And the living is easy…
By 10 am on Day 2 of our Negros Oriental escapade, we were at bais City, a 1-hr commute from Dumaguete via Ceres Liner bus. We headed to the city tourism office to inquire about the dolphin watch tours. Ate Maria Fe, from the local tourism office, said she’d meet up with Sir Anton who facilitates the tours. Off we went with her towards the city hall where we finally saw Sir Anton. He let us set the price for the whole tour. Since the normal rate good for 20 people costs 4K, we told him we’d settle with 3K since it was just the three of us. He said if we came earlier, and by earlier he meant 6am, we could have joined a big group so as to save money. But it was a great deal, actually. We had the boat to ourselves for a 5-hour tour consisting of dolphin watching, mangrove tour, and beach bumming by the Manjuyod Sandbar.
The dolphins normally appear by groups early in the morning. We were lucky to have chanced upon these shy but playful creatures at 11am. Manong bangkero was very informative saying that three types of dolphins swim by Bais City, the spinner, bottlenose, and spotted dolphins. Keen and alert as he was, he shouted off directions when dolphins are spotted nearby. Also spotted were flying fish shooting into air and diving back again into water like skipping stones. A half dozen sightings of these and we went asking for more.
We then proceeded with the mangrove tour. It commenced with a stroll via the 500-m boardwalk which marks the entrance to the protected area. This mangrove site, about 25hectares, is overseered by the Department of Agriculture and some marine advocate groups. The boatmen advised not to get farther into the site as blood-sucking insects called tagno were abundant. So off we went back to the boat, headed next for Manjuyod sandbar.
The sandbar is a 7-km stretch of fine white sand that appears during low tide. The gradual fall in water level becomes evident when one can finally run through the whole stretch after being submerged in knee-deep seawater minutes ago. Floating cottages in the morning now appear as houses on stilts. Overnight rate is 3 thousand pesos and with solar panels, conveniences are not necessarily waived. One just has to steer clear from thinking that he is alone in the middle of the sea, basking under the moon’s thoughtful gaze, and that this is not a bad thing. Honeymoon getaway, perhaps?
The tour ended at around 2:30 pm, and by 3 we were already seated on the bus back to Dumaguete City. Sunburnt, saline, and still wet, we braced ourselves for the swift journey ahead as the provincial buses were always running on top speed. It was a mind-boggling idea that only 5 hours have passed since we took the bus from Dumaguete. The day was maximized and we had lots of fun under the sun with the flippers, the mangroves, and the fine white sand. We alighted from the bus and took an early dinner at 5pm. And yes, the day was not over yet.
P.S. For those who want to go dolphin-watching in Bais City, this should prove useful (got this from the provincial tourism booth set-up at the airport, grabbed a pamphlet right after touchdown):
Bus ride from Dumaguete to Bais City costs 45pesos.