A travel blog of a journey that I started in 2010 and I don't know when it will end ...

Friday, December 9, 2016

Philippines

---  Versió Catalana ---

In November 2016 I visited some parts of the Philippines. This has been my experience.


Itinerary
Some Photos


Map of the route



Manila 
After 17 hours flight from Barcelona, I arrive to Manila. 
From the airport I use the GRAB service (a kind of Asian Uber).
I've book a bed in a hostel at Makati area, Z Hostel (www.zhostel.com) very charming building and beds, the only problem is the noise from the street.  Makati is one of the 16 cities that form the huge  Grand Manila, is the financial centre of Philippines.
And... just when I make my entrance to the lobby of the hostel, I meet Núria, one girl from Tarragona that travels a lot and we recognise instantaneously! I'm arriving to Philippines and she is going back to the catalan lands after few weeks with friends. She give her report about all the places they've visit...

Next morning, it's Sunday. I go to visit Intramuros, the oldest area of the city and it's well walled, the construction of this area start in l’any 1.590 during the colonial spanish age. 
Inside the wall you can still find some colonial houses, churches, cathedral and universities. I visit  Fort Santiago and the museum about José Rizal (Philippine Patriot that was executed for the Spanish authorities during the colonial age and provoke the revolution to move out the Spanish colons).
I keep walking through  Rizal Parc and I visit China town.


The Asian cities are very complex and, at least for me, there are some that I love them and there are that not. Without any kind of logic, of course. 
There are elements, companions and situations that makes you like more or not a city like Manila. 
This first taste of Manila, has been a easy and soft experience. It didn't trapped me, but the chaos sometimes has a thing...

I decide to keep going the same night with a night bus to the Cordillera area even I had my hostel paid.

The night bus to Banaue I booked from the same hostel with Victory liner (old buses and not confortables, at least on nov. 2016). I would recomment another bus company .. Coda Lines from the HM terminal (http://www.codalinesph.com/bus-trips/) New buses with Wifi on board. All of them has the problem of the AC temperature. You have to be prepared for the worse. 10 hores trip.


Banaue and Batat 
I arrive at 6 in the morning to Banaue, I have brackfast with nice views at the rice fields. I look for options to do with other travelers that are in the same point as me.
I ended up joining a polac group that wanted to visit some view points and Batat.

With an old Jeepney, we start the way to Batat, spectacular rice fields with amphitheatre shape that evolve a tiny village, lonely in the valley. We went to see the waterfalls Tappia after a tough way down. It's worth it.  


The peacefulness is excellent, the ancestral way to work the fields, the stone walls,... 
The tourist business is growing fast (that in part brake this peace)  but still in some way this scenic visual area has the thing need to make worth the visit for the sniveller traveller.

After Batat, I thought that it was nothing left to visit... bus still we went to visit the rice fields of Banaue with the afternoon sun. Excellent!
I sleep in Batat for the next morning go to Sagada. There is no much to do in Batat, so I rest and O read a little. Later I discover that I could go to Sagada the same day. If you are in a harry, be persistence and you will get there. (I wasn't) 

I got the transport to Sagada, after negotiation. Is not easy to get all the information and options for transport.

Sagada

I arrive at Sagada after a journey with spectacular views of valleys full of charming corners ascending to 1500 meters.
Sagada is a mountain touristic village with restaurants, hotels, tours and activities.
Without looking, I take the George Guest House, and with an Slovenian and a group of Philippine we visit niches hanging from Valley Echo, the underground river, a small waterfall with swim included  and the next morning a "view of a non sunrise." It was cloudy ... .. and raining.


I liked much Sagada, and I would like to had more information to be able to do a nice hike.
In the afternoon the next day I take a bus (Coda Lines) to Manila.
At 2:30 I arrived in Manila,  and direct to the airport terminal .... I went to the wrong terminal ... but I had a few hours margin to change terminals. My plane leaves at ..... 9 am to Puerto Princesa (Palawan Island).

Puerto Princesa

Walking from the airport I approach the accommodation Casa Linda Inn, a small oasis in Puerto Princesa.
I sleep ..... and afternoon I give a ride to the city center. And relax.


The next day, I make a boat trip visiting three islands of Honda Bay, Starfish Island, Cowrie Island and Lu-Li Island. 
A little touristy, but a fine way to do the first contact with the Philippines beaches.


I have dinner with a pair of Basques, the Roberts .. that we meet in Manaue and I crossed back in Sagada. Fortuitously they also staying at Casa Linda.
The next day I go with van to El Nido, four and a half hours with rain.

El nido

The tourist infrastructure is constantly growing in El Nido, no shortage of restaurants, hotels, guesthouses, resorts ...
Despite the overcrowding, it is not very oppressive, and it can be very pleasant.
I am staying in Ogie's Beach Hotel, a pension in front of the beach. Simple, comfortable and a common area with views of the bay very nice.


At the late afternoon rain stops and I go out for a walk till the cemetery and inspecting the village. 
I meet Blanca from Zaragoza and she has been few weeks already in El Nido. 
I'm going to dinner with her and her friends.

The next day I do the tour A of the islands in the archipelago of Bacuit. We visit the Small Lagoon, Big Lagoon, the Secret Lagoon, and the coast of the island of Simizu and just before returning to El Nido, Beach Entulala. Spectacular.


