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!

Annonser

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 :)