I’m sure many will contest the title of my blog post as definitely it is debatable. There are a lot more beautiful and charming places in the Visayas which this Blogger definitely agree. Reason why this blogger used the title is that among my several trips to this region, the last trip in Cebu and Bohol is definitely the best.
Firstly, I’ve never been to Bohol before and I was really captivated by the sheer beauty of this province. Secondly, it is the first time that I flew to Visayas with a family member, my Mom at that. Lastly, the trip was purely a holiday. In the past, I’ve visited several other places like Boracay, Iloilo, Bacolod, etc. but mostly it is combined with Business so I didn’t really get to enjoy these places 100% leisure time.
I’ve planned the trip since last year. I was trying to convince my other siblings to join the trip too but since it is still not school holiday and their sons or daughters cannot skip school especially the end of school year is just around the corner so only me and my Mom got the chance to fly. I flew back to Manila in time for my Dad’s first year death anniversary and coincidentally, it was my birthday week. As a treat to myself (and my mom too) I decided to take a break.
It was my mom’s first plane ride so I really wanted to make it memorable. She has mixed emotions about the trip cos definitely she would’ve wanted my Dad to be with us (but obviously, physically he can’t anymore) as they really enjoy traveling together. I just consoled her by saying that Dad is in a better place than where we’ve visited and I’m sure he wants you to be happy and see the places that he wasn’t able to take you before. It is actually my dream to take them to all the beautiful places I’ve been too as much as I can. And I’m working to make that dream a reality at least for my Mom while she still can.
We reached Cebu on a very sunny Saturday afternoon. We stayed at the Crown Regency Hotel in Fuente Osmena. This hotel is the highest hotel in Cebu and became popular because of the extreme activities at the hotel’s rooftop. Of course I can’t convince my mom to do all those extreme rides as I myself am afraid of heights though I’ve experienced rappelling, slide for life, etc. before just for me to help conquer that fear.
We were assigned in the 30th floor of the hotel and the view from our room is just superb, overlooking Osmena Circle. Though that centre of Cebu City could be better had all those plants and flowers are not dry or wilted. The hotel was so full of Chinese group considering it was already after Chinese New Year. I can’t help but think, am I in China or Chinatown at the very least? Lol.
The room is nice and clean but the service is not satisfactory. I tried requesting for a bath towel because the room only got 1 and I booked for 2 persons. 30 minutes after I had requested, the towel has not arrived. Since we were so hungry (that’s almost 2pm) we decided to take our lunch first and the housekeeper didn’t arrive at all. Think the towel was delivered almost dinner time.
Another incident of poor service is that they provide free LAN internet. Even as I changed all the settings I know to be able to connect to the internet, still I can’t. I called to ask someone to assist me in connecting to their Internet. The staff said yes and will send someone. An hour after, still no knock on the door. I followed up and the same person I talked to was surprised that no one assisted me and she said she will follow–up. Another 30 minutes had passed, still no Crown Regency staff in my room. As I need to connect to the internet I decided to go out of the hotel to find any Internet shop that’s still open (it’s almost 10 pm then). I asked for an extra key card since they only issued one and I can’t take it otherwise my mom will have no electricity in the room so I requested. The receptionist said I have to go down and leave PHP 100 as deposit so down to the Ground floor I went.
I told the receptionist that I requested assistance to connect to the internet 2 hours ago but nobody come. She said sorry and will “again” ask someone to go up and help me. I went out and have a quick stroll in the area. Since it’s getting late, a lot of the shops are closed so I decided to go back to my hotel room after 15 minutes. When I returned, I asked my mom if somebody came and she answered in the negative. Till the time we checked out the next day nobody showed up. Breakfast the next morning was the same. There are so many staff in the coffee shop but I guess they are mostly student trainees. Requesting for basic things, it seems they are unsure and takes long time to deliver. Another incident is that we bought a lot of dried fish and otap. The security staff told us we can’t bring them in the guest room for it may smell which we understand and a lot of other hotels would also have that policy. They asked us to keep in the luggage area. While asking for assistance from the luggage counter staff, 2 of them just keep on talking instead of helping me with the stuff which I find quite unprofessional. I’ve stayed in some smaller and lower star hotels in Cebu in the past but the service was great. Mango Park Hotel comes to mind first.
Anyway, Crown Regency is ideal in terms of location and quality of rooms but I hope they will improve the service so that more people will be enticed to stay again.
In Cebu, we took the usual tours: Taoist Temple, Magellan’s Cross, Sto. Nino Basilica, Cebu Museum, Cebu Heritage Monument, Fort San Pedro. I asked the driver to take us to Tabo-An Market too so we could buy all the “Pasalubongs” of Danggit, Pusit and other dried fish. We’ve also stopped in Shamrock store to buy Otap, Dried Mangoes, etc.
