Anda – an undiscovered paradise in Bohol

We took a bus from the bus terminal in Tagbilarean, close to the Island City Mall. It was a big green-yellow bus that had good seats and lot’s of space – going straight to Anda! Great. The ride was 80php per person, and took about 2 hours (100 km).

Local bus along the cost of Bohol!

Local bus along the cost of Bohol!

We thought we would have people offering us hotel when we got of the bus or something in Anda, but nothing – it was just a very sleepy small village center. A tricycle driver came to us and asked us where we had our accommodation, and we said we didn’t have anything booked yet.. And he was like ”oh, ok. There are some accommodations on that street there, you can walk there” and showed us where to go, about 100m away. We almost wanted to pay him just because he was so sweet and not annoying at all, haha.

We walked into 4 different accommodations, one was super fancy – like a small apartment with kitchen and everything, for about 1500 php per night, but the building didn’t have anything else but rooms, no hang out area or anything. The other three places were just a room with a bed in someone’s house, about 600 php per room. We looked a little bit online if there was some cheap resort here, and found one at Anda the Boracay offering a good price, about 1400 for a big room with sea view. We went there, but they didn’t have any rooms for less than 2000 php per night to offer, but we could still book it online for the cheaper price, so we did. Haha. So for 4 nights we are paying about 6100 pesos (118 euros/130 usd), which is quite good for this kind of luxurious accommodation! The resort has a pool, restaurant, massage, gym, shop and everything, and our room is perfect – with tv, AC, a really good bed with good pillows, bathroom, desk and everything. We are super happy we chose this place!

view from our porch, pool and beach!

view from our porch, pool and beach!

Our lovely room at Anda de Boracay Beach resort!

Our lovely room at Anda de Boracay Beach resort!

The pool was full of children when we arrived, it’s like the towns own local swimming pool, it costs 100php for them to use it. I like that this place isn’t exclusive and that the locals people can enjoy it too! ;)

After having a good dinner overlooking the sea, we walked along the Anda beach. We had some coffee at the only other restaurant/bar on the beach, the Old Castle. So happy to have real brewed coffee! And watch sunset :) The beach is really nice, it’s very tranquil since it’s not so much people here, and there is a breeze all the time, it was even a little bit chilly at night! Anda is really lovely, just what we had been looking for!!

 

Enjoying brewed coffee!

Enjoying brewed coffee!

Sunset by Anda beach

Sunset by Anda beach

At night, since it was Saturday, our resort had a live band playing there. When we checked in they told us if we were ok with the noice, ”yeah sure!” we said – and yeah, our room was just above where they were playing! Haha. So we sat by the restaurant having a few beers and watching the band. It was crowded with lots of local people, everybody in this town and the small towns next to Anda comes here for the weekends for some party :) They really like to party here in Philippines, more like hang out with a lot of people and drink beer – it’s true the philipinos are the latins of Asia, haha.

The band greeted us guests here, ”and Sofia Armenteros from Sweden” hehe. We were like 5 guests or something, the rest – over another 100 guests or more – were only locals enjoying their Saturday night here hehe. We had a bunch of guys talking to us and wanted us to dance haha, but we were happy to just sit and listen to the band.

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Hehe :)

Saturday - Band playing at the resort and people dancing by the pool :)

Saturday – Band playing at the resort and people dancing by the pool :)

Haha, this guy... he came to us about 20 times that night and talking about swimming to manila our something, he wasnt' that good at english and we didn't really understand what he wanted.. but he kept repeating the same thing everytime..

Haha, this guy… he came to us about 20 times that night and talking about swimming to manila our something, he wasnt’ that good at english and we didn’t really understand what he wanted.. but he kept repeating the same thing everytime..

Next day, a little hangover, we had a big breakfast at the café Coco Loco – yuuuuummmiiiiii!!! A little bit expensive, but so good with whole what brown bread and home made marmelade and everything. Loved the fruit, coffee, omelette… Just great! The owners are and english-slovakian couple with 2 kids, and they have been living here in Anda for 4 years!

Niiiiice breakfast!!!

Niiiiice breakfast!!!

We saw that they had vegetarian hamburgers there in the menu too, so we had to come back to eat dinner here! Twice! Hehe. I’ve been craving vegetarian hamburgers for a while now! :) We had a couple of artisanian beers from the Philippines, french fries and first night I had the sweet potato burger and Duilio had the beef hamburger. The second night I had the coconut burger :) Delicious!! Truly made with love.

In the evening they had some live music, a few guitars and singing, very small scale and acoustic, but it was cozy. All though they were drowned by the roosters that was just beside the house, and the karaoke from every house around. The philipinos really love the kareoke.. aaaall day singing, seriously, for like 6 hours in a row or even longer!

Me with my veggie hamburger, oh, I've been looking forward to this moment!

Me with my veggie hamburger, oh, I’ve been looking forward to this moment!

My vegetarian hamburger!!

My vegetarian hamburger!! This is the sweet potato one!

The disco toilet at Coco Loco! Hahah

The disco toilet at Coco Loco! Hahah

Tasting some artisanian local beer :)

Tasting some artisanian local beer :)

Coconut veg burger!

Coconut veg burger!

Sunday is a family day and the Anda beach is public and a lot of families and kids from the towns around Anda come to spend the whole day here, eating and enjoying some bath. Allthough the water is reeeeally shallow here, I couldn’t bath more than my feet, Duilio went out like 150 meters to have water up to his thies, haha. But another day there was actually a little higher, it changes a lot during the day too. But it’s nice, especially for kids :)

My bath. Hahah. Very shallow...

My bath. Hahah. Very shallow…

Duilio at Anda beach, and the kid writing in the sand!

Duilio at Anda beach, and the kid writing in the sand!

Anda beach, the kid wrote it in the sand :)

Anda beach, the kid wrote it in the sand :)

Duilio is also taking a nap...

Duilio is also taking a nap…

Haha... kid buried in sand and taking a nap

Haha… kid buried in sand and taking a nap too

We love Anda!

We love Anda!

Today it wasn't that shallow, I could actually bath my body if I laid down in the water :)

Today it wasn’t that shallow, I could actually bath my body if I laid down in the water :)

It’s still very quiet and peaceful in Anda, there are like 5 other tourists in Anda at the same time which we saw either in our resort, or in Coco Loco, or in the Old castle, like ”Ah, that’s the couple from the breakfast” ”ah, that’s the family from the beach” haha. :) You also see the same locals here, I love that they always greet ”Hello, good morning, how are you?” :) I got a lot of comments about my hair again, hehe. People can’t really believe it’s real haha.

We hung out quite much in the Old castle during the days and sat there in their sun chairs and had some juice or shake or coffee or ice cream haha. We also arranged the diving, Anda Divers have their office there.

Breakfast at the Old Castle, lovely! Love brown bread and vegetables... and the view!

Breakfast at the Old Castle, lovely! Love brown bread and vegetables… and the view!

Duilio, happy... with his pineapple shake and his book on the iPad... haha

Duilio, happy… with his pineapple shake and his book on the iPad… haha

It's windy enough to do kite surf here :) And kids play in the water all day!

It’s windy enough to do kite surf here :) And kids play in the water all day!

We went out for a 2-dive around the area of Anda, well, we had to take a van to another town about 10 minutes away from where the boat can actually anker to, because it’s to shallow here in Anda Beach. We were 5 divers and the instructor, well actually two of the divers were dive masters, german, and then one older man from France and me and Duilio. On the first dive the instructor and the french man dived together and me and Duilio went with the other two dive masters. We went down to about 25m along a wall, there is a place where there usually are many many different kind of sea horses, but it was quite current and sea horses are quite bad swimmers, they can’t hold on, so we only saw one :( We saw cuttlefish and nudy branches, and a a couple of turtles too :)The visibility wasn’t so good on the first dive.

That's a cuttle fish! It's really camouflaged

That’s a cuttle fish! It’s really camouflaged

A long.. sea horse I think

A long.. sea horse I think

Why do they look so funny... hahah. I love them.

Why do they look so funny… hahah. I love them.

Duilio sharing air with the dive master.. as always.. hehe

Duilio sharing air with the dive master.. as always.. hehe

 

The second dive spot was in ”Coral Garden”, and it really was a coral garden. Beautiful – so many different kind of corals everywhere – in all colors and shapes. And here we saw many many turtles! They like to hang out there, so we could really be close to them, like 1-2 meters, very cool. The visibility was a lot better on the second dive too, so we enjoyed it more.

Many different corals, the dive spot is called "Coral garden" :)

Many different corals, the dive spot is called ”Coral garden” :)

More turtles :) So many here!

More turtles :) So many here!

Turtle with friend :)

Turtle with friend :)

Duilio happy with the dive computer :)

Duilio happy with the dive computer :)

It looks like an owl!!

It looks like an owl!!

Turtle! :)

Turtle! :)

Many corals here, in all colors! Haven't seen so much bright pink before..

Many corals here, in all colors! Haven’t seen so much bright pink before..

We were supposed to be back around 13-14, but instead the boat took us to the dive resort that the dive shop has and where the germans where staying, which wasn’t even in Anda, we had a few beers and wrote or dive logs there, and then we took the van back to us, about 40 minutes drive or something. So we weren’t back until 17. The owner Michael was very sorry for this, he was waiting for us at the place where he dropped us of, wondering where we were, haha.

But it was ok for us, much longer day than expected, we had only bought some fruit to eat in between the dives since we thought we were going to eat lunch around 14, so when we got back we were quite hungry. We tried the ”Food court” they have here in town, and it was great! They had like 20 different dishes to choose from, half of them vegetarian, and 30php per serving. So for both of us we paid a total of 140php for lunch (3 euro/usd). :)

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Having lunch at the local food court :)

There isn’t much to do in Anda, just relax. There is a couple of attractions, one of them visiting a small island where there is some witch thing, we had plans on doing that but in the end we didn’t.. haha. Time passes by really quickly. We spent 4 days in Anda and one day of them diving, the rest of the days the plan was something like ”we eat breakfast there, then we go to the beach, then we have a massage/eat lunch or dinner/do some henna tattoos” haha. It was very nice!

So yeah, we got a massage in our resort, ahh, so nice! It was Duilios first massage ever, haha. Full body for 1 hour was 500 php, about 10 euros/usd.

Got some massage today!! Hehehe.. about 300 php for one hour full body. :)

Got some massage today!! Hehehe.. about 300 php for one hour full body. :)

I really don’t understand how they can make profit on this resort, because it’s at least 20 people working there during the day (reception, boutique, restaurant, bar, gardening, pool cleaning, security, massage etc) but there are only very few guests here!

It’s probably during the weekend when all the locals go to see the band that they earn money maybe. I don’t know. We felt a little bad about not using the restaurant that much, we had to pass by the restaurant from our room to go out from the resort, and the staff is very sweet and friendly. There were always like 3 staff members sitting there waiting for customers… we didn’t use it much because the breakfast wasn’t so good and they only had one vegetarian option for lunch/dinner, but we had a few coffees there at least.. haha.

And we both did henna tattoos – there is one artist by the beach, he is from Manila but he comes to Anda for long vacations about 2-3 months every year, you can see him by the beach doing poi when he doesn’t have any henna costumers, hehe. The henna was different from the one I had in India, this is darker but still lasts for 3 weeks, and I had my whole back done! I showed some reference pictures and let him do what we wanted, took a couple of hours, but the artist said it was his master piece :) Duilio had 2 smaller ones, one with a ”philippine sun” and another with a turtle. :)

Poi and guitar at the beach!

Poi and guitar at the beach!

The sketch over my back tattoo hehe

The sketch over my back tattoo hehe, still in daylight!

Lovely henna back tattoo :) Might do it permanent one day.. heheh

The result a few hours later! Lovely henna back tattoo :) Might do it permanent one day.. heheh

Me and Duilio are very satisfied with our henna tattoos :)

Me and Duilio are very satisfied with our henna tattoos :)

We were really sad to leave Anda, we could easily have stayed 1 week… but the direct ferrys direct to Camiguin only leaves Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1pm from Jagna, so we wanted to take it on Wednesday and stay for 5 days. It’s Duilios last destination before heading back home.

We took a bus in the morning to Jagna, about 1 hour from Anda.. But guess what – once we are there we get to know that the ferry was cancelled!!! We couldn’t believe it… it was because it’s ”holy week” or easter, and apparently a lot of people go to visit their families or to spend the holidays in Camiguin, they have a pilgrimage there during these days. And there is only one ferry, which they had taken from another city instead of from Jagna… so typical!! We were like… ”Fuck, we could have stayed in Anda 2 more days!!” It definitively would have been the best option to go back..

So we didn’t really know what to do. We met a polish couple there that also where supposed to take the ferry to Camiguin. They told us that they had talked to the travel office and they said that you can rent a private boat for about 5000php to get to Camiguin, but there is some problems with the coast guard, they don’t allow private boats to do it.. The other option was to take a ferry at 10pm instead to Cagayan de Oro, about 8 hours away, and from there take a 2 hour bus to a port, from where there were ferrys going to Camiguin… So we wouldn’t be there until next day around noon.

A Philipino lady that also needed to get to Camiguin to visit her family for easter, started to arrange a boat for us together with another french girl there. She spoke perfect english and philipino, and talked to some local people there that could fix a bout that could take up to 8 people and that it would be 1000php per person… Ok, so we went to a fishing village next to Jagna from where we would get the boat. We thought it was going to be a bigger bungo boat, like the ones we used for diving… But it reeeeally was a very very small boat, there was no sun shade and there wasn’t even a place for us to sit in, we sat on the proa! At first we thought we would take this little boat out to a bigger boat, because there were bigger fishing boats docked in the middle, but no, it was this boat going the whole way!! And it was about a 3 hour journey.

The guys taking the boat to the water! Haha

The guys taking the boat to the water! Haha

Not completely sure about this...

Not completely sure about this…

The big fishing boat... 6 travelers and 2 fishing men, crazy! This is on our way back to safety!

The big fishing boat… 6 travelers and 2 fishing men, crazy! This is on our way back to safety!

We had put all our backpacks in plastic bags inside the boat, but once we got out a couple of hundred meters from the shore, it was quite wavy and water kept coming in all the time in the boat, and we were already completely wet and I really didn’t feel ok with this, we were over weighted and it was very crazy, if we would have some motor problems or something we would probably go under.

I said to Duilio ”Duilio, this is crazy, I we should go back now before it’s too late, don’t you?” and he said ”YES PLEASE!” he was super scared. I asked the other people if they were ok about going back, at least we would, and they were all ”Yes yes yes!” haha. So yeah, we turned back. I think even the philipino lady was happy about it.

We had paid 2000php in advance for the gasoline, which we said they could keep (I think 1000 of them was for muting the coast guard or something), but we just felt that it was the right decision, that we get to live another day. :) Duilio was still all shaky about this. So we went back to the port in Jagna and bought the tickets to Cagayan the oro at 10pm for 570php each. Then we went to a café and sat there for about 8 hours haha.

Halo halo, the typical dessert here in Philippines! The white thing on top is actually real cheese... wierd!

Halo halo, the typical dessert here in Philippines! The white thing on top is actually real cheese… wierd!

Once in the ferry we were surprised to find it was a sleeping ferry! So it had bunk beds! Yay! We are happy we got there at 8pm because you could border the ferry before. I felt asleep early, super tired. We arrived in Cagayan a little before 6am, saw a beautiful sunrise.

In the sleeping ferry to Cagayan d oro!

In the sleeping ferry to Cagayan d oro!

Arriving in Cagayan - sun is about to come up!

Arriving in Cagayan – sun is about to come up!

We got a jeepney for 10php each to the bus terminal and from there a van for 150php to Baligoan port, from where the ferrys were leaving to Camiguin. The van was quick, took only 1,5 hours to reach the port…. And…. Disaster. There was a looong que to the ticket booth.

I had previously arranged with our contacts of the house we are renting through airbnb in Caminguin to meet up at 11am, if it would have been a regular day, that’s when we where supposed to arrive. But there where literally thousands of philipinos in cue to get to Camiguin. We started queing 7.30am and at 6pm we finally boarded the ferry that took us to Camiguin, at that ferry only takes one hour. It was crazy. You could see Camiguin from the port, it would have been quicker to swim there!

Waiting in line... sometimes we didnt move for over 30 minutes! This was after about 2 hours in line... .still 9 left!!

Waiting in line… sometimes we didnt move for over 30 minutes! This was after about 2 hours in line… .still 9 hours left!!

Duilio starting to get really tired.... little did he know that there were still 4 hours left haha

Duilio starting to get really tired…. little did he know that there were still 4 hours left haha

I was truly surprised that the Filipinos were in such a good mood! Like happy, talking, waiting without pushing or anything, just staying there in line. And they only have a couple of days of, so waiting 11 hours for a 1 hour ferry ride across the sea should be harder for them then for us, because we have months! We were tired and hungry and just wanted to arrive, but they didn’t show it.. Such a different mentality.

We thought we got to the end of the line, and then we came to this waiting area - crazy!! Took 2 hours to get through this...

We thought we got to the end of the line, and then we came to this waiting area – crazy!! Took 2 hours to get through this…

In the end of the waiting hall you had to get "numbers" on paper, and after they called the numbers to get to the other waiting area for yet another hours wait... Crazy!

In the end of the waiting hall you had to get ”numbers” on paper, and after they called the numbers to get to the other waiting area for yet another hours wait… Crazy!

But yeah, we are aware of how bad this was organized, like really, the worst. Everything was suuuuuper slow, and just completely.. bad. One ticket booth for maybe 3000 travelers… Stupid!!! When we left, there was still about another thousand people waiting to cross… Really crazy!! So after this experience, yes, we would definitively have enjoyed to turn back to Anda and stay 2 more nights and take the direct ferry on Friday instead, with less hustle. But but….. an experience too.

 

Well… next post will be about Camiguin :)

 

 

Panglao and Alona Beach – what a disappointment…

Ok.. to get to Panglao we got a van/bus close from the island city mall in tagbilarian. Unfortunately we were about the last ones to enter, so it was full and we had to ride outside in the back, an adventure by itself! About 1,5 hours ride along Panglao, which is a much bigger island that we thought! When we arrived we were completely covered in very fine white sandy dust. Now I understand why Philipinos always have a small blanket with them to cover their face and hair.

Enjoying the ride on the back of the van! Haha

Enjoying the ride on the back of the van! Haha

 We jumped of the van close to Alona beach, which is ”the place to be” as we had heard.. We had been recommended an accommodation by the spanish couple we met in El Nido a couple of weeks back. Citadel Alona or something like that it’s called.

