Panglao, A beautiful place for holiday makers

 

From Oslob all you have to do is book a 2 hour ferry to Bohol, if you let your hostel know then most of the time they can book it for you. If only it was that painless. From our hostel we took a tricycle down to the port, and then boarded the boat from there. After waiting about 20 to 30 minutes they told us that we all had to get off so that they could push the boat further out because the tide had become too low and we were beached. Once we all got off they started pushing all the male passengers also decided to help push. After about 30 minutes of pushing they got the boat far enough out to be able to take off, so once again we boarded now soaking wet. Some 2 hours later Bohol was finally in sight, only it seems like we were slowing down way too far out from the shore. They then let us know that we will be taking another smaller boat that will get us closer, but then we will have to muck through about 200m of shallow water with hidden holes and urchins… great. So after about 10 minutes of careful walking to avoid urchins and star fish I decided that I wanted to pick up the pace, only to fall into a hole filled with urchins a minute later. Back to the slow crawl, finally we reached the beach. We then discovered that we needed to take a jeepney to the actual part of the town, another 200 pesos later and we were lost in town. After going to 3 bars asking about a hammock hostel we finally found it, however it was truly only hammocks to sleep on, James and I decided that there was no way we could get any sleep there so we ventured out to find an actual bed. It had gotten too late at this time so we settled on a hotel called Chill Out Hotel, it was nice but there were a lot of hidden fees, no breakfast, and slightly out of the way. The next morning, we went up to the main street and stayed at the Citadel Hotel, the rooms were decent and it was only 600 pesos for a double room, and it was right on the main road with Lone Star bar across the street.

After settling in on the first night we walked around, and Panglao is really only a place where Korean and Chinese holiday makers come. The prices were a bit jolting here, after living so cheap for a few weeks. We decided on the bar Aluna, good music pulled us in and cheap drinks kept us there. The staff were all awesome and accommodating, they even let us put on our own music. After a few drinks and dancing we ventured home. In the morning we were famished, and on the hunt for a good breakfast. We stumbled upon Nakitas because of the great lunch deal, only 180 pesos for a drink and a 12 inch pizza.  The staff are all great there, as well as the food but it was the owner, a tall English man who kept us coming back. The morning after, we came and James had a proper English breakfast (toast topped with egg, cheese, and beans) and I had the corned beef, rice, and an egg. After a few days of eating breakfast here every morning he even helped us get the ferry to Cebu City, gave us a great motorbike recommendation, and gave us a great itinerary to make our own tour of the chocolate hills.  One thing to note about food is to only order Filipino dishes from most restaurants, I made this mistake and ordered a burrito only to be served some spicy chicken wrapped in a hard tortilla topped with ketchup. As an avid burrito consumer and a hater of ketchup this was disgusting to me, but I really should’ve just ordered one of the many delicious Filipino dishes.

A few days in James and I decided we couldn’t sit on the beach drinking beers anymore (a really tough life but someone has to do it) so we headed to rent a motorbike and then off to the chocolate hills. We first went to a remote hill that was great, but definitely nothing to write home about. We then travelled about 30 minutes to the hanging bridges, the entry was about 20 pesos and it was quite beautiful. There are two bridges made of bamboo with steel cables underneath that go over the turquoise river. Once you’re across the first one there are many vendors selling shirts, trinkets, and also a man who claims that he can open a coconut with his teeth for only 500 pesos. We didn’t end up paying to see this but my curiosity was definitely peaked. Our next stop was the chocolate hills, however on your way there you run into two adventure parks that feature zip-lining. We really wanted to do this, but we know Neil also wanted to do it so we thought we would wait, only to be too hungover to go the next day. The sights were all very nice, but the drive was one of the highlights. Beautiful sprawling rice paddies, thick lush forests, and hills that you would only see in Jurassic Park. The chocolate hills were beautiful, there are two viewing decks one that you first pull up to, and then up a few flights of stairs there is another deck which is really the only one you should spend time on. After we had, had enough we had a simple lunch and gelato and then headed to the tarsier sanctuary. I didn’t realize how small the tarsier is until I saw them in person. They are the cutest little primates, they have long tails and the tiniest little hands. While in the sanctuary you see 8 of them, they actually have many more but the mini primate is very territorial so they have to keep them spread apart. After the tarsiers we headed back to Panglao.

Some quick showers later and we went to Lone Star bar because when we rented the motorbike they gave us some free drink vouchers. We met the owner Mike, an Aussie who coaches rugby and boxes. Definitely not a guy you would want to cross, but fortunately we were on his good side. After a long chat and a mojito, he started ordering shots of Sambuca for us. One free drink turned into many free shots and San Miguel Lites. After Lone Star closed around 1 am, we stumbled down to Aluna bar and had one drink since they were closing, and then went to Bamboo. Bamboo is open pretty much 24/7 and smells like a frat house. Not the best when you’re sober, but too much fun while you’re drinking. Free shots of 20 year old rum from an Italian chef promising to teach you how to make pasta, and fighting lady boys, what else could you need from a 24/7 bar?! Around 7 am we stumbled home, and prepared for a horrid hungover day. Since we had the motorbike for another day we decided to use it and went out to the cave very close by, I cant recall the name but it was definitely something to go see. If you pay a few more pesos you’re able to swim in the lagoon in the cave and its worth every peso. The water is cold, but a perfect place to spend a hungover day.

After the blowout night James and I decided it was time to move on, so we did some research and decided on Malapascua. A beautiful island that would be perfect for me to do my open water course, and his rescue diver course. After a chat with Neil it became evident that he wanted to stay there for a few more days, but he was to meet us there.

We left around 8pm to catch the overnight ferry to Cebu, however that one was sold out so we had to take a 2 hour bus to a different port and then boarded the midnight ferry. After a very very sweaty ride and little sleep we got off around 5:30 to head to the bus station. After asking many workers at the port they told us to take a bus Bantanyan Island and then a ferry to Malapascua. If you are to go to Malapascua take the bus from Cebu to Maya Port then a ferry from Maya to Malapascua. This route is much shorter and cheaper if you can make one of the public boats which operate until 3pm. If you go this way, then it should only cost around 1000 pesos and 15 hours to get there.

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Hanging Bridges

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Chocolate hills on the lower deck

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James & I on the upper deck at the chocolate hills

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Tarsier sanctuary

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Tarsier Sanctuary

 

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