Friday, January 5, 2017
The other day on our countryside tour, after about our fifth beer, Mar and I came up with the brilliant idea to take a motorbike tour through the countryside a few days later. We asked our driver Paul if he could arrange for two guys on motorbikes to take us to a waterfall on Bohol that I had read about online and some caves on Panglao. Having taken a few motorbike rides home after bars a few nights here in the Philippines, it was clear that girls on motorbikes just have more fun. The only problem is that I hate to drive, and while Mar would love to get behind the wheel, I won’t get on the back of a motorbike she is driving. Because I have known her almost fifteen years. So I know better. Not a problem – for about $10 you can have a nice FIlipino guy drive you around the island for half a day. One would think I would have learned my lesson from my twelve hour motorbike tour from hell through the Thai countryside courtesy of Kim Ortloff a few years ago, but apparently I’m a glutton for punishment. Kristie’s plan was to head to Alona Beach and go diving for the day.
We had texted Paul a few times yesterday to confirm our tour, but never got a response. We gave up and just accepted the fact that our motorbike adventure would not happen. At 8 am, Kristie went out to catch a tricycle to town but came running back to tell Mar and I that two guys on motorbikes were outside waiting for us. We talked to Paul on their phone and apparently he couldn’t respond to our texts and our hotel is incapable of giving messages. We were checking out that day, so Mar and I hauled ass back to the room for a complete shit storm of frantic packing so that we could check out before hopping on the bikes with Tims (my driver) and a guy who’s name I can’t remember – but it was a two syllable name that repeated, so we’re just going to refer to him as Nigi-Nigi because it makes us giggle.
In all the hurried confusion it did not even occur to us that it had been raining earlier that morning and there was a distinct possibility that it would continue raining that day. I’m sure it goes without saying that it did rain. It rained hard. People looked on in utter bewilderment as these two dumb shit white chicks sped past them on the back of some random Filipino guys’ bikes in the pouring fucking rain through the countryside of Bohol. Do you know what pouring rain feels like at 60+ km an hour on a motorbike? Needles all over your fucking body. Meanwhile, Mar-Mar is happy as a clam on her bike, arms stretched out wide, head back, jaw unhinged collecting rain water, screaming “whooooooooo!”. At one point our drivers just looked at each other as if to say “what the fuck have we gotten ourselves into?”. At another point, they actually stopped to call Paul to make sure they weren’t lost. I shit you not. And then, after almost an hour on those damn bikes in the pouring rain, we arrive at Camiguin Falls. Was it worth it? Hell yes it was. It was worth every single minute.
The waterfall first appeared in the distance through the jungle and I instantly knew we hit the travel jackpot. It stopped raining right as we arrived at a little shack where we were told to sign our names in the visitor book – we were the first guests of the day. Jims and Nigi Nigi then lead us into the jungle down a muddied path with slippery stone steps, until the canopy revealed a series of emerald green pools. We hiked along each of the pools until we reached the waterfall. It looked like something straight out of the jungle book, and we had it all to ourselves. I’m assuming that’s mainly because we are the only tourists crazy or dumb enough to attempt the journey in the rain, but either way, I’ll take it. Mar and I immediately stripped down to our bathing suits and jumped in. Our guides tried to creepily snap pictures of us as if we didn’t notice. I’d probably want a picture of the crazy bitches that made me drive and hour in the rain on bike too. So I could put up “Beware” posters of them all over town for the other guides.
We spent a while swimming and jumping into the big emerald green pool at the base of the waterfall and eventually hiked back to the bikes. We breathed a sigh of relief that the rain and stopped and were looking forward to a far more pleasant ride back to Panglao. We got about twenty minutes of sunshine on those damn bikes before, wouldn’t you know it, the skies opened back up. At this point, we were immune. Our next stop was Hinagdanan cave back on Panglao, near our hotel. It’s basically a cave with a big natural pool you can swim in. If there is one thing I love more than a cave, it’s swimming in one. This stop was more touristy, complete with a ticket office. We were told it cost extra to swim, so we paid for the special swimming ticket. It wasn’t until we got down into the cave that we realized no one is checking who has a swimming ticket and who doesn’t. Swindled out of another $1.50. Oh, the horror. We swam around in the cave until some Asian tourists joined us an proceeded to kick us in the face vigorously like it was YMCA swimming lesson. We took our leave and headed back to the hotel, where we bid adieu to Jims and Nigi Nigi, tipping generously for humoring us in the pouring rain.
