One of the things I wanted to do when I retired and moved to the Philippines was to travel and visit more of the country. I had been to the Philippines many times before moving here, but my trips had been limited to just a few areas. I had seen the Manila area, Davao/Samal and a few small towns outside of those. My intention was to spend some of my free time exploring other parts of Mindanao, in particular, since that is where I live.
Since moving I have had the opportunity to go to Cebu on a few occasions. That was nice, in that Cebu is a very busy and modern city. There are plenty of foreigners there, in particular Koreans. As much as I enjoyed those visits, I still had the urge to explore more of the areas around me. I had targeted Cagayan de Oro (CDO) as likely first trip to make on my own, as there are nice buses headed that way on a regular basis going right through the heart of Bukidnon. That’s an area I have a lot of interest in.
For one reason or another I was just not able to accomplish the CDO trip, until this week. It wasn’t a long excursion, but it was amazing how difficult it was to find a time to be able to do it. In all I was gone only three days. Much of that time was on the bus, which was my intent. As much as I wanted to see CDO, the trip was more about seeing the mountainous countryside and the cities between Davao and CDO. In that regard, I wasn’t disappointed.
Though I could have caught the bus as it passed by the little town out where I live, I decided to go to the Ecoland Overland Bus Terminal. I wanted to see how things worked, catch the first bus out, and make sure that I got an aircon bus. You see the “Deluxe” buses don’t have aircon, but they are a little bit cheaper. There is also a bus with WiFi, but those start running in the evening and I wanted to leave first thing in the morning.
I got to the bus terminal a little before 8:00 a.m. I was one of the first on my bus, and had my pick of seats. They offered to have me sit in the front seat to see through the front windows, but I decided to move back a bit. The windows on the side were plenty big enough to view the country as we passed by.
It took awhile to get past the areas that I was familiar with. Living north of the city, I’d been through most of these towns before. It was not until we passed through Buda that I was finally in new territory. For the most part it looked very similar all the way up. Lush, green peaks and valleys. Farm land and provincial living outside the small towns.
I know I’m going to forget some of the towns we passed through, but we did stop at most. Supposedly my bus was a 4 stop, but they count differently than I do. I’d say we stopped in about 10? Some where at terminals, others just at what appeared to be be regular stops with sari-sari stores and kanderias. There were plenty of opportunities to get a snack, or relieve yourself if needed. Speaking of relieving yourself, there was anywhere from P3 to P5 charge for the privilege of using their fine CR. Never miss a chance to collect a peso!
Some of the cities we stopped at were: Quezon, Maramag, Valencia City, Malaybalay City and Manaolo Fortich. There were others. One thing was common, there was a lot of construction going on in each of those towns. They are all growing. I particularly liked what I saw of Quezon and Valencia City, and will probably take another trip there to spend time around those two towns. I could easily accomplish that in a day or two.
CDO itself was doing quite well. There were at least 4 major malls there. Maybe more. The cheap hotel I stayed at was within walking distance to the Gaisano Mall and the newer Ayala Centrio Mall. The Centrio Mall, as with all Ayala malls I’ve been to, was very nice and had all the amenities that you would expect. I had most of my meals there. Yes, they even had a Starbucks for me to catch up on my internet and get my obligatory soy mocha.
I didn’t find that much to do in CDO. As I asked around most people pointed me towards outdoor activities like zipline or water rafting. I wasn’t interested or prepared for those, so I passed. I spent some time just exploring and saw the common things such as markets, parks, historic church, etc. Nothing that really stood out.
I should have taken more pictures, but somehow I’ve gotten out of the habit of that. It doesn’t typically occur to me, until it’s too late. Like now.
Longterm I have some interest in possibly living in a mountainous area of the Philippines. That was one of the reasons I wanted to pass through Bukidnon, to get an idea of how remote it is, and whether it is a feasible area to consider. Like I said, I’d like to go back to Quezon and Valencia City again, to check them out further. They seem to be big enough to provide most of what is needed. There is no particular hurry on that though.
It was a fun get away. I need to find the time to do more of these. Being retired, you’d think I could!