A Travellerspoint blog

Sipalay and onwards

Since the broken nose incident, we had to stick around in Dumaguete for a few more days until I got the stitches out. It was tough been waited on hand and foot by Hannah whilst I we lorded it up in a swanky 20 quid a night hotel! We were then given the all-clear by the doctor to carry on our travels which was a relief.

The following day we had our first experience of a Filipino bus. We couldn’t believe how small the seats were and how many people they could fit on. It was about as cramped as Linford Christie’s running shorts. Pair this with the sweltering, stifling heat and it made for quite an interesting journey. It took about 4 hours to get to Sipalay and then we had to catch a boat over to our resort on Sugar Beach. The boat approach was stunning. We were very excited to see white sand and clear, blue skies. Our resort, called Takatuka Lodge, was brilliant. It had about 8 different themed rooms and we opted for the ‘Rockadelic’ room themed around music. The little touches around the room were cool. You had to work really hard to find all the light switches as they were hidden amongst the décor. We found one in a guitar, one posing as a DVD player and another light switch masquerading as a pair of ladies nipples!

Nipple fun

Nipple fun

Little Phil Clapton

Little Phil Clapton

We had a fantastic three night stay at the resort. It’s amazing how time flies when you just sit on the beach in the sun all day. Unfortunately I couldn’t get my face wet in the water due to my recovering nose but we were still able to go in everyday up to our heads. The other drawback of the accident is also the anti-biotics. Obviously I have been told not to drink whilst taking them which is annoying since the Philippines has the cheapest beer in the world!! I am due to stop the course of anti-biotics on Christmas Eve so I have told Hannah to expect fireworks around then as we bring in the 25th with 50p beers. The food at the resort was excellent. Hannah ate some noodles and a Filipino dish while I, like the cultural chameleon I am, ate chicken and wedges every night!

Sipalay - Sugar Beach

Sipalay - Sugar Beach

More Sipalay

More Sipalay

Hammock Hannah

Hammock Hannah

Beautiful Sipalay was just what we needed after the stress of the accident and Dumaguete. It fuelled us again for the rest of our travels. We had another very busy bus journey to get to the other end of the island of Negros. We left Sipalay and then caught a 5-hour bus to get the port of Bacalod. Like the previous bus we were so tightly packed we were made to feel about as comfortable as a peanut in a Snickers factory. The seats seem to be more suited to people with dwarfish tendencies. At one stage we were sharing a 2-seater with three other people and were surrounding by 4 other children being sick into bags.

It certainly is a unique way of travelling but we feel we are definitely seeing the real side of the Philippines. The 5 hours went surprisingly quickly as we were entertained by the locals. At every other stop (of which there were hundreds) random men jumped aboard the bus to sell the crappiest of foods. We were offered hard boiled eggs that were sweating inside a condensated plastic bag at least 20 times between Sipalay and Bacolod. The other thing we kept noticing were the random buffalos everywhere. You did read that correctly – buffalos. It seems it is common- place to keep a buffalo as a pet and every 400 metres we would see one tied up the edge of the road.

From the bus to Bacolod we caught a 1 hour boat to Iloilo. This is where we are now. It is a pleasant enough little city. It is not as mad as the other Philippines cities. They seem to have the transport system sorted out by actually building pavements for pedestrians to walk on! What a crazy concept – a concreted section of the road solely for the use of people to use rather than sharing the road with a load of wheels and a cacophony of horns. We have been tricycling around for a few days getting ourselves sorted before moving on to Boracay tomorrow.

This is the way to travel!

This is the way to travel!

We are in Boracay for Christmas and New Year. We hear it is very, very cold back home in England and that it will be a white Christmas for many. We wish everyone at home a Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing you all in the new year!

Posted by Phildean7 01:36 Archived in Philippines Comments (2)

Philippines

A very, very eventful update coming up!
We moved from Cebu which was pretty bland onto another city called Dumaguete which we planned to use as a jumping off point to a few other small island destinations. Dumaguete is a cool little city with plenty of atmosphere. Like the rest of the Philippines it is full of mad motorbike tricycles, habal-habal motorbikes and small jeepneys (think a jeep crossed with a small bus). Crossing the road is quite taxing but for some reason it seems to work. As soon as you venture into the road as a pedestrian, traffic seems to move out of your way to allow you to cross.

