The Tarsier Diaries: Adventures in the Philippines (4)

In Which Stacey And Rhys Leave Panglao, Hate Piers, Eat Goat and Love Sheets

Last look at Alona Beach, Panglao

Thursday 15th July 2010

Last night was our last dinner on the island. On the advice of some fellow travellers, we took a long and bumpy tricycle journey away from the beach and into the hills to dine at Bohol Bee Farm. It’s a very cool little hotel with an organic-only restaurant hidden amongst the cool, green and leafy grounds, overlooking the sea.
Our food was running a little late, so they brought out some complimentary snacks (always music to my ears): Compote bread with two spreads – mango and pesto. It was heavenly. Then came the starter – Cab Cab, which is crunchy dried cassava (like nachos) with a pesto and green tomato dip. For mains, I had a simple mountain of pasta tossed in pesto and (I think) a little bit of honey – because it was a little sweet, and we were on a bee farm.

A romantic moment, despite the vampire eyes we are both sporting.

We checked out of Oops cottage this afternoon and headed for Tagbilaran pier in the hopes of getting a boat to Dumaguette but still none of the direct ferries are running. So, now we are on a Supercat (best/worst super hero name ever?) Ferry to Cebu. Hopefully, from there we’ll be able to make our way to Dumaguete. Even if there is a boat from Cebu though, it will take another 6 hours to get to Dumaguete anyway.

Later that day, around 5.30pm

I hate piers. If there is a hell, it is a series of piers which I am forced to roam indefinitely.
We have been traipsing up and down, up and down the docks of Cebu in search of a ferry to Dumaguette. Now we have given up and are, in sheer desperation, sharing a van with another couple and driving down to Santander. Apparently, from there we should be able to get a ferry to Dumaguette tonight.

On the advice of our friends Nick and Vanessa, who’ve been to Dumaguete before, I have booked us a room at Harold’s mansion, a well-known hostel not too far from the pier. Hopefully we will get there sometime tonight?

Scenes from a van:

Even later, around 9.30pm

Result! After a three hour drive down the coast, we made it all the way down to Santander. All the fast ferries had already left, but we managed to get tickets for one of the slower crafts. After toasting the success of our mission with some San Miguel and a plate of goat (how else would we celebrate?) we hopped aboard the biggest cargo ship I have ever seen.

Goat 'n Beer

Some thoughts on Time.

Okay, so the ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete was tomorrow at 7pm and would have taken 7 hours. Our ETA would have been 17th July at 2am.
Instead, we took a 3 hour van drive and a 45 minute slow cargo ship (and will have another 30 minute taxi drive ahead of us once we get there). Our ETA is 15th July at 11pm.

I mean, seriously! I don’t know if our Lonely Planet guide is just kind of old and that’s why it doesn’t mention the van-boat route but SOMEONE should mention it.

Friday 16th July 2010 (Sometime in the afternoon)

We eventually got to Harold’s Mansion last night at around 11pm, with a driver who seemed to be playing Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ on a continuous loop inside his  own mind. Unfortunately, as I’d been unable to confirm our room via email (due to all the time spent pier wandering, goat eating and cargo ship hopping) it was ALL BOOKED UP. At this point, it took all my self-control not to collapse to my knees in the hostel lobby and let out an Anakin Skywalker style “NOOOOOOOOOO!” of utter despair. It was too much. Fortunately, the receptionist kindly managed to book us the one remaining room in the hostel up the street. We didn’t even care that it was a twin room with two single beds.

It was absolutely HEAVENLY to fall into a bed with clean sheets and a stiff mattress, after a blissfully hot shower, and flick channels between a mindless Sandra Bullock romantic comedy and Animal Planet, and have air conditioning, and not have sand in unfortunate places. It was magic. At one point in the evening, I said, “Rhys, isn’t it nice to cuddle on clean sheets?” To which he replied: “Yes! And so nice to cuddle a clean person too!” (Except we didn’t say cuddle. Um).

We woke up naturally around 8am (what?! Damn sleep cycles!) and walked across to HM to check in and eat breakfast. I ate some muesli with fresh fruit and rhys had a beautiful looking breakfast of eggs and bacon and some kind of fried potato deliciousness.

I cannot get over the joy of staying in a proper room with actual walls, and hot water, and plumbing, air conditioning, a good shower, a good bed and a TV – all for half the price of what we were paying on Panglao. Everything is cheaper here. The highlight of the day for me was discovering the most amazing little café near the promenade called Sans Rivals. Half is a restaurant where the lunch is served cafeteria style by a group of cheerful teens, who, despite all the time they spent teasing, laughing and flirting with each other, were very sweet and attentive.

And here, we had the best lunch of our trip so far. Nothing fancy – just a slice of home made lasagna and two slices of garlic baguette. Simple…beautiful. Whoever first thought to combine meat and cheese, I salute you. And all for about 85 PHP so…about 1.20 pounds. Perhaps this holiday has not been as relaxing or luxurious as we envisioned, but we have eaten some amazing food at ridiculous prices.