Nov 15, 2016 – Parasailing in Boracay

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The Three Musketeers (from left to right: Ranah, Franki, and Jen)!

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskLzyFj3

I’ve never gone parasailing before, but today was the day! Franki, Ranah, and I took a speed boat to a floating raft where we transferred to a parasailing boat. We were given harnesses and then strapped into the apparatus connecting the parachute to the boat. The boat staff then used a pulley system and the speed of the boat to raise us into the air. Parasailing was very relaxing and the height provided a great view of the Island.

After lunch we went paddle boarding along the shoreline which was fun! I always like seeing things from a different perspective.

Franki, Ranah, and I decided to splurge on our last dinner in the Philippines by going to Subo. Besides providing delicious food, it also showcases traditional dances of the Philippines. The dancers (who also happened to be the servers) performed dances with bamboo clappers and candles.

To end the day, we all got full body massages for 300 Pecos ($8 Canadian) which were great!

Nov 14, 2016 – Beach Day in Boracay

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See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskNShR2Y

The three of us had a quiet and relaxed day. We walked around White Beach (the main beach) and went swimming. We found some cute fish in the water too!

Our hostel had a great Wi-Fi connection so we were able to catch up on our blogs and writing.

In the evening we stopped for a beer on the beach and watched the sunset fade behind the water. It was gorgeous! Afterwards, we stumbled upon a show where the performers used flaming ropes and checked out several other bars on the beach.

Nov 12, 2016 – Exploring the Northern Negros Natural Park

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See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskLCq6iV

Today we didn’t know what was in store for us, but we wanted to visit the Northern Negros Natural Park. Every local we spoke to didn’t really know what it was or how to get there. So, we had to travel to a couple different towns until we were in a van on our way there.

The Northern Negros Natural Park is the largest protected area in the province of Negros Occidental and provides water for 17 municipalities and cities in Central Negros. It also has a large amount of biodiversity boasting of 166 species of trees and 140 species of birds and mammals.

Once we arrived in the small village of Patag, we found a guide and another group of Filipino tourists who we joined to hike to a waterfall. It took about 45 minutes to get there and while we hiked it started to downpour in the rainforest. I’m glad I brought an emergency poncho! Overall, the park has remained virtually untouched. The Pulang Tubig waterfall was spectacular and approximately 60 feet high.

Nov 11, 2016 – Bacolod’s Negros Forest & Ecological Centre, The Ruins, and the Negros Museum

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Our Tour Guide at “The Ruins”. He was featured on the television show “Big Brother” in the Philippines

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskNRLaVm

We started off the day by visiting the Negros Forest & Ecological, Inc. Biodiversity Conversation Centre. Its non-profit organization committed to protect, conserve, and preserve the environment and to safeguard the sustainable use of the Island’s natural resources. Additionally, it aims to breed endangered species under captivity.

Franki, Ranah, and I saw many animals, most of which we had never seen before including the:

  • Visayan tarictic hornbill
  • Visayan Warty Pig
  • Visayan Spotted Deer
  • Southern Rufous Hornbill
  • Philippine Eagle Owl
  • Southern Philippine hawk-eagle
  • Visayan Lepoard Cat “ Maral”
  • Philippine Sailfin Lizard

The centre was tiny but did a good job with the limited funding it had.

Next we took a jeepney to “The Ruins” known as “the Taj Mahal of Negros”. In the early 1900s, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson built it in honour of his late wife who passed away giving birth to their 11th child. Although a lot of it had been burned, the Italianate architecture and detail was stunning.

On our way back to our hostel, we stopped by the Negros Museum which was actually built using donations from Canada. It had interesting artifacts and paintings illustrating the history of the region. The museum also happens to have one of the largest international toy collections which was my favourite part! It included toys from over 60 countries.

For dinner we went to one of the most popular seafood restaurants in the city called: Bacolod 18th St. Palapala Seafood Grill & Restaurant. Franki, Ranah, and I all ordered squid dishes which were amazing!

Bacolod had some of the best food in the Philippines and it was very well priced! We got Chicken Inasal (barbequed chicken) from street vendors several times and it was delicious.

