A Travellerspoint blog

January 2014

2013 DEC PHILIPPINES - EL NIDO - LAZY DAYS XMAS AND NEW YEAR

RELAXING BECOMES THE NORM AS WE DO NOTHING IN EL NIDO, WE END THE YEAR QUIETLY.

Tuesday 24rd December 2013 (day 115)

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Breakfast of bacon, egg and toasted bread from a little restaurant in the street behind our guesthouse called Squidos. Not a huge meal but it had all the elements mentioned and at a cost of P90 = $2.40 a tasty bargain. Complimented with a banana shake for P70 = $1.85 for me, and hot tea at P25 = 65c for Lyn, we knew this place was to become a regular breakfast haunt.

Rest of the day was pretty much doing nothing. Amazing how you can fill in the day doing nothing! Amazing how fast the day goes doing nothing!

It's pretty hot here during the day, but not unbearable. It was also a little cloudy and spits of rain fall sporadically throughout the day.

Lyn and I did walk to the next beach around the bay today. It was a little calmer than our beach out front. Lyn went for a swim but I held off still wanting to keep my foot dry and doctors orders not to swim for a few days. Every day it gets better.large_AF1C72032219AC6817AE7EF8AD29EAAB.jpg

Luckily we have a fan to sleep with at night. Power is only on in El Nido from 2pm to 6am everyday. Some businesses have their own generators - most don't. Funny, some of the restaurants and juice shake shacks turn on the generator only when they want to use the blender to mix up drinks.

This afternoon it bucketed down with rain so heavy the islands out in our bay became invisible! But the sky cleared again for us to go out for dinner.

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Last night after Lyn and I had retired to our room Patrick went out and came across a night market that was selling food so that is where we ate tonight. Food is cheap, Lyn and I both ate for P270 = $7.10 we had a fish and squid with rice. There are several different food stalls basically selling the same thing. They all have fish, I guess the catch of the day, they all have chicken, and they all have pork. They all serve all meals with rice, and that's about it! It's basic, cheap and good enough for us and half of El Nido who filled the streets this Christmas Eve.
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Wednesday 25th December 2013 (day 116)

Merry Christmas!!

Patrick came knocking on our door early this morning bearing gifts. He gave Lyn & I coffee cups! And you know what, they are one of the most useful and wanted christmas gift I have ever received. We always travel with a kettle to boil water for coffee and tea but we did not have any cups, so it was a very thoughtful present to receive indeed. Thanks Pat!

Breakfast at Squidos same as yesterday!

Relax all day. Blue sky and sunny.

Afternoon amongst the 3 of us we managed to polish off almost 3 bottles of Boracay coconut flavoured rum. Unreal that these cost P100 = $2.65 each and the mixer 1 litre bottle of coke is P55 = $1.45. We even managed to buy some ice for P5 = 13c, but had to drink fast as the ice was melting fast. So we had a bit of a merry christmas!

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Happy hour drew us downstairs for a couple of beers and Lyn & I shared a huge burger. What a view! Feet in the sand we spent the rest of the afternoon here and stayed for dinner also.
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Another Christmas down the drain but what a way to spend it.

Thursday 26th December 2013 (day 117)

Breakfast at Squidos, starting to see a pattern here.

Rest of the day flew by doing nothing, another pattern?

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Friday 27th December 2013 (day 118)

Breakfast at Squidos as usual.

Weather is looking very crappy today, been raining most of the morning which would not usually be a problem except for the fact that Lyn and Patrick are leaving today to take the motor bikes back to Puerto Princesa 275km. Patrick is flying back to Thailand tomorrow out of Puerto Princesa via Manila and both bikes have to be back on the 28th. I am going to stay here in El Nido because there was no point in me going back also as we plan to spend more time here. Lyn will ride down with Pat and stay the night and then come back up here on the bus.

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Due to the first part of the road being total shit and the distance they are leaving a day early incase they have any problems with the bikes. They had delayed departure until 2pm hoping the rain would stop or at least ease off, but of course today it has been and still is as they ride away a constant down pour. They are both sopping wet before they are even out of my eye sight.
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Ironically, the rain stops about 30minutes after their departure but I was to hear from them later on that it followed them all the way south for the rest of their journey that day. They stopped overnight in Roxas which is about half way and although exhausted and sopping wet they were happy they did leave a day early as Patrick got a flat which delayed them and had it been the day of his flight may have been disastrous.

My time spent alone was watching a tiny boat being totally destroyed by crashing waves and another smaller boat being bashed into by the rough seas. By the end of the day the boat was almost totally filled with sand and submersed in the water.

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I went to the night market for dinner and had some pork on a stick - of course with rice!

Saturday 28th December 2013 (day 119)

Breakfast at Squidos alone!

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Relax all day. Blue skies and sunny. Few rain showers during the day.

Heard from Lyn that Patrick got flight ok, she was spending night in PP and would be on the bus at about 9 tomorrow. Bus takes about 6-7 hours so she will be back here in the afternoon.

Dinner at night market for me, chicken, of course with rice.

Sunday 29th December 2013 (day 120)

Breakfast at Squidos - alone. Yesterdays boat almost completely buried in the sand now.

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Weather same as yesterday, sunny, blue sky, little clouds, couple of rain showers.

I went for a short walk to the beach just before El Nido, but it was not much. I've still not gone in the water, really want my foot to be completely healed before I get into it again.

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Lyn arrived late afternoon.

We had dinner here at OG's. Mixed seafood kare kare, bit like a seafood stew - very yummy, comes served in a clay pot - of course with rice.

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Monday 30th December 2013 (day 121)

Breakfast at Squidos - as usual. We have the same thing everyday but still they go through the motions of giving us a menu and taking our order. You would think by now... although I did at some stage switch from banana shake to mango shake but this was the 2nd or 3rd day.

Much the same as yesterday, we did bugger all.

The day after we arrived here in El Nido I did a quick round of the hotels to find books for us to read. This is no easy task, finding books is not so hard but finding books in English is very difficult. Almost all the accommodations have some kind of shelf or pile of books but most of them as I found were in Russian or German. I did manage to get a couple but its almost time to do the rounds again as we have been spending most of our days relaxing and reading.

Lyn is not feeling the best, has a bit of a blockage problem has has put her off her food.

I had takeaway chicken from the night market, of course with rice.

Tuesday 31st December 2014 (day 122)

New Years Eve!!

Breakfast at Squidos - same same.

Had a very quiet day today. Purchased 2 bottles of rum in anticipation of tonight but with Lyn off sorts it was a fizzer. We had a really quiet night.

We may have had a quiet one, but El Nido did not. Of course the beach and all it's restaurants were packed. Fireworks were being let off sporadically during the night leading up to midnight when 10 minutes before until 15 minutes after the skies around the beach were lit up by a magnificent display of continuous fireworks. I kid you not this was a display to rival the show they put on in Brisbane city to welcome in the new year. However, here the fireworks were purchased by all an sundry. For the lead up to christmas and new year fireworks have been for sale on the road side. And I'm not just talking little bangers and hand held fire crackers, these were the real deal that went off with a thunderous thud that shook your chest cavity and exploded high in the air into a million stars of assorted colours. It was great!!

