I was a little tipsy when I checked in for my flight at the airport at 4 a.m., and I all but missed my plane, having fallen asleep at the gate. Luckily, the airport staff found me in time! 🙂 However, I remember nothing about take-off, landing, or anything in-between. Having arrived completely exhausted in Cebu, my first aim was: sleep! In the afternoon, I visited the scarce sights… Magellan’s Cross (hmpf), Basilica Mino del Santo Nino (hmmmm…ok) and San Pedro Fort (erm, well…).
Somehow I just didn’t find anything spectacular! Nevertheless I had a great time, because I met sooo many friendly Filipinos! 🙂 In the evening I went to Ayala Mall, a huge shopping complex with nice restaurants and fine architecture.
27.02.-01.03.2013 Panglao/Alona Beach
By early morning ferry I travelled to Tagbilaran on Bohol, and then on by motorbike taxi to Panglao and Alona Beach. Alona Beach is incredibly touristy, full of restaurants, holiday resorts and scuba diving schools. The palm trees are partly concreted into the beach. Not really my kind of place…but I still ended up having a great time! And on pictures, you can always cheat a bit…
On my first day I met an elderly Australian who was bored and offered to drive me around on his motorbike to show me the island. Niiiiice… We went to various beaches, some of them really splendid. I also saw some gamecocks and was even allowed (urged!?) to hold one!
For the next day, I had booked a scuba dive with Go Scuba. As luck would have it, my friend Gilad and his father had opted for the same diving school!! 🙂 The two of them were on a diving holiday and we were supposed to meet later in Malapascua… but now I was reunited with my great diving buddies much earlier 🙂 The dives around Balicasag were really good – especially the diving spot Diver’s Heaven. Lots of turtles and suddenly a school of hundreds (thousands?) of pike circling me in. Okay… I’d be happy for them to do that any time! 🙂 The water around Panglao is a wonderful deep blue and it’s perfectly clear.
On the second day I rented a scooter and went to Bohol. Unfortunately I had an accident after about an hour – a combination of a sandy road, a hole I saw too late, an oncoming tricycle, a little bit of speeding, a front break that was much stronger than the rear break – and generally a sh**** scooter instead of a half-automatic motorbike. The perfect ingredients for a crash! I must have done an impeccable somersault… ouch! Locals helped me out, showing me the way to the doctor and the garage, taking care of and worrying about me very much – thanks to them I soon felt better. I had spectacular wounds and swellings, but I decided to drive on anyway! And… it was worth it! The Chocolate Hills are really cool and just very funny things 🙂 I met two Norwegians and we climbed a hill together. It was a real adventure to make our way through waist-high blades of grass (cutting some more wounds), up a steep hill without a real path, in an area where there are supposed to be snakes… But we made it, and the view up there was much better than the one from the usual viewpoint! 🙂Then we went to a suspension bridge where the two guys took a dive into the water. I abstained, given my wounds… We also met Coconut Man there; apparently he is very famous in Germany and was even once in the popular challenge show “Wetten, dass…?” He peels coconuts within seconds, using only his teeth!!! Unbelievable 😀Our last stop was at the Tarsier Sanctuary where we said hello to the smallest primates in the world. They are sooooooo cute!!! Tiny fingers, tiny nose, their entire body barely larger than a fist – but giant googly eyes! 🙂That night, Gilad, two Russian girls and I partied a bit…
I still hadn’t learned my lesson: a party on the night before a travel day is never a good idea 😉 The day travelling to Malapascua was long and exhausting: taxi to Tagbilaran, ferry to Cebu, taxi to the bus terminal, long and hot bus trip to Maya, Banka (a traditional boat) to Malapascua. Phew! The landscape in the north of Cebu is very nice, however…
…and Malapascua turned out to be a dream of an island! It was welcome compensation for the hardships of the day… The first day already brought a highlight: Diving among thresher sharks! To be honest, I was very skeptical – would we really see one of the sharks? But there they were: we were lucky and saw about 15 of them!!! 🙂 They came really near, too, and given that visibility was so good, the experience was awesome! One of my best dives ever…
As we embarked on a second dive later, however, visibility was very poor and there were strong downward currents. I bet the sharks also didn’t like that – we only saw 2 from afar this time… We also went to the diving spots Lapus-Lapus, Gato Island and to one more spot: Whitetip reef sharks, frogfish, sea snakes, lovely corals…
During our remaining time we simply enjoyed this dream of an island… once we undertook to go all around it, but we didn’t get far 😉 Some nice pictures were taken on that occasion, though!
Four days later, it was time to say goodbye. Banka and bus brought us back to Cebu, where Gilad and his father boarded a plane to go home, while I got on a bus to Moalboal. A looooong travel day, at the end of which I did nothing but collapse onto my bed!
Moalboal is nothing special, really, but I did meet many nice people there and had a good time. One dive took me to the local reef (ok…) and another one to Pescador Island – very nice, topographically speaking! Apart from that, Moalboal meant much relaxing time for me 🙂
Tricycle – bus – ferry – bus – tricycle… and there I was in Dumaguete. The town can be visited within an hour – there isn’t much to see apart from a nice fruit market…
The next day, I rented a motorcycle, Paulina from Sweden mounted behind me and off we went to the Casaroro waterfalls. The jungle was beautiful, but not as great as I had thought…
On the way back to Dumaguete we saw a cockfight arena and spontaneously decided to have a closer look. A unique experience!! The locals get really excited about it, much like at a football game here… It’s not a bloody affair at all and the cocks are eaten afterwards, so I can’t really find fault with the event. In any case, we had a lot of fun among all the Filipinos! 🙂Later, we went on to Bais, but couldn’t find anything interesting apart from some nice scenery…
11.03.-13.03.2013 Apo Island
Having extended my visa in the morning (an expensive but very uncomplicated process – a mere means of making money), I continued to Apo Island.
It is a tiny island and one of the best diving spots in the Philippines. YES, I confirm this reputation – especially the diving spot Coconut Point is amazing. Wow, wow, wow!!!
I dived there together with a (great) divemaster: very strong currents, making us speed ahead like mad 🙂 Hundreds, thousands of fish shoals of all colours and sizes, many pufferfish, two sea snakes, pike, groupers, parrotfish, clownfish… and probably the most colourful corals I’ve ever seen. I was in sort of a trance afterwards – it was without any doubt one of the best dives ever!!! 🙂 Snorkelling, you can also see lots and lots of big turtles – it’s like in a dream! Apart from diving, there isn’t much to do here – being lazy, enjoying the excellent food at Liberty’s Lodge, and being happy 🙂
Here I go again: Banka – Jeepney – tricycle – ferry – tricycle – made it! Siquijor was a nice surprise for me – directly at the Carisma Resort (where you’ll find a very inexpensive dorm) is a wonderfully white beach with plenty of palm trees… WOW!
You can only swim here at high tide, however, and even then you’ll have to wade out far. I rented a motorcycle for a couple of days and (being joined by different passengers each time) went once away from the coast and once all around the island.
The highlights were the two beaches in the east: Kangusua Beach and Salagdoong Beach, and the Cambugahay waterfalls, which were wonderfully refreshing!
There was a lot of splendid scenery along the way, so we often stopped for pictures… An excellent ending to my time in the Philippines!
17.03./18.03.2013 Siquijor – Dumaguete – Manila – Angeles – Bangkok
After that, all that was left was my departure… with many stopovers, many connections to take, and much waiting time. Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles for the keen traveller! 😉
Bye-bye Philippines, you’ll see me again for sure!!!