We missed our chance spotting turtles back on *that secret island* a week ago and so we have made it our sole purpose to seek out a place where such animals are in abundance. We LOVE turtles by the way. That place is called Apo island.
Getting here was pretty straight forward. After our boat ride and 3 bus journeys from Sugar beach we stayed the night in Dumaguete again so we could leave early enough to get to Malatapay to stand a chance of getting a cheaper boat with locals or day trippers as opposed to the 2000php boat hire price. More so as it was market day our chance was much higher.
We caught a 45min bus from Dumagute (25php each) to the port town of Malatapey and headed through the busy market to the port. The market was busy with locals buying amd selling everything from souvenirs to cattle. Fish stores were aplenty and goats were being walked through on leashes like a pet. P said she felt like she was with a celebrity from the amount of stares Chris was drawing as we walked through the crowd. Not friendly or unfriendly just stares.
We stared back at the whole market unfolding and they stared at us, mainly Chris. Everyone was happy.
After coupling up with a group of young Chinese tourists and a very wet boat ride (40min/300php each) we reached Apo island. We paid the mandatory environmental fee and checked into our accommodation about 5mins later. The village is very small with maze like passage ways off the main walkway (no motorised vehicles here). As soon as we'd checked in a member of staff told us that as it was still high tide there'd be a good chance to see some turtles. He didn't have to tell us twice.
Within 10 mins we were in the sea snapping pictures with turtles 4 meters from the shoreline. It was such an amazing experience to be able to swim alongside these gentle creatures, some of them were huge too eating sea grass leisurely. It was a similar feeling to the time we swam with dolphins, something about these animals that makes us feel all emotional. After a while it got a bit crowded with day trippers and tour groups plus we were hungry from swimming so headed back to our
Food here seems to be on an advance order basis and accommodation only supplying food for guests. Unfortunately for us we'd just missed out on lunch at our place so went off in search of food elsewhere. We found this one other restaurant who told us to come back later for dinner as they had to order our food in. So for lunch we only managed to eat some small bread buns and a couple of pork skewers.
On the island there are a couple other small beaches and 2 lagoons on the other side via the village and many stairs. In the village the locals were so friendly with everyone saying "hello" or "good afternoon" when we passed.
On one evening we walked passed a group of people drinking and playing music. One elderly man with two left feet appearing to dance with an imaginary woman, ushered us towards them and started dancing with Chris. P not wanting to join in on the limelight took a few steps back to blend into the group of the crowd. Not afraid to wiggle his hips, move his arms while tapping away his feet, he
was a real charmer and crowd pleaser, the locals broke out in cheers, with many giggling girls and women. They wanted more but unfortunately it was never his intention. P was in hysterics at the reaction, Chris is now going leave thinking he is a good dancer and even more of a local celebrity as the locals who recognised him later always cheerfully greeted us.
Another day, in the relentless heat we managed to clamber up the many many stairs which some locals do at least once a day to get water from the well. The 2 beaches were quite small & rocky and the lagoon was an illuminous green colour with the muddy area around mainly used as a dumping ground.
After taking in the view, we headed back swiftly up and down the many steps puffing and panting thinking to ourselves whether our level of fitness had diminished since Japan, Myanmar or even north Luzon.
Most evenings we both ate the fried fish with steamed rice which was good albeit a bit dry (gravy anybody?). This was served up at our accommodation each day for a fixed price of 180 pesos.
The following day we planned to wake up around 7am to catch the turtles before the area got crowded again. Thanks to the many roosters here owned by locals we were woken up way before then. Chris pointed out that rather than the typical "cock- a -doodle doo" sound, these roosters made a noise that highly resembled the phrase "Happy Birthday" or even "Happy New Year" crackle. Honestly, one after the other with no breaks in between them. It was like they were trying to out do the other. And they do this at any time not just morning. Needless to say we were wide awake before 7.
Realising the tide was still low when we got to the beach meaning no turtles, we went straight back to bed although every time they crowed away P could not get Chris's amusing liking to happy birthday. Happy birthday for the next few hours it was.
A few hours later we were back out in the sea again swimming amongst turtles and checking out the coral and fishes once more. Back at our accomodation we got talking to a Dutch couple (with a terrible hangover) who we
briefly conversed with at the immigration office back in Cebu and again in Bohol. We shared some stories and advice before they went off to snorkel with turtles themselves. Later that night during our evening meal we got talking to them again and an irish couple, we had a lovely chat and a laugh before the electricity shut off at the usual 9.30pm. Taking that as our cue to leave as we had another early start, this time leaving the island to begin our journey to the beautiful Palawan. We said our goodbyes opting to pack our bags in the morning when light was good. It took a while to fall asleep though as the staff and a few long term guests were having a leaving party and were singing songs/playing the guitar. P felt the urge to go tell them they were singing the words wrong as she couldn't help but unconsciously sing along in her mind trying to correct the wrongly sung words. Instead she bit her tongue, covered her head with the pillow and listened to more badly and incorrectly sung songs. Oh how painful it was.
We were aiming to wake up at about
5am to catch an early boat back to the mainland but the roosters woke us up way before then. "Happy Birthday" to each other continuously from about 4am up until our boat left and 6.30am.
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