We decided to fly from Legazpi to the Visayas rather than travelling overland/water via Leyte just so we could spend those extra few days up in north Luzon, and so we could squeeze a cheeky little trip to Caramoan in. Flights here aren’t going to have your bank account curling up in a dark corner and crying and ultimately, flying worked out cheaper than hauling ourselves around on ferries and long distance buses would have done. It’s also a little easier on your sleep patterns and thus your general sanity. We landed in Cebu City, spent one night in a place we found on Agoda then bailed at some god awful hour the next morning for the ferry terminal.
Dear sweet lord it’s a horrible hectic mess of noise and general trauma before you’ve applied the sufficient quantity of caffeine to your brain. Your pre-breakfast self will want to retreat to somewhere safe and warm but you can’t because you need to buy a fucking ticket. There are people everywhere and there were at least two blokes shouting into megaphones, presumably about ticket prices, I don’t know, but one of these men stopped assaulting the eardrums of the masses for long enough to direct us to an Oceanjet ticket counter where we picked up tickets to Tagbilaran for ₱400 each on the 6am ferry.
There are cheaper, slower ferries but we just wanted to get there, the idea being to get checked into a place then spend the day working out what we were doing with the rest of our lives. Or the next week at least. We found SLIM Pension House on some manner of booking app and asked the very friendly lady behind the counter where we could eat. She pointed us in the direction of McDonald’s and Jollibees, the latter of which is a Filipino fast food chain which I guess it’s a little like KFC. I’m sure you’ve heard of the former.
See, we were thinking something along the lines of a nice, cheap silog meal, keeping it local and within budget, but y’know, we’ve been away for a while now… we’ve eaten a lot of local food… haven’t applied a Macca’s brekky to our digestive systems for a while… fuck it. Why not. Let’s get a sausage and egg McMuffin and a dirty hash brown that’s been sat on the side slowly congealing for five minutes. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, one I often indulge in when I’m hungover. Or in a rush. Or, y’know, awake and breathing. But we didn’t stop there, oh hells no, after perusing the local eateries later that day and not fancying anything on display we went to Pizza Hut. Fucking Pizza Hut. We spent two day’s food budget on one meal and I regret nothing. Nothiiiiiiing!
Scooter rental, then. That’s what we needed in our lives and there were at least three places dotted along Palma Street, all asking ₱500 a day, or ₱350 if we took it for a few days. We opted for Richard’s Car & Motor Rental because their bikes looked in better nick and the lad seemed lovely. Transport sorted. SLIM Pension House agreed to store most of our shit so that was dealt with. So on Sunday morning, with the remains of our Pizza Hut strapped to the backpack because sustenance on the road is essential, we buggered off to look at some waterfalls. On the right hand side of the road. Without a guide. Shit shit shit.
Fun fact about waterfalls though; they often seem to be down some manner of road or track off the main road so we followed Maps.ME and steered the bike north-ish. I mean, I was expecting unsealed roads but guys, the road just got progressively worse and worse the further down we got. I’m not even shitting you, the potholes got deeper, and the rocks and stones got bigger. Every now and then we were treated to a concrete stretch of road which quickly finished and lead onto an even rougher stretch of road than before. Sometimes Tarrant had to get off and walk whilst I bounced the machine over rocky terrain and I mostly rode with my feet down. Then we came to a sign advising us there was a waterfall down a track to the left.
We didn’t even give a shit that it wasn’t the one we were looking for, it was there and I wanted it in my eyeholes so we veered off, were directed down a left fork by a guy who lived there and as I slowly maneuvered down a wet and mossy concrete section, the wheels slid out from under us. Literally just that. They slid left, we stacked it right, I tried to keep the bike upright as Tarrant hit the floor and just for one split second I thought I had it, then the bike slid into a ditch and I joined Tarrant on the floor. Bollocks. I scrambled up, reached down and switched off the engine, then just kind of stared at it forlornly as the local guy ran over to help.
Bless him, he picked the bike up and wheeled it out of the ditch for me as we decided whether we should abandon mission or carry on. It was scratched in several places down the side. This was going to cost. But fuck it, I didn’t drag a 125cc rental scooter over the surface of the fucking moon and throw it in a ditch thus sustaining minor grazing and probably a bruise where I landed on the coins in my pocket just to give up. The man told us it was only 600 metres to where we’d need to leave the bike and walk anyway so we just left it where he’d wheeled it for us and made our way down some pretty treacherous, muddy footpaths and steps to Ingkumhan Falls where we parted with ₱10 each.
Worth it. Whereas the rains in Legazpi had turned the last waterfall we swam in to the colour of mud, this was still a gorgeous, milky blue colour. It was freezing bastard cold of course, we both made the obligatory involuntary monkey noises as we shuffled in, but once you’re in it’s amazing. There’s this little cave to the right and the waterfall thundered over the rock face to the left. Someone had put a rope swing up which we couldn’t quite climb up and there was a knotted rope leading up the falls too. I figured I’d injured myself enough for one day and didn’t attempt it but I’m betting in peak season this place is full of people chilling in the cottages you can rent and playing in the water.
