Archiv der Kategorie: Philippines

Philippines – Summary & Pictures

Spontaneous ideas are often the best ones!

People: Just a couple of minutes after arriving the impression: „Wow, HOW friendly are they here!?“ This impression increased more and more over the next weeks. The Filipinos or the friendlies people I have met on my travels so far! One of the reasons why I liked it sooooo much here 🙂 As tourists, you will mainly meet couples/retirees/package tourists, not too many young people and even less backpackers. Still, I always met people and was never alone – probably you form groups easier when there is not that many backpackers 😉

Food: In the Philippines I decided to try and not be a vegetarian anymore and ate quite some fish and chicken dishes (starting slowly 🙂 ). The fish was often veeeery delicious, of course all freshly prepared! There were also quite some vegetarian choices, also western food was not tooo bad. Unfortunately it was not that cheap, more like 5-6 Euro per dish…

Weather: Rain, fog and cold in the North of Luzon, heat and almost always sunshine on the Visayas 🙂

Costs: The Philippines are one of the more expensive countries of SEA. I was lucky in the beginning to not have to pay for anything for 5 days. Also afterwards I often got invited by other tourists – you saw that most of them are not so much on a budget as for example in Thailand 😉 In total, my daily budget amounts to 37 Euro including all the dives, whereas they cost about 360 Euro. Which means without diving, my daily budget would be just under 25 Euro/day.

Accommodation: The price/performance ratio is a bit „different“ here. You have to pay quite something to get an ok room (from around 10 Euro), below that not much is available. Dorms are a bit cheaper, but not always available…

Infrastructure: Busses, planes, lots of ferries and bankas, many many tricycles, some jeepneys – it’s been a while since I have used that many different modes of transportation. Everything always worked out fine, lots of busses and ferries even had wifi. I loved the bankas – fresh wind and a bit of salt water in your face: That, to me is a perfect holiday feeling!!! 🙂

Illnesses: Everything ok, never been sick. After my motorbike accident I had a couple of really big wounds which were very laborious in taking care of (especially since I did not want to give up on swimming and diving) – but it worked somehow!

Safety: I never felt unsafe myself, but we did watch a fight between some locals in the little village of Banaue, which apparently ended in a stabbing with one person dead 😦 I never heard about any violence against tourists though…

Highlight: Malapascua overall and the dive at Coconut Point near Apo Island.

Lowlight: Baguio respectively the weather in the North 😉

Click here for all my pictures of the Philippines:Strand auf Siquijor

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Philippines Part 2 – Island Hopping on the Visayas

26.02.2013 Cebu

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…).
San Francisco Kirche in Cebu

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.
Ayala Shopping Mall in Cebu

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…
Alona Beach

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!
ich mit einem Kampfhahn

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.
Tauchgang BalicasagOn 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! 🙂Chocolate HillsThen 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 😀KokosnusskönigOur 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! 🙂Tarsier auf BoholThat night, Gilad, two Russian girls and I partied a bit…

02.03.-05.03.2013 Malapascua

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…
Landschaft im Norden Cebus…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…
Fuchshai am Tauchplatz Monad ShoalAs 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…

Tauchen bei Malapascua

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!
DSC09457 [50%]

Malapascua

06.03.-08.03.2013 Moalboal

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 🙂Moalboal

09.03.-10.03.2013 Dumaguete

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…
Dumaguete Markt

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…
Casaroro WasserfälleOn 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! 🙂Hahnenkampf in DumagueteLater, 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.

Liberty's Lodge auf 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!!!
DSC09688 [50%]

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 🙂Apo Island

14.03.-16.03.2013 Siquijor

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!
Strand auf Siquijor

Strand auf Siquijor

Strand auf Siquijor

Strand auf SiquijorYou 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.
Motorradfahren auf SiquijorThe highlights were the two beaches in the east: Kangusua Beach and Salagdoong Beach, and the Cambugahay waterfalls, which were wonderfully refreshing!
Cambugahay Wasserfälle

Kagusua BeachThere 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!!!

bye bye Philippines

Philippines Part 1 – Luzon and Manila

18.02.2013 Angeles

In the middle of the night, I landed at Clark airport near the city of Angeles. Immigration procedures took ages, and when I stepped outside it was already 2:30 a.m. None of the three ATMs wanted to accept any of my three different cards. They must have been empty! My hotel pick-up service did not turn up. Fortunately a guard helped me out by exchanging a few Thai Baht, and a taxi driver took me for a very low fare… Welcome to the Philippines – where people are just friendly like that! 🙂

19.02.-20.02.2013 Baguio

A few hours of sleep in the absolutely overrated Tune Hotel, and off I was next morning to go on to Baguio. During the 6 hour trip, I met a Malay-Philippine couple. Mohana and Amy were travelling without a guidebook and soon offered me the following deal: We would travel together for a few days, I would do the planning and they would pay the bills. Okay… 😉 Our first night in Baguio, we found a nice bar right away, where they had live music – it was a happy start!

