Samal Island in a Day, 07.05.15

Seeing many place – 07.05.15

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Samal Island

A Sunday and my last day for that Davao trip (first days spent in the city and in Isla Reta) was spent at more accessible SAMAL ISLAND where on a hired “habal-habal” (motorcycle taxi), I hopped to see millions of blind-in-the-morning creatures at MONFORT BAT SANCTUARY, see some giant clams at TAKLOBO ISLAND IN BARANGAY ADECOR before joining families on a picnic at HAGIMIT FALLS. 

Having spent the night in Isla Reta, I decided to see the bigger and more popular island in Davao. Truely more accessible as blogs and locals would say, getting to the island was convenient – easy and fast. With not much knowledge on how, I decided to visit the island if only to visit the bat sanctuary which is known to have this Guinness record of being home to the largest number of a certain bat species. Lucky I ended up going to places more than that one.

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Kids be kids

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20150705_083548My friends during water travel 

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And let me first take a selfie

(Was this a song?)

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Upon arrival at Babak Wharf, I was approached by a “habal-habal” driver. I told him I wanted to go to the bat cave but he suggested other places like Hagimit Falls – which I have read about but not so interested (sorry, not a falls fan here! 😀 ) but since he said it was not so far from the sanctuary and I remember that he gave me a reasonable price (which I sadly do not remember exactly how much now haha), I said yes to the offer.

I was not sure whether our first stop was one of the usual destinations in tours in the island but he said it was some point with a nice view and it was on the way so okay, I let him do the itinerary-making. It was on the high part of the area overlooking the sea and some parked yachts. He also shared with me that it was a resort undergoing construction. My main learning from this trip was how rich some people can be – with all those expensive yachts just ‘sleeping’ there. Hmm. Oh well.

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View from some resort-in-the-making

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20150705_091456I wonder what that concrete is for. For some docking, maybe

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20150705_091526And Kuya joined my panorama of the place

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Our next destination is of course the Bat Sanctuary which was my reason for being in this place. I was the only tourist in the area at that time that I had the female guide to myself. She explained each of the five holes inside this private-owned sanctuary. The holes of course were natural. Personally, I just found it amusing how its owners managed to conserve the natural flow in that space to protect the bats.

According to Google, this place is home to 2.3 million Rousette fruit bats, “largest colony of its kind” in the world. When I asked the guide on how they were able to count it, apparently, they estimate the number of bats given the area they occupy on the ceilings and walls of the cave. Bat experts also keep on coming back to check on these creatures and they are the only ones allowed to go in the holes.

There are five holes from the ground that are all part of one long cave. Guide explained to us each hole but I forgot to take down notes that I remember only the last and least crowded one which is where the oldest bats are. If I remember right, there is one for mating and one where young bats were trained. These bats stay there during morning when they are blind and come nighttime, they leave the caves to look for food. Visiting the sanctuary is allowed during that time of day but I think they were trying to limit the number of limit so as not to disturb the bats’ natural cycle.

As shared, those millions are of the same kind that very difficult to see them individually. According to the guide though, there is one head of their colony – one that is uniquely white, hence one they call “white lady”.

20150705_092733Greeted by this  screaming Guinness World Record holder certificate

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On the way to the bat cave

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20150705_092905Apparently there is viewing in the evening when the bats leave their caves to look for food

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20150705_093124First bat stop 

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20150705_093158Bat clones you have to look up close to see them as individual bats

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As I was trying to figure out how it looks down there

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20150705_093601Captured some blindly flying ones

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Apparently some have babies which they hide under their wings. Can you spot them from here?

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20150705_093636Maybe easier to spot from this angle? 

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20150705_093755And some just seem to have been enjoying their morning nap

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20150705_094105From afar, they just look like a giant block of black

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20150705_094148Just so you see how the opening looks like

( I did not have then a camera that could capture how wide it actually is)

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20150705_094255They were just too many this sight is not for those who cringe at like this

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Blurry when I try to zoom

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20150705_094331 I think this was the second opening

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20150705_094344Now they look purple

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20150705_094524And so many flyers from this cave

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20150705_094532Somewhere down there was an iguana predator

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20150705_094604As I was trying to get a better view of the iguana

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20150705_094921Batfull wall

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20150705_094927Those rays

20150705_095025Some reminders to keep the quiet and peace in this place

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In this heart-shaped hole is where the oldies are

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20150705_095438And then those mosquitoes started biting

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20150705_095452Because yes, I had to have a picture

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20150705_095831But from afar, they kind of all look like the same

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20150705_095853Guide said that you are lucky if you see the white lady

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Owner of the place called Bat Mama

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20150705_095936Apparently Davao owes its king fruit to these bats

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After bat overload, my tour guide slash driver suggested that we go see some giant clams someplace. I was hesitant at first but since I was not able to go snorkel in Isla Reta as intended, I said yes. That meant paying the boat to myself though (haaay, really the challenges of traveling alone).

