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“The only solution was a divine intervention…or a trip planned by Tropical Experience” (2013)

She’s a passionate backpacker: searching for adventure, adrenaline and discoveries of hidden and authentic places and people. While he is the classic Italian tourist: used to all-inclusive resorts, beaches, happy hours, relaxation and festive food. The only solution was a divine intervention to let them travel together. Or, a trip planned by Tropical Experience, which actually had the same effect!

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The result was what would be called a “flashpacker” trip – a backpacker trip in a flash- (to be honest, the only “packer” thing we had was a giant backpack) that abled us to escape our regular daily grind back home , without any additional holiday-stress. At the same time, the trip was intense and interesting enough to score us an unforgettable experience.

In the rural Bohol, aside from super-white beaches decorated with giant shells, crabs and hermits that you see atop, you can dive down into the sea and discover spectacular sea-beds accompanied by local guides.

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Chocolate Hills, butterflies and the tarsier (very tiny animals endemic in the Philippines) are classic local tourist attractions.

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Then, it is enough to enter the inner island to find yourself in the past, in a very far dimension, where people live raising cows and goats, growing  crops and raising animals they need for their own family’s sustainance. Rice is planted and harvested by hands 3 times a year.

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You can use jeepneys to go to the nearest market once a week. Every morning, a small vehicle selling fresh fish to the local households stop from door to door. Houses are made of bamboo, nipa and metal sheets. Signs of 2013’s earthquake are still visible.

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Our next trip was supposed to continue on to Cebu and Palawan. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, we were not able to go out of the island since ferries and several flights were cancelled. Fortunately, our friends from Tropical Experience managed revising all our previous reservations and handled our transfer to Manila to cary on and advance our trip with alternatives. In fairness, those 2 additional days on the island passed by pleasantly and quickly, also thanks to the warm welcoming attitude of the eco-sustainable hotel where we were staying.

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The second part of our trip could be called “contrasts”. Contrast of colours: the grey colour of urban pollution, the red Jollibee (a very popular Filipino fast-food chain), the blue of the sea and the yellow of the sun that accompanied us for all the remaining days of our holiday.

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Contrasts of taste: the bland steamed white rice which is part of everyday meals, and the strong spices and flavours of roasted chicken and fried fishballs. Tradition and marketing are mixed together producing hundreds of very local-style fast-foods.

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Contrast between elegant and wealthy skyscrapers, with the most advanced home automation’s technologies, against the poverty of children that sell candies in the streets.

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Contrast between tricycles and SUVs with engines I didn’t even imagine they could exist. But then, there are the horses, the only mean of transportation on the mountains and vulcanoes we visited.

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This intriguing mix, from a European’s perspective, is a succession of spectacular and stunning postcards that makes you want to return as soon as possible. Be back to discover places we missed and know something more about this very distinct culture.

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