Monday, July 6, 2009

Frolicking in Bohol

The planning for this trip started over an online chat conversation night of Good Friday this year between me, Patrick M. and Patrick O. brainstorming about doing a backpacking trip to another country. The three of us who were members of the now defunct MS Juniors (previously referred to as the XPerts), have known each other for years and have shared a common interest in travelling and explorations but never got a chance to do it together. We had a hard time deciding on which country to go and at the tail end, we decided to do something smaller first within the Philippines. A poll among us revealed that we all wanted to go to Bohol and that none of us have ever been there so it was a unanimous decision. It's a shame for me because that's where the roots of my mom came from. In a whim, we booked our roundtrip tickets for Manila - Tagbilaran via Philippine Airlines that very same night, availing ourselves of the all-inclusive Econolight rates of PHP2,192 each. Our agreement is to make the expenses for this trip as low as possible and stick on a budget.

Our plan was to fly out Friday afternoon and be back by Monday the next week and go straight to work so a week after I flew out to Taiwan, here I am again in the airport off to another escapade! Most of this trip was planned by Patrick O. and I commend him highly for it! It was supposed to be a stress-free trip for me since I usually take charge or at least participate in planning but this time we left it up to him. He must be stressed all throughout the trip! :)

Econolight passengers should expect a "no-frills" service before booking tickets, which means no advanced seat reservation, no food service (except water) and seating at the last rows of the plane. For Elite passengers, you also wouldn't be granted access to the Mabuhay Lounge but for an end-to-end trip of under 1 1/2 hour, it's not so bad at all.

The plane pushed back from the airport gate on time but because it was peak time, we waited for about half an hour before our plane got to take off. As we are rolling over to the runway, we saw a number of planes waiting behind us for their turn to take off.

Tagbilaran Airport (TAG) is the gateway to the islands of Bohol province and is located on the capital city of Bohol (Tagbilaran City). Bohol province is part of the Visayas group of island in Central Philippines.

It was such a short flight that even if we departed late, we were still able to arrive on time. The airport is a small domestic one and doesn't have jetways that connect the terminals to the cabin doors. This is me minutes after we arrived. No, I didn't arrived with a private jet rather on a bigger jet behind it, but how I wish I did!

The private jet is actually just about to depart and is waiting for a cabinet official to take off!

Outside the airport, a number of hagglers are waiting for arriving passengers to offer their tricycle and taxi services. After a few minutes, we were able to set an agreement with a driver that will take us to Alona Beach in Panglao Island for PHP500, almost an hour away from the airport. Panglao Island is a holiday destination both for foreign and local because of its white sand beaches and surrounding aquatic diversity.

Because we were trying to stick to a certain budget and lower costs, we stayed in Paragayo Resort for PHP1,500 a night for the three of us. It's not exactly on the lowest end of the range but the price is good enough for a decent place to stay for the night. The resort hotel is only 3-5 minutes walk to the beach area so it's not that far compared to staying in a beachfront hotel resort that costs more than double of that rate. And best of all, they got free wi-fi access in certain areas of the resort!

After we dropped our bags and freshened up a bit, we went out to check out the beach area before the sun goes out that day.

It was already sunset time and we were thinking we could catch a glimpse of it. However the scene was covered and cannot be witness from our vantage point. We instead just walked around and explored the shoreline, which was rather shorter than I expected. Alona Beach was allegedly named after Alona Alegre who run on this beach topless decades back. I wasn't alive that time yet and didn't know who she was until I searched for her over the internet.


end of the shoreline

Along the beach are a few restaurants serving fresh seafood dishes that can be cooked to your liking. This gave us an idea what to have later that night.

A few minutes of walking along the shore and then we went back to our room to take an hour of rest. This is how our room looked like, an airconditioned standard room with a double bed. The resort also provided an extra mattress, towels and the usual soap and shampoo. The room is definitely not bad for the price! For the standard room, expect amenities to be basic though so no mini-ref nor TV but that's not what we came here for right?

Our resort doesn't have a restaurant so we went out to have dinner in a grill located in Lost Horizon Beach Resort.

The restaurant is al fresco style and it was fun eating by the beach on this quiet area of the island feeling the cool breeze of wind touching your skin.

How does one order? Well they have line up of meat and seafood for charcoal-grilling. You just point what you want to eat and they will cook it for you.

Our table was located further by the beach.

So this is what we had for dinner. Patrick M. and I shared a big chunk of grilled pork belly with a pitcher of cola on the side while Patrick O. had grilled fish and eggplant. It was a hearty dinner though it maybe simple, it left me full and satisfied that night.

The next morning, we woke up early for a whole day tour around Bohol. Patrick O. have arranged for a driver based on a recommandation that will take us around.

That morning, Jojo joined and flew in early because he had an engagement the day before. Because we the group grew bigger, we also had to transfer to a bigger room (deluxe room) that had twin beds and this time a cable TV (PHP1800).


While waiting for everyone to get ready, I decided to hangout in one of the huts at the courtyard right outside our room to check my email. The wi-fi signal only reaches up to this point and was not available all the way to our room. In a few minutes, all's well and off we went to visit interesting places around the island!


aceychan said...

you're making me miss bohol! :D

Jasper said...

@acey - but you're just a ferry away!! :)

Jojo Ayson said...