菲律宾 – Philippines – Visayas – Cebu, Bohol, Panglao,Balicasag and Virgin Island – 5th ~ 8th Nov 2011

The first destination that I heard about Philippines is not Manila or Boracay. It is actually Cebu. I have seen those pristine beach in magazines and TV shows. So since young, I have this dream of visiting this island.

Finally, it is my chance to visit this island but not sure whether does the island still look as beautiful as 20 years ago.

(Please click on each picture for higher resolution)

Day 1 – 5th Nov

I took the Cebu Pacific (CP) flight straight to Cebu at 0020hrs. Airphil Express used to have a daily flight to Cebu but has discontinued indefinitely.  So now the only budget carrier from SIN-CEB is either Tiger or Cebu Pacific.

When I was check in, the staff wanted to see my return ticket. I ask her is this the norm? She then replied “Do you know that you can stay without a visa in Philippines for a max of 21 days unless you have a long-term visa?” (I think it is 21 days can’t actually remember). So she is suspecting me to escape to the Philippines? I then show her my return ticket and then she issue me the boarding pass. Thankfully CP did not change the schedule.

Upon touch down in Mactan International Airport, I walk towards the terminal. Since it is an international airport and also a major airport in the Central Philippines, I would expect some standard from it. However, when I enter the terminal, I was quite shock to see the environment look so dated and basic. You just walk into the terminal and straight to immigration. After passing through immigration, the luggage belt is just in front of you. I can see that the luggage belt is broken and the staff is placing all the luggage bag on the floor. Well, maybe I have place my expectation too high.

I exit from the terminal and you will see a sign above that will point you to the metered taxi stand. A man will direct you to the taxi as the taxi is not waiting at the taxi stand at all. You will need to cross the small road to reach the taxi.

I request the driver to bring me to Pier 1 as I know the earliest ferry is 6pm. Thinking I still got time, I ask the driver to drive me around Colon Street since I will be staying there when I am back from Bohol. Colon street is very quiet at that hour. The taxi driver gave me a brief description about it and we chat the things about Cebu. During the small chat, I told him I have actually two bags of old toys that I would like to give it to any children especially those poor street children or whoever needs them. The toys are not new or complete but I told him that I just want to make some children happy. I then took out the two bags of toys from my backpack and gave it to him. He was so happy and said that he will pass it to his sisters’ children. I said that is alright and I told him to proceed to the pier. You will need to pay P10 to let the taxi to enter the pier. So if you want to save P10, ask the driver to drop you outside the pier and you can walk in. It is not very far maybe about 100m only.

I reach the Oceanjet ticket office at around 0530hrs and I was told that the 0600hrs ferry is full. The next ferry will be at 0800hrs. I really do not want to waste 2 hours sitting so I decided to try my luck at Supercat ferry. I then wanted to get a taxi to Pier 4. The driver wanted to charge me P100 but I refuse. Finally he relented to P80 and I agree since I do not want to waste anymore time.

The drive to Supercat Ferry is about 5 mins only. It is possible that if you really want to walk there but I will not recommend it.

When I reach the Supercat Ferry, I was told that the next ferry will be 0830hrs. It is even later than Oceanjet! I am really tired from the flight and I do not want to spend anymore money on taxi. I then decided I will just wait and so I bought the 0830hrs ferry ticket. I can see that the Supercat Ferry schedule is more consistent.

Supercat Ferry ticket office

If you purchase a one way ticket, it will cost you about P500+ but if you buy a return ticket, the cost will be P800+. It is a savings of P200+. If you decide to change the schedule of your return, you can go to the Supercat Ferry to re-validate the ticket if there is vacancy for the schedule that you want.

Passenger disembarking from the ferry

Seeing people disembarking from other boat and looking at the surroundings, so here I am, waiting a the ticket office blankly.

There are a few passengers there and the staff told us that we can actually wait at the terminal. We then cross the road and head towards the terminal. You will need to present your ticket to enter the terminal. After passing through some security check, you will be lead to the second floor. Before you enter the waiting area, your ticket will be re-validate again and you will be ask to choose your preferred seat. There are massage service and food stalls available in the terminal. There are also TV for you to watch so you will not feel bored.

Waiting area for the ferry

At around 0820hrs, the staff announce that the ferry has been rescheduled to 0900hrs! Another 30 mins lost! I then sms Bohol Travel Buddy about the change in schedule.