Cultural Notes and Observations: The Philippines

  • You can buy alcohol at grocery stores, 711, and more
  • Alcohol is very affordable. The Local Tanduary Rhum is only a $1.50 Canadian for 375 ml
  • You can buy cigarettes in nightclubs
  • Adapters were mostly not needed – North American sockets were widely used
  • Multiple modes of transportation: Scooter, Jeepney, Taxi, Van, Bus
  • Taxis are affordable and always available
  • Most popular local beers: Red Horse and San Miguel
  • No knives are provided at restaurants: only forks and spoons
  • On the island of Palawan – there was a security checkpoint asking if anyone had any mangoes. They were trying to mitigate the outbreak of diseased mangoes on the island
  • At several airport they asked us if we had the new Samsung Galaxy phone… because they explode
  • Food we tried:
    • Adobo
    • sizzling crocodile
    • Pinikpan
    • Ube
    • “Tamilok” a wood worm
    • Bbq chicken intestine
    • Deep fried banana
    • Pomelo
    • Turmeric tea
    • Chopsuey
    • Puto (rice muffins)
    • Halo-Halo (dessert)
    • Buko – young coconut
    • Biku – chocolate fried rice dessert
  • The tea selection is not the greatest
  • The majority of the population speaks English
  • Filipino people are friendly, especially in smaller towns
  • Stray dogs everywhere
  • Get woken up by dog fights and roosters daily
  • Security guards in many shops with large guns
  • Jeepneys on Bahol are like party buses, the drivers always play loud music
  • You can haggle prices of tours and items at markets
  • Lines on the roads are just a suggestion and drivers to not follow them
  • Bathrooms/washrooms are called “comfort room”
  • A lot of the time you put used toilet paper in a waist bin, and not the toilet
  • hand soap and toilet paper are a luxury: carry hand sanitizer and toilet paper with you at all times

Nov 10, 2016 – An Island Tour of Siquijor

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Jumping off Cambugahay Falls

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskLBKH5H

Siquijor is a small island and tricycles (motorcycles with an additional side carriage) can drive around it in under 2 hours. As a result, it is very popular to hire a tricycle for the day. We got a driver for 900P in total!

Our first stop was the Century Old Balete Tree. It was beautiful and approximately 400 years old. At its roots lies a fish spa. You stick in your feet and the fish eat all of the dead skin. It feels quite ticklish!

On our way to the Cambugahay Falls, we saw an old church and beautiful views of the countryside. The walk to the falls was down one hundred and thirty five stone steps. Ranah and I jumped off the top of the waterfall which was lots of fun!

Next stop: Salagdoong Beach Resort which is famous for cliff-jumping. The rock actually has two diving platforms, one set at 20 feet high and the other at 35 feet. I jumped off the taller one along with a local Filipino man from Manila and a couple other tourists. It was not busy at all while we were there, but I assume it would be the go-to place in the high-season. Along one side of the rocks is a pretty beach.

Afterwards, we stopped at our driver’s favourite beach called Paliton Beach. It is beautiful and no one was on it except for us.

That evening we took a ferry and night bus to Bacolod.

Nov 9, 2016 – Sunset in Siquijor

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See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskNUMdwn

This morning we packed up our things and left Nuts Huts behind. I will definitely miss this peaceful jungle retreat. Ranah, Franki, and I caught a jeepney and then took a ferry to Siquijor via Dumaguete for 920 P (which is quite expensive).

Once we arrived on the island of Siquijor, we took a 20 minute tricycle to JJ’s Backpackers Village. It is located on the most beautiful beach!

The US election was in progress today and the results were playing in our hostel. We watched the votes being tallied and saw Trump declared the next American President.

To lighten the mood, Franki, Ranah, and I walked along the beach and watched the sunset. Later on, we bought some rum a dollar Canadian (which is amazing) and watched a little more of the American news coverage.

Nov 8, 2016 – Nuts Huts on Bahol, Tarsiars and the Chocolate Hills

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A Tarsier

See more photos here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/140043503@N03/R48P99

After Ranah picked up a new pair of glasses in Cebu, we took a 2 hour ferry to Bahol and then bussed to Nuts Huts – a guesthouse where individuals stay in traditional huts plunked in the middle of the forest beside a river just north of Loboc. It was amazing!

