Kerala: Soul-Soothing Experiences

There are some places in India that are very close to my heart. One of them is Kumaon in Uttarakhand and the other is Kerala. My frequent visits to both these places have given me a sense of oneness with them. As soon as I arrive, I know exactly where I am and where I need to go and the familiarity is heart warming. 

This time as soon as I landed in Kerala, I went straight to my favourite cafe, Oy's cafe in Fort Kochi. After a few hours of wandering the streets of Fort Kochi, I got right to work and started my exploration of Kerala with three objectives in mind - Explore a hidden beach, find a secret backwater retreat and scout out soul-soothing experiences in God's Own Country.

The perfect welcome :)

The perfect welcome :)

In my happy place - Oy's Cafe in Fort Kochi

In my happy place - Oy's Cafe in Fort Kochi


1. Explore a hidden beach 

After a quick pit stop at Fort Kochi, I made my way to Marari beach where I spent two days beach-bumming, relaxing at a beautiful beach villa and learning about local practices from the fishermen of the adjoining village. I have to say that Marari beach is one of the cleanest beaches I have seen in India and I was surprised to find soft, powdery white sand. The beach villa where I stayed was located 5 kms from the main Marari beach, far away from the crowds, and amidst clean waters and white sand, giving me two days of absolute peace and serenity. 

My home at Marari Beach

My home at Marari Beach

Morning walk on the beach

Morning walk on the beach

Stunning sunsets at Marari

Stunning sunsets at Marari


2. Find a secret backwater retreat

While I came across various backwater retreats in Allepey and Kumarakom, the one that blew my mind was located far away from the touristy places, on a quiet stretch of the backwaters somewhere between Allepey and Kochi. I am convinced that this place is by far one of my most stunning finds! From the moment I  reached the jetty (the island is only accessible by boat) and spotted the cute blue boat, my heart lit up and I knew I had found the perfect hideaway in Kerala.

The boatman, Shaji rowed me to the retreat located on a peaceful stretch of the backwaters. Once I arrived there and looked around, the reality and the beauty of the place sunk in and I knew that the next two days on this secret island would be absolutely stunning! 

Arriving at the island in this cute blue boat

Arriving at the island in this cute blue boat

I spent my days cruising on the backwaters chasing sunrise and sunsets, getting Ayurvedic massages, and walking through the local villages. The rest of the time I just lazed around and napped, ate yummy freshly cooked meals and meditated on the small pier on the backwaters. My experience at the retreat was nothing short of amazing and the lovely team at the place made sure every minute I spent here was fantastic :) 

My room at the island retreat

My room at the island retreat

So green!

So green!

The garden shower

The garden shower

The perfect spot to sit back and relax!

The perfect spot to sit back and relax!


3. Scout soul soothing experiences

Sometimes my work demands that I experience things that I might not personally choose to do. I do these things anyway, just to ensure that my travellers who wish to do certain activities have the most stunning and flawless experiences. Allepey, known for its houseboats and backwaters, is something most travellers want to experience in Kerala, so I decided to add that to my trip, keeping in mind that amidst the commercial madness of this place, I must find a hidden, soulful experience. 

I started the day on a houseboat, but got off it as soon as I was done documenting it for my website. I took a smaller boat to explore the narrow canals, hoping it would lead me to less frequented parts of the backwaters, but I was wrong. After exactly 20 minutes of being on the boat (I was supposed to be on it for 2 hours), I asked the boatman if he could take me off the main route and somewhere where I could experience something more authentic. While he pondered on where to take me, I shamelessly asked him if he would take me to his village on the backwaters.

Hesitant at first, he humbly agreed and off we went to his village with mango orchards and golden rice fields. I was glad I found a piece of Allepey where there were no tourists, just lush farms and blue skies! I left Allepey happy and satisfied, knowing I had experienced something magical!