So please do note that the ferry schedule from various ferry companies is dynamic. Before I arrive in Cebu, El Portal Inn did gave the ferry schedule of the various ferry companies and most of them are out-dated as the ferry companies will adjust the ferry time accordingly.

A typical fast craft to Bohol

Finally, it is time to board the ferry. The ferry used are the fast craft and the seats are quite comfortable. Seat pitch is definitely better than any of the budget airline and food is available for sale in the ferry.

                                           Inside the fast craft

The ride is smooth and it needs about 1hr 45 mins to Bohol, Tagbilaran City.

One of the many different type of boats we saw on the way

Upon disembarking, you will go though the ferry terminal. In the terminal, there are companies offering tours around Bohol and Panglao. Bohol tours are so organised that you will not feel uneasy as it seems like everybody is offering the same product and services.

Many tour companies available. If you do not like it, there are many touts outside the terminal
Many tour companies available. If you do not like it, there are many touts outside the terminal

There is even a super big signboard that list out the price for various attractions. So it is very regulated.

By the time I leave the terminal, the representative from Bohol Travel Buddy is already waiting for me. I was charge P2500 for an 8 hour tour and the sites to visit are selectively chosen by me and not from the standard menu.

I was given a van instead of a sedan as they have run out of it. My driver is called Renel and we discuss the places I wanted to go.

The first stop is the Tarsier Foundation in Corella. The entrance to the sanctuary is P50. There will be a guide to bring you around to spot the Tarsier. There are about 10 Tarsiers in the sanctuary but we only spotted 5.

Entrance to the Tarsier Foundation in Corella

The tour last about 15 mins only and we are out of it. I was later told by the driver that there is a new Tarsier Sanctuary in Loboc where there are more than a 100 Tarsiers!

Tarsier. Smallest primate in the world

Next stop is the man-made mahogany forest. The project to plant mahogany trees along these 2km stretch of road is initiated during the Marcos rule. When I enter the forest, I can feel the temperature drop a little and it has become more cooling. Renel drop me at a place to take some photos. Most drivers will choose a spot further up but I think my driver has chosen a better spot.

The man-made forest

I walk along the road to enjoy the tranquility where sometimes broken by passing cars. Renel then drive further up where most tourist are. In that spot, there are vendors selling t-shirts. The t-shirts are quite nice but the quality is not that good. The vendors are not pushy so you will just need to politely reject them if you do not want it.

Alternative spot where most tourist will stop by.

The next stop is the well-known Chocolate Hills! I estimate the travelling time from the pier to the Chocolate Hills is about 1 hour. At the entrance of the Hills, you will need to pay P25 to enter. The driver will drop you off at the drop off point and he will need to drive away as vehicles cannot park there.

The entrance to the viewing deck of Chocolate Hills.
Base on the viewing deck. Massage service is available.

You will then need to walk up about 200+ steps up to the viewing deck. As the weather is cloudy so there isn’t much sun. I actually expect many local tourist since it is a long weekend. However on the contrary, local tourist are few. I see many tourist trying to take a picture with the broom jumping; they call to the Harry Potter jump.

Chocolate Hills
The viewing deck.
Many hills at afar.

For me, I just stand on the viewing deck, enjoying the breeze and the view. Seeing this marvelous small hills, I wonder how will the view be like from Sagbayan peak. Maybe I should try that the next time.

After staying up there for 30 mins and I can see two rain storm far away, I decided to make my move.

I was then driven to the Hanging Bridge. I think the entrance is P10.

When you look at how the wooden bridge is made, it is actually bamboo slice that interweave together to increase the strength.

The Hanging Bridge
A close up view on how the bamboo are interweave together.

Once you walk across the bridge, you will see some shops selling all kinds of souvenirs. This is the place to buy those cheap t-shirts but as usual, the quality is not that good. It is the same type of t-shirts that are sold at mahogany forest. The difference is they have more designs and more sizes to choose from.

If you are interested in buying Bohol famous Chocolate Kisses, do not buy from here. It is better to buy in Taglibaran city supermarket as it is definitely cheaper.

I then ask Renel to drive me to the city to have my meal. I do not know what to eat so I just get him to drive me to Jollibee.

After having my meal, I decided to go to Alturas Supermarket for some sundry shopping. I call this Alturas Supermarket the Star Wars Supermarket. If you want to know why, just go to the check out counter and listen to the sound when the staff scan an item.

