Puerto Princesa airport turned into a bit of a reunion of various people myself and Christian had met on Palawan Island. This was a very popular flight to Cebu
! We met up again with Tom and Dong from the island hopping marathon in El Nido
and they were also heading to the same place as us, Panglao island, just off Bohol
. From the flight to Cebu, we needed a quick dash across Cebu to catch a ferry to Bohol (with wifi on ferry wooohooo!) then a taxi down to Panglao. Christian had timed everything to military precision so I didn’t need to worry about a thing, he had it all sorted and it worked out perfectly.
We were both a little disappointed with Alona beach on Panglao Island. After the pure magic of El Nido this did not really compare. We had been completely spoilt I think as this was still a very pretty place. We soon found our place in the 2 for 1 happy hour cocktail bars, the restaurants on the beach and in the swimming pool after dark (where i got thrown out by an armed guard yikes!) We had arranged with Tom and Dong to share a car to explore Bohol island the next day and left it up to them to organise. By the next morning, our cosy foursome had turned into 8 of us being squashed into a car for 7! We were joined by another Chinese couple and an ‘interesting’ Glaswegian with his Filipino girlfriend ahem! When it got too much we amused ourselves with our new addiction, iPhone monopoly! Christian was being royally spanked!
The conveyer belt of a daytrip took us to the famous chocolate hills (very impressive landscape although the chocolate hills were green this time of year), to a lovely butterfly conservation centre (where we had durian ice cream, really developing a taste for this now!), to see the tiny tiny cute, endangered primate, the Filipino tarsier and on a hilarious cruise on the Loboc river.
The Loboc river cruise was really stunning, taking us through the most amazing tropical landscapes. What was so wrong with this was that we did this on a floating rip-off restaurant full of daytrippers, crap lukewarm buffet food and an annoying Beetles cover band. Oh we had to laugh! We sat at the front of the boat and tried to block out the awful music and just enjoy the spectacular sights but it was hard with those kind of distractions. This was all after being sat at the dock for a good hour waiting for the boat to be crammed full of tourists before we could actually leave. Not so great.
The place we stayed was also interesting. We had bagged quite a good deal, for simple fan rooms at quite a nice resort right on the beach and with swimming pool. The minute we got to our rooms though we met ‘housekeeping’.
Butterfly conservation centre
Firstly, Christian was visited by a guy to bring him a fan that was conveniently ‘missing from his room’, then offered to undercut the hotel on services such as tours and massage! Around the same time i had a similar visit by a lady who brought my towels that were ‘missing from my room’. I had many offers, and this lady kept finding excuses to come back with more offers. It was like having a stalker! I was offered massage, laundry, tours, dolphin spotting, even a bedtime story WTF!!! All undercutting the hotel prices. Must admit did use the laundry service, support a local entrepreneur eh!
We decided we had had enough of this place anyway and next morning took off for the main city in Bohol, Tagbilaran, otherwise known as ‘the city that sleeps’. Tucked up in bed asleep by 10pm please ma’am.
We spent some time wandering the streets checking out the beautiful jeepneys, pimped out American jeeps originally left over from the war that are used all over Philippines as public transport. Then to the mall, where it was time to liven things up a bit and ‘customise’ our buko shakes with some supermarket-bought banana liquor. Not sure whose daft idea this was but this sleepy city somehow brought out a rebellious side of me! After putting Christian out of his misery with iPhone monopoly (I think his exact words were ‘ouch my balls!’) it was time to say a sad goodbye as Christian was heading for Manila first thing the next morning. I have really been loving the freedom of travelling on my own but I had really enjoyed having some company in the Philippines and really missed Christian after he left.
Loboc River cruise
Damnit, he abandoned me in such a boring place too!
All alone I caught a trike headed for the Tarsier Conservation centre just outside of Tagbilaran. At one point in the middle of nowhere the trike driver pulled over and started an argument with a man by the side of the road who had a gun! I was shitting bricks, thinking ‘Christian where are you?’ and decided it best not to book the return journey with the driver. BIG MISTAKE!! At the foundation centre, again I was amazed and humbled to see these weird but beautiful creatures in their natural habitat (including a mother with baby). Tarsiers, at a height of just 10cm, are the cutest of silly things with their enormous eyes and ET-like spindly fingers. Unfortunately, like the orangutans I saw in Sabah, their natural habitat is being gradually destroyed and their numbers are dwindling.
I don’t think it helps that they seem to be very emotionally challenged and commit suicide if under any stress by banging their heads against the wall!! A bit stupid really but amazing creatures to observe and I really wanted to sneak a couple in my bag! After visiting these dudes though I found myself basically stranded in the middle of no-where! I hadn’t realised how isolated this place was and there was absolutely no-one around. The guide advised me to walk to the main road and flag a cab, so I did this and ended up walking for about 1 hour in the intense heat feeling like a very obvious sitting duck target for a mugging or worse. I met a few stray locals on the way who would ask ‘where you go ma’am? Wanna ride?’ I was getting a bit creeped, well a lot actually. How did I get into this situation? I was so relieved when I eventually stumbled on a public garden centre and convinced the owners to phone me a cab.
St Joseph cathedral, Tagbilaran
Absolute life savers. Scary experience being lost in the middle of the jungle in the Philippines, I would not like to repeat in a hurry, but thankfully it turned out OK and I spent the rest of the day nicely chilling out in the mall and going to the cinema! Time to mentally prepare myself for a big change of pace as my next destination was the big scary capital city of Philippines, Manila...