Unfortunately, for Lyn she slept through it all and so ends 2013!

Posted by Cindy Bruin 08:21 Archived in Philippines Comments (1)

UGONG ROCK CLIMB AND SUPERMAN ZIPLINE, THEN NORTH TO EL NIDO

STUCK ANOTHER DAY IN SABANG WE VENTURE OUT TO FIND SOME EXCITEMENT IN THE FORM OF ADVENTURE. THEN LONG DAY RIDE FROM SABANG NORTH APPROX 200KM TO TAY TAY & THEN ON TO EL NIDO.

Saturday 21st December 2013 (day 112)

We were thinking about moving on today, but had a bit of a problem with Patricks motor bike. He had contentiously put on the steering lock as advised by the hire guy, but now could not get it unlocked. A couple of helpful locals tried to assist but no one could get it to budge. They ended up phoning the hire guy who must have told them to do what they could to get it unlocked. When Patrick spoke to him he said Pat should go back to Puerto in bus/van and collect another bike. This was not really an option that Pat was interested in besides the cost of the bus/van he was not interested in travelling back to Puerto and then having to ride back here to Sabang again. He told the guy to bring the new bike to him. Yeah right this was not going to happen either.

Finally after whatever some mechanic guy did the steering come loose and the bike was ridable again. However, by this time it was after lunchtime so we decided to stay another night in Sabang, much to the delight of the hotel owner. Like I said I don't think many people come and stay here overnight and even fewer would stay more than one night.

Having exhausted the main sight yesterday, we decided to ride back out on the road we came in on to Ugong Rock. I had read there was a zip line there!!! Turns out that you actually climb up the inside of the rock to the top and then have a choice of 2 zip lines to get back down again. This was so cool, climbing through caves up the middle of one of these huge limestone karsts was amazing. Some of the spaces we had to squeeze through were a bit of a worry but we did make it to the top which gave us a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and rice paddies. It cost P200 = $5.30 to climb up and then P350 = $9.20 to zip down. There was a choice of a sitting zip line which they claimed was the fastest zip line in Asia. I reckon the only reason this was the fastest was because it was the steepest and again I had visions of not stopping until I had nose dived into the earth below. The other one, and the one we all chose, was the superman zip line. I liked this one because instead of being upright it was a lay down position (much like a flying Superman, hence the name). This was the same position as the one we did in Bohol and it's just different to the previous zip lining I have done. Anyway all that did not stop me from screaming all the way down and having a mini heart attack just before reaching the end of the line in a panic that I was not going to stop. It was great fun!

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We rode back to town and I had bit of a relax with my foot up. Lyn and Patrick went for a late afternoon swim before we had dinner and a quiet evening except for the music that blared again until the wee hours of the morning.

Sunday 22nd December 2013 (day 113)

Today we did manage to depart Sabang. It was a big day on the bikes riding all the way up the north of the island to Tay Tay.

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Twice during the day we were caught in pouring down rain but it only lasted a few minutes and we were dry again before we knew it as soon as the sun came out again.

Riding through a little crossroads which had a few shops I spied an ice cream vendor and we stopped and had an ice cream cone. These cones are a real bargain at only P10 = 26c for 3 flavours which we found out later are mango, taro & cheese. Yes I kid you not, cheese flavoured ice cream. But to tell you the truth all the flavours just taste like cold sweet stuff - not offensive or spectacularly delicious, but yummy enough. And the break from sitting on the bike for 10 minutes was good too.

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We stopped at Roxas - 2nd biggest town on Palawan - which was a grotty unwelcoming looking place. There is nothing for tourists here except the promise of an ATM machine. This machine was located in the bank in the Main Street and was covered in plastic saying it was out of operation and apologised for the inconvenience. Shit! I say shit because the only other ATM on the island is located in Puerto which was now about 150km away and guess what - we were out of cash!!

Saving the day Lyn remembered she was carrying some Australian dollars cash with her so we took this to the money changer who promptly advised she could not give me the exchange rate for Australian dollars because they did not exchange Australian dollars, only US dollars. Double shit!!
Lucky for us there was another money changer in the town that was happy to exchange our AUD for local currency so we were again cashed up and on our way.

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We rode into Tay Tay around 5pm, as El Nido (our final destination) was another 70km away on a road we had heard was not the best so we decided to stay the night here. Patrick found us nice bungalow accommodation at Pems hotel for P600 = $15.80, although he should have looked at both bungalows before agreeing to stay here as his was a bit sub standard. Ours was basic too, just a couple of beds and of course cold shower. In case you have not noticed cold showers are pretty norm here in Philippines unless you are staying in an expensive hotel. When staying in budget places the best you can hope for is a fan to keep you cool at night (during the day there is no power anyway) and a cold shower. Some times there is a shower head, some times it even works, otherwise it's a bucket shower job.

We had very tasty dinner at Pems hotel with an assortment of sizzling dishes which fed all 3 of us with a few beers for P785 = $20.65.

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Monday 23rd December 2013 (day 114)

After a breakfast of toast and jam at Pems, it was time for us to hit the road and tackle the 75km to El Nido. This is the stretch where we were advised the road was not the best and this was not by any means an understatement.

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Although some of it was sealed - actually more than I had expected - the rest was dirt, rocky and very bloody uncomfortable to ride on. And of course much slower going. Just when we thought we would be shaken to pieces we would be lulled into a false sense of easy riding by a half or sometimes even a full kilometre of sealed cement road.

It was exhausting for me trying not to be bounced off the back, god knows how draining it was for Lyn trying to keep us both upright on the bike in these terrible conditions. Even worse was the fact that most of the time the road was only one lane due to the fact there were road works on the other lane that was closed off to traffic. So you had to be aware of oncoming traffic also. And this was the national highway so all traffic to and front El Nido was using this incredibly inadequate road.

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We finally reached the little township - hamlet almost - of El Nido and all I saw was paradise. Perhaps I was blinded by the dust and grim kicked up from the road or just the pure joy of not having to go any further on that incredibly uncomfortable bike seat on that incredibly war torn like road, but it looked like a lovely spot to me. The look on Patricks face told the story of what he thought of the place. A complete SHIT HOLE that was reached by an ridiculously undeveloped SHIT HOLE of a road. I'm afraid Pat is a new comer to travelling and still expects places to look exactly like the pictures in travel brochures and associated propaganda advertising. White sandy beaches with crystal clear water. Welcome to the real world these photos are taken in extremely fantastic conditions and then the picture is photo shopped to within an inch of the truth just like a supermodel on a magazine cover. It rarely looks like the pictures!!! In all my travels I have only ever been to one place in the world that was a facsimile of the postcard, so my expectations of most places are appreciate what it really looks like and don't always believe the advertising.

