Philippines 2009 — my second trip

Start of travels:May 31, 2009 End of travels:May 25, 2009

After my last trip to the Philippines we almost immediately began planning a second trip. This time we want to see a few more places, but also spend some more time with Allan’s family and attend the town’s Fiesta.

We spend much of our time in Aklan visiting around Lezo and around Kalibo area, but we also went to Cebu, Bohol, Boracay and Manila.

Lots to read, plenty of pictures and videos. Please leave comments..if you have been to any of these places I would be interested in hearing your experiences too.

Toronto to Seoul to Manila

Seoul, Korea Rep.
 Friday, May 1, 2009

Got on the plane about 11:30pm and found my seat. Korean airline boards by little coloured cards. You better not stand up if you have the wrong colour. I was yellow which put me fairly close to the front of the plane. Behind first class. I am sitting beside two ladies who are also heading to the Phillipines. There are actually quite a few Pinoy on the plane so my long wait in Seoul will not be all by myself.

This leg of the trip is almost 14 hours. They did tell us when we first booked that there was no entertainment system. But there is. So I an starting with Paul blart mall cop.

It’s now 12:32 am. Eastern time

At 1 am we got a nice orange juice and I can smell food cooking. Sooo hungry. But where is the booze?

1:23 am. Paul blart is kicking ass and dinner is about to be served.

1:49am. Dinner is done: a korean chichen dish with potato and some squash type thing. Pretty good.

Also a nice cucumber salad and some yellowish cake.

I had planned on a picture of all my meals but I forgot. So I took a picture of the remainder. LOL couple of glasses of wine, coffee and I am satisfied. Now I have to pee. LOL.

It’s 2:38am. Getting sleepy now. Skymap says we are over Manitoba at 32000 feet. And we are 5969 miles to Seoul. Actually over northern Manitoba. Let me reach to the window and wave to Daryl and Stacy in Thompson. Hi guys.

4:40 am. Skymap shows us to be over the Yukon. Not out of Canada yet.

Interesting thing about this airlines service. When I got to my seat there was a pillow, blanket, bottle of water and a pouch that contained a pair of socks and eye mask. Air Canada doesn’t do that, but then again Air Canada fills you full of booze on an overseas trip. Not sure what I like better.

Sleepy but not sleeping well. But it’s dark in here and I should go back to the iPod and catch another 40 winks.

A little bit of turbulence wakes me up at 6:57 am. Slept through the movie I was playing. According to skymap we are over the Bering sea right now. I slept through Alaska and did not get the chance to wave at Sarah Palin. 3600 miles till Korea so about half way.

A light snack at 7:30. A turkey sandwich. A bit stale, but ok, and a cold banana. More juice. Actually just what I needed. The little headache that had been nagging me went away. My seatmates, two ladies also heading to Manila wanted to know where I was going. And when they found out it was Kalibo a lively debate ensued between them and the row behind us, eventually deciding I had a girl friend there.
LOL

8:30 am. Skymap puts us over the Bering sea almost over Russian waters.

We have crossed the international date line. I decided to just use eastern time for this post as Philippine time is exactly 12. hours ahead of home so the numbers still work.

After napping through another movie ( tear jerker Marley and Me) we now have three hours and sixteen minutes to go before the first leg lands. We are over the Sea of Okhotsk not far from Sapporo Japan. Maybe someone can toss up a Sapporo beer!

Breakfast was nice. Omelette and tater tots. My other choice was Korean porridge. Now at 12:30 pm everyone is awake and the flight attendants are selling duty free. We are just leaving japan airspace and. Soon will be over the sea of japan. Only 90 minutes for this leg of the trip.

Not that I actually get to see the country, but this will be my first time in Korea.

Once we arrived at the airport everyone was screened for Swine Flu. I passed, so everyone out there that calls me a pig, the Korean government says you’re wrong.

It’s a nice airport, and free internet, so I can do my blog and get it started. Next stop, in 8 hours, Manila!!

Comments

Hey Kev!!!
 How ya doin? A good friend of mine spent a year or so in Manila just a couple of years ago. He LOVED it there (it was job-related). He lives in Ontario also. I hope you enjoy it as much as he did! 
 
Snowy From snowybwm, on May 1, 2009 at 08:23PM

your seat mates
 hey kevin, sounds like your trip is going fine. and, you ended up with 2 old sweeties next to ya! at least they spoke. sometimes, people just never bother to say a word. that makes for a borng trip. hope you got a good nap. trip really sounds long, i don’t know if i could be closed in that long. 
oh! by the way! burton heard you were gone, so he thought it would be safe to post concert dates. lmao! i hope you know i’m joking. enjoy dear friend. i hope your trip is all you hoped it would be. 
 all my love to you and allan 
 lillian From lilldutchie1948, on May 2, 2009 at 03:58AM

14 hours
 I can’t imagine 14 hours on a plane….lol…must have been both boring and exciting…. 
 
Bill From carguycda69, on May 2, 2009 at 04:40AM

cold banana
 That made me laugh. You never know how ingrained some expectations are sometimes till you get something totally different. A cold banana, now that just isn’t right! LOL 
Good blog, Kevin. I’m looking forward to more. 
Nancy (in Kentucky still, Toronto tonight) From nancy178, on May 3, 2009 at 03:50PM

A pleasant boarding on flight 621 to Manila. Korean airline is not fancy but the service is good. We were in the air by 730 Seoul time and we land at 11:10 Manila time. Breakfast will be served shortly, I hope.

