June 12, 2017
Location: Bohol (province), Philippines
Bohol on the Radar
Feeling like I've over-extended my stay in Cebu City, it was time to pack-up again and hit the open road. Exploring Bohol excited me more than anywhere else in the country. That's all I needed - the feeling of excitement. That's how my universe talks to me - and it has never been wrong. Bohol it is!
Back in Cebu City, Jeanne was so kind to drive me to Pier 1. Otherwise, I would have lugged my 2 bulky and heavy packs on the long walk to the guard house and squeezed myself in narrow jeeps to the chagrin of the other passengers. I arrived early - early enough to be transferred to the 8am boat instead of the 9:20am. Nice I didn't have to wait another 80 minutes.
After 2 hours, I was in Tagbilaran. Everything was painless until I got there. Not knowing how to proceed to Steffi's Place, I took a tricycle to Bohol Museum (P15) then a jeep to some drop-off point (P20 including my backpack), another tricycle to the junction (P20) and another tricycle to Steffi's Place (P25). That exhausted me. Best way was to have bargained P120 for a tricycle ride from the pier all the way to Steffi's.
Steffi's Place was the cheapest I could find online at P300/night including breakfast, but it was a good 8kms away from the main hub of Alona Beach. I met the friendly and accommodating Steffi, a lovely half-German half-Pinay mix. The place is fabulous for the price - sea-view even if the water is still a short walk away, wifi, decent breakfast (toast-jam-butter-coffee-fresh fruits), dorm beds were single not bunk, room was clean, spacious and well-vented. On top of that, they offer a free one-way lift to the main drag in Alona Beach. If not for its distance from Alona and the considerable 800m walk to the main road, I could have stayed there for the length of my stay.
While roaming around the Alona beach hub, I came upon Oasis Resort. After talking to the managers on how I can help their online campaign, we shook hands on a web-deal. This wonderful paradise became my home.
Oasis Resort is deceptive from the outside. From the street and beach entrance, there was only an inconspicuous narrow access. You could easily miss it. But inside, it opened-up to an expansive luxury setting with a swimming pool, alfresco resto, well-appointed suites and cottages with spacious manicured greenery. It felt like a best-kept secret in Panglao! Indeed, this resort lives up to its name - oasis! When the good folks of Oasis said they'll give me a nice room, they weren't kidding - cathedral-like room big enough to warrant its own zip code, ballroom space in the washroom, fridge, flat screen tv, spacious closet space, safety box, king-size bed, another double bed and in-room wifi! With amenities like these, there is no reason for me to leave the room or the resort - except for my dives. Seriously! I'll have ample time when I check-out to savor whatever Alona Beach offers - in the meantime, I'm simply cocooning.
Come to think of it, that should be the litmus test for any hotel room - if it's so comfortable you don't want to leave anymore.
A pleasant discovery here in Bohol is Bahalina - fermented, decanted and aged coconut sap (tuba). I've heard about this drink on a few occasions, but never could buy one. Here in Bohol, nearly every street convenience store carry one for about P150/gallon - cheap! I purchased a full gallon only to be told by my friends that what I got was tuba instead. Oh well, life doesn't come with guarantees.
I don't know anyone from Bohol, but already, through friends who introduced me to their Bohol friends (thru social media), my peoplescape is already animated. I have already met two yoginis, Raisa and Geraldine who came to Oasis to share their Ashtanga Primary practice. We finished-off with a sumptuous breakfast and lingered long after for some sharing and chill time. Kins, a Vipassana sis in Tagbilaran invited me for a catch-up. I will soon be meeting cool folks in Loboc who run a river SUP activity. In the days to come, I will be doing freediving with Ben from Oasis and some scuba diving from SeaQuest Dive Center as well.
Despite the bad press Bohol and the Philippines have been getting lately and the ensuing travel advisory, Bohol is very peaceful and quiet now - the troubles of Marawi seem light years away. I feel very safe walking the streets.
Bohol just started and already, the horizon looms broad, colorful and inviting. I'm all smiles as I brace myself for the wonderful things to come.
Bohol FYI / Tips
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located within the Alona Beach area
- the tourist attractions in Bohol are far apart and spread-out. It would be difficult to visit them all using public mass transit. Better hire a van (P3500/day) if in a big group, or rent a motorcycle (P400/day + gas)
- Bohol relies on its tourism for revenue. As expected, everything they can capitalize on from tourism is extensively used and developed
Tagbilaran Port to PanglaoYou can charter any tricycle from the port all the way to Panglao (~P300), but if you want to do it on the cheap,
- don't take the tricycles lined-up inside the port. Walk past the port gate and immediately outside, you'll see many tricycles. Take one to the bus terminal in Dao (~P15)
- in Dao, take the jeep that plies the Panglao route (~P20)
Tagbilaran (Bohol) to Cebu City by boat** schedules and rates keep changing, call for latest schedule
- Weesam Express - departs 6:15 AM, 11:30 AM, 4:00 PM
one way: Economy (aircon) P500.00, Economy (non-aircon) P400.00, First Class P600.00
round trip promo (at least 2 days advance booking): Economy (aircon) P600, Economy(non-aircon) P500, First Class P1200
round trip promo (1 day or on the day booking): Economy (aircon) P800, Economy (non-aircon) P700, First Class P1200
- Ocean Jet - departs 6-7:05-8:20-9:20-11:40AM, 1-2-3:30-4:20-5:30-6:30PM, 2 hours, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
Open Air / Tourist Class P800, Business Class P1000
+63(32)255 7560 / +63 (32) 255 0115 / 0917 638 0000
- SuperCat (2GO) - departs 5:50-11AM, 3:45-5:25-8:15PM, arrives Pier 1 in Cebu
+63 32 233 7000
Things to do, Places to go in Bohol
- Chocolate Hills - this is a clustering of more than 1200 hills within a 50km2 area. They range in height from 30-50 meters. What's unusual is their near-perfect conical shape resembling an individual chocolate chip. No one knows how they were formed. Entrance is P50/pax.
- Tarsier Conservation Area - located Upper Bonbon, Loboc. The tarsiers are no longer being played at by tourists as circus props, but instead, visitors now view them in cordoned-off areas in their natural 6ha habitat. As they are territorial and nocturnal, they are predictable on where they can be viewed. P50/pax.
- Alona Beach (Panglao) - Alona Beach is the tourist hub of Bohol. It has 1.5 kms of white sand beach lined-up by bars, hotels and restos. Alona is also the jump-off point for Balicasag Island, a world class dive destination.
- Danao Adventure Park - located in Barangay Magtangtang, 72 kms (2 hours ride) from Tagbilaran. Adventure activities include river trekking, tyrolean traverse, rappelling, bouldering, rock climbing and ziplining.
Carlos P. Garcia Island
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