Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Back to Back Trip to BOHOL

After Cebu Trip, I had a back to back visit to Bohol. The first one was with my two siblings last September 25, 2012 and two weeks after, it was with my parents. On the first visit, we stayed at the Taver's Pension House in Tagbilaran City. The service of the hotel was good and the location is convenient because it is situated in the city center where establishments, malls, and food chains are readily available. On the second visit, we stayed at the Alona Tropical Hotel in Panglao Island. The place is very relaxing since it is nature-inspired and is on the beach front.

Alona's Tropical Hotel, Panglao Island
The first day was a countryside tour and the usual tour fee is around P2,000.00 to P2,500.00 excluding the entrance fees. Here are the places we visited.

This is not a tourist destination but the tourist guide suggested this place for our breakfast. True enough, the food was really tasteful and enticing and the prices are affordable. We ordered their bestseller "tsokolate" as recommended by our tour guide.

Aside from the bee farm where bees are cultured and is open for public viewing, there is also a store where you can buy souvenir items. My personal favorite is the "honey-flavored pesto spread."

It is not the actual blood compact site but tourists still go to take pictures and see the view of Panglao Island. Camera men take pictures for a fee. There are also available souvenirs and Bol-a-non delicacies.

Dauis Church is located across the main island of Tagbilaran City. We had a sidetrip to this old structure alongside with the residence of Bayoyoy. Inside Dauis Church was a well that is believed to be a source of miraculous water. Miracle water is not for sale but they accept donations.

Baclayon Church, on the other hand, is one of the oldest churches in Bohol. We were able to see the very historical structure of the church and its antique collections that are displayed in a museum beside the main gallery. It is also believed that the image formed on the walls of the church was Padre Pio.

Sides of Dauis Chruch

Sides of Baclayon Church

Bayoyoy is one of the smallest oldest man living in the Philippines. He lives in Dauis, Panglao Island. Most of the time, a visit to Bayoyoy is part of the island tour. It is not the typical visit to places because we were not there to enjoy but to witness a yet extraordinary condition. There is no entrance fee to see Bayoyoy but donations for his maintenance is highly appreciated by the family.

PRONY: The Phyton
Prony is the largest captive phyton in the Philippines weighing 250 kg as of our visit. It was captured on October 21, 1996. When we visited Prony, he just finished his meal, a live goat. According to the owner, the said meal will be good for two weeks. I have visited Prony twice that is why his position in the following pictures are different

Just in time before the first buffet is served for lunch, we arrived in Loboc River's Floating Restaurant. According to the tour guide, the best one among the restaurants is the Riverwatch. I have not tried the other restaurants but I could say that the foods in Riverwatch were really good. We had lots of choices, from meat dishes, sea foods, sweets, fruits, etc. Also, an acoustic band was playing their music while we are eating. Along the river are stopovers where local residents are playing banduria while others do the traditional dances. Tourists are allowed to dance with the local residents. 

At the upper portion of the River is a mini-falls.

Tarsiers are endemic to the Philippines and are protected to preserve its species. When we arrived in the conservation park, we were instructed to maintain silence and turn off the flashes of our cameras so as not to disturb sleeping tarsiers. Tarsiers are nocturnal and territorial so it is easy to locate where tarsiers were. Well of course for tourists, guides were present so that tarsiers can easily be seen. 

My first time to visit a cave happened in Bohol. Interestingly, I haven't visited the famous cave near my hometown (Bathala Cave, Marinduque). But anyway, I could say that Hinagdanan Cave is a must-see spot in Bohol. I have watched a Filipino movie where this cave was featured but the scene is more beautiful up close. Tourists are allowed to take photos inside and even swim in the cold freshwater but we did not try the latter. Also, guides inside the cave have the highest sense of humor and they were very creative in providing information about the cave. Also a trivia, if you want to buy the cheapest but high quality souvenir shirts, do it in Hinagdanan Cave stores.

Along the way, we passed through the Man-Made forest. A two-kilometer stretch was planted with Mahogany Trees. We stopped for five minutes in the area to take photos and after that, we continued our way to the next spot.

We also had a side trip to the wooden hanging bridge in Sevilla, Bohol. There was a minimal entrance fee and I guess it is reasonable for the maintenance of the structure and safety of the tourists. Another trivia, souvenir items sold at the end of the bridge are the cheapest in the province. 

There are more than one butterfly sanctuaries in Bohol and it is the discretion of the guide where to bring the tourists. Different species of butterflies, both dead and alive, were displayed. Guides, with full of sense of humor, were very eager to share their knowledge about butterflies. Tourists were allowed to catch butterflies and take photos with them. Lastly, shots can creatively be taken.

We also had a stop-over in a very interesting house, the ship house. Guides, who were in their complete uniform, were very accommodating, They showed us the whole interior of the house which is, guess what, inspired by a ship. That is a corny JOKE. 

Though unplanned, we went to Loboc Eco-Adventure Park and tried their zipline and cable car. That was my second time so I wasn't that nervous. The view up there is fascinating. We could see Loboc River and the floating restaurants, and of course the beautiful forest.

Highlighting our Bohol trip was the Chocolate Hills. It was raining when we arrived at the location but it didn't stop us to take photos. Before we were able to see the best views, we need to take some stairs, a very good exercise for us. The best description I could give to this scenery is just WOW!.

The second day of our visit was a sea tour. We woke up and had breakfast early so we can catch up with the dolphins, usually they can be seen swimming in groups at around 7 to 8 in the morning. The boatman waited for us in the shores of Alona Beach. 

It wasn't easy to see dolphins that day according to the boatman. However, we patiently waited and after almost one hour, we were able to see the target. Dolphins were swimming in group, seem like playing with each other. We followed their direction and tried to take photos but it was quite hard to capture them in flying position.

Patiently waiting for the dolphins.

Not a good shot though, but  these are dolphins.

After watching the dolphins in their live actions, we headed to Balicasag Island for snorkeling  We paid for environmental fee and snorkeling guide. After that, we bought some sea foods so we will have foods for lunch after the activity. Local residents charged us a minimal amount for the cooking. Also, we rented out snorkeling suites, goggles, and snorkeling shoes. Camera casing for underwater shots may also be rented out in the island. After fixing all things up, we transferred to a smaller boat so we can proceed to the snorkeling site. It was my first time to do snorkeling and the experience was really fulfilling. There were schools of colorful fish species which are of different sizes. Corals and sea grasses add up to nice view underwater. 

After snorkeling, we had our lunch in the island and then proceeded to our final destination for the day.

Our boat suddenly slowed down as we approach a very nice island with a long stretch of sand bars which I don't usually see in other places. When the boatman said that it is the Virgin Island, I was quite curious why was it named as such. When we finally docked, vendors offered us sea urchins to eat. I did not bother to try it though. What I bought was the badly needed Buko Juice since I was really thirsty that time. 

Photo Credit

After we walked some short distance and took photos, we headed back to the hotel, had a relaxing massage, and slept.