Philippine countryside and waterfall climbing

Yesterday was just amazing, I finally got to see a bit more of the countryside of the Philippines, which is very different from the crowded, modern Manila. The staff of the field office of Bacolod took me to Mambucal resort, a government run hotel and nature park to get some extra income aside from taxes. It’s an absolutely lovely place, and I was just in time before it will be flushed with tourists in April and May (That is, Filipino tourists. There are not many foreigners here, because there are no good beaches in the area and there is not that much to do in Bacolod). The ride there alone was already worth the time. The bus was driving very fast, so it is a miracle I actually managed to get some decent pictures!

Aside from the swimming pool (and hot spring dipping pools!) the resort has a flying fox sanctuary. I do not think I have ever seen so many fruit bats, and so close! I have some pictures, but they only show a small part of the whole colony. Although they are not really day animals, there was quite some activity, they were squeaking the whole time, and regularly some would fly around. Mannn…they fast! It is really, really hard to get a flying bat on a picture. Despite folklore about them having something to do with vampires, they just eat fruits. Because of deforestation and hunting, they are becoming more rare. That is why it’s so cool you can still find them here, in a very accessible place for the public, so people realize how cool these animals are!

Next we went for the waterfalls. There’s a route up the mountain that leads you past seven waterfalls, although the latest typhoon kind of destroyed the fourth one. I was happy we had some lunch first, because it was quite a climb. Very steep, warm, and exhausting. Nonetheless absolutely worth it! And, despite the hot weather from the last days, at least we had some clouds and cool winds.

After having seen the first six falls (the seventh was a bit too far away), I was still wondering why it was actually mandatory to have a guide. I mean, sure, he helped me a few times with the steep steps, but the path is very clear and there are hand rails to pull yourself up on. Then I found out we had to cross the river to get back. While having my expensive camera equipment with me, and no proper backpack, just a tote-like-shoulder bag to bring me off balance. Almost on the other side, I had to climb some rocks, and I felt the bag was totally going to bring me off balance. And that was when I was so happy to have the guide. But we were not done yet. There we had to climb straight up the mountain for a while. No proper steps this time, just some mud and stones, slippery at some points. Even with good hiking shoes, it was a bit tricky, but we made it pretty quickly.

And then we had to go down. From there, that would have been a very long hike, and so we got a few motorcycles to bring us back to the resort. I love being on motorcycles. However, these kind of rides, are quite the adrenaline boost. Not only did we go down the mountain, we went really…really fast. First carefully over a road that was more rocks than a decent path, but as soon as we hit asphalt, we went full ahead. What I really enjoyed is that, despite the fact it started as following the beaten path at a tourist resort, we ended up touring on small roads, through local villages, past rice and sugar cane fields, and with amazing views. Our drivers allowed me to stop once in a while for pictures, so I gladly took the opportunity!

Once back in Bacolod, there was Calea. Oh my, Calea….

Layered chocolate cake.

Triple chocolate mousse cake.

Chocolate ice cream cake.

Pineapple, blueberry, strawberry cheesecake.

And a chocolate milkshake.

And that was just a fraction of their collection of amazing foods (well, collection of cakes). Needless to say, I did not need dinner anymore afterwards. I am not sure I have ever felt so much happiness and self-loathing at the same time. I forgot to take a picture, but it’s never hard to imagine amazing foods. All I know, is that we need this store back home.


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