Silver Linings: Bohol

Trip Start Aug 18, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Saturday, February 12, 2011

Was that just condensation on the window of the plane?  Oh no, its's rain!  Once again, we left the sunny skies in Manila to arrive in the rainy city of Cebu.  Cebu city was nothing much, so we took off the next morning on the two hour fast ferry to the small island of Bohol.  We arrived in Tagbilaran, the capital, and split a taxi with some unfriendly Germans to Alona beach on Panglao island, a 30 minute drive.  We got dropped off at Bohol Divers Resort, located right on Alona beach and was mentioned as a good place to stay in the bible, and also by the taxi driver.  We checked into the executive suite for 1,600 pesos or around $24 and headed straight out to the beach which was 20 steps from our room.  We caught the last 2 hours of the sun and took a swim in the crystal clear water.  Thank you Jopee for your words of wisdom and direction!  We spent the next day exploring the little strip of beach that was lined with restaurants and bars and scoped out Trudy's place for dinner. Eating dinner in the light of the tikki torches with the white sand underneath us on the beach, with a bottle of rum, fresh fried fish, and the sea breeze made up for all the mishaps on our trip so far.  We were happy, and so were the dining neighbors next to us, as they were laughing and dancing extremely loud! We got a signal to come join them, so there was when we met Jules.  Jules explained to us that she was the manager of the famous Amoritta resort, as she pointed to the massive hotel on the cliff at the end of the beach.  We had always wondered what it was, but never got a chance to walk down to explore.  Amoritta resort is not keen on displaying advertisements and the way people find out is by word of mouth.  This resort happens to be the most luxurious and best kept secrets on Bohol.  Room prices start around $400 USD with an ocean view.  We also met Philip and Lucas, who were half Sweedish and half Filipino, and had been traveling in the Philippines for almost 8 months.  We sat and listened to a cover band, as Jules and company, the boys, our waiter Richard and the security guard shared stories and laughs, danced and sang, followed by a midnight swim under the stars. Jules invited us to her hotel for dinner at Saffron the next night, and we happily agreed.  Saffron's chef was featured in many cooking shows and also recently in and International cooking magazine.

The next morning, I woke up with a horrible sinus infection.  I guess that midnight swim wasn't the best idea after all!  I spent the day in bed, not on the beach then showed up at the resort, to find Jules sick as well!  But, that didn't stop me from eating!  It was a great chance to try gourmet Filipino food!  We ordered Sinigang which is usually prepared with tamarind (which provides the sourness), tomato, leek, taro and onion. Other vegetables cooked in sinigang include okra, spinach, radish, green pepper and string beans.  Kare kare,  which is oxtail and peanut stew and is almost always served a traditional Philipino fiesta.  Madras Chicken Curry made with pine nuts and dried fruits served with rice.  Grilled Blue Marlin, a beautifully prepared piece of fish that simply melted in your mouth along with seared tuna loin steak, and fresh mango and orange iced teas.  After the tour of the resort and my box of tissues was finished, I decided to head home to get some sleep, while Claire joined the boys for a night out.  I was ill the next two days, as I slugged through our tour of Bohol in the rain, which included visiting the phenomenal chocolate hills and the home of the tasier, the smallest monkey species in the world.  

After 3 miserable days, I recovered and was back to my normal self.  We packed our bags and headed for the hills.  Actually, the jungle.  We took a tricycle in the pouring rain an hour up a long and winding road to the boat dock, where we were to take a small motor boat down the Loboc River to a little eco resort called Nuts Huts.  Because of the rain, the river was too high therefore, we had to hike in.  The bible mentioned a 10 minute trek, but it was nothing of the sort.  Sludging through mud in the pouring rain, passing by roaming goats and roosters tied up to posts, we entered the depths of the jungle after about 20 minutes to find about 100 steep steps that would lead us to our final destination.  The lodges restaurant was perched on a deck that looked over miles and miles of lush green tropical rainforest terrain intertwining with the river below.  Hammocks and comfy chairs lined the outskirts of the deck, which made the atmosphere very relaxed.  We were escorted down another 100 stairs and then climbed up more bamboo stairs, saying hello to the three billy goats who lived under us, and plopped down on the deck, which was a stones throw away from the river.  Inside were two double beds with mosquito nets and a bucket flush toilet, and drapery that kept with the theme of our hut which was named "moonstruck." With the rain pounding down, and flooding the land leaving pools everywhere, we had to forfeit our jungle hike and river tour.  At this moment, Claire and I looked at each other, and couldn't contain our laughter.  Really?  Just one day of sun, please?  Anyways, instead of being miserable and sour, I saw this as an opportunity, or silver lining, to rest and completely let our minds and souls be captured by the mere tranquility and magical surroundings of nature.  No TV, no internet, no traffic, no crowds, no noise. Just me and nature.  These days we live at such a fast pace, that we never slow down.  Sometimes technology abducts our creativeness, our thoughts, our minds.  We forget about what is important to us. Once we slow down, remove nonsense, step into nature and listen to our hearts, all those feelings of passion and enthusiasm come back to me which is when I can truly find myself.  Anyways, we wasted away the day reading and chatting with our neighbors from Canada, Susan and Doug, drinking coconut rum shakes.  The night sounded like a magnified version of a 'rain forest' setting on an alarm clock from Sharper Image.  The bullfrogs and geckos joined together to make an exuberant vocal orchestra whilst the alternation of the heavy downpour on the bamboo planks and pitter pattering drops of rain on the tin oil drums added the percussion, piecing the masterpiece together beautifully.  I was rocked to sleep happily.  

We spent our last night back on Alona beach, as we left our big packs there so we wouldn't have to carry them all the way to Nuts Huts.  We sat on the beach enjoying a firedancing show our hostel puts on every Friday.  A flashlight blinded us, and all we saw was a white security uniform in the midst of blindness.  What had we done?  It was Michael, the security guard from Trudy's asking if we wanted to go on an island hopping boat tour the following morning.  We finally agreed and sat until 2 am at Trudy's with Richard, Michael and Manuel, the chef of Trudy's who has been mentioned in the bible as one of the best picks in Bohol!  Three hours later at 5am, we met back up with the crew, groggy and tired from the lack of sleep the night before, we headed off for the first part of our trip, dolphin watching.  After seeing many leaping dolphins with the sun, (yes, the sun!) rising in the background, we headed to Palmalican island to the fish sanctuary, where we paid out the wazoo, for snorkeling gear and "tour guides."  By far, the most amazing snorkeling I've ever done and an inspiration to get my diving certification when I travel southeast Asia in the fall.  Thousands and thousands of fish surrounded us, in crystal clear water, and natural coral covered the ocean bottom.  We finished our trip on Virgin island, an untouched white sand beach, where Michael and Manuel collected sea urchins and other creatures for us to eat.  They made our trip so much more special, as they served as our personal tour guides and comedians for the day.  What a way to end our trip!  We said goodbye to all our Bohol buddies, promising our return visit sometime in the near future and got the ferry back over to Cebu city for the night. Borocay, here we come!  
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Your Dad on

Well what can I say. Juliet would be so proud of how you handled adversity on this Philippine adventure! So would Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods with some of the interesting cuisine you sampled. Just love the monkey pictures. After a good 9-10 days, Mom and I finally overcame the 14 hour time change and 20+ hour travel going back East!! Happy Valentines Day. I Love You.

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