this is the third part of my blog series on my adventures through the Philippines, before Covid 19 hit of course. we last left off on me taking a spontaneous, crazy shift in my travel plans on the spot to travel with a family who offered to take me along their travel plans to tour a local island where Magellan planted the first cross in the Philippines.
Being an anxious person and since this was my first solo international travel trip, the adventure was fairly exhilarating and amazing. And so far, it had progressed beautifully. Rushed for time, I hurried off to my next stop, which was a Bohol, one of the most talked about travel destinations in the Philippines on social media.
my flight landed in Cebu, and I was a bit sleep deprived. I had to take a taxi for about an hour into a nearby city to get just a few hours of sleep before waking up before the crack of dawn to taxi back towards the airport and take the first ferry into the island of Bohol.
I noticed a long line of people waiting for cars to pick them up. I asked one friendly young lady what the best way is to get a taxi, and she recommended Grab, which is like Uber. unfortunately, a couple Grab drivers canceled on me when they drove their car up to the airport. I suppose they couldn’t find me. In theory, it should have been fairly easy since is just one road and a giant loop in the pickup area. But there’s a long line of people waiting and a flurry of people moving in and out with their suitcases, so it’s probably hard to pick me out.
I got a little anxious, feeling worried because what if I could never find a driver and I was stuck here forever? But then I saw some taxi drivers nearby. I’m sure Grab works fine, but I ended up choosing one of the couple taxi drivers that were vying for my business. They were right there and maybe was slightly more expensive but not by much.
during the drive into the city to my pre-booked hospital, the driver waas super talkative and prying. I was trying to get some sleep, but he kept talking to me. At first, I was trying to be subtle, just giving him answers to my questions and going back to sleep. And then, I think I got a little more clear, mentioning that I just want to sleep. But he kept talking still! While I was frustrated, I decided just use the opportunity to meet someone new, have a good conversation, and learn about the culture. I did a complete 180 on him and all the sun started getting very positive and inquisitive about his life. Yes, part of me was still pitstop a lot since I really wanted to sleep. But I guess you make do with the situation! I started asking about his life and his family. Turns out that he has several children. He doesn’t have much time because the need to make money to feed them. But he does sometimes think back to the days when you have more free time when he was single. I asked him what he like to do in those times, and he said he liked to go to local nightclubs. I did notice that his talkativeness subsided just a bit when I started talking to him more.
Also, he told me that I probably made a mistake by spending too much money finding a hotel in the city when he found out why hours driving to the city. I could’ve just got a hotel right near the airport and it would be cheaper were the same price, and I would have had to pay for the back-and-forth for the taxi. I told him I didn’t know that and then realized that was an option during my research. It was yet another instance where I discovered something that I could’ve done cheaper at the location that wasn’t explained or mentioned in the articles and social media videos I saw online. When I was booking this hospital, I figured my best and only move was to book a hostel in Cebu, not realizing that’s about a 30 to 60 minute drive from the airport because of traffic.
I arrived at my hostel, which was part of a large building with many stories in the dead of night. I realized that Cebu is a legit city. The previous city I had stayed in to get to Kalanggaman was more of a mini-city. The buildings weren’t tall enough to block out the sun, but they were clearly tall enough here. you can tell they had a real city by because of how it was structured. The restaurants nearby, cafés, fast food joints, laundromats, salons, and so forth. It’s something similar to an Atlanta or Washington DC city vibe. I also noted a nearby laundromat that I could walk to that would wash and dry your dirty laundry for you for an affordable price. I really wanted to use it since I had a growing bag of wet, smelly laundry, but I didn’t have the time. The store was closed, and I had to leave before it opened.
I checked into the hospital, and the service was fantastic. They were very friendly and explained what I could do in the area. They even provided a few pieces of paper that were very useful to me. One described all the nearby activities that I could go visit, and another had one of the best, most detailed maps of the Philippines and everywhere I can go and all the major things I could do. I wish I had seen a map like this when I was first planning my trip.
