In the last post, I was just talking about the business trip that I took in the Philippines from May 22 to May 28, 2014.
I had gotten to the part where we commuted from Cebu to Bohol Island on the fourth day of this trip. Highlights: a lunch buffet on the boat, some tribal groups on an island, the smallest monkey in the world, and the oldest church in Asia. And oh yeah, getting ripped off on a shirt 😉 and sea urchins as well as greasy suckling pig. Well, and wondering about rain too, since it was so hot.
By 9:00 p.m., we had arrived at the Flushing Meadows Resort & Playground hotel. While this resort was small and cozy – and included a pool just a few steps away from the lounge – there were more cons than pros. For one thing, I shared a room with a buddy, but we were given only one key to the room. Since he was sort of a party animal, we had to figure out a system to access the room with just that one key. (We got it figured out.) Also, when we first got in and turned on the light, we saw a huge cockroach on the wall by the small fridge. The toilet didn’t flush. The room was hot. The consolation was that we were staying only for a night.
Day number five in the Philippines was by far the best – though because I didn’t put on enough sunscreen, I suffered a bad sunburn and my arms hurt like crazy for a week after I got home to Vancouver a few days later.
We had to get up early – 5:30 a.m. if I remember correctly – because part of the tour included a boat trip out to see dolphins. That was where I got the sunburn. Anyway, there were a few souvenir sellers that got on the boat to sell us some expensive souvenirs. It was funny hearing the exchange of an American tourist bargaining with the local souvenir lady. He had no intention of buying anything, but kept negotiating prices just for entertainment purposes, and you could tell she was getting upset. He finally said something like “50 pesos is all I will offer” while she maintained the cost for her was 80 pesos, and she kept doing this gesture where she slit her throat, saying she would die (perhaps it was an exaggerated phrase meaning she would lose money) if she sold it for that price. The outcome was just as you would expect: he didn’t make the purchase.
The highlight on this fifth day was the Bohol Bee Farm, where we had lunch. The Bohol Bee Farm is probably best known for its restaurant and its organic farm.
The food at the Bohol Bee Farm restaurant was by far the best on the trip. There was also a Bohol Bee Farm Store with all sorts of honey-themed food items, snacks, and souvenirs. The home-made ice cream booth was open, but I wasn’t thrilled with the “exotic” flavours they offered such as durian, spicy ginger, avocado, and tomato, among others. I guess I could have opted to go with the traditional chocolate or mango flavour, but since I could get that in North America, I figured I would save the few pesos that I had left. (It was 60 pesos per scope, 80 pesos per double scoop…oh okay, not too bad since it was C$1.50 and C$2.00, respectively.)
I actually did buy a bag of Organic Vegetarian Chips for 240 pesos (C$6.00) – the store had ample samples displayed for anyone to try, and I liked it so I bought it – but ended up giving it away. I know the group that I was with were snickering at the term “vegetarian chips,” but oh well.
Getting back to the Bohol Bee Farm restaurant, I found that the view was beautiful and the ambiance was great. Though the restaurant seemed fairly simple, I thought it was a very cozy atmosphere with very friendly staff. One of the guys I was with had gotten his phone wet earlier in the morning on the boat, and was given a small bag of rice so that he could dry off the phone. I thought the service was great. There was a cat with a broken tail by our table, which gave us this feeling we were right at home.
The Organic Garden Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing was delicious, probably the best salad I’ve ever had. Incredibly tasty.
The buffet-style lunch saw me grab honey-glazed chicken, ribs, lasagna, fried rice, fried fish, and red rice on my plate, as well as bread.
I thought that the fish was surprisingly juicy, not dry. The chicken had a sweet taste that lingered for a bit after swallowing. Since I love all sorts of lasagna, I enjoyed this one too, so I can’t offer up an objective opinion on it. The red rice, meanwhile, was something I didn’t like; it was too hard. It’s been months now so my memory is a bit fuzzy – plus I didn’t take that many photos (not knowing I would write about it later on) – but I still remember that last day at the Bee Farm was the best in terms of food.
And oh, I can’t leave out the Lemon Grass Iced Tea, which was simply delicious and refreshing. When we first sat down, we were each given a glass of this marvelous beverage. I drained mine right away because I was hot and thirsty. When a second one came, I again quickly drank it all. I must have had at least five glasses of this Lemon Grass Iced Tea during my meal.
On the bus ride back to Cebu, the tour guide explained about some old churches to us, and encouraged us to get off and take pictures. I definitely remember getting off simply because of the heat on the bus – and then regretting it moments later because it was way hotter off the bus.
This was the Cathedral of San José in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, and the surrounding area. (There were so many churches that we went by, and apparently an earthquake in 2013 destroyed at least one of them. In order to not confuse myself, I took a picture of a nearby sign when we got to the Cathedral of San José, which also saw some damage from that earthquake.)
It was hot outside, and just as bad inside…. Unfortunately, I can’t stand heat. Worse, I wasn’t smart enough to carry bottled water with me… though there were some shops nearby. I know we just passed by a McDonald’s en route to this church.
I just love these cool looking Bohol taxis that went by…. It seemed like they came in all sorts of colours…
More video, taken from the bus:
The above two were the last ones taken on this part of the trip. The next two posted below, were actually taken the previous day, but I just didn’t have any space to include them in “The Philippines, Part I.” I just remember during these long bus rides that sometimes I translated from Chinese to English what the tour guide was saying (for the non-Chinese folks I was with), and vice versa when he was speaking in English (for the Chinese folks that poked me wondering what was just said). Other times I just shot video or cracked jokes with a buddy.
Then it was time to return to Cebu – and that two-hour ferry ride again – before it was on to the airport and heading home (with a stop beforehand at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino for a quick shower and to claim my luggage).
On the way back, though, it was an 11-hour layover in Incheon, Korea, where we mostly hung out at the bar area of the local casino (where pictures weren’t allowed to be taken). (It was funny. My other buddy, who is American, thought he was so cool by using Google Translate on his phone to try and communicate with the server, whose English wasn’t the best. Quite a few funny things happened because of the language barrier.) Definitely felt excited on that final day. While it was sad to leave, it also felt great to be returning to Vancouver. I will say, though, I don’t miss the heat in the Philippines. Thinking about the oven that was the ferry terminal, especially, just makes me cringe.
[One more thing…back at the casino in Incheon, my buddy and I were checking out baseball scores using the WiFi, and it just so happened that Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu – who is from Korea – had a perfect game going against Cincinnati, just days after teammate Josh Beckett had thrown a no-hitter against Philadelphia. (It was morning in Korea but evening time in North America.) Since we were in Ryu’s home country, we thought it was a big deal and tried to convince the girl at the bar to change the channel so we could witness some potential history. But we were told that they were not allowed to change the channels (from golf to baseball), and she insisted she understood what we meant and knew who Ryu was… it was just that they weren’t allowed to change channels. My buddy and I concluded it had to do with gambling reasons. Anyway, the perfect game bid ended minutes later, so…]
Note: Part I of this story can be found here.