A Travellerspoint blog

The Philippines

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Ready for the ride looking like very happy tourists =)[/i]]

The freedom of a motorcycle was a first-time experience for me. It's morethann the liberty of going where you want, stopping at will and picking up the road that most calls when it does. It's about the wind in your hair, the new smells bursting through you as you pierce the air on two wheels, the sun travelling with you, its light and warmth clinging to your skin, and the sudden showers of cool rain guiding your fate, curbing you to unplanned stops to introduce you to friendly strangers, unknown brothers and sisters of your adventure.

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The road was beautiful everywhere we looked.[/i]]

Clean roads led to clean towns, each with a tall, colonial church surrounded by humble but well-kept huts of bamboo walls and thatched roofs, a fresh harvest of corn, rice or coconut sun-drying in neat stretches at their doorstep. Each side with the characteristic Bohol design of intertwining dark and light slits woven together into a perfect pattern of squares, displaying shelves with carefully pruned plants, the huts were a pleasure to look at, one after another throughout the island. With effusive "Hello! What is your name?"'s children would go out of their way to greet us as we passed, gifting our already wonderful journey with their selfless smiles.

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Juan would point out at every single water buffalo along the way![/i]]

After a scenery stop at the Chocolate hills -which, to my disappointment are not actually made of chocolate- we finally made our way through rice paddies and past water buffalos tended to by old men with straw coolies to Anda, a village on the edge of the island blessed with heavenly white-sand beaches and a friendly small town atmosphere that makes stopping there inevitable. Splurging completely out of our budget, we treated ourselves to some "Vitamin Sea", a welcoming lodge-in-the-making owned and operated by our wonderful hosts Buddy and Annie, who not only made us feel right at home, but also surprised us with fabulous meals!

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Decadent banana pancake and mushroom omelete by the sea.[/i]]

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Crystal-clear water hole, very much like a cenote! This one was like the opening of a bottle where once you jumped in, you wouldn't be able to get out, so Buddy had a special rope ladder made which he carries out there each outing.[/i]]

IMG_5899.jpgThe irresistible Philippine tarsiers are smaller than your hand! (They're a different species than in Borneo)[/i]]

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Mangrove in Anda.[/i]]

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Children we met when Juan's tire went flat.[/i]]

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The family was friends with a crazy mangrove egret called Lapai, who liked to attack intruders with its demoniac a beak![/i]]

Needless to say, we were having a vacation within our vacation, and this only continued as we moved onto Malapascua to meet up with our new and awesome friends Simi and Caleb, with who I did my dive master course. Malapascua is yet another heaven, with crystal-clear ocean surrounding the small sand island. Roosters on perches adorn the dirt patios of every hut with their long, shimmering feathers. They are the pride of each home, bred for battling to their death in the traditional Philippine cock fights, a very sad but old tradition that hopefully will die out soon along with bull fighting and dog fighting in other parts of the world (this is of course only possible with the help of conscious tourists who know not to partake in "cultural experiences" that go against their own values!). Regardless, the roosters are beautiful animals and iconic to this country of seven thousand, one hundred and seven islands, but Malapascua's most famous attraction are the Thresher Sharks!
Right before the first rays of sun start painting the still waters with golden hues, even before the million roosters begin their morning calls, our boat parts over the smooth sea. Twenty five meters beneath us, every dawn since time immemorial the same phenomenon occurs. The majestic, two-meter predators come up from the deep, dark abyss to the edge of the reef for their daily routine: it's cleaning time! With their striking, round, large black eyes and their trademark tail trailing in a ribbon behind them, the threshers visit this point of the reef after a night hunting to be cleaned by colorful coral-dwelling little fish who come up, fearless of the powerful jaws of the threshers, between their jagged teeth and around their leathery skin to nibble off impurities. Simi, Caleb, Juan and I hovered in the same spot along the reef the entire dive, watching in fascination as one shark and then another circled passively throughout its grooming session, eyeing us occasionally with caution but no particular interest, then returning to the depths for the rest of the day.
So much happens under water! There's so much to witness and discover in the sea! Our night dive with the mandarin fish mating, fluttering belly to belly and darting off in a cloud of sperm and eggs, sea moths walking in pairs on the sandy bottom, soft gardens of coral blossoming at the edge of caverns... Our trip to the Philippines was an exciting cultural experience as much as it was a natural delight.
Now, having made the decision of returning to Borneo to work as a dive master in Mabul for the next three months while Juan trains to become one, we're already spotting new fantastic creatures every day and loving every extra minute we get under water.
We'll be telling sharing more of our adventures with you soon!

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Boat ready for our afternoon dive.[/i]]

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Simi meets Cindy![/i]]

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The magnificent Thresher Sharks.[/i]]

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Our vacation within our vacation[/i].]

Posted by juan y Cindy 03:29 Archived in Philippines

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Me encantan los relatos. Increíbles las fotos. Las del mar son espectaculares. ¡No sé cómo van a hacer para volver a la vida ordinaria cuando terminen su aventura! Un gran abrazo, Abril.

by Abril

Que habilidad tienes, mi niña, para escribir! Me transportas a esos parajes y me parece hundirme en ellos con ustedes! Toda una escritora! Ya habrás de escribir uno o más libros para la delicia de muchos! Besos!

by Lorena

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