Living in the city for literally all my life is equally satisfying and exhausting, sometimes. Manila is a concrete jungle, complete with literally everything you need to survive. Manila could use some more accessible breathing space if you ask me - more blue skies, and green fields - things we lack in this sea of high-rise buildings, concretes, and cars. Don't get me wrong, there are a number of parks and nature reserves in Manila one can visit to destress and unwind.
Personally, though, I like going off-the-grid and take myself out of this concrete jungle to center myself; the less human interaction, the better. How to do it though with limited time? How do you go away for the weekend without travel time eating a good chunk of your off-days? Look no further than the cities in the immediate towns next to Manila; Batangas and Tagaytay are a crowd favorite but surprisingly, Bulacan has gems to offer too.
With municipalities like San Jose del Monte located an hour drive from Manila, and without an immediate body of water, which we Filipinos so crave, Bulacan seem to be the least choice for a weekend getaway. It's easy to forget though that it's a large city, with 569 barangays from 24 municipalities and my friends and I just found a sanctuary in one of it. Hidden in the municipality of San Rafael is San Rafael River Adventure.
On March 23rd, a week short of the Holy Week long weekend, my high school crew and I decided to take a weekend off together. We left the Metro a little over 4 PM, and maybe if we didn't get lost we would have arrived earlier. LOL. Nonetheless, we arrived right on time for check-in at 7 PM. The check-in process was a breeze, we're assigned a butler to help us settle in the night and through our stay at one of their Glass Cottage.
The Glass Villa was as breathtaking as it's photo. Also, surprisingly spacious for a group of six people. After a sumptuous dinner that we ordered from the resort, my friends and I decided to - even though it was decidedly breezy - take a dip on the pool. It's open to guests 24-hours, which was convenient for people who arrived late in the night or simply nocturnal like my crew.
The Glass Villa was as breathtaking as it's photo. Also, surprisingly spacious for a group of six people. After a sumptuous dinner that we ordered from the resort, my friends and I decided to - even though it was decidedly breezy - take a dip on the pool. It's open to guests 24-hours, which was convenient for people who arrived late in the night or simply nocturnals like my crew.
The pool was strategically located near other amenities such as the outdoor cinema, which adds to our fun in the pool. Unfortunately for me, they weren't showing horror movies then. The pool is also two-stone throws away from our villa which makes going back and forth the villa for liquor a little easier.
We swum, shared a couple of Mudshake, and chilled at the poolside. Right off the bat, I knew the place is relaxing but the combination of the water, the breeze, the soft lights, the quiet, the nature sounds, and the alcohol in my system makes a perfect combination to help my body settle in. One would think that with the amount of alcohol we brought for an overnight trip that this crew must be drinkers, and we are but that night we only finished two bottles of Vodka Mudshake and a quarter of the Bailey's Irish Creme. We all went to bed relaxed and pleasantly buzzed at around 11 PM. God knows none of us sleeps at that hour in Manila.
Waking up the next morning to the sound of a good old-fashioned rooster crowning rather than cars passing is beautiful to me. My crew headed down to the free breakfast buffet at 8 AM. I rarely wake up that early to eat but who can resist a good Filipino breakfast, and free on top of that. Wish I could show you photos, but I was busy eating my way through the buffet to take some. Sorry. Haha. After breakfast, everyone basically jumped back in the pool. It was a different kind of breathtaking in the morning light.
People started to crowd around the pool around 11 AM, so I was out of the water by then. I wasn't avoiding people, I was avoiding getting fried by the sunlight. I'm the kind of girl who tans further with minimum exposure to sunlight. Right before I went to shower, I also texted our butler to serve lunch at noon. Efficiently, lunch did arrive at the time I requested right after everyone cleaned up.
Fed, and sated the crew decided to go for a walk around the resort to help get the food down. We visited the deck with the view of the inflatables and all the other kids at heart having fun at it.
Not wanting to hog the viewing deck too much, we set out down to the Reflection Island where you can get closer to the river, the statues of Jesus' baptism, and the glamping site.
I knew I said the goal was to help get the food down but it wasn't my fault that the resort was littered with hammocks everywhere. It wasn't long that I found myself lounging in one, again, overlooking the river and the glamping site.
At that moment, I had a clear picture of what I wanted for my retirement - whenever that is. Growing up, I wanted a lot of things to happen in my life. But then, in that hammock, I realized I didn't need all that much to be happy. A small house for me, my books, and my cats with a view of nature is good enough for me. I underestimated the beauty of simplicity and I now crave it.
Suffice to say the afternoon was spent lounging, eating, drinking, playing good old physical monopoly together and hanging out with cats. Absolutely in love with San Rafael River Adventure and the variety of wildlife and domestic animals in their care.
This particular orange cat was an absolute pleasure to hang out and watch the sunset with. Couldn't have ended my stay with San Rafael River Adventure any better.
If you're interested to visit the San Rafael River Adventure, below are helpful links:
Maybe, if you find yourself hitting up the place you can come by this post again, and share your stories with me.
Disclaimer: All photos are mine, unless stated otherwise.