Outside the Supermarket. Look at the trikes design. They are different from Luzon.

Here you can buy the Peanut Kisses at a cheaper price. You can also stock up your water, food or anything here if you want to save some money as the things in Alona is more expensive.

It is already 4pm+ and I request Renel to drive me to Damaluan Beach.

After about 20 mins or so drive, we reach a place where Renel park the van. We then take a very short walk to the beach. I took a stroll along the beach and the beach is not as pristine as I thought. The beach itself is clean but it is marred by all the seaweeds. What a pity.

Damaluan Beach
Damaluan Beach

There are sun beds belonging to the resorts there and you can see that it is quite quiet unlike in Alona. So if you like quiet, tranquility and a longer beach front, Damaluan is the place to go.

Don't lie to me. I know what you are looking it. Focus on the shelter, not any other thing else.

After a 15min stroll, the next stop should actually be Bohol Bee Farm. However, it is already 1730hrs and it has been almost 7 hours I have been touring around Bohol. The sky is getting dark and I decided to give Bohol Bee Farm a pass. I then ask Renel to drive me to my accomodation at L’elephant Bleu at Alona.

The ride from Damaluan to Alona is very fast; much faster than I thought. I guess it must be about 5 to 7 mins only.

Before I even leave for Cebu, I have already informed L’elephant Bleu that I will check-in late as I will be doing the country side tour first. They agree to it and will hold the reservation for me.

When I approach the front desk, the staff actually brought me to another resort, Paragayo resort. They said that I will instead stay at this resort. I ask why is this so? The staff said that they are giving me a better room. I told them this is not what I want. I book for L’elephant Bleu and not Paragayo resort. The L’elephant Bleu staff then said these two resorts belong to the same boss. What crap is he talking about!

I do not want to escalate the matter so I make do with Paragayo. When the L’elephant Bleu staff and Paragayo staff show me the room, the L’elephant Bleu staff have the cheek to exclaim “Wow, two beds!” I really feel like slapping him. I only have one person and why do I need two beds?! Is he saying this just to make me feel good?

So next time when you want to book with L’elephant Bleu, please think twice!

It is later that I learn that the boss of L’elephant Bleu and Paragayo are good friends but this is not the way to do business.

I have also emailed them regarding booking tours with them but the response is usually slow. I need to send reminders before they will reply.

I have totally lost faith with L’elephant Bleu.

Entrance of Paragayo Resort.

The room in Paragayo is very basic. I would term this resort as a no frills resort. The floor is tiled and the furnishing is very basic.

The bed.

The curtain is very thin and even though there is another day curtain, it still cannot hide what is happening inside the room when the lights are on. Therefore it offers little privacy.

When I try to adjust the day curtain, the whole curtain rod fell down.

Room's TV

Bathroom is basic and the water pressure is poor but still manageable. However, there are ants in the bathroom. There is also an odour in the bathroom which I really do not know where it comes from.

The toilet.

The bed is comfortable enough but the blanket provided is very thin. Also, the air con is really noisy.

There is also a safe in the room which is good.

The resort is designed in a way that it seems Indonesian style.

During my stay there, there is a power supply failure during the storm. However, the staff quickly rectified it.

Cable selection is good enough for me. They do have Discovery, National Geographic, CNN, Cartoon Networks etc.

The resort is not far from the beach either. A good 5 to 7 mins walk will bring you to Alona beach.

The staff is generally friendly and in this resort, you can book an Island Hopping tour for a reasonable P1500. It is cheaper than some of the hotel is charging me in Taligbaran.

After settle myself, I decided to take a stroll along the beach.

Outside of Paragayo Resort. You can see L’elephant Bleu from here. It is with the blue Volkswagen.

The beach is about 7 mins walk from the resort. You will pass by some other resorts and restaurant. On the way, there are actually two ATM machines which one of them is inside a convenience store.

Shops along the way to the beach.
ATM. There are two ATMs along the way to the beach. The other one is inside a store.

There are many places to eat if you stay in Alona. That is even before you reach the beach.

Once you reach the beach, there will be tout offering you tours. You can get a tour here and it is advisable that you book the tour in advance. You will understand when you continue to read my report.

Alona Beach. Those ladies in green are offering massage by the beach.

At the beach, there are ladies offering you massage by the beach even if sky is already dark. The lights from the restaurant will light up the beach enough.

Boat moored near to the beach.

Here you can have lots of seafood options but they do not come cheap. A plate of squid can easily cost you at least P250.

