Exploring the beautiful Philippines with kids

Our neighbor has moved and took all the fighting cocks somewhere else, so there were no more crowing roosters nearby as I woke up at 3h30 and started preparing coffee while making sure we have our passports and tickets. At 4h,it was Carlo’s turn and then the girls . Half and hour later, everyone was ready to go.

At 5h in the morning as the village began to rouse we were at the bus station in Bayan, had a quick stop at 7-11 then off we went. We arrived at PITX around 7h30, then we took a taxi to the airport. After checking in our luggage, we went out and had some snack at the kiosk in front of the airport. We had a lot of time, our plane would leave at 12h55. Yes, we were so early. I told my husband that it would be better to leave early than be stuck in the traffic and it could be bad in Imus. We arrived in Cebu by 14h30 and queued for the white taxi.

OUR ITINERARY:

CaviteMactan(Cebu) -Tagbilaran, Calape, Jagna (Bohol) – Camiguin – Panglao (Bohol) – Siquijor – Oslob (Cebu)Cavite
black line-ferry except the plane from Manila to Cebu, blue line-by car or public transport

BEWARE OF SCAM

Week 1 We arrived in Mactan International Airport at 14h20 and took a taxi to go to our hotel. After various attempts of contacting the number which was given to Carlo we went straight to supposedly hotel which turned out not existing. He talked to a guard and found out that some people had the same fate that day. We resolved to go to a café and used their wifi. It was a bit late when we were able to book another accommodation which was far from the center and looked bizarre. To make the story short, this one was not ready yet and we decided to leave and took a taxi to look for another one. We ended up in Amethyst which we thought we all deserve after an afternoon of adventure.

The following day, we checked out from the hotel at 12h and went to the pier. Our boat was at 13h. More info here:

In Tagbilaran port, drivers approached us, asking about our destination. After some drinks and pansit, we called the one who gave us his calling card and headed to Calape. Once in our hotel, he insisted on being paid more than our agreed fare. Saying our destination was after the market, etc, but we didn’t pay more. The price was what the staff of our inn has told us.

We stayed for just a night in the Inn , a picturesque place in Calape town and the following day, headed to Jagna by taxi (₱3000). But along the way, our driver took us to the Sanctuary.

For my husband and I, this was our second visit to the Sactuary, having traveled in Bohol in 2005. Afterwards we had lunch in Loboc and tasted some carabao meat. In Jagna, we stayed in Partner’s Inn where we received some welcome cookies and hot chocolates. The inn can be found along the highway and our room has our basic needs. Plus the staff were kind and accommodating. Carlo bought our tickets for 13h ferry early in the morning and we did our check out at midday. The trip to Camiguin would be 4 hours.

Once in Mambajao, we were met by Alex. He is the brother of Ivan, whom Carlo met in Romblon.

Week 2 We stayed in Nautilus Cottages owned by Alex & Jenny,a swiss/Filipina couple.

THINGS TO DO IN CAMIGUIN with KIDS

HOT SPRING – Our host, Alex drove us to the spring. The weather was just right and though the water was not that warm compared to the other springs we have visited, it was good to be surrounded by greens. We chatted with a Pinoy/german and his french girlfriend who live in Spain. It was drizzling when we were about to leave so we stopped by the food stall and we had some grilled banana and bbq before walking back to our cottage.

BEACH – We walked along the rocky beach lined with coconut trees and met a few stray dogs along the way. Nonetheless, found a nice spot and later it rained. We took another route and walked by the rice field.

SUNKEN CEMETERY & SNORKELING – A must in Camiguin.

A tricycle brought us to Barrio Bonbon in Catarman and we registered to snorkel around the sunken cemetery. Guide: ₱150, Fee: ₱300 Materials: ₱50.

MANTIGUE ISLAND– From Hubangon, a boat (₱600 for 6 persons) took us to the island for a 4 hr stay. Cottages in the island cost ₱150 or you can just find a shady spot or sunbathe though it would get really hot. Bring a hat and sun screen though husband had his shirt on while snorkeling without any sun protection.

FALLS – We went to Katibawasan falls and had kiping for the first time. It’s a snack made of cassava with latik ( syrup made from muscovado and coco milk ). The water was a bit cold but refreshing. It’s best to come early and enjoy the quiet surrounding.

FOOD TRIP – Had dinner in Luna Café and tried their pizza.

Week 3

someone learned his lesson 😉

Checked out from the cottage and took a ferry to Tagbilaran, then another one for a 45 min boat ride to Panglao and stayed in Panglao Island Inn for the night. We took the girls for a swim and had dinner in a greek restaurant which was really good.

The following morning, we took a ferry boat to Siquijor.

We stayed for 4 nights in Casitas Siquijor . We were later joined by Sophie, my husband’s friend in Geneva and her girls. Their family now lives overseas.

S I Q U I J O R W I T H K I D S

There are beaches and some places we have visited.

SAN JUAN BEACH a beautiful white beach where we swam and had our mango smoothies.

LUGNASON FALLS there was a bit of dry spell and the falls was not full nevertheless the kids jumped and swam.

As we were heading up to leave the falls, a man told us to go left where we’d find another area with more water. 😉

OLD ENCHANTED BALETE TREE never knew about this particular tree, to be honest though growing up, I heard that Siquijor is an island of sorcery which made me not want to go and there I was with my family and friends sitting by the balete tree while letting the fish took over our feet.

CAMBUGAHAY FALLS some steep steps will lead to a beautiful body of water.The kids and my husband did quite a few rope swing jumps. But be wary of your personal belongings.

captured by Sophie

SALAGDOONG BEACH this was our last stop in our day tour. The restaurant could get busy at lunch time. The slide was under repair so the kids and Carlo just jumped off the cliff. We, moms were patiently waiting for our bunch to jump. We shrieked with joy and triumph every time one of the girls made it beside us.

