A Travellerspoint blog


Hanging Out

sunny 32 °C
View Philippines 2017 on RDILL's travel map.

We take another easy day. No more exploring. We enjoy the sun. We talk to fellow travellers. A Belgian couple with two small kids - not yet three and turning one in April. He has quit his job with Lufthansa and they are presently on a 4 month travel adventure. In the Philippines, south East Asia and Indonesia. The youngest has been to 28 countries already in his life. Everyone the dad meets say he is very brave, but he says it is a neat way to bond with his family while they are still young.

Managed one video at the airport on the way home


Posted by RDILL 14:29 Archived in Philippines Comments (0)


Snorkel Heaven

sunny 33 °C
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9:00 am and we are met by a small outrigger boat and two locals who do not speak any English and will take Don and I to two snorkel spots that have been recommended by avid snorkellers and divers. The first is Coral Gardens. We head into a strong headwind for an hour. Our drivers are excellent navigators of the waves and we reach the site just off a neighbouring Island. It is a drift along a steep wall and we arrive before the tour boats from Coron. It turns out to be a beautiful snorkel area - healthy coral reef with lots of variety, dropping into the purple blue deep, lots of bigger fish hanging out by the drop-off, and the added bonus of 4 turtle sightings and the chance to swim with them again. I love doing the breast stroke with them, my arms in time with their flippers, a few feet separating us. It is getting close to being my dream snorkel site. You can swim on the surface in close to the reef with corals a metre or two under you, or you can dive down along the wall descending 5 to 7 metres or look into blue ethereal depths. We drift the ledge till we hit the far point of land and more turbulent waters and strong tide movement and turn around to return to our boat an hour later. By this time there are 10 boats dropping tourists into the water but most don't venture more than a few metres from their anchorage.

Our next stop is Calumbuyan Island. It is a site recommended in diving and snorkel blogs regarded as one of the best in the area. We travel with the waves and land on the beach and soon are exploring its edges. Disappointing. Lots of dead coral, the first we have seen in the Philippines and the wind is churning up sediment reducing visibility. We head for the beach and run into the 66 year old caretaker of the Island and his family of 7. He speaks quite good English so we sit and chat while eating our lunch. They have been there 27 years. He nicknames me his Canadian Santa and I nickname him my Philippino Santa. One of the kids climbs and brings us down coconuts to drink.



I ask about the coral reef and he says 95% was destroyed by typhoon Yolanda that hit 4 years ago. Winds of 215 kilometers an hour. Most trees were toppled on the Island, and his home totally destroyed. Everthing is just now coming back including the coral. He hopes in another 10 years it will return to its former glory.

We return to our hotel, weaving between the oysters hanging from buoys throughout the area. The oysters are used to cultivate pearls for the export trade. Each oyster is inoculated with a trade secret ingredient to produce a pearl in a year or so

The afternoon is spent lazing by the pool. After a relaxing dinner I come back to the dining terrace to do my blog but find the internet is down, and spend a couple of hours lying on bean bag chairs by the pool looking out at the moon and getting into an interesting conversation with Sharon, the sweetest most beautiful Philippino woman and manager of the resort and Jacob, a German expat living in the resort town of Borocay who has a shop specializing in Indonesian prints and clothing. We talk about dating and relationships and share our experiences. Jacob now 60 has never been married and doesn't believe one should look for a mate to spend the rest of ones life with or set ones sight too high. Sharon in her early 30'is the opposite. She is looking for a husband, has been dating an older Canadian man from afar, but feels it won't work out. She wants a family. He doesn't. She has been mentored to wait for the man to approach her, to look up to a man and expect to be cared for, but wants to be respected. There are a lot of usually older foreign men who find this type of relationship more appealing than the more dynamic and balanced give and take of modern western relationships. It makes for a fascinating discussion into the wee hours of the evening.


Posted by RDILL 00:26 Archived in Philippines Tagged relationships Comments (0)


Eco Luxury in the Philippines

sunny 32 °C
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Al Faro

Today we did absolutely nothing. Didn't go anywhere. Slept in till 8:00. Had breakfast, took a few pictures of the place, talked to the women running the place who are all super nice, and live in villages close by. Started reading a book at last, invented a new drink at happy hour - fresh mango juice with rum. They were so good I had two. Worked on getting the blog caught up a bit but uploading photos takes great patience, and all my beautiful underwater videos will have to wait to another time. Arranged a private boat to take us to 2 snorkel sites tomorrow so it will be interesting to compare, but it is unlikely they will top what we have already seen. Here are some photos of our fairy castle on the hill. 12 units but people come here from all around as it is renown for its beautiful sunsets regarded as some of the best in all of the Philippines.





