5 Mar

Since we got to Siquijor a day later than we thought we were going to, we had less time to spend on this island, which was a shame because we really loved it. I had booked into a place called Tori’s Paradise, which was a bit away from the main hub of the island, San Juan, where most budget accommodations are. Everything else we found was all booked up, so we settled on this place which had cheap dorms, a pool, and beach front location. However, we had booked in advance for the night that we had to stay in the hotel after we couldn’t get the ferry in Bohol, so we were concerned that they would give our beds away since we didn’t check in the day we were supposed to. The boat got in around 1:00 PM and we decided that it would be a good idea to walk the distance to the hostel, which I was under the impression was closer than it actually was. The sun was the strongest we had seen in a while and we set off on our way, avoiding the hoard of tricycle drivers at the pier, with our bags on our backs. About half a mile in and dripping sweat we realized we had made a big mistake. I was lathering my arms with sunscreen as best I could with my bags on, missing spots that ended up burning in patches after the 30 minute walk. Eventually, we arrived at the hostel, exhausted and in clothes that were a new color from all the sweat. Luckily, our beds were still there for us so we threw our bags down in our sweaty fan room. It was already late in the afternoon so we decided we wouldn’t get up to much that day and instead, put on our bathing suits and sat outside on the beach reading and drinking beers, playing pool and eating a delicious meal. It was exactly the type of down time we needed after our hectic travel problems.

The hostel had a breakfast buffet, that, as is the case with a lot of food here, was simply cooked food sitting out getting cold. We weren’t too keen on the idea of eating cold eggs and sausages but when the guy told us that it was only 150 pesos (around three USD) we were happy enough to eat it and get on with our day. It was only when we went to pay that she told us it was 250 pesos each, which was far too much for the cold mediocre food we had consumed. Five dollars may not be a lot of money, but when you’re balling on a budget in Southeast Asia, where a meal should always be less than that, these things can make you angry. After our unsatisfying breakfast, we had one of the woman working at the hostel call for someone from town to bring a scooter for us to rent so that we could spend our only full day here exploring as much of this little island as possible. The guy showed up with a scooter, which I had to learn to kick start like a bad ass, and we were ready to go. Three guys from Los Angeles, Matt, Peter and Sean, were also renting scooters that day and we decided that we would head out together, although I warned them I would definitely be slower than they would. Since they were taking a bit longer to get ready we decided to head out first and meet them somewhere along the way since we all wanted to hit the same spots.

We got some gas and set out on our journey. The island is truly beautiful, with easy to drive and navigate roads that had very few other people on them. Our first stop was Cantabon Cave. Although I’ve seen a lot of caves in Asia, I was really interested in doing this one, which definitely had less people coming through it than others I have been to. We paid and got our guides in a tiny little office and were taken down to the entrance of the cave along with a lovely Finnish couple that we just happened to arrive at the same time as. The entrance to the cave was already much crazier than any I had been to previously, we had to crouch down and basically crab walk through tiny spaces to get to a point where we could stand up somewhat straight. The portion of cave that we could walk through was 800 meters, far more than I had expected. Pretty much right away we entered shallow water that had these tiny catfish swimming through it. We made our way through multiple climbs and dips and eventually got to see small waterfalls within the cave, pools big enough to swim in and gorgeous white terrace formations that looked so incredibly perfect with crystal clear water in them. I actually couldn’t believe how amazing the pattern of the terraces and desperately wished I could take a picture that would do it justice. But even photos with the go pro that the Finnish couple had weren’t coming out perfectly because the cave was incredibly dark and we only had the lights from our head torches. We made it all the way to the end and back, which was actually a great workout and one that we weren’t prepared for. I have to say that this was the most fun and tough cave that I got to walk through in all of Asia and I was so glad that we did it.

