From Boracay I needed to catch a small boat and then a van (1.5 hour drive) to get to the airport. After flying from Kalibo to Cebu (a one hour flight that was obviously delayed) I had to cab about 30 mins to the ferry station to take a 2 hour ferry across to Bohol, and then take a 30 min tricycle ride to my hostel. Because the flight was delayed I missed the ferry I planned on taking, so I had to wait at the ferry terminal for about 4 hours til the next one left. I made the mistake of going through the ferry "security" before getting something to eat, and found that there was only a cupcake shop once through. Although I love cupcakes I thought better than to order a bunch for my dinner... So I had to exit and walk around outside in a huge downpour just to get a hotdog (not really much healthier?)... Lots of the ferries were being cancelled due to weather but mine still went out, so I arrived in Bohol around 10pm. Once there, there was the issue of finding my hostel because the exact address wasn't posted online and the lady running it wasn't answering her phone. The tricycle driver wanted a stupid amount of money but eventually he was convinced to take me there (even though I didn't know where "there" was), and luckily we found it. By the time I reached the hostel I was feeling super tired and antisocial so instead of talking to everyone I showered and went to bed (unsurprisingly I suck at staying at hostels). Basically this was a day of traveling from 6:30am to 11 pm but I had high hopes that Bohol would be worth it!
The next morning when I was trying to figure out my plan for the day James (from my homestay in Boracay) walked in. He had planned to go diving but the coastguard wasn't letting any boats out due to weather. It was kind of rainy and supposed to be like that all day, but we decided to take his scooter to go check out the cliff diving. It took at least half an hour to drive there and when we got there there wasn't really even a cliff... Haha it was such a mess. The tide was out so the water looked to be 1-2meters deep and the waves were crashing against the rocks so we opted out. As we drove back it started pouring and we got lost.
That afternoon a few of us took scooters to check out a bee farm, and the tarsier sanctuary. The bee farm was basically just a lot of gardens with one small house for bees... (We had imagined something a bit larger scale). The tarsier sanctuary only had 5 tarsiers within it but 2 weren't in the observation area so we quickly walked through the bushes to spot the other 3... Then we went to find Kawasan waterfall but got lost on the way... And never found it. So a bit of an underwhelming day although I still enjoyed driving around and at least I saw a few things!
The next day was rainy, the coastguard wasn't letting anyone out again so a group of us went to see a movie. The movie we wanted wasn't there but we jumped into another theatre and I was excited to have popcorn for the first time in 10 weeks!!! Who would've ever thought I could go that long without popcorn?! It was probably the best popcorn ever (Bohol's status went up in my books that day).
The next day I woke up early to leave for whale sharks but it was pouring. Heard the coastguard was all good so the boat could still leave but my car to pick me up was 25 mins late. When they showed up they said that the boat was having engine trouble and might not go, and that they called a friend to see if he had a boat. As they started driving me they confirmed neither boat would be going to Oslob and offered to drive me somewhere but when I mentioned the main ferry terminal they asked for 500 pesos for gas so I took a trike for 250. He kept trying to rip me off as well but at least I made it. I hopped on a ferry to Dumaguete (a spur of the moment decision that I thought would make the best plan to get to Oslob) and the ferry surprisingly left on time! But the a/c was broken so it was a ridiculously hot and sweaty two hours.
I made my way to a smaller ferry terminal and took a boat across to then take a van to Oslob. Walked off the bus and into a hotel that was a bit more expensive than I planned but at least I could go to sleep that night knowing I was 2 minutes from where I could swim with whale sharks! I had been battling a cold for a while so I took nighttime medicine against my better judgement, justifying that I wouldn't sleep through my 5:30am alarm because I was going to bed at 8. I woke up at 5:50 by luck, my alarm was blinking but making no sound. I jumped up and quickly got changed, and waited at the lobby to go. As per usual there were no instructions and a few workers walked by without saying anything while a group of us from the hotel waited to go to the whale sharks. By 6:20 I was impatient and decided to ask someone so they finally took us to the location. We sat for a super quick info session about whale sharks and what to do/what not to do. Then we hopped on a small boat and went right offshore to join the line of boats and tourists.
