Friday, March 6, 2015

Panglao and Bohol, Philippines

For the first time since we have been in Korea, Bob had a very nice long Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year) break from work followed by a company founder's day holiday.  So, if you imagine this, Bob suggested we plan a vacation trip to somewhere warm!  It didn't take much convincing on my part, and before we knew it we were on our way to sunny beaches once again.  This time, our destination was the Cebu region of the Philippine Islands.  This vast archipelago provides lots of desirable island destinations, but we wanted one with a direct flight from Seoul.  We chose Cebu based in part on  the raving recommendation received from Stephanie and Ben, who vacationed at a resort there Christmas of 2012.

Arriving at the Cebu airport, on Mactan Island (the small Island to the east Cebu Island), in the early morning hours of Friday, February 20th (another one of those 5 hour sleepless overnight flights), we taxied to the Cebu ferry terminal and boarded a big boat headed to Bohol Island, two-hours to the southeast.  Having arrived in the Tagbilaran port at about 9:00 am, and not sure what to do with ourselves until we could check into our hotel later that day, we took the advice of a tour guide with a nice van who took us south to the small tourist island of Panglao to visit Bohol Beach Club.  It is a gorgeous resort located on a beautiful white sand beach that stretches for miles in both directions.  A day use fee was paid, which amounted to about $20 per person, but also credited us each with a $15 food voucher!  That was the best deal of our vacation!  Slipping into our swimwear, we spent a truly relaxing and enjoyable day sipping mango smoothies, watching boats and expert para-sailors, enjoying lunch, and lounging in hammocks on the beach.  We met a U.S. family from Manila, whose children were having fun collecting starfish and sea cucumbers from the ocean.  It was a beautiful day!

We stayed two nights at a small boutique resort half-way up the east coast of Bohol,  The one and one-half hour drive gave us a chance to see the beautiful rural countryside along the coast.  We stopped to see both a monument and a shrine marker which commemorate the treaty of friendship made between the Spaniards and Filipinos in a blood compact (called the Sandugo), in 1565.

Not knowing the history of the Philippines, I didn't expect to see the lovely Spanish influence in the homes, buildings, catholic churches, and cemeteries along our route.  We saw beautiful rice terraces and learned that their main exports are rice, coconuts, and bananas.

Much of the construction incorporates nicely woven designs of bamboo.  We saw this extensively where we stayed.  The common thatched roofs are crafted from the native palm which grows freely on Bohol Island.  

 The following morning we would tour the famous sights of Bohol.


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