Friday, October 28, 2016

Top 10 Exciting Things to Try in Goa, Camarines Sur

Date: OCT 28, 2016

Most of us are familiar with the State of Goa in India. But did you know that 500 kilometers down south, in the province of Camarines Sur, lies a quiet little town at the foot of Mount Isarog whose name is also Goa? It’s a long story on how I got here – and as I celebrate my first year anniversary staying in this town, I decided to make my first ever Top 10 List to show the world what exciting things can be done in Goa!

Map of Goa I made myself
10. Visit the centuries-old Saint John the Baptist Parish

Posing in front of the church
Located at the heart of the town is the charming Saint John the Baptist Parish, constructed in 1701. Located in front of the church is the town plaza, surrounded by food carts offering different kinds of snacks. In the middle of the plaza stands a structure supported by four columns, referred to by the locals as “patio”.

The best time to hang out here is during the morning or in the afternoon, between 4 PM to 6 PM. At night, watch out for the legendary “tambays” near the patio who calls on guys, especially those with good looks! Yikes!

The busy plaza during the daytime. Patio stands on the left part of the photo.
9. Sample Goa’s Foodfare

Kwekwek and spring rolls, perfect with mango 
Welcome to Hepa Lane
Right in front of the plaza is the street famously known as “Hepa Lane” (I called it Bangkok once). Honestly, I don’t know the name of this street, but it is lined with different stalls that sell different kinds of food!

Fishballs? Check. Banana Cue? Check. Isaw? Check. Grilled Chicken Barbecue? Check. Goto? Check. Bicol Express? Check. Roasted Chicken? Check. And I could go on and on but the list won't end. Just like what SM says, “We got it all for you!”

Tyo Macoy's Eatery, just beside 7-Eleven (courtesy of
And then there’s “Mamihan sa Belen”, who in my opinion has the best-tasting mami in Goa. If you’re looking for the best kinalas in town, head to Kinalas Twin, near the transport terminal. And there’s Tyo Macoy’s Eatery who serve bulalo, goto and kinalas (equipped with free wifi whose password change every single day!) in front of Partido State University.

Goa also has a number of commercial food establishments, like Graceland and Bigg’s Diner, plus the stalls inside LCC Mall and two 7-Eleven branches, one in centro (the town center) and another one near PSU.

FUN FACT: Almost 75% of my monthly allowance goes to food!

8. Jamming at various bars around town

Eating lunch at Percival Grill
I do not know exactly how many bars there are in Goa, because I’ve only been to three of them – Percival Grill, Kalye Burgos, and Matchbox.

Percival Grill has a nice ambiance, perfect for chilling out on Friday and Saturday nights. They have band performance during Fridays, a karaoke machine and the legendary buttered chicken everyone’s talking about! Kalye Burgos, on the other hand, offers the best tasting barbecue, complete with band performers (who sings a lot better) and candlelight at the center of your table.

7. Enjoy Digdigon’s rolling hills

What a view! And mmmmm... Fresh air!
Eight kilometers west of the town center lies Barangay Digdigon, on the foot of Mount Isarog. Hectares of crop plantations can be found here, along with rolling hills and a view of Caramoan Peninsula and Lagonoy Gulf in the distance.

6. Check out the Municipal Hall

Dagos po kamo! (Tuloy po kayo!)
Located in Barangay Tagongtong is the municipal hall, situated inside a gated compound. Can’t say anything more about this...

5. Stargazing at San Martin de Porres

San Martin de Porres chapel on a full moon (Photo by: Aljhon Marco)
This tiny little church is just a few meters away from where I live. During the day, one could swim in front of the clear pond or play street games on its grassy field. But during clear, moonless nights, magic fills the sky - count all those stars, wish upon those meteors and witness the glamour of the Milky Way Galaxy!

4. Freshen up at Hiwacloy River

Everyone's having a good time!
One day last January 2016, one of my classmates invited me for a short morning jog to Hiwacloy River. Little did I know that it was 6 kilometers away – but in the end, the sacrifice was worth it! The river is crystal clear, and its waters are cool, perfect for a hot, sunny weekend!

Boodle fight!
Cottages are also available near the banks and it’s perfect for outdoor picnics. You just have to shell out an extra P50.

3. Hike Mount Isarog Sulfur Springs

Cure your skin diseases here!
This one is for adventure junkies, just like me. Hop on a tricycle to Barangay Hiwacloy and check out the signboard on the left saying “Mount Isarog Sulfur Springs”. From the intersection, find your way to the barangay hall and ask for a guide, who’ll take you to the springs. My friends and I spent four hours going up and another four hours going down, but it was all worth it!

Along the way, you’ll encounter:
1. The best view of the Partido Area
2. Clean rivers suitable for drinking (and swimming)
3. Blood-sucking leeches

And on the top, your very own private sulfuric bath, complete with a hot or cold water option. Just make sure you wash your clothes thoroughly afterward! The strong sulfuric odor stays in and I had a hard time removing it.

One more thing, regarding the blood-sucking leeches: Do not let them enter your eyes, or even suck on your blood - that’s totally disgusting! Bring insect repellant, alcohol or salt to drive them away.

2. Overnight Swimming Parties

Celebrating Aljhon's 21st birthday at QS Springfield Resort
Celebrating your birthday? Invite your friends and do overnight parties either at Springfield Resort or Santa Maria Resort! Jacksonville Resort is also an option but they do not allow overnight swimming as of the now. I can’t share any more details though. Shhhhh... :p

1. Study BS Geology at PSU and meet new friends

Philippines' future geologist (Photo by: Patrick Ludovice)
I may be a little bit bias on this one but for me, THIS thing gets the first place. Partido State University, or PSU as what we call it, is one of the six universities currently offering BS Geology in the entire country. If your application was rejected by UP and you do not have that much money to enter Mapua or Adamson, then this school would be your best bet! :D

There goes my list. Next time you visit Caramoan, feel free to include Goa on your itinerary for a side trip!


Direct Trips:
1. Raymond Bus, Penafrancia Tours and Philtranco have direct trips from Cubao to Goa.

*Raymond Bus Terminal is located near Victory Liner (Cubao). Trips are available every day, with the ordinary bus leaving at 5:00 PM and the airconditioned one leaving at 6:30 PM. Fare is P800+.
*Penafrancia Tours, on the other hand, is more pricey at P1000+.

Two Rides:
1. Catch any bus bound for Naga City (starts from P400)

2. At Naga City Terminal, look for buses bound for Partido area (Florencia Bus, MRR Bus, etc.). Fare is P60 (ordinary buses) and P80 (aircon buses).

You would really fall in love with Goa

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