They had rooms available for 750 php per night, with a fan. But I’ve never met so unfriendly philipinos as here. I was like ”Hi, do you have room available?” ”yes” ”ok, can I see it?” – no answer, the receptionist just grabs the keys and walks away. Haha. Nothing ”yes sure, follow me” or something. The atmosphere was very unfamiliar, but the rooms were ok, a good price and close to the main beach, they had a kitchen and a nice terrace over the street.

Our room, and my boyfriend sleeping..

Our room, and my boyfriend sleeping..

The terrace at Citadel

Having breakfast in the terrace at Citadel

After installing ourselves we walked down the road to Alona beach. We passed by many bars, restaurants, shops, cafés, souvenir shops, juice bars, dive shops etc. Horribly touristic. And everyone yelling at you and trying to sell you tours or tricycle rides, even when they see you are walking down to the beach?

By the way, there are sooo many korean shops and restaurants here! I wonder why?

By the way, there are sooo many korean shops and restaurants here! I wonder why?

Once at the beach we were like…. WTF? Is this the famous Alona beach? I’ve read many blog posts about this – how amazing panglao and alona beach is – but this is barely a beach! There are boats everywhere so it feels like a pier, it’s dirty water, and a very very thin piece of beach, the rest is restaurants, dive shops and other shops, people… We were quite disappointed. We knew Alona was going to be touristic – but it didn’t even have a charm. We found one spare place in the shadow and stayed there for a while, me reading a really good book, and Duilio fell asleep.

Zzzzzlepy Duilio in the tiny beach..

Zzzzzlepy Duilio in the tiny beach..

The local kids walks up the falling tree, and another kid drags the tree up and down and try to make the other kids fall of the tree

The local kids walks up the falling tree, and another kid drags the tree up and down and try to make the other kids fall of the tree

We met up with the spanish couple from el Nido, Guillermo is doing his dive master here at Bohol Divers Club, which is run by yet another spanish couple, so we hung out there for a while and arranged to go diving in the island of balicasag, it’s a marine sanctuary so you need to get approval to go there, there are limited spaces available to visit the island and the surroundings, so we booked it for the day after tomorrow.

So we had one more day to spend before diving…. We went to the other side of the beach, which looked like it was better, but it was a private beach, you have to pay 700php to stay there, haha. Instead we walked to a non-private part and slept there until we were hungry.

A nice part of the Alona beach, but it costs 700php to sit there... Not like other places where you only need to buy a drink to use it! SUCKS!

A nice part of the Alona beach, but it costs 700php to sit there… Not like other places where you only need to buy a drink to use it! SUCKS!

Haha. I look so happy....

Haha. I look so happy…. Inside the yellow floating things is the private part of the beach

We walked in to the ”Buzz café” by the beach – the best thing that happened to us in Panglao. It’s an organic café with many vegetarian options, I had vegetarian lasagna – so cheesy and with mushrooms – DELICIOUS!!!

We also got complimentary bread with different salsas as a starter, all home-made – and again – delicious! And also to my lasagna I got a salad with vegetables, fruits, and even eatable flowers, and guess what – delicious! Everything really feels like it’s made with love! Haha. We stayed there for a while, ordered coffee, ice-cream, wrote some post cards etc.

Everything we had here was the best we have had in Philippines by far. It was money well spent, compared to our expensive pizza last night haha.  It’s  just as expensive as all the other touristic restaurants – the difference is that it’s totally worth it!! 

 

View from the buzz cafe!

View from the buzz cafe!

The complimentary bread and salsas.... Mmmmmm!!

The complimentary bread and salsas…. Mmmmmm!!

Me and my vegetarian lasagna and the salad!!

Me and my vegetarian lasagna and the salad!!

Even the coffee was great and beautiful at the buzz café!

Even the coffee was great and beautiful at the buzz café!

Then we didn’t have anything to do… There isn’t really anything to enjoy here (Except for the Buzz café ;) We bought some pastries on the way home and had them with a coffee there on our terrace.

Next day, finally, diving! We went down to the dive shop to 8.30 and then out to Balicasag. Our dive group was a 3 chinese, me, Duilio, Guillermo and a Dive master.

Overall the chinese were quite special…
The girl had a long black dress, make up and even fake lashes, and she kept taking selfies for the whole boat trip! On the way diving! And they had a small stuffed toy rabbit with them, and they were going to dive with it!

The chinese had all the gear – dive computer, fins, cameras and everything – and the stuffed toy rabbit of course – we thought they were pro… but they weren’t good divers at all – the dive master had to hold the girl by her tank the whole dive because she kept sinking all the time and not maintaining the same level as him.. crazy. Funny to watch them under water, when they took selfies with the rabbit etc, I have just as many pictures of them as of fishes, hahaha.

But the diving was really good, the visibility was amazing, like 20 meters! We saw turtles too. We did 2 dives, one by a wall, the marine sanctuary, and another by a coral reef, the black forest.

Colorful fishes and corals and great visibility

Colorful fishes and corals and great visibility

Dive along the wall, lot o small fishes

Dive along the wall, lot o small fishes

Turtle with friends :)

Turtle with friends :)

Guillermo, our friend and dive master trainee :)

Guillermo, our friend and dive master trainee :)

Hahah, love this picture, Duilio wondering wtf the chinese girl is doing.. haha

Hahah, love this picture, Duilio wondering wtf the chinese girl is doing.. haha

Hello diving rabbit!

Hello diving rabbit!

Selfie with the rabit!

Selfie with the rabit!

Other cool fishes

Other cool fishes

The dive master holding the girl by her tank so she wouldn't go deeper than him (then his dive watch doesn't help!)

The dive master holding the girl by her tank so she wouldn’t go deeper than him (then his dive watch doesn’t help!)

The crew and the boat was really good too, but there wasn’t any lunch included on the boat as it always has been before when we have dived in the philippines, and they didn’t have any dive computers to rent either, they had just ordered them but they hadn’t arrived yet. To bad, we really like to dive with computers, have to get my own soon!

On the dive boat! With guillermo and the argentinian couple

On the dive boat! With guillermo and the argentinian couple

 

After the diving we were hungry and went for lunch together with Guillermo and Candela and an Argentinian couple and their son that were on the boat with us to Balicasag snorkeling. The son adored Duilio, haha. They were from Rosario in Santa fe, but living in Madrid, haha, small world!

We went to ”Andreas”, which is a kitchen ”cantina” close to our accommodation where all the locals and the people working there goes to eat. There are a lot of pans with different dishes – and you say which ones you want and pay for that. I was surprised to find that they had many vegetarian dishes! I had lentil soup and then some spinach-thing and pumpkin-thing, tofu and rice – and there were plenty more vegetarian to choose! I think my whole meal was about 120 php and I even got a doggy bag with me since I couldn’t finish it.

The typical philippine lunch kitchen :)

The typical philippine lunch kitchen :)

Lovely vegetarian food! Lenses, tofu, spinach, pumpkin...

Lovely vegetarian food! Lenses, tofu, spinach, pumpkin…

Full and happy we went back to our accommodation and fixed a small package of 3kgs to send back home, with some salsa we got at the buzz café, some souvenirs and long armed clothes we haven’t used at all, haha.

Then we bought some Boracay Rum and Pineapple juice (the rum cost 108 php and the juice 95php, haha! – about 2 euros/usd each) and went to our terrace to have some drinks, listening to live music playing from the bar across the street, but having many drinks to the same price as one there, haha. Boracay rum has the same taste as malibu coconut!

Almost the same price for a bottle of rum as for the juice!

Almost the same price for a bottle of rum as for the juice!

We got more Boracay rum from a polish couple we had been talking to earlier that were leaving next day. We bought more juice and got a little bit drunk there by ourselves, haha. Then we got another half bottle from some other guests that also were leaving next day (as us) but weren’t drinking this night, but we gave that bottle to a french couple we started talking to there that had just arrived. Another bad thing with this accommodation – the terrace closes at 22pm! So we got to bed then.. Haha.

Next morning we finally checked out, 2,5 days to many here in Panglao, we took a jeepney to Island City mall (we got seats this time :)) and from there we walked to the bus terminal and took a bus to Anda – and yes – Anda is paradise!! More about that in next post!

Enjoying Bohol on a scooter

The journey from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran in Bohol was about 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was the nicest ferry we have taken so far, big and comfortable!

The ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran - big and comfortable!! We got our own seats, they where showing a movie and selling some snacks.. very nice!

The ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilaran – big and comfortable!! We got our own seats, they where showing a movie and selling some snacks.. very nice!

When we arrived in the pier in Tagbilaran we grabbed our backpacks from the storage and walked outside – boom – all the taxi and tricycle drivers jumped us, and followed us all the way up to the street! They are really a pain in the ass sometimes. One van driver said he could take us to Loboc, where we were going to stay,for ”only 800php” but when we kept walking and saying ”no thanks” he ended up offering it at 300 php, haha.

Up from the road we took a tricycle for 60php – We bargained it down from 100 php, thinking the bus terminal was just around the corner, but it was actually quite far away! Philipinos always say ”just 1 or 2 kilometers away” but it felt much longer.

Tagbilaran is the capital of Bohol, and it’s only city. There was quite much traffic and many university students everywhere! Once at the Island City Mall, we took a jeepney to loboc, about 1,5 hour, which costed us 27php per person (0,50 euro or usd). Quite cheap :)

We arrived in Loboc, 24 kms inland from Tagbilaran and one of Bohol oldest towns. We crossed the bridge over the loboc river to get to our accomodation – Stefanie Grace Paradise Inn. It was not where it was pointed out on google maps, as nothing never is here in the Philippines, but we found it in the end.

