Coming back from beautiful Siquijor, our plan was to head straight to the island of Camiguin. It is part of the region of Mindanao and supposedly the island with the most volcanoes per square kilometer. Camiguin would be our last stop before going to Palawan which would also be our last leg of our shared journey through the Philippines. We hence planned to spend a few quality days with a mix of relaxation and adventure.
Once again we traveled by ferry including yet another stopover in Bohol. The ride on an old and rusty ship but over-friendly crew took about 4 hours. The weather was fine which made the ride enjoyable and diverting. We were even able to spot some dolphins and lots of flying fish accompanying our boat for a bit.
We safely made it to Camiguin by early evening and had a tricycle driver take us to a resort he recommended. Usually being a bit suspicious about recommendations like that, we got lucky yet once more and found a place nested in a lush and spacious garden right by the water and with a little private beach. The room was cosy and airy, the price was right, the ambiance was quiet and relaxed and the view from our little porch was unbeatable. Without hassle we found our hideaway for the upcoming days. With a smile on our faces we enjoyed the beautiful sunset that evening and were glad to have made it to this tropical paradise.
The next day Chris and I rented motorbikes to tour the island. I have to say those were the best and most fun bikes we rode so far. 125cc Hondas with a sort of motocross body including high suspensions and my bike even featuring some fresh Monster Energy decal. Just the right rides to tour the island of volcanoes.
Our first stop was Katibawasan Falls, one of the bigger waterfalls we saw so far with the water dropping by about 70 meters. We cooled off in the comparably chilly water and snacked on some local food before we got back on the road again. Until noon we just rode around, explored the back roads and beautiful scenery with views of the surrounding volcanoes. It was a great morning and we took our time snapping nice pictures while stopping here and there.
Back at our place we checked for Dolf who had a bad night being afflicted by awful nightmares and hence had decided to skip the tour in order to catch up on some sleep. Me being tired as well, we spent the remainder of the day lazing in our hammocks to the sound of the gentle waves breaking at our beach and watching the clouds pass by. In the evening I felt fit again and decided to hit up the local gym which Chris and I had discovered earlier that day. It was basically just a big garage with some basic equipment in it but enough to have a proper workout. The guys there gave me a very warm welcome, the workout felt great and I was sure to return the following days.
White Island and meeting new friends
The next morning we boarded a little banka boat to White Island which is actually a big white sandbar just off coast Camiguin. We got there at about 8 in the morning and it was super hot already. The island seems to be a popular spot for Filipino tourists and a lot of them were having fun on the beach and in the water. The sand there was as white as it gets and the ocean around it a mix of turquoise and blue waters. The sun was blazing merciless but snapping some nice pictures of the people and the surrounding scenery made up for it. We also got a nice and very different view of Camiguin.
Our next stop was the islands giant clam sanctuary. It is a local tourism project where giant clams are being hatched and put into a sanctuary close to shore. The place was interesting with a lot of clams, shells and other marine life on display. You could also go snorkel around the sanctuary and check out the clams themselves but we skipped on that.
We wanted to reach another waterfall after lunch but got surprised by a hefty downpour. After having taken shelter for a while, we decided to drive back to or resort and spend the rest of the day there.
I went to the gym again that night and took off late at around 6. The workout did me well again and I wanted to get some proper food afterwards. I went to a chicka loca, the best chicken place in town, to have a half chicken with rice for take away. Just as I received my order, it started pouring again. I was basically stuck there since the way back was long, it was dark out and too slippery to ride. What to do? Waiting for the rain to stop, I met Gels, Harlene and Ayan who worked at the chicken place. The two girls, friends of Ayan, were working at the warehouse next door and just hung around. We all got to talk and had a great time getting to know each other. I got invited for some tasty pork liempo and I bought a round of beers to go with it for everyone. It was a fun night and after about three hours I left the place (it was still raining) having made some new friends. Only in the Philippines.
For the next morning Ayan and Gelz had invited me to come with them to church. I haven’t been to church during my entire trip and experiencing a local mass seemed appealing. The church was Inglesia ni Christo, the church of Christ – so something very different from my own confession. Although I didn’t understand anything, it was very interesting to follow the mass, observe the people and see how the liturgy was set up.
After a good hour the mass was over and Ayan, Gels and I took a stroll through town. We stopped at one of the town’s many bakeries and had some sweet stuff for breakfast. Just before we were about to leave, Gels impressed me a lot with a remarkable gesture. Without much of a fuss, she handed a cute, little beggar kid some money with the simple remark that it is just some coins. Seeing that and knowing that these guys probably don’t have too much money to spare was yet another eye opener and made me think about ourselves and our relation to money. The contrast is striking and the generosity of the people here is unbelievable.
After spending the remainder of the morning walking around town and by the shoreline close by, I again got invited for food. This time Harlene volunteered to cook for all of us and prepared a delicious fish dish. Again, the offer came totally unexpected and I felt more than grateful to have met these people and experience their hospitality. We had a great time together enjoying the food, joking around and getting to know each other even better.
The bunch told me, that there would be a little party that night. It sounded good and the guys were of course down for it. So we all met in the evening to have a few drinks together before leaving for the so called disco. When we arrived, there wasn’t much going on but we had fun with our little group and after a while the party started to kick off. We had a great time with the dj playing some of our favorite tunes and some easy drinking going on. It was a fun end to a memorable day.
Our last day we wanted to spend on Matigue Island, a short banka ride off Camiguin. After a late breakfast, the night out took its toll on us, we drove to the jump off point to Matigue. The banka ride was smooth and we soon approached a small, lush paradise in a turquoise blue sea. The island is very small and our goal was to explore the underwater world which was supposed to be amazing. After having landed on the beach, we headed straight to the snorkeling area, prepared our gear and got into the blue. I have to say it was our best snorkeling up to this point. Heaps of fish, shoals of jacks, lots of coral and many other interesting stuff to spot. The reef also featured a steep wall and at the bottom we saw some divers enabling us to snorkel in their air bubbles. Pretty funny.
The rest of the day we spent relaxing at the beach and reminiscing about the time we have had and the last weeks to come. We brought a cooler with some cold ones and snacks with made the whole stay even more enjoyable. It was a great day out and a good last day on Camiguin.
Last thoughts …
Camiguin was another great surprise. A beautiful island, quiet, relaxed and without too many tourists. On top of all, it featured a lot of things to do – we ourselves didn’t even see half of all the attractions the island offers. We could have easily stayed longer there without getting bored.
But it is not only about attractions but about the atmosphere that can make or break a stay. And here it was perfect with a huge part of that being due to the hospitality, friendliness and generosity of the people we have met. It sometimes leaves me in wonder how good the people can be here and Camiguin was another great example for just that. Life is not easy for people here. They are probably concerned about how to get by, make a living and how to improve their lives while living with way less amenities than we do. But still they are happy and willing to share it with others. It made me feel welcome and blessed and at the same time a little sad thinking about myself, where I have come from and how big the difference is. It is hard to find the right words for it and hard to comprehend. Maybe some of you guys out there can understand what I want to say ……