We only spent 1 night in Cebu. My mom earlier told me why it was such a short stay. I told her Cebu City is just like Manila and you could cover the city tour in just half day, unless you decide to go to the Beach then at least 2 or 3 nights is required. Next day we took a ferry ride to Bohol.Ocean Jet Ferry is nice, clean and safe. While we waited in Cebu Pier, I noticed a lot of Japanese, Koreans and even Western people go to Bohol which I am really happy to see that people are starting to know this very lovely island. I just do hope the government will renovate the pier. It is old, dirty with lots of broken chairs, roof is decaying, etc.
The trip to Bohol by sea is approx. 2 hours. I didn’t book transfer from the pier to our resort as I thought there are plenty of Taxis in the port just like in Cebu. Little did I realize that Tagbilaran is such a smaller and less developed city so it’s better to book transfer in advance. Luckily, there is a counter of Bohol Beach Club in the port and that there was an available van at that time. Transfer costs PHP 600 per way per van.
It takes about 40 minutes drive from Tagbilaran City to Panglao Island. The island is connected to the main land by 2 bridges. Bohol Beach Club is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) resort in Panglao. I learned that the name Panglao came from the term “mapanglaw” or gloomy, quiet, melancholic which is still true to this day. Despite modernity and looming tourism boom, Panglao is still more secluded compared to Boracay, Puerto Galera or Mactan beaches. Definitely, I miss the very lively nightlife of Boracay but Panglao has a charm all by itself.
Bohol Beach Club is exactly the opposite of Crown Regency in terms of service. From the van driver to the receptionist, restaurant staff and all the other resort people we’ve encountered, service is really personalized, fast and friendly in this resort. The room that we’ve stayed has nothing fancy but is comfortable, clean and well maintained. The rooms are just few steps away from the private beach. Since both my mom and myself are quite tired from continuous travel from Manila the past 2 days, we decided to doze off in our room that afternoon and stroll to the beach later. Unfortunately, it rained that afternoon till night time. There was actually a beach dinner set-up for a Chinese Group and they decided to move the program to the covered Dive centre because of the rain.
Since Bohol Beach Club is private and secluded, it is quite hard to walk to other resorts and dine there or find a local restaurant as such mostly you have to take your meals inside the resort. Buffet costs around PHP 400 per person. There are 2 wings of the resort and each have a main restaurant. One will serve a la carte while the other is Buffet. Since my mom has to control her food intake, she don’t prefer buffet so we ordered ala carte for dinner. The dinner was superb and food tastes good. We decided to order 3 dishes mostly veggies and a soup because in Cebu we had a buffet dinner and I felt so sick of all those pork in the buffet. The staff also gave 1 big serving of lechon which I had to consume most as my mom can’t eat a lot of pork. The dinner we had in Bohol with all those veggies was the best meal we had in that trip.
Btw, did I tell you that it was my Birthday on that day? 🙂
Next day, we went into a full day countryside tour of Bohol. Pick-up time was early and it was still drizzling. Our Tour Guide Ging is a pleasant lady and knowledgeable about many things in Bohol. She could quickly answer our questions. First stop was the Blood Compact site in Tagbilaran. Then we headed further north in the town of Carmen to visit the famous geological wonder, Chocolate Hills. Upon reaching Chocolate Hills, the weather fortunately became better (Thank God!) and the clouds slowly disappeared so we were able to take some decent shots otherwise, the pictures would look all so gloomy and dark.
After visiting Chocolate Hills, we went to Tarsier Conservation Area. At that point, our Guide heard the people talking about a strong earthquake that just happened minutes ago and that the government announced cancellation of work and school. We didn’t felt the earthquake because we were on the road and it was a bit bumpy. Little did we realized that indeed the earthquake was strong and affected a big part of Visayas, Dumaguete the most heavily affected.
Going back to the Tarsier, we were able to see with our own eyes the world’s smallest primate. Since they are nocturnal and very small, visitors are not allowed to touch them or take pictures with flash as well as make loud noise. Next stop is Loboc River for our Cruise and Buffet Lunch. The Loboc River is very calm and clean with a lot of trees surrounding the river. I was actually looking forward to this part of the tour because I ever watched in TV about the Loboc Children’s Choir which are a group of children with very angelic voices. I thought they are the ones singing during the cruise but our guide explained that they are also studying and would only sing during vacation or off-school which is understandable. Anyway, the singer during our Cruise also have a good voice.
Next we went to Baclayon Church, the country’s 2nd oldest Church after San Agustin Church in Manila. Baclayon Church was build since 18th century. The Church is visibly old with molds, weeds and other stuff are present in the Church facade but the altar like most of the old churches are very nice and intricate. Beside the church is the museum displaying all the stuff used in Church service and ceremonies like very old Bibles, various robes, cups, holy images, etc. The smell of the museum is old as well. Imagine most of those things were made more than 300 years ago!
Next day, the Sun finally appeared my Mom and I decided to walk to the beach and swim in the clear waters of the sea. Many other guests decided to go out of the sun and enjoy their holiday. We went back to Manila later that afternoon.
It was indeed a memorable trip. I would definitely love to return to Bohol perhaps explore the other parts of the province and also take the Dolphin Watching Tour or Fire-fly watching cruise.
Indeed it’s more fun in the Philippines!