On our way there we passed by a lady singing karaoke in her yard, you can hear it kilometers away. Philipinos LOVE karaoke, it’s everywhere, and they are not ashamed at all, sometimes they are good singers, but mostly not, and literally the whole neighborhood and more can hear it too. But it’s funny.

The staff at Stefanies was suuuper friendly, showed us our room – which was very basic, the bed was really uncomfortable and squeaked all the time, but the place it self was nice – it had a pool, a restaurant, a small shop, and a view over the loboc river.

Morning view over the loboc river lake!

Morning view over the loboc river lake!

Duilio going in to our room at Stefanies

Duilio going in to our room at Stefanies

We were hungry and had dinner there, I had some vegetables for 100php and Duilio had some fish, and then they asked us if we wanted to do a firefly boat tour along the loboc river, because there was another couple doing it that night. The price was 350php per person. We said sure, and the boat came to pick up right there at Stefanies by the river! :)

We went out for a small tour down the river for about 1,5 hours – I really enjoyed it, we were only 4 people plus the captain. He himself had started this firefly river tours a long time ago, but now it has become quite big. I saw fireflies for the first time in my life, there where hundred or thousands of them, and they all hanged out around the same tree, so it looked like a christmas tree! Super cool.

Fireflies!! I don't really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there! :P

Fireflies!! I don’t really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there if you have it at maximum brightness! :P

Fireflies!! I don't really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there! :P

Fireflies!! I don’t really have the best camera for night pictures, but you can still see something there if you have it at maximum brightness! :P

 

Next day we started with a nice breakfast there at Stefanies.  We had arranged to rent a scooter for 500php for a full day, and the scooter with keys was there at Stefanies in the morning, super comfortable that they can offer everything from here, we didn’t have to move anywhere haha. They are truly friendly and helpful at this accommodation. The owner spoke portuñol, he had been living in Brazil for 9 years and then 30 years in the states, before retiring back to his hometown here in Loboc. Well, he couldn’t just ”retire and do nothing”, so he started this instead :) He helped us with what we should visit and gave us a map over bohol.

some people doing stand up paddle around 8am on the loboc river

some people doing stand up paddle around 8am on the loboc river

We went up to Carmen to see the Chocolate hills, and on our way we passed by beautiful green grass fields and the stunning Mahogny man-made forest in Bilar. It’s about 2 kilometers densely planted mahogny treets, shady and chilly but really beautiful.

Around bohol, huge houses and big farm lands

Around bohol, huge houses and big farm lands

The beautiful mahogny man-made forest!

The beautiful mahogny man-made forest!

We kept driving up to Carmen, passing by many locals, always smiling and waving to you when you pass by, and it’s not only kids – also the construction workers! So cute. It still amazes me how friendly people are here.

After around one hour on the scooter we finally arrived to the famous Chocolate hills, we paid the entrance fee of 50php and climbed up some steps to the top of a hill, where we had a 360 degree view over the hills – there are over 1200 hills spread over an area around 50 square kilometers. It’s called the chocolate hills because of the color they get during dry season, which makes them look like chocolate, but when we were there there were mostly green hills :)

Drying wheat in the heat that they have harvested

Drying wheat in the heat that they have harvested

A cementary!

A cementary!

View over the chocolate hills and the nature around Bohol

View over the chocolate hills and the nature around Bohol

The mandatory picture in front of the chocolate hills :)

The mandatory picture in front of the chocolate hills :)

The chocolate hills

The chocolate hills

On our way back we stopped at Bilar looking for the butterfly sanctuary, which we couldn’t find on our way there, and barely on our way back either – once again said it should be on one site on google maps but was at another place, haha. They are not so good with signs here either!!

Very typical. The red dot is where it is supposed to be, but the blue dot is where it actually is.

Very typical. The red dot is where it is supposed to be, but the blue dot is where it actually is.

We couldn’t find it either because it only said ”Habitat”, nothing wit butterflies. It was interesting, they give you a small tour explaining about all the phases of a butterfly and how they help them grow and survive there. It was ok, I love butterflies and I had heard good about this place so I had high expectations, but it was very small and they only had 2 different kinds of butterfly now (changes depending on season). But still, I learned a lot. I didn’t know a butterfly only lived for 21 days! :(

Close up of a butterfly at the sanctuary

Close up of a butterfly at the sanctuary

Butterfly at the butterfly sanctuary

Butterfly at the butterfly sanctuary

While having a coffee break at the butterfly sanctuary, a cat just jumped up to duilios lap. I gave him half my muffin that wasn't so good.. haha.

While having a coffee break at the butterfly sanctuary, a cat just jumped up to duilios lap. I gave him half my muffin that wasn’t so good.. haha.

After a coffee break we went to Corella, another small inland town closer to Tagbilaran. There we visited the Tarsier Sanctuary, where tarsiers are observed and protected. They are freely living there in a natural habitat. There is another Tarsier place in Loboc but there the tarsiers are not free and feels very bad about being in captivity, so we didn’t want to go to that place.

Here it was really nice, it’s a big forest/park and there where only 5 tarsiers living there in different areas of the park. You are not allowed to touch them or to speak highly there, which is good.

The tarsier sanctuary in Corella, or the research center.

The tarsier sanctuary in Corella, or the research center.

 

Now you know!

Now you know!

Tarsiers are the smallest primates in the world, a fully grown tarsier weights maximum 150 grams! They have bigger eyes than their brain, and long tails – they look like a mix between a monkey, a bat and a rat haha. But they are super cute!

They are nocturnal animals, thats when they move and hunt their food (they eat mostly insects and butterflies) – but during the day they sleep and don’t move, I was very surprised in the beginning how the guide could find them in the forest since they are so tiny and hidden! But the guide told us that they are very territorial so they always hang out at the same spot during the day.They go out hunting at night, and then they come back to the exact same tree for the day.

Where is the tarsier? :) (Look for the eyes!)

Where is the tarsier? :) (Look for the eyes!)

Sleeping tarsier!

Sleeping tarsier!

A cute tarsier who opened his eyes!

A cute tarsier who opened his eyes!

Now, before saying ”aaaww, bring me one home!!” – As me and all my friends say when looking at a tarsier, you should now that they are very shy and scared animals. They live completely alone except for the first 6 months of their life when they live with their mother, after that they go separate ways and never in groups with other tarsiers, the only time they ”hang out” with another tarsier is when they are mating, it only happens once a year and for about 10-15 seconds. So yes, they are very lonely and like to be lonely.

When they are scared or held in captivity, they commit suicide, banging their soft skull head against some hard object.. So sad! So please no, don’t touch them or hold them or captivate them, they will literally kill themselves then.

The bones of a tarsier, it's like a mini dinosaur!! So tiny! And look at the size of the eyeballs!

The bones of a tarsier, it’s like a mini dinosaur!! So tiny! And look at the size of the eyeballs!

Read!

Read!

After the Tarsier sanctuary we started to move to Sevilla to go to Sipatan twin hanging bridge, said to be one of the most dangerous bridges around here. From Corella we followed a sign to Sevilla to get there, and got in to our first bumpy and not cemented road here in Bohol. We were all covered in dust and our asses were soar when we finally arrived at the bamboo bridge, which was in the end of the road. It’s just a couple of kilometers in if you take the road from the other side – from Loboc, which I guess everyone else does, since we didn’t meet a single vehicle on our 9 kms on the road from the other side. Haha.

You pay 20 php to cross the 40 m long bridge. They have 2 bridges, one to cross to the other side, and the other for the way back. And on the other side they also have some handicraft store and refreshment booths (I bought a coconut, very much needed) before taking the bridge back. The bridge was build after the second world war to help local residents transport their farm products across the Sevilla river. What was before rope has been reinforced with steel wire cables for the security and stability. Sure it’s a little different to cross this kind of bridge than a concrete one, since it’s swaying and bouncing, but it didn’t really feel dangerous :)

Hehe... passing by albuqurque, Breaking Bad!

Hehe… passing by albuquerque, the hometown of Breaking Bad, on our way to sevilla :)

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0985.

On the Sipatan twin hanging bridge :)

The bridge

The bridge

We took the scooter back to Bohol and passed by the Loboc Adventure Park, so we stopped there to do the famous zipline over the Loboc river. It costs 350 pesos and you do it twice, one to cross to one side and the other to return. It was Duilios first Zipline, I thought maybe he would be afraid since he really hates rollercoasters, bu the enjoyed the zipline and was all euphorios about it! Haha. Nice experience, I felt like superman!

Ziplining over the loboc river! :)

Ziplining over the loboc river! :)

After that we were tired and had done everything we wanted to do in Bohol, so went back home, filled up the scooter with gasoline (about 80php – 1,5 euro/usd – after driving over 100km!).

We were completely covered in dirt and dust, so we took a bath in the pool (with a shower prior to it) – aaah, so good to feel completely weightless! Haha. Then we bought a wine and some chips at the shop and had it outside overlooking the sunset on the river, delightful! Then we finally had dinner :) I tried the Chop suey, which was the only other vegetarian plate they had, but it looked exaclty the same as the vegetables the day before, haha.

Our pool at stefanies! ahhh!

Our pool at stefanies! ahhh!

Sunset view from Stefanies porch... so nice!

Sunset view from Stefanies porch… so nice!

This is life!

This is life!

I was so tired so I fell asleep like 8pm or something, and slept until next morning!

