Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A taste of Bohol

Flight details:

Manila - Tagbilaran
Flight: Z2 352
Date: September 10, 2015
Time: 1:40 PM - 3:05 PM
Tagbilaran - Manila
FlightL PQ 351
Date: September 15 2015
Time: 9:35 AM
Ticket price: 1,593.92

Start here…
I travel on a budget that's why I always eye for promo airfares.
We didn't have a chance to visit Bohol during our last Cebu trip because of time constraints.
I would really like to include the mystical Island of Siquijor as a side trip but the thought of cancelled ferry trips makes me nervous. So I've decided to just visit it some other time next year via Dumaguete.

2 days from now we will be departing Manila and landing to the Philippine's city of friendship "Tagbilaran City, Bohol" I haven't finalized our itinerary yet! And I am not sure if my plan is feasible since we've decided to tour by motorbike, entrust our fate to Waze and google maps.
I booked our stay at Hopehomes, what really convinced me is their affordable accommodation and free motorcycle use!

HOPE HOME’s LOCATION: Daorong, Danao Panglao (around 2 kilometers away from Alona beach)

1 Day before the trip, I started packing, I am not really sure what to pack but all I know is I have to pack light, to make our lives easier plus I don’t want to carry extra bags.

++++++ ACTUAL ITINERARY ++++++
Day 1: September 10, 2015

12:00 NN Arrived at NAIA Terminal 4 Domestic Airport
Upon arrival we went straight to AirAsia kiosk for web check-in, unfortunately the seats were randomly assigned so if you will be travelling with friends I would still advise to go to the manual check-in so you could sit beside your friends. In case a change seat is requested you will have to pay a specific amount, since we are on a tight budget we opted to stick with the assigned seats.
1:30 PM Boarding time, luckily we haven’t experienced any flight delays, well maybe for just couple of minutes. 5 minutes after 2:00 PM our aircraft started to take off. I know I’ve been riding airplanes for quite some time now but to be honest the feeling of your soul leaving your body the moment when the aircraft starts to move still scare the heck out of me. You know what keeps me sane? When the plane starts to glide on the atmosphere passing through the clouds and when everything below me become as small as ants, the sight of countless islands, pristine clear waters and white sand beaches.
3:15 PM Landed at Tagbilaran Airport.
We were welcomed by a swarm of tourist guide, tricycle and taxi drivers offering us transport and tour packages. It was really overwhelming, I honestly felt bullied. I am just glad that I prepared for this and I do understand that they only do that for a living. I just felt bad a little bit because we didn’t even have a chance to take a selfie to the Tagbilaran arch. Anyway we walk towards the main road and head to a convenience store to buy some toiletries. There was this one taxi driver that is really persistent and he showed us the approved fixed rate for a taxi going to Panglao which is PHP 600, I told him that we don’t have enough resources so he called his cousin, who is a tricycle driver, we haggled and we ended up paying PHP 300. His name is Kuya Chris, I must say he is a nice guy and he helped me do some revisions on my initial itinerary, he always got punchlines that made our trip to Panglao fun. Since our accommodation already includes free use of motorbike, he offered us an island hopping tour instead. The private boat is PHP 2500 while the group sharing costs PHP 500 per head excluding the entrances. We do not want to spend big so we booked for the group tour. By the way all their services are printed on a cardboard with prices which is approved by the local government.

Kuya Chris asked us took a photo of him and his ride since he asked an advanced payment for the island hopping
1. Please talk directly to the tricycle driver. If you don’t have any middleman you could get a rate of only PHP 250 from Tagbilaran to Panglao (tricycle rate).
2. Don’t be a “YES” person, Always haggle.
3. According to Kuya Chris Calypso Inn also offers free use of motorcycle.

Tricycle driver’s contact info: Kuya Chris 0918 249 3024

Upon arrival at Hope Homes I picked the scooter type mortorcycle but according to the staff I have to pay PHP 150/day if we choose the “scoopy”. Please do not expect too much to the accommodation because you’re only getting what you paid for. Our room is a fan room with bath and shower. We didn’t chose extravagant accommodation because we’ll spend most of our time outside. We ate dinner on a little store in front of the lodge. After dinner, we freshen up and went to sleep.

Day 2: September 11, 2015
Woke up at 4:30 AM it’s a rainy morning, Our first night at Hope homes is great, not too hot, not too cold. It’s still dark outside. While waiting for the rain to go away I made major revisions on our itinerary. Today our goal is to visit the following by motorbike:
1.       Chocolate hills
2.       Butterfly garden
3.       Bamboo hanging bridge and Mahogany man made forest
4.       Loboc river cruise
5.       Loboc church
6.       Tarsier conservation center
7.       Baclayon church
8.       Blood compact

In my initial itinerary I planned to hop a bus to reach Danao and chocolate hills but according to Kuya Chris, the local tricycle driver we met, buses are hard to catch and if we miss their trip we have no choice but to stay in Danao and pay expensive hotel room. He advised to use a motorbike instead. He also told us that some foreigners especially backpackers chose to travel all the way to Carmen by motorbike so that made me realized that if they can do it then we can do it too.