The room I was staying was a large room with at least a dozen bunkbeds. We quickly turned off the lights, and I could see a few faces shifting in the bunkbeds. I found an empty one, charge my phone, put my suitcase underneath, and went to sleep because I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep before my phone alarm would wake me to get ready for the ferry. Despite all those people, it was a pretty silent, peaceful sleep. No one else was really making any noise, and they were being pretty respectful. I went up to go to the bathroom, and that was the only bad part of the experience. The window was cracked and had a big hole through it. And the shower was very basic, a little rusty, and was just the faucet and switch. The floor and sink were pretty grimy. It was clear that there was no way I was willing to shower there.
sure enough, my alarm clock woke me a few hours later. I got a car to drive me to the ferry, which is near the airport. Now, I have seen some videos online telling me that the ferry process was much more complicated than it actually was. I had pictured in my mind that there is a bunch of checkpoints that I had the causing lot of paperwork and materials I have the supply. But it was actually much more seamless and easy than that. There is a short line. It was clear that all I had to do was pay a certain amount and I would get a piece of paper. I flashed that piece of paper and made it quickly through the security checkpoint.
I missed the first ferry out, but they had tons of fairies going in and out constantly, so it wasn’t a big deal. The people saw me and waved me to board since I was one of the last to board and they were leaving soon. The affair itself was pretty big. There is at least a couple hundred people on their, and it was pretty affordable yet comfy. We had these nice, comfy cushion the chairs, the type you might see at an airport or airplane. It was nice seeing the sunrise across the water as we ferried to the island of Bohol.
now, it was game on. It was still just the start of the day, and I had arrived.
First, I was assailed by a few people or promoting towards packages. These packages did cover most of the sites that I wanted to see, but I ignored them and walked pass quickly because I read online that usually the first taxi driver you see will overcharge you, so I figure that was the same with these towards packages. At least in this instance, I learned later that I was wrong. These people were quoting prices and packages that were fairly normal market rates, and it would’ve probably been more convenient to book something here. Because as you see later, I had a bit of a hard time finding these package tours later on, and it would saved me a little bit of time.
I quickly found the driver who would take me to my hotel, since there are a lot lined up waiting for me. There is a moment of hesitation when he asked me where I wanted to go. He suggested a name, which sounded like the name of thhe place I wanted to go. Before I could check on my phone, I told him yes that was right because I felt it was. As you see later, it was wrong.
As I got on his motorbike and drove through the island, I admire the scenery. Most of the innards of the island were a mix of this suburb/country vibe. You could tell that people just kind of building out the architecture to live a good life even it was far from the touristy beaches that the torch went for. It was more or less a miniature city in a way.
remember when I said I went to the wrong hotel? Well, I found that out when I got to the lobby. The place was really nice. It had a chill, clean, safari vibe. But then, the receptionist told me that she couldn’t find my booking. After checking my email, I realize I was at the wrong spot! Fortunately, I use my Maps app on the phone, and I realize that the hotel I was staying at was just half a mile away. I made a mental mode notes that I would try out this hotel if I ever came back here, and I got onto the dirt road and started walking.
I arrived at the right hotel, and checked in with the one receptionist there. You could tell it was a very small property. But the person there was very friendly. I was in a nice small room with one tiny twin bed and a bunk bed next to me. It was nothing too fancy or luxurious, but it wasn’t dirty either. Everything was clean and organized. They give me a small little basket with soap and body wash. Unfortunately, there is no shampoo, so if you ever stay at these places, it could be important to bring some shampoo as well.
The booking came with a free breakfast, which was pretty good. I got toast, mangoes cut up into slices, and cocoa.
I chatted with a couple from Belarus, who seemed to be the only other staying there. They told me that they wanted to visit the United States one day, but the paperwork and everything else would be a mess. I told them to not give up hope, and they could do it one day. They told me about their adventures the day before, and it seemed pretty epic. They rented a motorbike, learn how to drive themselves, and used their phone to navigate the island themselves and visit all the major tourist stops. I told them I’m probably not ready for learning how to drive a bike and likely getting lost, but they insisted that it’s not as hard to do as you think.
This place was affordable, yet later on, I discovered that there was a line of really high-end, conglomerate hotels that other tours would stay at the beach. It was crazy that you would have something affordable and find here. Get plenty of people were paying hundreds of dollars a day, just like they would at a high-end place in the USA, for a more luxury experience in the state closer to the beach area, which was just a few miles away from where I was staying.
