I’ve been in the Philippines for almost two weeks now and I have definitely kept myself busy. So far I have clocked up four flights, five bus journeys, two ferries, one taxi and numerous tricycle rides. It has been pretty hard-core but the rewards have been phenomenal.
My first stop was Manila where I met my friends Sam and Rosey and we embarked on a running tour to see the sights of the city.
We then ruined our great work by our night out on the town and begrudgingly left the club to make our way back to the hotel to catch a cab to the airport. Slightly intoxicated, full of junk food and highly deprived of sleep, we made our way to the Island of Palawan.
I fell in love with the limestone clad rocks and quaint town of El Nido which is ‘nest’ in Spanish and it is here that I Island hopped in the Bacuit Archipelago, kayaked in lagoons and dined on barbequed fish on the beach. The great monumental structures that surfaced from the sea reminded me a lot of Halong Bay only this time round it was a lot better – the water was greener, it was warm and there was more to do.
I partied in Boracay and was mesmorised by the white silky soft sand and turquoise waters of this beautiful island. But alas nothing lasts for ever and after we said our farewells to Rosey (who was flying back to the UK), the last two standing soon found out that they could not stand any longer.
We had been hit by the Boracay Bug and were bedridden for the next two days. After realising that it was more than just the effects of a mad night out, we got a check-up at the local medical centre, where we were both prescribed antibiotics. Apparently there were high levels of bacteria in our blood which was causing fever and aches and pains along with a very chesty cough. Our dancing with the Island of Boracay was cut short and there was nothing we could do about it except accept fate and vow to come back another day.
Onwards to Cebu and it is was here where Sam and I split for a couple of days so that we could both accomplish our holiday goals involving the least amount of travel. She wanted to travel to Bohol to see the Chocolate Hills and I wanted to dive in Moalboal and Cebu was the gateway to both so she stayed there and I continued onwards.
I decided to get the local bus to Moalboal and sat squashed in a three seater yellow bus which shouldn’t really sit more than two, surrounded by locals. Despite being uncomfortable, it was a nice experience to be part of the daily commute for many people. I was greeted by friendly smiles and was amazed at how people kept piling on regardless of having nowhere to sit.
At several points sellers would jump on and off selling bottles of water, pork scratchings, pies, corn and biscuits and their expeditious melodious chants resembled the fast ramblings of the stock brokers and auctioneers back home. We passed villages and coastlines, windy roads and beautiful flowers and after three hours, it was time to disembark the bus and head to the hotel.
I am now sitting by the pool which has the most magnificent backdrop into the surrounding bay. The sun is shining and I have a massive grin on my face. I’ve booked my diving for tomorrow and so now it’s truly time to have a bit of me time and relax.
So far on reflection of my time here, I’ve had an amazing few weeks, in fact few months! It’s been fast paced but that’s enabled me to see quite a bit. I have had a great mixture of a holiday and I still can’t believe I’m actually able to do this! What a lucky girl!
I feel that the Philippines is definitely a country full of stupendous warmth and friendliness. Everyone I have encountered has been polite and very helpful. The majority of people I have met seem to have a constant smile on their face regardless of their circumstances and its beautiful to see. The hospitality is out of this world and something for the country to be very proud of along with their beautiful pristine beaches, glorious sunshine and innumerable activities.
However, one thing that I found very difficult was seeing the level of poverty in Manila. There is a lot of people sleeping rough – unbelievable amounts. I have never seen a baby on the streets before and the image of this dirty naked little girl playing by her makeshift bed was a real shock to the system. It does make you think how lucky we are to be born where we are, to live how we do and to experience life in a different setting.
My sister once said to me “we won the lottery, the moment we were born” and looking back to the image of this deprived little girl – she is so right!
It’s definitely another wakeup call to ensure that we don’t take things for granted and that we are grateful for everything we have or achieve, regardless of how little we think it is. Some people don’t have a bed to sleep in or a roof over their head and will never have that. Something to think about the next time we go to moan – isn’t it?