My seatmate this time is a 20 something Pinoy who is studying accounting in. Mississauga. We are both waiting to be fed so we can nap.

Lunch came at 9 am. It was a Korean dish with a variety of steamed vegys that you mixed with a hot paste and steamed rice. Pretty tasty and also filling. It also came with seaweed soup and a rice cake dessert. Not really breakfast food but tasty nonetheless.

I had a nice nap waiting for the meal. We land in Manila in about 100 minutes.

Getting off the plane in Manila at terminal one we walked to the customs area. Again we were swine flu scanned but this time there was a thermal camera pointed at us so there was no delay.

I stopped at the duty free to pick up some drink for Allan, but they did not sell vodka or rum at this shop. They directed me to one by the doors.

Next I followed the group to customs where I got in the visitor line. In front of me were two young guys, one tattooed and looking at bit like a bum and the other looking like an Abercrombie & Fitch model. They were from Sweden and were heading to Boracay for the nightlife and diving
Very personable guys.

Customs went well and I went to collect my baggage. The bags wer there ok but I did notice it was a bit worse for wear. Then from the baggage carousel through another customs screening for baggage and I am officially in the Philippines.

I found the other duty free and made Allan’s purchases. When I was loading the purchases into my baggage I noticed that the lock was missing. And it seemed lighter. Is something missing? Well not much I can do if there is. All I know for sure is a bottle of Tylenol I had bought was scattered and it had never been opened when I left.

So I headed out to the shuttle and it was full. So I waited for the next one.

When it came the driver did not want to go to terminal three as he has not had lunch. So after another 20 minute or so wait I got on a shuttle.

We toured past terminal to to the old domestic terminal ( which is where I thought I was to get off). Apparently not as we kept on going to the new terminal three. I got off the shuttle while the driver was unloading my bags to ask the porter if indeed I was in the right place. He assured me I was and I turned to get my other carry on. And the shuttle was pulling away! The porter ran after the shuttle but to no avail. He told me to wait there and he ran into the terminal to call someone. He came out and said he had called the shuttle office. In the meantime two other airport officer both came out to ask me about it and keep me calm.

All was thinking was first my bag gets rifled through. And now this. After 40 anxious minutes the shuttle came back and the driver had the bag right beside him. He apologized profusely. I then went looking for the first porter to help me and found him by the front doors. I thanked him again and went to tip him handsomely; he really was my hero of the day. He at first refused but the security guard convinced him to take the money, saying he deserved it. Tragedy adverted!!

And my faith in people reestablished.

The trip into a Filipino airport is an adventure in itself. First as you enter you show your ticket and all your baggage goes through xray. Not sure why because the woman manning the xray was so bored she was not even watching the screen Then after finding another cart for all the luggage I was off to check in. Showing my ticket to yet another security guard I was directed to the line I was supposed to be in. The girl at the gate was very nice…even when she was telling me how much extra I would have to pay for overweight baggage (Korean airlines allows two 70 lbs bags — Cebu pacific allows 30 of all together.

So 1400 pesos later. (about 60 cdn) however she did not charge me for the carry on. Which I am sure was also overweight. Then you head off to get your body weighed. Holding your carry on you are asked to get on a scale. Not sure why, except may they are trying to figure out the full weight on the plane for fueling reasons. I did make the lady there promise to keep my weight secret, its a state secret.

Then past another security checkpoint where we had to show boarding passes to the cashier to pay the terminal fee. Another 200 pesos. Then to another checkpoint. Not sure what this one was for. We gave our terminal fee ticket and boarding pass to a guy who tore off part of the fee ticket and stamped little circles on my boarding pass.

Then on to more security. This time the traditional check. Shoes off and baggage on the conveyor. As I crossed through the metal detectors flashbacks of my last time in 2007 flashed. They make you stand on a box and frisk you. But I was cleared without being asked for a souvenir.

Once through security I walked through and got a bottle of water, after all that happen I was just parched. It was 50 pesos, a bit expensive, but I really needed it. I walked over to the gate, which of course was the very last gate as far as I could possibly walk. It was terribly crowded so I found a spot on the floor and sat for a while, writing up this post!

The first crowd got up and lined up, they were going to Daveo, then the sign changed for Ilolio, and didn’t change after that although flights for Cebu and Daveo apparently also went out.

I was getting concerned that my flight had changed gates, or I would miss it. I tried listening to the announcements, but it was somewhat like listening to an adult talk in a Charlie Brown cartoon (“waaa waa waaaaa waa waaa”) When I asked at the gate I was told to listen to the announcements.

They were having some trouble finding everyone who had checked in for the previous flight, so the gate attendants were a bit stressed and grumpy. When they appeared to find everyone, I went up and asked again, this time recognizing that she was busy and a bit stressed. She laughed and told me my flight had been delayed 30 minutes and she would tell me when it was my flight.

So 30 minutes later I was walking through the gate. At the end of the gate the gate person had me stop at the top of a flight a stairs, as the passengers were boarding a shuttle bus at the bottom of the stairs and busing out to the plane. The bus took off, and I noticed it was not in the best repair, the doors would not close and it sounded rough….very reassuring before I get on one of their planes.

