Friday, October 1, 2010
Picture Perfect Bohol (Part 2)
PICTURE PERFECT BOHOL (Part 2)
Read Part 1 here.
TOURS / ITINERARY
After the church service in the morning bags in tow, we rushed to the airport, grabbed our super expensive lunch at the terminal (we should have eaten elsewhere, but we didn’t want to be stuck in traffic and check-in late) and waited for our flight. We arrived in Tagbilaran on a Sunday afternoon and the sun was almost gone. Since it is Sept, sunset is typically early in Bohol. We only had a short time left for a little picture-taking, checking the beach, dinner at the nearby grilling station where they have the most delicious fruit shake I’ve ever tasted, before trying Dumaluan's pool and hitting the sack for the day.
We woke up at 8am, ate our breakfast (not much to choose from, but it was all you can eat) and prepared for our country side tour scheduled at 9am.
Our itinerary included the Blood Compact Site, Baclayon Church, Tarsiers, Man-made Forest, Loboc River Cruise, Chocolate Hills, Butterfly Farm (don't forget to try their unique ice candies made from carrots/durian/kiwi etc) and Hanging Bridge. After the tour, we decided to drop by at a nearby mall to buy some supplies- bottled water and snacks because they are expensive at the resort.
The nice thing about getting a package is you need not worry and arrange for the tour or look for a vehicle/driver for transpo (public transpo is rare in Bohol), entrance fees and even our lunch for the Loboc River Cruise because these were all taken cared by the resort. Sometimes, our driver also acted as our tour guide and photographer. Don’t forget to give him tip (P100) after his full day service especially if he has been nice and helpful to you.
For dinner on our second night, we tried the nearby Bohol Beach Club's menu and their swimming pool. We were too excited to taste their food since the first night we passed by the place they had a buffet at the shore and a great number of Koreans were lined up. So we settled for their group meal made up of sinigang, grilled seafood and meat, mixed veggies and rice. Disappointingly it wasn’t worth our money. Don’t eat there! The meat was hard (makunat), the seafood was stale, the broccoli was yellowish and the soup wasn’t hot when it was served to us.
Probably the reason why they had very poor lighting (candlelit lang) at the resto area- so we won’t see much of what we’re eating. We had a few miscommunications with our waiter who wasn't well-verse in Tagalog. They do have an appealing resort and a better shore, but the food is not worth it. We (non-BBC guests) were required to pay P300/person as entrance fee which is consumable and non-refundable- P200 goes to the food and P100 for the use of pool. After dinner, we went back to the grilling station beside BBC to have another round of fruit shake, before going back to BBC’s pool (included in our entrance fee.)
Our third day consisted of Dolphin Watching, Island Hopping and Snorkeling- but we decided to forego the latter in order to try the zipline and cable car at a nearby site.
Smaller islands in Bohol are quite distant from each other, it would take between 40 mins to an hour to get from point A to B. We were bored in between; all we can do was to take pictures since conversation was not possible because of the loud motor of the boat. Instead of spending longer time at the Balicasag island, where snorkeling and lunch are offered, (Btw, another tip I got from bloggers don’t eat on this island unless you have baon or packed lunch. Price here is outrageous! P350/kl of any seafood or meat, plus P250 cooking charge. Not practical.) Although, I later found out from another blogger that there is a nice diving resort situated here. We decided to cut our stay here short and head to The Virgin Island. Now this one, you shouldn’t miss! There’s a sand bar where you can walk, swim, take pictures, eat fresh sea urchins, drink refreshments and buy souvenirs from Manong who owns a small mobile store here.
After a lengthy boat ride, we went back to Dumaluan for lunch and inquired from the reception area about a nearby place that one our driver's told us that has a zipline and cable car (this is different from the one in Danao.) The resort staff said, we might want to avail of their Panglao tour instead of just renting a vehicle which we readily took. In lieu of the usual itinerary, we suggested to our driver to scrap the church-visits and Hinagdanan Cave and go to the Ostrich farm, Adventure Park and Bohol Bee Farm. Tip: Talk to your driver and make your own tour/schedule.
