Thursday, January 16, 2014

Philippines Vacation: Day Two

A nice hidden beach in Panglao
The next day, we woke up and went to the restaurant at our "hotel" for breakfast. It took some time to get it, but while we waited, we chatted up the staff and some of the other travelers. We were given ube to eat before our food arrived. Ube is a purple root that tastes great by itself. I loved it.


Our food came and it was good, though I've never been a big fan of rice. I like eggs, but I especially enjoyed eating the greens. While eating, we set up an early morning boat tour that sounded exciting. Also, +Jackie and I settled on renting a motorbike to drive around the island.

Coffee is a great way to start the day.
I really enjoyed the Bohol Coco Farm. It is a relaxing place. The rooms are big, and it is quiet. We met some nice people. Animals walked around and crops are grown all over the place. In the process of clearing my head and coming to terms with my own mistakes and imperfections, I couldn't ask for a better place.

It's as Easy as Riding a Bike
A little while later, we were on the road down to look at the motorbikes. Everything was outside other than a small room with only three walls. In there they housed a television, two benches, and the sound system. All the people there were getting ready for a festival that would be happening that night, so all the men were cooking things. A good-sized hog was being cooked over the fire. They were also making some alcoholic drink with a couple of things mixed together. They offered it to us, but we declined. We would be driving after all.

We checked out the bike and the man told me how to use it. I've never even been on one, or anything similar, so it was very strange. I got on and, after a few really jerky starts, was able to go down the road a little ways. I had a difficult time controlling the thing though. I couldn't hold it at a steady speed or really keep myself going straight. After a few tries, I decided to just go for it. Unfortunately, a huge bus was heading my way and, not being used to the controls, I sped up and went directly towards it. I could not remember the brake side and I knew one of them would throw me from the bike, so I just tried to let go of the accelerator and steer myself away. Luckily, and I mean luckily, I managed to not get injured badly on my second day of vacation.

Due to my inability to ride the bike well, and Jackie's very good ability, she ended up being the driver, with me behind. I was a little comfortable riding on my own, but I just did not have the confidence to learn how to do it with her life on the line as well. That messed with my head. Every boy grows up with images of cool, tough guys who can ride motorcycles and here I was unable to do it. Everybody else in the country could, but I couldn't. I started feeling bad about myself and getting negative. Here I was on this beautiful island with someone I care about and I was acting silly. No good. It has been a problem that I've battled with for a long time, sadly. So, with a lot of patience from Jackie, and with me trying to work through my mind attacking myself, we ended up riding together around the island. I even got over it early in the ride! Yes!

Riding Around the Island
Born to run.
Panglao is a beautiful island. We started down the rode and just kept going. As we went along, viewing the scenery, suddenly, the bike started to sputter. It had only been about 30 minutes and we were out of gas! We had not seen a gas station for a long time, and there did not seem to be any coming up. I started to walk down the street until I found one, but a man came up on a motorcycle and asked us what was wrong. He told us that we could get gas at a place not too far away.

I walked over there and went down some stairs on the side of the road. The building looked run down and I looked around while I stood on the covered patio. I spotted a window covered by a cage that looked like where you could buy things. Imagine the ticket window of a movie theater. But instead of glass separating you from the clerk, it is a cage with very small holes. A larger hole where the cage met the counter provided the clerk to pass me the gasoline in a one liter bottle.

It was a Coca-Cola bottle with gasoline in it.

Gasoline in a Coke bottle!
I returned the bottle after we filled emptied it into the tank and we were off on our adventure again.

The sun began to hide behind massive clouds. A short time later, it began to rain. We stopped under the cover of trees in order to put on our jackets. By the time we had taken them out and put them on, the rain had already stopped.

It's Jacket Jackie!

The destroyed church
The Assumption of Our Lady Shrine Parish
We eventually made it up to the northern tip of the island. A big church greeted us. Sadly, it had been largely destroyed by the earthquakes. The Assumption of Our Lady Shrine Parish looked like it had once been an impressive church. I wish I had been able to see it still completely standing. It was the biggest sign of the earthquake we had run into thus far. Panglao seemed to be largely okay by the time we got there. Apparently though, they had only gotten their electricity back the week before we arrived.