Golden paddy fields hidden away in Allepey

Golden paddy fields hidden away in Allepey


 

A big thanks to my hosts Olga and Maneesha for hosting me at their retreats that they have created with so much love and passion!

I will cherish the memories of my journey to your properties for a long time and hope to inspire many more Wanderbug's to experience the beauty that you have created in Kerala :) 

 
kerala backwaters wanderbug india

Kumaon: Another stunning find!

It is now somewhat of a ritual - an annual trip to Kumaon. While most of my previous journeys have taken me to Kumaon in the monsoon or summer months, this time I decided to go there in the peak of winter to enjoy a few days of freezing mountain air combined with cozy pahadi hospitality. 

My adventure through the hills took me to Shyamkhet, a quaint village located near Bhowali where I spent my days at a charming homestay nestled amidst a dense forest. 

Blessed to be welcomed by cold, mountain rain :)

Blessed to be welcomed by cold, mountain rain :)


ABOUT THE STAY

I arrived at the house in the afternoon after a quick and easy train journey from Delhi, followed by a 1.5 hour drive through roads that have become such familiar territory after all my trips through Kumaon. I love how I know and recognise all the roads in this part of the hills :) Makes me feel right at home. 

Once I arrived at the house, I was greeted by the beautiful mascots of the house - Raja, Cyber and Lama. Raja is truly the king of the house and demands undivided attention and lots of biscuits and love :) The staff at the property welcomed me warmly and showed me to my room for the next three days - the outhouse cottage with my private room, small living room and sit-out. 

The out-house - my sweet home for three days

The out-house - my sweet home for three days

The owners of the house Uttam and Shalini were travelling and could not host me personally. Even in their absence, each and every corner of the house was so well looked after that I could tell how much care and attention the owners give to their house.

The main house has three bedrooms, a living room, a TV room, a study area and a stunning glass observatory where I spent most of my days looking out at the mountains. The house offers a huge lawn to sit out, lots of walks around the property and a fire pit for cozy fires under the star-lit sky. 


THE ROOMS

The house has 3 rooms in the main house and 2 rooms in the outhouse. Each rooms is simply decorated with a very charming and aesthetically pleasing feel. Wooden floors and ceilings, glass windows, subtle lighting and balconies offering lovely views of the surrounding mountains.

boutique homestay kumaon
luxury homestay kumaon
kumaon boutique properties
where to stay in kumaon

The outhouse has two attached rooms, a small living room, a bathroom, kitchenette and beautiful front porch. It opens up into a big sit-out where you can light a fire and enjoy the starry sky at night. 

But the highlight of the house for me was definitely the stunning glass observatory. The room is beautifully constructed with wood and glass, is adorned with sweet bougainvillea plants and interesting curious collected by the owners from their travels all around the world. It really is the ideal place to sit back and enjoy all the mountain goodness around you - It's the kind of place that you never want to leave! 

The glass observatory

The glass observatory


THE CREW 

The house has three crew members - Prakash, Basant and Madhavi. While Prakash cooks up some delicious food for you, Basant and his wife Madhavi ensure you have everything that you need from ginger chai at any time of day, to making fires at night. They work hard to ensure that all is kept clean and tidy and that the gardens remain full of flowers and lush greenery for you!

The three dogs at the property are also a crucial part of the team - Raja, Cyber and Lama. From the moment you enter the house to the time you leave, they greet all the travellers with so much love and warmth and expect a biscuit each for being such good boys!

Chilling with Lama

Chilling with Lama

From left to right: Prakash, Madhavi and Basant

From left to right: Prakash, Madhavi and Basant


HOW I SPENT MY DAYS AT SHYAMKHET

While I spent most of my time reading and relaxing in the gorgeous glass observatory, I spent my mornings and evening walking around the surrounding mountain trails, bird watching and meeting locals.

