By now we were starting to get used to the mad-long journeys that budget travelling in the Philippines entails. This journey was pretty typical: small boat off an island, couple of buses to a city, another ferry (luckily snatching the last couple of tickets, given the imminent arrival of Christmas in a week’s time!), and then… road block. We’d made it all the way to the island of Bohol, but we’d missed the last bus to take us to our jungle hut, which we’d been so looking forward to.
Given it was nearly Christmas, we’d decided to treat ourselves to a stay in a fancy place that we’d never normally be able to afford. At 7 pounds pp/pn, it was way out of our budget (over twice as much!) but we decided to stay there nonetheless, just for a couple of nights. We had a reservation, and – god damn it! – we weren’t going to let missing the last bus stop us from getting there.
After some hilarious bargaining with local private minivan drivers who were quoting insane amounts (I outright called them out as liars after overhearing a price they quoted a local, much to their amusement!) – we walked about 20 meters out of the bus station, and found a really lovely young tricycle driver who was willing to take us the hour’s journey into the jungle for a fiver, which was a total steal given it was late at night!
The journey turned out to be an adventure in itself, as we squished ourselves and all of our stuff into the side-car of the trike (barely big enough for two people) while he helped us attach our big bags and ridiculous Christmas bag of gifts, decorations and mini Christmas tree – onto the roof! The trike motored along country roads in the darkness, illuminated occasionally by OTT Christmas decorations outside people’s houses and on town squares. We felt the clear air fill our lungs as the city dropped away, and exchanged excited looks with each other in the trike’s rear view mirror, with the neon trike lights buzzing away, cutting through the black.
After about 50 minutes we got closer, but Nuts Huts was nowhere to be seen. We were told to just look for a sign on the road, so we started crawling along slowly until we finally saw it! The adorably trike guy offered to try and drive us all the way down the dirt track to the huts but we kindly declined, and bagged up for the 20 minute trek along the jungle path. We were buzzing with anticipation by this point, and I was pretty psyched to be using my new head torch, as we ambled along the muddy path to our final destination.
We made it to registration in Nuts Huts a lucky 10 minutes before the reception closed (phew!), and were led to our hut by the ground staff – down LOTS of stairs, past a river, and finally to our fancy stilt hut, which had three beds (!), a snazzy see-through glass shower, high ceiling, and outside balcony. We promptly collapsed into bed.
Waking up in the jungle, surrounded by nature, felt amazing. We awoke to the sound of birdsong and crickets, and ate breakfast on the balcony (we’d once again brought our own food to dodge high-priced resort meals!) We decided to slow it down to snail-pace, since we’d been travelling way faster than we normally would through a country, and spent the first day chilling in the beautiful main hut of the resort – playing table tennis, reading magazines, looking out over the river. In the afternoon we went for a fun swim in the river and were passed by floating restaurant boats, playing power pop, with people waving off their sides.
We spent the evening listening to Christmas playlists in our cosy hut, then eating dinner in the main hut, playing a brief game of Monopoly (Sam plays DIRTY), and watching fireflies buzz around the trees from the comfort of some hammocks.
The next day was action packed as we had a few things we wanted to fit in before travelling to the next island. First, we caught a local bus to a Tarsier Sanctuary, travelling through some beautiful fields and rice paddies en route. The sanctuary was great, and we got a guided tour around the semi-wild enclosure, were taught all about tarsiers from mating, to eating, to their endangered status. Turns out that despite being cute, they’re also pretty deadly, and you wouldn’t want to get in their way (especially when food’s involved!) We got pretty close up to the adorable saucer-eyed little guys, and took some pretty good shots (if I do say so myself!):
Next up, we caught a VERY rammed jeepney (public mini bus that picks people up until there literally isn’t an inch spare on the wooden benches!) – then a disco-bus (pumping out 80s tunes) to the Chocolate Hills. Basically just a load of green mossy hills next to each other, duped ‘Chocolate Hills’ because of their similarity to Hersheys Kisses, the hills were a bit ‘meh’ but still quite sweet, and there were lots of excited domestic tourists there who were very cute.
We had a nice local lunch and watched some kids performing a Christmas dance to Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’ which was one of the sweetest things ever, and took a bus back to the ferry port town, Tagbilaran. After so much time scrimping on food with our packed lunches, we emotionally folded and shamefully had two fast-food dinners back to back (it’s CHRISTMAS after all!!) then hit the hay in preparation for travel to our penultimate island, Siquijor….!