The ferry to Bohol was about a 2 hour journey, and really smooth. Nice goodies to be had on board. Tagbilaran City was the destination and it was similar to some of the smaller ports around New Zealand / Aotearoa.
The first order of business was to find the tour guide, the tour minibus/van and the tour party. It was amazing (I thought anyway) how relaxed I was about finding all those things. It wasn’t so long ago I would have been full of anxiety about locating everything. Maybe as one gets older there is less concern about things that don’t really matter too much – maybe life experiences since 1999 have shaped my way of thinking. Anyway, Pedro was located as was the van and the tour party.
And so began an amazing day involving lots of countryside, village life observed as the van passed through, the tarsier, the tarsier man, Loboc river and a leisurely cruise and sumptuous lunch, chocolate (well starting to become chocolate) hills, butterflies and moths, rice fields, workers in rice fields, rice drying, mahogany forests (quickly passed through), Bacloyan church, the blood compact memorial, and then back to the Super Cat ferry for a trip back to Cebu City. A most enjoyable and most interesting and quite tiring outing.
One of the things that stuck in my mind was I was introduced to vanity at its extreme. One of the tour party wanted everybody else to take pictures of her at every location as well as passing her camera over to have a minimum of 50 (maybe 10) photos on everyone’s camera. And poor Pedro was becoming anxious about making the ferry – but did it worry Ms Vanity – not a bit she just kept holding up the van until she was ready. Wow – thankfully she got out in Tagbilaran City itself, and then a fast trip to the wharf, out of the van, onto the ferry and 1 minute later the ferry had cast off.
But what a sunset to behold on the way back. Most spectacular. Phew!!! Moral of the story? none really as your tour party members are outside your control. Maybe take time yourself to explore all these things in a more leisurely fashion. In reading up on Bohol on Triposo, it was clear that we had hardly seen anything of the island or its people. It is a beautiful island, smallish population but very very go-ahead – so much construction was occurring, some towns expanding, mostly fuelled by Tourism. However, a more challenging side of Bohol (from an outsider’s point of view) was that Bohol until recently had little in the way of employment, and so many families were forced to have mum or dad travel to Cebu/Mactan to work to finance day to day living at home in Bohol. Maybe travel home to see family every 2-3 weeks.
The highlight of the second day was catching up with a long-time friend Gemma, sharing a most delicious dinner at the Marco Polo Hotel, followed by a lovely coffee at poolside and a stupendous view over Cebu at night. A really delightful and delicious buffet meal.
The following morning it was up bright and early to get on the way to the docks for the day trip to Bohol. This was something I had been quite looking forward to, as it was intended to be a foray
into the less populated and more village like atmosphere. However, a day trip to Bohol means a fairly fast journey around several locations to experience some treasures of Bohol.
The trip to and from Bohol left Cebu docks and ended at Tagbilaran City. It was a fast journey on a catamaran, and I found out later that there are many many slower journeys. The super cat terminus in Cebu was amazing as it was the hub of many ferries to and from Cebu. A special breakfast featuring longganisa with a musical accompaniment by a group of blind entertainers.
And then it was time to embark. Had a newly married couple from Japan in our tour group who were also on the ferry. Unfortunately, I did not write their names down. Ocean research institute spied on the way out as well as some views of Cebu and its port from the strait between Cebu (island) and Mactan Island. Tagnilaran City was a very busy port and there seemed to be a lot of activity around the port.
And then we caught up with our tour guide Pedro and his driver. A lovely minibus ride to look forward to.
Having settled in to the lovely accommodation in a private home, it was time to meet a new friend on Mactan Island and then explore … the shops. I had heard so much about the magnificent malls all over the Philippines, and it was luck time – a relatively new mall, the Ayala Mall in Cebu City was still being tenanted in its upper floors, but it was a real hive of activity and what a lovely setting.
And then a lunch in one of the many many restaurants on the balconies showing in the image to the right.
And then, to top it off a jeepney adventure and return to the in-home accommodation, knowing that the next day was going to be busy catching up with a long-time friend who is the hospitality manager at Marco Polo Hotel in Cebu City.