Got on the next bus and over to the plane, and found my seat. Very front of the plane, facing towards the back, so every eye on the plane was on me. I napped a bit after take off, and woke to find the flight attendant beside me with the drink cart. I asked for a soft drink (50 pesos) and then realized I was the only person on the plane that had asked for anything. Again, every eye on me. Cebu Pacific has little contests on their flights, and last trip I won twice. This time, when they announced the prize was skin whitening cream, I figured it made sense not to try.

When the plane took off it was fully light, and when we landed in Kalibo it was pitch black. We climbed off the plane and walked to the small terminal and got the luggage. Allan and Katherine were there waiting and we took a tricycle the 30 minute drive home. After 30 hours of travel, Thursday evening to Saturday evening, I was at my destination.

Comments

good grief
 well hello to you and allan. wow, kevin, what a trip. after all the prep, and waiting to go. you sound like a weary passenger. i sure hope, you have a wonderful, wonderful time. it looks like a beautiful country. i have done a lot of traveling being a army brat, but where you are at, my family never ventured. god bless you both, and all my best wishes. stay safe. From lilldutchie1948, on May 4, 2009 at 02:12PM

First Day in Lezo

Slept suddenly and soundly. Crowing roosters woke me up shortly before dawn but I was able to sleep until 8:30. Got up and had coffee and felt much better. Morning was pretty slow with an egg and sausage breakfast, with Pandesal which is a sweet bun. (and fresh and warm from the bakery too) (and cheap — about 50 cents a dozen) After a quick shower (more about that later) we took a walk around the town and saw some of the local sites again.

Lezo is a small town just outside of Kalibo, which is in the province of Alkan. Our plan is to spend a couple of days in Lezo, before flying off to Cebu and Bohol. We then will return to Lezo for a week for fiesta, and we will also use that week to tour around some of the sites of Aklan.

A quick moment to introduce you to the cast of characters that will populate this story. We are staying at the home of Allan’s mother and stepfather Violetta and Rudy Gonzales. Violetta’s sister Indak also lives here, and she mans the store they operate roadside. Allan’s sister Catherine is also visiting. She lives in Mindaro with her husband Alvin, who is in the military, and was unable to get time off to visit. Lastly Andoy, a 16 year old boy who is a cousin from the country and Putin a 9 year old girl who is also a cousin from the country. Also visiting is Ginnie (Ginnetta) who works fairly close by and Rosita, visiting from Manila — both sisters of Allan’s Mom, and Raphael, who is Allan’s uncle and works and lives in the fields

Often in the Philippines poorer family members will live with better off family, to help out in their businesses, to attend school, and to help take the burden off the the family.

We likely will do plenty of town walks. We did meet up with Dong Dong, a relative of Allan’s, who asked us if we wanted to go see the cockfights in the afternoon, and decided we did. It was part of the Philippines experience that I wanted. Dong Dong is the cousin of Marbi, Allan’s closest family member who lives in Toronto. After watching Prize fighting on TV we took a van to Numancia where the cock fighting area was.

First thing we saw was hundreds of tricycles lined up and an amphitheater set up and the roar of the crowd. After some negotiating on price we got in and watched several fights. Cameras out of course. While I had always heard that this was a brutal sport, it really did not seem too brutal, even though the roosters were injured.

In a fight both roosters have blades (spurs) tied to their feet and after they are aggravated by another bird, and put in the ring together. It is a fight to the death, and if they slow down or seem to take a break, they are aggravated until they start fighting. The “referee” picks up the birds, and puts them face to face, and as long as they are pecking, the fight goes on. The fight ends when all the fight goes out of one bird, either too weak to fight or dead.

Not just a spectator sport, all the men bet on the outcomes, and prior to the fight there is a cacophony of men yelling, getting each other’s attention and betting. High betters are on one side of the arena, and smaller betters on the other. Small children roam the crowd selling gum, candy and cigarettes. I asked Andoy to film the fights while I took photos; got close up, and filmed for quite some time. Unfortunately he got the on and off buttons mixed up, and filmed his feet between fights, rather than the actual fights. Watching him filming he would have done a great job if not for that little mistake. When my camera ran out of battery, the took Allan’s and this time got some great footage. First time with a video camera, he tried hard and did a great job.

Outside the amphitheater is a small market, selling meat, fish and vegetables. As the only white at the event I gathered lots of attention, especially from the vendors there, who suddenly started hawking their wares in English. People were surprised that “joe” was there.

Upon return we found out that the cost of the trip to Numancia was 1700 pesos, or about $50. We paid but after asking family we were charged about 4 times the going rate by Dong Dong’s friend. While $50 is not much in North America for an afternoon’s entertainment, here is is about 3 week’s pay for an average person, and the family was outraged that we were taken advantage of because of the “rich white guy”

After our return is was starting to get dark — it gets dark around 6, and is fully night time by 6:30 — and we took another walk around town. Because fiesta is coming up — another reason for our visit at this time — a small carnival is in town. There are several games and hawkers, mostly gambling games of chance. As well there is karaoke and video games, and some food vendors. We took a walk through the small area, and met up with one of Allan’s friends from our last visit, Jone Ray. After a short visit, we headed home for dinner

Dinner tonight was mostly leftovers, bifstek, soup, lumpia and barbeq. As well there was a great corned beef dish that went very well with the ubiquitous rice. Half way through dinner the power went out, and we finished eating by candle and flashlight. We went outside after dinner and found that the sky had finally cleared, and the half moon was lighting up the town. We wanted to walk around in the moonlight, with no other lights and Allan, Andoy, Putin, Indak and I had an enjoyable walk around. We, of course, ended up at the carnival and played a few games of chance, before heading home again an hour later. Just as we were walking up the driveway, the lights came back on..and we headed on in and got ready for bed.