The next day, we woke up early and ended up taking 3 jeepneys to get to Corella to see the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary! We saw 4 of these super cute nocturnal creatures. You are able to get quite close to take photos as long as you are quiet and respectful. The sanctuary tour was shorter than we had imagined and can be completed in about 20 minutes, but overall it was great! The entrance fee is only 50 P (less than $2 Canadian).

On our way to the Chocolate Hills we rode on top of a Jeepney! The ride was much more enjoyable and cool compared to sitting inside. We had been aching to sit on top of one since riding in them in the north part of the Philippines. However, driving along curvy roads along cliffs had deterred us at the time.

The Chocolate Hills were very cool! According to my Lonely Planet book, the Hills “consist of more than 1200 conical hills, up to 120 m high. They were supposedly formed over time by the uplift of coral deposits and the effects of rainwater and erosion.” The Chocolate Hills were named after Hershey kisses. Ranah, Franki, and I shared some ice cream at the top and also saw a couple taking their wedding photos with a drone.

On our way back to Nut Huts we sang English music in the jeepney with all the school children which was a lot of fun.

Nov 5, 2016 – Nacpan Beach and Corong Corong Beach El Nido

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Nacpan Beach

See more photos here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskNQBpdr

Today we ended up travelling to some nearby beaches via tricycle. Filipino tricycles are motorbikes that have an additional frame with seats to carry passengers. Customers will also sit side saddle on the back of the motorbike.

It took about 45 minutes to get to Nacpan Beach from El Nido and our tire popped along the way so our driver took an additional 30 min to drive to a mechanic to get it repaired.

Once we arrived at Nacpan, we got mango shakes and lunch while sitting under a palm leaf hut! I walked along the beach for an hour or two before jumping into the water. The surf was extremely strong and great for body surfing. Unfortunately, Ranah lost her glasses to a large wave. It was lovely that the beach had very few people on it and not a single large restaurant.

In the late afternoon, we took the same tricycle to Corong Corong Beach which is on the opposite end of El Nido. It has a much more commercial flair to it and more of a party atmosphere. We watched the sunset over beautiful limestone cliffs.

Nov 4, 2016 – Tour A: Exploring Big Lagoon and Small Lagoon

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Navigating Big Lagoon

See more photos here: https://www.flickr.com/gp/140043503@N03/o52794

Just before 9:00 am, Franki, Ranah, and I met Carmella (who sold us Tour A) back on the beach. A motorbike met us and we rode on the back to the beach where the boat was docked. The three of us were later joined by a French family and our two tour guides on the boat. It was very nice to be on such an intimate tour where as many of the more commercial ones have 25 people. Additionally, I was continually surprised by how many French tourists I’d met in the Philippines and how much I had been able to practice my French!

Unfortunately, the weather was a bit cloudy, but it was much better than the day before where it had down-poured for most of the day.

We checked out Small Lagoon first. It is too small for boats to fit inside so Ranah, Franki, and I decided to swim. Most people rented kayaks for an additional 500P, but we’re on a budget and you really don’t need to if you’re a good swimmer. By swimming, we were also able to check out the fish below!

Next we went to Shimizu Lagoon for snorkeling. We saw clown fish and I took a bunch of photos with my GoPro (thanks for lending it to me Chris!). Overall, the spot was only okay and some of the coral had been bleached.

Afterwards, we had lunch at Secret Lagoon. Our tour guides caught Spanish mackerel off the back of the boat for us and barbequed it. They also provided fresh bananas, yellow watermelon, chicken, and vinegar dressing. It really does not get better than that! I also purchased a fresh coconut from a guy who was kayaking around the islands! Although it is not so secret anymore, the area of Secret Lagoon is very pretty and has a small lagoon at the end of it where you gain access by crawling through a small hole.

Big Lagoon was beautiful and one of my favourite places! The water was different shades of turquoise and the limestone cliffs are spectacular.

Lastly, we went to Papaya Beach instead of 7th Commando Beach. It was a bit sea-weedy but the view of the island with the palm trees was great!

For dinner Franki, Ranah, and I shared some avocado and mango spread on some fresh bread from the bakery beside our hostel.

Later that evening we out to the Pukka Bar on the beach for Ranah’s Birthday!