bohol homestay

A homestay in Paradise.

I’ve just returned from two weeks in the Philippines where I was doing some research for my new book. Although when you see some of the photos below you might say it doesn’t really look like ‘research’ – more like a holiday in a tropical paradise. Which I suppose it was.

I travelled to the island of Bohol (an hour’s flight south of Manila) and took a bus almost almost three hours from the capital of Tagbilaren City to Anda on the south coast and finally a 40 minute walk inland to the village of Cassica. In this small and delightfully charming village I stayed with Elfrena and Judito Mapeso. I’d found out about the Mapeso’s homestay  through Philippines Homestay Experience, which offers homestays all across the Philippines. For around $15 a night you get a bed in a home and, best of all, get to experience the daily life of a Filipino family and village. Plus your tourism dollars are going directly to the local communities. I stayed with two separate families in two quite different villages. Below are pics from my stay in Cassica…

 

Anda - Bohol
The road from the town of Anda to Cassica takes you past a large lagoon, rice fields, tropical jungle and to the base of lush green hills.

Anda - Bohol
The ‘Main Street’ of Cassica and, like many villages throughout the Phillipines, the central ’square’ is…

Anda - Bohol
…a basketball court. The Filipinos LOVE basketball. I had a game with the locals and they NEVER miss!

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My hosts Judito and Efrena in front of their house. Their 19 year old son is at Uni (doing accounting) in Manila, so I had his old bedroom.

Anda - Bohol
The loungeroom. Judito and Efrena may have had no fridge, no shower and cooked outside on an open fire, but they did have…

Anda - Bohol
…a full-blown, state-of-the-art Karaoke system with a booming PA system (in bottom left of shot), mixing desk, radio mics and over 5,000 songs in their playlist. One night I sang, and I’m not exaggerating, over 30 songs! Oh, and don’t you love the curtains.

Anda - Bohol
This is Efrena’s open kitchen where she cooked up fried fish, chicken and some sort of beef log thing that tasted better than it looked.

Anda - Bohol
This plate of fish was JUST for me one night for dinner. I also got a huge bowl of rice and stir-fried vegetables. A home-cooked meal costs just over 2 dollars on top of your accommodation.

Anda - Bohol
This is where I ate my meals. That fridge doesn’t work by the way. it’s used for storage.

Anda - Bohol
My bedroom. The bed was comfy and I did have a little fan to cool me down and, best of all, those damn mosquitos couldn’t get to me.

Anda - Bohol
The village of Cassica (in the background behind the palms) is surrounded by rice fields. I asked Efrena if there was anywhere that I could hire a scooter and she rang her cousin who brought around her brand new bike and gave it to me for a few bucks for the day. And only 15 minutes ride away was this…

Anda - Bohol
This is Anda beach. Or only part of Anda beach – it actually stretches about 10 kms around the coast. I walked for a couple of hours past untouched stunning beaches with only the odd local putting out their boats or picking out sea urchins from the shallows. Like these kids here…

Anda - Bohol
And yes, how amazing is that water. I brought my own goggles and snorkel with me and just off shore were thousands of brightly-coloured fish and giant sea turtles amongst the coral. This beach (and all along the coast) would easily make it into my Best Beaches in the World list.

Anda - Bohol
More locals. More stunning blue water. And more reasons why I wish i was back there right now.

Anda - Bohol
And if you do feel like a glass of wine and a view there are a few resorts dotted along the caost. This one here (the Anda White beach Resort) was about an hour’s walk along the coast from Anda town. And yes, I had a lovely glass of italian win and bowl of giant prawns for under $10.

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