I connected to the Wi-Fi, and then make some calls to book what I came for, which was the three island tour. I seen videos of the store and the white sands and aqua blue, sparkling waters of these remote islands seem like a blast. Most of the people come for the chocolate hills or the monkey sanctuary, but I’ve always been more of a beach person, so I wanted to see that exotic island destination first. Unfortunately, although it was still early, say 8 AM-ish, I was informed by a few of those services that it was too late. I should’ve booked than been ready a couple hours earlier.
I didn’t realize that, and there was not much else I could’ve done since I’d taken one of the earliest ferries in, but I guess the boat tour start up earlier than that. but if you’ve been following me for a while, you know that I have that mindset of making things happen and not letting excuses stop me, within reason. So, while most would’ve just given up here and waited for the next day, since I was on a slim timeframe in the Philippines, I decided to look for someone who would take me on this trip.
I paid for a motorbike for someone to drive me down to the beach where a lot of tourists are and where they sell these torts packages. Once again, I was informed by the company there that I was too late for today. I tried to ask them if there is a way, but they wouldn’t budge. As I was walking down the beach, a few people selling these packages approach me. I told them that I wanted it done today rather than tomorrow, and most said they couldn’t do it. But then, I found one guy who was open to it. He had his own boat, he thought about it for second, and he said he do it. You could tell he also had a bit of entrepreneurial, one-man operation vibe. His boat was just as cool as all the other tourist boats, so I was on board. I have a little bit on the price, and we got a deal.
In the future, I would’ve given myself at least a couple more days at every destination I went to. I think traveling the Philippines just takes time, and I would’ve been much less rushed and forceful otherwise.
There was a moment where I gave him the money, waited on the boat, watched him walk off to get fuel for his boat, and wondered if I’d been scammed. I should’ve given him the money after he got his fuel. But I was so thankful when he returned, and we were on our way! Usually, these companies stuff the boat with people to make the most money for a trip. Yet I had my own private boat for almost the similar price as one individual.
It took about 40 minutes to motor boat to the first island. but it was exhilarating. I can see the water turning more and more turquoise as I approached the island. As we landed, I was informed that what tours usually do here is they pay a little extra and they get to rent some snorkeling gear, which allows them to swim around these waters. The waters have a beautiful tour course blue, and you often see many schools of tiny fish swimming by. I could already see hordes of people in snorkeling gear swimming around in that area accompanied by their guides.
There is a moment of hesitation, because it was a cost more money and I had to leave my wallet and back in the boat and trust that this guy wouldn’t steal it. Next time, the lesson is to purchase a lock for your bag. anyhow, I ended up deciding to do it. I brought my camera and video with me. You could also purchase these waterproof bags to put that in so they wouldn’t get wet. I snorkeled for a good 20 to 30 minutes, saw some really cool colored fish and starfish.
Unfortunately, I’m nearsighted so I didn’t get to see all the details as someone else may, but it was still so beautiful to be in that water and in that situation. I imagine it may get old for the local people there, but for me it was super exciting.
After a while of swimming around in my flippers and seeing all the fish, I felt I had enough, so I went back to the boats and we were off to the next island. this island was made in my most favorite of the whole voyage. When we arrived, I could already see a few boats docked on the shore from other tourists. I knew are still one of the earlier ones to arrive, because I knew there were many more boats coming soon.
The one gripe I had about going with this solo boat driver was that he repeatedly told me that I only had 10 to 15 minutes here. He told me to walk around on the side and for just 10 to 15 minutes, but then I had come back so he can move on to the next island. You could tell that he was a bit over the islands himself, and he wanted to rush onto the next one. I told him okay, and hopped off the boat.
The island was more of a sandbar than island, but it was one of the most beautiful sites that I can see. It was basically a 50 to 100 foot wide sandbar with surrounding shallow, turquoise, light blue, shimmering water around it for 100 mile radius. The water was maybe waist deep farther out and came down to include deep the closer you got to the sandbar. This is the type of tropical experience that I was truly after expiration point this was not what I was dreaming of when I was dreaming of traveling to tropical beaches!
