FTF / #MindaNOWorNever: Surigao del Sur

12:00:00 AM

The next chapter of our adventure brought us to Surigao del Norte. Although we were technically closer to Hinatuan from Siargao if we traveled through Panay, the locals we consulted advised us to go back to Butuan and take the bus from there instead. Totaling 11 hours on sea and on land, this has to be the longest trip of #MindaNOWorNever.
By the time we got to Marky's Hostel in Hinatuan, we were famished and exhausted. Nanay Lumen, the owner, was a godsend. She arranged for transportation from the bus terminal to the hostel. We had dinner at Drawde's Kamayan, a nearby grill restaurant, and just like most other places we've tried, the food was good and inexpensive.
Hannah and I woke up early to make it to the Enchanted River before it got crowded with tourists. We took our nth habal-habal - one with a roof - and in less than an hour, we were there. It was as enchanting as it was in photographs uploaded on social media by those who came before us. Moreso, actually.
Dude. Really. Dude.
The seemingly bottomless Enchanted River had cold saltwater, and I suppose that's one thing to marvel at. The trip from the hostel to the river was mostly uphill, so this was surprising. The water was clear but you couldn't see the bottom of the river; the locals told us that at least three divers have died trying to reach it.

One of the local guides swam with us, and he helped us take videos of the fish from the deeper parts of the river. He also guided me to the cave, but before we could go in, another guide spotted us and told us that the area was restricted. Haha!
The dive that compressed my spine. HUHUHU
I hurt my back quite badly with a miscalculated dive. I hit the water in an awkward angle, which led to the compression of my spine. I was in pain, but I refused to let it get in the way of the rest of the trip (I had it checked when I got back home a couple of weeks later, and I had to undergo therapy for it).
Niagara of the Philippines, yo!
When the tourists started arriving, Hannah and I then headed off to the next town, Bislig, to see Tinuy-an Falls. And just like the Enchanted River, we had the place to ourselves when we got there. Despite the pain in my lower back, I dove and swam like a kid who waited far too long for the summer.
Level 2
The waterfalls had three tiers. We started at the bottom; Hannah and I paid two guides to let us take the raft to the drop zone. Due to the volume of water and the shape of the waterfalls, the drop felt heavy on our shoulders - it felt like a massage from a very strong masseuse. Haha!

We climbed up to the second and third tiers after swimming. The guides told us that they were experiencing a drought, which is why there were certain dry spots on the upper levels. They also said that if we had gone there during rainy season, we would not have been able to take the raft, nor could we climb to the second tier, because the current would be too strong. Apparently, Tinuy-An has been dubbed by tourists as the Niagara Falls of the Philippines.
Dive again.
After about an hour, Hannah and I headed to the showers. That's when I learned that I had left my towel in Marky's Hostel, so I had to painstakingly pat myself dry with a hand towel before I could get dressed.
With wings, yo!
For the trip back to the main highway, we had to take a different habal-habal - one with "wings," haha! It was a tough balancing act, and we almost toppled to one side because of my carelessness, but we made it through a few kilometers of rough roads completely unscathed. It worsened my back pain, though.

Hannah dropped her phone somewhere and I waited in the bus station while she and our guide went back for it (they found it). We were headed towards Davao, but we were to alight at Tagum City to see Jules, who was going to take us to Mati. It was another long trip, so we both slept in the bus. It was already dark when we reached Tagum.


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