Anyway this was the end of the line so we were going to be here for a few days so we needed to find a place to stay. Being just a few days away from Christmas and New Year proved that most places were booked up. We really wanted to stay along the beach front so we could at least enjoy the view. No point in being here and stuck with a view of a street or building. I did the rounds up and down the beach and then gave up, sitting down on the beach to have a drink, finding nothing really. The only places I found with an available room were over $100 a night, that's why they were still available I guess. Patrick ended up coming to the rescue and finding a good place directly on the beach/waters edge. Fan room with 2 beds for Lyn and I for P900 = $23.70 per night and a room next to ours for him for P700 = $18.45. Well done, I must admit when it came to finding rooms Pat has done pretty good. So our home for the next week or so is OG's guesthouse! And there is no cold shower, only because there is no shower, it's cold bucket washing for us - man such luxury!!

We sat in OG's restaurant watching the sunset colours behind the huge karst mountains surrounding us. You cannot actually see the sunsetting because it's behind these mountains. But we sat in the beach restaurant with our feet in the sand drinking happy hour beers. Happy hour is from 2pm to 7pm - San Miguel Lite P40 = $1.05 (usually P55 = $1.45).

For dinner we found a stall on the street that was selling Lechon (roast pig) for P480 per kilo and we bought 1/2 kilo at P240 = $6.30 and some bread rolls from the bakery for P20 = 53c each and that was dinner. Even managed to find some instant gravy that we were able to boil water for and mix up. Great dinner - welcome to El Nido.

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BTW the one place in the world that I have been that looks like the postcards is Lake Banff in Canada. Picture postcard perfect. I would love to hear from anyone else who has visited any places that are exactly the same as the picture in the travel brochure or postcard.
Please comment on here.
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Posted by Cindy Bruin 09:17 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

UNDERGROUND RIVER - SABANG

THE WEATHER WAS NOT LOOKING THE BEST BUT WE BRAVED THE ROUGH SEA TO VISIT THE UNDERGROUND RIVER.

Friday 20th December 2013 (day 111)

After breakfast we decided to go and register for the trip to the underground river. The car park was just about chocka block full of minivans filled with day trippers from Puerto. We took our permits which we purchased in Puerto and our passports for proof of ID and had to pay another P40 = $1.05 environmental tax. After we registered we were told to go and line up for a boat to take us to the river.
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Deal is, a bangka boat ferries you about 2km north up the coast to a beach where the underground river meets the ocean. There are no roads to this place, the only option you have is to take a boat. These boats carry 6 passengers and cost P700 = $18.50 for the whole boat. When we got to the head of the line to put our name on the list for a boat, we asked if we could share a boat. Surely there would be other people who were not in multiples of 6 who would be willing to share. Lucky enough there was and we were advised we would be tacked on to a large tour group who happened to have 3 spare places. We just had to wait about 30 minutes until it was their turn to load into boats. This was fine with us because our permit actually said 2.30pm so if we could go earlier that was fine with us.

It was very busy with boats constantly being loaded and unloaded. Actually getting onto the boat was very tricky. The boat was brought up to a cement slab and held in place by a couple of crew men in the water, physically holding the boat. The slab was awash with water with every incoming wave, which by the way were no little ripples. These waves were big enough to cause the boat to rise and fall half to a meter with each swell. Of course assistance was given in the form of another couple of crew men who would hold your hand and another was there to pull you aboard. In any other place but Asia this would have been considered too dangerous an option for boarding a vessel. But this is Asia, so as per usual most of the safety regulations that would apply elsewhere are not considered here. There is probably a very good chance that no one has ever been hurt, or even washed away, but it just looks really dodgy.

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I managed to get on the boat literally with a hop, skip and a jump, timed between waves as I really did not want to get my sore foot and its dressings wet. It took about 15 minutes for us to reach the beach where we had to get out, crossing the short distance in some rather large waves. So much for wanting to keep my bandages dry, there was no cement slab at this end. The boat just pushed into the beach as close as was possible where we were expected to get out into the water and then struggle onto the beach. I had no option, I had to get out into the about knee deep water and somehow managed to hop ashore keeping my foot in the air and using Lyn as a crutch to lean on. This was no mean feat as we also had to do this with great haste so as not to get caught in the incoming breaking waves. My foot remained relatively dry and gave a few people including us a good laugh.

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Again we were registered and placed in a line up for the little boats that would take us into the cave that housed the the underground river. We were registered with the large tour group that we shared the bangka with so just had to keep an eye out for when they were called. It took about an hour of waiting around. There were monkeys here that everyone had been warned about and there were also signs everywhere reminding people to be aware of the monkeys. They were very aggressive and obviously were used to being fed so any bag left unchecked or just sitting quietly on anyones back would be ransacked by these cheeky critters. Can hardly blame them, unfortunately they have gotten used to being fed by previous visitors and now associate humans with free food. There was a big sign and we were told before we left that under no circumstances were we to bring anything in a plastic bag as the monkeys recognise the sound of plastic and will attack to get at it. There were also a few giant monitor lizards to have a look at while waiting our turn.

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Finally we were called and we were put into a narrow row boat that sat about 16 people. The cost of this boat trip was included in with the permit fee that we paid at the beginning. The tour was about 40 minutes and took us about 3km into the cave which was pitch black. Our boatman was guide, commentator and comedian trying to point out different aspects of the cave which were spotlighted by the passenger in the front seat. Turns out this person was either a nervous wreak or did not understand the guide telling them what to point at. We ended up getting a disco view version of the sights of the cave as this idiot waved the spotlight around like a strobe light. Still it was pretty cool and interesting. I did like one particular piece of information that the guide told us, he advised that the water dripping down from the ceiling is water being filtered through the limestone and adding to the water in the river. He also mentioned that if we do happen to look up that we should keep our mouths closed, as not only water might be dropping from the ceiling as there was a good chance it could be bat shit. As he said this there was an audible shutting of all mouths onboard.

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Just as we emerged again from the entrance of the cave into the daylight it started to pour down rain. Our boat and a couple in front of us lingered, but it was not going to let up in a hurry so they rowed us back out into the rain and where we had boarded the boat.

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The guide was very kind after I told him I did not want to get my foot wet (silly really at it was drenched from the rain downpour)he told me to wait until everyone had stepped out of the boat and then moved it closer to the sand so I could step out and not get it wet. I should not have bothered because guess how we had to get back onto the bangka to get back to Sabang. Yes via the water. With the rain and a little more wind the waves where now crashing onto the beach and there was no way possible for me to get into the boat with out getting half my body wet, never mind trying to keep just me foot dry.

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Waves were a little bigger on the way back and my main concern was the thought that we had to get out the same way we got in, via the cement slab. There was a line up of bangkas trying to unload and when it was our turn, no longer concerned with keeping my foot dry I was more concerned with stepping off the boat and not being washed away by an incoming wave. All went well, no one was washed away and no one was hurt. They do this everyday many times, but still - only in Asia would it be like this.

After I cleaned and re-dressed by foot it was time to put it up, so the rest of the day was relaxing.

Lyn & I had a mudcrab for dinner, first one we have seen here in Philippines. It cost P400 = $10.50 and was small by Australian standards but tasted pretty good all the same.

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Seems it's the towns christmas party tonight. The main square where the bangkas load passengers to take them to the underground river was now filling up with tables and chairs from all around. Food, drinks and people were pouring into the area. And of course there was a very loud DJ who played music well, well, well into the night. Not sure why these local people are listening to pop music at full volume all night, but I guess having to listen to christmas carols at that volume until 3am would have been worse.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 09:09 Archived in Philippines Comments (2)

GOODBYE BOHOL AND CEBU, HELLO PALAWAN!