Kalibo (poblacion), Aklan, Philippines
 Monday, May 4, 2009

Woke up really early to the sound of the roosters crowing right outside my window. They started before dawn and didn’t let up. The family got up around 5, I tried to sleep until 6 when I got up too. It was nice and sunny, but by the time Allan got up a couple of hours later, it had clouded over and torrential rains started. It rained most of the morning

When the rain let up we took another walk around town before heading into Kalibo for some shopping and lunch.

Kalibo is a town of about 60,000 and is the capital of Aklan province. A bustling town, it is characterized by thousands of tricycles running along every street. There are few traffic signals and no traffic signs. How there are not more accidents is beyond m

We took a tricycle into town with Catherine and Allan’s Mom. We first went to an appliance store were we bought a washing machine for Allan’s mom.

Then we were off to Chow King for lunch. This is a Chinese fast food place, that servies very Filipino like Chinese food. We had chicken, noodles, soup and a very dish. Lunch ended with Halo Halo, and Ice cream dish with beans, tapioca, ice cream and evaporate milk.

After that we headed over to L@tte and had a brewed coffee (brewed coffee is a rarity here. — typically coffee is sold as instant in little packets resembling sugar packets that we know) and after that a very nice Iced Tea. I also got a previous blog uploaded.

In Lezo that only internet we have is on a “Globe Card” which provides good internet in 3G areas, and dial up like internet elsewhere…Unfortunately Lezo is elsewhere.

Headed home after that. the ride home though small barrio and rice paddies is idilic and I have some beautiful pictures. After dinner we did another walkbabout town. Then home , packed for tomorrow and to bed. We didn’t do much but it was exhausting.

Caticlan, Visayas, Philippines
 Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Up early Tuesday morning to head to Cebu. A little roundabout way..by way of taking a van to Catlican, about a 60 minute drive. We caught a tricycle to Kalibo, where we were to catch the van, or as it is called here, a multicab

These are privately run vans that work on a prescribed route. Cost for our 65 km drive is 100 pesos, or about $2 each. The problem is the multicab waits until they have a full load, so we had to wait about 90 minutes to leave. While there we had the pleasure of several children trying to sell us things, and failing that, begging for money.

However it is a beautiful trip with great scenery, and on a nice day is a very pleasant drive. It is also the port for Boracay Island, which you will hear more about in future posts.

Our flight was at 11:40, and with our late departure, and stopping to left off and pick up passengers all the way, we got to the terminal at about 11 am.

We went to go through security but they would not let us through to the terminal with out a printed copy of our electronic ticket. We ran over to the Cebu Pacific office to get our ticket printed. At the office was a young man from Lezo, working for Cebu Pacific, who is also on my Friendster friend list. Its always nice to meet an internet person face to face.

Running back to the terminal we got past security and over to the Cebu Pacific gate. The girl there exclaimed “ You’re Late!” — but luckily for us, so is the plane about 90 minutes. However they can’t or won’t tell us if we can get on until the plane arrives. So we sit at the terminal wondering if we will get to Cebu or not.

Later on:

Add into this that this is the hottest day here so far, with the sun shining and with the humidity the temperatures reaching over 40.

So the plane landed and we decided to stand beside the gate — out of sight out of mind — each person that came near the gate we asked bout our status. Finally the first girl we spoke to came out and told us we could not get on the plane and would have to wait until the 510 plane. We hear another customer, with a similar issue be told that there was only 14 people on the plane. The other gate attendant told them that the paper work was closed so they could do nothing. We did ask the first girl if there was anything she could do for us and she walked away. We were not sure if she was checking for us or not.

Eventually another girl said we should got to the office to see if we could go standby…and she told us that the other girl was gone.

We saw her at the airline office but she pretended not to see us. We also were told that the later flight was sold out.

We decided to check other airlines, and found out then that there was a competing flight, but it left at noon, and if we had been told straight up that we could not get on the plane, we could have gone on that flight.

We decided to change our plans and go to Cebu and Bohol on Thursday instead, and spend one day less in Cebu.

So back in the multicab to Numamcia and a tricycle to Lezo. Back by 4:30 but still a good one day adventure.

We took a walk over to the Lezo library and donated some books I had brought and walkd around a bit. Then, since neithr of us had any lunch, we went to a local bakery and got a couple of types of bun and had this for lunch. We took another walk around the town, and ended up at the Mayor’s house for a quick visit.

At the town plaza we found a basketball game going on, part of the Mayor’s Cup, a Fiesta event

Basketball is the national sport in the Philippines — partly because it is cheap to play, and partly because it takes up little room.

This game was between two neighbouring towns, and was a good exciting game. We did get thirsty and ordered a couple of cokes. They opened the bottles and poured it into plastic bags…to save the money on the deposit. So you drink from the straw, holding the plastic bag.
So I had my little bag of Coke.

Then it was off to home, and after watching Filipino soap operas for a bit, we were off to bed.