And yes young
people the world over have that device in their hands.
In March 2015 I took a photographic journey into the unknown – the realm of travel photography. 14 days into the Philippines. In particular, Cebu City, Mactan Island, Bohol, Albay Legaspi City, Daraga, Mt Mayon circuit including Tiwi, Manila including Rizal Park, Intramuros and Corregidor Island and the National Museum.
It would be easy to understate the impact this journey had on my world view and what I understood about the world. So much seen, so much learned. Yet I only scratched the surface of a millenia old culture. A heritage rich with a tapestry of oral and written language.
This post is the first in a series I will write about my journey. Arriving late in the evening at Manila Airport, it took almost 50 minutes to get to the hotel – In the morning realised how close the hotel was when it took 5 minutes to return to the airport for the earlybird flight from Manila to Cebu via Cebu Air.
What a pleasant journey – even though we left a bit late because there was a lot of traffic leaving Manila, it was lovely to fly over the various islands and quite exciting to come into Mactan Airport on Mactan Island and see Cebu City from the air.
A look at Manila from the air
Coming into Mactan Airport, looking at the Port and Cebu City
Well there we were driving though from Connemara airport to Oughterard when we spied some desolate, abandoned cottages. Coupled with the very heavy mist/ low cloud it was a story of isolation and abandonment. When making this is I remember thinking ” where did they go?, why did they leave? Who were they?”. I want you to know and feel what I felt passing through this emptiness.
On our trip to Eire in December 2014, we stopped over in Bangkok for a couple of nights. This gave us one full day in Bangkok, and there is so much to see and to do. Our hotel was very nice, old traditional “Shanhai Maison” in Chinatown – very central and close to everything we wanted to visit. The atmosphere in the hallways was quite lovely, not to mention the salubrious 4 poster bed
We chose to explore the Royal Palace and associated temple. To get there we used the river ferries – better than taxis and super fast. If we had more time we would have hired one of the little personal boats to explore the canals in the old part of Bangkok.
At the grand palace, a retired school teacher offered a guiding service and we were glad of his running commentary on the walk through – so many stories – the one that sticks the most is that Siam changed its name to Thailand because Thailand means FreeLand – never been subject to foreign rule. Amazing.
Then we explored the temple of the reclining Bhudda and around the temple grounds.
We followed that up with a walk along the banks of the rivers and there was one of the little barges we could hire. We then walked through the streets and into Chinatown market – wall to wall people.
And we finished our day off with a meal at the Baiyoke Sky Tower Restaurant 82 stories above ground level – after going to the 84th level to experience the outside view.
We drove across Eire in about 2.5 hours in drizzly weather. It continued as we arrived in Galway but we wanted to get out and walk around the city before we found our cottage out near Oughterard. We had lunch in a the middle of the city, then ambled out to the cottage, disembowled the car of its luggage and then went back to Galway City to have a bit of a tourist look.
We walked around the harbour a little, across the river, around Nuns Island and back to the city.
Looking from the bridge over the river along the lock towards the river mouth. Quite stunning even though it was overcast and damp and so grey.
Next we stopped for a cup of tea at CupnTae. What an experience. We had heard the Irish loved their tea – this left in the dust anything we knew about tea drinkgin from our home country. It’s almost worth returning just for the tea experience alone.
The next thing we discovered was the excavation of the Hall of the Red Earl. This Hall dates from Norman times, and was visible on a map produced in the time of Cromwell (a reproduction of that map was hanging on the wall)
Wandering through the town centre of Galway was interesting with many brightly coloured buildings which truly contrasted with the grey day. Apparently there are four seasons in Ireland, and each one features an umbrella and a heavy raincoat and gumboots. We also stumbled on the Claddagh ring museum. Quite fitting seeing how there was a lovely claddagh ring waiting in Wellington for the 40th wedding anniversary.
It started getting dark around 3:30 and by 4pm it was dark enough to see brightly lit xmas lights on the trees in the town square. So we wandered off to Oughterard to shop at the supermarket, and organise dinner and breakfast. So that brought day 1 to an end.