July 17, 2010 – Upon arrival at the Tagbilaran airport, I rode a tricycle towards the Habagat Outdoor shop in Gallares Street where I was to meet for the very first time - businessman and kayaking instructor, Buzzy Budlong. Just last year, he and a Singaporean guy established the first kayak trail in the Philippines starting from the shores of Saranggani to Pagudpud in Ilocos Norte. The journey took 88 days, 12 days faster from the anticipated completion of 100 days.
After a short chat, we flagged a tricycle from the highway and made our way to Dumaluan beach. It’s a very nice beach with clear water that looks like it was from a pool. It’s about 45 minutes away from Bohol’s capital - Tagbilaran city. It was our jump-off for the first leg of my Kayak adventure. We had lunch by the beach, had a quick meeting (our company’s going to get him for our kayak tour and I am fortunately the guinea pig, sent to check on how the flow would go) .
We proceeded to the shore to get our kayak. I chose this lavender tandem kayak. It's not my usual color preference but it looked so cute. Hey, if I was going to kayak on sea, I surely wanted to get notice, you know, just in case we capsize or something. I also had on this bright yellow orange South Africa jersey. I decided not to wear my bright orange cap anymore because I felt I was overdoing it already. Hehehe!
Our route was Dumaluan beach to Bohol Bee Farm and back, which was a total of 7 kilometers. We paddled away from the crowded beach and settled in an isolated shore. Buzzy gave a crash course on paddling. Apparently, the paddle has a front and back side ! All along I thought both sides were the same. After the course, we paddled away and in less than an hour, we encountered a lot of waves, some were big enough to almost knock us over, while some were enough to get water splashed over us. According to Buzzy, it advanced the level of our kayaking from 1 to 3 (most advanced is 5). Yihaaa!
|Our girly kayak. It looks pink here but it's really lavender.
There we met with another group from Cebu, one of which was Buzzy’s friend. They had a quick crash course on paddling then we mounted on our kayaks. I was feeling really tired as I’ve been paddling since 1:00PM that day. I haven’t even had the chance to check in yet at the hotel where I was booked. But I wasn’t going to let Buzzy do all the paddling. I got my reputation to uphold, whatever that rep is. Hehe!
We paddled and paddled along Abatan river which was quite a change from sea kayaking. Sun was beginning to set. As we traversed down the river, amazing mountain views welcomed us. The stillness of the water seemed unreal. I felt like I was in a photograph. Everything looked surreal.
Darkness began to envelope the entire river and we prepared our eyes to spot the fireflies. There weren't much until we stopped at an islet where we found a tree that glowed like a giant ball of fire. Perched above its branches were the fireflies. It was so magical that only the word "Wow!" escaped from our lips.
We stayed for a couple of minutes trying to take a decent shot. It was too dark that we couldn't get a justifiable photo of our experience which was fine. Fireflies kayaking is something to experience - not watch from videos or view from photos.
|*Photo taken by one of my companions
We got back to the jump-off after about an hour. Our muscles were tired from paddling, me especially since I've been kayaking since lunch time. I hitched a ride with the group up to the town proper where I hailed another motorcycle back to the hotel.
When I opened the lights at my room, it was almost 12 midnight. I was dead tired but thrilled at the fact that I just did the longest kayaking trip of my life with an amazing athlete.