Seafood galore!!!
Eat all you want and pay a lot more for it!

Again, the restaurant are not pushy and you can walk with ease. The staff of every restaurant is very friendly and will explain to you what options are available.

There are also dive shops on the beach. Do note that some of the establishments are not operated by Filipinos.

During my stay there, the sky is already dark by 1800hrs. Therefore, enjoy any beach activities as early as possible. Also remember to bring insect repellent to apply as there are mosquitoes.

Since I am alone, I do not need to see the need to eat at the seafood restaurant and frankly speaking, I still cannot get used to Filipino food till now.

So I am back in my hotel by 1930hrs and savouring my Snickers and Discovery Channel become my best friend again.

It rained heavily that night but the rain did not last long. When the rain hit on the roof, the sound is deafening and I need to increase the volume of the TV significantly.

Day 2 – 6th Nov

I woke up at 0500hrs and prepare myself for the Island Hopping trip.

On the way to the beach at 0600hrs. It is already very bright!

The boatmen came to Pargayo at around 0540hrs to fetch me. We proceed to the beach and board the boat named Paradise.

That is my slow boat.

There are a lot of boats that is anchored to the beach. All these boats have been reserved by different customers and the boatmen is actually waiting for them.

Boats reserved by different visitors. Please book at least one day in advance!
I like the colour of the water.
Security on the beach.
Security on the beach.

Since I am the only customer for that boat, so we can set off quite quickly. Before setting off, the boatman ask me am I alright to take two more passengers. I said I am ok with it.

The boatman then get the other two passengers board the boat and they are actually from Israel. They told me that the have actually book the tour but something went wrong with the booking and there are no other boats that can accept them. Yes, there is really no more boats available.

So advice is to book your tour at least one day in advance.

On the way to see the dolphins.

We then start our journey to watch the dolphins. The journey itself took about an hour. The ride is both cooling and smooth. However, the boat that we have is so slow that many boats just sail pass us. We make small talk and I relate my experience travelling in Israel about 15 years ago.

Since we are the slowest boat, there are already many boats in the area by the time we reach there.

Soon we spotted the dolphins swimming at the sea. When the boat spotted the dolphins, all the boats will rush to the same spot. By then the dolphins has already left.

Dolphins. Never see them in real until now.

What makes me puzzle is the methods the boatman uses. I feel that by chasing after the dolphins, we are stressing them instead. We should just form a circle or anchor the boat in a certain formation. Since nobody is certain where the dolphins will appear, we can just depend on luck. The passengers can also choose to swim in the waters to try their luck with the dolphins with a mandatory life jacket on them.

There are at least 30 boats in the same area!

The Israeli tourist and I agree that the dolphins are actually watching us and we are the clowns chasing after them. I am also lucky to see two dolphins flipping in the air from afar. It was really spectacular.

We then proceed our way to Balicasag Island. As the boat approach the shore, the sea bed gets clearer. I have never seen anything like this with my very own eyes. I usually only see these on pictures and TV. I am really very excited.

On the way to Balicasag Island.
The water starts to get clear as we approach the beach.

The beach of Balicasag is littered with seaweeds. This is nobody fault as this is nature but a little disappointed that I do not have a chance to see a pristine white beach. The beach is also not that sandy and it actually filled with some small little tiny rocks.

The boat anchored at the island and we are on our own. We came to a shed where food is sold and we are approached by another boatman to bring us to the snorkeling site which is about 100m to 150m from the shore.

The Israelis ask can they go by themselves but he boatman says it is a regulation that a guide is needed. We know that this is not true but I also understand that they need these tourist money to make a living.

These are the small boats.

The cost of the boat is P150 and if you need snorkeling gear, it will be another P150. You can also rent compact camera underwater casing from them too.

We then hire a boat out to the snorkeling site. Actually this is my first snorkeling trip. Before we set off, we bought some bread to feed the fishes.

When I first went into the water, it is both amazing and sadness.

What amaze me by the number of fishes. The first stop that we reach is not that deep where I can still stand on the sea bed (I do not know is it really called the sea bed. So I will use this term loosely here). They are quite plentiful and they swim around you. When I took the bread out, many fishes start surrounding me. There seems to be frenzy about the bread.

The boatman then proceed to deeper water where I request for a life jacket. Since the Israelis are both good swimmers, the boatman just need to take care of me. He brought me to the edge of the sea bed. I can see the cliff just ended and it is the deep blue sea after that. There are many types of fishes swimming at the edge of the cliff.