There are couple people grilling and cooking food to sell along with bottled water and so that there. I could’ve bought, but none of it looked that appetizing to me at that moment.
Just like the other tourists there, I took my time to take a lot of pictures and videos of the experience. As I’ve said before, the Philippines is a hidden gem for United States travelers. I rarely, if at all, saw American travelers. But I did see thunder travelers from many other countries. At the sandbar, I saw a lot of Chinese tourists and European tourists. There is one boat docked that was filled with half-dozen young male and female European tourists who were blasting typical party music. They seem to be from Spain or somewhere similar. they were just chilling and enjoying themselves on the boat. I think that’s a great way of having this adventure, just chilling with fellow young, male and female friends on a boat at this beautiful sandbar on a sunny day. I’m also glad it was so sunny. Remember all my previous island visit? I went on this crazy journey to get to the remote island, and it was a cloudy day, which affected the way the water and everything looked.
I ended up staying maybe five or 10 minutes longer than he told me to, but I still try to stay within his recommended range of courtesy. And then, we were on to our last island. this island was more of a circular white sand island then the rectangular sandbar. It had the same type of Taurus vibe, may be magnified because it was larger, as the sandbar. There’s a line of people set up cooking and selling different foods. Once again, maybe it was because of how exotic the food looks or because I wasn’t hungry, but I didn’t buy anything there. I walked from one into the other, took pictures of the white sand, and I felt content after a while and went back to my boat. it wasn’t as good as the sandbar because, maybe just how the geography was set up, the water nearby didn’t turn into that light blue, picturesque shimmering turquoise as much.
The boat driver took me back to the beach we started on, and I realize it was still only midday. I still had the rest of the day to do what I wanted! So, I stayed on that beach for the evening, which was a popular spot. I saw the same cool starfishes I saw on the three islands here too.
I will say it was crowded, but not too crowded. If you look, you can find your nice empty spot of peach just to lay down and admire the view, especially if you walk further down. But I will say that, like your typical tourist area, if you just look around, there’s tourist laying on the beach to the left and right of you.
I spent the rest of the day just enjoying the speech, and enjoying the views. At this point, I learned to layer myself with sunscreen, and I’m glad I did because otherwise, I would’ve been sunburns spending all that time on the beach. There’s a string of very expensive hotels lining the beach. I looked up the prices online, and they were synonymous with the crazy prices you would find in the United States for similar hotels. There your standard Hilton style $300 a day type of destinations. But I could tell that they were a decent amount people were willing to pay for this that were stationed there. These hotels have their own private pool and bar that residents could stay at if they prefer to the beach next to it. these were high-end, well constructed establishments, no different from the quality you would see in America.
I will say, since there was no checkpoints where they were checking to see if you are a resident of the hotel, I did a tiny bit of undercover work. I acted like I was part of the hotel and took a little dip in their pool and swim around their other pool that was attached to two of their bars. During that time, I met three young Filipino women who were swimming in the pool. I was shocked to discover that they had modest jobs in the Philippines, and they chose to blow their money to spend a couple days at this super expensive hotel for their vacation. I guess I was shocked because that’s a lot of money to spend for me. I have a modest job in the states, but it probably pays better than they do. Yet, to each their own. That was their splurge adventure. And I can see why some people would do that. I’ve seen young college women in the States have a girls’ vacation and blow a lot of money on a group cruise.
After saying hello and telling them a bit about my story and learning about theirs, I waved goodbye. I think one girl had a little crush on me since she was super shy, and the other girl kept mentioning that she had a crush on me. Anyhow, I was only here in the Philippines for very short amount of time, and it is too rush to have any romances, so I said my goodbyes, and it was on to my next adventure.
There is also a few restaurants and ice cream shops lined up in the area. Unfortunately, I guess due to the hyper touristy nature and income of the customers, the prices for the food here were no cheaper than back in the states. I ended up eating lunch and dinner here, and purchasing meals ranging from $10-$20. My lunch meal was this delicious spicy shrimp curry with white rice recipe. It was spicy, but not too spicy.
Then, I had a cheese crusted fish with pasta for dinner. Yep, this area was basically serving food from all around the country, something typically you would see in the states, not just local Filipino foods.