6:30 AM Off to town tour.
We bought biscuits and water on a small “sari-sari” store. People are really nice. They always give their warm smile; it’s a nice way to start the day. We were actually expecting for a strong rain because according to weather report there is 80% chance of thunderstorm today but luckily the sun is up smiling gracefully at us as we stroll the long and winding road of Bohol. Our first stop was on a gasoline station, the tank is half full so we asked the gas boy to make it full tank to make sure that we won’t ran out of gas along the way.

Second stop was at Loay public market; to buy my driver shades. Back in the road again and passing by the ruins of Baclayon and Loboc church brings sadness to my heart.

When I saw the arch of the chocolate hills and was able to see a sneak peek, I got goosebumps; it almost made me cry. This is one of my dream destinations when I was a child and I cannot believe that I am here now.

9:00 AM Arrived safely at Chocolate hills. We just took couple of photos and bought pasalubong at the entrance.
Entrance fee: PHP 60/pax
I lose count how many steps we took in order for us to have a better view of the Chocolate hills.
The effect of the earthquake is still visible. Today, the hill can only accommodate few people on top since a huge part of it is still broken.
9:45 AM Off to Billar Butterfly Garden, we stop again to a gasoline station to get another full tank (tank is half full during that time, we agreed to maintain the gasoline on high level just to make sure since we’re not familiar with the road)

10:20 AM Habitat Bohol, previously the Billar Butterfly Garden. From the entrance we were warmly welcome by Ate Marissa who will be our tour guide of the day. It’s like an educational tour and I honestly had fun. By the way they do also have their own restaurant.
Entrance fee: PHP 40/pax
I can't imagine I was able to hold a caterpillar!
Additional note: The guides know the perfect angle to get the awesome photos posted above!

10:50 AM Off to our next destination
11:00 AM arrived at Loboc Tarsier conservation area. I saw couple of tarsiers but too bad they are really far. They seem to be a shy and sleepyhead creatures because most of them are either hiding or sleeping.
Entrance fee: PHP 60/pax

This photo was actually taken in Tarsier research center, Corella 11:30 AM Rest and drank refreshing cold Coconut juice.
I meant, Coconuts in ICE! :)
11:45 AM Back on the road again
11:55 AM Reached Sipatan hanging bridge in Sevilla. We experienced it though the bridge is safe I still can avoid being afraid because it is moving and I almost trip.
Entrance fee: PHP 20
12:00 NN Off to floating restaurants. Our tummy is already aching so we decided to go to lunch.
12:20 PM Loboc floating restaurants, our lunch is sumptuous. The ambiance it really good, seeing kids having fun in the river, jumping without any hesitations adds thrill.
Entrance fee: PHP 450/pax
At the start of the trip we were welcomed by these kids playing happily on the river. Showing off their skills like Tarzan.
We continued sailing and we stop on a floating stage where in the locals offered us a really nice performance while were eating.
it's really nice to wrap up our trip being serenaded by these lover boys!
1:50 PM Done with lunch and river cruise, we went to the ruins of Loboc church and took couple of shots.
While on the way back Tagbilaran City we passed by to Blood compact. We didn’t bother to enter and we continued our journey.
2:30 PM Arrived at Baclayon church. There’s nothing to see except the wrath of the previous earthquake. We didn’t visit the museum because the sky is getting dark and it’s about to rain.
Baclayon church
Loboc church
By the way, both churches (Baclayon/Loboc) are under construction but of course it still feels a lot more different if I would see its old and original structure.
3:00 PM Island City mall in Tagbilaran City to buy bread for tomorrow’s island hopping activity. 
4:00 PM Off to Alona beach to have our dinner.
4:45 PM Touch down Alona beach. To be honest there is nothing to rave about the Alona beach because it’s like a parking of boats so you can’t really enjoy swimming plus the sea grass are everywhere but you’re a party goer this is the place to be. 
There were bunch of restaurants by the beach that offer alcoholic drinks.
Do you know that Alona beach was named after an actress in 80’s; Alona Allegre. The original name of the beach is Tawala sea side.
5:30 PM After almost an hour of walking by the beach we ended up eating our dinner at Payag restaurant which is situated across the street. 
We ordered:
Sizzling Gambas – PHP 195
Fried lumpia – PHP 125
Chocolate shake – PHP 65
Cold soda – PHP 35
Rice – PHP 70
After dinner we bought 5 liter of water and at exactly 6:15 PM we arrived at Hope Homes to rest.

Please also watch the summary of our trip here 

Related links: 
A taste of Bohol ----->>> YOU ARE HERE
A taste of Bohol Part 2 
5 days / 4 nights Bohol expenses

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