I had heard some mixed things about the whale sharks... And although the situation wasn't ideal it seemed to be like everything else in the Philippines where it had to be taken with a grain of salt. There were 3 whale sharks swimming around, each being fed by a man in a little boat. I knew they were being fed and that was why they could be seen daily, but I imagined it was more of an hourly feeding or something. The guy in the boat just went back and forth in a straight line, tossing food into the water. The whale sharks swam up and down the row eating, while all of us excitedly jumped at the chance to swim near one. Some people were very pushy so I kind of just waited back for the first 15 minutes while they got their pictures and then I had my turn. Luckily one of the guys from my hotel offered to take pics with my GoPro so he got a few pictures and a video of me swimming by one, something that I'll always have to look back on! It was an amazing experience and I enjoyed being close to them but it definitely wasn't what I expected. I'm still glad I did it as it was likely a once in a lifetime opportunity but I think doing it once is probably enough. Maybe I'll see a truly "wild" one sometime while diving!
I left my hotel by 9am to catch a bus back to the same boat as yesterday, and then I waited for a bus to take me all the way across Negros. At the bus stop a middle aged Filipino man started talking to me, and he became my travel buddy for the day. We were planning to catch the same 5pm boat to Iloilo so it was great to have someone to follow. After waiting at least an hour for the bus we hopped on, but we didn't make it to the ferry in time. Felix suggested we take a later ferry, and said that he had friends who could pick us up and drive us into Iloilo City (since this last ferry option wasn't direct). We went for dinner at the nearby mall and he bought me halo halo to start (a dessert made up of the weirdest combination I've ever seen, but it tasted amazing), and then we had chicken and rice to follow. He insisted I eat with my hands in the Filipino way so I tried my best. It was kinda fun to be a messy eater! He paid for my dinner as well, and when he started talking about how his siblings were all married but he wasn't I thought oh god I'm gonna be unknowingly married by the end of the night!! After dinner we went back to the ferry terminal and it was pretty dark and sketchy. Once on the ferry there was a small sitting area with basketball games on tv so Felix set up to watch and I sat further back with my bags. Before trying to nap this messy haired girl who couldn't have been very old walked up to me holding a baby (also disheveled) and she tapped me on the shoulder and then held her hand out for money. I was kind of shocked and I felt bad not giving her money but it was also annoying because she didn't go up to ANYONE else on the ferry- just the one white girl. I also couldn't help but wonder if that even was her baby- or if it were her sister and she was just trying to get money from me. I shook my head and said I had no money but she gestured again a couple times and I had to turn away before she would leave. I hate to question people, maybe she honestly did need money but it's hard to know who to trust and who's trying to scam you in places like this as a tourist. When I went to leave the ferry three men all held their hands out for money as I walked by. This was the first time I had encountered something like this in the Philippines and it honestly made me more frustrated than it did sad... People see a white person and immediately think of money because we are here traveling or on holiday. It would be nice to be able to walk places and not have people expect money from you just because you're not a local... They didn't hold their hand out for any of the Filipinos and because these things happened back to back it really left an impression. Again, I'm really not trying to be insensitive but it is amazing the number of times locals try to take advantage of tourists and at this point I had had enough of it... Usually it had just been tricycle and cab drivers ripping me and every other tourist off but seeing this side of it was definitely eye opening.
I was super thankful to be with Felix walking off the ferry because there were some questionable groups of guys sitting around at the port and absolutely no cabs or tricycles to be seen. But as I got into his friends van I realized just how possible it would be for me to be getting kidnapped... Here I was putting all my faith into a guy I just met earlier that day, hoping he really would be driving me to my homestay for the night. The atmosphere leaving the ferry really didn't help with my paranoia but I also realized how this was honestly my best and only option... Other than standing around there hoping someone would help me out. It was a good moment for me to be a bit more aware of what I might be getting myself into, and that in the future maybe I'd need to plan ahead with transportation and stuff if I was going to be traveling alone at night. (Or maybe don't travel alone at night). I also started thinking of the movie Taken and how I really couldn't see Bri guy the rye guy making his way to the Philippines fighting off criminals to save me (sorry dad!). One of the girls in the car was wearing a Vancouver t-shirt so I tried to bond with her about Canada in case she was part of this kidnapping conspiracy against me and I'd need a friend later on... But they were genuinely good people so I made it to my next stop safely!