It’s been years since my last visit to Subic. We passed by Olongapo last month on our way back to manila from Nagsasa Cove, but that was it. That prompted us to make it our Road Trip destination this weekend.
We left the house around 9:00 am and reached Balintawak toll way in less than an hour. We had a quick stop at San Fernando to get a few supplies. It was 12 in the afternoon when we arrived at SBMA, and our first order of the day is lunch.
Every time we go out of town, we always try to look for local restaurants. We did not travel three hours just to eat at the same places you find in Manila. I checked on foursquare (iphone app) the trending restaurants in the area, and wasn't able to find anything interesting. Just the same, we explored the Waterfront Road for developments or something that would spark our interest.
Being a local tourist and driving for the first time within SBMA, I only rely on the global mapping apps on my Iphone. On our way to Gerry's Grill, we were given a ticket for a driving violation. We were on a lane that was supposed to turn left but instead we went straight since my map took time to load. I took the ticket thinking that it is actually my fault and I already heard news about the strict traffic rules in SBMA. So touring drivers, be warned!
After the traffic violation incident, the traffic officer assisted us to the direction of Gerry's Grill. It's full of people but could use a bit of improvement in their amenities. We drove past Gilligan’s and Pier One, which are a no for us since we frequent the place in Manila. Instead we head directly to Camayan Cove and decided to try their restaurant there.
Guided by foursquare on my phone, we head towards the direction of the Subic Bay International Airport. A few kilometers after the airport was an entrance gate with seemingly nice Security Officers. Do not be fooled by their smile, they are actually checking you out for driving violations. We rolled the windows down to ask if were headed on the right direction, he answered politely and asked us to pull over since my passenger is not wearing a seatbelt. We are less than an hour in Subic and I'm on my second driving violation. We talked him out of not issuing us another ticket, and expressed how these strict rules are a turn off to tourist. We promised to wear our seatbelts at all time inside SBMA and he let us pass.
Finally we reached Camayan Beach Resort beside Ocean Adventure. Since it’s a weekend and the beach area is full of guest, we decided not to pay the entrance and just stay there for lunch. Surprisingly, the food was good, and the view was great.
After having a late lunch, we opted to go to the Zoo-bic Safari. The entrance fee including the train ride is less than 500 pesos, but I'm recommending the package that includes the zip line for 650 pesos.
The tour of the Zoo can take up to 3 hours so be prepared. While waiting at the entrance, we can’t help but be amazed of the huge white tigers.
The zoo is divided into different areas. We started with a walking tour of the aviary, and the petting zoo with monkeys, deer, horses and a pair of lion among the many other animals. Then, we proceeded to the Serpentarium that houses their collection of snakes and reptiles. The train picked us up for the Close Encounter with Tigers, The Savannah Tour and the Crocodile farm.
After the Zoo, we pass by the Treetop Adventure, but for fear of not having enough gas, we headed back to the Freeport area. There is really is nothing much to see in their duty free shops, you will see most of their items on regular supermarket, the only difference is the dollar price tag.
We were in the mood for coffee after the Zoo adventure. I tried recommendations from Tripadvisor and found Xtremely Xpresso Cafe on their list. We were not disappointed; we ended up ordering their signature pizza and a pasta puttanesca to go with our hot mocha.
We left the cafe just before 6 PM, and just as we were turning left on the Main Road to take the Rizal Exit Gate to Manila, we were again asked to pull over this time for swerving. That was my third traffic violation in less than 5 hours. Do SBMA survive on tickets for driving violations? We'll definitely its not the tourist since these strict rules are a major turn off. We don't know our way around the area, how do you expect us to know which lane we should take? The officer suggested that we take the SCTEX going back to Manila, but I told him to just show us the nearest gate, because we don't want to stay in Subic anymore.
Good thing Xtremely Xpresso has a branch in Marquee Mall, because I am one disappointed local tourist.