A Travellerspoint blog

PORT BARTON UNDERWATER WORLD

Exploring Coral Reefs

semi-overcast 28 °C
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Port Barton is essentially off the grid. There are three generators that power the town from 6 pm to midnight. For the rest of the day there is no electricity. Internet is sporadic and very slow. Not sure I will have the capacity to upload video but a few photos may be possible. There are however lots of roosters that make sure we don't sleep in. Most tourists take time during the day to go Island hopping and Don and I join the crowd. We catch a boat with two Israeli youth who have just finished three years of compulsory military training, a young traveller from the Czeck Republic , and a French couple who speak very limited English. We are off on an Island tour from 9 to 4 to explore the underwater world among the Islands just offshore. Our first stop is Twin Reef followed by a visit to Exotic Island for lunch, back in the water off German Island to swim with the turtles, then to Fantastic Reef and Lagoon Reef, finishing off at Starfish Island. The coral is impressive, with as much variety as I have seen anywhere else in the world. I am underwater for more than 4 hours during the day shooting video with my go pro. Every turn brings up a new siting. Among the most memorable are swimming with the biggest turtles I have have ever seen, watching two orange and white yellowtail coris fish wriggling among the tentacles of a brilliant blue sponge, and watching 4 foot black and grey banded snakes wriggle through the water. It is a day to remember. Giant plate corals, elkhorn corals. Corals in blues, greens, and pure whites with lots of colourful fish to make it more interesting.

SWIMMING WITH TURTLES
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We return to the Port Barton, shower and head back to the beach for happy hour and a dinner by moonlight watching Venus rise with the stars. We will go out again tomorrow but will sleep well tonight.

OUR BOAT
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EXOTIC ISLAND
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DON WITH STARFISH TATTOO
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APPROACHING PORT BARTON FROM SEA
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PORT BARTON BEACH FRONT
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PORT BARTON MAIN STREET
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Posted by RDILL 05:12 Archived in Philippines Tagged underwater adventures Comments (0)

SABANG TO PORT BARTON

The Mangrove Swamp


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SABANG
Don and I are up early and book in to the Park Headquarters as it opens at 8:00 am to hike the jungle trail. To do the trail we need a guide and Merly books us in and then decides to take us. Merly comes our up to our shoulders but takes off like a ball of fire and both Don and I struggle to keep up to her. Our first stop involves getting in a dugout canoe and taking a tour up the Mangrove River. The project is run by volunteers with assistance from Canada. The Mangrove trees are like nothing I've see before - towering up to 30 metres in the air and some are up to 500 years old. The canopy is so high it is hard too see wildlife but we do encounter some green and yellow banded snakes, and small monitor lizards and iguanas. On the way back one of our guides sings us a touching song about the Mangroves and the need to look after them.

MANNGROVE SWAMP
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SNAKES AND MONITOR LIZARDS
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THE MANGROVE SONG SINGER
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(Song to come later)

We proceed along the trail through mature jungle for another hour and then return to our digs, pack up and check out. Soon we are picked up and shuttled to Port Barton - a 3 hour trip through rolling hill country and then down towards the coast for another 22 kilometers. The paved road soon turns into a rutted muddy trail, interspersed with the beginning of construction of a new concrete 2 lane road that will wind through the gorgeous mountainside. We proceed at a snails pace till we arrive at Port Barton in late afternoon.

PORT BARTON
After check in, we head for the beach to do some exploring. Port Barton is idyllically set in a large bay with a gorgeous sandy beach, and a village of small restaurants and beach cottages spread along the bay. There are two roads of beach sand that run parallel to the beach. It is very laid back yet already full of visitors who have discovered this place. We are glad we found it now before the road is completed and it gets overrun with tourists.
We spent the evening on the beach watching the sun set and then enjoy dinner while the stars surround us. It is calm and serene with the waves lapping in the background.

PORT BARTON SUNSET
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BAR ON THE BEACH
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Posted by RDILL 06:18 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)

SABANG

Exploring the Underground River

sunny 30 °C
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We got picked up early and after 2 hours of driving through beautiful countryside full of palms, jungle, rice fields, and little villages, we arrived at Sabang, a laid back village on the West Coast - and stop off point to the UNESCO protected underground river. Tourists and locals arrive from all over to take the promoted tour- 20 minute boat ride to the Park entrance and then a 40 minute trip in and back to see a small part of the underground river. We have decided to stay here overnight to see if we can go later and miss the hoards.

SABANG MAIN STREET
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THE BEACHFRONT
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We checked in at Cafe Sabang our accommodation for the night. One of the travellers I had met, said it was sometimes possible to get a special permit to go deeper into the river and spend longer. I asked the young woman at the desk who conferred with her mother who then went to talk to the park people and less than an hour later came back with a permit for my brother and partner myself and a cute 23 year old woman of French and Brazilian background and who studied with the mother's daughter in France and is spending 6 months volunteering at Cafe Sabang. It was the mothers present to Flavia - and a wonderful opportunity for us. Less than an hour later we are off. With our guide we proceeded into the cave to the underground river and follow it under the mountains 4.4 kilometres inland. After the first 20 minutes all the other boats turn around and we are all by ourselves. Over the next 4 hours we entered into a place of pure beauty and quiet. Italian researchers have followed the trail for another 3 kilometres by foot and swimming to connect it to its source from a local river still flowing. At one point there were fossilized remains of the forerunners of sea cows on the walls estimated at 20 million years old. Bats, both large and small, lined the walls and whizzed around us. After 4 hours as we exited the other guides were ribbing us. "You returned heh" Wouldn't want to have our lanterns fail while deep inside. We asked our guide how often he gets to take people in all the way. Maybe 12 times a year. We are very fortunate. When I relate our adventures to the mother and daughter later in the evening, the mother says, we only let special people go in.