WE FLY NORTH TO THE MOST WESTERN ISLAND OF THE PHILIPPINES, NOT REALISING HOW DIFFERENT THEY CAN BE.

Tuesday 17th December 2013 (day 108)

Up and at breakfast by 7.30am I must admit I was surprised that Patrick had already arrived from the beach side accommodation. I thought for sure with no one there to wake him up we would be in a panic that we would miss the ferry with him not having showed yet. Turned out he had not yet been to bed, so slept in the most of the transport we traveled in today.

Mike came to check bikes and Jay the hotel owner drove us to the ferry pier. Again another smooth crossing and on the Cebu side we had a little moment finding a taxi that would use the meter. Found out why as soon as we arrived at the airport and the meter was only P220 = $5.50, which was somewhat less than the P475 = $12 we paid to get there a week ago.

Again we were at the airport early and again our flight was delayed. When I originally booked the flight was departing at 3.15pm, we received email stating this had changed to 2pm which suited us better as less time to wait. However at the airport it we were advised it was delayed until 3.15 and did not actually leave until 3.30pm. One thing about these cheap flights here in Philippines you definitely have to keep on checking them. We learnt that from our last trip here a few years ago when flight times were changed with no notification.
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The flight from Cebu to Puerto Princesa, Palawan was only 1 hour.

There were a hoard of trike drivers at the airport all yelling at the fresh disembarked passengers coming out of the terminal. I had not pre-booked accommodation so we just needed to be taken into the centre, which we kinda were - near a hotel. Standard price for trike P50 = $1.25. Because of our luggage Pat opted to take a trike of his own, I think he is a little wary of these squishy transport vehicles.

It was almost dark so we just took rooms at the hotel where the drivers dropped us, luckily because we were procrastinating the drivers left and our room price dropped from P1500 = $37.50 to P1300 = $32.50. I guess this P200 = $5 would have been the commission the hotel would have paid the trike had we taken the room while they were still hanging around. Room was with air con, hot shower and TV. We did not have hot shower in any accom in Bohol so this was a real treat.

After we checked in we went out walking into the centre and had chicken and rice at a local eatery.
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It had been a long day travelling so after dinner we returned to our hotel to relax a little and watch some TV in the aircon.

Wednesday 18th December 2013 (day 109)

Breakfast was included with our hotel room, however when we went down stairs to have it our only option was rice - they seemed to be out of bread. Not happy as rice first up in the morning is not an option for me I went and spoke to the very helpful receptionist who soon had them out buying some bread for us. I hate to be a bother but cannot do rice three meals a day and first thing in morning is definitely a no go.

Mission for today was to find a doctor and get my foot sorted. Back when we were in Pattaya, Thailand (almost 2 weeks ago) I managed to get a small blister on my left foot from my footwear (thongs) and this has now become infected. I think the infection is caused by swimming in the ocean with an open wound as it's the exact same thing that happened to me on a previous trip to Vietnam. Anyway my foot is septic, blown up like a football and unlike last time the wound is painful.

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Last night we stopped at a pharmacy hoping to be able to purchase antibiotics over the counter but that was not possible here without a prescription. We asked our hotel receptionist where we could find a doctor and she advised we should just go to the emergency ward at the hospital.

So off Lyn (she had nothing better to do than come along with me) and I head in a trike to the hospital which was just 5 minutes down the road. Wow what an experience that was, not that anything bad happened, but what an eye opener going to a hospital a third world country is. We just don't realise how lucky we are to have the facilities we do in our home countries. And that hospital smell we have at home, well these places can only dream of that clinical smell and standard of hygiene that we have. Yep we are very lucky. Anyway I was led into the emergency room and surrounded by about 6 very young, eager looking, face masked, white uniformed student nurses. I knew they were students because they told me. They asked me questions about my wound and then there seemed to be a bit of a squabble to sort out who was going to take my blood pressure. A smiley eyed (couldn't actually see her smile under the face mask) young girl won the honour of performing the blood pressure ritual on me. As I watched her pumping up the band around my left arm another set of smiling eyes was lifting my right arm to slot in a temperature gauge. Both were normal. I was advised the doctor would be along shortly.

5 minutes later the doctor did show, at least I think it was the doctor as she did not speak to me at all. Just some older woman who stuck her head inside the scrum of students surrounding me and spoke to them in Philippino. One of the students answered her queries and relayed back to her in English the answers to the questions they had asked me earlier about the wound. Again the woman spoke in Philippino then withdrew her head from the scrum without even making eye contact with me or my gross looking wound.

There was another little tussle between the students and I soon realised it was a fight to see who would clean and dress the wound. The winner having very smiley eyes like she'd won the lottery and it was an honour to perform this disgusting task. I must admit this was the last thing I would ever fight over to do, as the wound was weepy, pussy and really gross! I was received to see her don clean rubber gloves and the instruments used to clean my would all came out of a stainless steel sterilisation unit on the bench nearby. Swabs and bandages also were freshly open sterile packets.

So freshly cleaned and dressed, I awaited further instructions or a prescription for antibiotics. But sadly was told by yet another student that the doctor said they could do nothing for me here as the infection was too advanced and I would need to see a surgeon as it may need to be cut! Their words. Someone scribbled on a piece of paper the name of a medical clinic where I could find this other doctor. I'm sure something was lost in translation as I was sure that nothing needed to be cut!!

Outside the hospital we climbed into another trike which drove us five minutes up the road to the medical clinic. This place looked a little more, how should I put it.., western like. I found the reception and told the lady I wanted to see a doctor. She asked me what for and I lifted my swollen, bandaged foot in the air for her to see. She told us to take a seat and went off down the hall, coming back to advise we would have to wait 30 minutes to see a doctor. This was fine.

Being Christmas time the clinic was decorated with an assortment of Christmas cheer. A very apt and clever idea was a Christmas tree decorated with tiny pill bottles and empty syringes filled with colourful pills and capsules. A bit scary though was the nativity scene under the tree included a soldier figure complete with automatic weapon.

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Before being shown in to see the doctor, his receptionist took my blood pressure and weighed me. The doctor I got to see did not introduce himself and was not very amused or really all that interested in me. I noticed when entering his cubical I had interrupted his internet time as his laptop was open to a Facebook page. He was professional enough and since he was listed as the diabetes doctor after inquiring about my wound the first thing he asked was when was the last time my sugar levels were checked. He looked nothing short of horrified when I said, um never. So before any further consultation I was ushered out and down the hall for a blood test. I had to pay for this in advance P310 = $7.75. The results took less than an hour and came back all good and normal.

Perhaps this disappointed the diabetes' doctor as he then with a very heavy hand did a more thorough job of cleaning my wound than the lovely smiley eyes had done at the hospital. He confirmed the foot was indeed infected but I was glad there would not be any cutting necessary, although a lot of pushing out the puss was necessary. Unsympathetic to my pain he had a good old dig around with a swab and some peroxide.

