The life of a chef is no walk in the park. As much as I enjoy the creative aspect of the job and developing new recipes, there are many days when my stress levels are off the charts. Running a food business has its highs and lows. While it may be rewarding, it involves a lot of problem-solving, putting out fires, and dealing with setbacks.
After 3 weeks in a row without taking a day off from work, I was burned out and felt uninspired. I needed to slow down and take a short break from all the chaos and responsibilities.
Unlike people who drink and go to bars to unwind, my version of relaxing and having fun is to go on nature trips. There’s something about being surrounded by trees, mountains and flowers that nourishes the soul.
As the famous spiritual author Eckhart Tolle once wrote: “We depend on nature not only for our physical survival. We also need nature to show us the way home, the way out of the prison of our own minds.”
I decided to do some research on where my next outdoor adventure should be. After reading a few local travel blogs, I discovered that Loboc River in Bohol is one of the best locations in the Philippines for stand-up paddle boarding, also known as SUP.
If you haven’t heard of this water sport before, it’s a cross between surfing and kayaking. SUP may seem intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, the activity is actually quite relaxing. It’s also a fun way to burn calories and get fit.
Since I didn’t own a board, I booked a guided excursion with SUP TOURS, the pioneer of SUP touring around the Philippines. Their half-day package included resort transfers, a qualified guide, board rental and lunch by the river.
For accommodations in Bohol, I chose to stay at the Loboc River Resort for its affordable room rates and impeccable location along the river. It may not be a 5-star hotel, but it was beautiful nonetheless. I love how the charming resort was built around nature, with lots of trees and sprawling gardens. It had a nice pool and a view deck facing the river.
I was very happy with the forest view room I got. It was spacious, immaculately clean and had its own balcony.
The resort also had a lovely restaurant overlooking the river called Venia’s Kitchen. While it served mostly Filipino food, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the menu included a variety of healthy dishes.
For lunch I ordered a grilled blue marlin fillet with a side of adobong kangkong. The fish was tasty and perfectly grilled, and I washed it down with a refreshing pineapple malunggay shake.
For dinner, I tried a Boholano dish called law-oy, a mixed organic vegetable soup of squash, malunggay, eggplant, okra and string beans. Delicious!
On my first day at the resort, I decided to take it easy. I got a massage, roamed the grounds, and simply enjoyed the lush greenery. Right before sunset, I rented a kayak for an hour and leisurely paddled along the placid river.
The next day I fueled up with a hearty breakfast before the much-anticipated SUP tour. I ordered crispy danggit , which came with scrambled eggs, garlic rice, brewed coffee, fresh mangoes. and a side of pancakes. It was beautifully plated and definitely hit the spot. I couldn’t believe a meal this sumptuous was complimentary.
At 7:30 am, I got picked up by the outfitter’s driver and dropped off at Fox and Firefly Cottages, a rustic resort operated by SUP TOURS. I was welcomed by the owner, a Tagalog-speaking Belgian named Frederic, who gave me a waiver to sign. After I paid the package fee, I was introduced to my chatty and highly entertaining tour guide, Troy.
Since I was already familiar with the basics of SUP, I opted to skip the introduction course. I hopped on the board with confidence and started paddling away. And it was at that exact moment that I knew I had left my troubles behind.
As I paddled through the calm and milky green water, I felt my anxieties melt away. I heard the chirping of exotic birds and the leaves rustling in the wind. My mind quieted, and all I could think of was absolutely nothing. I was present, aware, and just grateful to be under the bright blue sky.
We passed through an endless canopy of trees, unique aquatic plants, mangroves and a crystal clear fresh water spring. For the grand finale, we stopped by a majestic waterfall. The whole SUP experience was breathtaking and nothing short of amazing.
After 4 hours of strenuous activity, I was famished. So you can just imagine the joy I felt when I came back Fox and Firefly and was greeted with a mouthwatering feast. The healthy spread consisted of coconut water in a shell, munggo soup with malunggay, beef afritada, steamed rice, and a fresh fruit platter.
I left Bohol with a smile of contentment and gratitude in my heart. The two days I invested in my spiritual and physical health were worth every penny. I couldn’t agree more with the saying that “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” I felt empowered, rejuvenated, and ready to face the new challenges ahead.
Here are some travel tips to consider before joining the SUP Tours in Bohol:
- Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast that’s high in protein and complex carbs for a long-lasting energy boost.
- Wear a cap. You will be paddling under the hot sun for hours at a time.
- Drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration. The tour guide brings a cooler with bottled water inside.
- Wear sunscreen with high SPF to protect your skin.
- For females, wear a rash guard. You might encounter some people along the way who act like they’ve never seen a woman in a bikini before. I learned this the hard way.
- Bring a waterproof camera or a waterproof case for your phone, with a small backpack or belt bag.
- Stretch before venturing out to avoid muscle cramping and injuries.
- If you fall, don’t get embarrassed. Just laugh it off. You’ll be happy you fell in because of the heat.
Have fun! – Rappler.com
Barni Alejandro-Rennebeck is co-owner of the diet/healthy meal delivery service The Sexy Chef and also a best-selling author of a healthy lifestyle cookbook with the same name. To learn more about their offerings, visitthesexychef.ph, follow Twitter @thesexychefph and IG @thesexychef.
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