The meals were great, the scenery was great, the chill vibe was great, and my simple pleasures include buying a few pistachio ice creams from one of the ice cream shop and talking to some French tourists. They have this chain of stores in the Bohol area that sells honey from actual bees and other organic food products. And this chain store sells ice cream too. I chose pistachio because that was their most popular flavor.
I said hello to two young French women who were relaxing by the beach. I wanted to learn their story, and they were teachers who lived on the outskirts of Paris in the more affordable areas. This was where they chose to go on their vacation, and they have been traveling all over the world. They traveled together, and I admired their initiative and resourcefulness to make the most of their income in life. In some ways, they were ahead of me in their travel progress. There are very friendly to me and inquisitive about my story, and then they ran off to play in the ocean. I realized that I may have overstayed my welcome little, so I wave goodbye and walked further down the beach.
As the sun began to set, a man started to sculpt sand castles with his hands and buckets. I’ve seen pictures of this online, so I knew that the end product would be very sophisticated. It took him at least an hour, but he got it done. It turns out you have to pay to take a picture in front of it, which I ended up doing. Later on in the night, they put candles in each of the balconies of the sandcastle. That’s a smart way of getting more money for the same output from the same customer.
For some reason, when people see my photo of this, they asked me if I made this. I’m tell them no since I’m honest, but it’s funny that they assume that I have the skill to do something like this!
As it got dark, I called for a motorbike to bring me back to my hotel. You could tell that the nightlife in this area was just starting to pick up steam. There are people in a few bars that were participating in some type of karaoke competition. You could tell that things were livening up for some people. But it was time to retire and get some good sleep so I can get the other tour packages in before I have to leave.
Unfortunately, there was another mishap that I had the bear was before the night was through. The GPS and address that I gave the driver to get to my hotel were wrong. My hotel was in the middle of the island, which was filled with forest and barely any lights or buildings. So as it got dark, it got more confusing to find where it was. This guy drove around for at least 45 minutes trying to find this place. I think my phone ended up dying, which added to the anxiety and confusion. At one point, we were in the middle of a forest in a very dark area, and he drove up to a house with people in it. I was a little nervous for my safety, but then I saw a very friendly exchange go down where they were just trying to figure out where my place was.. Eventually, they figured it out, and I made a mental note to, in the future, poor drivers to a landmark in nearby. It turns out he would’ve much easily identified and got to that nearby landmark than the hotel that I had listed. And the issue was that he had missed a turn early on his drive.
It may also have been better to just choose one of the more recognizable hostels in the area. As you see soon, there’s some really cool and much more traffic hospitals in this area.
I arrived somewhat exhausted to my hotel. I was expecting someone else to be in my room since we wish we had multiple beds that were shared. But I got lucky. No one else seemed to have booked a room there that day, so I had the whole place to myself.
it was during this time that I made a spontaneous decision to squeeze in another place I wanted to visit, the island of Siargao, to my trip. I realize I had another few days in Bohol, but I should be able to hit the rest of the major tour spots in just one day tomorrow. Did I make a right decision to book a flight to Siargao two days from now right there and then and skip my later flight out of Bohol? well, it was deftly a more expensive decision. And as you see, it did make things much more rushed. But I don’t regret visiting Siargao. I only regret not having at least three or four weeks to truly explore all of the Philippines.
I went to sleep, and then, I had my last full day on Bohol. I went to go to the bathroom, and realized they only had one bathroom that they were sharing across two rooms. I really had to go, so I when into the room where a guy was already rich showering. Yet the curtains drawn, and I told him that I really had to go and if I could just use the toilet really quickly. You could tell he was European and maybe it was bizarre for his culture or just human nature, but he was a little turned off by it and were just like, “… Sure?” So, I went very quickly and left. It really wasn’t a huge deal, could gone outside in the forest he really was against it or offended.
Then, I was were informed by the receptionist after my purpose that unfortunately, I’d only booked one night here and the rooms were fully booked this night. I had to do some quick reconfiguring, and I booked a night at a different hostel, Bohol CoCo Farm, one of the most highly rated in the area and yet still very affordable. This turned out to be one of my best decisions in Bohol because this place was pretty epic.
