(When I started writing this, we were in Bohol. Now we’re in Dumaguete, a tale that will come shortly.)
We’re in Bohol, an interim stop before we spend a couple of days in Dumaguete.
We arrived in Bohol yesterday via Cebu. We took a “fast cat” boat here, which is like a ferry, but all enclosed. It appears to be a pretty common way to get from island to island.
Yesterday we arrived around 2PM and headed straight to the tarsier sanctuary. From there we saw the chocolate hills, which were cool, but the pictures make it look a bit more exciting than they are in real life. We climbed 250 stairs and then had a pretty decent view of the hills.
Today is the first day that we’ve had good sun and spent a lot of time outside. It’s only noon here, but we’ve been up since 6am to go snorkeling at Balicasag. Snorkeling was awesome – tons of fish and tons of coral.
— BEGIN POST PART 2 —
We checked out of the hotel around 1PM and went to get lunch and kill time before our Fast Cat ride to Dumaguete, which was supposed to leave Bohol at 5PM.
Insert big sigh here.
When we got to the port at 4, we were told that there was a problem with the boat and that they canceled the trip to Dumaguete. Since there are only 2 trips to Dumaguete from Tagbalaron (where Bohol is) per day (morning and evening), we were pretty much out of luck and out of hope to get to Dumaguete last evening. We had 2 options, go to Dumaguete on the 8AM Fast Cat the following morning, or take the 2AM ferry, arriving in from Manila, headed to Dumaguete.
We opted for the 2AM because we wanted to get to Dumaguete early (we had non-refundable hotel arrangements and wanted to dive this morning). Luckily, we found out about the boat cancellation while the driver was waiting, so we reloaded the van and headed (very annoyed) to a nearby hotel to rest until the driver picked us up at midnight.
Sleepless in the Philippines adventures start now…
The ferry ride to Dumaguete at 2AM was both an exercise in patience and an extremely eye-opening, experience the true Filipino culture, kind of moment.
As I mentioned, the ferry arrived at the port from Manila, where it had been traveling for (J’s cousin said) about 12 hours. Let me try to recreate an image for you.
1000’s of people (it seemed that way, I’m sure it was more like 500) sleeping in cots all over the cruise ship sized boat, with balikbayan boxes to the ceiling. People were mostly asleep when we boarded at 1AM, which made me feel like I was intruding on someone’s (very large) sleepover. To get to the bathroom, which was like a porta-potty on a busy parade route at best, I had to climb over kids, shoes, boxes, etc…at one point I looked at J and said, “is that a rooster”? I’m not kidding. He said, “I don’t know, but there’s karaoke going on downstairs”. Ya, still not kidding.
After not sleeping a wink all night, getting off the boat this morning (at 5AM) was an adventure in itself. I decided not to push and shove with everyone else (even though I REALLY wanted off that boat) and just watch as culture literally passed me by. It was chaos. Porters, shitloads of boxes…roosters (I might be making that up, but I SWEAR I heard one)….I took pictures of all of this, but it’s too hard to try to get pictures from the iPad into my blog (I actually haven’t tried, but I’m just asking you to be a little creative here…).
Anyway, we made it to Dumaguete, checked into our resort and immediately headed to breakfast. Who knew mango french toast could taste so delicious?
(I know that this is getting long, but stay with me… the crazy is almost over….)
J’s cousin had called the resort yesterday to make scuba diving arrangements because we wanted to dive at Apo island, which is a 25 minute boat ride away (same as Bohol to Balicasag the day before).
Remember how I was scared out of my mind to go diving before the trip? And this morning, when I cried to J (partly out of nerves, partly out of exhaustion)? We did 2 dives today. Seriously, go me!! I was initially really nervous, but calmed down enough to stay at 60+ feet for 35 minutes on the first dive and 40 minutes on the second. My second dive was better than the first, but both were good.
A highlight of the dives (aside from survival:)) were the sea turtles, which were huge and so freaking cool! Marine life is pretty damn awesome to experience (when not checking my pressure gauge every 2 minutes to make sure I still have air :)). I kept thinking, “no one put that there” “or there” “whoa, clown fish!”.
Right now we’re resting in hammocks and will go down to the pool in a bit, then dinner. Even though it took us 12 more hours than planned to get here, we’re here and everything is good. Tomorrow we’re headed back to Manila for the night and then our 3 days of paradise start in El Nido.
I’m really glad we came. I’m really glad that we’re experiencing some true Filipino culture, food, and events…and I’m happy to be traveling by plane for the next couple of days :).
Updated with a few dive pics: