Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Operation Solo Flight Day 2: Hinatuan Enchanted River

I first saw pictures of this river from an FB group. I researched online about this, and found very little information about this place. How can such a beautiful river not be famous? But the fact that it's very difficult to reach had only fueled my desire to see it-- and see it, I did, alone.

And what I saw took my breath away. There are probably loads of adjectives to describe this enchanting river, but I'd let the pictures speak for themselves. :)

Yep, the water's not that blue. It's even bluer. Those pictures are taken by my 3mp camera phone. Harhar. So you really have to be there to fully appreciate Hinatuan Enchanted River's beauty.

Getting there and more stories
After visiting Tinuy-an Falls, Lake 77 and International Doll House in Bislig, I rode a bus at Mangagoy terminal back to Hinatuan. The fare was once again Php55. The trip was also about 2 hrs long. By the time I reached Hinatuan Terminal, it was already past 1 pm. Strange that I wasn't really feeling hungry, despite skipping breakfast and lunch. There were a bunch of habal-habal drivers at one corner in the terminal, and I approached them. I asked if one of them would take me to Hinatuan Enchanted River, and one readily agreed for Php50 one way.

A girl rode with me in the habal-habal, but it wasn't really uncomfortable because although the motorcycle looked small,  there were enough space for three of us. I was sandwiched between kuya driver and the girl, and I was gripping kuya driver's shoulders like I always do when I ride habal-habals. As usual, I noticed people staring at me, and I put that down as being a stranger to them. It was only a few minutes later when I finally understood why I was getting those stares everywhere: passengers of habal-habal don't normally hold unto the drivers, they just put their hands in the sides. Wahaha! I was so embarrassed when I finally realized this, and I tried nonchalantly to remove my hands from kuya's shoulders and put them limply at my side. >.< Then, because I couldn't take sitting on a moving motorcycle without anything to hold on to, I held on to my backpacks straps, pretending that they'd prevent me from falling. XD

I reached Hinatuan Enchanted river some 30 minutes later, and kuya driver said he'd wait for me outside. There are stalls selling raw fish and meat near the entrance, and you can have the vendors cook food for you. I looked and saw bulad (dried fish) being sold for Php 100 a pack. There're boneless kind. Being my favorite, I couldn't resist buying a pack to bring home. I wish I bought more! They really tasted good and not too salty, and my sister had a really nice way of frying them-- crunchy but not overfried.

Anyway, they charge Php20 as entrance fee. There were a lot of people at the picnic area. It was noisy there, but don't worry, you'd find serenity once you're swimming in the river itself. They have life jackets for rent, I think (I didn't rent one. I stayed in the shallow part :P) A lot of people were diving , and I wished I could too, but I was unwilling to shed money for a life jacket rental and I'm not too confident of my swimming skills (the bluer it is, the deeper it gets).

After a while (about an hour later), I decided to go and change and then go back to CJ Hometel. I don't want to be travelling in a habal-habal when it gets dark. The roads not really rough, but there were some ups and downs, so I'd rather not risk a broken kneecap. Kuya driver took me back to the dorm, where I paid him Php100.

After freshening up, I decided to go out and do some little exploring (it was about 4pm by then). I was also getting hungry, having eaten nothing all day. I decided to go to the direction of what sir James vaguely pointed out as the Pacific Ocean. I remember him telling me that they have some stores that way and I sort of wanted to see the sea.

I encountered a little sari-sari store, but unfortunately, they don't have Century Tuna flakes in oil (I was really craving for that that time. Dunno why. Haha). I decided to walk on farther, asking every store for century tuna. XD Weird, seems scarce that side of town. I finally stumbled upon what looks like the town's commercial center where there were bigger stores, although very few. There was a bakery where I bought a freshly baked sliced bread (it tasted really good, swear), and a bottle of water. I asked if they have canned tuna (I dropped 'century' by this time), but nope, no luck. The store opposite them didn't have tuna either, and I was about to settle for sardines when I spotted it: century tuna sandwich spread. Guess that'll do.

It was on my way home that I encountered a little problem: I can't remember which way to go back! Haha. My sense of direction is very undependable at the best of times, and totally non-existent at the worst. I was just sort of drifting when I came to where I was, so I had no idea how far, or what direction I had gone. I just stood there, at the center of what appears to be the commercial center, and then I mentally shrugged. I'm already lost, why not get lost some more? That's how adventures happen.

And so I walk. I did try to walk in the direction of what I think is the way back. Sometimes I thought I see something familiar, like a sari-sari store (but they look the same so can't really trust that); sometimes I thought I don't think I passed this way.  Along the way I saw this sign:

Oh, so a tsunami is a very serious threat here? How scary must it be for residents during a storm. Fortunately, they don't get a lot of storms (as a lot of locals told me).

Guess I was lucky I saw that sign, because I noticed to store beside it: it's the same grilled chicken store I stumbled upon a night ago. Haha. Thank God I remember how to go back to CJ Hometel from that store. :P

I was already starving by the time I reached CJ Hometel. I decided to eat at the table outside the dorm. It was so cozy and peaceful there, reminding me of what I'll miss when I go back to Manila: the cold and fresh provincial air, the peace and quiet, and just the coziness of not having too many people around. Ate MJ dropped by to chat, and she told me about her excursions for the day. She went to check out Port Lamon Cave, which was close to the river. I wish I could have gone there, but I haven't really got the time. If there's a next time, that will definitely be included in my itinerary, as well as some of the islands near the area. And oh, the fish cage near the enchanted river too.

It rained just as it was getting dark, so I decided to go in call it a night.The steady tap-tap of raindrops lulled me to sleep. At that moment, I felt I was the most contented girl in the world.

For details on expenses, see: Expenses
Read about my 5-day solo adventures in the south : Butuan city tour, Hinatuan Falls and Enchanted River (and more), Lolong the giant croc, Davao, Samal, and more Davao.

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