After breakfast and some internet time (internet is fast at Stefanies!), we checked out. The owner drove us to the jeepney station in his car – once again – so sweet!! We where very thankful since walking a couple of kilometers in over 30 degrees with backpacks wasn’t something we were looking forward to, haha.

He also explained for the driver where to drop us of so we could go to Panglao, and it wasn’t the same place as where we took the jeepney to Loboc from. We just stopped somewhere and switched jeepney to another going over to Panglao.
More info about that in the next entry from Panglao!

A typical jeepney :)

A typical jeepney :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diving in Dauin and Apo Island with turtles

We arrived mid day with the ferry from Liloan in Cebu to Dumaguete, which only took like 30 minutes. We took a tricycle all the way to Dauin for 450php, all though we knew there were jeepneys for much less, but we didn’t know exactly from where yet.

We had a sweet driver who acted like a tour guide, he was like ”This is the bla bla university, I work here during nights” ”This is the City Hall” ”This is this town” ”This is Robinson mall”. Dumaguete is quite a big city, with a lot of people and students. Somehow it reminded me a little bit of Santa Fe in Argentina, haha. The ride from the pier to Dauin was about 1,5 hours along the ”highway”.

Taking the tricycle from Dumaguete to Dauin

Taking the tricycle from Dumaguete to Dauin

We arrived at Bongo Bongo Divers and were a little confused because nobody sort of took care of us… We sat at the ”reception” for about 30 minutes before the receptionist came and showed us around – the kitchen area, the hammock area and the drink fridge – we got a paper with our names on and every time we took a beer or a coca cola from the fridge, we wrote it up on our paper, and we pay in the end. Very nice to always be able to have something cold to drink! There is always tea and coffee available too :)

What we spent in 6 days. :)

What we spent in 6 days. :)

Our room was very basic, it was a cute tree/bamboo double room with a nice window overlooking the garden, but the only thing in the room was the bed and a mosquito net. I would have wished for at last a chair or a night table or something, but but. Happy I have my packing cells so I could spread them out on the floor haha. The bed was very comfortable with a nice mattress, so we were happy, at least me, Duilio didn’t fit with his feet inside the bed, and he is only 1,76m, I wonder how it works for the really tall vikings, haha.

I’m glad we had a mosquito net, which we put up at night and made us feel protected, haha. Just above the ceiling of straws you could here weird noises during all night, it was either rats, birds or lizards (the lizards make a very particular sound), which felt like there were trying to bite through the ceiling. Good to have ear plugs! :)

Our double room at Bongo Bongo dives, it's a very comfortable bed, but we don't have any furniture at all :(

Our double room at Bongo Bongo dives, it’s a very comfortable bed, but we don’t have any furniture at all :(

Our dive instructor, Richard, was french and his girlfriend Virgina, was spanish. They were the first ones to greete us when we got there and were super nice. Richard was occupied with some Open Water students, so he asked if it was ok to start our Advanced Open Water course 2 days ahead, which was fine for us, since we were quite tired and wanted to relax a little bit.

Bongo Bongo Diver, to the left you see our instructor Richard

Bongo Bongo Diver, to the left you see our instructor Richard

Yep. This is us relaxing in the hammocks. At least me. Haha

Yep. This is us relaxing in the hammocks. At least me. Haha

We did one dive along the coast there next day though, to try the equipment and see a little bit what’s there. We went with Marvin who is an expert in Macro diving, and Virgina joined to. We put our dive gear on at Bongo Bongo and walked down to the beach and went in just there. At first it was only sandy bottom, and I was like ”Well…. Where is the amazing diving everyone is talking about here in Dauin?” but then we came across many different cool creatures we’ve never seen before. Me and Duilio would never have been able to see it if they didn’t point it out, and in the end it was almost our favorite dive haha.

We saw a thorny seahorse, so cute, it was all curly and sweet. We saw lion fishes and scorpion fishes as we have seen before though, we saw flat fish, a big crab, and we came across hairy frog fish which is quite unique. We also spotted a very cool fire urchin!

A thorny sea horse!

A thorny sea horse!

Boxer fish doing the duck face ;)

Boxer fish doing the duck face ;)

Redish and angry scorpionfish

Redish and angry scorpionfish

Wow! Amazing kind of hippie or trance fire urchin

Wow! Amazing kind of hippie or rave – fire urchin

Love these translucent things

Love these translucent things

A hairy frog fish!

A hairy frog fish!

An amoeba, but it looks like a alien brain or something

An amoeba, but it looks like a alien brain or something

We also saw  4 flamboyant cuttlefish, which Virgina said wasn’t the easiest to come across. And they were amazing! They look something between a mini elephant and a squid haha, and they change colors so they can camouflage themselves. On their backs you can see like waves of colors changing, and then from like a deep purple redish color it becomes the same color as the sandy bottom and then back. It was really fascinating to watch. One of them was hunting and took out like a long thing tongue and ate something; don’t know what it was though. But it was really cool, have it on video. :) Anyhow, we were very happy about that coastal dive :)

They look something between a mini elephant and a squid!

They look something between a mini elephant and a squid!

Flamboyant cuttlefish, a mother and a kid I think, they were changing colors all the time, like a wavy disco on their back!

Flamboyant cuttlefish, a mother and a kid I think, they were changing colors all the time, like a wavy disco on their back!

Flamboyant cuttlefish

Flamboyant cuttlefish

It looks like squid-man in the Pirates of the Caribbean, haha.

It looks like squid-man in the Pirates of the Caribbean, haha.

In bongo there where almost only Danish people, Virginia told us it was 26 people staying at Bongo Bongo of which 19 where Danish! Haha. Quite many. I mean, Denmark is a very small country! Haha. One of the owners of Bongo Bongo is a Danish guy, Magnus, and somehow when Danish people look for dive schools around Apo island, they find Bongo Bongo.

We stayed in Dauin for 6 nights, but we never really had a conversation with any of the Danish except for Magnus mother who where giving me a lot of compliments all the time hehe, and Stefan and his girlfriend. Stefan is doing his Dive Master there and staying for a couple of months. One day they arrived with groceries and we asked them where they had bought it, and they told us about a super market in the Robinson mall in Dumaguete, which we had passed on the way here.

Next day we took a jeepney for 15php per person to the Robinson mall and wow, it was a weird feeling, it felt like I was in Spain. First time we see a mall and a big super market in Philippines, we have only been in local markets and small kiosks. The mall had a lot of shops – clothes, jewelry, massage, a cinema and everything. But the super market was amazing. I was so happy to buy soya milk and cereal, kikos (like toasted corn, very typical from spain), wine and peanut butter, feta cheese, broccoli, kidney beans… It all ended up quite expensive though, about 2500php, but it was worth it. We had breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for the whole week.

The robinson shopping mall!

The robinson shopping mall!

At the mall.. playing some. Trying to get the portable wifi... I didn't. :(

At the mall.. playing some. Trying to get the portable wifi… I didn’t. :(

We got our Padi advanced books and chose which adventure dives we wanted to do for the course. To do the advanced open water you have to do 5 adventure dives. Obviously there are some which you can’t do in the Philippines, like the dry suit or the altitude diving. There are two obligatory ones – the Deep dive and the Navigation dive, and then we chose Peak performance buoyance dive, night dive and drift dive.

We went to Apo island to do the deep dive down to 30 m, where you also take with you a card with different color dots, and when you are 30m under you look at the card and write down what colors you see. The colors change in the depth, the red was dark brown and the orange was more of a light brown. At Apo island it was filled with corals and we saw a couple of big turtles, so cute!

Tiny jellyfishes everywhere!

Tiny jellyfishes everywhere!

Diving the wall and the cave

Diving the wall and the cave

 

Diving in Apo island

Diving in Apo island

The second dive at Apo island was the drift dive, we started at Coconut point, went down quickly all together in one place and drifted with the current to another place. You didn’t have to fin anything, just go along with the current, drifting from the entry point to the exit point. You see a lot on the way, but there isn’t time to get a close look at anything really haha. The boat picked us up at another point. I noticed that I have learnt to breath better, in the end of the dive I still had over 100 psi left, so we who had a little bit left dived under the boat for about other 15 minutes before ascending.

Big turtles! I love the turtles :)

Big turtles! I love the turtles :)

Plenty of sea snakes here!

Plenty of sea snakes here!

Diving. Love the formation of the coral!

Diving. Love the formation of the coral!

Apo island

Apo island

Another kind of nudy branch

Another kind of nudy branch


Then we did a third dive there, just a fun dive,
and I really enjoyed that one, we were only 3 divers and 2 dive masters, and it was very calm and we had time to observe and look at things calmly. After that we headed back to Daiun.

Diving in Apo island

Diving in Apo island

I call this the mushroom (kantarell)

I call this the mushroom coral (Visst påminner det om en kantarell?)

The broccoli corals ;)

The broccoli corals ;)

Blue sea star hugging the coral and the fish is just hanging out there

Blue sea star hugging the coral and the fish is just hanging out there

Sea cucumber with amazing pattern!

Sea cucumber with amazing pattern!

Corals. They look sharp!

Corals. They look sharp!

A huge nudy branch, like 30 cm!

A huge nudy branch, like 30 cm!

Logging in the dive book!

Logging in the dive book!

I was super tired when we got back home, after filling in our log books we decided to have dinner out.