I could have stayed here all day but there were other falls to see today so we hauled ourselves and the big pack we’d regretted packing back up the hill to our scraped up vehicle. I looked at it and poked the scratches a bit, like that was going to help. No chance of a DIY fix but the scooter itself was working just fine, the damage was purely cosmetic. I made poor Tarrant walk back up to what passed as a road though, I won’t lie, it rattled my confidence a bit.
The next waterfalls, the falls we were actually looking for, were further up this track which could probably legally pass as off-road. Well we were halfway up the fucker, why not carry on? It was slow going and again, I kept my feet down for most of it until eventually we came to a signpost for Pahanhog Falls. We bounced through the barangay, parked up in a square as instructed by a random bloke and headed towards the start of the footpath down as a woman ran up to us and told us that we could swim but if it started to rain we were to get out immediately. Sound advice.
When it rains it fucking rains and I can imagine the rivers suddenly running very high and fast. A lot of the last kilometre is flat, we were ankle deep in mud at some points but we were wearing our sexy rubber shoes we bought in Sagada. Oh hells yeah. I’m quite sure we paid too much for them but at least we’re getting some use out of them. I still made a mental note to invest in a proper pair of river shoes, a pair that didn’t strip the skin off my ankles every time I wore them. Soon enough you get to a cottage where you head down and down and down until you come out at a river and turn left to the waterfalls.
Again, this was worth the slightly traumatic scooter ride to get there, these waterfalls are also beautiful. The river was low but you can see how high it gets just by looking at the debris wrapped around the trees. When it’s in full flow it looks like it can easily get to waist height in parts that were currently dry and I did wonder how much time we’d have to flee if the rain did suddenly roll in. There was a rope strung across the back of the plunge pool where the water rushed through a small gap and shit me, the current was even strong there, if it was any higher or faster you would stand a bloody chance, you’d be off down the river, I’d gotten a little cocky and tried to cross without the rope and Tarrant had to drag me back.
Don’t get cocky, guys. The water is stronger than you’ll ever be, I don’t care how much you can fucking bench press. The water was still a milky blue here too and we spent ages floating around. I kind of wish we’d brought the pizza, the cottages (this is what they call the little shacks with a table and benches) you could rent here faced the waterfall but fucked if I was going all the way back up just to come back down again. I love pizza but my inherent laziness apparently outweighs this fondness for circular dough based food.
The rest of the day was spent cruising down lovely sealed roads once we’d managed to get back to them without further incident. I could have kissed the concrete but I’d probably have burned my lips. The sun was out which, at this time of year in Bohol, is a little bit rare and it’s pretty intense. We stopped along a particularly pretty stretch of road to relocate the pizza from the backpack to our stomachs and in the time it took to eat it I think I might have lost a layer of skin and the bike seat had heated up to an arse-searing temperature.
So we’d had plans to stay in a place called Jagna on account of it not being a ridiculous distance from Tagbilaran but we got there and it just didn’t feel right, y’know? I’d read there was another waterfall somewhere and there might have been snorkelling but we couldn’t see any evidence of either and I’d heard Anda was a nice, chill place to be if we could squeeze another 37kms out of our resolve. I was up for it, Tarrant was struggling with the heavy pack but she was up for looking. I don’t know what possessed us to pack one large pack rather than two small ones. Our utter inability to pack light I guess? We’ll know better for next time though, it even changed the way the scooter handled.
Anda, then. Off we went, bracing ourselves for hefty accommodation prices. The Lonely Planet would have you believe that it’s a very resorty place full of resorts and you have to stay in a resort because resorts are great and yay resorts. No, Lonely Planet. No. Whilst I will concur there are a notable quantity of resorts there are also guest houses and lodges and pretty much the second we rolled in with the ocean in view we saw a sign for a room for ₱499 at Kim’s Garden Inn, not to be confused with Kim’s Garden Resort which I think they may also own.
You can absolutely enjoy Anda on a budget fitting of Scrooge before he went and got haunted and got all generous, so we did. It’s on the east coast so it’s obviously not a sunset point and by the time we got there the beach was already in shade but it’s amazing. White sand, warm, blue ocean, beach side bars selling cold, delicious beer. The sky stayed clear well into the evening and we chilled on a table on the beach sipping San Miguel Pale Pilsen and marvelling at the endless array of stars. We weighed up the logistics of basing ourselves here for another night but everything else we wanted to see was a fair distance away. Next time, Anda. Next time we’re in Bohol we will be in you for several days.
Tagbilaran to Anda, Bohol, Philippines
Stayed at: SLIM Pension House, Tagbilaran & Kim’s Garden Inn, Anda (accessed through Hangover Resto Bar)