I was so thrilled about what I saw. I still can see the sea bed clearly despite being several meters away from the shore. It is just amazing.

However, what is amazing to me is also what saddens me.

I am not a marine expert. However, I can see that the sea bed of Balicasag island used to be filled with corals. So where are all the corals now? I believe they have been destroyed by the very tourism where people like me start to snorkel around the island.

We manage to speak to a marine conservationist. He told us that the sea bed used to have corals about 8 years ago but it has been destroyed by tourism. The native also do not bother and let the visitors step on the corals. Some native have also gave up attending school because they can make easy money from the tourist. This is really sad.

Now the corals are gone. The native had basically killed their golden goose. With corals, the island should be able to attract more tourist but now they can only see fishes.

The boatman told us there is also another area where we can see turtles. However, we are not that interested so we proceed back to the beach.

After settling all the bills, we proceed to Virgin Island. The ride is about 20 mins and by now it is really very hot and I have forgotten to bring my hat!

On the way to Virgin Island.

When we reach the island, part of it has already partially been submerge. I took a stroll along the bare beach and again, the whole beach is littered with seaweeds. This is not what I see on the Internet. I wonder which month should I come so there will be no seaweeds in all the islands in the region! What a disappointment.

This is really cool!
The island has been partially submerged.

There are stalls that sell drinks and vendors peddling their wares to the tourist. They are not pushy and they will respect you if you say no politely to them.

Sea shells for sale.
I really have no idea what are these but it can be eaten when opened up.

I bought a mango shake for P50 but it was not nice at all. The vendor just put a slice of mango and mix it with water and some milk. The colour is so pale that I find it unbelievable that this is called mango shake.

The crappy mango shake.

After a while, we board the boat and make our way back to Alona.

The Israelis wanted to visit Banaue, Sagada, Batad and Mount Pinatubo after Bohol. I then gave them advice on the best way to go and some info when visiting Mount Pinatubo. They are very appreciative.

We finally reach the shore and it is already 1200hrs+. I am really tired then. I make my way back to the hotel. However, there is no electricity and I remembered that we were told that there will be no electricity till 1700hrs due to some maintenance work by the authorities.

It is stuffy in the room and nothing to do. I then decided to hire a motorcycle to Taglibaran City. I paid P200 for the ride which is absolutely expensive. I do not know why I agree to it in the first place.

Just for your info, a trike ride from Alona to the city will be P250 but from the city to Alona will be P200.

I was given a cannot-make-it helmet where is barely stay on my head. The ride to the city takes about 30 mins. As a matter of fact, if you know how to ride a motorcycle, renting one is a very good way to explore the island.

I told the driver to drop me off at Jollibee. I have my meal there and I went back to the supermarket to explore further since I have the time.

After exploring the supermarket, I walk around the city, looking at how they live and how different are their lives from Manila.

I went to other small shops to look around, I went to their wet market where I find an interesting coin operated water dispenser.

Streets of Taglibaran
Wet Market
Coin operated water dispenser machine

I also went to BQ Mall but as I am not a shopper, I just make a brief stop.

BQ Mall
Street side vendors

In this city, the trikes ruled the streets. There are very few taxis in the city. Whoever tell you that he can get a taxi in Alona for you is not true. It is actually just a private car and you have to negotiate with a fixed rate. If you just want to travel within the city, a trike is good enough and it should not cost you more than P20. Of course there is jeepney but I would not advice any tourist to try it if you do not know Bohol well.

After touring the city, I decided to make my way to Island City Mall. The trike wanted to charge me P30 for the trip but I negotiated down to P20.

I also noticed that different islands have their trikes designed differently. In Luzon, the trikes are so small but in Bohol, they are more comfortable and spacious.

The ride is about 15 mins from the inner city.

I guess this mall is a more popular one compared to BQ Mall. It is a simple design 3 storey mall with many food offerings.

I happen to see that Bohol Bee Farm has a restaurant in this mall. I have long heard about the well-received ice cream so I decided to try it. It cost P60 for two scoop but I see Filipinos are able to buy a single scoop. Double standard?

The ice cream is indeed very creamy, delicious and fragrant. They also sell other food that is also available in their farm but I guess having a meal in the farm is more authentic.

In the mall, there are some children activities like electric motorized car, arcade etc. The Star Wars supermarket is also the main supermarket there.

