After few quiet days in Bohol we decided to look for even more relax on another island. The trip and the first hours were terrible because of the heavy rain but as soon as the sun came out I went for a walk. I immediately recognized Siquijor as a paradise.
The accommodation was at Cliff Garden, an amazing small complex with 2 double small houses and the 8 beds cottage where we met a lot of nice french people! Yes we wanted to feel young again and it was simply perfect for that specific context. A tiny village on a cliff with a beautiful view for stunning sunsets. Amazing kind staff and relax 24/7.
all pictured by Riccardo Tosetto Ph
The first night we had no scooter and no near place to eat, really bad combo. Since I was the one with no stomachache I took a walk looking for a shampoo and some food.
It was noisy and trafficked due to a religious celebration but I found a small typical shop along the road and I asked also for something to eat or where to find it. The eyes of the lady lighted up and she brought me into a private house where an extended Filipino family welcomed me and offered me to eat a giant roasted pork with them! I enjoyed my time a lot chatting with incredibly kind and welcoming people. Later couple of guys brought me with them in the center and they also gave me some nice suggestions to enjoy the following days.
Waking up has never been so sweet and the feeling of Siquijor as a paradise couldn't have been clearer. Amazing sunrise, the sound of the waves on the cliff, the great relaxing playlist the girls of the staff were use to play, breakfast on the the terrace after snorkeling. A dream.
After all these beautiful things and a bit of reading, nothing's better than jumping on a scooter to ride discovering the island. Remember to rent a scooter (about 6€ a day) because it's the best option to be free to explore around reaching every place avoiding to bargain all the time for a tuc tuc ride. We tried to make a plan but we ended up literally riding all around the island, stopping pretty often because every place is a beautiful postcard.
There are many falls in Siquijor but we decided to go to the Lagaan ones thanking of the suggestions of the guys I met the night before at the celebration (both tour guides). I have to say that the place was pretty nice and we had also a lot of fun!
The place is relaxing and the "tour guides" extremely kind and available, a pretty beautiful break among the multiples rides around.
Our rides brought us on beautiful white and often secret beaches like Paliton Beach in San Juan. Quiet place with locals, music and drinks. But also the secret Compass Beach in Maria. Be careful because there's a pretty steep staircase to reach it. Places to simply enjoy the moment. Reading a book, drinking a beer or coconut water, obviously tan and clearly snorkel if you like to do it. Here you'll learn to love it.
Siquijor as a paradise has also a lot of nature to offer, and you'll find it everywhere just looking around and exploring while reaching random places on the map. We drove through the island right in the middle climbing with the scooter. We reached places offering a great views but we also found local villages and life.
The title suggests to think about Siquijor as a paradise twice. Why twice? Because if you love basketball you'll be gape. Ok, all the Philippines are pretty famous because of their incredible love about this sport, but on this small island there's an incredible number of basketball playgrounds. They are literally everywhere, among houses, next to every school and church, along the road, over the hills even on meadows.
Here Christianity is a huge thing, Filipinos are really religious people but basketball is definitely a second faith. I've never seen someone playing basketball so badly in my life, but with the biggest dedication possible. That's real passion. To persist in something trying to improve as more as possible, day by day, because you simply love it.
Philippines are an amazing beautiful country of south east Asia. Definitely not that developed, way less than Indonesia for example but pretty expensive considering what they offer. I noticed that prices in general are about (bit less) the double compared to Bali and without a real reason. Philippines were subjected to the American influence till the end of the WWII and it's visible in some aspects of their culture. Food, names, religion, music, language. They have been pretty westernized, so basically they learned how to make money and with mass tourism even more.
You are requested to pay pretty much to do everything, everywhere. Pay to park the scooter, often to enter a beach, to snorkel on a beach, pay a tour guide that does or say anything, to receive an nonexistent service at the restaurant. There's nothing bad in making money, don't misunderstand me, but there's no quality in return of the money you pay. Clearly they are perfectly aware about the beauty surrounding them and they know that people love it and love their smiles and kindness. So they perfectly also know that everybody will pay what they ask.
Speaking about this, bring a lot of cash. We went crazy looking for an ATM that accepted one of our cards. To exchange money is longer than a custom check in China, and definitely not convenient. Hostels and restaurants rarely accept cards (almost never), and if you need cash sometimes the only chance are the blue/yellow ATM that you find also in Venice. Well they apply crazy fees and clone your cards, like happened to us.
The stay in Siquijor was supposed to last four days but we felt at home and we decided to stay few days more. Getting used to the routine took about five minutes and there I felt sincerely happy and relaxed. Away from thoughts, problems, issues, Italy, corona virus and everything else. At he Cliff Garden we found basically home and meet nice new nice people. The last sunset was as beautiful as it was heartbreaking.
Fortunately we enjoyed the last night with beautiful people and two amazing girls of the Cliff Garden staff among Filipino people at Czar's Place. The morning after I was about to cry because actually I would have stayed there forever but fortunately another amazing last place was waiting for me.
Here we are, after the more than pleasant layover in Kuala Lumpur, finally in the Philippines, Bohol, relax time among its beauties. After a night in Cebu, the day after we took a boat to reach Bohol first and Panglao after. At the harbor we had our super kind friend Allen (@boholisawesome) waiting for us.
Despite of the rain he immediately took us for a ride to check some spots that we wouldn't have never be able to find without him. The same happened the following days. Our place was in Panglao, the small beautiful island connected to Bohol, close to Alona Beach. Nice area full of restaurants, bars, night life and a crowded but beautiful beach where we enjoyed our time a lot just eating, sleeping, lying on the beach! It was simply time to relax.
In the Philippines, Bohol obviously I would say that it's mandatory to to snorkel. Even if you have never done before, just do it, you'll simply love it. Next step will be to become a diver because underwater the world is beautiful. Allen brought us to Napaling , in particular at the Molave Cliff Diving Resort (check the link for more specs), on an cliff with a stair bringing to the water.
Well, unfortunately his GoPro had some issues and I don't have pictures to show, but it was amazing, simply. The reef is beautiful and there are a lot of different fishes. You can stay hours in the water exploring and swimming with schools of sardines that surround you all the time. Don't miss the chance and go!
We took also a boat trip with Allen and his amazing family and it was a great chance to enjoy the beautiful nature of this country, its crystal clear water, its beaches and its fauna. Obviously we snorkeled and enjoy the beautiful environment and after we had a delicious homemade filipino lunch by Allen's mum.
pictures by Allen Trottier (@boholisawesome)
Then we took a particularly nice walk together on the Virgin Island. The sun was burning as hell but is was absolutely worth it to enjoy that unique place.
Philippines, Bohol, relax time but also one of my favorite places that Allen showed us was, Loboc River. We went there to enjoy a tour on a paddle board along the river and its nature. The Fox and the Firefly cottages was organizing this service and upstairs there's also an amazing restaurant were we had breakfast before. It was a great experience, I'm so happy about that! I had never paddled before and doing it there was particularly beautiful and relaxing. Paddle, water, palms, nature and a swim in the river..what else?!
I enjoyed the time in Bohol so much and I'll always be grateful to Allen. Without him it wouldn't have been the same for sure! Exploring places with a local is always the real plus to every trip, what allows you to save time, money and get the best from your travel experience!
So remember to check my tours and come to visit Venice with me to enjoy the best of my city with me and live it like a local, a real Venetian!
But first Siquijor!