He wrote me out a prescription for some antibiotics (at last), told me to keep it clean and covered - adding the Philippines is a fly blown country and not to leave an open would uncovered. Suggested I rest it up as much as possible and no swimming for a least 4 days. Sorted!

We took a trike back to the hotel where I spent the rest of the day with my foot elevated, sitting in our air conditioned room watching tv.

Lyn met up with Pat and had a bit of a wander around town while I rested.

We all went out for dinner to a famous place called Kinabuch, famous in Puerto Princesa, that I had read about on the internet. Specialities of the house are sizzling crocodile and wood worm. We also had a squid dish and Pat ordered a goat meat dish. The food was indeed very nice, although we all tried the deed fried wood worm I noticed it was the only plate not empty at the end.
This was a pretty expensive meal for us, flashiest place we have eaten in Philippines. Meals and a few beers cost a total of P1320 = $35 for the 3 of us.

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BTW the wood worm tasted a little like oyster but it's hard to get over the worm like appearance.

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Hot shower back at hotel, have feeling this will not be the norm.

Thursday 19th December 2013 (day 110)

Yesterday while I was resting my foot, Lyn and Patrick were out and about and organised a couple of motorbikes for us to hire so we can explore Palawan on our own. P500 = $13 per day per bike.

Imagine my disbelief when I discover the bike they have hired for Lyn and I to travel on is a small 50cc scooter. I thought there is no way in hell this underpowered bike is going to be able to carry the both of us and our bag. I was very sceptical. And knowing that me being the passenger, the hills that this bike was not going to make it up, I was going to be walking up with my supposed to be resting dodgy foot.

We went for a test run around the town and although it seemed to be able to carry us both I was still not convinced as the town was flat.

We rode out to get our permits for the underground river we wanted to visit in Sabang tomorrow. These permits were P250 = $6.50 each and must be purchased here in Puerto, not available anywhere near the river.

Back at the hotel reception they phoned the bike hire guy to see if we could perhaps get a bigger bike. Of course no other bike was available and of course he was not willing to refund our paid in cash rental money so we could try another hire place. He explained he may have another bike available tomorrow but we would have to wait until then to see. Lyn spoke to the guy and he seemed ok with us overloading his little bike when she explained where we wanted to take it. We really did want to get away from the city today and were booked in for our river permits tomorrow so it was decided we would go for it.

I must admit we left town, Lyn, I and our 1 big bag (we left rest of our luggage stored at hotel) against my better judgement. But Lyn felt comfortable riding the overladen bike so off we rode!

Sabang was 74km away, we left at 2pm arriving just after 4.30pm. The roads were not too bad, all sealed, and the scenery was jungle beautiful. Surprisingly, the little bike made it without me having to get off and walk at any stage, even though there were quite a few hills. The last half hour we rode in light rain, but at least it was warm. By the time of our arrival, we were all a little bum sore, but that was about it, besides my foot having ballooned up to the size of a football.

Sabang is a one street town with an assortment of accommodation lining the ok looking beach. It was late afternoon and not many people around. Just about the only reason for coming here is to visit the underground river and everybody usually does this in a day trip from Puerto Princesa. It's much much cheaper to do this independently by getting your own permit, like we did, and getting public transport or ride here, like we did.

Patrick found us a place to stay at the end of the street. Fan room with cold shower P800 = $21. Oh and there is only power here between 5pm and 5am. This power situation was the same for the whole town unless the business had a generator - not many did. Perhaps that is why most people only come for a day trip. Although there is a Sheraton hotel and another very posh place slotted between the other beach shacks. So if you want to pay $100 plus a night you can still have luxury, including continuous power and with a hot shower, unfortunately our budget does not cover such extravagances.

We ate at a beachside restaurant with a limited menu due to low supplies. After Bohol this place seems pretty primitive.

Lucky the weather is hot and humid so after a few breathtaking gasps and squeals the cold shower is refreshing. To say the least.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 08:15 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

BEACH TIME ON BOHOL

AFTER EXHAUSTING ALL THE SIGHTS WE HAVE A FEW DAYS R & R BY THE BEACH!

Saturday 14th December 13 (day 105)

Today we had a relax day today at the beach. We had breakfast on the beach at the beach cafe, which consisted of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich - best described as think of a ham and cheese toasted sandwich and it was nothing like that!! I'll say no more!! 3 in 1 coffee sachet is a pale comparison to any kind of coffee first up, but the best we are going to get here, so it was also had. And Lyn is loving the tea bag cuppa with powdered creamer, so it's not only me who is suffering a sub standard early morning beverage.

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The beach here is just steps away and the water is so clear it's incredible. And the sun is shining so what more could we ask for? Lazing away the day with intermittent dips into the ocean. The only down side being the water is not very deep, even after walking 50 meters in the level is still only thigh high. Beyond that there are rocks and in the rocks plenty of sea urchins are hiding from the locals less they be grabbed and eaten. However the water is still deep enough to crouch down or lay in to cool off. Palm trees line the beach so it looks so much like the tropical paradise that it is.

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During one of my water stops I was approached by Edward who asked if we would like to do a island hopping boat tour. He was in luck because actually we did want to do a island hopping boat tour tomorrow. He said he would take us for P2000 = $50, so we booked him for the morning.

Patrick was good enough to go out for a ride and a look around and brought us back a roast chicken and some sweet bread rolls to have for lunch. He's a good lad.

After our last swim for the day around sunset and a rinse off under our cold shower we decided to venture off into the main touristy part to have a look around. Mostly we needed to find an ATM machine to get some more cash to pay for our hotel tomorrow and also the boat trip we wanted to do tomorrow.

We rode the short distance in the dark to Alona Beach which is where most (all) of the western tourists stay. Needless to say it was horrid. Yeah the beach side bars and restaurants were on the beach but hassle from the staff trying to get to you to come sit in their restaurant was a real pain. And the beach was tiny. Our beach is small also but bigger than this and much nicer in my opinion without all the bother from touts trying to sell you food, drinks, boat trips, massage and souvenirs. We definitely made the right choice to stay in the area we are. However this was where the bank was so we needed to visit, but of course the ATM (all 4 of them) were offline and this being a Saturday we had a sneaky suspicion that they would remain this way until the staff came to work on Monday morning.

Luckily we still had enough cash to buy dinner which was spit roast pork, rice and a bbq cob of corn. Pat had chicken and rice and we all ate for under $15. Yumbo!

Riding back to our hotel at night in the dark was a bit chilly and since our air con was left on the room was like a refrigerator when we returned.

Lyn & I headed back to the beach side huts and managed to finish off the bottle of Boracay coconut rum. Sweet dreams tonight.

Sunday 15th December 2013 (day 106)

We had agreed to meet Edward for our island hopping boat tour at 9.30am this morning. He came and saw us while we were having breakfast and I tried to explain to him that we were unable to get money from the ATM so did not have any to pay him for a trip. Tried to explain that Lyn was going to go to Panglao village after breakfast and see if the machines were working this morning, but pretty sure he did not understand any of our dilemma as when he saw we had finished eating he asked if we were ready to go. Not until I said, WE HAVE NO MONEY TO PAY YOU, did he finally get it.

