Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Im now 6 months behind updating my blog! Its the eazy breezy ozzie life i have to blame really settling in well here!

So now back to the travels!!! My plan to meet Dave in Manila nearly didn't happen due to a massive Typhoon hitting the city. The airport was closed the day before we were to arrive but what could we do but just wait and see. We eventually both made it to Manila and met up a few hours later at a dingy yet quite expensive hotel in the center with an exceptionally hideous 'vomity' yellow colour painted walls.

I was aware that having been in Asia for almost a year at this stage i was pretty used to the daily maddness of rickshaw drivers, and smelly markets, people calling you to buy stuff all the time, rubbish and general maddness that i kept forgetting that this was all new to Dave and he would be having some culture shock similiar to my 1st few days in India!

Manilla was not the prettiest of cities, very grey, dull, deralict looking buildings and bridges, heavy traffic and due to the typhoon many people were even more homeless than before trying to salvage any rubbish so they could to make some sort of shelter before the next typhoon was to hit in two days time. Jesus my heart really went out to them. The roads were knee to waist height in dark, sludgy water in places.....one time i stepped into a puddle and ended up hip-height in dirty water! I was both laughing and shocked at the same time people just carrying on with their work not noticing a helpless foreigner has fallen into a big hole!

Anyway we found it hard to explore Manilla with the constant torrential rain, we had planned to spend time in the beautiful mountains in the north but the roads had been destroyed by a landslide so we had to cancel that. The poor folks in Manilla were having a food crisis as deliveries of fruit and veg from up north couldnt get past the landslide and prices of food had soared. We found a cheap flight to a more southern island where the weather we hoped would be better and in less than an hour we landed in Dumaguate domestic airport.

This was the cutest little airport i ever saw, the plane landed just a few metres short of the sea and all around were beautiful mountains and a clear blue sky! Oh how lovely after Manila!

We had a very sweaty little room that night but it didnt matter too much as we were heading off the next day to a picture perfect place called Sugar Beach via a village called Sipilay. Dumaguete was a great little town, very friendly and it had a shop for just about everything you could need not to mention brilliant fruit markets....i was craving vitimans!!

We had a delicious super cheap meal from a street food place, stuffed ourselves with fresh fruit and sat back to watch some concert that was being preformed with super-talented kids dancing and singing..although the focus turned to us two foreigners sitting on the grass!

There didnt seem to be anything like pubs here, the people sit at plastic garden furniture tables and chairs outside the little shops that sell alcohol. We spent that evening drinking beer with a mad indian man. The beer is so strong 9% i think....god bless the Red horse beer!

The next day a very long journey to Sipalay (with red horse beer hangover...nasty). I'm definately a public transport girl (in asia anyway!) and was well used to bum numbing, squashed, sweaty journeys but it think this one almost pushed Dave over the edge of sanity. The roads were shocking, fair play to the bus driver this was really hard-core dirt track driving!

Sipalay was definately not a touristy spot. It seemed like every one of the 100 or so people living there stopped what they were doing to have a look at us! Poor Dave again was panicking a bit but after a day or two here and plenty of Red horse drinking with the locals he was really starting to get into it!

brum brum!!

We attracted a big crowd of boys (and lady boys) one evening while sitting on the beach. They loved to chat. I loved to look at how pretty the lady boys were with their manicured long nails, and perfect eyebrows. Its a funny but cool culture to be able to express themselves so freely. I'm not sure if Dave was loving the ladyboys as much as me (they really took a shine to him)! This was also the beginning of being called Mam-Sir (one word!). This is the most polite way to address a man and woman everyone in the town called us mamsir!

Beautiful sunset on Sipilay beach

Next morning we were woken up by really load hip-hop music! There was some sort of concert that lasted the whole day. I loved it! We had a little bounce in our step all day, had breakfast to Beyonce and dinner to..well.. Beyonce! So funny i cant imagine this being allowed in Ireland!!

We went for a long walk one day through the little surrounding villages, the sound of the crickets was almost deafening! Very jungly feel to the place and extremly humid. Lots of friendly smiley faces.

It was time for our daily fix of Red horse so we stopped in a little bamboo hut bar and my god just in time as within 5 minutes of sitting down a crazy storm erupted. The guys had to pull down big plastic sheets over the little bamboo bar. The place shook and rain dripped down onto our table. The owner put on a really stupid but funny movie so we chilled out with about 10 locals trapped in this little cosy bar with well....very cheap Red horse so no complaints!

Next morning there was ANOTHER concert this one was to celebrate 'old people's day'.

There seemed to always be some sort of band or concert wherever we went here. We even saw a bus go past with a full brass band inside banging their drums and playing away on the trumpet how funny!! We had learnt some of local lingo used only in this area from the ladyboys on the beach so we surprised the old people by greeting them in their local lingo! It was so sweet to see the massive smiles on their faces!

The rain was getting heavier but we thought we'd head on to Sugar beach anyway maybe it would clear up and i had seen such beautiful pictures of the place...sugary white sand, turquise blue water etc!! Well this is once you don't go during typhoon season!! The sand was more like brown sugar and the sea like a cup of tea! Anyway we found a cosy little bamboo hut in a lovely garden set back a little bit from the sea.

This place had just the BEST restaurant!The food was so delicious (and did i mention they had Red horse beer??) the weather started getting really bad so we just kicked back and chilled out!

Not far off irish summertime weather....

After a day or two we played every board and card game to death so we decided to go for a walk. I put my camera in a bag and off we went!

