From numerous mountains, lakes, waterfalls, beach resorts to historical places, sumptuous food and gentle people, the province of Negros Oriental continues to attract a lot of tourists each year. It’s close proximity to the islands of Siquijor and Cebu also played to its advantage.
As for James and I, our Negros Oriental Backpacking trip is not just a simple visit but an escape from the traffic, noise, dynamics and pollution of the city life.
A trip to Dumaguete City is not complete without ticking off Rizal Boulevard on your list. Named after the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal, this park by the sea is likened to the many paseo marítimo of Spain. The only difference is that aside from palm trees, this historic boulevard is lined with centuries- and decades-old acacia trees.
Strolling along Rizal Boulevard gives you that quaint sight: on one side you have the sea and on the other you have the trees, park benches, restaurants and cafes. It also offers a gorgeous treat for sunrise lovers like me.
I’m a usually a go-with-the-flow person. I don’t mind being spontaneous on our travels so long as there are no constraints. However, weeks before our trip, I asked James to include this particular place because of one single reason: for the love of art.
Gabby’s B&B is situated in a primarily residential area, quite a distance from the city proper. Despite this, the place comes highly recommended for foodies and backpackers.
One look at the interior and exterior design will remind you of the colors of Mexico. Paintings and doodles are everywhere. Inside, the walls are festooned numerous crafts, books and what-nots.
If asked to describe it in a word, instagramable would fit it right. Gabby’s simply bring dinners and overnight stayers a colorful experience.
Picture yourself in a tropical place. In a valley under a canopy of forest trees. The gurgling sound of the river below and the chirping birds above. You need not imagine as far as Sidemen Valley in Bali because sitting in the highlands of Valencia is what locals call Forest Camp.
This 2.5 hectare mountain resort is one of Negros Oriental’s pride. It’s an inexpensive nature lover’s paradise that will give you a tropical vibe. It has nine icy-cold swimming pools whose waters came straight from an upland spring.
One pool is a local take to the infinity pools commonly found in the villas of Sidemen, while the other offers a “kawa” bath where you can try finding your zen — if you can withstand the cold.
Forest camp also has an in-house restaurant and offers other activities such as wall climbing and horseback riding. As for James and I, we chose to laze around and enjoy the sights.
A river separates the area where cottages, huts, rooms and camping ground are located. Above it is a picturesque hanging bridge.
Nighttime in the Forest Camp feels a lot closer to the natural world. Devoid of the sun’s light, our other senses are heightened. The wind feels colder, the river seems closer (technically, the payag sa bato where we were staying was just beside the river) and the cicadas are a lot louder. I would have enjoyed it if I wasn’t sick. For some reason, I started feeling nauseous which kept the poor James “busy” during the night. But overall, it was a fun weekend getaway.
There’s no question that there are still thousands of great places out there. Those who have the luxury of time and money may say that noting beats an international trip. Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is for sure, we Filipinos will always have the ingenuity to bring a glimpse of the world closer to us. Spain? Mexico? Bali? Negros Oriental will take you to these places without a passport. 🙂
P.S. We skipped these places on our trip because of limited time but you may want it to add on your list!
Witness Valencia’s very own Santorini in Tierra Alta.
The Bell Church in Dumaguete will take you straight to the heart of China.
If you ever go and do it for the Gram, take your trash with you — every piece, every gram.