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Day 57- 60: "No hurling on the shell dude, just waxed it!"

Turtles of Apo Island, Dumaguete, Oslob & Ferry to Bohol!


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29th January- Tan Awan to Dumaguete
From what we could work out there was only one bus a day from Oslob to Dumaguete that ran through Tan Awan. Our plan was to get the bus to stop and jump on. Estimating what time it would arrive we were waiting on the side of the road in the light rain hoping to see a bus. Then a bus did pull up saying Dulaguette on. When we asked if he was going to Dumaguete we were told it only went to the port not our destination. So we didn't board the bus and waited a few more minutes before concluding that bus was probably the one we wanted but something must have gotten lost in communication although we still have no idea if it was or not. We that hope seemingly now out the window it appeared our only option would be to grab a trike to the port and try to board the ferry ourselves from there.

Having haggled with the driver for a reasonable price for the 20 minute drive to the port and the little metal cage attached to his rather rickety bike rammed full of us and all our bags we were on the way. His bike definitely struggled under the 55kg of luggage and us with it wheezing up the hills. There were moments we were unsure if it would get us there but somehow it did and we boarded the short ferry with little issue. Once the other side we grabbed yet another trike road, after deciding against what would have been a 20 minute stroll from the bus stop, and checked into our hostel. With the heat beating down outside we were thankful that we paid the small amount extra for a room with air con.

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Once settled in we headed for a tour of Dumaguete stopping for lunch at McDonald's (you know to compare to other countries and to compare to Jollibee, the Asian equivalent) and finding the start point for our Apo Island snorkel tomorrow. Apo Island is a small volcanic island located at the southeastern tip of Negros Oriental. Its surrounding marine habitat is a marine preserve, with about 400 species of corals and 650 species of fish. It’s also a popular sighting spot for sea turtles! Something we have been hoping for our whole trip and the main reason we trekked out this way. Needless to say we were very excited. In stark contast to the whale sharks, Apo Island is also one of the best eco-tourism sites in the Philippines. It’s one of the few places to create a balance between tourism and conservation.

We both like the look of Dumaguete more than the other places we had seen so far in the Philippines. It has much more going on than Tan Awan but not as much pollution as Manilla. With blog updated and snacks consumed we headed to the hostels rooftop bar for dinner and drinks. The drinks are so cheap here that we nearly ordered two cocktail pitchers assuming that the price reflected just a glass. The bar was lovely; sprinkled with fairy lights and a good buzz about the place. The food was some of the best we have eaten here but the name of the dish escapes me.

As we were finishing up dinner the hostel owner came and sat with us. As we got chatting we learned a lot about her life and the bittersweet story of how the Antwet hostel came about after the loss of a close friend in London made her decide to live her life and do something she enjoyed before it's too late. I think we can both relate to that and it is a big driver behind our trip. We also came to learn that during her time in London she actually lived in Sutton, about a 10 minute walk away from our flat. There is nothing like traveling to make you see contrastingly how massive the world is yet how small it can also feel. She also owned a little puppy that we were both more than happy to keep occupied.

During our conversation another girl staying at the hostel came up with a glass of beer for our new friend to drink and shouted Tagay! We were informed that Tagay is actually the shot of drink you are supposed to chug in a Tagayan session. In a tagayan, a glass is shared by the members of the drinking group and the tangero is the assigned person to refill and pass around the tagay. You will know it’s your turn to chug the tagay when the tangero shouts “Tagay!” and pass you the shared glass. The moral behind this is "my drink is your drink" and although you can't afford to drink tonight I still want you to join in and share my drink! We love learning little cultural traditions like and somehow we got roped into the session.

This is one of the first hostels whereby we have really interacted and connected with other travelers. One of the main reasons for this is probably to do with the beer being so expensive in our previous countries and meeting up with people we already knew there. The tangero (Amanda, a South African currently living in China... We think she was clear from the infection) seemes to want us to catch up as quickly as possibly as it seemed to be our turn pretty much every round. Lubricated up we got chatting to people from all over the world; America, Sweden, the Philippines, and China to name a few. Time just flew and as the beer was around 7% we were both pretty drunk.