The sea was churned up like frothy tea, big branches and chunks of trees floating about. You know its great when you have no worries, nothing to keep dry, no shoes etc you can just jump in the puddles and mud like a kid and its brilliant!!

not a very 'sugary beach'

We wandered around little farm houses and ran through rice fields with the water up to our thighs! Some kids took us on a little adventure to caves you would never have imagined could be hidden behind the trees. They were only about 5 years old running about with big knives to cut open coconuts! just picture 5 little kids running towards us with machetes!

And soooo good to have a warm shower and a hot chocolate in our cosy guesthouse after that! There is no doubt that Typhoon season on this beach is the best time to visit!

Cute little geckos in the bamboo hut...

And huge ones also!!

After the typhoon we decided to make a move...

The beach was a mess after but the locals said its great because they use all this wood to make a big fire for New years eve so this saves them having to collect it! Now thats good positive thinking!

Eh yeah...thats the road not a river....i had the worst dead leg ever during this squashy, bumpy trip ill never forget trying to get the blood flowing back into it!

Very long journey back to Dumaguete and my god how did we manage to have a hangover again for it!! Next we caught a boat to the island of Bohol not too far away.

The local transport are 'jeepneys', old army trucks used as public transport very very cheap but you have to wait until the thing is completly full...i think we waited about 2 hours! Dave almost wanted to murder this guy that for the entire two hours tried to sell us sunglasses. This thing is pretty dangerous on the road though the guy drives it as fast as he possibly can!

We hopped out (well due to being so squashed we more kind of squeezed out like you might squeeze a splinter out) and had a bit of a walk and a descent of about 200 steps to get to a guesthouse that was totally worth it! For anyone in Bohol its called Nuts Huts. It was a row of darkwood huts on stilts, in a garden full of pink flowers and baby goats?! with a green river flowing past all in kind of a jungly setting...ahhhhhh heaven!!!

Geckos drinking Dave's coke

The owners were all into healthy living (hence the steps!) the food was all organic and healthy delicious stuff, they encouraged swimming in the river and they even had coconut food massagers!

You walk barefoot on these upside-down coconuts, quite painful actually.

Good weather also woo-hoo!!

We rented a motorbike and took off around the island. I was totally in awe. Lovely old churches all over the place.

We visited a centre that has some endangered little Tarsiers...cute but alien-like little fellows.

We discovered beautiful lagoons and waterfalls. Water so clean and clear and a crazy turquise colour i never saw anything like this before.

Gorgeous green lagoon

LOOK at that water wow wow!!! Dont you just want to jump in right now!!

What a refreshing swim. We were dry in about 5 minutes and saved me having to wash my clothes!...ah the joys of being a smelly backpacker!!

We visited the 'chocolate hills' ..chocolate?? lets go!

They are unexplained mounds of land thought to be mounds of coral from when the sea covered the area and in the dry season they turn brown and look like hersheys chocolate drops....What...no real chocolate??? damn conned again!

Another day on the bike we took a wrong turn, drove for ages and ended up in remote villages that i'm sure haven't seen many white folks! They kind of just ran away or stared when we started asking around trying to find petrol! These guys live a really simply life they were so far away from any kind of sealed road or town! It was so so hot and the roads were really bad i had to get off the bike and walk the last little bit i couldn't take the pain anymore!!

Unfortunately time was running out and we really wanted to do our diving course so having found a place that was hopefully typhoon free off we went to the island of Cebu!

We caught a boat down the green river beside our guesthouse to the main road. This guy rowing the boat was so lovely!

Our boat arrived in Cebu, the Philippines 2nd largest city. Again there was really heavy rain we were not holding much hope of being able to do our diving course. We had a bite to eat then another long and fairly uncomfortable bus journey to Moalboal and something new for me in Asia..there was a BAT on the bus!!It was flying about, big shiny eyes, everybody screaming trying to get it away....ahhh asia is brilliant!

We were in luck the weather cleared up!!! We found a very funny, chilled-out German man who was our scuba-diving instructor. Many many German men with young Philippino wives here...it was a bit strange to get used to. But not as hard to get used to as our instructors extremly tiny SPEEDOS!! (or as i have learnt in Oz they call them budgie smugglers he he!!) Oh good god with the beer belly hanging out over he just breezed about the place as if...he wasnt wearing the worlds smallest speedos!! i burst out into uncontrollable laughter and tried to cover myself with slapping Dave on the shoulder saying 'oh that joke was so funny!!!'...Dave and instructor just looking at me puzzled! Ah dear...speedos....enough said!

Anyway this guy was an excellent teacher, very chilled-out man that we had a few beers with after each evening and we soon had the hang of the whole diving thing. It was much easier than i thought it would be and much more amazing under the water than i could have imagined!!

Beautiful coral and fish , the water was so clean and clear. Oh i loved it.

Between diving we rented a motorbike again and drove around the surrounding area we found some more nice waterfalls that i had to jump in to. Very cold water compared to the sea.

Really now..look at that water amazing stuff so beautiful...

We climbed a little mountain too thanks to our 'guides'... locals that insisted on coming with us. Nice view and nice to have a little climb since we couldnt make the mountains up north.

We relaxed on 'white beach' on our last evening before heading back to Manila. We ate a big bag of mango's 80c for a kilo....yum.

Dave hated these little girls as they always convinced him to buy a necklace from them! So hard to resist!

So that was Philippines....goodbye to Dave...

And goodbye to Asia for now...next stop...Oz!