Liveband in Baguio

After a nice breakfast the following day, we tackled the big sightseeing tour: First, we visited Rizal Park, a relaxing leisure place of the locals. You can go boating there or rent a tricycle, and we did both. We then went on to the University of Baguio, home to an interesting museum on the culture of the mountain tribes. We could try out all the musical instruments ourselves, which was cool! 🙂 Right next door, there is a Buddhist temple – but, well… I’ve just seen too many great temples already. The Bell Church, actually a Chinese temple, equally failed to impress me. 😉
Bell Church in BaguioTo conclude our sightseeing day, we went up to a viewpoint which was nice enough, but sooooo touristy. Funnily enough, though, the tourists were not Westerners, they were all locals! 🙂
Aussichtspunkt bei BaguioIn the evening we had a good time again, finding yesterday’s live band again in a different bar… No early night for us this time 😉

21.02.-22.02.2013 Sagada

A long, tiring bus trip revealed few highlights in the passing scenery – the weather being foggy with occasional showers – and brought us from Baguio to Sagada, where things didn’t look much better… The next day, defying the weather, we went on a tour to the Echo Valley, and also joined a little cave expedition, called Cave Connection. The Echo Valley obviously gets its name from the echo… but, well. I’ve rarely heard a weaker echo 😉 The hanging coffins are displayed there, a special form of burial which today is open only to the wealthy who can afford it…
Hängende Särge in Sagada

The Cave Connection links two large caves and takes about four hours altogether. We definitely had no idea what we were signing up for! 😉 The tour led us through narrow gaps and across slippery rocks; in some places we actually had to climb, sometimes with the help of a rope… Not recommendable for anyone suffering from claustrophobia, and generally more a thing for the adventurous at heart!! It was fun, but I was also glad when we all returned safely, without anybody falling…
Cave Connection Tour in Sagada

23.02.-24.02.2013 Banaue

A Jeepney brought us to Banaue via Bontoc. What sounds simple enough was in fact a loooong wait. In Bontoc we had a glimpse of the sun, a short-lived pleasure; in Banaue we were again greeted by fog and rain… Of course we could still not leave out the viewpoints around Banaue and hired a tricycle to drive us there. Rice terraces as far as we could see! Very beautiful…
Reisterrassen in Banaue

The next day, we shared a Jeepney with a few other travellers and went to the departure point for Batad. Batad, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a veritable amphitheatre of rice terraces.Reisterrassen in BatadThe weather continued to be rainy… but the tour was nevertheless a great experience! You wander along the thin walls that separate the individual terraces, rice fields filled with water and mud to the left, a sharp drop to the lower terrace to the right – luckily I wasn’t one of those who took a bath! 😉Reisterrassen in Batad Reisterrassen in BatadReturning to Banaue, I hopped on a night bus to Manila…

25.02.2013 Manila

…where I arrived completely exhausted at 5 a.m. I was on my own again from here on. A few hours of sleep later I started my sightseeing. First, I wandered into Intramuros, Manila’s old town. There were some amazing old buildings – but there were also many annoying tricycle drives who failed to understand that not everybody needs a guide 😉Kirche in Intramuros

On to Chinatown – which I liked just as much as I always do. I just enjoy the chaos!
Chinatown in Manila

There is also a wonderful church, the Quiapo Church, and the Golden Mosque.
Quiapo Church in Manila

On my way back on the Jeepney, I stopped in Malate, visiting the church there and strolling along the waterfront promenade. I like Manila!
ManilaIn the evening, I met up with Gion, a Swiss guy I had met in Banaue. After a yummy dim sum supper and a few beers it was decided that I could just as well go to the airport directly instead of bothering with sleep! No sooner said than done… (to be continued 😉 )