2009 Maluay, Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental, Central Visayas

We took the Ocean Fast Ferries from Bohol to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental in the Central Visayas of the Philippines. It cost Php 1300/ US$26.64 for the two of us. The ferry was smaller than our first one and the sea was calm so the passage was smooth. The ferry was filthy, however, and the toilet stunk worse than a Chinese public toilet (which is saying a lot). The TV screens had an action movie blaring (Dimitri may even have watched it). When we left Bohol, there was a departure tax of Php 15 each, a baggage service cost of Php 315 and a porter charge of Php 100.
Dimitri (who is in charge of making sure that we are not homeless) had identified Thalatta Resort; he thought that it would be good for us. It was about half hour away from Dumaguete and he had arranged for a car and driver from the hotel to pick us up (for Php 900). We drove in a nice van to Thalatta Resort (a Beach, Dive and Restaurant Resort), Maluay, Zamboanguita 6218, km 24.5 National Highway, Negros Oriental, Philippines (Tel. (63-35)426-1039, e-mail: info@thalattaresort.com, web: http://www.thalatta-beach.com/). Debby and Patrick Hascoet were the owners and Dimitri had negotiated a rate of Php 2610/US$53.48 per night, with breakfast, for an air conditioned room with wi-fi Internet and cable TV. That was a 10% discount off of the regular room rate.

The room that had been reserved for us was an inside room, near the construction site (Thalatta was building a two-story addition with small rooms) with a view of the garden. We asked to see the room closest to the sea. We were told that it was available until Sept. 18th and we decided to stay in it. Our first impression was not great. The room was small but was the end unit with a large extra window looking out to the sea. There were sliding glass doors to a patio that had both a sea view and a garden view. We asked and were given 2 rattan chairs with cushions to bring inside our unit and they fit in; we were able watch TV comfortably from the chairs (not uncomfortably from the bed).

There was a small closet and a large chest of drawers so we could unpack and put things away. There was a mini bar with a big basket of junk food on top. We asked to have the mini bar cleaned out and all of the food removed (but that could not be done until the owner's wife arrived the next morning and gave permission). There was also a 6L jug of water (Php 200) in the room. we were told that the water from the faucet was not potable and that it was necessary to buy water (although glasses of water would be provided with meals in the restaurant). We hate that. There was also a sign on the wall that said "No food or beverage brought from outside the resort is permitted in the room." We think that is very offensive and we just ignore it.

The bathroom was unique. It was large, with a large shower and a big, built-in cabinet with lots of storage under the sink (where we stored all of our junk food brought in from outside the resort). In the bathroom at night when we arrived, it looked like there was a huge mirror wall in the bathroom. During the day, it was a window overlooking a private garden. It had one-way glass that, during the day, you could see out of but no one could see in. At night the reverse was true. All the windows of the bungalows in the resort were like that and we thought the one-way windows were excellent. One morning, Audre saw a yellow hummingbird with a long arced beak in our private garden off of the bathroom; it was humming around but couldn't see us because of the one-way glass.

We were a bit concerned about whether there was hot water in the shower at Thalatta because Patrick had told Dimitri that the water heater was solar powered. Once we learned that the water has to run for a few minutes before it gets hot, we had nice hot showers at Thalatta.

The resort information book explained that there was a buffet breakfast and that in addition you could order up to Php 200 per person off of the menu. We thought that was odd and more complicated than it should be. It turned out that nothing on the menu cost much and we never exceeded the Php 200 limit (so was it necessary?).

Patrick, the French owner of Thalatta, was alway when we first arrived. Debby, his wife was accommodating; we typically have lots of questions and requests (we're real pains in the ass). She was helpful and didn't make us feel like pains.

