I’ve been quite occupied in the past few months and before I realized it, I was already chasing summer. A summer out-of-town activity is not really a necessity. I’ve survived many summers doing mundane things expected of me like studying, working, or just enjoying the free time at home; yes, I’ve long conceded that I lead a quite boring life. But I figured it’s summer and it’s a good time to travel somewhere and relax. And that I did in Bohol.
Bohol is an island in Central Visayas that’s been getting some attention lately. As a kid, I only knew it as the site of the famous Chocolate Hills which look I couldn’t even imagine with the grayscale images in our textbooks. Apparently, it offers more. I admit I never thought I’d get to visit any of those landmarks and popular sites featured in our books. I was fine being some country boy who couldn’t care less about traveling places. But I’ve always been adventurous! Ironic right? In middle earth I will most probably be a hobbit.
Getting to Bohol
Eunice, my girlfriend, arranged the trip for us. At 7 AM of June 19, I sat on the dirty metal bench at the bus station with my luggage. It was 5 kilograms; 2 kilograms short of the 7-kilogram luggage weight limit. Light pack? Maybe not if you’re only thinking of staying for three days and two nights in your destination. I also spent some time convincing myself not to bring my copy of the The Lord of the Rings — I’m rereading Tolkien. With that my luggage could’ve easily hit the limit.
We were on a rush when we got to NAIA terminal 3. Traffic was pretty heavy because of an accident involving a bus and a motorcycle. We were then informed that Air Asia only has domestic flights in terminal 4 which is a cab ride away. In my head I was like “Thank you! That information could’ve been way more useful if disclosed several hours ago.” There was a line of cabs near the exit of the terminal. We took one. With a fixed fare of P600 per head, it was clearly robbery. Even with the traffic, I’m pretty sure that the ride could’ve costed no more than P200 pesos in a regular cab. I let it go. The universe has its own way of getting back at people. We landed at Tagbilaran airport several minutes ahead of schedule. All was cool.
Day One: Let’s Start with a Good Rest
We had lunch and then checked in at Dumaluan Resort at around two in the afternoon. There were a lot of resorts to choose from but we went for the one at the beach. If you spend most of your waking hours in the urban jungle called Manila, relaxation means a day at the beach. The rest of the day was spent in bed asleep.
Day Two: The Tour
At 8 AM, the driver picked us up. Eunice and I were the only passengers in the van. We are used to taking public transport and traveling in cramped vehicles with our friends in out-of-town trips, having the whole vehicle to ourselves was a luxury. Being the farthest, the driver suggested that we visit Chocolate Hills first.
The best word to describe Chocolate Hills is not “beautiful” but “fascinating”. For people spending most of their time in Manila, seeing a forested area is surely a pleasant experience. But the Chocolate Hills appeal more to one’s curiosity than their sense of natural beauty. Why are they so many here? Other than myths nothing else offers an explanation.
The Bilar Man-made Forest was the part I enjoyed the most. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Sure it’s just a paved road with trees on either side. The sight is probably a common thing in many other countries and not worth a picture. But with lots of places in the Philippines being converted into industrial sites, choosing to turn a place into a forest is a remarkable decision and the result is indeed worth showcasing. Now if only Manila can do the same.
The Tarsier Conservation Center is a short ride from the man-made forest. After decades of existence Eunice and I finally got to see the Philippine Tarsier with our own eyes. I didn’t expect them to do acts for us — they are very shy creatures — but I wish the management team can do something about the unmaintained areas of the center.
We had lunch at the Loboc River Cruise. They offer a buffet worth P262 – P500 per head. I’m not really into buffets as I find them overwhelming but I could say that it was appreciable. It was a leisurely ride with a view of plants and trees on either side of the jade colored water with folk music being sung at the background. It was not really my style of musical performance — I’m rather picky in that aspect — but I would agree that it would be enjoyable for most people. The cruise ends with a visit to the Ati tribe whom tourists can have their pictures taken with. The ferry will then sail back to the port.
The Baclayon church or formally, La Purisima Concepcion de la Virgen Maria Parish Church, is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines. It’s quite heartbreaking that part of it was wrecked in the 2013 earthquake. But it’s undergoing restoration and hopefully they’d be able to bring back the beautiful façade and belfry.
After dropping by the souvenir shop and the Blood Compact Monument, we headed to the Hinagdanan Cave. It’s a small underground cave with a clear pool of water that tourists are allowed to swim in. Unfortunately both of us aren’t expert swimmers, we had little time, and there were a little too many tourists in the cave with us to enjoy the experience. It was hard taking pictures with my handy but low end camera but I was able to take some passably clear pictures after playing with the ISO setting.
By the time we reached the Bee Farm, it was already closed. We just decided to have ice cream and some more souvenirs before leaving.
Day Three: Leaving for Manila
We got a few hours of free time before our flight so we decided to finally hit the beach. We finally realized that it was just there outside our room for two days and we did not even walk along its sand. The tide was too low for a swim but the view was undeniably beautiful.
After a quick dip in the resort’s pool, we packed our stuff, checked out, and left.
Some More Notes
- I finally made it out of Luzon. I thought I did it when we went to Puerto Galera but it turned out that my knowledge of geography — where I joined a competition and placed first back in primary school — has just gone rusty.
- I just rode a plane to Visayas. That means I just accomplished traveling to local destinations by land, sea, and air.
- Remember to check your camera’s battery. I left mine charging at home. Thankfully, dad caught up with me at the bus station.
- You can choose not to bring slippers. I traveled around Bohol [including the beach] wearing shoes. I won’t say it was comfortable though.
- Check out Bohol. It’s a nice and relaxing place. -aB