2 flights later and we are in Bohol just off Panglao Island.
We drop Nikki off to check into her hostel, Full Moon, then it’s off down a few dirt tracks to our hotel, Scent of Green Papaya. As the saying goes, never judge a book by it’s cover. We turn down a bumpy road covered in tatty signs.
A few minutes later we end up in a beautiful place that is to be home for Christmas with Nikki joining for Christmas and Boxing day and are greeted by the smiliest and friendliest customer service team and a really reasonably priced room with all the modern comforts.
We settle in and catch the free tricycle/bus ride provided by the hotel and pick Nikki up on route and in 5 minutes we are at Alona Beach. Beautiful relaxed resort with reasonably priced restaurants and fresh fish on display ready to choose from . You can pretty much walk the beach in 20 minutes. The atmosphere is relaxed and homely and massages on the beach are in abundance, so Nikki and Deb slip off to get a massage and Steve goes off for a wander.
The beach has nice soft sand and the water is warm, there are designated areas for swimmers who don’t fancy having to dodge boats. We spend most of our time on Alona beach and in the pool, well it is Christmas. When things get too hot it’s time to slip into the Buzzz Cafe, with a choice of air conditioned room or covered terrace.
The view is straight on to the beach and the lovely blue sky. Prices on this beach are good and it feels alot more local, apart from the hideous Hennan Resort Hotel that seem to have a monopoly over getting approval to knock down local buildings to build jumbo hotels at all the best beaches in the Philippines.
Christmas eve is spent touring with a private driver and car for £40 for 8 hours, he will take us wherever we want to go.
Off we set and pop in to say hi to our drivers family as he has to drop off a pig for their Christmas dinner. His kids were so cute 😍
1st stop is the Corella Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, these creatures are just so cute. An endangered species who’s bloodline apparently go back as far as 45 million years. They are nocturnal primates and have a brain that is not as big as one of their eye balls.
If these over sensitive creatures get stressed they commit suicide by banging their tiny head against trees until they fall off the tree and die on the ground. There are various places you can see them but check the place out 1st. Some cage them and place them on trees for visitors. They are territorial and always like to return to the same place to sleep during the day so our guide could spot them easier and mobiles can zoom in to take a picture as they sit fairly low, but remember no flashing, how would you like a flash in the eye if your eyeball was bigger than your brain!
2nd stop was to take a look at the boat trip up Loboc river. Pretty much a 1 hour tourist load you on, give you a buffet lunch and return you back, so we declined as it was more than a fresh fish and prawn meal with drinks whilst sat on the beach watching the sun go down, having been to Costa Rica it was never going to match a boat ride in the jungle canals!
3rd stop is to visit the Chocolate Hills, Nikki hires a quad bike and Deb and Steve opt for an ATV.
The Chocolate Hills are a natural phenomenon of 1268 hills that are made from deposits of coral, so global warming and sea levels rising? How come these are in the middle of the island then..We would love someone to answer this question?
The views are amazing, we did try for sunset but the clouds came along and then the rain appeared so time to return back to the hotel and our poor driver had a 2 hour bike ride in the rain to get home. We couldn’t help but give our driver a super christmas present of 2 days of his wages to help him give his family an even better christmas than they had already planned. He was so so grateful and really didn’t want to except it until we persuade him.
Then it was Christmas day.
What do you do in the Philippines on Christmas day? Well you start with a lovely breakfast at the Green Scent of Papaya served by super smiley people, then off to the beach for a swim followed by a nap in the sand. Once we are all too hot and probably a bit pink, time to cool off in the pool and read a book.
The evening comes and we go off to town for a traditional lechon (Suckling Pig) a tribal show and treat ourselves to a bottle of imported wine. All priced at about a quarter of the price of christmas day english roast with no entertainment or drinks.
We weren’t disappointed, we had a great time. Fireworks, all evening long show and a boogie with the locals to finish the evening.
Next day Nikki disappeared off to stay at Loboc river at Fox & The Firefly Cottages then meet us back at the airport in a couple of days. She spends her days paddle boarding the river up to a waterfall and waiting until night fall to paddle off to see the fireflys and lay on her board bobbing in the river watching the bright stars in the unpolluted black skys.
Meanwhile, Deb and Steve take the easy option and take a boat ride to another part of the island to go and find the fireflys… Beautiful, trees covered in sparkling, twinkling insects. Such a shame you can’t take photographs that are worth showing to anyone.
After an evening at the hotel where one of the staff does a parting gift of a great fire show, it’s time to get up and leave the lovely hotel and staff to continue onwards to our next stop over in Manila before Nikki flys back to Yangon to meet up with her boyfriend from the UK and we head off to Thailand.
Debs and Steve