We walked around a bit in Dauin looking for a mexican restaurant we had heard of but we never found it. But we got to see some of Dauin, which is very calm, and people are sooo friendly and genuin. They sit outside their houses and say ”hi! Good afternoon! Hello, how are you?” it’s really the feeling of a small little town where everybody knows each other.

We were surprised to see so many big mansions there though, they have huge colorful houses with big gardens and stuff, mixed with the neighboring house which was made of bamboo. And also; everywhere you see dogs, cows, roosters and even goats! You have to sleep with ear plugs, because they sound all night!

The streets of Daiun

The streets of Daiun

A mango tree. They wrap newspapers around them. Don't know if its from keeping them from birds or so they mature..

A mango tree. They wrap newspapers around them. Don’t know if its from keeping them from birds or so they mature..

We ended up having dinner at the Dive café around the corner of Bongo bongo, where we had our first breakfast before going to the mall. We met Soo who we had dived with earlier at Apo island today there. Apparently there was a buffet that night, eat all you can, and we never heard the price until after… 350 php per person!! Quite expensive… but we were very full after that haha. It was our most expensive dinner though.

Next day we did the Peak Performance Buoyance, and now I understand why everyone always look so surprised when we say we dive with 8kgs each (both me and Duilio). In the end we noticed we only need about 3 kgs each. We dived through some rings and did some hovering.

We also did the navigation dive with a compass, going straight ahead, doing a 180 degrees turn and getting back to the same point. I sort of missed a little bit there because I saw a crab going into the sand, and I turned around to see if Richard had seen it, and then I didn’t know where I had been heading the first time, so turning back got a little bit miss calculated. . We learned to count kick cycles and we clocked ourselves on 20m. It was fun. I was a little bit scared when I was going to do my square navigation, because we did it alone, and you have to change the bezel 90 degrees to do the square, and if you put it wrong you loose orientation, and I was afraid of getting lost alone, but I did it right and got back :) It took a while though since I went like 1 minute in each direction. But it was very cool!

Our last adventure dive was the night dive, we went in just when the sun was about to get down, with our lanterns. It was really cool, the colors change during night. We saw a huge squid, like 1 m! And we saw a sleeping turtle in a small cave. We dived around a sunken little boat where there were many lionfishes too. We did the dive with another Danish couple who where doing the advanced course, they had just done their open water course and now suddenly I was the most experienced one after Richard, haha, so I tried to had that in mind, but after getting kicked from the Danish girl like 5 different times in the head, I ended up pushing her body from me every time she approached and touched me. I don’t know if she couldn’t calculate distance or anything, but she could come from above you and doing a narrow descend just in front of you kicking with the fins on your tank and in the face, or trying to squeeze in between me and Richard even if it was only like 40 cm between us, so she pushed me to the side – but sometimes I couldn’t go to the side because there were corals there or something – so I had to just stop, stay still, hold my mask and regulator so they didn’t get kicked of, until she had hustled herself next to Richard, and then continue behind them. It happened so many times I couldn’t believe it, both me and Duilio where like ”WTF?!” haha.

We are both happy we did the advanced course after doing a few dives in-between, to get more out of it and understand more about yourself as a diver. Like Virgina, all though she is a little extreme haha, she is a super experienced diver with over 300 dives, but she didn’t do the advanced until a couple of weeks ago, haha. I think it would be good to have minimum 15 or 20 dives before doing the advanced at least. Richard has been great too, always happy and with a lot of energy. :)

After the night dive we celebrated that we were done with our advanced open water course with a nice dinner and wine – the one we had bought earlier at the super market– oh, it was so good!! I have missed to drink wine, haha. Wine here is very expensive compared to beer, but in the super market we found a bottle for 184 php, about 3-4 euros, from Argentina. We thought we’ll try it at least – and it was good! :)

Now I'm certified! Until I get my card home, I have this temporary card

Now I’m certified! Until I get my card home, I have this temporary card

Happy with being able to cook!

Happy with being able to cook!

We stayed one more day just relaxing, reading book in the hammock and having a pizza and a drink at a resort with a nice pool, and then we decided to move on a little bit earlier.

Chilling out at El Dominos resort, such a nice pool!

Chilling out at El Dominos resort, such a nice pool!

We ate breakfast calmly, packed our bags, donated the rest of our food to Monica and John from Spain and England that arrived yesterday, and took the jeepney to Dumaguete Market, for 15 php each, then a tricycle to the Pier for 17 php each. Quite much cheaper then how we got here! All though we had to be in a crowded hot jeepney for over an hour, but I like it, to do it the local way :) We also started talk to a Philipino in the jeepney that where living in Saudia Arabia since 9 years back, only visiting their home city for some vacations now, and they helped us with the tricycle to the Pier, so sweet.

Duilio in the jeepney, we sat in the middle on thin benches that you put up once the sides are full. 30 people in this small van!

Duilio in the jeepney, we sat in the middle on thin benches that you put up once the sides are full. 30 people in this small van!

The ocean jet ferry from Dumaguete to Tagbilarean in Bohol leaves 2 times a day, one at 7.30 and one 15.00, and cost 700php. There’s a terminal fee for 15php and then if you have a big backpack that you have to check in (only one hand luggage allowed), it costs 70php per bag. The check in is one hour earlier. We got here around 12, so we had plenty of time, but we enjoyed it in the cool waiting hall, the internet is quite fast here too. :)

I just have to write down how many compliments I get about my hair (dreads). It’s so funny, completely different from Europe. Just boarding the boat, three crew members said “Nice hair!” to me. One even asked if he cut have one dread, haha. But yeah, everywhere, just if we are passing by people by the street, they say it out loud. Adorable. I’m very happy with it. :)

Next stop: Bohol!

Snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Oslob, Cebu

After arriving in the airport in Cebu we went straight to Oslob. We were looking for a taxi to the southern bus terminal, where there are buses to Oslob.

In the airport the information desk said ”go down to the taxi station” but we went out instead, and found a taxi driver there instead. We had to walk about 5 minutes to the taxi though, but it’s a lot cheaper than taking it from the proper airport terminal.

We dealed a taxi to take us the whole way, mostly because there was a lot of traffic and we weren’t that keen on arriving in Oslob about 8 hours later, haha. It takes at least 1 hour to get to the bus terminal from the airport, and a lot of more hours with bus to Oslob. Instead we paid 2500php and it took about 3 hours to Oslob, of which 2 where just to get out of Cebu. And we passed by maaaany buses to Oslob along the way, so glad we had taken the taxi. :)

Cebu is a big city with a lot of vehicles and the highway consists of two lanes, one in each direction. This highway is also the only road along the villages on the way down to Oslob, so there are buses, cars, bicicles and tricycles on the road. It took forever. It’s actually just about 100 km away….

The drive was quite bumpy. Our driver wasn’t the best, it felt like he was the only one honking all the time. The sun went down and he had his high beam on all the time. I understand it’s easier to see the pedestrians along the sides, but he got a lot of angry signals from the meeting traffic. Every time we passed by a church he touched the cross hanging in the mirror and prayed.

We finally arrived around 8pm and we were hungry and quite tired. We stayed at Germaroze Guesthouse, and it was beautiful! A big house just by the sea, with a huge saloon with sofas and tables and framed family pictures of kids and grandchildren. It felt like we were at my grandmother’s house or something. The room was fantastic too, clean, with AC, nicely decorated and the best was the big and comfortable bed. We were just above the ocean so we could hear the waves super clearly too.

Our room at Germaroze Guesthouse, lovely! So confy bed!

Our room at Germaroze Guesthouse, lovely! So confy bed!

The saloon at Germaroze guesthouse

The saloon at Germaroze guesthouse

But before enjoying the bed we walked about 700m to the center of the town to find some food. Cute kids along the way waiving and saying ”Hiiii”, but the town center was really… nothing. This is a small town, it has around 25.000 habitants. There were some stands outside with food – but ONLY meat – a couple of kiosks and one restaurant – for the tourists I guess, and they had 1 vegetarian plate. The food and the beer were super cheap, half price from Coron and El Nido!

The town center of Oslob with the food stands

The town center of Oslob with the food stands

Having dinner at the only restaurant in Oslob. Duilio and the ass.

Having dinner at the only restaurant in Oslob. Duilio and the ass.

Then we finally enjoyed a couple of hours nice sleep before waking up at 5.30.
We had coffee and buns we got in the bakery last night and enjoyed the beautiful sunrise.

The sunrise at 6am at our hotel..

The sunrise at 6am at our hotel..

We took a tricycle from the guesthouse to Tan-Awan, about 10 kms to the south of Oslob, where you can snorkel with whale sharks.

Whale sharks and the largest known extant fish species, and they are friendly, slow-moving filter feeding sharks who mostly eat plankton.

We had a briefing about the rules – don’t go closer than 4 meters, don’t touch them, don’t use flash on the camera, don’t wear sun lotion etc. After the briefing you pay for your ticket (good, so everyone does the briefing first – but of course there’s always one or two stupid who have to disobey). After that you get your snorkel and then you jump into a small boat and go out to the ocean.

The rules

The rules

You have about 30 minutes to snorkel with whale sharks. And wow! Amaaaazing creatures. Local fishermen feed them there in the morning so there is a 99% possibility to see whale sharks. And we did! They are so cute! And really big. They can reach about 12 meters, but the ones we saw was about 4-6 meters I think, but still, only the mouth was like 1 meter wide.

We saw maybe 3 or 4 sharks, difficult to say since they weren’t all there at the same time.

Selfie with a whale shark!

Selfie with a whale shark!