Comments

Coke in a bag
 A bag of coke sounds suspicious. Glad your having fun! the food sounds adventurous! From gravy6, on May 6, 2009 at 03:19PM
Caticlan Bound
 Hi K & A, We’re a couple now living in Hamilton but soon on our way to RP, if things work out. We immigrated to Hamilton from years in downtown TO. We hope to reside in Aklan, likely Caticlan or Boracay. We also visited RP in 2005, where I fell in love with Bagiou. I am finding your blog interesting to read and look forward to further reports and pics. Regards, G & R From gageboy7, on May 8, 2009 at 01:23PM
Re: Caticlan Bound
 Thanks. More will be coming as I find wifi. Where did you immigrate from? 
 From Kevin Suter, on May 9, 2009 at 01:17PM
Caticlan bound
 We immigrated to Hamilton from downtown Toronto. …lol 
We lived in the Merchandise lofts for a few years. From gageboy7, on May 11, 2009 at 09:19PM

Lezo, Aklan, Philippines
 Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Today was really an idyllic day. Didn’t much other than to relax. After breakfast and a ‘shower’ I grabbed my book and headed to the gazebo or rest house as they call it here. After a bit the family notices me there and brought out a mat and pillow for me. Being treated so royally is a bit embarrassing

After a couple of hours we decided to head into Kalibo for some Internet time ( you were wondering why you got three blogs in one day).

Allan, Andoy and I jumped on a multicab to take the 5 Km trip to town. Cost? 12 pesos each. Or about 25 cents Canadian. Its about a 30 minute drive.

We also had to get some new slippers for Andoy. Slippers in the Philippines are what we would call flip flops. Everyone wears them everywhere. Most construction sites I saw the workers were wearing “slippers”.

The store had a variety if shoes, but by far the largest selection of flip-flops I have ever seen. The most expensive pair was around 4 dollars. Or 200 pesos. We all got a pair. Allan, the male Imelda Marcos got two pairs.

She took our sample slippers to the lady at the desk, who the walked over to a post and called something into a microphone and second later our shoes came falling from a hole in the ceiling. Watching for a bit that’s how all the shoes came. The salesgirls were pretty good at catching the orders and tossing back up the ones people didn’t want.

Then we headed over to l@tte for coffee and Internet. Andoy wanted ice cream so we got him a sundae. The first he had ever had. He looked almost afraid to start eating it.

We head from there to Jollibee, a Filipino version of MacDonald’s. A full video of our visit will be coming up. We were there to pick up a snack for a trip to the beach later on. We got two buckets of fried chicken and seven spaghetti. I also wanted a quick burger so ordered a Yum with TLC. What a great burger! A really nice patty with a sweet and sour like sauce. The bun was so soft and fresh. This was one of the best fast food burgers I ever had!!

We walked from there over to the PNB bank to withdraw some money. However I forgot my PNB pin and my debit card would not work. So no cash for me. Allan was able to get some. So it’s now his treat. Actually I have the pin in my luggage do next trip to the bank will fix that.

We grabbed a tricycle back home and I went to relax in the rest house again. We had some pancit for lunch in the rest house. Very good food. (and I napped some more)

Then we all jumped on a tricycle to the Navitas beach. Quite a nice ride and the beach, while not sandy like those on Boracay, was still nice. Allan, Andoy and I all swam. Putin who can’t swim splashed around. Allan’s mom and sister waded a bit and Indak just watched. After about 30 minutes of splashing around we sat at a cabin to eat our spaghetti and chicken.

Just as an aside in the Philippines, spaghetti has a sweet tomato sauce. Very sweet. And is served with cut up hotdogs. It is covered with crumbled mozzarella. Not at all traditional Italian dish. But very good nonetheless.

It was almost sunset as we left the beach (remember the sun sets at 6 pm every night)

We headed back to Lezo and home and just had a family night. We also packed again for Thursdays trip to Bohol. Again LOL.

To bed as tomorrow up early.

Tagbilaran City, Visayas, Philippines
 Friday, May 8, 2009

Up early Thursday morning at 5 am. Not gonna be late for this plane!! On the road by 6 and tricycling to Kalibo. About half way there at Numancia our driver flagged down a multicab and we are on our way back to Caticlan.

Once there, very early this time, we went to check in and were too early for that. We went outside the airport to a Cafe for cold drinks. At 9 we went and checked in and then back outside the airport to explore. We ended up in the Zest air departure lounge, which was very nice. Allan had a mango shake and I had fresh calamansi juice. Sour!! But good. Allan called it the BEST! MANGO! SHAKE! EVER!

Boarded our flight with no events this time. A nice flight with good views and we landed in Cebu.

In Cebu we met our driver and wear off to the ferry terminal. First time I have ever been met by someone holding my name up. Felt very posh. We had a bit of time so we asked to be taken to Magellan’s cross. This is the site were Ferdinand Magellan planted his cross when he first landed in the Philippines in the 1500’s. Encased in the current cross are pieces of the original cross. As in many places there were hawkers trying to sell souvenirs. One old lady wanted Allan to buy a candle to burn at the cross and when he declined was told, “How dare you!” She did ignore us after that.

Then onto the ferry terminal. We are taking an ocean jet fast ferry to Bohol. It’s a big boat would likely seat two hundred people but today there are about 50 on the boat. It’s a 90 minute ride to Bohol from Cebu and the boat travels fairly fast. While the seating area is rather cramped it is a pleasant ride, although the aircon is set a little cold and we have a cold draft on is the whole time.

