Setting: Panglao Island, Bohol, Philippines
After barely making it onto the 2 o'clock ferry from Cebu to Tagbilaran, then being forced to sit outside in the loudest area of the boat next to the engine because it was freezing cold inside, we took an overpriced (500 php) taxi to Panglao Island (could've taken a 200 php tricycle also but it was starting to rain) and checked into the Panglao Regents Park Resort. It was clean and reasonably priced (booked through www.agoda.com for about SGD$50 per night), with friendly staff and a nice, clear, blue pool. The hotel restaurant was overpriced with so-so food and there wasn't any free breakfast but it's only 3-5 minutes walking distance from the beach and other restaurants. There are much cheaper hotels and guesthouses around Alona (like the hotel across from the Regents which was only 600 php (SGD$17) per night but overall we were still satisfied with our hotel choice).
When we got to Alona beach the sun was already setting (although Alona sadly doesn't quite face the sunset). Carissa and I were taking a long walk along the beach (as we often like to do) and just checking out the surroundings since. The beach had nice white sand and pretty, clear water, but the shore wasn't well-maintained in some areas so there was a lot of seaweed everywhere (except for the area near Amorita).
As we walked further, we heard the familiar (to Filipinos) sound of the Balut Man, who periodically yells BALUUUUUUUUUT!!!! Carissa then challenged me to face the grossest food that the Philippines is known for (as seen on Fear Factor). I always used to make jokes about it and generally talked tough about balut for years. I would love tell non-Filipinos about it in order to see their mortified reactions when in actuality, I've never even tried it. Every time I was in the Philippines I couldn't even find the Balut Man--or maybe I just wasn't trying hard enough--until now.
We paid 15 pesos (less than 50 Singapore cents) for the balut but Carissa seemed to think that was still overpriced. How is the Balut Man supposed to make a living?? If at this point you're still wondering what balut is, just watch the video--you'll see soon enough.
Now I've tried alive-a-few-seconds-ago but now chopped-up-and-still-moving octopus and braised silkworm pupae in Korea. I've eaten grasshoppers, beetles, and spiders from a Cambodian restaurant (and I'll probably post those videos here eventually), yet nothing could prepare me for the horror that is balut. Sure, call me a sissy. Say I'm not a real Filipino. I just couldn't bring myself to stick the whole baby duck in my mouth... even I have my limits. Sorry if I disappointed anyone out there... (click here for Round 2 of Reuben vs. Balut)
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