View from the side
Stupid earthquakes...
In the same plaza stood the multipurpose government building. It housed the police and ambulance services, among others. The bright yellow building reminded me of Hanoi, where vibrant colors covered most buildings. On the wall facing the church, a large banner notified any passerby of people who had escaped from jail. Rows and rows of pictures showed exactly who the criminals were. Nearly all of them looked angry, understandably. So... at least I knew who to look out for!

The front of the building
I also learned that police is spelled "pulis" in the Philippines.
I met some cute chicks in the Philippines.
Hitting the Beach
Look at those clouds. The sky always looks like a painting here.
Further on down the road, we were looking for a place to take photos. We had been on the highway for some time. A man wearing a black Jimmy Clausen Carolina Panthers jersey passed us and turned down a side street. We went the same way, trying to get to the beach. After a rather rocky ride, we came upon a place with some steps down to a small, shaded beach area. There, we relaxed for a little while.

For a long time, I observed little hermit crabs walking around and fighting over shells. It calmed me down to see how simple their lives are. They popped in and out of their shells if they felt a threat. Most of them just walked around. I have no idea where they were going or why. They didn't seem to know either. They mostly walked in circles to nowhere in particular.

Good hair day.
At the top of the stairs, we bought a couple of bottles of Sprite at a little shack before leaving again. A large sign announced a giant resort would be built right there. That is unfortunate. It will really ruin the charm of the area.

Cave Diving
The pond in Hinagdanan Cave
One of my favorite places in the world is Carlsbad Caverns. So when I read on the map that there is a cave on the island, I got excited. The idea of exploring a cave, even one set up for tourists, is fun to me.

We pulled up to Hinagdanan Cave and parked the bike. The signs are a bit vague, but we walked over to the office area and payed a very small amount for parking and access to the cave.

As we walked up to the cave, a bunch of sparrows zoomed down through the same hole we would be walking down. And when I say "zoom," I mean really zoom! Those little guys had the utmost confidence in their flying ability in tight spaces! You wouldn't be wrong in thinking they were bats flying into the cave, but when you look closer, it is obvious they are actually birds.

Down the stairs we went, being careful to not bump our heads on the low ceilings, and tried not to be slammed into by birds. The birds, to their credit seemed perfectly okay with altering their course to go around us. The staircase itself was not particularly long or tough to climb.


Inside the cave, I felt disappointment that it was not more. Basically, it is one room with a pond. There are rocks with some decent formations, but nothing extremely special. I expected more than just the one area. It was okay though because it was really cheap to go in there.

A family came in after us and the daughter proceeded to jump in the water for a swim. I guess that is permitted. There were no signs with restrictions that I could see. It also smelled like marijuana. So, there's that. I couldn't see anyone smoking though.

Dinner
"Hayahay Pizza: Best Pizza on Alona Beach?" I don't know, sign. You tell me. Come on!
By the time we made it around the island, we were starting to get pretty hungry. Most of the well reviewed restaurants seemed to be at Alona Beach though. So we dropped off the motorbike and hopped a ride on one of the tricycles. About 20 minutes later, we had made it to the beach and were looking for a place to eat.

Red Horse beer from San Miguel
Most of the places seemed to feature Western food, particularly pizza and hamburgers, as well as a few seafood things. We settled on a place called Hayahay Pizza right on the beach. As soon as we ordered our drinks, rain began to heavily fall. The staff had pulled down the plastic walls around the tent, and we were not splashed by any rain though.

Raining at Alona Beach
The pizza was really tasty, although it cost a lot for not much. We ended up buying a second pizza. Jackie wanted a drink from the menu that included grapefruit, but they were out. She ended up replacing it with another fruit juice. My gin and tonic tasted terrible. The tonic had no fizzle. It might as well have been just regular water. That was disappointing, but the beers were still good. San Miguel and all of the company's other beers are cheap no matter where you go.

Sunset at Alona Beach
The sun began to go down, so we picked up a ride from the tricycles and went home.

[The last day had been all over the place. We left Korea late on Saturday, arrived in Cebu, stayed at a hotel for a quick rest, rode the ferry to Bohol, caught a ride to Panglao, checked in to our new place, and, finally, took a walk on the beach and ate at a beachside restaurant. Whew!]

[To read what happened when we went dolphin watching the next day, you can head on to the next blog post. It would be one of the best days of my life. A great way to ring in the new year!]
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