Travelling to our next destination was long winded but we enjoyed the scenery, listening to music and reading so it wasn't too bad at all. From Apo island we caught the boat across to Malatapay, the jeepney to Dumaguete then a bus to the island of Cebu which was meant to take 5 hrs but took around 6.5 hours as our bus broke down and we had to wait for its replacement before travelling across on the bus ferry.
In Cebu we decided to stay near the airport in an area called Lapu Lapu, but we soon wished we choose something a little closer to the bus station as the traffic getting here was horendus and the taxi took one and a half hours. In total we spent a whole 12 hours travelling that day so needless to say we were exhausted. Travelling through Lapu Lapu we were actually surprised to find being next to the airport, how undeveloped it was. It was not built up at all with many simple tin hut structures, many people wandering the streets and higher levels of poverty than the more built up areas of Cebu.
When arriving, our hostel owner
was very informative with lots of information and advice on things to do. He even highlighted a local festival which was supposed to have lots of great food only a tricycle and jeepney away.
However we declined the opportunity to go in favour of finding something nearby to eat and then resting. The journey had clearly taken it out of us. We ended up in a Middle Eastern themed restaurant where Chris ordered a chicken shawarma and P ordered a tuna turnover. Both absolutely delicious although not as cheap as other meals we had purchased as it cost 400pesos.
The following morning, as budget minded as we are, instead of a taxi we caught a tricycle and 2 Jeepneys to the airport.
One hold up slightly before check-in was the fact that they weighed our backpacks which we wanted to bring as hand luggage. With the hand luggage limit at 7kg, P got away with her 8kg but Chris with 10kg was asked to downsize or pay more to check his bag in. Refusing to pay more, he took his flip flops off in favour of his trainers, put on his warm hoodie and
re-weighed. Still not good enough.
Next of all he pulled a bottle of rum out of his bag... P took a double take... what was that? A glass bottle of rum! He hid that well and clearly wanted to keep hold of it but as it added too much weight to his bag he sadly handed it over to a male airport worker who had the biggest smile on his face. Again we re weighed his bag which was now 8.3kg and were finally let though.
The atmosphere at the airport gate was unlike the many other flights we have caught in this trip. There were lots of groups of westerners, people dressed in shorts and vests, all fresh faced with a lot of white clothing. You could also feel the excitement in the air with all the chatter and energy people had. For a brief moment it made us feel like we were going on holiday ourselves. Like when you fly to a resort from back home and its mainly holiday makers on the plane, you could tell many people were on shorter trips.
The two of us on the other hand only
had to look at our dishevelled stereotypical backpacker appearance to realise we have been on the road for nearly 3 months, Chris's trekking pants got soaked on the boat ride the day before so they had dried with sand trails all over them leaving dull dusty patches. Nice.
We needed to do some washing desperately and the last few places we stayed at had signs requesting that you do not wash your clothes as a laundry service was provided. Clearly provided at an expense though so we held on longer.
Arriving in Puerto Princesa we were out of the airport a minute after we entered. It was a domestic flight and there was no messing about, bags on our backs we could just walk straight out.
The journey to Port Barton proved to be a long sweaty hair raising journey. At the final leg, the heavens opened and it poured down. As there is not much road on the rocky path from the main highway turn off to Port Barton (taking roughly 1 hour) when it rained the road was less visible and with the loose rocks stacked up in huge piles, the journey
Fish and veg in coconut milk with rice
This plus fruit and a small coke for 50peso/0.75p
started to look more dangerous. At one point as the bus trudged through the mud, it moved forwards sideways as it could not avoid skidding!
Only one road to get here and there is only enough road space for one vehicle. But guess what, a log filled truck came head on towards us and wanted to pass. They were not going to attempt this in the rain in our bus that was already skidding. Oh wait. Yes they were!
Did I mention that on one side of the road was a steep drop to a deep valley below. Just bear that in mind. They attempted the impossible. Everyone off their sears watching (even locals a little nervous) our bus chose the mountain side. Phew. However it was not over yet, its 2 wheels entered the drain gully at the side of the road. Oh no oh no! The bus felt like was going to topple over at any point. Luckily it didn't. We made it.
Port barton is a quaint lagoon only accessible from a 1hr dirt road from the main paved highway. For this reason it maintains a quieter feel with a lot
of small resorts and home stays and a lot less tourists than the more popular Coron and El nido.
