Bais City, Negros Oriental

 

Where to go for dolphin watching in the Philippines?


Bais city’s attraction is the cute and lovable sea creatures that is slowly putting the city to a good travel spot. You are not allowed to swim with the dolphins. And that's a good thing.

When we arrived in the city after a long bus ride from Malatapay, we went directly to their tourism department, as suggested in our travel guides.

According to the city tourism officer, in order to see the dolphins we needed to sign up for their boat tour. But since we arrived on a Friday and we wanted to see the dolphins the very next day, we were unfortunate to be on a waiting list, as it was expected to be full with weekenders!

But the tourism officer was so gracious and helpful that he suggested us another way on how to see the dolphins and even led us to a cozy, Air BnB-style-home near the beach.


This was our breathtaking view from the beach at sunrise…


So without second thoughts, we stayed in this place and they arranged a small boat for us to see the dolphins. It was Php 3,000 to rent the whole thing. Luckily, two Swedish girls popped up, who coincidentally came from Apo Island as well who were also interested to see the dolphins. If you do the Math, we were to split the fee between our twosomes. ;) They were sisters by the way.

That night, Frenchie and I decided to at least see the center of the city and have dinner there. Well, lo and behold...Bais City has food stalls every night! You can choose from a wide selection of grilled foods. I love it!

I love the ambiance and the friendly people. (To eat at the food stalls was suggested by ladyboys who invited us to join them for some karaoke that Friday night!) A local also started talking and giving us advise that we need to swim/go to the sand bar, which was in fact part of the package of our boat getaway for the next day!

We had a very nice and homey accommodation. And if there is anything I love in every of our travel, it’s really the small (and big) interactions we had with the local people. We were treated to a nice breakfast and happy cheers. The very special trait of our Filipino hospitality!

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After breakfast, we heard the roaring sound of our boat and we were literally picked up in front of our room because it was high tide! Very awesome!


Our whole day was spent in watching the happy dolphins swim


As we swim in the clearest and most beautiful sand bar beach…

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And walked along the mangroves…

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Our short but worthy stay in Bais City was truly magnificent!

And off we went on to Kanlaon City hoping to hike to only volcano in Negros!


 For our expenses:

Bus from Malatapay to Dumaguete-- Php 25 (each)

Bus from Dumaguete to Bais City-- Php 50 (each)

Tricycle ride to the house-hostel from Tourism office-- Php 50 (whole tricycle)

Boat to Dolphin sightseeing and Sandbar-- Php 1,500 (half of the whole boat rent fee)

One night of stay at the local's house-- Php 1,000 (including breakfast)

Dinner and other expenses-- Php 300


Have you seen lovely dolphins? How was your experience?

Malatapay Market Day

 

What's a market day in the Philippines like?


Malatapay is the small village you will have to pass by before taking on a boat to Apo Island. It is also known for it's Wednesday Market Day where farmers and herders sell their goods and their cattle.

To get there from the island, we asked a staff at Liberty Lodge, where we've been staying, if we can get a good deal of a round-trip-boat to Malatapay. If we take the local one, we need to pay Php 300.00 each for one way. They gave us a Php 600.00 fare for the two of us-- roundtrip.


We decided that it's best to have lunch there.


We tried the...lechon! This is a feast on our mouth!!! (Php 120.00 for 1/4 kilo)

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This whole meal costs: Php 300.00 (grilled fish & drink were not in picture).


Many years back, the Malatapay market day was known for it's no-cash-bartering-trade-only. Modern lifestyle has of course changed this practice. In this modern day, a full grown water buffalo costs Php 45,000.

It is such a lively market day! Farmers, fishers, and Bukidnon tribespeople come here to sell their most treasured catch or livestock.


Even an entertaining and scary cobra show was to be found here!

Frenchie also decided that he needed a haircut and we were pointed to the direction to a house with a very welcoming family. They offered us santol after the haircut. Never say, no to a Filipino offer. It's an insult. All we ever want is to welcome a guest and offer something. ;)

As we went back, we explored more of the goodies we can find in the market...

And Frenchie had a glass of Php 5.00 coconut wine or locally known as tuba!

Then we settled in under a coconut tree to wait for our boat to take us back to Apo Island.

All in all, it was a fun Wednesday well spent. You need to see what the locals do, right?! So we are such in a happy mode. Can you tell?! ;)

 

Have you been to a market like this when you traveled?

Apo Island, Negros Oriental

 

Where to swim with the turtles in the Philippines?


This is by far, our favorite island destination in the coconut republic!

We especially love the nice people and the quiet ambiance, and ohhh the beautiful, pristine beach!

When we planned this backpacking trip, Frenchie especially said his demands-- that he wanted to go to places that are less touristy. He doesn't like the crowd. That's all. ;)

Apo Island was suggested to us by my family relative, Anna who went there on an impulsive travel planning and left the island after one month of staying!

With that in mind, we were sure ready for an unexpected time of our lives!

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We were also flexible of our time, so we can stay longer or shorter-- either way. And Apo Island was the best place to take a breather. Really!