Tea Estates along one of my mountain trails

Tea Estates along one of my mountain trails

On one of my walks around Shyamkhet, I stumbled upon a small shop called Sunlit Paths that sells products from Auroville and Pondicherry. There I met Kanika, a beautiful little girl who was helping her mother run the shop. Usually she's at school in the day, but it was holiday time in the mountains because of the cold, and this sweet little girl was spending her vacation helping her mom.

Beautiful Kanika

Beautiful Kanika

Sunlit Paths - a shop selling products from Auroville and Pondicherry

Sunlit Paths - a shop selling products from Auroville and Pondicherry

What I loved about my trip to Kumaon this time was the charming cafes I discovered. Over the last few years that I've been visiting this region, I felt that it was missing some nice cafes and hang out spaces, but that's not the case anymore. I found two, relatively new cafes, one on the Bhimtal-Bhowali road and other in Naukuchiatal. Both places are amazing and provide the perfect setting for a nice cup of coffee, fresh baked goods and beautiful views!

I Heart Cafe on Bhimtal-Bhowali road

I Heart Cafe on Bhimtal-Bhowali road

The Cafe near Naukuchiatal Lake

The Cafe near Naukuchiatal Lake

Coffee with a view :)

Coffee with a view :)


Yes I do!

Yes I do!

 

A big shout out to Shalini and Uttam for hosting me at their charming abode and ALLOWING ME TO EXPERIENCE THIS STUNNING SECRET OF KuMaOn :) 

 

TO PLAN YOUR JOURNEY TO THIS BEAUTIFUL STAY IN KUMAON OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN UTTARAKHAND, CONTACT ME AT KRITIKA@WANDERBUG.IN


Kasauli: A Boutique Resort

In May, this year, I made a quick trip to the lush hills of Kasauli in Himachal Pradesh. Located an easy six hours from Delhi by road, I borrowed my sisters car one morning and off I went to the mountains to explore this hidden gem I knew of - a luxury, boutique resort located amidst the pine forests of Kasauli. 

What a flowery welcome :)

What a flowery welcome :)


ABOUT THE STAY

Set amidst beautiful pine forests of the Kasauli Hills, this resort is a gorgeous mountain hideaway ideal for those who love luxury and nature. The resort is located 20 minutes from the main town of Kasauli, ideally situated away from the main tourist hub where travellers can enjoy a few days of mountain serenity and peace. 

Everything here is so stylish!

Everything here is so stylish!

Originally built as a summer house to designer Nila Mehta and family from Delhi, the owners slowly realised that they would like to share the beauty of their home and the Kasauli Hills with travellers from all over the world. With this intention in mind, the owner along with her family came up with the idea of opening up their estate and their home to discerning travellers. 

Today, they have 12 beautiful designed rooms that welcome luxury travellers to enjoy a few days of magic and comfort in the mountains. There is a tv lounge, a reading room, indoor and outdoor dining areas, lawns for you to sit around and gaze at the beautiful hills and private balconies with each room.

Blissful Buddha blessing the house

Blissful Buddha blessing the house

One of the gorgeous sit-out's at the resort

One of the gorgeous sit-out's at the resort


THE ROOMS

There are 12 rooms at the property spread over three buildings. Three rooms in the main house, five rooms in one wing and four in the adjacent wing. While the main house is the oldest building with a castle like structure, the other two wings are newly built. All 12 rooms are elegantly designed with wooden floors, comfortable beds, large glass windows overlooking the forests, private sit-outs and vibrant upholstery. There is tv lounge at the resort where guests can watch what they like along with a reading lounge full of interesting books to keep you occupied. 

One of the beautiful bedrooms

One of the beautiful bedrooms

Another charming room

Another charming room

The TV Lounge

The TV Lounge


THE CREW

Prem (left), Pawan and Chaman

Prem (left), Pawan and Chaman

There are five crew members you'll find at the resort at all time. While Karan manages guest relations, Prem, the head chef dedicates his time to cook up the most delicious meals for you. Be it Indian, continental, Italian or Chinese, Prem is an excellent cook who has learnt his skills thanks to years of experience and his culinarily trails around the world.