The price was equally cheap ($20 to $30 a night? Hard to remember) and it had much more commune like vibe. There were dozens of young travelers flitting in and out from all over the globe. Once again, no one from the United States like me, but there were people from Germany, London, Canada, and many places in between.
The lobby and neighboring areas were spread out across a 300 foot radius forest. You had to take a nice little walk around pathways to find the bathroom, or one of the lodges you were staying at, but it was a cool, almost camp like nature. The place had Wi-Fi and plenty of electric outlets. And I saw a chalkboard when I checked in that was like a dream country to. He had a list of all the major activities that you could experience on the island and neighboring parts of the Philippines. The prices were the best I’ve ever seen compared to all the other tour packages that were shoved in my face. So, they must’ve worked out some local deal. They also have a trip to a place where you can see an ocean filled with fireflies, a trip to see giant whales, and the standard three island tour and the Chocolate Hills and monkey sanctuary.
Plus, they had a weekly barbeque festival on Saturday at noon! I was kidding myself when I saw that, because I would miss it since my flight would be the morning of that day.
Some of the people who work there were young, chill, and super savvy and cool. One of them spoke perfect English even though he had never been to an English speaking country. I was shocked since most of the people I’ve met locally have an accident or speak broken English. He dressed fashionably, and I think he told me he learned English through the Internet.
He gave me some good tips and advice. I told him I was considering getting a motorbike to visit the tour spots, and he told me that even he has a hard time learning it, and he won recommended because I might get injured. Thanks to his advice, I may have avoided another hectic, messy situation. He also told me that you typically need of lot more time here to really enjoy it, and I may be rushing through things. I knew that was true, acknowledges advice, and said next time outspent more time in this area.
another thing he told me was that, once again, I was too late for those tourist packages today. The group that was going today had already met up and set off early in the morning. Once again, I try to make it happen. I asked him if I could get to the destinations myself. He said I could, but it would be tough. I would have to go to the bus terminal and take a bus to them. And I did it. I paid for motorbike to drive me to that bus terminal he mentioned. From there, I took a bus to the monkey sanctuary.
I told one of the bus coordinators to let me know when to get off. He promised he would, which is my anxiety a bit that I would geet lost in unable to find my way back. Pay for the bus like everyone else, sat in my seat and waited. After about an hour driving in seeing the countryside and deep forest area, which in some ways was very similar to American forests, I was informed to get off at a bus stop. It was kind of obvious since the sanctuary was packed with tourists and other buses that were stopping there.
You can tell is a giant tour spot because they had sculptures and pictures of the monkeys. I got in line, pay the entry fee, and went on the tour of the sanctuary. What they don’t mention on social media about this place is that the tour itself it is a self-guided tour that lasts maybe 10 minutes or less. The path around to see the monkeys is fairly short. You’ll see a bunch of them, but there are these tiny little critters with giant eyes. They hang onto a tree, and it’s pretty interesting to see how amazing and different living organisms can be. Then, you get shown into a large room filled with towards merchandise to the levels that would rival a place in Disneyland. The store is decked out with monkey merchandise. It had almost anything you can think of, plush toys hats, lanyards, action figures, water bottles, and so forth. I took a couple pictures with the sculpture, some of the monkeys, and then did a second loop around just because the tour was so short. It’s pretty fun but I was shocked the house short it was.
But then, as I was onto my last leg of the journey, which were the chocolate hills. Basically, the geography of a certain area creates these hills that look like round bumps. Some argue they look like chocolate Hershey’s kisses, but they more so look like skittles or something of a round nature rather than a triangle nature. Since the bus I came on had already departed, I had to figure out a way to get there. I knew the direction that all the tour buses were heading, but those were tour packages. How could I get there on my own? After some talking around, someone nearby had a motorbike and he was offering to drive me there. I think he was one of those people who was hanging around looking for passengers, but he could’ve also easily been a local who was just chilling in the area. We decided on a reasonable fee, and we drove down that same road for about another 20 minutes before arriving at the Chocolate Hills tourist destination.
