In Wide-Eyed Wonder

I needed to browse through the photographs of my trip to Bohol to once again remind myself of the experience. It has been nine months, after all, and my memory isn’t anymore as sharp as it was.

The trip to Bohol was part of my surprisingly year-long debut celebration. Of course, I’m just exaggerating. But if your birthday’s July and the get-away was November, it does feel like a year-long celebration, isn’t it? Kidding aside, it was a trip I was really, excitedly looking forward to. One, because I will be going to a beach in the middle of a school year! And two, because I’ve only been to Visayas once, but even that was just a two-day visit in Cebu, when we attended a worship conference. We did not even get the chance to visit must-see places there.

I always look for three things whenever I go out-of-town: food, beach, and relaxation. My list is not unusual; it’s pretty much what people always look for when they leave for vacation. Vacation time is, ironically, always never quite enough, and the need to narrow down the list of “Things I Have To Do When I Get To [insert destination here]” is inevitable.

Food. My family stayed in Dumaluan Beach Resort for five days and four nights. Our meals were not really extravagant, considering we even bought food in a grocery shop to save money. Breakfasts were free though, as part of the hotel services. But there were occasional meals—three or four, if my memory serves me right—that we ate outside. With outside I mean literally outside. Two dinners were spent under the starry sky, beach-side, with the accompaniment of live bands. There were restaurants—more like stalls—outside the hotel, and we ordered there. The food was really great, especially the sea foods. And the ambience was just perfect. It’s funny though, that I was with my family there. The setting was just so romantic that I did imagine being with a guy there. But of course, that’s another story.

Brothers

You’ve been to Bohol if you’ve been to three places: the infamous Chocolate Hills (which are nothing compared to the pictures, if I may add—you have to see the real thing!), the wide-eyed Tarsiers (you can look but you can’t touch!) and my personal favorite, the Riverboat Cruise.

A lunch at the Riverboat Cruise is a must. Even the popular Korean actress Kim Yoo Jin says so as she signed her autograph in one of the restaurants there that offered buffet lunch cruise. The cruise included a buffet lunch (eat-all-you-can, that is!), a magnificent view as the cruise toured for around 45 minutes, and a stop-over with natives singing and dancing to folk songs. It really was worth every person’s 250 pesos!

Yummeh!

Beach. I love the beach, more so because I don’t have tanning issues (all thanks to my fairly dark complexion). But the beach near our hotel was different: it was breathtakingly beautiful. The sand was white, and the water was very clear. Too bad I don’t have the photography skills to capture the pretty sunrises and sunsets that I saw!

Attempt at actual photography

What made this beach experience memorable and extraordinary was that one day in our vacation dedicated to dolphin-watching and snorkeling. Imagine my excitement when I found out we were doing both things, especially because it was my first time. We woke up at the break of dawn and rented a motorboat. I imagined dolphin-watching as seeing dolphins do funny tricks while being given little fishes by their trainers, but it was nothing like that. It took an hour and a half or more before we arrived at the destination, but it was just right at the middle of the sea. No trainers, no cute dolphins doing funny tricks, just water everywhere. We saw more boats coming our way. A few minutes later, the two people manning the boat pointed at a direction. We turned and saw fins! And that was when our dolphin chase began. We went after the dolphins; sometimes they jumped for us, and we clapped and shouted in amazement. Most of the time though, they swam away at the sound of the boats that chased after them, ours included.

After dolphin-watching, we were led to Balicasag Island for snorkeling. After the initial instructions, we wore our snorkeling outfits and entered the water. Because it was our first time, a resident helped us first until we were able to go on our own. It was such a sight to behold down there! Underwater, I saw different fishes: colorful fishes, big fishes, tiny fishes, and Nemos too! We even fed the fishes some bread crumbs to attract them. It was definitely so much better than seeing the fishes in Manila Ocean Park!

Relaxation. The whole trip was so relaxing that even if we were outside almost every day, it did not matter. I cannot reiterate it enough: Bohol was very beautiful. Although the city was bustling with people, the Bible verses written in tricycles were very eye-catching. The province was like an Amorsolo painting that came to life. It was a display of the everyday lives of the residents there—humble, simple and although unglamorous, very satisfying. Most residents earn their living through tourism, and the local government wishes to keep it like that. This is why the rise of big shopping malls in the city is very alarming. Still, the residents are hopeful that they can preserve Bohol’s beauty for tourists from all over the globe.

Faithful

I hope my memory gave justice to the real experience Bohol left me with. I’m sure to go back there. The first thing I will do when I go back is call up Manong Eloy Quibol, the best driver/tour guide there is—although I’m not sure where else I should go. But touring Bohol again, I think, will still be just as relaxing and fun as the first time. 🙂

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