Bohol: A travelogue

16 Mar 2011

H & I took the 5:30am PAL flight to Tagbilaran. We left gohotels in Boni around 4am and may I say, check-out was a breeze! The staff were very efficient and accommodating and we didn’t have to pay the incidental deposit of 500 when we checked in the day before.

Aboard the plane the in-flight monitors were showing a sitcom Mike & Molly. It was pretty hilarious with the two main characters Mike and Molly meeting for their disastrous first date. H &  I made a mental note to download this series once we get back to manila. But it never happened. ha!

Touchdown in tagbilaran airport was early at 7am. We made our way past the drivers and agents who were nudging their tour package cards into our faces. We insisted that we already have a package arranged and that we were just waiting to be fetched. Since the group which we’ll be joining is scheduled to arrive at 8am from cebu via ocean jet ferry, we have an hour to spare for breakfast. The nearest restaurant is Cion-Virge Cafe and Restaurant within the airport compound. As what is expected from restos in airport, everyday food fare will cost you a fortune so I just settled for a hearty tuna sandwich and a cup of coffee for P140.

We  kept in touch with Manong Johnny of Johnny Tours RV, our tour agent. He fetched us from the airport to his home, telling snippets of Bohol history along the way, and showed us his apartments while waiting for the group to arrive. He’s a talker, Manong Johnny, telling us how we was at sea for years before finally retiring and settling in Bohol and managing his many businesses. BTW, he also accepts transient stay for 300pesos/night which is a good price considering that the units have AC, television, cooking area, and his place is just near the mall and the city square. You can contact him at 09177031664.

Total RV cost was at 7,000 pesos. We were charged 3500 from Tagbilaran to Danao, 2500 for the Bohol day tour, and 1000 for Panglao. It’s really an advantage to be in a group because you get to divide the expenses. This left us with 778pesos per head.

We need to leave for Danao at 10am if we want to maximize the day, so we bid Manong Johnny goodbye and spent 2 hours on the rough road to Danao. Our stay at Danao cost us each 2400 pesos, food and accommodation included. Thanks to Weina for being so pretty and approachable and for arranging our stay and giving us the cozy Tugpa Uno and Dos rooms.

See how we got the rush in Danao, as I document every extreme activity we enjoyed to our fast-paced beating heart’s content.

We shelled out P4502.56 for the van rental, EAT Danao accommodation, food, and extreme activities, and our accommodation at Panglao (Citadel Alona Inn).

16 Mar 2011

Early rise for spelunking. See how amazing the formations are.

After freshening up and taking the plunge, the group hurried to kickoff the tour with Chocolate hills and catch lunch at Loboc. The snacks from EAT Danao, included in the package, were packed and eaten in the van. Along the way, Manong Lloydie, showed us the ship-shaped home a retired seaman built for  his family. He loves the sea alright.

On the way to the well-publicized postcard-perfect Chocolate Hills, we passed by the Billiar man-made forest instantly feeling the drop in temperatures as hundreds of trees  frame our path. You could very well picture yourself from a scene in twilight. The forest was commissioned after a landslide destroyed the area years back.

Chocolate Hills

214 steps mark our ascent to get a nice view of the world-renowned chocolate hills. These hills are a product of limestone whose sinkholes have been carved out by ancient waters and the formations being uplifted above sea level and molded through the ages. I’ve actually learned that in my first geology class in uni! ha! The hills are a remarkable example of karst topography.

But I was not impressed by what I saw, perhaps because of all the media sensationalism and the dozens of postcards I have seen as a child. It was just overrated but nonetheless, still beautiful.

The fee was 50pesos per person and we bought for 100 pesos, 2 tarsier souvenir purses and a tarsier watch (which doesn’t really tell you the time, it’s just a bracelet with a little tarsier stuffed toy sewn to it that seems to be watching you with its humongous eyes, hence the item’s name).

Loboc River Cruise


We had to pay 300 pesos for the buffet and 100 pesos for the entrance fee (I think). The river was murky and not pristine at all as what the tourism sites have been telling people. The food was not remarkable for the right reasons. It was everyday fare (bbq, vegetable dishes, fruits) and the only thing unusual to sight, at least for me, was the seaweed salad, which was not even good. The staff only serves softdrinks and a 350ml bottled water comes with a hefty P30 additional charge. Oh wow. I’m fine with the watermelon, thank you.

