Bathing at Hinatuan’s Enchanted River

DSC_0310Nowadays, the Hinatuan Enchanted River is one of the most visited site in Southern Philippines as most of the educational field trips of both government and private companies, including small group outings in Mindano are always pointing there. The place was highlighted and recommended several times by tourists who had been there and experienced its charming scenery.

Location: Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Terraza Viktoria, Borobo, Surigao del Sur

Buddies: Family (8+)

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Sole standing tall tree greeted us while on the way to Hinatuan.

We stayed overnight at a friendly paid accommodation in Trento, Agusan del Sur. The accommodation was supposedly not accepting outsiders but because we have a family friend whose working there, we availed its guest room and bed at a super cheap rent. The group left at 6:30am to have a longer time in the Enchanted River.

Moderate rain showered so early and the weather was acting accordingly to the local weather forecast. We reached the small village of Hinatuan and the parking area to the river at 9am. We brought our valuable things as there was a need to hike from the parking area to the entrance gate. At the entrance, we registered and paid the entrance fee. Also, at the right side of the gate is a row of stalls offering fresh fish and sea foods. They can cook it according to the costumer’s liking and deliver it to the cottage at a given time for a small fee.

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DSC_0306After the entrance gate, we hiked entering the secluded vicinity.  The surrounding trees and undisturbed forest are hiding the serenity of the site. Only the resort’s private vehicles have access on the entrance road while the rest of the visitors should have to walk. We reached the checked-in building where a staff guided us to our reserved bamboo-made cottage. The place is like a resort with cottages, benches, tables, and full of people. There are also stairs down to the water. We also rented life jackets which are required and very important while swimming on this river.

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DSC00542This river is believably enchanted and that is where the locals acquired its name. There are mythical stories known to the locals about its legend. Its depth is never measure even by professional divers as it is like a continuous underground tunnel filled with water. The appearance of the fishes from below during feeding time at 12nn is still a mystery. However, you can still see the people (including me) bathing and diving on this dangerous mysterious water source.

There is a shallow part at the side of the river for kids but it was too dangerous for them without the guarding adults. Mosquito repellent lotion is also necessary to bring because the thick forest is covering the vicinity. These insects normally attack the victim once rise up from the water.

DSC_0357The river is temporarily cease for swimming few weeks after our visit but there is certain area where the tourist can enjoy its cool water. It is now only for photography which is for me is good enough to preserve its mysterious beauty. I had no chance of peeking the real dark bluish color of the water as signage of its deepest part during my visit. The water appears so blue and majestic on a regular sunny day but since the entire week was raining, the water was not as clear as what I expected.

Side Trip to Stingrays

At the dock, downstream of the river, there were rental motorized boats for P150 per hour. They brought us to the resort stationed in the middle of the sea with a small entrance fee. They offered us feeding of stingrays and swimming with other fishes. They also have rooms for an overnight stay especially in Sibadan Resort which has a restaurant too.

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DSC_0425At 4pm, we left Hinatuan and before we headed to our accommodation in Borobo, we visited the Wakat Cave and freshened us in the pool of cold spring water supplied inside the dark cave. The cave is normally public bathing area of the locals which is hidden from the knowledge of the tourists.

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The World of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is more than an hour travel from Dubai. As our plan, we have to wake up early to lengthen our time but it looks like we ourselves didn’t follow our own rules.

We left Dubai at 9am and we first visited the Grand Mosque. It is the world’s 3rd biggest mosque after the two Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the Grand Mosque, unlike at Holy Mosques.

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Our driver who served as our guide led us to the entrance of the mosque. We entered a security tent for scanning of our belongings. He then led us to the underground car park to borrow a long black dress called “abaya”. The women clothes should be covered by abaya and men who are wearing short pants by “thoub”, a white dress for men. The attire was borrowed for free by showing to the staffs the hotel’s key where we were staying.

As a reminder from the mosque’s authorities, wearing open clothes is not allowed especially for women. Women’s hair must be covered. The shoes must be removed when entering the prayer room. No modeling posture when taking photos. And no  public display of affection for couples. There are so many staffs inside reminding the visitors every time the do’s and don’t s of the site.

Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque was the biggest mosque I visited so far. The outer white painting reminded me of the Disney’s children television show Aladdin. The mosque’s doom was said to be furnished with real gold. The weather was hot but once inside the mosque, it was cool.

At noon, we left the mosque and headed to Ferrari World amusement park. The park for those fanatics of racing cars. It has so many rides but sad to say that we didn’t have enough time for all of them. We miscalculated our timings and schedule. We should give a one full day for Ferrari Park alone. However, we tried some of the rides and the highlight was the world fastest Roller Coaster. At the speed of 240km/hr, for less than a minute ride, our throat was out of liquid, hair stood up, and crippled our balance. It drained our energy but the experience was worth to remember.

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At 03:30pm, we left the Ferrari to travel back to Dubai. We’re back in our hotel at 5pm. We took a nap to recharge the energy lost in Ferrari Park.

At 7pm, our travel agent picked us for the two-hour Dhow Cruise which started after an hour. The foods were international cuisines but more on Indian dishes.  Majority of tourists on board were from India. We cruised the riverbank for dinner and short dancing show. A little disappointment for I expected to see more of beautiful attractions on night scene and entertainment like what I experienced before in Bangkok.

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