Arriving at the port of Tagbilaran (the main city in Bohol) we disembark and head out of the terminal. A tricycle driver is ready and waiting, and asks us if we are going to Alona beach? We agree a price and walk a good ten minutes to his parked up trike at the end of the pier
. Our driver straps our bags into his tiny boot like thing (which looks more like a welded on bucket) and we squeeze in, eager to be reaquainted with a beach. The journey is 30 minutes of bum-numbing terror as we wait for the tricycle to shake it's self to pieces and empty us out onto the road. We drive through the centre of Panglao and see lots of school children finishing for the day and piling onto jeepneys. It is a crazy sight with some jeepneys carrying around forty kids, most of which stand on the roof! There is no such thing as a full jeepney, they can always squeeze another person on board. Or a pig. Or a few crates. Or a moped. Or a small house.
Half an hour later we arrive at Citadel Alona Inn - another of AussieJeff's recommendations. To our delight they have a room for us and it is decorated in a lovely sunshine yellow. We have a large communal kitchen, balcony and immaculately clean shared-bathrooms. The staff are beginning to hang Christmas decorations which feels very strange in the bright sunshine and heat. Dropping our bags we follow the road down to the beach before sunset for a nosey and some food. It is now past 5pm and having had only snacks for lunch, our bellies are moaning.
Alona beach is quite small and lovely with a few resorts and restaurants along the front. As the light is fading we choose a restaurant with a nice view, good looking menu and take a seat nearest the sea
. Ian is thirsty and orders a San Miguel Grande (a 1 litre glass bottle of beer - costing a mere £1.20) and is speechless (for once) when it arrives. It takes two grown men to carry it to the table, and another two men to remove the cap. It is a monster. We have never seen a beer bottle this big before. For a moment Ian doubts if his little belly will let him consume this much beer, but he soon overcomes his fears and as dinner arrives he is already halfway through. During dinner, local children walk up and down the beach stopping in front of foreigners' tables to sing Christmas songs, as well as traditional Filipino tunes, to try and get a few peso. It's sweet but also quite annoying after a while!
With our dinner plates wiped clean and Ian's giant beer finished, we are feeling sleepy. However it is only 7pm so we ask for another grande, this time to share as Anna doesn't fancy pushing Ian back up the little hill to our new home! Feeling greedy we also grab a dessert menu. Anna opts for deep fried banana, her new favourite, and Ian studies the other options unsure what to order. Urged on by Anna he opts for the 'Filipino Classic' Maiz Con Yelo. It sounds like banana or custard or something else yellow and yummy. As they arrive, Anna happily tucks into bananas as Ian looks at the glass sundae that has been placed in front of him. It definitely has a yellow layer on the bottom and the top looks like ice-cream
! Oh this is going to be fantastic! Ian's little face lights up with childish delight and his mouth starts to water. He tucks in. Hmmm... wait a minute.... he can't decide if he likes it or figure out what it actually is... but continues to eat it anyway, each bite a little worse than the one before. Offering some to Anna, who is never one to turn down food, she has a mouthful and also can't place the taste of it. It doesn't taste like a dessert, thats for sure. As she looks at the spoonful Ian is about to put in his mouths she bursts out laughing. The yellow stuff is neither banana or custard. It is sweetcorn. Cold sweetcorn. And it is not in ice cream either. No, it is milk. All mixed together with some crushed ice. Anna struggles to stop laughing as Ian almost wretches and begins to moan about how he wanted deep fried bananas, not a can of Green Giant in a glass of milk. After Anna has stopped laughing at Ian's delicious dessert, she shares her bananas and drinks down almost half of Ian's cold-milk-corn (so that he doesn't feel bad when the waiter later asks if he has finished). We polish off the second grande to wash our mouths of sweetcorn and walk back to Citadel, hopeful for a nice beach day tomorrow.
Today we put the smog filled skies of Cebu behind us and head to the pier in the hope of catching a ferry to the green island of Bohol. Well, actually we are headed to a small connected island called Panglao and the white beach called Alona. Our standard last-minute research has found there are many companies to travel with, all with varying journey lengths and prices. Being poor backpackers we opt for the cheapest and purchase two tickets for a four hour journey. We board the ferry to find our ticket numbers correspond to bunkbeds, which fill the decks like some sort of prison ship! Slightly amused but also relieved we will not be sitting on rock hard, sardine squashed benches, we lie down on our prison bunks and relax.