When we arrived we disembarked and found both sides on the dock had children in the water begging for cash. There is nothing more pathetic looking than a naked wet child begging.
(and they know it)

We went into the terminal to look for our luggage only to realize we are supposed to collect it at the dock. Back we go and once again past the children we are in Bohol.

Outside the welcome terminal we wait for our driver and tour guide for the trip, RJ Intano. But he is not among our drivers. We try to call him but we keep getting cut off. Rj had gotten one of his drivers to pick us up, and figured he should be there. Finally after a few anxious moments the driver came running up and we are on our way to the resort.

Alona tropical beach resort is nestled at the end of the white beach on a low hill. It is beautifully landscaped. Our room is just off the beach, in a little cabin. With the aircon it feels heavenly.

A quick rest and we are our on the beach. This beach, like Boracay is white sand, but not as nice as Boracay. However a short walk on this beach shows us several starfish and even a small puffer fish.

We walked to the far end of the beach and back stopping on the way back at the Bohol dive resort for a grilled dinner on the beach. Allan had pork belly and rice along with a mango shake. I had pork chops, grilled veggies and a baked potato. A very good meal topped off with some San Miguel lights.

We walked slowly back to our beachfront cottage stopping only for coffee at our hotels beachside restaurant. And they brew their coffee! Most places here serve instant.

By 10 pm I was soundly sleeping, thinking of our Bohol tour tomorrow.

Where I stayed

Alona Tropical Beach Resort — Alona Tropical Beach Resort Alona beach, Panglao, Philippines

I rated this place 4/5 — I’d come here again

Nice setting, good beach front restaurant, room was comfortable, however there were ants galore in the bathroom. Internet was good. I’d easlly stay here again (maybe bring an ant trap)lol

Alona Tropical Beach Resort — Alona Tropical Beach Resort Alona beach, Panglao, Philippines

I rated this place 4/5 — I’d come here again

Nice setting, good beach front restaurant, room was comfortable, however there were ants galore in the bathroom. Internet was good. I’d easlly stay here again (maybe bring an ant trap)lol

Alona Tropical Beach Resort — Alona Tropical Beach Resort Alona beach, Panglao, Philippines

I rated this place 4/5 — I’d come here again

Tagbilaran City, Visayas, Philippines
 Friday, May 8, 2009

Weird thing is I wrote and published this blog, and it disappeared. I even got some emails on it, so I know I was not dreaming, but since this was such a great day, I thought I should share it again.

May 8 was a beautiful day. We got up, and since our cabin was just feet from the beach, we walked out to the beach front restaurant and had a nice breakfast, sitting right by the beach.

Then collecting cameras and stuff I headed up the hill to the lobby to meet our guide for the day, RJ Intano. He was no where to be seen, so I texted him that I was there, and he texted back that he was too. I took a seat and after a bit a lady across from me asked if I was Kevin. It was Connie, an associate of RJ, who had also been waiting for me. Connie was to be our guide, while RJ was going to drive. RJ typically hires a guide to accompany him that is better in the language of his guest, and Connie had very good english.

She told me that her life’s ambition was to see snow and make a snow man. People in the Philippines have no idea what snow is really like. Its just a concept to them.

Once Allan joined us we went outside the gate to meet RJ and head to our first site of the day, the Hinagdanan Cave. The Cave is on Panaglo Island, but opposite the resort, so it seemed to be quite the drive, through dirt roads, showing off the beauty of the Bohol countryside. Allan was taken by how similar it was to Aklan. We arrived at the cave, at the end of a long dirt road, and saw several souvenier stands. We got out of the car and headed towards the sign, to realize the entrance to the cave was simply a hole in the ground.

Under a roofed area, the caves start with a hole with stairs leading into the dark. We headed down the stairs, both steep and narrow, and just for fun, also slippery. We headed down the stairs to the first chamber, a small room with a walkway to a larger room. While dark, the light from the stairway seemed to light this room well.

Entering the second room, we found it darker, much warmer and super humid. A huge pool in the centre of the cave is ringed on one side by a walk way. A couple of electric lights illuminate the area. We walked towards the far end of the cave, but part of the walk way was covered with water. To avoid getting wet I tried to walk around the edges, but slipped, with one foot going into a hole next to the wall covered with water, and I fell down to my knee on the other leg. Connie helped me up, by holding the camera that was in one hand, so I could use my arms to lift myself up.

Everything seemed ok, so we proceded, My knee did hurt a bit and the arm that I had jammed against the wall trying to hold myself up ached a bit, but nothing seemed to serious.

The rest of the cave was a huge chamber, with the aforementioned pond in the centre. Aside from the lighting, there are a couple of holes in the ceiling leading to the outdoors. The ceiling is about 30 or 40 feet up. The water in the cave was high at the time of our visit, as it was high tide. At low tide the walkways would have been clear of water.

A couple of bats were flying around, and the cave seemed very natural with both stalactites, and stalagmites.

We headed out of the cave, and saw another tour group, and while waiting to take our pictures at the sign, we also took their pictures. I noted then that my knee was bleeding pretty nicely.

Once back in the car we asked Connie for a tissue and I cleaned up most of the blood. RJ’s car is nicely airconditioned, so after the heat and humidity in the cave, it was a nice change.

Our next stop was the monument for the Blood Compact. This is a shrine to the friendship pact between the Philippine people and Spain in the1500’s. A site with a beautiful view over the sea, and a cool statue representation of the event. Lots of people getting their photos taken with the statue. Connie got me a bandaid and some Bactine for my Scrape while here.

