Going on a big group travel is fun, but encountering some problems along the way is part of it, which will turn into good memories to look back on and stories to tell during family gatherings.
Our Bohol trip last 27 December started off on the wrong foot. We were late and were almost off loaded from our flight because we had difficulty finding an overnight parking slot. The parking building was closed off because it was fully booked caused by the delayed and cancelled flights during the weekend’s typhoon. We had to turn back and go to the open parking area which caused us to lose 30 minutes which we could have used already for check in. When we reached the check in counter at 5:40am, it was already boarding time, but the Cebu Pacific staff still managed to check in our luggage, though she instructed us to hurry. My sister-in-law’s luggage didn’t make it to our flight but instead was put in the next flight. Our names were being announced, and the staff gave us 2 minutes to reach the boarding gate, to which I replied that there was no way we could make it since my father-in-law was with us and there was no available wheel chair to help us move faster. It was like everything that happened to us in 2009 when we missed our flight on our way back to Manila from Boracay, was happening all over again. This time, I was grateful to the Cebu Pacific staff who were considerate enough to wait for us when they saw that we had a senior citizen with us.
And then, all’s well that ends well. We moved on and just enjoyed our family time together.
As soon as we arrived in Tagbilaran airport, we had a day full-packed with activities ahead of us. The driver of the van that we hired was good. He said our first stop would be the viewing of the chocolate hills since it was the farthest, but instead of going to the usual view deck, he suggested that we go to where the chocolate hills were by taking the ATV ride. Of course the kids (and the adults) got excited. Though it was quite expensive at Php900 per person, the experience was worth it. We were really up close and personal with the chocolate hills. The tour guide even had a name for them. He said they were a family of hills and pointed to each one as the father, mother, and their three kids.
Earvin was able to drive both the 2 seater and the single seater because their first ride had a battery problem so our guide had to go back to get another one.
The drawback of this ATV experience was we didn’t go to the view deck anymore. Our tour guide said there was a long queue of vehicles and tourists when he checked on it, and he assured us that our experience was much, much better than going up the stairs just to be able to view the top of the chocolate hills. But I still think, seeing the cluster of hills from the top would also be a good experience for first timers.
Butterfly farm was also a different experience. We got to hold a butterfly and of course had our individual photos with it. So, our childhood belief of getting blind if we touch butterflies wasn’t true. The staff in the farm said she would have been blind a long time ago if it was true. Yes, she had a point there!
Another up close and personal experience was going to the Tarsier conservation forest. They looked so adorable hanging from the tree branches, and then I noticed their long tails which reminded me of big rats and then I forgot that I found them cute, and I get creeped out.
We also got to visit the big snake in Alburquerque town. It wasn’t actually the original python, Prony, which was the largest python in captivity. We learned that Prony died in 2013 but its body was preserved and still on display in the sanctuary.
On our way back, we stopped at the man-made Mahogany forest in Bilar town. It was another “must-stop photo spot, a “buwis-buhay” experience, as our tour guide cum driver cum photographer told us. But it was a fun experience as we had to make sure that there were no vehicles approaching before we pose for photos in the middle of the road.
The much-awaited lunch was on the floating restaurant as it cruised along the Loboc River. It rained again just like the last time we took that ride, but in terms of the food choices in the lunch buffet, I liked what we had this time. We were the first ones on the boat, so I think that was why it seemed there were lots of choices, though in fairness to the staff, they also replenished the food a few times during the trip.
Despite the rains, the scenery along the river was so tranquil, I even got disappointed when we reached the waterfalls because it was where the boat was supposed to make a u-turn, which means the end of the trip.
All of these activities were packed in one day. We didn’t actually had anything planned for the next day so we inquired from our tour guide about the cost of island hopping but he said his group’s schedule was already fully booked. Good thing we still managed to find another boatman, so we were still able to get a confirmed booking for island hopping the next morning.
For our last stop, we had a group photo in the Blood Compact shrine in Tagbilaran City, another tourist spot, which symbolizes peace and friendship.
We arrived at our resort at around 6pm, tired and starving, looking forward to have some rest before heading out for dinner, only to find out that our rooms were not yet ready and that we had to wait for two hours, because they were overbooked (of course they didn’t admit that, but that was the only logical explanation). So what else can we do but to wait. It wasn’t like we could find another resort at that hour, not to mention that it was peak season, and even our tour guide couldn’t commit to helping us find another resort.
We just decided to go out for dinner while waiting for the resort to fix our room, hoping that by the time we got back, everything will be ready for us.