Anyway Lyn and Pat rode off to see if the machines were functioning, but we held little hope really as more than likely they will not be serviced until opening time Monday. Sure enough Lyn had returned within 30 minutes to advise they were still down, but that Patrick was riding into Tagbilaran city to use the ATM there. We had no cash left and still had to pay our rooms for last night, wanted to go on the boat trip and wanted to eat today at some stage.

He rode fast on his motor bike and was back within an hour - too fast to have made it back in this time. Good news was the machines were working and we were again cashed up.

I gave Edward the nod and he face lit up like a man who knew he was going to make a dollar today and not just sit around on the beach.

It was only just after 10.30am, so we still had plenty of time to enjoy a couple of hours boat trip. We had to walk a short distance down the beach to were the bancas (boats) are tied up away from where the public go swimming. This was not a problem, as was the climbing onto the banca from knee deep water not a problem either, as the water was relatively calm and perfectly crystal clear.

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I was amazed at how clear and beautiful the water looked as the boats' engine roared very noisily into life (much louder even than the deafening long tail boats in Thailand) and we motored into deeper water before turning to travel parallel to the beach. Being out further in the water gave us a marvellous view of our lovely beach which again looked like a tropical paradise from our view point on the banca.

It took almost a complete hour before we arrived at our first stop Balicasag Island. Goes to show you how deceiving photos can be, we had seen pictures of this island which looked like a sandy beach paradise. On arrival we were to discover that there was in fact no sand at all. We circumnavigated around the whole island via the gritty coral beach, which took less than an hour to walk at a leisurely pace. The stop at this island is mainly to go snorkelling, which entailed paying an extra fee for snorkel gear and a marine park entrance fee. Having seen, as we slowly motored into the island, that there was in fact no coral or fish to be seen in the water we were not really interested in going snorkelling. There was not even anywhere that looked nice enough to just go swimming. Ah the water was crystal clear but with all the dead coral on the ground it was murder on your feet trying to get in.

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After the lap of the island we sat and had a cool drink then told Edward we were happy to move on to the next island of our island hopping tour.

The next stop was Virgin Island, which looked more like a sand spit in the middle of the ocean. Also very picturesque, but unfortunately my camera battery died so only a few photos. We had a quick walk around, saw a sign which read that it was illegal to stop on or anywhere near the island - interesting as we were not the only ones stopping here. Actually the strip of sand was swarming with annoying vendors trying to sell us coconuts, shells and pearls, so I'm sure everyone stops here be it illegal or not.

So our island hopping over it was time to head back, but by now the wind had picked up a little and the waves had also. It felt like a battle for our little boat to plough through the large swell, lifting up and crashing down over the top of each big wave. It made for an exhilarating ride and we felt safe as long as Edward did not start to look panicked or start to cross himself (as in a religious way asking God for assistance).

Back at our beach it was a little more challenging to get off the banca compared to the easy embarkment of this morning. However we all seemed to make it ashore fairly dry and happy with our couple of hours on the water, it was now after 3pm. This little jaunt cost us P2000 =$50 for the boat, time was of no limit and we could have spent longer if we so wanted.

Glad to be back on our own sandy beach, first port of call was a swim in the sandy bottomed water in front of our resort. Beautiful day!

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For an early dinner we rode back to Panglao village to feast on pork and rice like last night - can't knock a good thing so I think we finished it off with a couple of Boracay rums.

Monday 16th December 2013 (day 107)

Lazy beach day today, although it was a little overcast and we didn't actually go for a swim. Just being by the beach is enough to relax and do nothing. Lyn and I checked out of our room and put our stuff in Pat's room as he is spending the last night here. We are going to ride back to town and stay at the Coconut Grove where we drop off bikes and get the free transfer to ferry in morning. We leave on 8.30am boat so did not want to have to get up so early to ride over in the morning.

We leave the beach at about 5 and it's almost dark when we arrive at the hotel an hour later. God knows how Pat did the cash run there and back in under an hour - he must have been flying.

We check in and they have given us a smaller room with only one bed - don't want to have another price argument. Turns out we had to change rooms anyway as the shower did not work, still one bed though.

For dinner Lyn and I rode into town to find food. With limited choices we ended up at Maccas where 2 burger, chips and drink meals that cost a total of P163 = $4 - try getting that anywhere else in the world at McDonalds.

Lyn wanted to get a haircut and last time we were here we saw a hairdressers advertising 'wash, cut & blow dry' for P49 = $1.25. Sounded too good to be true so we tried it. Sure enough that was the price, however when the guy first started to hack off Lyn's hair I thought yep this sure is a $1.25 hair cut. But the end result was surprisingly good, actually very good and she got a wash and blow dry as well. I didn't go as drastic as her, settling for a trim, wash and dry, but my god if I lived here I would never wash my own hair again. At that price I'd be in here every 2nd day just for a wash.

Before heading back to the hotel we went into Jolibee and had a celebration ice cream.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 07:45 Archived in Philippines Comments (1)

BOHOL TOURIST TRAIL

We visit the main tourists attractions Bohol has to offer and add a few thrills to Friday the 13th!

Friday 13th December 2013 (day 104)

We all had an enjoyable nights sleep at sea! Well we were surrounded by water, rice paddies being on each side of the ship. To our surprise breakfast was included in the price of our room, and eggs, toast and processed sausages had been cooked hours before for our convenience. Lol. Washed down with a cup of 3 in 1 sachet coffee what more could you ask for a Filipino western breakfast.

Last night at dinner we had shared the restaurant with the staff of the local CHAP - Chocolate Hills Adventure Park who encouraged us to come visit. So as the entrance was only P60 = $1.50 we thought we could afford it and have another view of the famous hills.

We were greeting with big smiles as the staff remembered us from the night before and we were guided by Roy up the pathway that led to the viewing platform. The park is still in the building mode so a lot of the attractions/adventures where still being built. However the view again was great (sorry Robyn not as good as the photos you sent me, but not bad just the same). We also had novelty photos taken, with the hills as a background, with us riding brooms like witches - P100 = $2.50 each. We promised to return when they had the zip line up and running - this could be years or next week.

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Back on the road we were heading south and just outside a town called Bilar we rode through the 'Manmade Forest'. I guess this meant man planted forest, it is a forest of mahogany trees that are now not supposed to be cut down, but are still poached and send overseas for wood for furniture.
We stopped for a photo as did every other car and motor vehicle that drove through here.

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Our next stop along the road was the Tarsier Sanctuary at Loboc. We paid our P60 = $1.50 entry fee and walked along a short forest path which lead to some conveniently placed little critters that were situated perfectly for photographing. At least they are not allowing the general public to handle this little tiny critters as they finally realised that they were getting too stressed out from all the hand holding. Especially since they are nocturnal also. We guessed they were probably put somewhere safe at night and taken out and put on a tree branch during the day where they just slept most of the time while being viewed by numerous tourists. Cute little buggers, they all look a bit like Yoda, surely George Lucas was influenced by the appearance of these little critters.