On our first day in Dumaguete we ventured to see the Twin Lakes. This was a great adventure. We caught a jeepney (chosen by Hannah as you can see from the picture).

Pink Jeepney Express

Pink Jeepney Express

It’s amazing how many people they can squeeze into the back of these jeep-come-minibus vehicles. On first glance you would guess they would pack in about 6 people max. However, by the time we got going there were 10 of us rammed in the back and then another 4 joined the fun on the way to the lakes! It was cool though as you got to see lots of the city as they are pretty much open-air. When we got to the Twin Lakes we were greeted by two adolescents who offered to motorbike us up to the Twin Lakes. Originally we sneered at them but then noticed a sign behind us that read ’13.5km to the Twin Lakes’. One of the motorbike drivers looked about 13 with a moustache while the other couldn’t have been over 16. Getting into the spirit of travelling we accepted their offer. As I gripped my arms around an under-age Filipino on the motorbike three possibilities crossed my mind;
1. I would be motorbiked to the riders den and made to perform sexual acts,
2. We would career off the road and over cliff plummeting hundreds of metres into the mango trees below,
3. We would enjoy an amazing bike ride overlooking stunning island and mountain and rice field scenery.
Luckily, it was option 3!

Easy rider

Easy rider

When we got to the Twin Lakes we negotiated our way over the wet rocks around the lake edge to reach a lookout point where you could see both lakes. Luckily we had worn sturdy walking shoes to avoid too much slipping and falling but i noticed (not for the first time) how Filipino men seem to be able to conquer the trickiest of walking surfaces whilst sporting flip flops and smoking profusely! When we did reach the lookout, it was a great view even though it rained heavily and steadily. After a few hours we made it back to our original drop off point and the Filipino Motorbike Rugrats gave us a lift back down. It had been a worthwhile adventure.

The following day we caught a boat over to a small island called Siquijor. As the boat came into dock it was clear that this was the beach paradise Philippines we had imagined and hoped for. The water was clear, the sand white and the sun strong. We took another motorcycle tricycle (fast becoming my favourite form of transport) to our hotel which was really, really nice. It was on the beach and we had a large hut to ourselves with balcony, mosquito net and a life-saving fan! We had a really relaxing afternoon and evening and once again we were able to enjoy the ice cold, 40p beers!

Sexyback

Sexyback

Siquijor palm trees and beach

Siquijor palm trees and beach

The next day in Siquijor it rained pretty heavily in the morning but when it stopped we decided to explore the 72km island on motorbike. We hired one from the hotel and set off like enthusiastic Hell's Angels in flip flops. Things didn't go according to plan 1 crash, an operation under general anasthetic and 3 days in hospital later, I am still not laughing at this event!!!!!!

Straight after the accident the locals were so helpful in getting us to the emergency room on the island which was a hut. As I had a tree coming out of my nose we were immediately sent back over to Dumaguete where they had a bigger hospital that could deal with the situation. The 1 hour boat trip wasn't the most pleasant but thankfully the hospital in Dumaguete was modern and clean. We got seen straight away and within a few hours i was put under general anaesthetic and went into surgery. It was all very scary and i was very luck to have Hannah there with me. She was great in dealing with everything and convincing me that it didn't look that bad. She admitted later that my face looked completely mashed up with bits of tree coming out of it and thought we were definately on the next plane back to England! The doctors did a great job and by about 4pm i was out of surgery and into my own private room. Strangely Hannah came out (or off the back I should say) relatively well. On reflection we think she may have bailed off the back before I entered the ditch.

The hospital room was great as there was a bed for me and one for Hannah next to me which meant she could stay with me the whole time. Those hospital beds are fun as i could ask Hannah to wind my bed up or down. The next day, the doctor took my bandages off and we were able to see my new nose. It actually didn't look that bad. Hannah said that because of the original size of it the doctor's didn't need to do skin or bone grafts as there was plenty of spare bone and skin to work with. She said it was hilarious when the consultant said "now I know why you white people have got such big noses". If anything, after the swelling goes down, i am expecting the new nose to be smaller than the old one! I was attached to a drip for a few days and very weak but i eventually got my appetite and strength back and was able to check out of hospital after 3 nights.

