Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Almont Lake Resort, Kitcharao

Oh, the fruits of having nothing to do hehe! It was an almost dead day in Surigao City as my plans to hit the nearby islands were thwarted by the now you see them now you don’t combination of clouds, sun and more clouds. It rained last night and yesterday so I doubted I would enjoy going to them nearby islands. Reasons? Well, how can I walk about under the rain, how can I take pictures, how can I enjoy lazing around and so on. Who me? No am not afraid of the big waves… I’m frightened, okay?! Ah hehe so I thought of things…

What if I go to Tandag? Hmm, pwede! How about returning to Butuan? Fine too! But wait… I remember there was a resort that I saw by the side of the lake when I traveled from Butuan to Surigao sometime ago! Ah yes, it was named Almont! That was just it... next thing I knew, I was already at Surigao City’s bus terminal waiting for my Bachelor Bus to go! Whoa! Problem, the conductor couldn’t recognize what or where it was that I wanted to go, so he wasn’t sure of how much to charge me. We both went down to the dispatcher, and I said that all I can remember is the name Almont. Then he said, ah yes... the lake resort… said some things to the conductor and I was ticketed for an 88-peso ride to Almont.

That was a fine midmorning ride with wonderful scenery of the countryside. I don’t know why I was smiling when I got off the bus hehe. Probably too excited to be in a place that I just suddenly remembered hehe. Probably thankful too that after almost an hour inside the cold air-conditioned Bachelor Bus, I was finally in real breezy countryside. Yey!

A guard and two other men were resting under a tree when I entered the resort. It was rather quiet. All smiled and greeted me good morning. My first question: is this still open? The answer from one of the men was affirmative though he told me there were no guests at the time. I asked if I could just go around to check-out the place and probably have lunch. The eager reply was “yes, please sir, go ahead”! Whoa! English!

From the road and the front lawn, there are two paths – one that goes up to what looked like a restaurant and one that goes down to some of the rooms. OMG! Baha! Flooded! I think for an instant there, my eyes were not chink! Half of the ground floor (that means from ground to about waist deep) was submerged in the lake waters! OMG! Of course I did not venture there as there was nowhere to pass but wade in water. So I went up the nice clean stairs and emerged at some kind of a verandah cum restaurant.

Another OMG! Breathtaking! The views of the silent lake, the hills and mountains beyond, the wild birds thousands of them just floating in the lake water, water lilies… with nothing but the breeze and bird sounds, ah what a wonderful place. I sat down at one of the tables (yes, on the table) with my feet on a chair just trying to absorb the wonderful scene. And the menu came hehe!

Well, I ordered pork chop and coke. As I waited for lunch, the waiter stood beside my table to answer a battery of questions! So the only three souls I saw on arrival were the guard, him as waiter cum houseboy cum manager of the place, and the cook. Now the flood. I asked if that was really a flood since I know that floods are brown and murky while the water below was clear green. He informed me that this really has been so every wet season – meaning the resort’s ground/lake level (whatever) is inundated. He adds that it is at least a consolation that there are not too many (to nil like now) guests during the said period. Then he laments that as the years come, the “flood” lingers longer than the previous! Argh! At least its clean. This is a lake yes but far from the murky polluted Laguna lake. The water is clear green and I could see fish playing by the submerged facilities downstairs. Hmm, I wonder what them fish do when they see themselves in front of those mirrors down in those rooms!

Flood notwithstanding, the resort though is able to keep its upstairs facilities in tip-top condition. Everywhere you look it is very easy to recognize that this is a resort professionally managed by folks who know the trade. Example, the waiter I was talking to was wearing a white tee when I arrived, but when he presented the menu, he was already dressed in his flowery blue uniform! I could see the cook via that glass on the door and he wore his apron and headgear just to whip up my pork chops! Even the rooms are luxurious – more than some of the Almont facilities I have seen at other places. Total effect, luxurious!

Ah they’re fairly regular in terms of prices – meaning regularly expensive hehe. But this is an upmarket resort with equally upmarket kind of service and facilities. So I asked, why not close the resort during lean season or during such time when the water is up. Answer: they do have bookings during such periods even if just a handful and not on a daily basis. Si they're accommodated upstairs. Most are even walk-ins! Hmm… how convenient… being on the upmarket bracket and having few (to nil) guests, folks who want to get away from it all or from them all… come here for the ultimate in “privacy” whatever the reason - legit, legal, moral or not! Oh politics… oh showbiz… oh religion hehehe! You get what I mean of course, right?!

Oh hey! I learned that some folks even come to this place to stay and have their pictorials of a lifetime downstairs when it is submerged! I asked though if that wasn’t way foolish for the owners to construct the resort such that all the downstairs rooms “sink” to the lake some months of each year. And so I got the real deal. Waiter told me that Almont did not actually construct this weird facility. This was owned and constructed by some government agency or the likes to become their field office showcase or something. Then, as the build was in progress, they realized the expensive miscalculation and halted the construction. Some bright mind from government was then able to strike a deal for Almont to make whatever use of it. So there it is… a unique lu-li (lulubog-lilitaw) of a resort in Mainit Lake.

Oh, Lake Mainit? You can just google for its significance. It’s a big one and the Almont crews tell me it is very picturesque and a wonderful lake to tour around. I could see what they meant, even just from the vantage of Almont Resort. The entire lake touches three or four towns in two provinces and they say all have equally good vantage. If you’re going though, don’t forget to bring binoculars. Ah those birds, thousands of them should be wonderful to see up close. I dream it would be more fantastic if I am able to see them big instead of little dots (to the bare eye) that float on the lake. Almont has kayaks and boats for rent, and they say one can roam the whole expanse of the lake. Oh my, that’s veery wide hehe. But I’d like to see how this resort looks like during “low tide”. See that growth on the water? Nope, that is not an island nor a coral. That’s Chinese bamboo and supposedly part of Almont’s lovely garden that as of now is deep in the lake waters hehe! I must see this place without the high water!

Oh well!

3 comments :

  1. Thanks for your blog. I've been searching for Surigao city tours and yours is by far the most helpful.

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  2. my pleasure to share the wonderful places i this country!

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  3. gudpm! pwd paki post ang room amenities nyo...

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