Saturday, March 10, 2012

Lakbay Norte 3: 4x4 ride to Puning Hot Spring, Camalig Restaurant & Prado Farms in Pampanga

Now back to Lakbay Norte 3 and this long overdue post on Pampanga and Clark Freeport. From Subic Bay, we motored to Clark Freeport via the SCTEx and proceeded straight to Veranda Restaurant in Mimosa for a dinner hosted by the Clark Development Corporation.

Junior Family Suite at Hotel Vida
Driveway of Hotel Vida
After dinner, we checked-in at the Widus Resort and Casino (Hotel Vida) where we were given spacious and cozy Family Junior Suite rooms, perfect for our last night on Lakbay Norte 3. We were treated to a sumptuous breakfast spread the next day at their restaurant.



Our first activity for Day 8 was a visit to Puning Hot Spring. Mount Pinatubo may have wreaked havoc on Pampanga and Central Luzon. But its effects have become tourist attractions with the Mount Pinatubo trek to the crater lake, 4x4 rides through lahar fields, and spas that use the therapeutic benefits of the heat and sulfur from the volcano.

Puning Hot Spring is a perfect example of that, with therapeutic hot sulfuric water distributed to various pools in the complex, plus an exciting 4x4 ride through lahar canyons and streams to get there. Yes, the 4x4 ride is an attraction in itself. The pick-up point for the Puning Hot Spring experience is at Mini Stop near the Sapang Bato Gate of Clark. From there, it's about 45 minutes to reach the pool complex. But the adrenaline rush driving through steams, narrow canyons and lahar fields will greet you first.

Sulfur sand shower at Puning Hot Spring
After a dip in the warm pools, you hop back on your 4x4s to proceed to another facility for the sulfur sand shower, where you will be buried up to the neck under volcanic sand from Mt. Pinatubo. After 15 to 30 minutes, you take a cold shower and proceed to the lounge chairs for a sulfur mud pack all over your body. After the mud pack, it's another shower and then you're set to go home. Notice that the employees are local Aytas since the spa is actually part of their ancestral domain. And part of the agreement is that manpower will come from the local Aytas.

Doy's Kapampangan Delight at Camalig Restaurant
Back on the bus, we proceeded to the Historic Camalig Restaurant for Armando's Pizza. Of course, on the lunch spread was my favorite Doy's Kapampangan Delight (longganisa, salted eggs and pickle relish), All the Way, and Marco's Three Way.

Pathway between the theater and library (Photo from Prado Farms)
From Camalig, we proceeded back to the SCTEx for our trip to Prado Farms in Lubao, Pampanga. Although there's a Lubao Exit, the most convenient exit is actually Dinalupihan.

Pistou, Longganisang Guagua and Pandesal
Free Range Lechon stuffed with Duck and Herbs
Prado Farms is a former LPG facility that was converted into a bio-dynamic farm and charming activity venue, complete with function halls, a theater, and even its own hotel dormitory. It's perfect for workshops, retreats, reunions and other functions. We had merienda which included some Kapampangan favorites of the Gutierrez family which owns the facility such as Pistou (Ground Pork), Longganisang Guagua and Pandesal (from Apung Diung) and Free Range Lechon stuffed with Duck and Herbs. The duck that was stuffed in the belly of the lechon was used for the Duck Sotanghon Soup that was served later in the day.

Robinsons Starmills Pampanga
Our last stop before proceeding back to Manila was Robinsons Starmills Pampanga for some outlet shopping. Check out the photos of Lakbay Norte 3 at the Ivan About Town FB page. Also check out the video of LN3 Day 8.

Thank you to Lakbay Norte 3's corporate sponsors: North Philippines Visitors Bureau, Victory Liner, MNTC/NLEX, Department of Tourism, our fuel partner Petron, our bus wrap provider Elite Ads Corporation, creatives from ActivAsia, Blue Cross Insurance, onboard snacks and drinks courtesy of Universal Robina Corporation and Robinsons Land.

Widus Resort and Casino (Hotel Vida)
5400 Manuel A. Roxas Highway, Clark Freeport, Pampanga
Tel. No. +63 (45) 4991000; Fax No. +63 (45) 4990979

Puning Hot Spring
Sitio Target, Sapang Bato, Angeles City
Tel. No. +63 (45) 4990629, (920) 8664246 or (919) 3392795

Historic Camalig Restaurant
292 Sto. Rosario Street, Angeles City
Tel. No. +63 (45) 3225641 or 8881077

Prado Center for Renewal and Development (Prado Farms)
Gapan-Olongapo Road, Prado Siongco, Lubao, Pampanga
Tel. No. +63 (920) 9030964; E-mail: pradofarms@gmail.com
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