I was told to take things easy so we have found a really nice hotel at a bargain price to stay until Saturday. I have to go back to get the stiches out and i don't think i will be diving now but it looks as if we will be able to carry on traveling which is great. On reflection, we had a lucky escape. It could have been a whole lot worse. No-one in the Philippines wears helmets but we made sure we had them on and that probably saved me from intensive care as I had cracked it through the middle. A positive side to it is that i will hopefully have a cool scar, a smaller nose, a story to tell and we have dropped about half a stone in weight! We are very thankful to the Silliman Medical Centre who gave amazing medical care and accommodation (probably the best we have had on the trip!!!!). We are also thankful to be alive!!!!! On the downside Hannah lost her flipflop. Gutted!!!!!

Broken nose!

Broken nose!

Posted by Phildean7 01:10 Archived in Philippines Comments (4)

Hong Kong

So from Singapore.....

We went to Hong Kong. The only problem in this journey was on the plane when the world's smallest man (think it was a reincarnation of Gary Coleman from Different Strokes) reclined his chair back into Phil for the whole journey (including take-off). The guy obviously needed more leg room for his 4ft body! Phil was not happy - it was funny.

We were expecting much the same as Singapore but it was actually very different. We were suddenly in China. It was mad, with Chinese symbols everywhere, flashing adverts and people trying to sell us watches. You can not walk down the street without being offered a Rolex or a new tailor-made suit! We arrived in the evening so it was already dark. We made our way on the bus to the mainland where our hostel was. We had been warned about the entrance to the hostel as all the hostels are in mansions (not the type of mansion you think of that is for sure). They are big blocks of flats that the hostels buy and rent out rooms. On approach to the building (as I don't fit in so well being albino) I was pounced on by touts trying to get me to go to their hostel. They started screaming at each other that they were lying about their hostel and I should go with them instead. I walked along all smug that I had my hostel already booked. I wasn't so smug when I arrived to my room and it was smaller than a double bed (I mean the room not the bed!!!!). It made the car we'd slept in for a month in New Zealand look like a spacious suite!!!!!! Anyhow, the hostel was new open that day and had air con so there wasn't that much to complain about really. Especially as it gave me the ability to go to the toilet, have a shower, sit in the air con and lie in my bed all at the same time.

Over the 3 days it was always an adventure getting into the place and up to the 11th floor. One day I was told to email a guy if I had any questions about God, the next day we were invited next door for a curry at a random blokes house. It was also nice to know we had our own security guard as we awoke on the first morning to find the hostel manager, complete with turban, asleep on his camper bed directly outside our room - random!!!!

On the 1st day in Hong Kong we headed to DISNEYLAND. It was weird getting the tube to Disneyland but it was a pink line so I was happy, and then when the tube arrived and it had Mickey shaped windows I nearly wet myself. I was very excited about seeing Hong Kong Mickey and I was not let down. It was a mini disney with only the main rides but it was so much fun and Mickey and Minnie speaking Hong Kongish (not sure that it the politically correct term!) was amusing.

Disneyland Hong Kong!!

Disneyland Hong Kong!!

The next day we did the main city stuff. This included walking along the Kowloon harbour, getting the star ferry over to Hong Kong Island and then we went on a bus ride over to the other side of the island where we were totally shocked to find beaches and bays with the most amazing scenery. We visited Stanley markets to pick up some local bargains. We bought a name postcard each. Basically this was a piece of card, mounted onto coloured backing material. On the card was Chinese writing that was supposedly your name. No doubt when we get back to England and proudly display them in our house, a Cantonese speaking friend will ask why we have two postcards that say 'Arsehole' and 'Dipstick' on them!

Back in the city we headed up the Peak on the tram which is almost a vertical train ride up a mountain. Phil had done his research about the best position to be on the tram and he jostled an elderly Chinese lady out of the way to ensure we snared the best viewing point from the back right of the tram. Unexpectedly there was a load of restaurants and shops at the top (including Bubba Gump Shrimps where Phil got his hat he has wanted forever). He now looks as well as acts like Forrest Gump! We went up to the sky terrace and had the most amazing views of the City including Kowloon and Victoria harbour. Also, around the back of the platform you could see the other side of the island where we had been earlier in the day. We stayed up there until sunset to see the city in the daytime, dusk and at night with everything lit up. The pictures don't do it justice.