Mohan, Pawan and Chaman help your with anything you need at the resort and leave no stone intruded to ensure you have everything you need during your stay. The crew is accompanied by three absolute gems - aaloo, bhindi and lauki who are ever ready to play with you and ensure your safety and comfort by keeping wild monkeys away :)

Lauki basking in the sun

Lauki basking in the sun


WANDERBUG VERDICT

An amazing space for big groups of friends and families (10-15 people) looking for a quick getaway from Delhi and Chandigarh. Absolutely love the tasteful decor and the charming green spaces surrounding the house. The sit-out's and the outdoor breakfast set-up is magical!

The perfect place to sit back and enjoy the views

The perfect place to sit back and enjoy the views

Breakfast is served :)

Breakfast is served :)



 

A BIG SHOUT OUT TO MY HOST, ANIRUDDHA FOR EXTENDING SUCH WARM HOSPITALITY AND ALLOWING ME TO EXPERIENCE THIS STUNNING SECRET OF KASAULI :)

 

Shimla: Discovering its secrets

Shimla, also known as the queen of hills, is by far one of the most popular hill stations in India. Every summer, thousands of tourists flock to the British summer capital for a few days of cool mountain air and breathtaking views.

Shimla on a bright, sunny day. 

Shimla on a bright, sunny day. 

Amidst this busy hill station, there are still secrets to be discovered, especially when it comes to boutique stays. During my recent trip to Shimla, I had the fortune to experience two spectacular stays - a beautiful cottage perched on top of a hill behind the famous church and a charming, luxury homestay located away from the town. 


1. COTTAGE ON THE HILL

Owned by Karandip and Nawaz Sandhu, a sweet couple from Chandigarh, the Cottage on the Hill is a beautiful space full of flowering gardens, lush greenery, warm and cosy rooms and breathtaking views of the church and snow clad Himalayas. The location of the house is just perfect, far enough from the maddening crowds, but also close enough for short walks through the famous mall road and the ridge. The house is ideally located above the church, making it a quiet haven of peace amidst the otherwise loud and chaotic streets of the summer capital.

Tea-time at the Cottage

Tea-time at the Cottage

The Cottage from above

The Cottage from above


The family suite of the cottage

The family suite of the cottage

THE ROOMS

The cottage has 4 rooms and 1 family suite. Each room is beautiful decorated with a very aesthetically pleasing feel. Wooden floors and ceilings, massive glass windows, subtle lighting and balconies offering lovely views of the church peeping though the tall pine trees.

The family suite has one double room, on the ground level, one on the attic level and an additional attached single bedrooms, making it an ideal space for families or a small group of friends. 

The entrance to the family suite - my room at the cottage :)

The entrance to the family suite - my room at the cottage :)


THE CREW

The house has four crew members, all working towards ensuring your stay is a memorable one. While Maya cooks up some delicious food for you, Prakash, Prem and Maali Bhaiya ensure you have anything that you need. They work hard to ensure that all is kept clean and tidy and that the gardens remain full of flowers and lush greenery for you! Their efforts combine to make your stay a special one :) 

Manager Prem, Maali bhaiya, Maya didi and Prakash.

Manager Prem, Maali bhaiya, Maya didi and Prakash.


WANDERBUG VERDICT

The Cottage is an amazing space for big groups of friends and families (10-15 people) looking for a quick getaway from Delhi and Chandigarh. Absolutely love the tasteful decor and the charming green spaces surrounding the house.

shimla boutique cottages


2. FAIRYTALE HOME

Originally built in 1890 when Mr. Kitchlu came to Shimla to work with the British government, the cottage still exudes an old world charm with all the comforts needed to make your stay enjoyable and absolutely wonderful! The hostess, Madhavi who now owns and runs the show at the cottage is a beautiful soul with extensive knowledge about various flora around her estate and does not hesitate to share this knowledge with her guests while she takes them on strolls around the estate. She's a true flower child happy amidst the wilderness and the serenity of her gorgeous estate. 

