I took a ferry from Cebu to Bohol, which took a little over two hours and walked through the thick humidity to my hostel 2km away. I could have taken a taxi, but figured the exercise was good for me and I just hate dealing with taxi drivers sometimes because I feel like they are always trying to rip me off.
I got to my hostel fine and was dripping from head to toe in sweat. After being shown my room and bed for the next few days, I got myself sorted and updated on things to see and do from a roommate that was heading out. There was also a guy from Finland who I would end up hanging out with a bit during my stay on Bohol. We ended up going out and tracking down some Filipino food for dinner that first night.
The Filipino restaurant we found was set up like a buffet, sort of. There were about twenty or so pots of food and whatever looked good you just point to and the worker scoops out a bit and put it on a small dish. The servings were really small, so I ended up trying 3 or 4 different foods, plus a plate of rice and a soda. I thought the food was good, but it was cold from sitting out for who knows how long. This was the problem I had at every Filipino restaurant I went to, cold to lukewarm food. I also found it to be very salty.
After dinner we walked around to see if there were any interesting bars around, with no luck, and also got a feel of the downtown area.
The Finnish guy and I both rented motorbikes and cruised to Corella to visit the Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary. Tarsiers are the smallest monkeys in the world and have huge eyes because they are nocturnal. The guide just walked us around a small patch of woods and pointed out four of them. I got a bunch of pictures in, and checked that off my to do list. The next stop was the Chocolate Hills.
I really enjoyed riding the motorbike and feeling a sense of freedom. It was the first day on my trip I finally felt like I broke away from the mundane activities in my life and the busy of the city, which can really wear me down. Feeling the wind against my body, with music playing in my ears, and just having some time to think as I drove through this beautiful landscape was something I needed. One attraction that I happen to drive through on the way to the Chocolate Hills was the Man Made Forest, which is mostly made up of Mahogany trees. Basically, it is just a reforestation project created after all the trees in that area were cut down. This was still pretty cool to see and drive through.
When I arrived at the Chocolate Hills, it was a nice little break from riding. My butt was feeling it pretty good! We paid our entrance fee and then hiked up a small hill of stairs to the lookout point. I was able to get some pretty sweet shots. When this was over, we tried to get a move on to beat the sunset back to the hostel, which we were unable to do. But, I did get some nice sunset pics going down into the water!
Day 3 & 4
I ended up going it alone the rest of the trip because my Finnish friend was a bit under the weather. I decided to ride around Panglao Island, which is just a small bridge crossing away from Bohol Island. First I went to the Hinagdanan Cave. I thought there would be more to it, but all it was was a big cavern. The cool thing was that you could swim in it. I did not end up partaking, but there were about 10 young kids having a great time jumping off the rocks into the cave pool, and then getting out and jumping back in. I remember I was like that when I was a kid. My siblings, cousins, and I would go to the local swimming park every day during the summer.
After seeing this cave, I then headed to Alona beach. There I went out and tried getting some sun for about an hour, so I could avoid burning, and then I just hung out at a little beach bar. The next day I would do the same. Go to Alona Beach and then hang at the beach bar for a couple beers. The second day I did attempt to go to White Beach, which is supposed to be much better, but I realized it was more of a locals beach and it did not have the beach bars and restaurants set up like Alona beach. I’m not much of a beach person, but I did fit some time in on this trip!
That night I went out for a Filipino BBQ. Basically, there are a bunch of buckets full of different meats on a stick that you pick from. Then they are re-fired on a grill and covered with BBQ sauce. I found the sauce to be pretty good, but again the food’s core temp just wasn’t were I’d like my meat to be. Of course I could probably have had them throw it on the fire longer, but the place was packed and the last thing I wanted to be is even more of a foreigner than I already am.
Another interesting thing that happened at this dinner was a number of kids coming up to us rubbing their bellies with their hands out. One of the girls that was with us was suffering from food poisoning and had decided not to eat her meat. She gave it to one of the kids and they ran away not wanting it. One kid did take it and tried to share it with his friends, but none of them were interested. Another reason why I don’t give money to people begging. Many do eat fine. They may not have the best living conditions, but it is impossible to give to everyone. Also, when people see you give to one, suddenly you are swarmed.
These same kids came up to us about 5 times, but suddenly I heard a hiss from the people at the other table and the kids scampered away pretty quickly. I’ll have to do some research on what that was all about. I’m guessing it means, “Go the beep away!”
One last thing I did try was balut. Balut is a duck egg that is going through it’s gestation period. The egg I ate was about 16-17 days old. I guess this is the best age to eat them. Some people do eat it up to about 21-24 days old when the beak and bones have started forming. Lets just say it tasted edible, but I don’t think I will eat again. I’m glad I had a soda with me, because I needed something to wash it down with. I also ate it with the dude from Finland. We had planned to do it together since the first day we had met. Without doing it in a group setting, I probably would not have tried it. I also had a chance to sit with some local university age girls eating balut and was able to ask different cultural questions that I had going on in my head from my trip. I guess balut is good brain food too!
The night before, my new friends from Scotland and Poland checked in to my hostel. They pretty much went everywhere I should have over the course of the last week. So, if I come back to the Philippines, I may have to follow their little trip path! I would have joined them for the day, but I had already seen the sights they were going to see. I ended up taking a long moped ride.
Since I had this extra day, I wanted to try and be productive. I decided to ride to Anda, which is about 107 km away. Its a little peninsula that can be reached by following the southern road along the coast. It really was a great ride, even though my rear-end was so sore from the ride! My destination was Lamanok Island. I though it would just be an overlook, take a picture, and head back sort of trip. But, there was a little stand set up off the side of the road with a girl’s head peering out from behind the desk. I turned around my bike because I had passed the stand not thinking much about it and stopped to talk to her. I guess there was a tour to Lamanok Island by boat with a tour guide showing me the caves on the island. I asked if any other tourists had come today, and I guess I was the only one except for a Korean guy in the morning. I’m not sure what his story was because when I was brought to the boathouse, there he was passed out listening to Korean radio. I thought to myself that maybe he was working of a soju bender!
The guide lead me on to a boat and he paddled us off to this island. We had to get out in an area of water that went half way up my leg, so good thing I was just wearing sandals. The water was so warm too and I sort of wished I was swimming in it. The man lead me into the forest and up to some caves. All the caves he showed me were used for burials or Shamanic rituals. It was really neat seeing all the volcanic rock formations and fossilized clams and fish everywhere. One interesting piece of history he mentioned was that it wasn’t the Spanish who “discovered” the Philippines. He said that people from the Middle East had come long before and they were also trading with countries like China before the Spanish too. Another case of history misrepresented by those who write it.
After the tour, I gave the receptionist girl a ride to her home about a km up the road and made my way back to Tagbilaran City. It was about 4pm at this point because I got on the road late and I needed to try and get back before 6pm when the sun was setting. I didn’t feel like driving when it’s dark.
That pretty much sums up my time on Bohol. I will take a ferry tomorrow and fly to Manila. In Manila, I will stay at the same guesthouse I was at before because they were really great. The place was clean and I didn’t come across any cockroaches. Hopefully I won’t have any issues at the airport with transportation. I’ll have one full day in Manila, but I don’t plan to go anywhere in town. I have an MBA class starting and want to just get a jump on that and take it easy on my end of trip spending.