Phil and Hannah in Hong Kong

Phil and Hannah in Hong Kong

Hong Kong skyline

Hong Kong skyline

Can't get enough of the skyline!

Can't get enough of the skyline!



Yesterday we had another day in Hong Kong. We visited the history museum which was actually really interesting. The 'Story of Hong Kong' exhibition did not paint the British period of control in a favourable light at all!. We then visited the avenue of stars which is like a Hollywood walk of fame except with Asian film stars like Lo Fat Chin and So Me Pants (I didn't know who any of them were though). We tried to visit a roof top pool that we had heard of, but they wouldn't let us in which was sad as Phil had his swimming trunks and goggles in a plastic bag ready to go swimming.

Today we have flown to the Philippines. We are in a city called Cebu which is the main city in the Visayas (a group of islands in the middle of the Philippines). At first glace it looks,......interesting....but we are leaving tomorrow to start our island hopping adventures, which is probably for the best!!!!!

Posted by Phildean7 01:37 Archived in Hong Kong Comments (0)

Whitsundays, Perth and Singapore

A long gap since the last update due to some technical issues. Rougfhly translated this means that Australia is a bit rubbish for the internet. Honestly, Argentina was more advanced than Australia when it comes to computers!

We did a 3day / 2 night sailing trip to the Whitsundays aboard the good ship Ron of Argyll. Apparently there is a lot of history concerned with this ship as Marilyn Monroe amongst other famous dignatries sailed on her. The ship is very old, very traditional and very wooden. It made for a rough ride in pretty crappy weather over the 3 days. The result was a disappointing experience overall. We did however have a great group of people to sail with which made it an entertaining trip. We visited Hayman Island, Hamilton Island and Whitehaven beach over the three days and Hannah got her first taste of scuba diving which she said was brilliant. The inclement weather meant that it wasn't as picturesque as we had hoped. The rough weather also resulted in many bouts of sea sickness amongst the crew including myself.

Aye aye captain!

Aye aye captain!

This is the captain of your ship calling...

This is the captain of your ship calling...

Spot the sea dog

Spot the sea dog

whitehaven beach

whitehaven beach

After the Whitsundays we flew to Perth where the weather improved dramatically. We had scorching sun and clear skies for our four days there. Perth is a brilliant city with lots to see and do. We loved chilling out in Kings Park which overlooks the city. We also did a day trip over to Rottness Island. This was a stunning place. We cycled around the entire island in about 3 hours and then found secluded, stunning beaches and bays to relax at. The colours of the water were amazing and the whole place is ridiculously beautiful. One of the highlights of our Australia trip. Whilst we were in Perth we also managed to get over for a day at the beach in Cottesloe. It was stupidly hot but we cooled off by taking regular trips into the Indian Ocean. It was a brilliant beach and a lovely, relaxing day. We stayed for sunset over the Indian Ocean which was amazing.

perth skyline from swan river

perth skyline from swan river

Rottnest island

Rottnest island

Sunset Cottesloe beach

Sunset Cottesloe beach

The boys chilling in Kings park

The boys chilling in Kings park

We had a great time in Perth and a great time in Australia overall. The weathet let us down on the East Coast but we met some great people and visited some amazing places.

From Perth we headed over to Singapore. We have just finished 3 days here. It is a brilliant city; so modern and busy but very safe and easy to travel around. We were content to simply walk around and take in the atmosphere of the city. We went up to the top of the most amazing hotel - the Marina Bay sands. From here the views of the city at night were brilliant. They have a rooftop infinity pool for hotel guests and we have vowed to come back one day and stay here! The shopping in Singapore is ridiculous. Every other shop is a huge, modern shopping mall. The air conditioning is a god-send as it is incredibly hot and sticky. We have witnessed 2 big thunder and lightning storms since arriving. We move on now to Hong Kong...

I have found my tree

I have found my tree

The skypark - yes it is a park at 200m

The skypark - yes it is a park at 200m

Singapore at night

Singapore at night

Posted by Phildean7 17:12 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Fraser Island - Bundeburg - 1770 (Lady Musgrave Island)

Following on from Noosa………

We drove in Wally to get to our launching point to Fraser Island. We stayed in a YHA campsite in Hervey Bay where the weather was still looking ok.