If you want good quality t-shirts, you can get from a store called Island. They shirt quality is better but it definitely cost more. Some t-shirts cost about P395 per piece.

After doing some shopping and have a meal in Jollibee again (that’s really pathetic), it is already 1715hrs. It is getting dark and by now, I expect the electricity to be restored.

I again need to negotiate with the trike to P200. The trikes really know all the shortcuts. Soon we reach the bridge and I can see both Bohol and Panglao is quite foggy. By now the sun is almost fully set. When we enter Panglao, all the houses does not have any light and some depends on candles.

I was thinking am I going to spend a night without electricity? What a pathetic mindset of a city dweller when I remembered vividly when I was young, we are so happy when there is no electricity so we can play like wild.

As we are near to Alona, I can see that some houses start to have lights. Soon we reach the resort and after putting my things, I took a stroll at the beach again to have a breather and maybe this is the last night I can stroll on the beach.

After a short walk, I return to the resort and prepare to call it a day. Discovery and Snickers again.

That night, it rained again and the resort suffered a blackout and as mentioned earlier, the staff got it fix in 10mins.

Day 3 – 7th Nov

My Supercat ferry to Cebu is 1030hrs.

I took my last stroll at the beach. I am sure I am going to miss this place.

To be safe, I leave at around 0900hrs. When I reach the terminal, it is already 0940hrs.

Outside the ferry terminal.

I went to the terminal and check-in my ticket. I was again asked to choose my seat. After that, you will need to go to another counter to pay the terminal fee of P11.25. With all the payment made then you can enter the waiting area.

As also mentioned earlier, the ferry timing from each ferry provider varies from time to time. To know the current timing as in November 2011, please refer to my photo album.

The ferry ride is smooth and uneventful.

Approaching Cebu Terminal.

At Cebu ferry terminal, I catch a cab and ask the driver to bring me to Cebu Century Hotel. The traffic is a little congested but still able to make it to the hotel in 30 mins.

Cebu Century Hotel is located at Colon street; the oldest street in Cebu. There are small malls and many eating outlets near to the hotel.

Check-in is pretty smooth though they have slight difficulty finding my booking. I book a Deluxe room for P700 per night and if you need the access to the TV, you will need to pay a refundable deposit of P500 for the remote control.

The hotel is about 5 storey high. If you want to impress your Filipino friend with your hotel room, this is not the place. Room looks tired and really badly need a renovation. Toilet is not that clean but the toilet bowl looks very clean. Water pressure is good enough but be patient with the hot water. Furnishing is basic and the bed is comfortable enough.

Since I have limited time in Cebu, I quickly set off to buy the things that my wife wanted.

Colon Street

I took a jeepney to SM Mall. Taking a jeepney allow me a chance to see the streets of Cebu better.

SM Mall

I reach SM Mall in less than 30 mins. SM Mall is just like a typical mall.

It has some things that is for kids to play.

To me, SM Mall is quite boring so after getting the items that I need, I decided to take the jeepney back to the hotel.

I look for a jeepney that has Colon written on the side of the body. I found one and board it. However, after some time, I start to get worried. I ask the barker that have I miss Colon street. He said no and ask me to wait.

After another 15 mins ride, he signal me that I have reach my stop. When I alight, I am very positive that it is not Colon street. I am in a place that I believe is leaving the city. I quickly flag down a cab and ask him to take me to the hotel.

I then ask the driver where is actually this place. He said that it is called Basak and he wonder why the barker did not tell me that I have miss my stop. Soon I reach my hotel.

I do not know is this a scam but the driver said that there is a P40 for waiting traffic. I was bewildered by this charge and he can even show me the cost in his meter. I do not want to spend too much time arguing so I just pay up.

In the hotel, I pack my things and took a much-needed rest.

At around 1500hrs, I decided to venture to Ayala Mall. I ask the hotel receptionist which jeepney goes to Ayala Mall and she pointed me the jeepney just in front of the hotel. The hotel in front is actually a jeepney stop for passenger.

This time I ask the driver to confirm that the jeepney do really goes to Ayala Mall. He answered yes.

I board the jeepney and be very cautious about the surrounding. As the jeepney final destination is not Ayala Mall but only pass by it only. So I have to be very alert.

I finally see a building named Ayala and the barker is shouting “Ayala”. So I take the risk and alight.

As Ayala terrace is not visible from the road, it is better to ask the barker to let you know that you have reach the destination.

