Nine Tales From The Enchanted River | #1

Finding The Enchanted River of Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur

As with most of my trips, this one’s a spur of the moment thing.  The significant other was supposed to meet me in Manila but since it’s a long weekend, I convinced her that I should be the one going home to the province instead.  The roundtrip fare nearly cost me an arm and a leg, but that’s the consequence for unplanned trips ( I paid P7.5K, ouch!).

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions...

There’s no lack of companions when going to any part of the country as long as you shoulder everything (in this trip, I did). But since Hinatuan is a bit closer to home and I knew that there wasn’t bound to be any expensive destinations in that area, I happily treated my elves (two of them) for the entire trip.

To make good time, the elves and I decided to take the earliest bus (which was around 2:30 AM) out of Butuan City to Mangagoy.  Since we clearly had no time for sleep, we decided to get drunk instead.  It was an inspired decision as it made time fly really fast!

Elves are good companions too!

Elves are good companions too!

By 2:45 our bus was cruising out of the terminal.  Upon advise from one of the passengers, we bought our breakfast in one of the terminal stalls.  The goodhearted passenger said that there’s no accomodation around the river so it’s best that we bring along food and water.  He also said that we can get off crossing Dugmanon (a barrio right before Hinatuan town) where there are habal-habal’s waiting for passengers going to the enchanted river.

The bus trip to Hinatuan was surprisingly quick and comfortable.  There were a few rough roads, but it made of for only around 10% of the trip.  We were standing on Dugmanon soil 3 hours after our bus left the station, wondering where the hell all those habal-habals were.  Of course it was still before 6 in the morning so we were’nt really expecting any at that hour.  We did hope though. :)

Good thing that we chanced upon some guy who was getting water from a nearby water pump.  He said he has a habal-habal and volunteered to take us to the enchanted river and back for P250.  The amount may be laughable for some folks but remember, this is the province and the cost of living is way, way low compared to the city.  I thought it was a very good deal so I agreed.

This, is a habalhabal...

This, is a habalhabal...

A little seque here.  What is a habal-habal?  Simply put it’s just your ordinary motorbike modified so it can fit an unbelievable number of people and bring them to their destination.  Some habal-habals can fit up to six people in one go.  There are habal-habals who have wings but that’s another story.

Anyway, our habal-habal turned out to be a modified scooter.  Oh lord, I was already rubbing my knees just looking at it.  Can you imagine three big-assed men fitting into that thing?  Let alone four?  But we were in a crazy mood so we got on it, bags, food, water, and all.

Trust me, this is as tame as they get.

Trust me, this is as tame as they get.

The roads were terrible.  Not much mud or potholes but rocks protruded everywhere!  One slip on one of those rocks and we say goodbye to our knees.  Our habal-habal driver also had to negotiate a few uphill climbs on those same roads.  One of my companions was sitting in front of the driver so he had to crane his neck sideways just to see the road.

Seeing these habal-habals negotiate such roads is enough to make safety professionals scream bloody murder.

Anyway we arrived at the river in one piece and in less than 30 minutes time.  And then I panicked.

…to be continued

20 Comments… add one

  • ceblogger Jun 18, 2009

    can't wait for the rest of the adventure.

  • Michael Harman Jun 21, 2009

    Check out and join my Filipino American Social Club by Marianne & Michael Harman
    This is our web site:

  • amanda Jun 22, 2009

    wow…is the river really transparent? Wish can go to one of these places (^_^)

  • pinoytraveller Jun 22, 2009

    Hi Amanda, yep, you'll be amazed at how blue and clear the water is. You have to be there to see it.

    Check out photos of the river here

  • shobe Jul 3, 2009

    wow! that's cool! Your trip reminded me of one great website though, it's I learned that Philippines are more like a forest rather than urban right? it's a great website! where tourists like me can learn a lot from different places such as their history, people culture and etc

    That was a great blog! ^o^/ thanks for sharing

  • Jacque Jul 5, 2009

    Woa… I really hope I could go to Phillipine soon. Nice blog. Came to visit from mybloglog & putting your link under my blog travelintee. Oh hey…I see Frodo & Sam :-) or is it Legolas?

  • mybisnis Aug 12, 2009

    your website is very useful for the development of tourism in your country … see and read the articles as if you give a picture of how tourism philina very nice views and very extraordinary beautiful

  • pinoytraveller Aug 14, 2009

    Thanks mybisnis, I do what I can.

  • SpKlaus Aug 29, 2009

    Hmmm. So I have to watch out for the next episode..nice blog anyway.

  • archieperuna Aug 30, 2009

    how much travel time from Lipata Port to Hinatuan River?Thanks

  • pinoytraveller Aug 31, 2009

    Archie, you will have to go through Butuan (better roads) which means an additional 2-3 hours on top of the Butuan – Hinatuan travel time.

  • archieperuna Sep 1, 2009

    thanks pinoytraveller

  • archieperuna Sep 1, 2009

    it's just a follow up question, i want to know the exact name of the place in hinatuan we supposed to drop off (if we are going to the enchanted river) and what bus are we going to ride (Bachelor or Philtranco). how much is the fare from butuan to hinatuan. Is there a bus passing at Hinatuan town going to Mangagoy market? If so, how much travel time & the corresponding fares?thanks

  • pinoytraveller Sep 1, 2009

    Hi Archie, I would advise you to go directly to Hinatuan proper. When we dropped off at crossing Dugmanon (this is the place btw), we we're just lucky that there was this guy getting water from a well who happens to have a habal-habal. You could do the same I guess, but the safest bet would be to get your habal-habal at the town. The bus is bachelor express and the fare is around P200 i think. And yes, buses going to Mangagoy go through Hinatuan. Travel to Mangagoy from Butuan is around 4.5 hours, faster if you ride the airconditioned bus.

  • Niharika Sep 2, 2009

    This lonely road looks so beautiful !!

    You are making me more and more eager to visit Philippines …. I can't wait to experience the joy myself.

  • pinoytraveller Sep 3, 2009

    Niharika, you'll find that we have so many lonely roads like that in this country. You'll be amazed!

  • Barkha Dhar Sep 25, 2009

    Hi Nice reading your blog. Seems like traveling through somebody else's eyes. Would like to see more pics of the beautiful destination if you have any.
    Barkha Dhar

  • pinoytraveller Sep 25, 2009

    Hi Barkha, I have a few pics lying around the blog. :) Feel free to check them out.

  • Dual Sim Phones Jan 19, 2010

    nice post

  • Butuan City Website Design Feb 5, 2010

    The more you post anything about my beloved City the more I envy your travels. I hope I can travel more and enjoy the outdoors.

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