When we emerged back into the light of day we realized that it had started raining, which was of course less than ideal. When we were getting onto our bike and getting ready to head out to the next spot we realized there was a paper in it, which at first I nervously thought was some sort of ticket. It was a note left by the California boys letting us know that they had skipped the cave and were going to Cambugahay Falls. So, through the rain, we set off to meet them there. We had a minor setback as Christine realized she forgot her helmet halfway through the drive and we had to turn around, but by the time we got to the falls, they were still there. The falls were super blue and beautiful and even though it was drizzling we knew we had to go in. We jumped in off the top of one of the falls and swam around for a while, watching people swing off the rope swing, including a local kid doing crazy flips off of it.

After the waterfall we all took off together into the town of Lazi, where we took a quick pit stop into San Isidro Church, a beautiful church dating back to 1857, before heading to Salagdoong beach for its infamous 30 foot cliff jump into the ocean. By the time we arrived the water was looking pretty rough, with waves crashing hard into the rocks where the ladder to get back up onto the cliff was. The smaller of the jumps was closed because of the strength of the waves near the landing so it was the big jump or nothing. Sean took one for the team and was the first to jump, but was so silent after landing in the water that we all thought he was hurt or that something went wrong. After the other two boys jumped I got up there and did it myself. The jump was so long that I thought I should have hit the water much earlier than I actually did. Overall, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, with only some slight bruising from the landing. On the swim back to the shore, which we thought looked easier than trying to climb up the death ladder, the ocean made a visible change and the currents got much stronger. We stumbled out onto shore breathless, getting crashed on by waves. Right after we all finished our jumps they closed the jump because of the tides, which was a little concerning, but we were glad that we got to experience it.

Christine and I decided to continue around the island simply burning gas and taking in the scenery. We needed to get a ferry out the following day, so, once we got back to Siquijor town we rode down to the pier to ask about the ferries, but no stand was open. A sign on one of the ferries said that the 6:30 AM trip to Dumaguete was canceled for the following day already due to the weather, which had us feeling nervous. A man saw us looking around and asked us where we were trying to go. I told him that we needed to get back to Cebu city, but that it seemed like most boats just go to Dumaguete first, then you have to take another ferry to Liloan on the south of Cebu island. He told us that a ferry goes at night directly to Cebu from the pier at Lorena at 6:30 AM, which we had passed on the way back to Siquijor. So we hopped back on the bike and rode back to Lorena. At this point it was getting dark, we were freezing cold and we realized we were missing an incredible sunset, but we had to do what we had to do. We got to Lorena and when we asked the woman about the ferry she told us that there was none. So, we had to get back on the bike in the dark and cold and head back to Siquijor to take pictures of the ferry companies and time boards. The earliest trip would be 10:00 AM, so we knew we’d have to wake up early the following morning and head down around 8:00 AM, for when the ticket booths open, to buy our ticket.

When we got back to the hostel we sat for dinner and beers with the guys, which turned into cards and beers, which made its way to shots of Jager and deep conversation as the group dwindled down and then suddenly the sun was rising. The three of us that remained, Matt, Peter and myself, decided we would go for a sunrise swim, but the sand in the water was completely impossible to walk on and we ended up getting tiny shards of coral and shells stuck in our feet. Instead, we went to the pool, making one of the workers turn the water slide on for us. When it was nearing 8:00 AM, I went to collect Christine and, delusional on no sleep, I biked the both of us down to the pier and Christine went to the window to get our tickets. We had an hour to go back and pack our things and then bike back into town with all our luggage to return the bike just next to the pier, just in time to get on the ferry. The ferry took us to Dumaguete, where we had to take a tricycle to a separate port at Sibulan where we had to catch another ferry to Liloan on Cebu. From there, we got on the four hour bus ride back to Cebu city. It was a terribly long day of travel and we had to be up at 3:00 AM for our flight to Palawan. After a nap and food I went straight to bed and had a whopping four hours of sleep before having to get up, throw our bags back on and head out to the airport.


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