I will say the drive down was pretty exhilarating, not just because I was on a motorbike, on the open road, seeing the countryside with past me, but also because I can see the terrain changing. Instead of grassy plains, I started seeing these small hills emerge that looked kind of bizarre. They started looking like larger and larger half circles. It was so strange that the earth was forming in these ways.
When I arrived at this destination, I realize that it may have been the most tourists filled out of anything I’d seen so far. There were droves of people excitedly entering the center. The center had a bunch of ATMs that you can withdraw money from, and then you would pay the entry fee and climb up a bunch of steeps stairs and see a bunch of decorations that will lead you to this elevated area where you could look across the plains and see all the hills one after another.
This viewing area is usually where people take a lot of photos. I hung around this area longer than most, not just to take in the view, but to make the most of the experience. There was a telescope that you can look out of but you had to pay with a few coins. One trick I learned is that most people get bored of looking through it after a few seconds or minutes, but the payment is still active for many more minutes, so you can use up the remaining time after they leave.
I was also so inquisitive of all the different cultures and countries that came to visit these hills. I asked a bunch of people where they were from, and I was shocked at how multicultural and global it was. It was maybe the most diverse are for tourists that I had ever visited. There were people from Shanghai, Europe, South America, Central America, and more.
walking up and down the stairs was another great experience since the stairs were pretty steep and had to walk up a flight of at least 100 of them. So are there are some really great views just climbing up them and coming back down.
I started to make my way back to my hostile on the motorbike, and along the way, I noticed some really cool things. First, there was a horde of local young students who were walking back from the classes. It was cool to see all these local kids coming back from their local routine on the countryside. That was their life, which was so different from mine. And then, right near the chocolate hills, I saw these advertisements and signs for you to drive ATVs around the area. That sounded like a really cool thing that I may come back and do later one day. That’s something that’s deftly not advertise or mention much when travel bloggers / vloggers talk about Bohol.
So, when I made it back to the monkey sanctuary, the guy on the motorbike quoted me a very expensive fee to drive back to my hostel (My memory’s cloudy here, but it was like $80?). He reasoned that it would be an hour drive and he should be compensated for it. the place was deserted, so it seemed like I had no other options. Perhaps, he was trying to sucker me out of it. I was a little upset by it, so I tried to make some calls and do something else, but nothing was happening. I waited a little longer and was on the verge of just accepting, when, another bus to rolled around. I jumped on the bus because it was headed in the right direction, and I hoped for the best. I may have asked the bus driver if they were headed to us that bus terminal, and I think they said yes.
Fortunately, I made the right move because the bus fee is pennies in comparison. Another part of the adventure here was that the bus was super pack. There are few moments where I had the squeeze on and hang on from a platform outside of the bus from one stop to the other because the bus itself was full. I really didn’t mind since the bus wasn’t going too fast. Eventually, people moved in and out and there was a empty seat for me. I do want to give a shout out to a young, friendly girl, who noticed I was partially falling asleep and confused on when to get off. When we got to the bus terminal stop where a lot of the foreign tourists get off, she poked me and told me it was time to get off. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would’ve missed the right stop.
From there, it was easy to get back to the hospital. I got a motorbike to take me there and he knew exactly where it was since it’s a famous hostel.
The hostel has its own in staff restaurant, so I ordered a bunch of cool stuff for dinner. The prices were necessarily cheap. They’re similar to American prices. But a couple of the items were organic, so when I purchased those, I did save some money. I eat more than the typical person and I ordered a bit more than usual since I wanted to take some photos of the food.
It was at this dining spot that I went up to a couple of the other tour starting their just to talk to them and find out about their journey and story getting here. A lot of them were young female travelers. Another was from London. Another was from Germany. The one from Germany will also encourage me to get a bike, figure out how to drive it, and drive to the tourist destinations myself. I was a little iffy about it because of how dangerous and confusing it could be. Plus, I could get lost. but I did admire these people for taking life by the horns and just making it happen.