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"The Philippines Tarsier (tarsius syrichta) is one of the smallest primates in the world. Most active at night, their diet consists of insects. The animal is no larger the a grown mans hand.
The name tarsier was taken from its extremely long tarsus bone. Its hind limbs are twice as long as its body! Their 3rd finger has the same length as their upper arm. They are able to rotate their head 180 degrees to compensate for their immobile eyeballs. The 2nd & 3rd toes of their hind limbs bear claws instead of nails for grooming.
Tarsiers are the only entirely carnivorous primate in existence. They are amazing jumpers, able to jump 40 times more than its own height. Young tarsiers are born furred and with open eyes. They are able to climb within 1 day of birth."

We were really on the tourist trail today and our next stop was Sevilla. No we didn't do a quick 14 hour flight to Spain, just a 4 minute detour off the main road to the town of Sevilla to see the bamboo foot bridges that were strung across the Loboc River. Again a small entry fee of P20 = 50c, which hopefully as the sign says goes towards upkeep of the foot bridges. We had a quick stop and walked across one and back on the other. It was very hot and we had a quick break at the roadside stall with a cool drink before continuing on.

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Our next stop was at the Loboc Eco Adventure Park. Here we were able to have a great adventure and cross over a huge 500+ metre river ravine by zip line. This was a more than thrilling ride as we were strapped into a body harness before being flying across the 150 metre high ravine. It was a great fun ride until the very end when you realise the end of the line is coming and you are now traveling at great speed head first into the side of the hill. Of course there are rubber break stoppers that do shop you in time but what the eye sees and what the brain knows is going to happen to not stop the adrenaline from pumping! Returning the same way was just as thrilling. This heart starting, stopping and stimulating ride all for the price of P350 = $8.80 - what a blast!! There usually is the option of crossing the same valley via chair lift but due to power outage this was not running. Probably just as well as the zip lining was really the way to go, even if I did scream the place down.

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As we rode into Loboc town there was evidence again of the dreadful earthquake as the church here was almost in total rubble. This huge structure was the 2nd oldest church in Bohol and apparently had a collection of remarkable native paintings on the ceiling. But from what was left of it I would think there was nothing left for us but to be completely demolished. Funnily enough, there were other concrete buildings next to it that seemed to be totally unaffected by and earthquake damage. Also the concrete houses in the same block seemed to be undamaged also. I guess the churches on the island have a little more age and instability to them compared to the later built buildings and houses?

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Tourist sights done for the day we headed to the beach. Again crossing over the bridge that took us onto Panglao Island. This is the other place that has beaches that have sand and are nice to swim at. It was getting later in the day and we needed to find a place to stay for the night. Our first stop was at Dumaluan Beach where the prices of hotels beachside were double the price of what we have been paying elsewhere on the island. So we decided to go for a little ride and maybe find something a little off the beach that would be a little less pricy.

Turned out this was not the case so we bit the bullet and returned to the beach place and paid P1600 = $40 for an air con room. If this is the price we have to pay we may as well be right on the beach than pay the same and have to ride to the beach. And here the beach was white sanded and water clear as crystal. We didn't do too bad, I did price a hotel where rooms started at P10,000 = $250 per night. Sure it was nice, but that is a few days budget for us and having an air con room (not just fan) is pretty flash for us.

We rode up the street to a Filipino food chain place for dinner and had a very disappointing meal, but for the price it was acceptable.

Back at our hotel we sat by the beach in one of the little picnic huts and drank Patricks bottle of Boracay Coconut flavoured Rum which he paid P40 = $1.00 for. It is 50% proof and mixed with Coke I swear it tasted exactly like Malibu. Yes it was only $1.00 for a 700ml bottle, think we may have to sample another couple of these bottles just to make sure of the taste.

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A group of Filipinos were in the hut beside us - a group of guys from a local uni having a breakup party. They were very kind to share some of their Lechon with us. In case you don't know what this is Lechon is spit roasted pig!! And this is very popular here in Philippines. They came with a whole beast - there was about 15-20 of them, but still there was more than enough to go around. This pork is the yummiest most succulent meat you will ever have the fortune of eating if you get to try it - and we did and thoroughly enjoyed it.

What a great way to end an action packed day. Lyn and I headed for bed, leaving Patrick with his new friends and their bottle of tequila.

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 00:05 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

MOTOR BIKING AROUND BOHOL

A day looking around Anda = White Beach, cave swimming and local villages. Then away from the coast we ride into the Chocolate Hills.

Wednesday 11th December 13 (day102)

We slept in really late this morning. Not sure why, perhaps after the longish ride yesterday. I remember waking up for the loo at 7.30 thinking it was too early to get up so went back to sleep. Next thing it's ten to ten.

We had breakfast here at the hotel, which consisted of coffee/tea and toast with marg. Not even any jam was offered and we left the vegemite back at the hotel with our stored luggage. At least it was cheap at 28 piso = 75c for 2 slices of sweet bread toast. We had a light shower of rain during breakfast, but it only lasted 20 minutes and that was all we saw for the rest of the day.

It was decided we would spend another night here in Anda and just go out for a ride locally. The town was only a couple of km's up the road and that is where the main beach is. We rode the bikes to the beach, parked them under a tree and went for a walk along the long stretch of white sand.

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It was low tide and the water was about 50 meters off shore so we just walked along the beach collecting shells, did not actually go for a swim here. The beach here is aptly named white beach and the sand sure is super white. It is very very fine, almost silt like to the touch. There were shallow gutters of water that we walked through and saw hundreds of starfish about the size of the palm of our hands. They made star patterns in the sand where they buried themselves to try and hide from us. We even found a 4 legged (tentacled?? not sure what you call them) starfish. It was a perfect X form so was not one that had lost a leg, it seemed to be a gimp starfish! (see photo).

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A quick stop for a drink at a bar owned by a french guy - Oliver. Well I say a bar, but really just a lean to in his front yard where he is selling drinks and food. Pat missed breakfast so had a small plate of a noodle dish that was on offer. Not sure what it was he asked Oliver, who was also not sure so asked his girlfriend, who replied 'gizzard & liver with noodles' - ok then.

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On our way into town I had seen signs along the way pointing out the direction to cave pools. We rode a little way back to see if we could find one but came across a lovely deserted beach where we could not resist but to go for a swim. The sand was still bright white and the water crystal clear. The water temperature was very welcoming also.

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While we were wallowing in the shallow water, Patrick reached behind him and lent on what he thought was a sea worm. But when we brought it around to eyesight he realised it was a baby sea snake and it was quickly let go.

After our swim we went off to see if we could find the cave, but could not seem to locate it. After the sign on the road there was no more to direct us in the right direction. Even when we stopped and asked a couple of locals, who were sending us off in different directions, we could not find the cave. We think perhaps the locals were giving us a bum steer not wanting us to find the cave. I suggested we try and find the other one that I saw a sign for.

Here we did have luck and managed to find the entry to a cave. On first inspection, it looked like the cave was dry. Not until a drop of water falling from the ceiling of the cave hit the water did a ripple form and we were then able to see that there was a pool in the cave. The water was so clear, it looked like it was not there - it was amazing. Although the water temperature was a little cooler than the ocean it was just too lovely not to have a dip inside the cave. It was not very big - about the size of a room, and the deepest part was just over my head - so probably about 2 metres deep. It was pretty cool swimming in the cave.

