Posted by: hoz49 | March 8, 2008

The Loboc River Tour (con’t Chocolate Hills)

After visiting the Chocolate Hills we drove back down the mountains to a small town named Loboc. Here the Loboc River makes it’s way down from the highlands to the sea. A nice little industry has sprung up on the docks where tourists can take a riverboat cruise and have a Filipino buffet for the reasonable price of P280.

We bought our tickets and while waiting on the boat to arrive explored the dock area. There are several riverboat tour companies and they all seem to offer a lunch buffet. Our driver said within the next few months lights will be installed on the river and evening cruises will be offered as well.

Our boat (like a covered houseboat) arrived and everyone went aboard. The buffet items were arrayed on a central table surrounded by banquet tables for the guests. There were two kind of salads, grilled fish, pork adobo, grilled manok on a stick(chicken), mixed vegetables, the ever present pancit (noodles, chicken and vegetables) and two Filipino deserts. Soft drinks and beer were available from a bar at the rear.

Everyone dug in, Filipino style, which means there really isn’t a line, but more like a free for all, some going one way, some the other. But hey, “I got mine, 2 plates in fact!”

After eating the boat shoved off and headed upstream. A solo guitarist had come on board to play and sing popular songs from the Beatles, to Neil Sekaka, La Bamba, Proud Mary, and also Filipino ballads. He had an amazing repertoire. I requested “I am You Brother” by Reynaldo LaPuz but unfortunately, he hadn’t heard that one yet.¬† And I thought all Filipinos watched “American Idol”!

Around a bend in the river we came to a flat boat that contained a rondella. A group of about 50 teenagers, all dressed in matching yellow T shirts were playing ukuleles, and guitars. singing and dancing. Our boat tied up to their floating stage for more entertainment.

Some of us got so carried away we climbed aboard their boat and started dancing and singing with them. Everyone was smiling and laughing. It was a great spur of the moment celebration. A group of Filipino guys were dancing with the girls and everyone was having a great time. Of course, I got in the middle of it!

There was a donation box and several of us contributed. I bet these kids make enough money from their show to support their families.

Too soon we had to get back aboard our boat and continue upstream. The rondella sang “Bye, Bye Love” as we pulled away.

Upstream we moved through an “Apocalypse Now” landscape with nipa huts on the banks and huge palm trees overhanging the river, the hills behind and the heat and humidity seemed to intensify the experience. Occasionally we passed children swimming in front of their huts or paddling their family canoes.

We came to a small falls which prohibited progress upstream and the boat turned around to head back.

On the way some of the kids climbed to the top of the overhanging palm trees and dove into the river in front of our boat. As we passed they caught dangling ropes, climbed aboard and were given small tips for their bravery.

Continuing downstream the Rondella kids were still playing, singing and dancing. They all waved goodbye as our boat passed. These performers know how to sell their show!

Coming into Loboc we passed under a steel “Bailey Bridge”. I found it interesting as I have seen these bridges made of timbers in the far north of Canada. They are a simple design and can be built on location from local materials.

We landed back at the Loboc docks and found our driver to continue or tour.

to be continued

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