We then moved on to the Baclayon Church. This is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines and is a beautiful of a Jesuit built church. We toured through the church with Connie letting us know some of the history. Afterwards we walked around outside the church and got some good outside pictures.

Back in the car we headed to the next site, and on the way passed another church tower, called to Loboc tower, that was leaning. Connie called this the Bohol Leaning Tower of Pisa. It is quite picturesque.

From there we were off to the middle of Bohol island to see the Chocolate Hills. This is about a 50 km drive, but along the way Connie pointed out some interesting things, like the making of thatched roofs with the Nipa Palm, the making of furniture from old tires, and making machetes.

While on the way to the hills we passed throught the Man Made Forest. This was a beautiful drive, and nice and shaded. On the way up the hill, we passed a procession which we were able to film.

As we approached the Chocolate hills we noticed the hilly terrain, and as we drove the incline to the viewpoint we could see many of the mounds. We pullled into a busy parking lot and got out of the car. Connie let us know they could drive us 1/2 way up, but the rest of the way was via stairs…..and what a climb it was…especially in 40 degree temps under the sun. Once up at the top the view was spectacular. Its pretty crowded and at the top there are several people wanting to take pictures for you. The standard pic you see of people jumping over the Hills is actually just a back drop, no so dramatic once you see how its done, LOL. Everyone seems to have a good time, and as I said the view is fantastic, and the hills much bigger than imagined.

After the Hills we drove back down the road, past the Manmade forest once again, and to the Simply Butterfly Butterfly Sanctuary. We were met there by our guide and brought through the Sanctuary. We saw larva, pupil, and catepillars. I even had some catepillars put on me. We then went into the sanctuary and saw many, including having plenty land on us. In this day and age where butterflies are one of the casulties of the bad environment, it is nice to see an area where they are not affected.

There were beautiful gardens with some flowers I had never ever seen. We soon headed back to the car though for the next leg of our trip.

The next stop was the Sipatan Hanging bridge, usually known as the Bohol Hanging Bridge. It is a 40 foot hanging bamboo bridge over the Sipatan River. It is a scary proposition crossing the bridge as it shakes and sways as you walk. As well, the flooring is weaved bamboo, so not level, with lots of places to catch your foot and trip. As well, with others crossing, its not just your swaying that is happening. I have a video of our crossing here. The sign saying only 10 at a time on the bridge also did not help our confidence!!! The other side there are souvenier stands and kids selling candies. Allan bought some, and they were good!!

Next stop was lunch on the Loboc River Lunch Cruise. They have several barges set with tables and a buffet lunch as well as entertainment. Lunch was good, and the view along the river very pleasant. There was a young guy playing guitar and singing, and his voice and song choice was pleasant too. The trip continued up the river to a small set of falls before turning around and heading back. On the way back we connected to another raft that had singers, muscians and dancers. See the video. Quite entertaining.

Our next stop was the Tarsiers. Found at a Tarsier Sanctuary on the banks of the Loboc River, we got to see 4 Tarsiers. These small primates, about the size of my fist, are not allowed to be kept in captivity, and in fact are known to committ suicide when caged. In the sanctuary, the sides are fenced to keep out predators, but the top is open, allowing the tarsier to come and go as they please. However, the sanctuary keeps lots of food for them on hand, and they seem quite comfortable there.

They are the cutest little things, and seemed to tolerate all the human interaction. We have pictures and video here. The sanctuary also had lemurs, and a couple of monkeys, that were pretty cute.

After a stop for some souvenirs, we were taken back to the resort. Great thanks to RJ and Connie who did and extraordinary job and a very fun day. It cost us 2000p for each of us, about $50 each, and this included lunch, admission to all the events, two guides and transportation. Extremely reasonable. You can email RJ Intano at rj.intano@gmail.com
I highly recommend his services.

After a short rest and another walk of the beach, we decided to head to the Bohol Bee Farm for dinner. Alona resort arranged a driver for us for 1000p, he also waited through dinner to drive us home. The Bee Farm resort is a resort, a restaurant, and a bee farm. The restaurant menu is heavy with honey flavoured foods, and my honey glazed chicken was sublime. Allan was not so happy with his Marlin, but his Mango Peanut Butter shake totally redeemed the meal.
After some souvenir shopping we headed back to the resort and to bed…off to Cebu in the morning!

Where I stayed

Alona Tropical Beach Resort — Alona Tropical Beach Resort Alona beach, Panglao, Philippines

I rated this place 4/5 — I’d come here again

Nice setting, good beach front restaurant, room was comfortable, however there were ants galore in the bathroom. Internet was good. I’d easlly stay here again (maybe bring an ant trap)lol

Comments

Incredible Pics
 Just loved the pics! Amazing. 
 
