Long overdue post. We’ve been here last July, yet had no time to write a post since then. Tough year. But, as they say, better late than never. So from this day on, I’ll try my best to post my travels for the year.
So, Tacloban. We didn’t have much plans going here. Haha. Just plane tickets and booked accommodation. Probably the cheapest plane ticket I booked so far – around PHP 1,500 for 2 pax. Yup. Waiting for promo fares is worth it. Fortunately, flights back and forth wasn’t delayed, thank you Cebu Pacific. Well, we do have a list of things we want to do and places to go to, but that’s just that – a list. We stayed at Z Pad Residences I found through Agoda. Fairly cheap and actually a nice place to stay – clean room, good food, nice staff, affordable. Plus, it is at the city center so going around wasn’t hard for us. We did commute like a local. So, the moment we landed, we just rode a jeepney going to the hotel and just rested for the rest of the night (we arrived at around 6 in the evening).
For our first day, we went to the neighboring province, Samar. We passed through the longest river and most famous bridge in the Philippines – San Juanico Bridge. It is long and beautiful. It took us around more than half an hour to get to Basey from Tacloban’s grand terminal. We dropped off at the tourism office and where they welcomed us warmly and went straight to discussing about Sohoton National Park, which is the most famous attraction here and pretty much what we really came for. They have packages available which includes the tour guide and transportation. The officer who assisted us let us join with the group which then made the price cheaper for all of us. As soon as the team’s complete, we got into habal-habal’s – their most favored form of transportation – and immediately started our way to the park’s ‘reception’ which is a small hut in the middle of nowhere. Haha. The fees were first settled then we were given our vests and aboard the boat.
First stop is Sohoton Cave. So, we rode a boat to get to the entrance of the cave. We were given flashlights to use and entered the cave. The cave was big and full of amusing rock formations. But, to be honest, I didn’t really enjoyed it. I mean, I am no pro spelunker but the cave was just like a museum with one level and no obstacles, etc, which I love. So, if you just want to “sight-see” then it is a place to be.
As soon as we’re out, we had our lunch, which you have to bring yourself. Then to go to the natural park, you must kayak your way to it. Here comes the real adventure. I haven’t tried kayaking before and, of course, I’ll let my partner do it. He had an experience anyways.
The kayak ride was about 15 minutes. The view was really majestic. Trees and rock formations everywhere. It was quiet and you can feel nature. But the river isn’t all friendly. There’s a part where the currents are really strong that we can’t kayak our way through it so the guide always look after us and push our kayak through. I honestly thought we would flip and I I am not confident with my swimming skills. Luckily, we didn’t.
The park is beautiful. Natural bridge, cool waters, lots of pebbles and I can say that the kayak struggles are worth it. We didn’t stay long ’cause we still have to kayak our way back. And the currents on this part of the river was a bit stronger. So, we just took a few (by few, I meant, a LOT) of pictures and started our way back.
As soon as we arrived, we returned the kayaks and paddles and rode the boat back to the reception area. Our habal-habal was waiting but he suggested we go to a falls nearby. This wasn’t part of the package and we just have to pay additional fee for the transportation. Since it was still a bit early then (3 o’clock in the afternoon) we agreed and made our way to the area which is only 15 minutes away.
The falls is known as “Balantak Falls” and it was made up of 3 falls – two short ones and the the third as the highest among three. The trek was only about 15 minutes and wasn’t that difficult because the trail is well-formed. So, no obstacles as well. We went for a short swim at the last one then went back soon. The only problem was that the area wasn’t well established yet so the restrooms weren’t fully functional. We used the caretakers’ bathroom which they also happen to store some of their stuff. There was no electricity yet as well so we relied on the flashlight of our phones. Nevertheless, the staff were really nice and friendly. Our habal-habal driver waited for us again and drove us into the city center where we rode a van this time to get back to Tacloban since according to him, there were no available jeepneys already during that time – around 4:30 in the afternoon.
On our way back to Tacloban, I found out through a text from my mother that a strong earthquake actually hit Leyte and neighboring islands. So there was a blackout when we arrived at Tacloban. It was really dark and you can hear the generators running on different establishments, houses, etc. Since it was actually a little late already and because of the circumstances, we decided to eat dinner before heading back to the hotel. We walked along Burgos Street, which, based on other blogs I read, was the place to be for a food crawl.
We had our dinner at Sunzibar Cafe.They pretty much serve Italian cuisine for a really affordable price. The ambiance in the place was also good despite the fact the only candles light the place. I really loved the food and the price!
For the second day, we actually planned on visiting Cuatro Islas. I already contacted someone from their staff but we weren’t able to really go. According to the news, the earthquake was bad so we were scared to travel to farther places where there could be fallen buildings, etc. Instead, we went back to Burgos Street to eat then went to a nearby beach – Patio Victoria. The place was relaxing. It was gloomy that day and was raining every now and then, and the waves were a bit strong.
For our last day, we visited Sto. Nino museum but wasn’t able to really appreciate it because it was dark (there’s still no electricity) and the tour guide was in a hurry for some reason. We finished the whole place in less than 30 minutes. After that, we went to the nearby church then went to the mall to kill time.
Didn’t do much. We will definitely come back to go around. We missed a lot of places and foods to eat.