From Sask to Seoul

Phili-Phili-Philippines!!!

Posted on: March 8, 2010

Alright so I am well aware that I havent posted anything on here in months…. I blame it on winter hibernation… Since I thawed out in the Philippines and it is nearing spring is Seoul I decided its time for me to write a little something.

Lets start with our flights… We took the cheapest direct flight option to Cebu which consequently meant we were on a red eye. We arrived in the warmth of the Philippines somewhere around 3 am. We didnt want to leave the airport since we had a domestic flight to Borocay at 10 am. So we set up camp on the cold metal chairs of Cebu airport. Wrapped in as many skirts as my body could house for warmth I got an hour or two of sleep. Eventually it was time for check in and we proceeded to Borocay.

Once we arrived at the Kalibo airport we had to take a 2-3 hour bus ride to Caticlan to then take a ferry to Borocay. This may sound like hell considering we were running on about 2 hours of airport sleep but to my surprise it was a great start to a more amazing trip.  We decided to take a mini van to Caticlan, a bit more expensive but only by about a dollar so we figured it was worth it. When we got into the van there were only the 4 of us girls (Jess, Leslie, Steph and myself) and a couple others which meant it was very roomy. As we were driving along the driver would pull over and pick up random locals of all ages. We kept doing this, over and over and soon the van was full. There were even people sitting on laps, I got quite up close and personal with a Philipino man myself ;). lol not really but he was very interested in the way my ipod touch worked. This was our first encounter with Philipinos and it was quite fun. What made the ride even better was the amazing scenery. We drove through valleys of palm trees and along the coast of a crystal clear blue ocean bordered with white sand. Absolutely gorgeous.

Once we arrived in Borocay we took a tricycle which is basically a motorbike with a weird cab attached on the side for passengers to our hut. This is the basic form of a taxi in the philippines. We arrived at our hut, dropped our bags, and realized we had a few hours of sunlight! So we explored the beach and enjoyed our first San Miguel and sunset. The next two days basically consisted of beach bathing, swimming, eating and a bit of drinking.  As fun as this was, we decided when we started our scuba course we needed to be sober. So the drinking ended, and we began getting serious about scuba. We found a great dive resort called Blue Mango located on Boat Station #3. They were absolutely fantastic to us. Our dive master Matt was so understanding and a really great teacher. He was very calm and patient. We all had our moments, between Leslie being afraid to breath underwater, Steph freaking out and trying to swim to the surface, and me not being about to equalize my ears, he had his hands full. He claim we were easy and quick learners but I think he was just trying to be nice. Scuba diving is a complete new world that everyone should try if they can get over their fears. My favourite memory quite possibly of the whole trip was our first open water dive. As soon as we were on the bottom of the ocean floor Matt pulled out some bread for us to feed the fish. Suddenly with the bread in my hands the beautiful multi-colored tropical fish completely swarmed me. They were everywhere, in my hair, and all around me. It was so overwelming and breathtaking. As well, the quiet of the ocean was so serene and peaceful underwater. Overall diving was an amazing experience. If anyone is planning on going to Borocay definitely check out Blue Mango Dive Resort, they are great! As well, now that I have my Open Water Divers course I can scuba dive worldwide! I cant wait to go on my next adventure and try diving there!

Before we knew it it was time to move onto our next location,Loboc River,  Bohol. In Loboc we decided to stay at Nuts Huts, a group of huts on the banks of the river. The only way to get to Nuts Huts is by a little row boat or a 20 min hike from the nearest road. It was a little rustic but nothing this Sasky girl cant handle! When we first arrived, in the rain I may add, the owners told us they had no room! We had no plan B and had a moment of panic. However within 10 minutes someone had checked out and they said they could make room for us in the dorms until some huts opened up. This turned out to be just fine, we shared the open dorm style hut with a group of Frenchies, there was only one awkward changing moment, eh Jess? lol. Anyway the next day 2 huts opened up and we were set.

While we were staying at Nuts Huts we took a day trip to the Chocolate Hills, a tarsier sanctuary, a butterfly sanctuary and a hanging bridge. Sounds like an action packed day, it kind of was but was a bit different than I expected it to be. The Chocolate Hills were a total let down, we werent able to actually walk through them or hike in them, just go to a look out point. A complete tourist trap. The surprise of the day was the butterfly sanctuary. In itself it wasnt that cool but our guide Joel (Can I have your button?-Jess lol) made the place so fun! He taught us all about the sexual practices of butterflies, how long they last, how often they do it, and so forth. I have never met anyone who loved butterflies as much as this guy.