Yes, believe it! This is in India :)

Yes, believe it! This is in India :)

In full bloom right outside my window :)

In full bloom right outside my window :)


THE ROOMS

There are 4 rooms at the cottage, each done up in the most charming and aesthically pleasing manner. Wooden floors and ceilings, Windows offering stunning views of the the surrounding forest and the flower filled garden, antique wooden furniture, gorgeous floral apholstery, that all adds up to make you feel like you're still living in the colonial times. Every room has a study because you're bound to be inspired to write, draw or read whilst your stay at the estate.

The house has a spacious living room overlooking the garden, a small tv lounge and a dining area where the hostess serves her guests some delicious home-cooked meals with ingredients sourced from her own estate. Whether it's breakfast, lunch or dinner, each and every meal is well thought of and served with utmost care and passion, making every meal a culinary delight! 

My charming bedroom!

My charming bedroom!

The reading corner in one of the rooms

The reading corner in one of the rooms


THE HOSTESS

Originally from Delhi, Madhavi moved to Shimla five years ago to care for the estate that her great-grand aunt left behind. When she got here, the house was in shambles and the locals would refer to it as Bhoot Bangla because it was a an absolute wreck. She took it upon herself to fix up the place and has now successfully transformed this abandoned estate into a magical, flower filled estate that seems to be right out of fairytale! Madhavi lives on the estate with her soul friend and cook, Madhu who moved with her from Delhi, the care-taker Motilal and her three dogs - Bhusa singh, Bholu and sweety and one cat named Milkha. All their energies and efforts combine to make this a truly magical and unforgettable experience :) 

Madhavi along with Bhusa Singh and Bholu

Madhavi along with Bhusa Singh and Bholu

Masterchef, Madhu

Masterchef, Madhu


WANDERBUG VERDICT

The cottage is ideal for couples and solo travellers who are looking for a quiet and authentic homestay experience in the mountains. The house is perfect for writers and artists looking for a few days of solo time to dedicate to their creative skills. The flowers filled, magical gardens, the charming rooms, the food and everything about the house is bound to inspire you! 

The beautiful garden at the estate

The beautiful garden at the estate



 

A big shout out to my hosts, Karandip and Madhavi for allowing me to experience these stunning secrets of Shimla and extending their warm hospitality to me :) 

 

TO PLAN YOUR JOURNEY TO THESE BEAUTIFUL STAYS IN SHIMLA OR ANYWHERE ELSE IN HIMACHAL, CONTACT ME AT KRITIKA@WANDERBUG.IN


Exploring the Philippines II

bohol philippines blog

While the last update from my journey was about Manila and exploring the island of Palawan, for this one, I'll take you to the gorgeous island of Bohol. 


GETTING TO BOHOL 

My day began at 6 am with a five hour road journey from El Nido to Puerto Princesa, followed by a short one hour flight to Cebu. Next was a two hour ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran city in Bohol and finally a 40 minute ride on a tricycle till Panglao, the final destination for the day. After the 12 hour long journey, and hopping on four different means of transport, here I was in Bohol! 

The ferry approaching Bohol

The ferry approaching Bohol

Although the journey was tiring, it was made easier by the sound of music everywhere. What I've realised is that singing and playing basketball are two favourite pastimes for Philippinos. Whether you're in a busy urban city or a quaint rural village, there is always a basketball court around. For the ones in the villages, they use trees and other natural materials to construct a hoop and off they go dribbling and slam dunking all day! 

About the singing, Whether you're walking on the streets, eating at a restaurant, waiting at the airport or ferry terminal, in a flight or on a boat, you will always either hear someone singing or playing their favourite English songs. 70's and 80's music is a big hit here and sometimes you catch the locals singing karaoke in their houses while eating breakfast. 


