Summer spells sun, beach, sun-tanned skin and vacation. Ironically to some, this is the time of the year when the sunscreen becomes one’s best friend from the scorching heat, the ice-cold water their constant companion and the umbrella to shield them from the sun’s burning rays. My family and I on the other hand, had an unforgettable vacation at the province of Bohol.
The expedition started upon our arrival at the Tagbilaran Airport. I was transported out of the airplane using the aisle wheelchair due to the lack of aerobridge which allows passengers to board and disembark without having to go outside of the plane. The airport though small and humid has fairly clean comfort rooms. We also saw vice-presidentiable Loren Legarda for a campaign.
The brief 20-minute trip from the airport to Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa enabled me to appreciate the simplicity of life in the rural setting. The roads uncongested. The city abounding with fast food chain of restaurants, malls, bookstores, drugstores and everything else you see in Manila in smaller quantity. What caught my attention were the many colorful tricycles with biblical passages and inspirational sayings found at the back of the vehicle which I found extraordinary and unique.
The entrance to the resort augmented my excitement. We were greeted with a cold glass of watermelon juice and brilliant smile from the staff.
We occupied the superior room which was spacious. A fresh fruit of basket awaited us. And there were native sweet mangoes too! I was tempted to lay down until I remembered we had many more places to explore, lol. The cottage, a duplex, has a verandah conducive to conversing after a long day of exploring the magnanimity and beauty of the place. A quick ride on a golf cart made our way to our cottages comfortable.
This was the first time I dipped in the jacuzzi. I was reluctant at first because I was conscious of my atrophied legs. But what the heck, people were busy in their own "world."
The soothing and calming Swedish massage was heavenly! A visit to the Mit-Hi Spa transformed my world into one that is distant to the hustle and bustle of urban life. The quaint interior, the soft music in the background, the staff wearing a sarong inspired uniform is a picture perfect to alleviate your stresses away.
Dining at Cafe Luisa is a feast not only to our eyes but to our taste buds too! The buffet surely pacified our hunger pangs from the many hours of swimming in the pool or in the beach and from the long walk at the seashore and a visit to the islet. It abounded with mouthwatering dishes that were fresh and flavorful.
We arose early on the second day in preparation for the tour. After a hearty breakfast, off we went with our tour guide to visit the spots Bohol is famous for.
The Chocolate Hills, amounting to 1,268 (Source: Bohol.ph) is one of God's wondrous creation, I believe. It was amazing to see numerous hills in one location where people flock, take photos as souvenir and spend time to enjoy the breeze. The view from the plane is another thing. The hills looked like native rice cakes (green pichi-pichi minus the grated coconut) in one big basket, haha and the thought of this made me remember the sweet, big mangoes I ate and ate and ate.
The Bilar man-made forest of mahogany trees, occupying a land of 857.4 hectare is another site Bohol is proud of. It was created to prevent from soil erosion and was a reforestation project of the former President Diosdado Macapagal. Passing through it brings about a magical and an enchanting feeling. Because of it's height and the tip of the trees meeting in the middle of the road, it creates an atmosphere of a married couple going through a line of soldiers with their swords atop their heads.
Finally, the sight of the tarsiers! Wide-eyed, delicate and miniature monkey-like primates sitting quietly amongst the branches were the limelight of the curious tourists. It is said that they are suicidal. If taken out of their habitat, they go crazy, bang their heads (no skull to protect their brain) and die.
The tour also brought us to the hanging bridge where my mommy was scared like anything and clinged to my brother while courageously making her every step to reach the other end of the bridge. My nephew on the other hand, was running and enjoying the experience of trodding on a bridge above the waters! The quick stop at the butterfly garden ceased the myth that the powder-like granules makes one blind if it touches your eyes. The caretaker took a picture of the butterfly on my nose which was ticklish. We were also informed that garlic prevents the snakes from devouring butterflies, the reason garlic bushes were planted around the area. Having our lunch during the Loboc River cruise is another delightful experience. Food was abundant and the green surrounding with infrequent locals along the riverbank was one scene that can be described in a canvass.
The beach, the food, chocolate hills, tarsiers, man-made forest... Bohol sure took my breath away!