Later in the afternoon after our return, we walked the sand beach, stopped off at a little beach front vegetarian restaurant for dinner and walked back home. The first day of the beginning of my tourist travels and it was a good one.

OUR TRANSPORT
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FLAVIA
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ENTERING THE UNDERGROUND RIVER
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THE UNDERGROUND RIVER - ELEPHANT FEEDING
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FOSSILIZED REMAINS
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LIFE 4 KILOMETERS UNDERGROUND
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Posted by RDILL 06:58 Archived in Philippines Tagged river underground sabang Comments (0)

BAHAY KALIPAY THE LAST DAY

The Teacher and the Student

sunny 30 °C
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Yoga this morning was the best yet. Body felt soft yet strong. I have never done so many downward hanging dogs in my life as II have done here. The routine is getting imbedded in me now and is the same basic flow with each teacher adapting it slightly.

Today we learned how to cut green coconuts for drinking, and ripe coconuts to make shredded coconut and coconut milk. It is great here There is a never ending supply of green coconuts that you can cut open and drink whenever you feel like it.

CUTTING COCONUTS
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READY TO DRINK
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Morning wake up is water, then swishing coconut oil in your mouth for 20 minutes, sitting it out into the "Spitting Circle" followed by a drink of lime and salt. Evening drink is a kefir kombucha mix. Mani will be pleased to hear that II have grown to love it.

THE OIL SPIT
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I have started to assist teachers when questions arise from students - like how to avoid hyperextending the knees, or suggesting ways to ground students who have gone through deep release. Over the week I have connected with many of the teacher and visitors here, but my favourite is Isabelle, an adorable young woman from Paris who is just beginning a journey to open her energy. She has all kinds of questions, so today I sat with her in the meditation room and guided her in simple meditative practices she could do to really connect with her breath, with the life force inside, and learn how to open it and help harness it. She was so beautiful at the end, her eyes sparkling and she had more and questions she wanted to know the answers to. Tonight as we said our goodbyes, she burst into tears hugging me, and said I was the first person she had shared her light with and didn't want me to go. I felt very humbled and appreciative that I could help someone on their journey. Such is the beauty of the people here.

Tonight we meditated on the singing bowls. Imana Lightweb has lived for 30 years in Nepal and brings her love of the bowls here. When she placed it on my chest and played it , my whole inner being spilled out. Tomorrow is a day of silence and non doing, so I said my goodbyes to everyone, shared emails and contacts, knowing I will see some of them again while travelling or when they come to visit on Pender Island.

IMANA AND OUR NUTRITIONIST
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Don and Kathy have arrived and we spent part of the day reorganizing our trip based on feedback from guests who have arrived here after travelling through Palawan. Tomorrow we go to Sabang as scheduled, and then off to a small village on the west coast called Port Barton. Everyone has raved about it so we are excited to explore an area a little off the normal tourist trek. Not sure we will have internet connection in either place as they only have electricity in the early evening but will take lots of pictures and will continue to post when able a slightly more normal travelogue from here on in.

Namaste

Posted by RDILL 15:58 Archived in Philippines Tagged day last bahay kalipay Comments (0)

BAHAY KALIPAY 3

An Inner Journey

sunny 30 °C
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The next couple of days are inner reflections. Few photos. They will come when I hit the road.

Up at 5, for an hour walk along the road checking out the surroundings. I really haven't seen any of the Philipppines except for for the airport, the retreat centre, the Hotsprings and the beach. Most of the houses are simple bamboo structures Nothing elaborate. The men go by on their motorbikes to work. Kids play on the street. The women are tending the home. The local street vendor has coconuts and papaya and some used kids clothes hanging in front.

Yoga was soft and deep this morning. After another amazing breakfast I booked myself in for an oil massage. Coconut oil poured over my body and then worked deep into the body with the most amazing strong hands of the Philippine man working the knots out of my muscles. His dream is to move to Canada one day to set up practice. I am ready to bring him.

Life at the retreat is fascinating. It is an open door system with some coming for a few weeks and others for a few days. One just establishes a close connection with someone and the next day they are off and someone new arrives. But everyone is here for the right reasons and connections happen in a matter of minutes. Hugs are deeply connected and frequent, binding our collective souls. Today at lunch I sat beside a healer from Bali originally from Poland. It is great to have travelled extensively in my life (both Bali. and Poland) as it inspires the beginning of conversation with fellow travellers.

This afternoon it is personal time and I relax on a thatch hammock, let the sun absorb into my body, and listen to the roosters crowing everywhere, while reading and composing thoughts to share.

The evening session is inner dance. We start out lying on our yoga mats moving deep into the music that will guide us. Soon I am taken on a magical journey first underwater, then rising into the forests absorbing the energy from shamanistic practices, coming into the light. I flashed back through all the amazing teachers I have known and studied with over the years - for the groups and circles that I have shared practice with. I take the time to give thanks for the journey they have helped guide me on, and to express thanks for this amazing world we have the privilege of living in.

Sleep was deep and vibrant.
Namaste

Posted by RDILL 03:03 Archived in Philippines Tagged 3 bahay kalipay Comments (0)

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