I celebrate it going out to dinner with friends of Blanca
Next morning I do the C tour, that begins with the Helicopter Island, Matinloc, the Secret Beach and Star Beach.


Next day I rent a Motorbike (400php) and I go to Nacpan beach, where I go up to the lookout and I lay back on the sand... 


From there, I continue north until bucana, where I take a dust track to Duli beach, which is a little hanging. Coming back, I stop at the fishing village of Bucana. 
To avoid to go back the same way, I continue the road (unpaved stretches) to San Fernando and Sibaltan where I eat chicken adobo in one of the small resorts that are at the beach. Lonely and very nice.



The last section until close the circle is tough, all unsurfaced road and hard lumps. 
I pass through El Nido and I saw the Beach Cabañas, before going to see the sunset at Republik bar. Brutal views!


To say goodbye to El Nido, I go for dinner to eat noodles soup at Beef Stew and Grill and a reggae concert at Pukkas bar.

Port Barton
Absolute tranquillity. I arrive at Port Barton at noon. I start looking for the right accommodation to the beach ... Green View Resort is the one I find more like what I was looking.Cabin 1200php. 
To the left, there are more affordable options, but the sunsets are on the right side ....
I have lunch at Gayacan, a local food restaurant in Port Barton, a delicious fish curry. 
In the afternoon relax. Read, walk, beach, beer ... watching the sunset and dinner at the resort.



Next day I do a tour of islands and areas to do snorkel. I found them as the same good level as El Nido... to not say betters.

Dinner at Gayatan and rest.


The next morning I have breakfast and a walk around the village. It's clowdy and I have a bus to Puerto Princesa at one. 
In Puerto Princesa I am staying again in Casa Linda Inn. 

The next day I take flight to Cebu. And straight from the Cebu airport by taxi to the ferry terminal to catch one to taglibaran.


Taglibaran

The ferry takes only 2,5 hour. I'm already in Bohol island. I go to Alona beach, located 20km in the island of Panglao. I am staying at Alona Bamboo House that I have found looking for another accommodation. And I meet again the Roberts from Bilbao! Pleasant coincidence! We have dinner and drinks.The next morning I rent a motorbike along with Roberts and I we do a turn the island of Bohol. 250km in a day ... not bad! Chocolate Hills, Tarsiers, bamboo bridges of Sipatán and observation fireflies,



In the morning, we went to ask for the refresh PADI certificate (to dive) I have. I want to try here is the island of Balicasag.We chose Bohol Divers Club Dive Center, that is run by a very nice couple from Madrid, Sarah and Pelayo. 
100% recommended! 
Sarah did the refresh course and we do ours first two dives of the first day in Panglao.


What you see underwather is spectacular!
At night, from nowhere, Pelayo and Sara make a nice BBQ at the beach with a nice group. We are David, Paula, Maria, Judith, Robertos, Paula, Silvia, Susana, Bea... 


Next morning we take the boat to Balicasag to do 2 dives. Essential!
We do the way back in the boat very excited.


With the group of the barbecue we organize a boat to go to Siquijor from Alona beach, to not having to go to catch the ferry taglibaran. 
So the next morning we say goodbye to Sarah and Pelayo, and towards the sea.


Siquijor

A boat leaves us in Siquijor 100 meters from the coast .... and we have to walk with our bags at the head and water till waist ... They leave us in the middle of the road along the island. We fit all of us in 3 Tricycles to go to the accommodation that we have been recommended, Casa Miranda.


We look for a tricycle to rent for the next day. We see the sunset and have dinner in a restaurant quite well.

On the way back to the accommodation, we hear music and see many cars and motorbikes .. we have a look, and they invite us to join them.
Birthday Party 50 years of care of Siquijor ...
Buffet, drinks pies, orchestra and karaoke!

The next day tricycle bikes and we go to see falls and waterfalls of Kawasan Falls Lugnason the Salagdoong Beach and we do the round to the island. 


Next morning we take the motorbikes to visit the caves of Cantabon. Really nice! Also the village is so authentic. 

We try a coconut bread spectacular!
The other day we are stumbling through the interior of the island with the bike. jointo go to Apo island a day earlier than I had thought with Robertos.
Tricycle to to Siquijor ferry, ferry to Dumangete, tricycle to the Ceres bus station and bus to Malatapay. Then ferry to Apo.


Apo 
Apo is a very small island with a former fishing village (now turned into marine life guards and carriers of tourists), some beaches, two ponds, a lighthouse, many many turtles and coral.


Doing snorkel from the beach swimming surrounded by coral and green turtles.
I stayed 3 nights in Apo. I do three dives, snorkelling and beach. 
It's hard to leave, but Dumaguete awaits.


Dumaguete
The first night Dumagete to stay for dinner with the Catalan girls we went to Siquijor with.
The next day I rent a bike and I go to visit the Twin Lakes and Bais.


At the afternoon I walk through the city and I go out for dinner.


Tagaytay

Flight to Manila in the early morning.
In Manila, I take a bus to Tagaytay to view the Taal Volcano before say goodbye Philippines.


At noon next morning I take a bus to Manila.

This is how ends my first contact with  Philippines. I think it wont be the last!