I cross the road and from there, Ayala terrace is quite visible.

I wanted to visit Ayala terrace is because base on the pictures I see on the Internet, it looks quite nice.

There are many restaurants along the terrace. You will be spoilt for choice. There are also shopping available inside the terrace. As I am not a shopper, I just took some photos and walk around mall aimlessly.

It was at this time that I get to know that my flight to Manila has been brought forward from 0550hrs to 0410hrs!

I left the mall in about 1 hr 30 mins and took a taxi back to the hotel.

During evening time, I walk out of the hotel and I surprise the streets is filled with street vendors. This really make me happy as I preferred walk along the streets with vendors than those swanky shopping malls.


I see people selling Balut! Yes, I found not one but several balut vendors! There is a lady that sell mango shake for P20 near to Gaisano Mall. I can vouch that this mango milk shake is superb and it is so much better than the one sold in Virgin Island. At the least that the colour is yellow!

Surprisingly the vendor start packing up at around 2000hrs. This is where the sleaze starts where I am approach several times for girls. You will just need to reject them politely and they will not be pushy.

How I wish I can eat in such stalls.

After the walk, I get back to my hotel and catch some sleep.

Day 4 – 8th Nov

After check out, the security help me to hail a cab to the airport at 0130hrs. To my surprise, jeepney service is still available at this hour.

The ride to the airport is smooth. As a matter of fact, it is quite an enjoyable ride as the buildings in Cebu is not that tall. It is also at this time that the radio played a very beautiful Filipino song. Unfortunately that the driver do not know the name of the song.

When I reach the domestic airport, the airport is still not open yet! I can see passengers queuing up to enter the airport. There are also insufficient trolleys to go around.

Finally the doors of the airport open at around 0220hrs.

After check-in, you will need to pay a terminal fee of P200 before you can enter the gate. After seeing the state of the airport during my arrival, I did not pin much hope on this airport.

I am not saying the airport is lousy. It is basic and it still get the job done.

At this hour, there are limited food options. I bought a tuna sandwich which taste awful. I even saw a cockroach running around at the seats area.

Finally my Airphil Express (APX) flight start to board the passengers. The flight took about an hour and it landed in Manila safely.

After touch down in Manila, I went to the departure hall to look for APX sales counter to confirm my flight back to Singapore as I will have limited Internet access. The staff confirm that the flight is still on scheduled.

I then went back to the arrival hall and catch a yellow airport taxi to the hotel. I actually did not book any hotel in Manila for my stopover. I get the driver to drive me to Victoria Court in Gil Puyat. The reason I chose this hotel for three reasons. One is near to SLEX, it is near to the MRT station and the other is near to Quiapo Church.

When the taxi reaches the hotel, I enquire is there any standard room available for 8 hours and I was quoted P900.

Victoria Court is actually a short time hotel similar to Sogo Hotel. SO they do offer short time stay like 3 hours as such.

It is strange that they do not provide the guest with the keys. Instead they will open the door for you if you need to access your room.

The room is decent. It has a musky smell. Bed is comfortable though later I found that it is actually a PVC bed. There isn’t any blanket available. Cable selection is good and water pressure is fine. There is also free Wi-Fi in the room which you will need to get the password from the reception.

The service provided by the staff is great. There is room service available and they will call a taxi for you if you need one.

I then make my way to Quiapo. My purpose is to buy some stuff that I manage to find during my trip in March. However, now Philippines is in full swing selling Christmas things. So unfortunately I did not manage to buy the things my kids wanted.

I then return back to the hotel and the taxi driver also wanted to charge for waiting time in the traffic. This time I refuse to pay and walk out of the taxi. That is why I stick to jeepney where possible within the city area. I then just idle my time in the room till check out.

I left the airport at 1330hrs for my 1650hrs. Though the hotel is near to SLEX which link directly to NAIA T3, I do not want to take any chances.

I reach the airport pretty early but the counter is already open. So I check in my luggage and just have a meal there in the Japanese food stall.

The APX flight depart on time.

One thing I would like to highlight is the two flights I took with APX, there are some safety violations.

Firstly, the flight attendants (FA) did not enforce the passenger to put their small hand carry bag under the seat or above the baggage compartment during landing and take off.

Secondly, not all window shades are fully open during landing and take off.

I have feedback all these to APX Facebook page and they will look into it.

