Bohol – Panglao and Anda.
After a short two hour ferry ride we arrived in Bohol and headed for Alona Beach on Panglao Island, we met another couple at the port and shared a minivan with them which saved us some money.
We found a nice room, slightly above budget, but worth it, at a new place called Alona Gecko, the room was spacious and cool and had a fridge and kettle which we were probably a little too excited about (it’s been a while since we had either in the Philippines!)
Alona Beach was quite built up with a lot of restaurants, hotels and beach vendors, not really what we were expecting, but we were in the area to use it as a base to explore the other attractions of the island. While we were there we managed to get a good price (250 pesos) for the island tour that is usually 400 simply by buying from a tour company off the beach (every stop has some added cost or other though), we ate away from the beach area too and it saved a lot of money.
The tour was good but tiring and we got to do and see everything that we’d hoped for while on Bohol, we saw the Chocolate Hills, visited a tarsier sanctuary and got to zip line over a jungle ravine (not planned but too good an opportunity to turn down when we got there).
We could have had a river cruise lunch but being cheapskates we thought it was a bit expensive at 450 pesos each, we ate the previous evening at a local place that sold whole spit roasted chicken for 180 so that has become our cost unit for comparing food – how many chickens could we buy instead? We ate lunch at a little restaurant nearby and tried a delicious fried aubergine dish.
We spent a few days in the area and ventured out to a beautiful local beach called Damaluan which is dotted with some seriously top end resorts – we looked on with envy at some of the private beach front areas. They have a public area too thankfully so we got to enjoy the beautiful white sand and crystal clear water, you could only really swim at high tide though but we got to see loads of red and black spotty starfish.
The plus point of being in a busy area was that there were plenty of food options around, we especially enjoyed a couple of meals at Texas BBQ which was nearby, they have a huge smoker and serve up big portions of pulled pork, ribs and if you time it right, brisket.
After 5 nights we decided to visit an area at the other side of the island which we’d heard was well worth a visit, Anda, so after a cramped but scenic two hour journey we arrived in at our accommodation for the next two nights, 1Peace Resort. In all honesty we didn’t enjoy our stay here too much, the beach area was nice and the nightly family dinners really tasty but we found our room uncomfortable and a bit noisy so that’s enough about that.
From Anda we caught a local bus to Tagbilaran for an overnight stay before a ferry to Dumaguete on Negros.
Negros – Dumaguete and Dauin
Dumaguete is popular with expats and we can see why, there are lots of decent restaurants, good transport links and even a promenade, Rizal Boulevard. We spent two nights there and took the opportunity to extend our visas which was painless and easy thankfully, we got some funny looks though as we both accidentally-on-purpose wore very similar colour tops, the lady in the visa office even commented that it was really sweet that we dressed the same!
In Dumaguete we tried the local sweet delicacy, silvanas, they’re really good! It’s a kind of biscuit sandwich made from meringue with a butter cream filling, really tasty but not good for the arteries, neither was the lechon (BBQ) pork we had for dinner one evening either! The Philippines isn’t very vegetarian friendly.
From Dumaguete we enjoyed a few days of luxury at Villa Del Mare in Dauin to celebrate my (Ed’s) birthday. We had a pool, luxurious room (free sea view upgrade too!) and a marine sanctuary just off shore to snorkel. We had the best time, the food was good and the staff couldn’t do more for us, we were spoiled rotten, we’re still missing that room!
The snorkelling was excellent, just metres off shore were coral reefs teeming with all types and sizes of fish, the water clarity was good and we even saw a couple of turtles! We ventured into Dauin town a couple of times while we were there, we got to ride our first jeepneys! There’s not a lot there but the church was nice and we found a little place for lunch called Dauin Dive Cafe that served up some great meals.
Our life of luxury lasted but three days before we had to leave, back to Dumaguete for a ferry to our next destination, Siquijor.