On the way to Fraser Island

On the way to Fraser Island

We spent 2 days on Fraser Island which is a sand island with a subtropical rainforest. You can only access this island by a barge and then only 4 wheel drive vehicles are allowed on the island as its all sand. As we didn’t fancy dying we had to go on a tour. We got picked up by Camaron our ultra ozzy guide who burnt it through all the sandy roads on the island. The weather was stunning which made the views spectacular. We visited Lake Wabby which was extremely green.

Lake Wabby

Lake Wabby

Due to risk of crocodile attack I was a bit scared to get in but it was very hot so in we went. We went on a bush walk in the afternoon - it was very jungle like. I was on snake watch as the island houses 7 of the world’s deadliest snakes. In the evening we wandered down to the deserted beach (it is deserted as it is used as a motorway for all the 4WD’s). We were advised not to go into the water as it is shark infested. We spent the night at a resort which was a nice break from the sweltering camper.

At Fraser Island

At Fraser Island

The next day the weather held out. We went on an importune flight in a light aircraft over the island (a little terrifying as the pilot looked about 12).

Fraser from above

Fraser from above

We visited Indian Head which makes up the 2% of rock on the island. We managed to see a turtle from the top. We then cruised down Eli creek on our tummies and visited the rainbow sand mountains. In the afternoon we went to the highlight of the island – Lake Mackenzie.

Lake Mackenzie

Lake Mackenzie

The sand here is mostly silica so it is extremely white and the water extremely blue. We spent some time here the only down side being the huge horseflys that kept eating us. The Fraser Island adventure was great – made better by the nice weather.

The next day we all did the drive up to Bundeburg as we wanted to see some turtles. We ended up staying in a cute little town called Bagara. Phil has been desperate to play bowls so I reluctantly agreed. We were the youngest there by about 40 years but it was brilliant. We got free coaching from all the locals.

Little Phil playing bowls!

Little Phil playing bowls!

I nearly knocked out the woman’s next to me bowl of a lifetime as I got my bias wrong and it went the opposite way. In the evening we went to a conservation park to see some turtles. We had to hang around and wait for one to emerge from the sea as and when it fancied it. At about 8pm a turtle made its way up the beach to lay some eggs. We went down to the beach with a guide and approached the turtle from behind. It was a loggerhead tutle about the size of 2 toilet seats. Unfortunately it had a injured back fin and so was unable to dig a nest so she wandered back down to the sea. We waited around until midnight but no other turtles came up. It’s early in the season so we were lucky to even see one.

The next day we split from Ruth and Caroline to get up to a town called 1770. We left at 6am to get a ferry to take us to Lady Musgrave Island. Again we were on turtle watch (I was also on shark watch). The island is surrounded by a lagoon which makes the waters calm. We spent the day snorkeling off of a pontoon and did an island walk. The coral was the most amazing colors and so many fishes including nemo. We swam out to the boundaries to see a turtle which was cool. I forgot I couldn’t breath underwater so as I dived down to take a picture of him I tried to take breaths though my snorkel – needless to say it didn’t work. In the after noon after we did a glass bottom boat tour me and Phil swam out to see the turtle again. Everyone else had gotten bored with snorkeling so we were the only ones in the water. Just as we arrived the loggerhead turtle was leaving the resting place. We swam with him for about 20minutes as he glided around the lagoon in and out of the corals. He came up for breath 3 times. We were able to get really close and I managed to film most of it. It was defiantly the highlight of Australia. We were knackered that night as had spent hours in the sea. Phil did so well in the water again, I almost had to bribe him to get out at the end as he loved snorkeling so much.

Elation after seeing a turtle

Elation after seeing a turtle

!]

The next day we did a mad drive from town of 1770 to Airlie beach to do our Whitsunday tour. The weather was awful and the drive was about 9 hours but we played games so it was fine. We had a day in rainy Airlie relaxing and giving back Wally. This time giving the car back was a good experience. It was still nice having independence and avoiding the rowdy hostels but it was hot and I was always weary of spiders and snakes.

To come……The WET Whitsunday cruise.

Posted by Phildean7 17:22 Archived in Australia Comments (3)

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