Remember to contact Lito once you get back to Boracay. A tour you will never forget! From gageboy7, on May 12, 2009 at 11:48PM
the pic’s
 great pic’s…incredible scenery From carguycda69, on May 14, 2009 at 01:24PM
Hi where did you stay in bohol ? would you recommend cause i’m planning to go there. Thanks. From Che, on Dec 2, 2010 at 11:15PM
hi wich tour package did you use to travel all over bohol.. From rachel, on Feb 9, 2014 at 11:07PM
Hi Rachel. I did not use a tour package but hired a local tour guide. He picked us up at the ferry and the next day drove us around. He had a set package but it was flexible and so we didn’t see the giant snake, but got to the caves. I will try and find his number and you can call him. email me directly and I will respond. From Kevin Suter, on Feb 9, 2014 at 11:10PM
my tour guide for the day was RJ Itano. I highly recommend him. 
 
rj.intano@gmail.com From Kevin Suter, on Feb 9, 2014 at 11:15PM

Cebu City, Visayas, Philippines
 Saturday, May 9, 2009

Up early for breakfast at the Alona Tropical Resort on the beach. Nice sunny day, and Eggs and toscino are a good start to the day. Then back to the room to pack for Cebu. Our guide Rj is going to drive us to the Ferry terminal. He is waiting for us at the top of the hill. I went to pay for the room, but at this hotel you apparently pay at the restaurant, so back down I went. First time that’s ever happened to me.

All the way back to the gate where RJ met us and off we went to the Ferry terminal. Fairly uneventful, Allan bought some treats for the family that are only available in Bohol, Calamay, a coconut shell that has a mixture of molasses and ground sticky rice and coconut inside. Looks like chocolate sauce and is even sweeter.

We waited on the ferry, and once aboard found ourselves cramped into the tiny seats again, so once the ferry was underway we moved to the back and spread out a bit.

This trip we took advantage of the outside area and went to cool off a couple of times and to take some photos of the view. Before long we were back in Cebu, waiting on our ride, once again.

We messaged Danni, our cab driver, that we were there, and he told us he was sending a friend to pick us up, and to wait there. Shortly after, Juddy texted us his license number and told us he was on his way.

We decided to wait by the gates at the Ferry terminal, big mistake. The second we got there; we were met by a hoard of taxi’s, beggars and various ne’er-do-wells.

We started looking for the license number, and one group grabbed the luggage and started dragging it, and us to their car. The license was close, but not correct; it took a stern voice to stop them. Finally, our driver shows up, and the hoard is all trying to help us get the luggage in the car, and then ask for the tip for helping. Allan, in the car by now asks me for my pocket change, which I gave him, while a teen beggar is on my side of the car asking for money, so insistently that the ferry security came over and threatened to butt him with his shotgun. A grateful thanks from me to the security and we are on our way; I noticed as we were pulling out that the group was gleefully splitting up the change.

Times are indeed hard in Cebu.

Juddy took us to the Diplomat hotel, a budget hotel in downtown Cebu that had gotten rave reviews on Tripadvisor.com. It had a pleasant lobby, and the room, while sparse, was comfortable and clean.

After a short rest we decided to head out and see some sites, the first of which was back at Magellan’s cross. We chose a driver from in front of the hotel, and while he seemed to be an ok guy, he over and over again asked Allan if he could give us a city tour. The fact that he could not speak Tagalog, only the Cebu dialect, made Allan uncomfortable with the tour. We also wanted to explore on our own a bit.

He let us off at Magellan’s cross and we headed right to the Basilica of the Santa Nino, which is a church dedicated to the Christ Child. In the church is a Santa Nino doll that is said to have been given to the first queen of Cebu by Magellan himself.

While walking through the church, our cab driver showed up again and followed us around through the church for quite some time. It was a bit disconcerting, but he seemed to think he had found his fare for the day. After a while he disappeared and we thought we had lost him.

However when we went to walk over to Fort San Pedro, he was waiting in his car outside. We just ignored him and went on our merry way.

Fort San Pedro is an old Spanish fort about two blocks from Magellan’s Cross. We walked over, and when on the Main Street we were not sure exactly where it was. A young man, selling Otap (a pastry) on the street, asked us where we were going, and went to show us a short cut. With some misgivings, we followed through a park towards a construction site, where we could see the fort on the other side. The park was criss crossed with corrugated metal that served as walls for the construction site, but also could have been a maze for us to get lost on. However, on the other side of the park we saw the front of the fort, our guide was a true guide.

The fort is a tourist site, but there is not really much to see. When we got there the small museum was closed, but we walked around, and the old stone architecture was something to see.

We bought a couple of t-shirts at the souvenir stands and decided to call Juddy to give us a tour. He showed up about 10 minutes later, and suggested that we might like the Top of Hill, which , oddly enough it on the top of a hill overlooking Cebu. It was about 40 minute drive, and it was pleasant getting to know our driver and seeing Cebu from the comfort of a car.

By the time we got to the top, it was dark, and we had a great view of the lights of Cebu. We spend a short time there photographing, and were asked by another tourist if we were from Canada. He was a Filipino, that was from Vaughan, visiting with friends.

A short drive down the mountain brought us back to Cebu. Allan wanted to pick up some Otap, which is a local Cebu pastry, for his family, so we stopped at a Bakery for some, and then decided that we would have Jollibee for dinner. Juddy told us there was a Jollibie a very short distance from our hotel, so we got him to drop us off, and we were off to dinner.

It was a short and pleasant walk, and the Jollibie was in a good area it seemed. When we walked in there was a little girl singing in front of the counter. Seems Saturday night is the night when children sing at Jollibie.

After burgers and Karaoke, we headed to Bo’s Coffee shop, and had iced coffee’s and got caught up on our Internet.

Back the hotel and to bed.

Where I stayed

Diplomat Hotel — 90 F Ramos St., Cebu City, Philippines