One of the best moments in Lobac was our swim up the river to the small waterfalls. We got some great exercise and Steph provided us with some great entertainment. The whole time we swam numerous floating restaurant boats came by full with tourists who proceeded to take many pictures of us. We were constantly dodging the kareoke boats, it was like floating Norebang! As far as the Steph entertainment goes, we met up with a few Australian attractive missionaries during our swim. We hung out with them for a bit and then we thought they had swam far away from us. Well it turns out they werent that far away and Steph gave us her opinion on what it would be like to date one… I wont say anything else but needless to say she was a little embarrassed when we figured out they could probably hear every word we were saying!

We also got a chance to hike up to a high point in the river valley and get a spectacular view of the Loboc River. As well, the main part of this hike included the bat caves. Here we crawled through dark muggy caves in search for bats. We found them and along with them million of spiders! Leslie wasnt a huge fan of the spiders and we were constantly checking her back for “bananas” the code word for spiders. Along with the hiking and caves was probably the sweatiest day of my life, attractive yes I know. Im going to blame it on the humidity and the caves but lets just say the pictures arent my sexiest moment. lol.

At the end of our stay at Nuts Huts we had to say so long to one of our travel teamates, Leslie. From there she had a crazy flight filled 2 days ahead of her, at the end of which she would be in the Dominican with her mom. After we said goodbye it was time for us to head to Anda, another island that boasts secluded serene beaches. The bus ride was intesting, no windows, just open spaces on the side of the bus, and many gansta teenage Philipinos, gave me a reminder of my Cochrane days.

We had heard that Flower Beach was the place to be in Anda. So when we arrived at our cheapest on the island resort “Dap Dap” we decided we would explore a bit and look for Flower Beach. We were told it was the resort next to Dap Dap so we decided we would try to just walk along the shore till we hit it. Well we soon realized that it wasnt a sandy shoreline and we’d either have to swim there or walk through the foresty coast. So we opted for #2. Along the  way we ran into a full out beach party including people of all ages and inner tubes. We didnt stop here, although maybe we should have. Eventually a Philipino guy told us he’d show us the way and this is where our adventure began. Since we expected to be walking along a beach shore we were equipped in our hiking best, that is bikinis and flip flops. It ended up being quite the trek through thorny bushes and unbroken paths. As well, at one point we were scaling the side of the ridge, holding on for dear life and trying not to fall into the ocean! Eventually we made it to Flower Beach to find a resort and beach pretty much the same as ours except there were actually people there. We hung out there for the day and ate a delicious meal before heading back to Dap Dap. On the way back we decided not to go through the bushes and instead take the long route via road. On the walk back we were lucky to come across a random festival fance rehearsal. Here we stopped, took some videos of the dancing and chatted with some locals. It was a great way to talk to some locals who weren’t trying to sell anything and were just out having a good time.

The next day in Anda was a complete beach bum day. We found our own secluded private beach and set up camp for the day fully equipped with Peanut Butter and bread for lunch time sandwiches. Basically all we did was tan, swim, and of course a full out jumping shots photo shoot. Mid-afternoon we decided we would go out looking for this underground swimming area in a cave. Afer a few wrong turns we finally found it and it was really neat. We climbed into the cave and swam in crystal clear water. It was a bit cold so we didnt stay long but it was worth finding.

As there wasnt much to do in Anda other than relax we were in bed by 9 every night. After 3 days and 2 nights we decided we were ready to move on to Panglao. This area of Bohol boasts some of the best scuba diving in the country. So we figured it was time to put our scuba certification to good use. We decided to go with a German dive shop called blue planet…. DO NOT dive with them if you do not speak German! It was absolutely horrific! First of all, as open water divers we are only technically supposed to dive to 18 metres. Well our dive master took us to 25!! As well, Steph was running low on air, and when she told our dive master and panicked a little he made fun of her! On the boat we endured constant mocking in German by our dive master and fellow divers. We definitely did not feel welcome. But all this aside, the diving was spectacular. We saw many different tropical fish, sea turtles, baracudas, schools of Jack fish, beautiful corals, and much more! It made the hazing completely worth it!

Another day in Panglao was spent renting a boat and boatman and going island hopping and snorkeling. This was also a great experience. We saw 3 different islands including a sandbar where we docked and ate some more peanut butter sandwiches. It was completely deserted and really cool. Snorkeling was really good as well. Totally different from scuba diving, although scuba diving we got to see  many cool things, we saw some pretty good stuff snorkeling too. Its just a different perspective and different creatures are more near to the surface compared to lower underwater.

For the rest of our stay at Panglao we basically just relaxed on the beach, drank Pina Colodas, and did a little Kayaking. It was really great to have a bit of time right before we left to just take it all in. Overall the trip was fantastic. It was everything I hoped for and more. The worst part had to have been getting back to Seoul in the cold and going back to work! Now all I can do is look forward to my next beach holiday and the summer!

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