The Ostrich farm is a small backyard with caged animals like albino python, turtles, fish, birds and other reptiles. You need to pay P20/person as entrance fee. Here you can also take pictures alongside life-size images of Dora the Explorer, a gigantic tarsier and the ostrich.
Afterward, we went to a very new adventure site (some areas are still under construction but it is already operating) near the Loboc River. They offer zipline, cable car and horse-rides. It costs P350/person for the zipline and P250/person for the cable car. However if you avail of both rides, you will only pay P500/person. It was one of the highlights or our Bohol trip, so give it a try it if you’re not afraid of heights.
After an exhilarating ride, our last stop was the Bohol Bee Farm. I wished we had more time at BBF which is also a resort cum restaurant and souvenir shop. There are so many things to do and buy there! You can pay a minimal entrance fee for a farm tour. You can see the bee house where their honey is produced, you can watch them make ice cream at their factory, visit their green house where most of the veggies and food are grown and even make your own bag or keychain at their souvenir house/livelihood center.
I was considering housing us at the BBF, but I read that they didn’t have a shore only a viewing deck, a good number of mosquitoes and ants reside in the place and the road to and fro BBF is still rough. They are also situated above a cliff, so they are a little farther away from the airport and other tourist spots. We only had time for a little picture-taking and food-sampling at BBF. Dinner consisted of a vegan pizza and a meat pizza, halo-halo topped with malunggay, ginger, mango, buko and chocolate ice creams, muffins and their famous flower salad.
Btw, we paid an additional P2500 for the van/driver for our Panglao tour because it wasn’t originally included in our package.
On our 4th and last day, our short time was spent packing, settling our bills, taking a few more pictures and eating breakfast before checking-out and driving to the Tagbilaran airport for our 10am flight.
All in all, our trip was a memorable and fun time for me/us. It wasn’t without slip-ups, but you can choose to see the good/positive side in every situation.
1. Don’t buy souvenir items at the souvenir shops inside or near the resorts. They cost 2 to 4 times more than the ones available outside the resort. Buy from the stores near Blood Compact Site and the stores near the Hanging Bridge. Bohol shirts cost from P300-400 at the resort, the same shirt will only cost P100-150 elsewhere.
2. If you have the time and space in your luggage buy/bring bottled water, food and other necessities at the mall. A small water bottle costs P30 at the resort, when you could only get them for P10-15 at the mall.
3. Bring cash or prepare your credit card. There are no nearby ATMachines in Panglao area.
4. Bring more than one pair of bathing suit. Most resorts don’t allow people to use their pools without wearing proper swimming attire. If you plan to do a lot of swimming and picture-taking and don’t want to use a dripping/wet suit bring as many swim suits as you can.
5. Don’t forget to bring your sunblock, cap/hat, pamaypay and insect repellant. Mosquitoes and other insects abound in Bohol. Although, I haven't heard of anyone getting dengue there.
6. If you want to try jet ski, banana boat and other water sports, you will have to pay a considerable amount. 15 minutes of jet ski costs around P1500 (1-2 persons), while 30 mins of banana-boating costs P2500 (group).
7. And don’t forget to store extra battery or your camera/video charger.
Bohol is a picture perfect and postcard destination. But Tagbilaran airport still needs improvement, there are cunning drivers/businessmen and the way to the resorts are the typical provincial scene- lush trees/plants/narrow roads/cows grazing in the yard etc. Don’t expect perfection, we live in a fallen world after all.
If you see trash, pick them up and throw them in garbage bins. Be considerate to the next traveler/tourist. Arrive on time. Keep an open mind. Don just have a good time, make lasting memories. The Philippines is such a blessed country, enjoy it while we can with the people you love!
(More pictures on my facebook account.)