So what were our opinions. Well first of all, we need to say that initially we wanted to do the Philippines at the end of our South East Asia adventure so we could work for our beach time. However as we had a 3 month window in order to avoid typhoon season we ended up coming here much earlier on the trip not wanting to miss out on the Philippines altogether. Being adventurous and wanting to see things and experience new cultures which was possible, the main draw was the snorkelling and the marine life.
However theres only so much water you can swallow and so many beaches you can get excited about before you need something new. We started to feel this way at this part of the trip and unfortunately for Port Barton this place came towards the end of our Philippines trip so we were slightly bored of beach time even before we arrived.
Either way we did actually like the feel of this town. With a long U shaped sandy golden
beach with simple resorts and dirt streets that backed on to it. The small dusty streets followed a grid like pattern adorned with many simple huts and small community developments (2 age appropriate schools, a town office and small shops) all nestled among a green lush backdrop. This town was quaint and had a nice feel to it. It was always peaceful. As we walked the streets we witnessed children running around carrying chickens, teens making and selling halo halo (a popular dessert made with shaved ice, evaporated milk, jelly, sweet beans and I'm sure we seen some with sweetcorn too), men sat in the shade chatting and drinking away as women carried out their domestic chores, whilst workmen transported materials around the town i.e piles of bamboo sticks on foot or bike.
The day we arrived here and the first full day of our stay we were exposed to continuous rain. Rather than put a dampener on things we rather enjoyed lounging in the hammocks watching the clouds descend over the sea at our beach front lodge whilst listening to heavy rain beat down upon the tin roof.
There was not really much to do
here unless you wanted to visit a turtle sanctuary (an expensive boat ride away), or island hop which we intended on doing in El Nido. There was another white sandy beach that we could trek to but this did not really interest us at this point of the trip. Instead the 3 of us (including a fellow englishman Tom who we had met on a bus and shared our time with) decided to enjoy the sea for what it was.
The sea was really salty and so the visibility was not very good, that ruled out snorkelling, making simple floating an alternative option. Instead we had fun in the sea doing handstands, dive attempts, and challenging each other on who could hold their breaths the longest - P managing 62secs and Chris lasting longer at 70secs. This was such childish fun and some local kids jumped in beside us big kids and started doing the same with far more energy, skill and enthusiasm. Unfortunately due to the poor visibility of the sea, both Chris and Tom got stung by an unseen jellyfish as they swam - putting an end to any more sea time.
took the time here to do some washing. Taking around an hour we felt so good to finally have some clean clothing again. When we say clean, it wasn't Fairy soap washing machine clean but it was hand-washed clean which was good enough for us.
Nights were spent relaxing and enjoying the tasty cheap meals at a place called 'Cayunga' (or something along those lines). P no longer eating meat enjoyed mainly the coconut veg curries, a tuna curry and a delicious veggie burger (made from egg and chopped up vegetable like an omelette) that came with fries. Chris on the other hand mainly enjoyed his rice dishes with Chicken Adobo (pieces of bony chicken marinated in vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic all browned in oil; it's much nicer than it sounds) and fried fish.
All this was provided with refilled water or a soft drink of coke or Chris's favourite Royal (similar to fanta) along with some fruit afterwards for dessert which was mainly banana or water melon. All this - meal, rice, drinks and fruit for 50pesos. Thats 75p UK money, and it was some of the most tasty food we had. Plus it
Children ordering juice
Never tried it but it looked very sweet
was warm, even hot at times. Bonus.
No longer waking up to the sounds of children playing or roosters calling here, we were located next to a mango tree and so the booming sounds of mango hitting the tin roof had us sitting up and out 9of our beds abruptly at times. Oh and the dogs, a bunch of randy male dogs all fighting to win the female in heat. This was so annoying as they barked and whimpered at each other. Where we the locals putting a stop to this howling??
Overall we enjoyed the relaxed pace and laid back atmosphere and after a few days we moved to our final real destination in the Philippines, El Nido,
-Local 6am boat from Apo island to Malatapay: 1hr/350p
-Jeepney from Malatapay to Dumaguete 30mins/
-Ceres Bus from Dumaguete to Cebu 6hrs/275p (inc ferry).
-taxi from south bus terminal cebu to Lapu Lapu ; 1.5hrs 300p
-Jeepney from Puerto Princessa to Port Barton 4.5hrs/250p
Cebu/Lapu Lapu; Anthurium Inn double 735pesos
Puerto Princessa; JLC house double 500pesos
Port Barton; El Busero double 500pesos
Tot: 1.63s; Tpl: 0.071s; cc: 40; qc: 165; dbt: 0.0871s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.9mb