Down to my last weeks before I return home to Denver I wanted to have one last holiday in the sun. Beaches, sand, sunshine and some adventure were all on order. Thus I had arranged to come to a country I knew little about, but what I did know is that it would fit the bill for all that I was looking for in a final destination of sorts. What I have found the past two weeks is a country with friendly people, broad smiles, and a fun loving nature. What I also found was an old friend with some time off who decided to join me for one last international jet set. It's a good life.
Flying into Manila I left the airport as the sun was rising over the vast metropolis. I was keen to get out of the city as quickly as I had got into it. I looked at my map and decided to head straight away to the island of Mindoro to the South. My destination was a place called Puerto Galera to a spot called White Beach. Sounded nice enough so I negotiated my way through the city, blurry eyed, to the bus terminal
where I hopped onto a three hour bus to the city of Batangas. From here I got onto a ferry for the hour ride to White Beach on Mindoro. After accommodation was sorted I set out on the beach and was accosted by a group of Filipino girls vacationing from Manila for a couple of days. They were shocked I had come here alone and even more shocked when I told them my travel story. They insisted on hearing all about it. A good start for me in this friendly nation.
I hung around White Beach for a few days doing what is best to do on a beach. Nothing. I read my book, listened to some music and come nightfall the girls were nice enough to invite me to dinner with them. I got to try all of the local delicacies and foods including Balut - which is a developing duck embryo that is boiled and eaten out of the shell. Yes it is a gross as you would think. After dinner the nightly fire show would ensue followed by live singing done my men dressed as women. A strange place indeed this Puerta Galera. After my short
stint, it was time for me to move on, which is a repeating theme with my ever ticking clock running out of time.
White Beach was definitely a great place to start to get me back into full beach mode which is good for me, but bad for writing as I don't do a whole lot. Borocay
My next destination was the legendary island Borocay. Famed for its white powder sand beaches and thumping nightlife I knew what I was getting myself into when I embarked on what would turn out to be a brutal twenty hour travel day to get here. I left Puerta Galera at 10am via Jeepney to the city of Calapan. From Calapan I took the minibus from hell four hours south to the city of Roxas. In Roxas I of course missed the 6pm ferry, so I had to purchase a ticket for the 9pm ferry that did not leave until 12am. Awesome times sitting at a boat terminal. Once on the ferry it was the usual deal - overcrowded, dirty and no where to sit or sleep. I laid on the hard metal deck and tried for some shut eye only
to be awoken after being eaten alive buy god knows what. My arms were covered in bites. I do not, did not, nor want to know what attacked me on that ship. I was happy to be off and at 5am on the island of Panay at the port of Caticlan I hopped a ferry for the twenty minute ride to Borocay. Surprisingly a nice lady let me check into a room at 6am for a well needed shower and some rest. My reward for all my efforts was a place of beauty and another endless beach to rest my aching bones.
Here on Borocay I was also to meet up with a dear friend of mine whom I had met way back in Indonesia last November. Karis had some time off of work in Australia and was keen to go out traveling so plans were made to join forces and island hop around the archipelago for a bit. I was really excited to see her again and it was really nice to have some company. We did not do a whole lot on Borocay (re-curring theme) and we didn't even make it out to the massive night clubs
that make the place famous. We were content to just stroll up and down the 5km white sand beach and take in the lovely scenery.
After a couple of days on Borocay it was time to move on to the massive island to the east called Negros. I had a destination in mind but as I was to come to find out nothing happens very fast here in the Philippines and epic travel days were in store for the both of us. Sipalay, Negros
Leaving Borocay and getting over to Negors was a long haul and involved many modes of different transport. I always like to see how many different means I can fit into one day. I had heard of sweet place called Sugar Beach (terrible, I know) that was just North of the fishing village of Sipalay on the island of Negros. I hopped a tricycle to the port on Borocay and then jumped onto a ferry for Panay Island. In the port of Caticlan I was able to get onto a waiting bus that would take us to Iloilo City in the far South. An uneventful overnight in the industrial port city led me
onto a taxi which would take us to another port and another ferry boat to the island of Negros. From here a jeepney dropped us off at the bus terminal in Bacolod for an eight hour ride to Manillo where a waiting tricycle took us to a river and an old man paddled us across the dead of night in a rickety boat to Sugar Beach. Eight hours one day and fourteen hours the next. I'm going hard and fast right now.
We found a really nice bungalow right off of the beach ($300PHP - $7.50USD) at a resort run by a drunken Austrian. He kept threatening to raise my rate and prices for food when I told him I was American. It was all in good fun and I gave it right back to his fascist face. In the end he was so drunken he did not even charge me for half of what I drank or what I ate. Had he been nicer I might have said something, but I feel he kind of deserved it. Not much time on Sugar beach and after a few days it was again time to bail out. We left eastbound
and down to the provincial capitol of Dumaguete. In the morning we were paddled back over the river by a pair of boys who were all of 7 years old. Another tricycle to the main road and we waited for a passing bus to take us for another 8 hour ride. Once in Dumaguete we had to overnight before making an audible and heading South instead of the planned North. Siquijor
I came to Siquijor for a few things. One, I was sick of moving around so much and I wanted to stay put for a more than two days. Two, I wanted to ride around the island on a motorcycle and three with Sunday approaching the Sabong matches were sure to begin. I achieved all of these in no specific order and all came just as advertised - absolutely striking. After getting accommodation it was off to the beach for the afternoon before getting a moto sorted for the next morning.
Riding on the moto was incredible. Lush jungles and green palm trees on one side, and white sand beaches with aquamarine waters on the other. I'm really going to miss riding bikes in Asia. With
This is pretty much all we do.
little traffic on the island I was really able to enjoy the ride and not have to focus too much on the road itself and the chaos it can bring. We made our way to some waterfalls (cause that's what you do) and hiked around in the rainforest. A great way to spend a day on this little gem of an island.
On Sundays in The Philippines everything shuts down for the Sabong matches. In all of my travels from Colombia to now here I've wanted to go to a cockfight. I've had many an opportunity but for whatever reason it did not work out. Come hell or high water I was going to go to a match here. We took a tricycle to the local cockpit and let the games begin. The sport itself is brutal with the cocks equipped with a razor knife on their feet and it is essentially a fight to the death. It took me a bit to figure it all out, but with the help of a local I was able to get in on the action and place some bets. I won some, I lost some. I was up, down, up again
and in the end lost everything. That's the way it goes sometimes.
Getting off of this island proved to be a little more difficult than I anticipated. My plan was to take the overnight ferry to Cebu City then hop a bus North to Maya where I could get a boat to tiny Malapascua Island. Problem was the overnight ferry was fully booked. So I had to be on the 6am boat the next morning to Dumaguete where I took another bus/boat combination ride to Cebu Island where six hours later I arrived into Cebu City. From here we transferred onto a jeepney to the North Bus Terminal for another 8 hour ride to Maya. After 14 hours of travel we showed up at night only to have no boats available to take us to the island. Another quick overnight and another early morning ferry and we had arrived. I came here to take one final plunge into the great blue abyss. I really enjoy diving and here it is billed as the best in The Philippines. No oceans in Colorado so one last fix and my return is imminent. My entire world is about to be turned upside
down and I'm still trying to figure out how to deal with that.
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