Since my flight directly from Bohol to Siargao was early next morning, I realized that I still needed to get some souvenirs for friends and family. I felt that the honey that they sold on this island would be a great gift since it’s made from actual bees. At the dead of night, I called and found a motorbike taxi driver to take me to one of those stores that sold the honey. It was clearly last-minute and I may have paid a little more than necessary for the driver, but I was in a rush and there is limited driver options. I got to the store, which was still open but deserted, and bought a few honeys for my family. For such a tiny jar, they were not cheap ($10?). But that’s organic, Filipino honey for you. The store was just stocked with merchandise, all honey or jam themed, like your typical American, fully stocked tourist store. Once again, there are all variations of honey themed products you could buy. I left the store, and returned to the hospital. Deftly not a cheap purchase, but I felt it was something that was worth bringing back to friends, coworkers, and family that supported me. I felt my mom deserved one. And my friend who drove me to the airport deserved one.
And that was that. I have one more story to tell before we ended. And that was my first overnight stay at Bohol CoCo farm.
The room I slept in was this giant circular room with this circular ceiling that seemed to be woven together with some type of wood. The ceiling was at least 20 to 30 feet high and the room housed about a dozen beds. About four of the beds were filled when I went to sleep. I stuffed my suitcase under my bed. And I met a very chatty Canadian who slept in the bed next to me who told me that the other people sleeping there were Germans. Everyone was pretty chill and just wanted to get a good sleep. I was scared that some of them might be partygoers or stay up to late making noise, but I may have lucked out because at least that night, we all went to sleep at reasonable hours. The Canadian told me about how he rented his own bike and drove through the island, but he almost crashed a few times because there’s less regulation and enforcement of driving, so many drivers are reckless. He also got lost a few times and ended up getting very cold, so stopped on the side of the road with local Filipinos to build small fires to warm himself up before getting back on his bike. Apparently he drove about an hour or two out to explore some of the more remote villages in the island. I told him that’s not the style of travel I like. That’s a lot of work and not the type of vacation I want. But to each their own! He was very friendly and offered to lend me some spare earplugs and a facemasks so I can sleep better at night. He also told me how he was taking some type of gap year, which allowed him to stay in the Philippines for a long time. He said that he wanted to get the most out of it before it became the next Thailand, over-trafficked and prices spiking.
He basically goes in and out of the country every three months because the way his VISA is set up, you can only stay in the country for a period of time.
part of me envies the people who can take those Years and just make the most of them. But I realize I have to not make excuses and channel that into making it happen. I suppose I could’ve done that in the past and taking a gap year of some sort, but at the time, my shame and embarrassment of not having a job or feeling like I be a step behind if I did so stop me from doing it. Perhaps, one day I would choose to quit my job or give myself a one year break just to do something cool like this. But I can’t be myself up too much. I feel like 99% of American employees just rely on a two week vacation.
The place I status let them deftly was not a luxury, super clean experience. The Canadian remarked a couple times when he saw the lizards or other insects scurrying up the walls. I didn’t mind as much as long as they were important initial would bite me. But I can see some people, especially women, freaking out if they saw that. But then again, depends on the person. There was clearly a lot of young, bootstrapped, budget travelers who were female were traveling here as well. Bohol Coco Farm isn’t for everyone. When I drove in, there were chickens running around. It deftly does have a little bit of that earthy, farm vibe. And the wooden huts that housed the bathrooms and shower areas were basic (but well-decorated). some would prefer to spend on those luxury hotels. At this time in my life, I would much preferred Bohol Coco Farm even if I had the money to spend on that luxury hotel. The people I met, the package deals I saw, and the whole experience was well worth it. I wouldn’t have gotten that at some fancy hotel in Bohol because I would’ve been locked away in my hotel suite by myself, away from the travel package deals, barbeque Saturdays, and other tourists.
It was crazy that was meeting people from all these different countries of origin yet the conversations and friendliness data flow between them raw harmonious. Then again, I only had shallow interactions with them, so I didn’t know them for long to really truly get to know them. Maybe they would be more confrontational if I got to know them more, but maybe not. They all seemed like pretty cool people.
Anyhow, I had a pretty good night of sleep, gave back my face smacking earplugs when I woke up, told the staff that this hopefully won’t be my last time back at Bohol Coco Farm (definitely some travel destinations and experiencesI have yet to savor here) and drove to the airport at an early hour of the morning for my next big adventure: a flight to Siargao, the tropical, surfing capital of the Philippines.