Published: May 14th 2007May 14th 2007
He can see you alright but don't ask him about quantum physics!
Next stop on our tour of the Philippines was Alona Beach on the island of Panglao. After (another) ferry and a minibus, we ended up at this resort which unfortunately was mostly populated by large European men accompanied by small Filipino girls and wearing even smaller speedos (budgie smugglers for the antipodean readers!). This area seems to be popular with German and Swiss travelers which is great for us when we are looking for deli’s and bakeries.
We spent our first evening trailing around in the stinking heat trying to find a place to stay that hadn’t raised its prices to extortionate rates. Being the organized kind of travelers, we had rung in advance a place called Bananaland in advance which had cottages with ensuite kitchens - a kitchen was top of our list because Lise is having withdrawal symptoms from cooking for Al and the local filipino style of cooking eggs seems to be “any way you like as long as you like rubbery”… but for reasons we won’t bore you with, Bananaland wasn’t for us. We found several other places which were too expensive or full and in the end the heat and frustration lead us to
a temporary solution, so we trailed up the road dragging all our bags drenched with sweat. Not a pretty picture!
We ended up staying above a dive shop we had wandered into looking for dive info which worked out well. They gave us a super cheap deal on the room provided we dived with them. The catch was that the water in the bathroom smelled… like a swamp (to put it nicely).. but you can’t have it all!
We dived with Reef Divers and that afternoon dove at the fish sanctuary, which true to its name had loads of fish - the diving so far has all had great visibility 15m+ and has been around 29C so nice and toasty (Lise is rugged up in two wetsuits, Al has a 2mm shorty!)
We also arranged a tour and early the next morning our driver picked up the 4 of us (Connie and Dieter and us) at 4am!!! and we set out to catch the sunrise at the Chocolate Hills. They’re a geological anomaly of 1902 bumps that have grown over the years and from a high vantage point in the middle you can see where they get
their name…when the sun comes up they go a chocolate brown. We also visited some lovely old churches, a very rickety but fun bamboo suspension bridge, took a trip up the Loboc river to see some waterfalls and gawk at the gorgeousness of it all and then to see tarsiers. The photo says it all. These are tiny endangered creatures- relatives of primates. Their eyes weigh more than their brain. Too cute(says Lise).
The highlight of the day for Lise was having breakfast at a local market place where it seems like not too many westerners venture. We were shown by a nice man to a coffee shop where the owner lavished us with attention and was chuffed to have interesting guests and is probably still boring people about it now! The locals who normally ate breakfast there weren’t best pleased to see strangers sitting in what must have been “their” seats but hey. In this coffee shop was an amazingly vintage but cool looking karaoke machine. Coffee, rice and karaoke. Perfect!
We did a few more dives around Balicasag Island which were lovely, nothing “special” was sighted but the corals were healthy and the fish plentiful and
there was more than enough to keep us amused.
At the moment, we are on the Kinswell ferry to Bato which is on Leyte. We got a ferry from Tagbilaran to Cebu, then from Cebu we got this ferry- all the ferries show pirated movies to keep the passengers entertained - watching some of the subtitles which have been literally translated from the Russian original is entertaining enough on its own! The ferry system here has worked brilliantly for us so far, it’s all adequate and comfortable and relatively cheap.
We’re en route to Padre Burgos on Leyte which should provide five days or so of wonderful (fingers crossed) diving. We’ve changed our plan a bit for the rest of the trip after this though, we’re going to head to Palawan which has lots of outdoorsy things to do, paddling around limestone cliffs and such as well as some WWII wrecks to dive on in Coron. Then we’re hoping to find somewhere in Manila to shed some baggage and we’ll head up north into the highlands a bit to wander around, get away from the touristy resort feeling places and do some trekking and general meandering. Perfect!
There are more photos below