I can actually see the man-set-up snorkeling side from the main land and in less than 5 minutes, I found myself having small talk and a quick briefing on clams with the officers manning the reception area. I had to rent some snorkeling gear and of course, the must-have vest for me before a guide guided me (literally with a floater) around the area. It was low tide that while floating there, I could see my guide’s toes reaching the sand. I was too scared to walk though as the clams might be dangerous or something.

20150705_110019On the way to Taklobo Island

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20150705_110156From the reception area

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20150705_114429Snorkel area

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I was in Taklobo Island for less than an hour. After which, off we were to Hagimit Falls which turned out to be a favorite spot for locals at that day of the week. It was very crowded and I immediately noticed this group of guys drinking brandy by the falls. I am not against drinking or anything (Gaaad no), but I was just careful when traveling solo like this.

Another bad experience was being forced to rent a table (for Php250!) near the falls so we could sit somewhere. Apparently, it is not possible to just sit anywhere as one has to rent a cottage or a table. Tsk.

Despite all these bad forms of greeting, I did try the water, being extra careful as bed was rocky and expectedly gets abruptly steep as one approaches where water falls. It was that time that I realized I am not exactly a falls person.

I did love walking though and as the place is composed of a series of falls, with the primary one on the lower part, I walked my way to see the others. I no longer swam but I did enjoy people-watching and just walking around.

20150705_121020Talicud Island somewhere there

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20150705_122706‘Main’ falls at Hagimit

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20150705_125417To the right from the ‘main’ falls

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20150705_125435Looking at this picture now, place does not look as crowded as I thought it was then

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20150705_130739View of the key falls from a few steps above

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20150705_131259More people from this side on what I think is another resort

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20150705_131602That unfinished structure intrigued me

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20150705_131726Intrigued enough that I went to see up close… 

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20150705_131747…and had a selfie

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20150705_132243Found this quiet spot beside the resort rooms

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20150705_132512How they spend their afternoons

20150705_132529Oh those almost floating umbrellas

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20150705_132548Was too scared to try this part of the falls

20150705_132816Yep. Sign at least got the message across

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20150705_133129Photobombed (and not by the falls)

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20150705_133209Walk towards me.

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20150705_133634Enjoying their chitchat

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20150705_135053Found this cozy spot of the caretaker

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Where the falls began

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When tired from walking, I approached my guide and told him time for us to go. I also sort of complained how they were too many people in the area so he mentioned how there are less crowded parts such as point nearest to where the water starts. I was curious so we walked up to see. True that much less people, but I was too lazy to walk down to take a dip.

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Back at the ferry late afternoon

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With only some chips on my stomach since the morning, I decided to grab some decent meal before going to the airport. For this I have chosen this restaurant I have read about with an interesting name – Lyndon’s World’s Worst Ribs. I am not very discerning about varying levels of yummy of ribs but what the heck, it was delicious and the vibe of the place added to its charisma for me.

20150705_153305How come you are not smiling?

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20150705_153339Menu at Lyndon’s World’s Worst Ribs at Roxas Avenue

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20150705_163804After-ribs beer

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Scuba diver uptop!

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Su20150705_165242Where is Mary Jane for that upside-down kiss?

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20150705_165620My monkey boyfriend and I

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It was about 5 in the afternoon, just when the stalls for the night market in Roxas Avenue were setting up when I left the city and spent some hours in one of my favorite places during travel – the airport. (Odd?)

20150705_172109Saying goodbye

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20150705_175333Paintings at the gate

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20150705_175713Watching some local news at the airport cafe

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Seemingly solo

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20150705_211807Goodbye

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OTHER PRACTICAL DETAILS :

From Sasa Wharf in main city of Davao, take a ferry bound to Babak Wharf as it closest to Bat Cave and Hagimit Falls. To get to wharf in Davao, you have to pass through a local market.  Fare is priced at Php12 and you can get to the ferry with zero wait time. Trip is very quick at less than 15 minutes.

At Babak Wharf, habal-habal drivers would offer you a tour of Samal for a negotiated price (sadly I do not remember mine. Ooops sorry!). According to my notes though, if to go to one area only, from wharf to Bat Cave costs Php50 while to Hagimit Falls, it is at Php75.

It is a breeze to go back from Babak to Sasa. Ferry boats leave almost every 15 minutes.

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