Monthly Archives: March 2012

Cebu

The motorbike ride around Bohol  covered 200 kilometres (120+ miles)… I went up to the  middle of Bohol Island to see the chocolate hills.. .earth mounds which are green this time of year.

image

.. .then I headed west to the ocean.  I went through rice farms and people were drying the rice on the road.   Almost every kid smiled, waved and said hello to me.   It was a great ride along the coast and back to Loboc.

I bought a ticket to see a school  band concert in Loboc. I was amazed at the quality of this performance.  They played well and danced while playing.   Trombones,trumpets,  Saxiphones, clarinets, drum,  guitar and keyboard.  When they played New York, New York I wanted to jump up and yell.. that is where I am from. 

I kept remembering my years playing the trumpet in the CBA marching band.. .boy did we suck!!

A ride to the pier, a quick ride on a catamarang to the next island of Cebu.

This city is the second biggest in the Philippines and is where Magellan landed,  planted his Spanish Catholic cross which started religion here which really took off.. . There are plenty of old churches here plus the Mormons and Jehovah Witness’s.  Cebu is where Magellan was killed.

So I had a calm 4 days here and walked around and visited the St.  Nino Church.  MAGELLAN brought a small doll made up like a baby King Jesus. Years after he was killed they found it in a burning house and began to worship it. They have a little shrine near the church which contains a cross,  inside the cross is the original Magellan cross. He brought to Cebu.

I also visited the Spanish fort which defended Cebu. A blind singer was there and sang Paper Roses. I also got on a local bus which took me down the coast to the town of Sibonga. They have a small pier and an old church, Our Lady of Pillar. I got a bike taxi and got a little tour of the place. The driver took me to the place he eats lunch. The food was great,  the lady who runs it was adorable.  She has 6 sons,  she proposed marriage. .hehe.

image

Lunch lady

image

I found an interesting store near the Cebu Guesthouse. The place is run by a very nice guy from India. I bought plenty of nice gifts from him. I will mail them back from Manila.

Back to the Cebu airport for a flight back to Manila. The lines in the airport were hell. Thank God for Dunkin Donuts.

Advertisements

Bohol Island

21 March 2012… up early in Manila..taxi to the airport and an hour ride on a Jest jet to the island of Bokol. The airport runway was next to the ocean and short.  The jet really had to brake hard.

A trik ride to the big mall and a jeepney ride along the coast and up a river valley into the hills to Loboc. No one knew where the Bohol Guesthouse was… One call to Thea in Manila and I found the place.. It is right on the river and made up of bamboo huts.

I walked up the road and went to a little store and got a cold beer and a bag of chips.  The 4 people there turned into 20 people.. Once I went around offering some chips I had 20 new friends.  Simple moments are the best.  They offered me homemade coconut and rice wine..I took a rain check.

The first nite a van took me, a Polish guy and a German couple to the rivet boat dinner and cruise.  This tourist thing cost 600 pesos $12.  The food was mediocre at best..the boat ride was nice..they have colored lights along the river..but the thing that made this worth it was a riverside music show by old ladies and kids.  They were all wearing matching native uniforms and most playing ukes…the sound was fantastic…they also had little kids dancing so good!!!! They had bamboo dancing..you know the kind where someone is on each end and people are dancing between the bamboo and it is very dangerous to peoples’ ankles.

image

uke band of Loboc

This morning I got to see 2 chickens eaten by the Hostels pet albino python.  The people on these islands are so gentle and nice.

Sunday I get a ferry to Cebu and will stay there a few days before I head back to Manila… Tomorrow I will rent a motorbike for the day.

Boracay Island

My second time in Manila was so much better than the first time.  I said goodbye to my driver,  Jess and he gave me a wooden Indian carved necklace and I actually got emotional.. . These drivers in Asia are the reason I have been able to really experience Asia.   I try to be generous to these guys. . I always buy them meals to show my appreciation.