After Thoughts

My after thoughts of this trip is generally good. Though travelling alone can be a bit lonely, but I still enjoy the country side and Island hopping tour very much.

Bohol actually have some other attractions like ATV ride, Zepline ride etc. There is even a new attraction which I can’t remember the name.

I wish I can bring my wife along to Bohol next time. I know that she is keen to see the Chocolate Hills.

Bohol people are really friendly. I feel that Bohol is a more relaxing place than Cebu. Tours are organised and the place is not too big.

When I travel in Philippines, I have a feeling that Philippines is the Latin America in South East Asia. Filipino loves to sing and friendly. Filipinos are really naturally born singers.

One thing I like about travelling in Philippines is the music they played. Though now we are already in 2011 but I can easily find someone playing songs from the 60s, 70s and the 80s. Such songs are my generations.

I did not travel a lot of places in Manila but to be honest, I prefer the province over Manila. Banaue and Bohol are more laid back. People are friendlier and I am not so tense. Maybe there aren’t many tall buildings and there are more greens to see.

I actually have a place that I have in mind that I wanted to visit in Philippines and I hope to make it come true in 2013.

More pictures available here.


3 thoughts on “菲律宾 – Philippines – Visayas – Cebu, Bohol, Panglao,Balicasag and Virgin Island – 5th ~ 8th Nov 2011

  1. Thank you for the detailed account of your Bohol/Cebu trip. At least I now have an idea of what to expect when I’ll have my vacation there in June next year.

  2. Hello mousehunt meow… I really appreciate your detailed account of your travel here in the Philippines. Thank you so much, t’was heartwarming to read your blog; very objective and it really represented the real Philippines setting. Apologies for some inconveniences, however, thanks for somehow being considerate enough.

    I myself started traveling the beautiful islands on my very own country, and realized there’s sooo much our tourism has to offer. I have been to Camiguin island. (’twas a great experience, my Korean students treated me there, quite ironic huh, but of course i had to ask aid from my aunt’s family. my aunt works for resort there.) The next was Bohol, then Leyte, was able to go Baguio (was really good, climbed Mt. Pulag (Luzon’s highest peak, 3rd in the Phils.). Went to Davao as well – a very nice and safe place to wander around. Really safe because the mayor is very keen on criminals, any native attempts to do crime should be scared because the next day, they get held, worst and most cases, get ******. REALLY, safe for tourists and even to local tourists.

    NEVERTHELESS, the highlight of my travels and soooo far remains unbeatable to my account is El Nido, PALWAN… All i could say heaven. It is definitely here, you’ll see pristine beaches, crystal clear coast,,, suuger sugary refined beaches… In fact, i still dream of such place… sooo nice. It’s paradise… El Nido, El Nido, El Nido. you should go there….

    So here’s like a list a must visits:
    1. El Nido, PALAWAN, (if you go to the Subtarranean river, at least you should have good flash light and good camera)
    2. Tagaytay, Mt. Taal
    3. Camiguin Island, (u’ll see white sand beach, black sand beach, sunken cemetery, hot and cold spring)
    4. Siquijor (have not been here, BUT this place is magnificent too) beaches are good.
    5. Siargao if you love shopping
    6. Adventure toursim, ziplines, (Bukidnon, Mindanao), White river rafting (Cagayan de Oro), Bohol
    7. Camarines Sur.
    8. Baguio (summer capital, u’ll see IFUGAOS Phil tribes, strawberries, flower farms)
    9. Mt. Mayon, Volcano, Albay Bicol
    10. Hundred Islands, Pagsanjan falls, Pangasinan… / Laoag falls, or Vigan, (somewhere in the north, u will also see a shore of windmills) — / Batanes group of islands as well…

    Oh by the way, i’m from CEBU… hehehe well, in CEBU do not miss Sumilon island, south of Cebu 3hour drive. no seaweeds on its sand bar… you can visit Kawasan falls too. Up north there’s Camotes island (haven’t been there though, it’s also good) Bantayan island (white sand beaches, not so pristine though, but the place is really good, ogtong cave is one of its highlight) Malapascua ilsand for snorkeling and diving.

    OMG sorry for the very long message, but i hope u’ll find this helpful and plan a good weekend getaway soon in one of ur future trips, you and your family.

    Ciao and God speed.

    1. Hi Dave,

      I appreciate your comments and I am glad that you have started to discover the beauty of your own country.

      Also thank you for your advice and tips. They are sure to be useful to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s