Duilios selfie with the whale shark

Duilios selfie with the whale shark

So cute! Whale shark eating

So cute! Whale shark eating

This one passed just under me! huge!

This one passed just under me! huge!

Whale shark under our boat

Whale shark under our boat

There were many tourists around, it felt a little chaotic sometimes, especially one older man that had to go really close (not respecting the 4m distance at all) and take selfies. I’m both amazed and feel a little bit sad that this is a tourist attraction, but the whale sharks are free to come and go, and they come, so it can’t be too bad for them I hope.

For the town Oslob it has put it on the map though
, and you can see that there are many constructions going on around and new dive shops and hotels/guest houses opening.

The boats to the left are the snorkelers, and the ones to the right are the local fishermen giving food to the whale sharks

The boats to the left are the snorkelers, and the ones to the right are the local fishermen giving food to the whale sharks

We were finished about 7am in the morning, and took the same tricycle back – our driver Emanuel Luna who was very kind and chatty – waited for us during the whole time and guarded our bags :)

We had our second breakfast at the Germaroze guesthouse together with Dave and Lindsay from Holland who also did the snorkeling with us, and then we enjoyed our room a little longer, had a shower, packed our bags, slept a little bit – the check out wasn’t until 12 ;)

We checked out and took our bags and moved to the other side of the road waiting for the yellow Ceres bus going south down to Liloan. It passes by every 30 minutes and we waited for about 20 minutes, and you just wave at it for it to stop :) The bus ticket 32php each and took us to the southern tip of the Cebu island, from where we took a ferry over to Negros island for 62php each.

 

Next destination: Dauin, where we are going to dive and do the advanced open water diving course!

Puerto Princesa and The Underground River tour

We took a van from El Nido to Puerto Princesa for 500php each, it was a 6 hours drive to the south, give or take. The van was full. We only stopped once on the way for a 10 minute break (where I didn’t know how to go the toilet – it was so low – below my calves!). The van left us at the hotel we had booked – very close to the airport – Blue lagoon Inn & suits – we had decided to spoil ourselves a little for our two nights in Puerto Princesa.

We got bad news when we arrived though – we had booked the underground river tour through the agency at the hotel – and they informed us that we couldn’t do it because all the places had been booked already. They only allow 680 persons to do the underground river tour per day, and the only tickets they could give was to people who were actually having a flight out of Puerto Princesa the same day as the tour, and we had it next day at 15. We got very disappointed since we had booked it 2 days ago, and they didn’t tell us until we arrived. Which was the whole point of why we were going to Puerto Princesa.

The rooms were very clean and nice though, and they had a swimming pool there. The shower was great, we had AC and TV and everything. The beds were super and the pillows too.. but we were still quite annoyed and moody… I had still problems with my stomach, diarrhea and gases making me vomit etc.. So I didn’t really feel like doing the town either. We went out for dinner in the area (well, Duilio ate mostly). The town is nice, quite big, lot’s of people and stores, but still not crazy like a big town, there are plenty of trees and it’s quite relaxed.

Our room and porch at Blue Lagoon :)

Our room and porch at Blue Lagoon :)

Puerto Princesa is a nice and cozy big town, surprisingly calm. :)

Puerto Princesa is a nice and cozy big town, surprisingly calm. :)

Having dinner out in Puerto Princesa.

Having dinner out in Puerto Princesa.

Then around 9pm I get a text from the staff at the hotel, asking us if we really want to do the underground river tour. Yes we say. And they say ”because we would need to change your flight date..” hehehe. So we e-mailed them our boarding pass and they changed the date for us, so we could do the tour. So we were happy again – but we didn’t dare to have many expectations we actually sat in the boat on our way in! Haha.

Next morning a van picked me and Duilio and six Vietnamese guys up from the hotel and drove to Sabang, about 2 hours away – 80 km to the north. We all fell asleep. Haha. Once in Sabang we had to wait about 1 hour until it was our turn to take a boat to where the underground river starts.

The words of wisdom at the entrance of the national park

The words of wisdom at the entrance of the national park

The beach of Sabang. Looks like it's going to be bad weather, but it never came!

The beach of Sabang. Looks like it’s going to be bad weather, but it never came!

We had a very sweet boat captain, who told us about the rules ”no smoking, no littering, no bathing”, and who later we saw at the beach picking up rubbish that was coming in from the sea. Super cute. He left us at this other place where we had to wait there again for about 1 hour more because it was so crowded. Luckily our tour guide at this place somehow arranged so that we could do the tour just after 20 or 30 minutes. We got some audio guide things and then we boarded a rowing boat taking us to the underground river. Now we were actually ”yay!!! We ARE going to see the underground river!!” :)

Our boat captain :) He has a stick down to the back to stear the motor

Our boat captain :) He has a stick down to the back to stear the motor

Our boat captain (he is so tiny!) picking up trash on the beach

Our boat captain (he is so tiny!) picking up trash on the beach

It was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999 and in the end of 2011, Puerto Princesa Underground River was chosen as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. The underground river cave is more than 24 km long and contains a 8,2 km long underground section of the Cabayugan River. It’s is navigable by boat up to 4.3 km from the sea.

We were not allowed to speak inside the cave, we all had earphones with audio guide and the boat-guide who where paddling the boat used his flash head to point the things the audio guide talked about.

Got our audioguides, me in english and Duilio in spanish :)

Got our audioguides, me in english and Duilio in spanish :)

In the boat on our way into the underground river tour!

In the boat on our way into the underground river tour!

On our way into the underground river tour!!

On our way into the underground river tour!!

It was quite breath taking! It has many formations of limestone, and several large chambers and cave, one up to 65 m high, and the rock formations are quite unique. One formation sort of look like Jesus, then another like an angel, another like a woman, another like an eggplant etc. You can really use your imagination there.

And there were sooooo many bats there! Everywhere. We had to wear helmets and was told to keep our mouths closed, because we can either get bat-shit in our mouths but the limestone rocks are dripping and can be toxic. It was over all a cool experience, all though the tour only lasted for about 30-45 minutes or so.

Inside the underground river

Inside the underground river

the limestone has formed sculptures, these ones lookes like father joseph and mother maria

the limestone has formed sculptures, these ones lookes like father joseph and mother maria

JESUS IS TRAPPED IN THE CAVE!

JESUS IS TRAPPED IN THE CAVE!

So many bats!

So many bats! All the black dots there are bats!

Then we took the boat back to Sabang where we had lunch in a local restaurant our tour guide had arranged for us, and that was included in the tour. They had a buffét there, and even made me a own plate of vegetables for being vegetarian, so sweet. Then they had a live band, it was called ”The disables musicians”, and we tipped them 100 pesos. They played and sang nice songs, with Bob Marley, UB40 etc.

The lunch buffet :)

The lunch buffet :)

The disables musicians :)

The disables musicians :)

Then we started our journey back. We weren’t back until 16.30, and our plane was supposed to leave 15.20, so yeah, I’m glad we didn’t have the flight the same day!

We enjoyed the afternoon in the pool, which was hotter than the air, I was reading the book in the pool and feeling relaxed (all though with still with some stomach issues). We had dinner there at the hotel too and some drinks :)

Ah! This is life! Completely relax!

Ah! This is life! Completely relax!

Enjoying an afternoon dip into the hotel pool! :)

Enjoying an afternoon dip into the hotel pool! :)

My really good chocolate icecream shake at Blue lagoon

My really good chocolate icecream shake at Blue lagoon

Next morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel and then again some pool before packing our bags. Since I’m a genius member at booking.com, we have 2 extra hours for check out, so instead of checking out at 11, we could check out at 13. :) Perfect! We paid in the end of our stay, so for 2 people and for 2 nights at this nice hotel with pool, 2 breakfasts each, 1 dinner each, some snacks and drinks and 2 underground river tour with lunch, we paid a total of 7260 php (150 usd/euro). A little bit of a splurge, but quite ok! :)

We got a free ride from the hotel to the airport, about 3 minutes away, paid the airport tax, bought our first Philippinean souvenir, and then flew from Puerto Princesa to Cebu on the other side of the Philippines, took about 1,5 hours. Duilio wasn’t as happy with this airline (Cebu pacific airlines) as with the one from Manila to Coron (Philippine airlines) – because we didn’t get any free snack on the plane, haha.

 

Chilling out in El Nido, Palawan

We arrived in El nido, Palawan, around 14 with the ferry boat from Coron. The ride went well, as said in my previous post. We were quite hungry, at least me, since they didn’t serve anything vegetarian on the boat, so I had plain rice only.

Our first impression of the small coastal town El Nido was that it was more calm here, and a much more organized town than Coron. It feels like there’s less traffic, at least the noise is lower (seems like they have quieter tricycles here), and with pedestrian streets on the sides. There are a few trafficked roads and narrow alleys connecting the roads, kind of making small squares in the town, where no cars or motos can go and there are only small shops and restaurants there.

We had lunch at a pizzeria and pasta place. I had a vegetarian pizza, and it was surprisingly good! Then we took a tricycle to Corong Corong where we had rented a beach cottage. It’s about 10-15 min away with tricycle, in a quieter place. The ride was only 50 php there!

Me with my very tasty vegetarian pizza!

