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Published: April 30th 2009
Philippines stage 1
Alright here we go! My 11 day journey through the Philippines began with an 5:55AM flight from Singapore to Manila. There were 7 of us leaving from NUS to Changi Airport at 3:30! Talk about to early...
We arrived in Clarke airport north of Manila and took a bus to Cubao bus station in Manila. After buying some tickets for the night bus to Naga City, we got some food and headed to the MRT line to explore the city. We began to notice the bad ass security guards everywhere. Our bags were searched by officers (or even canines) each time we entered the MRT station or changed trains. It was kind of funny at first, but it got old quick. We walked around the old city for a while and visited an old Catholic Church and some famous old Spanish wall (I forgot the name). There wasn't much else to do in Manila so we were glad to be leaving. After another quick meal, we got on the overnight bus to Naga City (P850 for air con bus which is not necessary in my opinion) where we were to be meeting 2 more friends.
barely sleeping during the 10 hour ride, we arrrived in Naga at about 4:00AM. Our friend Ralf had given us his hotel address so 7 of us crammed in a tiny room so we could nap a bit before starting the next day. It wasn't pretty but we all got some needed rest. After waking and getting everyone in the big group going, we headed off the the wake boarding park outside of Naga. We spent the afternoon wake boarding and relaxing by the water. We watched the sun go down, then headed back into town for some dinner and entertainment for the night.
We got some food and decided to walk back to our hotel, which wasn't too far away. About half the group gave up and took tricycles halfway though but I eventually made it back. We got cleaned up and talked about where we wanted to go that night. It was a Monday so when we got back into town, we realized all the bars and clubs were closed....all except for one - Hollywood Star. We decided to go in and have some beers. Ralf and I noticed immediately that we were being greeted by some
strange company - ladyboys. We had found our way to a bar that had a transsexual entertainment show. We saw a family with little kids in the back so we didn't think it could be too bad and drinks were cheap so we stayed for the show. After 15 minutes of intense awkwardness, the ladyboys were through and all us guys could open our eyes again. I will spare you the details. It probably sounds extremely weird, but the Philippinos are just a lot more comfortable with ladyboys than they should be. Enough of that.
We got up the next day and took a bus toward Donsol. After our bus (P80 each), and another minivan (P100 each), we had arrived in the land of the whale sharks! We got some amazing fish for dinner and found a hotel by the beach. After relaxing outside for a few hours, we hit the hay. We were gonna have to get up really early if we wanted to make it on the boat to see the whale sharks.
The next day, we managed to get everyone in the group onto a boat (although we did have to split up, cost P800
+ P300 for renting equipment). We were lucky enough to come across a few whale sharks and spent about a total of 1.5 hours in the water chasing them around their feeding grounds. The biggest one we got to swim with was about 26 feet long! AWESOME. It was really weird to purposely jump into the water when you knew there was a 26 foot shark waiting there for you but after a some practice, it didn't seem as crazy. It was amazing to be able to swim with the "gentle giant" and I'm sure none of us will ever forget it. Unfortunately it was really hard to get any good pictures with the underwater camera, but we'll see how they turn out.
After a nice relaxing lunch at a nearby resort, we headed back to Legaspi in a jeepney (Jeepney's are old WWII style army jeeps that have been converted for passengers and are decked out in bright decorations and artwork). Mathias and I rode on top since there was no room inside. It was amazing to be able to see all of the Filipino countryside. The 2 hour ride was well worth the 80 Pesos (about $1.60
USD). In Legaspi, we found a hotel and began to plan our next adventure. 4 of our friends would be leaving the next day, but 5 of us were heading to climb Mt. Mayon, a perfectly shaped extremely active volcano! WOO HOO
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