East Mindanao Discovery Trip (3) – Bukidnon

East Mindanao Trip

We have changed our ISP (Internet Service Provider). The new one is better and steadier, but not yet the fastest. We continue our journey through eastern Mindanao.

First today’s map:

On the second day we had first to go back about 13km as the road up to Bukidnon intersects in Puerto. The road wins altitude quickly, winding in tight curves. It is good to drive behind a crawling truck. Driving very slowly, you have time to look at the scenery and take a look back. Between Puerto and Bugo is the pineapple canning factory of Del Monte. We could not stop because of the traffic and the road shoulders here are really bad. But the image of Google Earth shows what I mean.

Del Monte plant in Puerto
Del Monte pineapple canning plant

After the first steep 240 meters of altitude, the road flaatens and leads through a varied hilly area. Apart from many and long construction sites the road is in good to excellent condition. Long straight stretches alternate with twisty crossings of valleys.

Road in Bukidnon
Good road in Bukidnon

Since we’ll discover the navigation capabilites of our smartphones and our tablets in the evening, we drove without navigation. For this reason we have also missed the Del Monte Golf Club and the Dahilayan Adventure Park. As we were aware of this, we had no desire to go back. But we will go there another time, when we will go back to buy coffee. More about coffee on the third day.
Left and right of the Sayre Highway one sees pineapple and banana plantations. But the big pineapple plantations of Del Monte are away from the highway.

Pinapple plantation
Pineapple plantations. The Philippines are world’s second largest pineapple producer after Brazil.

Banana plantation
A banana plantation. The fruits are packed in plastic bags to protect against insect infestation.

Where the Old Sayre Highway meets the new one, stands a modern building. The people at the bus stop told us that it was the Tourism Office. Inside they were about to prepare a wedding and knew nothing of a Tourism Office. It were a Comunity Hall, said the ladies. Interesting are the three meters high figures of traditional dancers in front of the building.

The community hall

Dancing indigenous women
From here to Malaybalay the journey takes about 40 minutes.

Malaybalay City

The city has about 180,000 inhabitants, but looks like a small town. The Bukidnon State University takes an important place along the main road. The Gaisano supermarket and the huge Jollybee can not be missed. In Rizal Park, in the city center, stands a large bronze monument, or bronze painted. It shows the contract ceremony in 1877 between local princes and Spanish colonizers.

But first we looked for a hotel. There are currently only 2 hotels and a few private lodges and guest houses. First we looked at the Water Pool Micro Hotel at the end of the city. The prices were too high for what was offered. A curious detail: the staircase to the upper floor has the normal narrow steps, but the hight of each step is 40 cm. We headed back in the city centre and decided to stay at the Pine Hills Hotel.

Pine Hills Hotel

The room with breakfast costs 2100 pesos. The room was large, with cable TV, aircon and warm water. However, the warm water needs nearly ten minutes to arrive from the solar heated tank to the bathroom.

Before dinner, we then explored the city on foot. There was not much to see – a typical provincial city in the Philippines. On the way back we were surprised at Gaisano supermarket by a natural spectacle. It was almost dark and the headlights illuminated the facade of the Gaisano building. As we saw suddenly thousand, no ten thousand, or at least more 50 thousand birds flutter in the darkening sky. All birds were looking for a place on one of the many wires, which are known to be clamped everywhere here over the streets. The birds sat in precisely defined distance about every 20 cm on the wires.  Since it was too dark for a photo I add here an image from the Internet.

Birds lined-up
I was fascinated by this spectacle. The people around us told us that these birds would come every night to this place. They call them Maya birds. Since it was already dark, I could only see that the breast plumage was bright and back was dark. Next time I go to Malaybalay, I’ll take my SLR camera with me and wait for the birds in front of the Gaisano building.

The dinner we enjoyed in the hotel’s courtyard by the pool. The quality and quantity were good.

Pine Hills Hotel
The hotel is quite well designed. Unfortunately, as so often in the Philippines, there is a lack of  maintenance work. The staff was very friendly, had good knowledge and gave us information on almost all our questions.

Summary of Day 2:

Landscape: Very varied, hilly
Interesting: Del Monte plantations, Del Monte Golf Club, Dahilayan Adventure Park, Maya Birds in Malaybalay
Street: Mostly good condition, a lot of construction sites, partly very busy with lots of motorcycles and trucks
Distance: 90km
Driving time: 2.5 to 3 hours

Tomorrow we’ll stay in Bukidnon and learn a lot about coffee

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