some barbecue, I called several resorts to try to check if they could accomodate us.
Coco grove was the only one available and I had to grab the opportunity. So, ater two days, we were on our way to our camp out.
The trip was tiresome. We left the house at 9 am and reached the place at 2:30 pm on April 22, 2006. This travel time was a surprise to us since we knew that Laiya is just in Batangas and that it said that the travel time was 2.5 hrs plus in their website. It turned out that the plus meant 2.5 hours more. hehehe To their credit though, the road to the resort is very good having passed two highways (the South Luzon Expressway and the Southern Tagalog Arterial Road). Except for a mere 1 km of rough road, the Batangas stretch is well paved and properly maintained.
Coco Grove is divided into 3 sections - the main resort, the picnic area and the white beach. Although all three places had beachfronts, the white beach had the best shoreline. It was disappointing at first because I thought that if we checked in at the white beach, we'd have access to all three. It was when we got there that I
learned that only when you check in at the main resort would you be able to go to the other beaches. But this would cost us 2,100 pesos each and we didn't expect to spend that much. Besides, we were set to camp out and not to stay there in luxury. Although I had a reservation for the white beach, we settled for the picnic area which incidentally is the cheapest - only cost us 330 per person while it costs 650 pesos to stay in the white beach. The Picnic area served our purpose. It had some trees along the coast which had a shady area beneath it where we pitched our tent. We didn't want to spend so much so we opted to use the tent we brought. There's an additional 330 pesos to rent a tent. Besides, that's part of the thrill of the experience anyway.
Getting there was the first challenge. The next was our stomachs. We were all starving as we did not get any lunch along the way. There was a buffet in the main resort but it costs 300 pesos per person. There were five of us (my mother in law and
cousin in law were with us) and that would make an additional 1,500 pesos to our expense on just one meal! Luckily and with some charm, I managed to ask from the staff where to get food. So another discovery was made - there is a small marketplace by the beach about 5 minutes away from the resort and there's even an water refilling station and a convenience store just about 50 meters outside the gate. So, off we went to get some chow while my daughter, Nanay and Me An stayed behind to have the tent pitched. It was funny at first when were trying to figure out how to get the food. Ikee volunteered to stay and pitch it and was boasting that she really knew how. Of course, I did not want her to stay. Hey, what can I say? I'm her mother! I wanted her by my side all the time. hehehe
We found several things to eat at the marketplace (it's called "talipapa"). there were some stalls where raw seafood, meat and vegetables were sold. There were also some stores that sold cooked food. While choosing cooked food from one store, Boyet noticed a
vendor selling some ginataan hipon (shrimp in coconut milk) and other food cooked with coconut milk (ginataan). We bought some of those too and amazingly spent only 165 pesos for our first main meal which consisted of ginataan hipon, ginataan isda (fish), laing (yam leaves in coco milk), chicken afritada and 5 servings of rice. We also had some raw mangoes for appetizer and some ambrosia salad for dessert. Not bad for an overdue lunch eh? We "devoured" our meal like hungry lions! Perhaps piranhas would be a better comparison.
Ikee and Boyet managed to spend some time in the water. But I didn't. It was time to rest. We spread our mat on the sand and laid down by the shore. Ah... what a life. The a warm breeze caressing your skin, the sound of the waves on your ear, the smell of... naaah... it was time to cook dinner! We didn't have a lamp so we could only rely on the sunlight and our trusty flashlights. We were not that prepared for a camp out because that was technically our first. The first time we tried, it had rained and we had to sleep in the lobby
of the multi-purpose hall of th ayala greenfield subdivision. So, armed with just some charcoal, handy grill bar, newspaper and a match that I had bought from the talipapa, I started to cook dinner. I had built a 3-burner cooking stove, mind you, with the rocks I found around. Talk about being a girl scout. Ikee tried to help so I let her. She fanned the charcoal till the ember spread out. It was a grilled lambchops and chicken dinner for us along with some charbroiled mussels and some broiled sweet peppers and tomatoes - sand flavored! Some pieces had fallen off the grill and I just rinsed them a bit and put them right back on to the grill. That's part of the thrill, isn't it? hehehe
Of course, we can't do away with dessert. Boyet and Ikee went on an errand to fetch some drinking water. they were giggling when they came back. I knew right there that they had bought some ice cream. Ikee was surprised at how I knew. I merely shrugged my shoulders and laughed.
After dinner, Boyet and Ikee started the bonfire while I went with nanay and Me an who were
assigned to do the dishes. We had been hearing other guests at the karaoke and I had asked both Me an and Ikee to go with me so we could belt out some tunes. Ikee was willing to go on the condition that she would not be asked to sing because she had some allergic cough and might lose her voice. When we got there however, we were told that they had rented the machine for the whole day! which explains why they had been there forever. Soon after, it was time to call it a night. And the Sandman cometh.
(More pictures to come on this page)
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