Me with my very tasty vegetarian pizza! And the local philippine beer, red horse, of course. :)


We are staying at Arbor Beach Cottages in Sitio Lugadia,
and paying about 8400 php for 5 nights with breakfast and wifi (about 30 USD/euros per nigh). It’s quite expensive for being Philippines, and also for the standard of the cottage, but it was one of the cheaper options for a cottage close to the beach here in el Nido. This place only has 2 cottages, and we have about 10m to the beach, and a swing just beside where I like to sit and read my book in the mornings. :) Also the sunsets are just beautiful from here!!

Our room at Beach cottages. Basic, but enough :)

Our room at Beach cottages. Basic, but enough :)

In our porch just by the beach in Corong Corong!

In our porch just by the beach in Corong Corong!

Sitting in the swing outside our cottage just by the beach.... Love it!

Sitting in the swing outside our cottage just by the beach…. Love it!

The two rooms at Arbor Beach Cottages :)

The two rooms at Arbor Beach Cottages :)

Duilio watching the sunset from Arbor Beach cottages

Duilio watching the sunset from Arbor Beach cottages

The breakfast is good also, Mark who is our host and very sweet, comes with it in a cute picnic basket every morning. We had pancakes the first day, they were huge – very thick but good! Really filling. Another day I tried an omelette and Duilio had eggs and bacon, but we were hungry again after a few hours, so after that we sticked with pancakes every morning, haha. We love to have it on our porch! :) We actually love to just hang out here… We got quite lazy haha.

Yummy Pancakes! Mark does them really fluffy and thick - makes me full for half a day!

Yummy Pancakes! Mark does them really fluffy and thick – makes me full for half a day!

Breakfast at our porch

Breakfast at our porch

We really just wanted to have a tranquil place, and the location is perfect. We thought it was going to be more remote, but there’s plenty of things going on in the area. We have “Happiness beach bar” just besides us, but the noise isn’t bothering at all, and they close at 22. They have great food, with many veg options like falafel and hummus with pita bread and that sort of Arabic/Lebanese food.

Having some different sauses and hummus with falafel and pitabread at "Happiness beach bar", about 2 meters from us ;)

Having some different tapas and hummus with falafel and pitabread at ”Happiness beach bar”, about 2 meters from us ;)

With Guillermo, Candela and Vicente from Spain that we met on different occasions. Having something to drink at the beach bar :)

Another night with Guillermo, Candela and Vicente from Spain that we met on different occasions. Having something to drink at the beach bar :)

A couple of hundred meters to the other side there’s a bar called La Republica which is on the hill with a stunning view over the bay and perfect to watch the sunset. A spanish guy is running it, and the menu is a typical spanish tapas menu, with ”tortilla de patatas” ”gazpacho” ”patatas bravas con aioli” ”sangria” ”tinto de verano” and many other. I’ve tried all the vegetarian ones :) Hehe. We arrived quite early one day and just stayed there for a couple of hours, it got really crowded when the sun is about to go down!

Enjoying some tortilla de patata and tinto de verano with this amazing view over the bay at bar republica!

Enjoying some ”tortilla de patata” and ”tinto de verano” with this amazing view over the bay at bar republica! All alone :)

Sunset view

Sunset view from the bar

When there is sunset it gets really crowded! Good we were here on time ;)

When there is sunset it gets really crowded! Good we were here on time ;)

If we walk on the ”highway road” on the hill above the beach towards el Nido town, there are also quite many shops, tour companies, hotels etc, so basically you have everything you need here. We arranged a tour through Mark here in our accommodation one day, and it goes from the town, but that’s the only time we have actually been there.

We tried ”tour C”, and honestly, it was quite bad. First we had to wait a couple of hours with no info of why, we just stood there waiting until we could board, and then we sat there waiting until we left… we left about 10.30 from the bay. Not at all as arranged as in Coron. We had to go in the water to get to the boat, with water up to our chests; they don’t have a pier or anything.

Put your backpacks on the head and walk to the boat!

Put your backpacks on the head and walk to the boat!

Then we were many in our group, like 15 or 20 people, and the guide wasn’t around the first hour because he jumped on the boat on another island, so we didn’t get any introduction to the tour our each other. The only ones we talked to during the whole day was another Spanish couple, Vicente and Valeria, and we hung out during the day and later at night haha.

The guide didn’t actually tell us much about the places we visited, just ”this is the hidden beach, bring your flipflops because it’s rocky on your way there” and that kind of information. … And the places weren’t that spectacular; they all looked sort of the same.

We visited Matinloc Shrine, the hidden beach, star beach, helicopter island and then we were supposed to visit the secret beach… And it was the only place we were really looking forward to see, but we couldn’t :(

Helicopter island. Looks like an helicopter from above. But from below it looked more like a whale..

Helicopter island. Looks like an helicopter from above. But from below it looked more like a whale..

The secret beach

The hidden beach

Duilio the allmighty...

Duilio the allmighty…

Nice lunch buffét!!

Nice lunch buffét!!

hanging out on the boat with Vicente and Valeria from Spain

hanging out on the boat with Vicente and Valeria from Spain

View from the top of the last location

View from the top of the last location

To bad we couldn’t visit the Secret beach on Matinloc island, it was there which Alex Garland wrote a book about during his 6 months here in Palawan, and that inspired the movie ”The Beach” (with Leonardo Dicaprio) which was based on this secret backpackers paradise. But the movie didn’t get the rights to film in the Philippines because they didn’t want to destroy it with tourism, so the movie was shot on the Phi Phi islands in Thailand instead.

Anyhow, you can only reach it through a whole in the rocks, like a cave, but the sea was so turbulent and there was a lot of waves and current, so we couldn’t go there because it’s dangerous. Instead we went to a small place on the other side of the lake… not that remarkable at all.

We still enjoyed to be seeing the surroundings, but we would have probably enjoyed to take the tour A instead. Valeria and Vicente had done it the day before and showed us pictures and it looked amazing. We then found out about a place that sort of do that tour, but on a stand up paddle instead, which we wanted to do. We found the office but the ”business was closed for this week to arrange some things” – so then we just didn’t do any more tour.

One day we walked from our cottage southwards along the beach and the rocky sides (low tie) until we reached Marimegmeg beach and las cabañas, beautiful!

Walking along the rocks and the beach, easy when there's a low tide :)

Walking along the rocks and the beach, easy when there’s a low tide :)

We walked by a beach where they were burning some trees they had cut down, building something there..

We walked by a beach where they were burning some trees they had cut down, building something there..

Marimegmeg beach

Marimegmeg beach

Marimegmeg and las Cabañas, where you can do zipline

Marimegmeg and las Cabañas, where you can do zipline

We got a text from another spanish couple that we had met at Bar Republica the day before, and they were planning on renting some scooters and driving to Pacnan beach about 20 kms to the north, so we joined. We found a scooter at ”Islandfront Cottages” close to where we live in Corong corong, and since it was around noon, we only paid 400 php for a half day, but we had to return them at 18.30. Guillermo and Candela, couldn’t find any cheaper than 600 in el Nido town where they were staying, so they took a tricycle to Corong corong to rent it from the same place too, haha.

Then we started our journey! The streets are really good, we passed by small villages along the way, rice terraces, school kids, and lot’s of green and beautiful scenery.

Rented scooters and drove to the north :)

Rented scooters and drove to the north :)

Then the good road ended, and we got to construction work and bumpy and sandy roads. Since we had to go slow there, a lot of kids walking the same road reached out there hands so we could make a ”high five” with them, but sometimes they actually grabbed onto your hand and wouldn’t let go and run besides the moto, haha. It was really close that we would fall, since it was like beachy sand on the road. Maybe the kids have a challenge within the group of other local kids there ”how many tourists did you throw out of the moto today?” haha.

We arrived the Nacpan beach, it costed 50 php in a tourist fee. The beach was amazing, reaaally long beach and almost empty. We found some hammocks under some palm trees, and there was one guy in the tree cutting down coco nuts, and I had one for 50php. :)

Yes, there's a man in the palm tree there taking down coconuts :)

Yes, there’s a man in the palm tree there taking down coconuts :)

This is life!! Having a coconut from the tree above and drinking it in the hammock while listening to the waves....

This is life!! Having a coconut from the tree above and drinking it in the hammock while listening to the waves….

Hanging out at Nacpan beach - lovely!

Hanging out at Nacpan beach – lovely!

There were a few restaurants there with about the half price of food as in the other places we have around our accommodation, so we were happy. Me and Duilio got our food quite fast, it was really good, but Guillermo and Candelas food was probably forgotten, because we reminded them 2 times and it took 2 hours for them to get the food! Well well. This is a place where you should go to early in the morning to really enjoy a full day there. After lunch we hung out in the hammocks again. Love them!

Having lunch at Nacpan with Guillermo and Candela

Having lunch at Nacpan with Guillermo and Candela

Ahhhh... this is life! Again. I just can't get enough of these hammocks!

Ahhhh… this is life! Again. I just can’t get enough of these hammocks!

Reading a book in the hammock.... heheh.

Reading a book in the hammock…. heheh.

Riding back from Nacpan beach to Corong Corong... happy with our day!

Riding back from Nacpan beach to Corong Corong… happy with our day!

 

Our last day we were super tired and a little bit bad in our stomachs, so we just hung out at our beach and the porch for the whole day, haha. We saw our last beautiful sunset here in Corong corong, as always, lovely.

Anyhow. Now we have been 5 days in El Nido. As said we haven’t done so much island hoping, but we have enjoyed our time here as true vacations, eating and drinking good and watching all the beautiful sunsets by the beach.

Enjoying the last sunset from our beach.

Enjoying the last sunset from our beach.

 

Next destination: Puerto Princesa!