Manila Airport Domestic (T4)
I have a whole rant written up about this but I feel like I’ve been a bit negative about Manila already so let’s cut the whole thing out and say it was bad. But, you’ve got no choice if you want to fly to the islands. Whatever. It got us on an airplane.
We’d heard the islands are much safer than Manila, and I immediately asked the guy driving us from the airport. He confirmed—totally safe, he said. They rely on tourism, and it’s a small community, so nothing happens. We decided to put the whole safety thing out of our minds, which was a great call. Made everything less stressful.
We stayed at a budget inn a bit of a walk outside town.01 There wasn’t a whole lot in town, so this was actually a nice way to, uh, get away from it all, I guess.
The same driver also told us they’d been without power for months after the last big storm. Holy crap. Really puts in perspective how grumpy people stateside get when power goes out for a few hours.
One bit of rustic entertainment is there were ants kind of everywhere, which meant you got to see some cool inter-bug nature show shit (squeamish skip next pic).
The main Officially Mandated Tourist Activity (OMTA) in Bohol is to hire a boat that takes you to a few islands. You can go snorkeling with turtles, look at some cool beach formations, and generally marvel at what is roughly the perfect tropical aquatic vacation environment.
All the boats are equipped with these things jutting off the sides that I guess are to keep them balanced. Here’s the one we took.
One thing these photos don’t tell you is that actually getting around the islands involves cumulative hours of a deafening cheap motor blasting. You can experience this in the following video if you are foolish enough to unmute it.
The urban area was mostly a bust. Hordes of people wanting to sell you the above island tour would relentlessly attempt to do so, down every block, at every corner. To entertain ourselves, we tried the local fast food chain, Jollibee.
Way better was some local grilled meat. The part I really want to point out, though, was this adorable little citrus net to hold in errant seeds.
The best thing we did in Bohol was to get out of the main tourist zone and check it out on our own terms.
Inland via Scooter
For a miniscule amount of money, we rented a moped for a day and drove all the way to the center of the main island. Through jungle, up hills, into forests. By all kinds of construction, past kids walking home on the street in their uniforms, alongside farmers and farm animals. People waved and smiled. It was awesome. Such a different slice of life than we’d seen so far.
I think people partly smiled because I had a pink helmet, Julie’s sunglasses, and my ridiculous vaporwave shirt.
There were a dozen or two OMTAs along the way. We blasted past almost all of them02 and just saw what we were most excited about. One is called the Chocolate Hills (also in the picture at the top of the post).
We also stopped by the Tarsier Sanctuary, a manmade home for teensy primates.
This experience made me wish we spent a bit more of our time in Vietnam out in the countryside on motorbikes. I got scared off them from how crazy the driving was in the big cities. But it’s the way to go.
For those actually curious, the town here is Panglao, which is on the tip of tiny island connected by a couple bridges to the bigger island of Bohol itself. ↩︎
One of the best parts of this was knowing we avoided a tour. The tours would have cost maybe $60 for the both of us, included a whole bunch of padding OMTAs that we would have wished we could skip, and missed the organic feeling of driving anywhere at will. Even just being on a bike instead of a van gave the feeling of being closer to, and in a tiny way even a part of, island life. ↩︎