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Since Manila: Taal, Cebu, Nut’s Huts, Tagbilaran

We’ve been busy since Manila. We first went to Tagaytay, near the Taal volcano, and ended up staying (somehow) at Taal city, on the southwest of the lake, in a hotel which was re-opened just for us. We had a good night’s sleep, except for the rosary recited in Tagalog from the cathedral between 5:00 and 6:30 a.m.—so we didn’t really get a good night’s sleep at all. Getting to Taal was quite an adventure involving a taxi romp around Manila, a set of jeepney rides, and a dramatic uphill tricycle race.

The next day we woke up early (obviously) and saw Taal before heading back toward Manila. We stopped at a lakeside restaurant (there’s a lake around a volcano around a lake) in Tagaytay and had a good meal, accompanied by a pseudo-mariachi string band. They played the Eagles and Simon and Garfunkel for us, and ABBA and La Bamba for others, but we sadly forgot to request Johnny Cash. We’ll do better next time.

Returning to Manila and Malate, we found our Internet shop and booked a flight for Cebu… four hours later, we flew to Cebu. In the mean time we’d eaten a rushed but very good meal at Cafe Adriatico (very western, very good, not so cheap) and enjoyed the typical gridlocked cab ride. Airport security (liquids and gels! not again!) forced us to check our bags, but we survived this time. In the Manila airport, frantic pay phone use won us a reservation at the Golden Valley hotel, a fairly nice business sort of hotel which managed to fit us all in one room with two extra beds for about P500 each. Under the circumstances, it was great.

We watched Skulls that night instead of getting to sleep at a civilized time, so we barely escaped before the noon checkout deadline. More frantic calling later, we had a reservation at Nut’s Huts in Bohol. After a few very hot hours trying to find the right pier and a soon-to-depart boat, we made it to Bohol’s main port of Tagbilaran.

Tricycles wanted an impressive P250 for the trip to the bus terminal. The posted fare a few feet away was P17. We paid less after splitting a metered taxi—four is a good size for a group if you like to take cabs.

Nut’s Huts was… unique. 750m and endless steps off the roadside (we took a bus), it’s a set of… well, huts along the green waters of the River Whateveritsnameis. The restaurant had amazing, fairly priced food, and it looks like it would have been a neat place to stay if one were planning on making use of their hikes and boat trips and other activities. For me, it was a bit hot and sticky and insect-infested, but the food made up for it.

We left today via boat from the hut level, which was much nicer and included a detour to a neat set of waterfalls. Then we hired a very colorful jeepney (and driver, and tour guide, and… guard? we aren’t sure) for P2000. It was a great decision, as we got to leave our bags onboard and go rambling all over the place. We saw the “chocolate hills”, crossed the river on a precarious footbridge to see endless tarsier knickknacks, and (most amazingly) saw a few tarsiers in their sanctuary.

Look them up. We had one not more than two feet from our faces today. Wow.

We used the jeepney to return to Tagbilaran, where some frantic walking-in found us a nice three-person room with an extra mattress… and well over a couple dozen mosquitoes. It was a bloody hilarious afternoon. Since then, we found a laundry service and food and are getting ready for a lazy night (as laundry won’t be done before late morning) before going to Panglao Island tomorrow for some well deserved beach time. On the 21st we fly back to Manila, no doubt after some more frantic reservation attempts, and we’re hoping to get up to Baguio and surrounds until the 24th or 25th.

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