We didn't book anything, we just simply went there and asked around. When we arrived, we saw this sign, and being totally exhausted from a long trip, we decided to stay there for a night...

We were the only guests there and we were frequently visited by these birds who made this hostel their home too!

The island people live a very modest life. Poverty is very visible but each and every person wakes up to make a living, so to speak. Most of the men are fishermen or diving instructors. The women make a living by renting some diving gears to tourists or minding a sari-sari store. Since the whole island lives in a scheduled generator-- all lights out at 9PM sharp, they share one TV screen!

Frenchie and I decided to explore the island after recharging from exhaustion. There were only three big resorts in Apo Island-- Liberty Lodge, Mario's Homestay, and the more private and pricey one, Apo Island Beach ResortWe went to ask around if they still have an available room for us. They said, they have and we were really lucky and grateful that we did the survey first and not booking anything online because we were able to get a "friendly" price. We paid for Php 550.00 for our (huge!) room in Liberty Lodge...

With an outside view like this...

There's so much beauty and nature in Apo Island. You can take a hike to the Lighthouse...

Or to the Apo Island Viewing Deck...

Or simply swim (and snorkel) with the turtles. Oh yes, we did! And yes, you can!

Or enjoy the romantic and lovely scenery of the whole island!

And of course, share a drink or two of beers with a local guide! If you're too nice, he'll even play a song for you with his Axl-like-voice!

If we only had a choice too, we would have wanted to stay a tiny bit longer!


#frenchieatpinay tips

1. We were lucky enough to go there on off season, but if you're going on a busy time, book ahead of your reservation. Both Liberty's and Mario's Places have very friendly and welcoming staffs. We love them!

2. For food variety, you can easily approach a local in the village and ask them to prepare a meal for you. They usually offer the fresh-picked-fish-of-the-day. Oh so good!

3. Rent your goggles and other swimming gears at the village association. This is their means of livelihood, so I encouraged you to support them while you're there. You can see the renting prices by the board. But if you plan on staying longer than a week, it's best to bring your own gears. ;)

4. Take a hike or a walk each day. Such a good place to do your morning run/swim! This is the warmest place we've been to, I mean with the people. They are so nice and helpful.

5.Oh lastly, a mosquito killer (with no scent) was our life saver on this trip. I bought a box at the sari-sari store! It was the first time Frenchie has ever saw such one. Oh, only in the Philippines (I guess!)

 

APO ISLAND is one of the best in the Philippines, come and experience it! 

Danjugan Island, Negros Occidental

 

A 43-hectare island situated in Bulata, Cuayan, Negros Occidental.

"The promising paradise sanctuary of Negros."

It is a marine and wildlife reserve, covered with a rain forest and has five lagoons, three of which are landlocked and two of which are flooded at high tide and colonized by coral and reef fish species. The island is fringed with beaches where turtles nest. It is also surrounded by diverse coral reefs.


It was my second favorite place on this backpacking trip!


I am in awe and inspired of the people working and behind the preservation of this island. Here's Tatay Ruben, 75 years old and has been working in the island for eight years! 


It's like your own Robinson Crusoe tropical island. Like seriously!


From Punta Bulata resort, we were picked up by a small boat to take us to the island. Punta Bulata arranges their own whole day activity in Danjugan island, but Frenchie and I decided to take their overnight package.


You can directly sign up for an overnight reservation on their website:

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It's Php 2,750/person for one night of stay, including meals and uses of the island's amenities.

Here's our native sleeping area. The island is promoting an environment-friendly practice throughout this island. No electricity. Only generator to provide light in the night.


When we arrived, we were brief about the island, on how they continue to preserve it, and the things they can offer in their learning center. I love the peacefulness and calmness here.


After our briefing and introduction. We were off to our first agenda: snorkeling!


After snorkeling, we walked and explored the whole island with Tatay Ruben (who walked like a restless seven year old), passing through a bamboo bridge...


A bat cave...


lots of mangroves...


An island beach, with sightings of sharks and turtles sometimes...


We also had a good view of the sunset that afternoon.

A good 20 minutes rest was well deserved.


The island also have ecocabanas (made of soil/mud) for a more private accommodation.


When we came back to the restaurant lounge, our delicious dinner was waiting for us. It was the best fresh fish ever!

And since the island has no electricity, we were contented to sleep early and get ready for the next and last day...


Our agenda: kayaking!


Our last meal in the island was another hit to our belly! Sooo healthy and ohhh sooo good!

That's why it's understandable that this island stood out as one of my favorite! So please do me a favor, if you have the time-- visit this island. You can thank me later! ;)


#FrenchieatPinay Tips

1. Bring a bottle or two (!) of mosquito repellent lotion.

2. Make sure you have the contact number of the person when you booked your reservation online.

3. Make sure you have enough battery and you have charged all your electronics before coming to this island.

4. Make a conscious effort to contribute in preserving our environment. The picture below was a wake-up call for me that we are the cause of our own destruction of the world. Please, please lessen your use of plastics! Really!

 

Would you like to stay on this island?