EXPLORING BOHOL

I was supposed to spend only two days in Bohol,  but that just wasn't enough time to explore its beauty. So I changed plans, shortened my stay at the next destination and instead spent four days in Bohol.

My sweet abode in Bohol

My sweet abode in Bohol

For starters, the place where I stayed was absolutely stunning! It was a homestay-retreat located in Panglao island, owned and run by a French - Philippino couple, Sylvie and Roberto and their three beautiful dogs - Chico, Zoey and Puto.  From the moment I entered the house, I fell in love with everything! The beautiful Balinese style cottages, the batik robes provided for the guests comfort in each room, the lush garden and all the tasteful decor. Sylvie and Roberto met while working on a cruise ship and thanks to their travels around the world, their home is like a treasure trove of amazing artefacts from around the globe. Every moment spent with the couple and their sweet dogs was delightful and I sincerely thank them for welcoming me into their home with so much love! 

bohol panglao island blog
panglao things to do
bohol philippines blog

DAY 1: BEACH BUMMING

On my first day in Bohol, all I wanted to do was be at the beach. But after the busy beaches of El Nido, I was really craving a quiet, secret piece of paradise. Sylvie guided me to Dumaluan beach located a few kilmoretes away from the main beach of Panglao called Alona. So I packed my day bag and off I went for a day of beach bumming and sun soaking. 

Magical waters and whote sand of Dumaluan Beach 

Magical waters and whote sand of Dumaluan Beach 

I felt ecstatic on my first glance of Dumaluan Beach. It was exactly what I wanted. Sparkling clear water, even cleaner than the water we drink and soft, powdery sand. Within minutes of getting there, I was already in the magical water where I spent most of my day just floating around, spotting fascinating coral and schools of fish, and thanking the universe for letting me experience such pristine beauty. 


DAY 2 & 3: ECO-TOURING AROUND LOBOK

The next day, I set out to explore the famous chocolate hills of Bohol. My tricycle driver, Ernesto who I met on my first day in Bohol, became my guide and off we went to explore the countryside. Unlike other places that I visited where tourism was more focused around water activities like diving, scuba diving, snorkelling and island hopping, Bohol offers its travellers various eco-tourism activities such as walking through the man-made forests and rice fields of Bilar, visiting the tarsier sanctuary, cruising on a boat down the Lombok river, stand up paddling and hiking along its various jungle trails. Due to the limited time I had, I chose to experience the chocolate hills and walk along the rice fields and man-made forest of Bilar. 

The man-made forest consists of thousands of tall mahogany trees planted by the locals to counter the vast deforestation that took place during World War II. In 1947, the local government along with the people of Bohol began this reforestation project and thanks to them, the current inhabitants of the region and the travellers who visit Lobok get to breathe fresh, cool air and experience such beauty. 

Bilar Man-Made Forest

Bilar Man-Made Forest

The Golden Paddy Fields of Bohol

The Golden Paddy Fields of Bohol

After spending some time being enamoured by the forest, we headed to see the magic of the chocolate hills. Once we arrived there, the reality of their beauty set in. Hundreds of small hills that looked like giant Hershey's Kisses, the only of their kind in all of Asia. People have the option of renting ATV's to wander around the hills with a guide, but I had just eaten a heavy lunch and the thought of bouncing on the ATV made me dizzy, so I just stood watching the hills for some time and then walked down the viewing point to find Ernesto again. 

My favourite partner in crime walking along the Chocolate Hills :)

My favourite partner in crime walking along the Chocolate Hills :)

Stunning Chocolate Hills

Stunning Chocolate Hills


DAY 4: TAGBILARAN CITY

Today was about urban exploration and saying hello to everyone who crossed my path. The idea was just to observe how the locals spend their day in Tagbilaran City. I started my day with a quick Jeepney ride arounnd Paglao. It was the funnest ride of my life! Soon, Ernesto arrived in his tricycle and off we went to explore the city. We started by first visiting the beautiful bridges that connect Tagbilaran City to Bohol. The views were spectacular and I just sat there for a few hours soaking in all the beauty around. 