My van took me from Banaue over some very scary mountainous/landslide-prone  roads to Baguio.   I  got my luggage I left at a hotel there,  and they did not have a room for me at the hotel so I got a bus ticket to Manila. This bus was  big and nice with WiFi.. .so it was just about 20 hours on the road to Manila. 

My friend Thea found a great hostel in Manila.. .a short taxi ride from the bus station.  So. .after midnite I was in bed with AC, cable TV and beautiful WIFI and slept  like a baby.

I walked around Manila and felt very safe and had a big breakfast at a very clean McDonalds.  Thea, her sister and  her aunt took me to a big mall and I saw some nice things to buy to send back.. .will do that before I leave the Philippines.

Thea helped me to get up to the northern mountains and rice terraces.   She also helped me plan a boat trip to Boracay,  an international tourist spot. 

I got a 3 hour bus ride from Manila to a port South of the city.  The big boat reminded me of the Greek ships.

image

Boracay Beach

Could not wait to post this picture which I took from the second floor of Starbucks.

4 nights Here at a good hostel and then back to Manila.  I also have some plane tickets to go to a couple more islands next week.

Thea is making my Philippine visit so amazing. Off to see the sun go down on the Boracay Beach.

the northern mountains of Pinoy

Baguio is a big town and I arrived in the middle of the annual flower festival.  I got lost in centro and took a cab back to the hotel.  On Sunday, I walked up to the Cathedral and went to mass.  Nice music and the place was packed..

The festival ended with a fantastic fireworks display.  On was on the top deck of the SM Mall overlooking the city and they shot them off from 5 locations… they know how to do it here.

image

my Pinoy ladies

My friend in Manila suggested a trip to Sagada…so I went.  5 hrs. on mountain roads.  These roads need to be experienced by all.  They hug the mountain sides or ride the crest of ridges… the vehicles are full size busses, jeepnee trucks and vans… some places are one lane, sometimes you go over dirt and stone.  They are always working on the roads…as they washout and have landslides.  I had no other way to get up here.

the rice fields are 2000 years old and are beautiful.

I ended up in Banaue… another Unesco site…I have been many.  My driver took me to a country music bar.   They had a great band and I got up and played the guitar.  It felt good and the band backed me up.

image

Banaue

So back to Baguio and then to Manila….all good with me.

the Philippines

Another easy flight from HCMC to Manila.  I sat next to a UK school teacher who was bringing over 8 young students for a math competition.

I ordered my veg meal 9 months ago and they had it ready for me. I meet an old Oz guy on the plane who was going to Subic Bay and he asked me to go along.  After taking a cab into a terrible/hot traffic jammed Manila, I decided to go along with him…..a mistake.  We took a train to the bus station and then a bus to Subic, then a jeepnee (like a pickup truck with a covered back), then a motorbike with a sidecar to the hotel.  I could not get a room and found one up the street…. never saw my friend again. I only stayed 2 nites in this little seedy beachfront hangout for old western guys looking for young ladies….  I got up enough courage to walk up to the mainroad and get a jeepnee to the next town which had a bus station. 

image

My friend from Manila suggested I go north up to the mountains.  She was right…after a long bus ride up the road where the Bataan Death March took place, I ended up in Bagiou, a retreat for the Pinoy people.

As always…I takes a little to get use to another country.  This is so much different than Vietnam..

Leaving Vietnam

Off to Manila. Great time here and I leave with a little regret.  My friend Cuong had to work, but he was able to take me for a couple of joy rides and some good meals.  I visited a cultural museum, mailed a package back home, and got to see the Saigon Zoo.

My friend Lynn took me for a couple of rides in the city.  I will not miss the motorbike rides in this city.  I have never had an accident but numerous close calls with other bikes and taxis.

I overstayed my visa by one day and passport control wanted $50.  I told them I just had a twenty and they checked me out.  I had to put the money in my passport before I gave it to him.  No paperwork…jeeesh!!!!

image

Saigon skyline as seen from School og Science

Well my next adventure is Manila…hope to find a place to stay tonite.

all is well and home in 80 days.