Back at our hotel, we discovered Kristie didn’t actually get to go out on her dive, because she was supposed to do some sort of refresher course for her certification. We loaded up all our shit and transferred about a mile down the road to Amorita resort (our current resort was sold out tonight). This new hotel was fucking beautiful, with an infinity pool overlooking all over Alona Beach. The check in process was bizarre – customer service here borders on deranged, so we just grabbed some lounge chairs by the pool and glasses of ice and started making our own vodka sodas.
Once we finally got into our room, we moved over to the larger infinity pool where we, believe it or not, continued to drink. We met a nice Italian man who lives a few blocks from Kristie in Venice. The hotel hosted a sunset happy hour with free drinks. We went to dinner at their tapas restaurant which was the best meal of the trip so far. We were even treated to a fireworks show courtesy of a wedding at the neighboring hotel. Our plan was to go out that night, but we had been informed by our Italian friend that there isn’t much in terms of nightlife, so we headed to bed early.
Saturday, January 6, 2017
Today I woke up with some sort of stomach bug. It basically felt like I was being stabbed in the abdomen aggressively all day. Whenever the pain hit I just shouted “contraction!”. Today we are taking the fast ferry to Dumaguete, where we will stay a night before catching our flight to Coron the following morning. We headed to the ferry around 11 am where the ticket buying process was a complete assault on practicality and efficiency. First you get in a line to buy your ticket. The lady at the ticket counter yelled at me for already asking her a question early. I told her it must have been a different white girl because I just got here. Apparently we all look alike. Then you move into another line about 2 feet to your right and give the tickets you just bought to the guy at the check-in counter. At that point, you move to a line ten feet to your left, on the other side of the ticket-buying line to check your bags. After that we attempted to enter the ferry terminal – silly us. First you have to go into the line on the very far right of all the other previous lines to pay your terminal fee. After all this, you can finally enter the terminal and board your boat. We arrived in Dumaguete and basically just chilled there the rest of the day. Because it’s kind of a shit hole of a town. And I felt like shit. Although our hotel, Florentina Hotel, was fucking adorable. TripAdvisor for the win.
Sunday, January 7, 2017
We headed to the Dumaguete airport around 8:30 am to catch our flight to Busuanga (Coron) via Manila. That’s right, we are braving the Manila airport. But its a quick transfer within the same terminal, so it will be painless this time. I have somehow taken numerous flights within the Philippines thus far without writing about the firearm drop-off desk. Outside of each airport is a desk where you can drop off your firearm before boarding your flight. I guess it’s like airport parking for your gun. Because god forbid you drive to the airport without your gun. Nothing like a big “Firearm” neon sign to give you the warm and fuzzies before boarding your flight. We checked in with Philippine Airlines and got into a fight with them over baggage – apparently we were over the limit and they wanted to charge us. Twice. One charge for each leg of the trip. Do you have any idea how hard it is to fight with Filipinos? They are so damn sweet and calm at all times. It’s like trying to argue with Barney. Or a Canadian. You just end up looking like a total prick. And all they do is repeat themselves over and over again until you give up because, in actuality, its not a lot of money and its clear they don’t give a fuck, so they just won’t let our bags on the plane. The thought of being trapped in Dumaguete makes me want to help myself to the firearm drop-off bonanza and end it.
I’ll end it here, because I’m out of time and am about to board my five day boat through the Palawan islands. Which means no wifi for five days. Which means no blog for five days. Later losers!