As the cruise went on, a middle-aged local serenaded us with sunday classics (you know, what the local FM stations play during sundays, a selection of songs from the 70-80’s). One song would cling to  mind until a week after because the message is so sweet and the melody is appealing. It goes, “eventhough we aint got money, I’m so in love with you honey and tell me everything is gonna be alright..”

The cruise had a brief stopover at a local community that performs in a makeshift wooden raft-cum-stage complete with ukeleles and costumes and bamboo trunks for their dance. They have a donation box mounted for tourists to drop their coins or bills, as they desire. I wonder how much of the P100 entrance fee goes to these groups (yes, there were several others) because obviously the donation box doesn’t get filled that much. And the locals don’t look as happy as they have the same plastered and orchestrated smiles about them when they perform. I see a hint of exploitation there. I think the local government and tourism authority must hear their plight, if they have any.

Baclayon Church


We left Loboc and headed to the oldest coral church in the country, Baclayon church where the ultraconservative (no pun intended) clergy men and women drape pieces of cloth around tourists who do not dress according to the church’s code. Yes, you have to be modest in the house of God and so I came in with cloth about my shoulders and my waist. Oh wow. But I don’t mind. I saw a young korean man with cloth draped around him too since he was in a muscle-sleeved shirt. haha


The interior of the church is amazing. With the light radiating through the stained glass windows, it renders a very solemn and intimate feel to one of the famous stone churches of Bohol.

The tarsiers


The tarsiers were very tame. They look so cute and lazy! haha. I was lucky to spot 2 on a branch and they were just still, I wanted them to be hopping about from branch to branch. But tarsiers are nocturnal creatures and happen to be active just at night time. Oh well, good thing they look like Yoda in starwars when they keep their eyes shut.


Pruny the python

This cross-player is the legal guardian of the massive python. He kept saying “Fruneeeee” when it was actually “Prony” as the next photo would come to tell.

look at this bikini cut out from the snake’s shed skin. Now that’s authentic!

and now here I present the star of the mini-zoo, Pruny!

I didn’t have the guts to enter the cage and have my photo taken beside Pruny. It seemed friendly and too full to move. Or maybe it’s just too old.

Pasalubong House


We dropped by a souvenir shop for all our pasalubong needs. Aside from the peanut kisses, made from meringue and peanuts, another popular pasalubong from Bohol is the Calamay. It is sugar, coconut milk and sticky rice flour cooked and packed in coconut shells. Yum!

We had coffee while waiting for the others finish shopping. Some even tried on some swimsuits, bullied into buying by the others who told them that a bikini is mandatory in Panglao beach.

We went back to the city and purchased some food and supplies for a night in Panglao. We contributed 442 pesos each, inclusive of dinner, booze, and breakfast for the following day.

When all had their fill, we went swimming and then drinking. We gave in to slumber at 2am, in the rooms already reserved at Citadel Alona Inn.

Room with twin beds in Citadel Alona Inn. Rates are at 1800/room/night (good for 4), 200pesos for extra head.

18 March 2011

A swim and a stroll along the shores are a great way to start the day. Then several photos later, and after a quick shower, it was time to hit the road again and head to Tagbilaran port for the 11:30 trip to Cebu.

     

It was a temporary goodbye. Our stay had been short-lived and Bohol will always be a future destination for me. There are still a lot of things to see and discover. I still have to go snorkeling and see its corals. I still have to see the bee farm and the butterfly garden. I still have to swim with the dolphins at Baclayon. I still have to go to Mag-aso falls, Hinagdanan Cave and Sagbayan Peak. The list is long and I may not even finish it. That’s how much Bohol has to offer. You just have to discover and rediscover it for yourself.

—————————————————————–

Total cost (exclusive of airport terminal fees and airfare): 140 (bfast at CION Virge Resto, Airport Complex) +4502.56 (contribution, inclusive of Danao food and accommodation,  Danao extreme activities, Panglao Accommodation, van rental) +442(Dinner and breakfast at Panglao) +100 (Souvenirs)+50(Chocolate Hills entrace fee)+500(ocean jet ferry, bohol-cebu)+400 (Loboc buffet lunch and entrance fee)=6134.56 pesos

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