Posted by RDILL 17:18 Archived in Philippines Tagged al resort eco faro Comments (0)


Our Final Day

sunny 30 °C
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The last day. I ask Oli if many people my age go on these trips. He smiles. There was one guy who was 80 he says. You are the second oldest. In our group most are in their 20's and 30's. Beautiful people travelling the world looking for adventure. I feel quite at home with them, though am aware my body no longer has their beautiful graceful lines nor their chocolate brown tans, We travel all morning till we see Busuanga - our destination Island in the distance. We stop at a beautiful sandy beach - Treasure Island - once a posh resort, that got severely destroyed by a typhoon a few years back, and the owners have decided not to rebuild and are letting the Tao community use it as a retreat getaway. It is a work in progress and Tao has just started accepting their first guests. We chatted a while with a young Philippino artist who was making sculptures from bamboo for the site. There is one building left standing, with a pool table and kitchen and two bedrooms with comfy beds but no windows at the front. We have our last lunch there, took some group shots, resumed our travels, stopping at a llocal wreck to do our last snorkel dive. By now we were in civilization and sharing the wreck with 3 other boats The wreck is the remain of one of a number of Japanese destroyers and frigates sunk in a raid during the Second World War. By 5 pm we reached Coron Townsite and the termination of our trip. We shared hugs and said our goodbyes and everyone began preparing for the next part their journey, some to return home , others to resume their world travels. It was a great trip with a great bunch of people, great food, and a beautiful country - absolutely a highlight on any travel adventure.





We caught a jitney to the Tao office in town, contacted our hotel and soon they arranged for a van to take us to our last stop on the trip - Al Faro Eco Resort. We weren't quite prepared for what happened next. We drove for an hour through the countryside as dark descended. We finally stopped at a little food stand at the side of the road, were met by a couple of young men who took our luggage and pointed us to a stairway that descended over 100 steps to a small dock where we got into a boat and travelled by the light of the moon for 10 minutes to a dock by the side of a hill where we got out and ascended a stairway of another 100 plus stairs till we reached the resort and were greeted with three young ladies smiling and wishing us a big welcome. They sat us down, gave us a fruit punch drink, and then showed us our rooms. Well it is a step up from our previous accommodation, nice outside veranda with couch and hammock, large king size bed with real mattress and a view out over the bay below. A fitting place to chill out and spend the last three days of our trip in the Philippines.



Posted by RDILL 03:16 Archived in Philippines Tagged expeditions tao Comments (0)


Dancing and Singing Our Way North

Tao Expeditions Day Four

A beautiful sunrise and we are off. Two quick stops to the best snorkel spots on the trip. Comparable to Port Barton. They are however full of jellyfish, beautiful creatures in their own right. We see clear ones, pink ones, blue ones, clear ones with red spots on their tentacles. They sting a bit but the sting doesn't last and the pleasure of exploring the underwater world more than compensates. More underwater videos too hard to upload.

Oli has noticed a handmade map I made of the El Nido and Coron areas. He asks if I could do a permanent map of the area on his whiteboard so I spend an hour or so drawing all the Islands to scale first in removable ink and then in permanent blue ink. Oli then puts our route on in non permanent black ink. Since the route for every trip is different, he can remove everything except for the Islands outline and redraw the new route each trip. He is so excited and happy with the results and plots our course for others to see and everyone adds their name in removable ink and takes a photo of the map. A nice gesture to leave for them.

We travel a long distance today crossing a channel and then along the shore of Culion Island. We reach a small village with three families living there but it is connected by road to the village of Culion and has power. We spend the late afternoon playing volleyball with the women from the village, have another superb dinner and then they set up a karaoke bar, and after a log of nudging from Michelle get up and sing songs from the Cinderella pantomime "Happy Together" and "I'm Too Sexy". At one point we are in free form dance circle each taking turns in the middle and I strut my stuff first on my own and then with a Philipino woman to the delight of all. The rum and pineapple juice flows freely and there are a few hangovers the next morning. I get too involved and forget to take photos. Sleep is deep as the stars twinkle overhead.




Posted by RDILL 01:56 Archived in Philippines Tagged expeditions tao Comments (0)

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