The day after we arrived was the Fiesta day in Dauin (about 10 km from Thalatta). We took a jeepney (or was it a serai?) for Php 7 each that was crowded but adequate. In Dauin, they were celebrating the day of the town's patron saint's birthday. We asked if the town had lechon and were directed to the grand church in town where we were invited to eat lunch with the town.
We heard about the annual San Nicolas de Terlentino fiesta in Dauin for its patron saint, so we went there and had the good fortune of being invited to the church's special lunch with lechon. Monsignor Roberto was our host and this photo was taken by Chonda.

Back at Thalatta, the information book of the hotel explained that the French chef, Daniel, would be available for special requests. When we met him at dinner, he was willing to find a whole fish for us which he prepared beautifully. He first fried the fish to make the skin crisp and then put it in the oven. It had been stuffed with onions, herbs and spices. It cost Php 500, was delicious and enough for dinner the next night too. The food at Thalatta was quite good, except for the vegetables. Daniel didn't seem "into" vegetables. The staff in the restaurant were friendly and conscientious; they were very well trained. There weren't any restaurants around Thalatta so we at all of our meals there.

The garden at Thalatta was maintained very well and the pool design was lovely. It was big enough for a serious swim.
Audre sitting at Thalatta's pool.
We also swam in the sea outside our door and took long walks along the beach. The sea had little (and unseen) jelly fish that pricked us when we were swimming. They didn't leave lasting reactions. They were an annoyance. We walked to the Marine Sanctuaries near Thalatta and one was pretty good--with coral and fish. There weren't any kayaks to rent at Thalatta.

The wi-fi Internet at Thalatta didn't work from our room so we'd take our computers to the bar area where we would sit and surf (or blog). That was a nice area except for the construction noise. The Internet worked most of the time. The resort also had a room where there was a computer for guests to use. Being low season, the resort was not crowded and there were even a couple of nights when we had the resort to ourselves.

We could easily walk along the beach to Malatapay pier from which we could get a bangka to Apo Island (click to read our posting about Apo). On Wednesday, we walked the beach to the Malatapay Market day. It was a day for lechon.

Lechon at the Malatapay Market on Wednesdays

The people also traded farm animals, as well as selling all manner of useful (non-touristic things).
Market day in Malatapay where we risked swine flu (H1N1) to get up close and personal with the animals
Patrick, the owner, had a motor scooter for us to rent and he gave us a discount of 20% off of the regular rate of Php 500 a day. One day we went to Balanan Lake (and the southern end of Negros Oriental).
Audre on the hiking trail next to Lake Balanan
Another day we went to look at different hotels around the area and found one, Pura Vida in Dauin, that we thought would be good. Chonda, who we met at the church fiesta worked at reception there and recommended Pura Vida to us. A third day we went to Baslay Twin Hot Springs which was a real experience.

The steaming water in the river source of Baslay Twin Hot Springs
The reason why getting to Baslay Twin Hot Springs was a real experience was that it started raining very hard along the way. We saw some people sitting in a shelter at the roadside and we joined them.
The shelter where we stopped in the rain on the way to Baslay

The woman who was in the shelter with her 5-year old daughter spoke very good English (they at the bottom right of the snap). The men could understand English but couldn't speak it. The woman explained that the shelter had been built by the barangay or village. It even had a toilet connected to it that Dimitri used. She said that she had gone to the same school (down the road) that her daughter was now attending. Boy, we were impressed--the English she learned there was very good. She said she lives up the road from the shelter where we were all sitting. We asked what was in the barrels connected to the motorcycle in the shelter. We were told bread. The man sitting next to that cycle buys the bread in town and then delivers it to the outlying shops. We asked the woman if she had clean drinking water at her home. She said "yes, it comes from the river". We wonder what would happen to us if we drank river water.
We ended up staying at Thalatta for as long as they could accommodate us and being happy (and comfortable) there and then moved to Pura Vida in Dauin (where, unfortunately, we didn't see our friend from the fiesta, Chonda, until our last day there ).

1 comment:

  1. I guess traveling to Negros is really an adventure to grasp. I admire people like you who love to travel. ~Kris http://www.cdokay.com/