Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hinagdanan Cave and Other Bohol Sights

On our last day in Bohol, I woke up early to check for bargains and/or unusual offerings on their wet market. This is perhaps my "off-the-beaten-track" style that separates me from other travellers and tourists, which also allows me to get a glimpse of the local culture. I did the same exercise in Palawan, Davao, Legazpi, Dumaguete, and other areas I visit whenever I have the opportunity. That morning, I went to the Tagbilaran City market, beside Island City Mall, with the Dao bus terminal behind it.

Their wet market is spacious with high ceiling. However, it shows signs of neglect with the fading paint jobs, rusty steel bars, etc. Inside the market its quite dark, and many stalls are vacant, reducing the usual vibe and noise you can expect on a market. Fruits like mangoes are less expensive yet bigger than in Manila, but they are too heavy to bring home.

Among the unusual products on this market are the two live shellfish types below. They look familiar as decor items, but I don't know their names and how they are cooked.

On their dried seafood section, I learned that their prices are similar to that in Taboan market, on their neighboring island of Cebu. The stall owner told me that they have the same supplier of dried seafoods, hence the similarity of prices. I happily bought dried squids and danggit (dried salted rabbitfish) to add variety to our breakfast meals at home.

After breakfast, we decided to see Hinagdanan cave afterwards. It should have been part of our Bohol countryside tour, but we ran out of time since we started late at 11:00 am the previous day. So we boarded a multicab utility vehicle first from our hotel to the city's cathedral. Then for Php 150, a tricycle driver agreed to take us to the Hinagdanan cave in the neighboring island, then drop us at Island City mall for last-minute shopping of pasalubong (take home gifts).

Here's a shot of a bridge that connects the island of Panglao to the mainland of Bohol.

After about 20 minutes of slow travel, we arrived at Hinagdanan cave, with lots of stalls selling food and souvenirs. Entrance and parking fees are minimal at Php 15 each. A guide will assist and tour you around the cave, and will offer to take your photos. We gave him Php 20 for his service of less than 15 minutes.  

The discovery of the cave by the land's owner was accidental, as he heard a splash of water below the ground as he dropped stones on a hole in the ground. To explore the cavernous karst cave, he used a ladder which means "hagdan" in Filipino language, where the cave got its name. 

The volunteer guide will advise visitors to be careful as they go down the narrow opening of the cave. Visitors will see stalactites and stalagmites as expected, though some have been removed to allow safer pathways for the visitors. Some paintings on the cave's walls will be pointed by the guide as works of art, but for me they are graffiti. 

There is a clear lagoon inside the cave, composed of cold freshwater and seawater mixture, open for swimmers who are not afraid of its depth and darkness of the area. Besides those who swim there will be one of the attractions for tourists visiting the area.

Two holes above the cave provides natural lighting in the area. Below those holes are nice photo ops area, with the natural light's rays shining down the rocks below. 

Sample photos of the tricycles and a jeepney in Tagbilaran City. Note the luggage compartment on the back of the tricycle, as well as the written bible passages required by the city ordinance.

Another ATM or Automatic Tubig (Water) Machine that dispenses cold purified water for as low as Php 1, seen in Dauis town center on our first day. The ATM had spread out from Cebu to its neighboring provinces.

If you are looking for a restaurant in the city center, one option is Jo's Chicken Inato or popularly known as Payag Restaurant along CPG East avenue. It is walking distance from the cathedral, just turn right on the corner of Caltex gasoline station. Nice native ambience with wooden fixtures. Dine inside their airconditioned room if you want to avoid the pesky mosquitoes on their open area.

We spent less than Php 300 for a meal with grilled chicken, fish in sour soup, rice, and drinks. Lots of locals and foreigners on this popular restaurant due good food at reasonable prices. 

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