Thursday, 4 June 2009

Trip na Trip: Bohol (part 1)

We checked out early from NS Royal Pensione and managed to get a taxi right away. It was a Monday morning; we anticipated a slight congestion in the roads leading to the port area but the traffic turned out to be so light we arrived in Pier 4 in 10 minutes. We paid 10 pesos at the pier’s entrance and the taxi driver dropped us off in front of the Supercat terminal. Security checks completed, we waited for about 30 minutes and then we started boarding the ferry. Bye Cebu, Hello Bohol!

We arrived in Tagbilaran at 10:45 am, took a few snaps with the “Welcome Port of Tagbilaran” sign as background. Tourists, you know. I overheard a lady said “first time?” with all the sarcasm she could muster. I had to fight the urge to retort a resounding, “Yes, it is my first time here! Got any problem with that?” But no, no one can ruin my vacation.

Our guide and driver, Tatsky was holding a piece of paper with my name on it. I approached him. I’ve known Tatsky through, upon recommendations of fellow PEXERs who’ve availed of his services. He had a white Adventure with him and with just 2 passengers, it was a comfortable ride. It was getting unbearably hot contrary to the weather forecast.

First stop was BQ Mall. We bought bottles of water and chips and then went upstairs. My friend needed to buy a pair board shorts.

Baclayon Church. This centuries old church is marvelous! I muttered a short prayer and started taking pictures. We were about to leave when I saw the sign near the museum’s entrance: You haven’t been to Baclayon if you haven’t visited the museum (or something to that effect). Tourist trap. We paid and entered the museum.

Loboc River Cruise. By the time we got to Loboc River, it was already lunch time. Our guide took us to the Riverwatch booth where we hastily paid 900 pesos as we invited the driver to join us for lunch. People were already partaking in a banquet of grilled parrot fish, pork barbeque, fried chicken and an assortment of forgettable dishes. The floating restaurant left the dock and made its way to the river. A heavy set man who seemed to have borrowed a shirt from Lito Atienza or Raul Roco started strumming his guitar and belted out Frank Sinatra classics.

We stopped in front of a makeshift stage where children clad in pink gleefully serenaded us with their ukuleles while some of them danced the cha-cha and the tinikling. I thought it was the renowned Loboc Children’s Choir but it wasn’t. It was still a fun sight, if only they stuck to Filipino songs. The youngest of the group, a boy of about 7 years old was easily the star to the eyes of the visitor. He danced nonchalantly as the tourists cheered him on. Picture, picture!

We browsed through the souvenir items when the boat returned to the dock but we found nothing of interest yet. We passed by a small park where there are tarsiers and flying lemurs and asked the driver to stop. I was very disappointed that the pictures I took were blurry. Tatsky assured us that he will take us to a place where we can actually hold the tarsiers.

Hanging Bridge. We crossed the hanging bridge. My friend and I each had buko, sipped the juice and then ate the young coconut meat. It’s another first for him. Buko King was daring everyone that he could unhusk a coconut in seconds for 100 pesos - a feat that got him on TV. If you’re pressed for time, you can forego this one.

Chocolate Hills. We passed by the Man-made forest on our way to the Chocolate Hills. It was such a long trip but so worth it. This is what I’m talking about! I could stay here for the rest of the day and not feel bored at all. The hills are so amazing!

It rained heavily on our way to Carmen but it somehow stopped when we arrived at the foot of the viewing deck. Of course, we simply had to do those jumping shots like everyone else. I paid a photographer 50 pesos to take our pictures using my camera.

Butterfly Garden. After almost an hour in the Chocolate Hills, we made our way back and stopped at the butterfly garden. We were given a short tour with matching explanation about the stages of a butterfly’s life. I learned something new. What I knew when I was little that flakes from butterfly’s wings can cause blindness is a myth. We, however, forgot to try their famous ice candy.

Tarsier. True to his word, Tatsky took us to a small tarsier park and we actually got to hold the tarsiers. They’re so small and vulnerable! The boy caretaker fed one tarsier with a live cricket. The tarsiers could easily escape if they wanted to but they choose to stay, we were told. It’s so hard for them to survive in the wild.

The “actual” Blood Compact Site. This, they said, is the actual blood compact site. We were made to relive history by donning costumes. Since I looked every inch a native, I wore Sikatuna’s salakot (hat) while my Chinese friend wore Legaspi’s armor plate. I’ve already forgotten about this part of early Philippine history that I wrongly explained the blood compact process to my friend. Our guide corrected me in time.

We then went to see Prony, purportedly the biggest python in captivity and after that, the “other” blood compact site. We made our way back to Tagbilaran City and looked for an ATM. All these “donations” and entrance fees have depleted our wallets.

Hinagdanan Cave. It was already dark when we arrived at the Hinagdanan Cave. If I had my druthers, I would have gone straight to the resort. We were pretty tired from the almost 9-hour tour. We paid the 10 pesos entrance fee which included a guide who told us the history of the cave. We only stayed there for about 30 minutes. My friend was so surprised that he was able to buy Mango Shake for 20 pesos that actually tasted like one.

We skipped Bohol Bee Farm and went straight to Alona Tropical Beach Resort. We headed to the beach after we put our stuff in our room and strolled the whole breadth of the Alona Beach shoreline. We had dinner and called it a night. We had to wake up early the following day for the sea tour.


Nobe said...

i'm so excited to go to bohol with my husband. makikisakay ako sa rented vehicle nila when he's doing field work. ahahaha! free ride again!


mark said...

love bohol..

wanna comE there again


neilcab said...

Bohol is indeed a marvel. Don't ever miss snorkelling in Balicasag Island, by all means. That was the best part of my stay there.

Thanks for the comments! ",)