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Feeling refreshed and having washed off the salt from the sea it was time to look for something to eat. We have noticed that unlike Thailand, the Philippines do not have a food stand every 10 metres and finding something to eat is a little more challenging. Anywhere that there are shops there will be a bakery, which sells an assortment of sweet buns, but this was not what we were looking for. Other food outlets have pre-cooked food that has been sitting in metal trays for god knows how long and this is all served cold - so that did not really appeal either. Oliver, the french guy who had the 'bar' was doing a bbq but that did not start until 5pm and it was just before 4 now and we needed something to tide us over - all we had eaten so far today was 2 slices of toast.

Little stands on the side of the road were selling fried chicken for 10 piso = 25c each piece. We have seen them everywhere riding along and now was a good a time as any to try it. Of course we presumed the chicken would be cold but surprisingly it was served warm. Not sure how that is possible as they are just sitting in what looks like a glass cabinet on a makeshift wooden stand. Regardless, the chicken tasted very good and it was enough to fill an empty stomach. We sat eating on a bench on the Main Street and watched the world go by as the world going by watched us. I don't think a real lot of tourists get to this part of the island, especially not on their own on motorbikes, so we are a bit of a novelty.

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The locals are very friendly though, and everyone along our journey so far has been happy, smiling, waving and calling out hello.

After our finger licking good snack, we went for a little ride up side road that went through rice paddies where the workers were just finishing for the day and starting to walk home with their water buffalo in tow. The cement streets were also lined with school kids in uniforms walking home, all waving and greeting us with hellos.

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Come 5 o'clock we rode back to the bar and had a quick look at a little market before ordering drinks and a few meaty things to be cooked on the bbq. Not a huge choice but some interesting ones. These Asian countries love just about anything on a stick, and you can buy just about anything on a stick too. Here was a popular favourite of chicken feet on a stick and a long string of intestine threaded on a stick. Mmmmmm yummy! However we were boring and went for a bit of pork belly, pork on a stick, chicken wing on a stick and sausage (not sure what if any kind of meat it was made from - very processed) of course on a stick. Served with a bit of boiled white rice and there is our meal 200 piso = $5 for the 3 of us. Can't argue with those prices.

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Lyn and I managed to find our way back to the hotel in the dark, leaving Patrick in the 'bar' to down a few more Red Horse Beers.

Riding the bike down the rocky track to our hotel some creature of the night jumped onto Lyn and she started to screech madly shaking her right arm and leg trying to encourage this little creature to vacate her skin. With me sitting on the back of the bike with all this crazy shaking just about launched the bike into the dark jungle. Somehow we made it safely back to our bungalow.

Thursday 12th December 13 (day 103)

Yes, it was a mistake leaving Patrick at the bar last night. He stayed there drinking until 3pm and do you know how hard it is to try and get a 24 year old still half pissed and hung over to get out of bed before midday??

Needless to say we had a late start to the day, and it was almost 1pm before we headed off again on the National Highway heading north and then inland towards the Chocolate Hills near the town of Carmen.

As soon as we turned off the coastal highway the road started it's steady climb up into the hills. The road side was lined with rice paddies in all different stages of cultivation. We saw some paddies being ploughed by water buffalo dragging wooden ploughs through the mud, others were being planted with the new rice plants and some looked like they had just been harvested. I guess the rice must grow constantly all year round here and they just keep replanting and harvesting the same plot over and over.

This secondary road had a lot of roadworks along the way and we are not sure it if was normal maintenance or fixing damage caused by the major earthquake they had here last October. Apparently this island of Bohol was where the centre of the earthquake was and received the most of the damage. This is why a lot of the giant stone churches are now fenced off as they are unstable, many are half building, half rubble. There is one town here called Sagbayan that we have been told was totally destroyed, but I don't think we will go there.

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Lots of friendly waves and hellos along the way. Patrick riding without a helmet and without a shirt on gets lots of attention. The locals love him - and I think, he thinks he looks like a big white god on a bike!! lol

We encountered a little bit of rain today, only a brief shower which we co-ordinated with a water stop (re hydration stop) for Patrick. It is a little cooler here in the hills than it was along the coast, but still hot enough just for shorts and singlet - good safety clothing riding a motor bike. At least Lyn and I are wearing helmets!

First major town was Carmen where we stopped for some lunch and a little time to become the town amusement for an hour or so. Patrick made some new friends with the locals and managed to not get married off to one of the local single beauties. We bought some fried chicken from a roadside stand to nibble on for lunch.

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Just outside town was the entrance to the Chocolate Hills lookout. We paid the P50 = $1.25 each entrance fee and drove the motorbikes up steep road that circled up one of the hills. The lookout was another 124 steps to the very top of the hill. Once at the top we could see that the lookout buildings had been totally destroyed by the earthquake and was fenced off. We were still able to enjoy a view of the surrounding Chocolate Hills, so called because of the chocolate colour they appear to have, but at this time of year they were green. It was still a pretty cool view. There was also a hotel at the top of this lookout that was closed due to earthquake damage too.

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"Chocolate Hills: the most famous tourist attraction of Bohol boasts 1,268 cone-shaped hills. The hills are spread over an area of 50 square kilometres and vary in sizes from 30 to 120 metres in height."

It was now after 5pm and time for us to start looking for a place to stay for the night. Back on the main road it was all eyes looking for a hotel before it got too dark. Just 2 minutes down the road we passed a funny looking building that was built to look like a ship. It was called the Ship Haus. We stopped to have a look and a laugh and asked if it was a hotel. Yes, we were in luck and could get a couple of rooms in the ship for P1000 = $25 each. It was funny as soon as we said we would take two rooms the lady told us that they had no power, did we still want the rooms. The whole town was out and would be for another 2 or 3 or 4 or unknown amount of hours. She was totally gobsmacked when we said yes of course we would still take the rooms. Where were we to go, everywhere in the area was out of power.

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This was just a small village and again it was time to find a place to have dinner, even harder in the dark. Someone had told Patrick about a food shack down the street a little to we headed there to check it out. The shack had a buffet of assorted local dishes, again just sitting in metal trays so served cold. The owner was happy to advise us what each dish was as she shone a torch light over it so we could see the food on offer. She was also happy to steer us away from the offal dishes and when we ordered pork she was happy to pick out the most meaty and less fatty bits of meat. Pat and I tried the pork and Lyn had a vegetable dish, all eaten with plain boiled rice. At an average of P100 = $2.50 each the meal was a bargain. Now don't get me wrong the food tasted great, very tasty indeed, but why the hell is everything served cold?? I guess it's safer to cook it just once and let it sit for the rest of it's life at room temperature than cooking it and letting it cool then reheating over and over. It's just eating cold food is not something that we are used to. Regardless of all this, all three of us have been lucky so far and have not suffered from any kind of Philo belly upset.

Back on board the ship the power returned just in time for us to turn on the air con to go to sleep.

Again we had ridden through some great named towns such as: Alicia, Sierra Bullones, Carmen and Buenos Aires.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 23:50 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

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