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30th January- Turtles & Hangovers
This and the 12am bedtime is not something that helped the next morning when we needed to be at the meet point for 6.30am. Both feeling a little tender we headed out, putting on a brave face for the turtles. The sea was pretty rough and was playing havoc with our sensitive tummies. The first snorkel spot felt like a mission as the waves crashed over us and made us both feel even worse. We luckily got to witness two turtles among the most colourful coral we had seen so far. However we were both too conscious about not throwing up to fully enjoy the experience. We did both in fact embarrassingly throw up in the water We felt like silly naïve teenagers and were a little annoyed at ourselves.

Luckily however there were two more snorkel spots. This time we both opted for life jackets and held on to the ring being pulled by the guides. It was a lazy way and something we both wouldn't normally do but needed, to limit the affects of the waves. We saw two more tutles and they were just amazing. So majestic. So beautiful. So awesome. The guides were great at spotting them and largely they were in really shallow waters, except for one who hid under a rock. But the guide took our camera and swan down to get us some amazing pictures.

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After lunch it was time for another spot. Iz decided to stay on the boat this time. I was feeling better and hungry for more tutles. This snorkel was the best of the day. We saw two more tutles and these were both swimming around more activitly than the others. They swam so close to you. It really was unbelievable and everything I hoped for. One, who I have named Archie, came right up to me and stared me in the face before gliding off. The guide with camara in have got some incredible photos to help me remember the moment. I just wish Iz could have also shared it with me. The snorkeling in general was some of the best we have done. So many diverse fish and beautiful colours, yet they do not show on the go pro so will have to stay in our memories. Although a shame we can't fully share what we saw I kind of like that you had to be there to witness the full beauty.

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We even found Nemo:

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I spent the whole afternoon with a massive smile on my face. Just thinking of the turtles makes me happy. I only wanted to see one. I got to see 6 up really close. Plus there was only me, another guy and the guide for the last two. I could have stayed swimming with them all day.

Back at the hostel we decided to skip the bar to avoid a repeat of last night. Instead we ordered takeaway in, a Turkish style wrap, which came to the total price of £2. I will stop going on about how cheap everything is but it is very much a novelty at the moment.

31st January- Brief stopover in Oslob
With a much needed early night and late in lay in behind us it was time to head back to the port for our onwards bus journey to Oslob. This is in preparation for the booked ferry from there to Bohol. Oslob although only 15 minutes up the road is much nicer than tan-awan. On our walk we were surrounded by streams of school kids all of who wanted to say hi to us. It was a little strange, we were like celebrities. We had experienced it on a smaller scale elsewhere but here it was intense. But all were friendly enough. After escaping we enjoyed a relaxed sunset as we tried to work out what the locals were doing. They appeared to be practicing some dance to an annoying song that was played on repeat. Once we didn't listen to the song anymore we went in hunt of food. Having had an upset tummy I went with a sweet and sour chicken I knew. Iz being more adventures tried another local dish but as we haven't been eating as much here, due to the heat, time and convenience, she could only manage half of it.

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1st February- Arrival in Bohol... Eventually
We had checked out the port location the day before which in the relenting heat with our bags on we were thankful of. As getting lost in these conditions is a sure fire way for frustration to arise. Our boat was due to sail at 11.30am and we were on board by 11am. After a little boat ride out to the larger ship. Yet for some reason we did set off until around 1.15pm. We were told it was because the coast guard hadn't approved the boat to go yet. The same happened with our Apo tour. They seem to work on their own time and are in no hurry despite the planned schedule. Due to the choppy sea the journey also took longer than the promised 90 minutes and we only got off the boat around 3.10pm. By the time we got our bags and were shuffled into these vans that were conveniently parked there it was 3.30pm. We didn't wish to pay the extortionate 400 peso's they were requesting for the 20 minute journey but with little choice and running low on time we sucked it up. Unhelpfully during the boat journey the paddle board company had advised that our evening planned activity would depart 1 hour early! This made us both a little stressed as after dropping off other passengers and the driver arguing for around 20 minutes with the security outside one of the group's accomodation we knew there was no chance of us having time to hire bikes and hot tail it over to the start point. Luckily they allowed us to rearrange but this didn't eradicate the frustration.

After checking into our accommodation we planned out the next few days and located places to rent bikes before heading to satisfy our hunger at afried chicken restaurant with decent reviews (both traveler and tourist having not eaten all day. After a little wander to gain our bearings it was bedtime in preparation for a full on day tomorrow.

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Posted by Bears on Tour 00:03 Archived in Philippines Tagged turtles philippines snorkeling ferry bohol oslob dumaguete apo_island

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