Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Southern Leyte Island: Secret Paradise

From Cebu I caught another, smaller ferry to Ormoc harbor, on Leyte Island. It was not as crowded as the previous ferry, and I had plenty of space. I also didn't have as much competition for the shower facilities, so I was able to clean up. It had open-air beds on the top bunk, where passengers can relax and look at the scenery going by while dozing. It was a really relaxing 6 hours! From Ormoc, I connected to a local bus going to Bay-Bay, then a van from Bay-Bay to Bato, then another van from Bato to Maasin, and then because it was late I had to hire a tricycle to take me the 30km to Padre Burgos, where I would stay for the next 2 days. It was late when I arrived, and I found to my surprise that I was the only guest in the entire dive resort (it's the off season, so no one was around). At Bay-Bay, I stopped by the market and bought a pineapple for about a dollar, which the lady made into a popsicle for easy eating. It was SO delicious and hard to resist sinking my teeth into until I got to Padre Burgos many hours later!!

In the morning I woke up to a beautiful sleepy little village on the edge of Sogod Bay with very friendly people and absolutely breathtaking views both above and under the water. A friendly little puppy came running up to welcome me and chew on the strap of my purse and anything else he could sink his teeth into. I started out the day with a snorkel in the reef just next to the resort. The coral diversity was great and there was a really good variety of fish. I swam with three turtles who make this particular reef their home, which was a first for me. The local staff were very friendly and waited on my every need (there were about 5 of them to one of me!) By the next day some other guests arrived (2 or 3 others), but I was no less spoiled! I took a walk into town, and along the way answered the question, “Where are you going?” about 150 times. At first I had to process the question for a while before giving an answer, until I found out that to Filipinos, saying, “Where are you going?” is just like saying, “How are you?” and all that they are expecting is for you to say, “Just there!” and they are satisfied. One many even said to me, “Hello, where are you coming from and where are you going?” I'm glad that I had figured out that it wasn't meant as an interrogation before meeting him! In town I had lunch at an adorable little cafe (I was the only customer again) and I got to try halo-halo for desert. If you ge the chance to try it, I'd highly recommend it! It is a layered desert made with icecream, fruit, sweet beans, ice, and condensed milk. Mmmmmm....

That evening I went for a walk in the neighborhood and made friends with some local children who were having races with a sticks and bicycle tires. They were so adorable and loved taking pictures, which was great for me, because they were such cute little willing candidates for a photo shoot. There were some boys jumping off a wooden structure into the water out in the bay, and I got a few really good action shots of them too. It was such a good experience that I didn't want to leave the next day, but I had to get back to Tacloban in time for my flight back to Manila. If you are in the mood for a laid-back holiday in a beautiful yet uncrowded place, Southern Leyte is a great place!

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