|From Bohol 8-2|
The Jeepney - the national car of the Philippines
It isn’t everyday that you hear Proud Mary belted out by a 20-something aspiring Filipino star while cruising on a “floating restaurant” on one of the Philippines southern islands, Bohol.
Well, it also isn’t everyday that your blog post gets interrupted by a power outage at your hotel (yes, that just happened after sentence one).
The Philippines continues to be an interesting place. I write this, sitting along a pristine white beach populated only by the local fishermen that brought me my dinner. We are just about as off the beaten path as you can get. How did we get here?
Still in dusty Manila this morning, we set off. After fighting through security, departure taxes, a very long wait for a mediocre coffee and actually getting our flight time wrong, we set off. The flight was beautiful – you looked down and all you could see was pristine blue water dotted with untouched lush green islands. It looked like paradise.
We arrived at Taglibaran city at essentially exactly the same time as another flight. Both flights unloaded the bags and their passengers at the same time. People made their way to the luggage carousel and all waited side by side. In my best estimate, I would say there were about 200 people crammed in a room that was no more than 15 X 15, including the luggage carousel. And it was about 100 degrees. It was unpleasant. Once we made our way out, we met up with our hotel driver who was whisking us away for a tour of Bohol island.
Bohol is located just north of Mindinao (which is often in the news for less than positive reasons). It is one of the “Visayas” island where great diving (though we don’t dive) and great beaches abound. Bohol also has a couple of others things to recommend it, including some fantastic Spanish colonial churches, the enigmatic Chocolate Hills and, though Ms. Cupcake disagrees, these cute little rodent like creatures called Tarsiers. It is incredibly popular with domestic Filipino tourists, but not so much for farang-folk. So, we arrived with unclear expectations.
Bohol certainly delivered. The churches were, honestly, some of the best I have ever been to. They had an eerie, truly majestic quality to them. They were all between 250 and 300 years old and clearly much loved. There had not been a lot of money to build them or to upkeep them, so the quality of the workmanship was one of love more than one of skill. They were what you would expect out of a devout religion instead of all of the pomp and grandeur that is often involved.
The Chocolate Hills (more of a Pistachio color at present due to the season) were shockingly spectacular. We thought that they might have actually been a bit cheesy, but they were a beautiful 1268 nearly identical conical hills all rising mysteriously out of the ground in a central area of a small island. The hills themselves were surrounded by rice fields where farmers were diligently and painstakingly planting and tending their crops. It was southeast asia at its most perfect – all right here, unexpectedly, in Bohol.
Nonetheless, the day was not without its weirdness. We set off at lunch on a “floating restaurant” on the jungle fringed Loboc river. The food was mediocre Filipino buffet and the entertainment, instead of being just the beautiful river and surrounds, was mediocre (actually terrible) Filipino lounge singing. It was downright odd.
I don't believe we are in Kansas anymore.
After the day’s tour we arrived at our final destination – our resort in far off Anda, on the southeasternly tip of the island, where the activities and few tourists there are all concentrated in a small corner in the southwest. No one, and I mean no one is out here. We turned off the main road to a secondary artery and drove about 6 miles before then turning off that road onto a dirt path for about 4 miles leading down to a beautiful white sand, palm fringed beach. We were greeted at reception with two coconuts with straws.
The Philippines is really growing on us.