Bacolod: Remembering Sweet Smiles in the City of Smiles

(One of the boons of exploring life as a reluctant traveler is the severe illness of not being able to update the blog as much as I should. It is putting all these travel experiences to waste. And so, I squeeze in a fraction of my precious time to write about the places I’ve been to over the last few months.)

Contrary to what most people did, I did not go to the beautiful Bacolod in the time of Masskara festival, where the Silay airport is teeming with people from all walks of life. I kind of regret not being there in such a festive time, but I had the distinct advantage of enjoying Bacolod in its off-peak period: Chinese New Year 2012 to be exact. This is a long overdue retelling of the gastronomic paradise experience I had in Bacolod City.

Unarguably, this was a place for people who want to fulfill the insatiable need of the sweet tooth. And while in Manila, I often went to Mang Inasal for another fast food staple, I am now a firm believer in the statement that you have never really tasted chicken inasal in the truest sense if you have not been to Manokan Country:

Bacolod’s Famous Chicken Inasal at Manokan Country

A night before my flight, I opened my fortune cookie and it advised me to “Take chances to gain some ground.” This year, 2012, has been really a year for taking chances and embracing positive changes that made me a better person. And I was sweetly rewarded by this risk taking decision by the yummiest of desserts in the famous Calea cake shop and the super affordable red velvet slice and beverage pair at Cafe Bob’s:

Calea Cake Slices

 

Tine and the Evening Gastronomic Treat at Cafe Bob’s

 

The scaredy-cat in me hates flying on airplanes or basically stepping out of my comfort zone. I suffer from homesickness beyond the fourth day of a journey in a different place, local or international. Fortunately, for Bacolod, I had my friend Tine, who successfully helped me overcome my paranoid fears and travel neurosis. She was also the first person who encouraged me to travel. When we were still staying in our Ortigas condo, she posted all her travel pictures on the wall. Despite my introverted tendencies, I was heavily encouraged to step out literally and try to travel for leisure. This is, by far, the first leisure domestic trip that involves riding an airplane. I got to Puerto Princesa and Cebu for data gathering purposes in my old job, but not much time to enjoy myself there. And she had a camera which basically amplified my camwhoring moments. I did have my fearful moments when the airplane did a weird noise on our flight back to Manila. But honestly, there’s no fun to life if you justย  stay in the same place. Traveling has added another dimension to my life that helped me discover myself and be more independent as a person.

 

Sunny day landing at Silay Airport, Bacolod

Bacolod was my first place of travel leisure, and this is the place where I experienced FLASHPACKING. I have often heard of backpacking among the well-traveled individuals I have met. But the word flashpacking was quite new to me. Apparently, when you travel for leisure with a little splurge or provision for some comfort or luxury, it’s called flashpacking and not backpacking.

We stayed in this place for three days and two nights. And it was a place where I had a lot of my firsts in life, including the first climb to 7 waterfalls in Mambukal resort.

 

Of course, I enjoyed the sights, for in Bacolod, you never run out of things to do. It’s so laidback in there; it’s like time literally slows down and allows you to just chillax. It’s a far cry from the fast-paced urban world that I am used to. Honestly, I did not want to go back to Manila and I agree with what my old lady boss said when she told me that this is one of the best placed to retire in. Our stay in the Sylvia Manor was fairly comfortable. It’s not as expensive as L’Fisher Hotel (which was highly recommended by our friend Mia, who lives in Bacolod), but it has a hot shower, twin beds, and easy access to SM Bacolod and Manokan Country at 800 per head per night.

One of the famous places in Bacolod is The Ruins, owned by a sugar baron who was linked as one of GMA’s ancestors. The place is a frigging mansion. But quite interesting about it is the color transformation it undertakes by sunset.

The Ruins before Sunset

 

 

Sunset at the Ruins

This officially opens the chapter of the reluctant traveler’s life. Like we can have the ruins of the past mistakes and the general fear of not being able to make it. But at the end of the day, I realized that I am young, and I have the license for a few years to enjoy myself and take big risks. And so cheers to taking big risks amidst the wholeness and the ruins of life. I am as free as the butterfly I saw in the Butterfly Garden at Mambukal Resort. And this is the perfect time to find my footing in the vast terrain that awaits to be explored by my frightened feet…

Lovely Butterfly at The Negros Butterfly Garden in Mambukal

 

Thank you, City of Smiles, for serving as a gateway for more traveling smiles to an otherwise homesick and reluctant jetsetting engineer like me.

 

Still sipping sweets on the airport, flight back to MNL

Most image credits go to Miss Kristine Rowan, friend, ex-roomie, and kickass business school student in the US. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Tiney! ๐Ÿ™‚

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