Around Panglao in the Jeepney

Around Panglao in the Jeepney

Beautiful flowers and waters of Tagbilaran

Beautiful flowers and waters of Tagbilaran

Pedicures in the Plaza :)

Pedicures in the Plaza :)

Next stop was the main city plaza, which was buzzing with activity - teenagers rehearsing dance moves, cute little kids running around chasing pigeons, men and women getting foot massages and ladies getting pedicures!

The beauticians offering the pedicures carried all the essentials with them. I was really tempted to get one, but all of them were occupied by elderly ladies who seemed to be enjoying it too much. So I let go of my pedicure and went to the beachfront in Panglao for my last meal on the beautiful island f Bohol.

 

As with most meals in the Philippines, vegetarian food is a distant dream. I have never craved vegetables more in my life and I am seriously contemplating turning vegetarian for a few weeks once I return to India. My stomach is now full of pigs, chicken, cows and crocodile! Crocodile meat is popular in the Philippines and after ten days of staying away from it, I finally decided to try it. I can still feel the crocodile swimming in my stomach and creating havoc, but I'm happy I tried it for the sake of 'cultural immersion'


WHAT I ABSOLUTELY LOVED ABOUT BOHOL

Apart from all its stunning natural beauty, the one thing that I absolutely loved about Bohol is the beautiful integration of the visually challenged in society. Wherever you go, you either find the blind singing and playing instruments or offering therapeutic massages. The masseuses are certified and provide quick and relaxing massages to stressed city dwellers, travellers in transit at ferry and bus terminals and at the busy beaches where all tourists want is to relax and unwind. The musicians on the other hand can be seen singing and playing their instruments at the beach while you're dining, or at the ferry terminal or even at the city plazas. It's lovely to see how the visually challenged have adopted these creative ways not only to make a living but also to help others. 

The other thing I loved about Bohol was that despite the devastating earthquake in 2013, the people of Bohol, have kept it alive and have done everything possible to restore happiness to their lives. The clearest signs of the devastation caused by the earthquake are the damaged churches in Loboc, Tagbilaran city and Barclayon. Although the government is working to restore the churches, the children in the mean time are using the iron construction rods to beep box and make music. 

People have carried on with their lives since the devastating earthquake and the churches stand tall as great reminders of the calamity, but the locals have figured out a way to embrace the past and move on. 

Music is in their blood 

Music is in their blood 

One of the chapels that has been restored since the earthquake

One of the chapels that has been restored since the earthquake


THINGS TO KNOW  

Getting to Bohol

There are sevaral direct flights from Manila to Tagbilaran City , the capital city of Bohol. Cebu Pacific, Philippines Airlines and Air Asia operate on this route. Alternately, you can fly to Cebu city and take a 2 hour ferry from there to Tagbilaran. 

Some tips from my experience:

  • While Alona beach is the most popular beach in Bohol, I highly recommend visiting Dumaluan beach for a quiet, relaxing beach day. If you want a luxe beach day, head to the nearby Beach Club where you can pay and get access to the private beach along with some yummy drinks. If you just want to chill, then head towards the end of the beach and find your little spot for the day. 
     
  • Linaw Beach Resort near Alona beach is a beautiful spot for sunset drinks followed by dinner. The crocodile lumpia is excellent!
     
  • Instead of flying directly to Tagbilaran, I highly recommend the ferry from Cebu City to Tagbilaran. The views are absolutely stunning and you have the option to sit on the upstairs deck where you can enjoy the sea and sky. 

This is it from my end. Next stop is Boracay, the island that was my inspiration behind my journey to the Philippines.. Next update from the Philippines will follow soon :)