OFF TO SEE THE WHALE SHARK

Along with Sophie and her girls we ferried to Oslob and arrived late at night. We took a tricycle to our hotel and the following day we left early to see the whale shark. But we were not the only one to see them. Our group was registered by the hotel staff who organized our tour.

by Sophie

Before leaving Oslob, we had lunch at Le Bistrot with Sophie and her girls. We said our goodbyes then hailed our bus which would take us to Cebu after 5 hrs or so ride.

The next day, our flight was more than 5 hours late and so we arrived late in Manila. Others have flight that night in Europe and were hoping to catch their plane on time. In PITX there was no more bus for Cavite.

We then tried to find a hotel nearby for the night which would not cost too much. Tired, we slept as soon as we arrived in the hotel.

In the morning, after the free breakfast, we took a taxi to the PITX, hoping that our Alfonso buses would still pass by the terminal. Unfortunately, we had to take 2 buses and arrived early afternoon in Alfonso.

It was a indeed a great trip and made special because of meeting special friends from abroad. Hope to see you again,les filles!

Bolivia with kids: Three day Uyuni tour

Potosi to Uyuni

06.10.2018 The girls seemed oblivious of the paysage. I could not blame them. Mountains and valleys do not affect them that much. Though the presence of llamas does. There were ooohs!! and ahhs! everytime both of them see the llamas grazing. This  ride was short compared to the previous ones yet displays the vastness and beauty of Bolivian nature.

We took a taxi from our hotel to the Potosi Ex Terminal  for an  Uyuni bound bus. As usual, we did not reserve our tickets. The girls paid full and there’s also a terminal fee collected by a woman who stood infront of the bus scheduled to leave. With some fruits, chifles and sodas, we were ready to go.

  • bus : Turismo 11 de Julio
  • uso de terminal : Bs. 1.- (the girls did not pay)
  • ticket to Uyuni : Bs. 25.-/person (no reduction for the girls)


Some might find this less important yet when you’re tired, all you wanted to do is find your seat number (unless the driver said that it’s asiento libres) These numbers could sometimes be found where the lights and a.c. are.

We reserved a room in Uyuni for one night. Our accommodation, kidded Carlo, is  a preparation for Japan’s capsule room. The girls were in one room with a bunk bed and ours is just 5 steps away. We are for windows and well-lit rooms but in case it’s the opposite, I’m still grateful that we have a room for the night.

Erin’s 9th birthday celebration

We celebrated our youngest birthday in Uyuni and went to a resto called Cactus,where we had a free cocktail c/o a flyer found in an agency.

There was no cake or brownies available in the mercado so she chose banana with chocolate as postre. And with some candles and sprinkles bought earlier  her “cake” was then complete. It’s true, happiness can be found in pink and blue cake sprinkles just look at her face. 😉

For our excursion, we went to an agency not far for from our hostel.  We have chosen the 3-day excursion and was able to have a bit of discount.

ready to go

Cost of the 3 day tour for a family of 4: Bs. 3000.-

Tour includes: transport,food and accommodation

Not included: Isla entrance fee(30.-) Nat’l park entrance fee (150) Aguas termales (6), shower/C.R. en route

First day

The departure was at 10h30. We replenished our “snack bag” after depositing our baggage we’d leave behind during our 3 day tour. The german couple who would be in our group turned out to be a french couple in their early 20’s.

We spent the night in Los Lipez. One has to pay Bs 10.- for the shower which is usually locked. Someone would hand the key and would say “10 minutos”! Hmm, was hoping to stand in the shower for a day…Zut, alors!

Second day

We left the hostal before 8h and headed to another attraction. Our stops varied from 5-30 minutes and the drive were quite long.

“Imagine how many slimes we can make w/ those borax. ” Ate said,seeing the borax on the lake.

a group of vicuña

At night,we stayed in another hostal, which was more basic compared to the the one in Los Lipez. It was so cold that 3 blankets were not enough. Though we had an option to  rent a sleeping bag, we skipped it thinking that with our alpaca socks, bonnet and sweater it would be okay. And we were wrong!

Third day

We were to wake up at 4h in the morning and should leave between 4h30-4h40. We decided not to wake the girls up at 4am and instead let them sleep until it was time to go.

I woke up early, too early in fact! 🙂 It turned out that I still have the local time in PERU in my cellphone. Imagine Carlo’s face when he found out. So my 4am was actually 3am and Peruvian time. I was ready to go, our bags as well. 🙂 Anyway, Carlo and I went back to sleep. Telling myself that at least I do not need to hurry changing coz I already did,  but we woke up 15 past 4h. We quickly grabbed some coffee, munched a pancake and managed to leave 10 before 5h. As we headed to out, the other groups were also starting to leave for the day’s excursion.

Carlo and his llamas in images

By 9h on the third day, we were on the border of Chile and  left Tim and Laura to board their vehicle which will take them to Atacama. We stopped for lunch and then to the Valle de las Rocas. Before 16h30 we arrived in Uyui.

Reflection

We were given list of our 3 day tour and snack was not included. I was worried that there won’t be any tienda along the way. Yet, in some stops, there were possibilities to buy and get bottles of water or other snack.

our group with Bryan, our guide/driver

We have been really lucky having french couples in our group. First in Cuyabeno, then in Salar tour. The latter didn’t return to Uyuni after our tour but continue to Chile.

The tour has showcased Bolivia’s amazing landscape and we were in awe of it all.  Gracias, Bolivia!