Saturday, May 14, 2016

“It’s more fun in the Philippines”

Or at least that’s what the Philippine Tourist slogan is saying.  Actually, we had a pretty nice relaxing week by the beach.  Lao New Year or Pi Mai Lao is the hottest, most alcohol fuelled time of year, so we decided to get out of the country for the duration.  Going to a Thai beach wasn’t appealing as they too were having national holidays, so we headed to the Philippines for a new adventure. 

We didn't want to go to tourist-central (I.e. Boracay), El Nido looked great but was a 4 hour bus ride so was not appealing when having to manage Andrew who doesn't fold up into a local bus or mini-van too well.  So I found a simple house 3 minutes from the beach and we based ourselves at Dumulan Beach on Panglao Island.


We headed to Manila (via Hong Kong) where we simply overnighted and wandered around the next morning and caught our only glimpse of the famous Jeepneys.  We sat in on a wedding at the church beside the hotel where the bridal party had 20 or so members and then we caught a one hour flight to Tagbilaran, Bohol.

I had organised with our host for her to send a taxi.  We found our man holding up a sign with our names and we got on the road – a 20 minute or ride.  Then worryingly he asked where our hotel was.  We explained it was an AirBnb house and not a hotel, and we did not know where it was – that was the whole point of having the host send the taxi – so we didn’t need to worry about the directions.  While driving he kept trying to ring his boss who had sent him on the job – but he wasn’t answering.  Eventually he took us to a hostel because he thought the owner had the same name as our host – but no we got turned away from there.  Eventually we convinced him to ring our host – we had her contact number – and we were finally heading to destination not too far away.  Not the best start to the trip, but it was sorted in the end.

The house was very simple – just bedrooms/bathroom and a very nice large shaded veranda where we spent most of our time when at the house.  We had problems with water not flowing to the shower for 60% of the time we were there, and needing to bucket-scoop water to ’shower’ .  But we were pretty relaxed about it because all we did all day was walk to the beach swim, eat , walk back and repeat in that sort of cycle it wasn’t a big deal


The beach was a 2 or 3 minute walk away.  Lovely white sands and clear water.  At high tide there wasn’t a lot of beach and the sea-bed was very shallow so we could walk out for ages and still only be waist deep.  But the water was lovely and at high-tides the swimming and snorkeling very nice.


We got a little caught out by the UV levels which were similar to NZ levels at 12-13 on the scale.  Laos is about 4 and Thai beaches about 8.  So we both got a bit sun-burnt one morning.  Due to reasonably fair skin I was then the woman walking up and down the beach hit the hat shoulders wrapped in a scarf while others swam and frolicked.  It was interesting to see the number of locals who were wearing protective swimwear (rash suits)  Both of us are going to get such apparel for the future.  Who wants to avoid the water for days because of sunburn!

Our beach was not tourist central so the dining options were limited but we got a good routine going where we alternated between a BBQ restaurant for lunch and it’s sister restaurant for dinner. 

Andrew mangling the name of the national beer - apparently he was drinking San Miggle beer rather than San Miguel like everyone else :-)

Philippine cuisine is definitely meat orientated and quite a lot of pigs are consumed.  We had breakfast delivered each morning as part of our house rent and we found the Philippine Mangoes to be stunningly good – better than from Laos – which are still very good.

A local practice is for families and groups to come to the beach and hire a cabana.  They then bring all their food and have a picnic experience.  Lots of people day tipping, singing and having a good time.


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