What NOT to do when travelling across the Philippines 

The Philippines has never been high on my long list of countries to visit, but when a friend asked if I wanted to spend to escape the bitter January weather and spend two weeks in a foreign country, I jumped at the chance. 

There are more than 7,000 islands across the Philippines, and I had a mere fortnight to try and see as much of them as possible. We travelled a lot more than I thought we would, and looking back I am glad we saw as much we did.

However, a two week break isn’t a very long time, and worrying over which bus to take at what time, isn’t worth it. After all, a holiday should be relaxing and stress-free time.  

So, here is my guide of what to see, where to go when travelling across the Philippines. 

Manila

It was a long 13-hour flight to Manila, and the hot muggy weather infused with the traffic noise hits you right away. 

All I wanted to do was meet my friend at the condo we had booked, and go to bed.
Taxis queue right outside the departure terminal and most drivers are willing to haggle on the price, but of the very little advice I did read, the pound to PESO ratio was good, and 150 PESO for one person is less than £3 each and was enough for journeys that taken more than 10 minutes.

Skyscrapers, Starbucks and McDonalds’ restaurants were around every corner, but the streets were dirty, full of rubbish, cable leads were hanging from poles, crowds of people barged past you on the sidewalk, and trying to cross the road at anytime of day was no easy task.
It was hard to escape the crime stories plastered all over the local newspapers, sharing news of gun and knife crimes, and local drug dealers being shot by police.

After spending 20 minutes walking around the city’s two green parks, situated right near the main roads, we found the nearest seven eleven store. 
We had barely walked through the door when a group of children barefoot and wearing very little came running in, throwing their arms up, poking us, yelling at us and begging us for food, pointing at the sweets on the shelves and rubbing their stomachs. 

I have travelled to poor parts of Thailand and Panama before, and have often travelled alone, but despite walking arm in arm with a close friend, I have never felt so uncomfortable and unsafe in one place.

Moalboal

From Manila we flew to Cebu, another busy town, with a great big bus terminal, that will take you to all the main ports across the island. 

We took a four hour coach journey from Cebu at midday – never again. Temperatures reached 28/29 ºC most days, and despite the air-conditioning and plastic covered seats, it was an uncomfortable journey and looking at the blue ocean and the green fields, just weren’t the same from behind glass windows. 

To our relief,  Moalboal was only a 2 hour bus ride away and, avoiding the bigger restaurants, we found a small local cafe, run by a Philippine family, who served a delicious helping of fresh fish and rice, for as little as £3-4 each. 

Tricycles lined the main roads, and most relied on pedal power alone, with no engine what so ever. 
One person can sit comfortably in the front seat next to the driver, but two people sat in the back is a tight squeeze. But a one way trip will cost you as little as 100P each, (less than £2), and is the cheapest way to travel through the town. 

Oslob

I was excited to visit this tiny town, and if you’re a big fan of sea life, like I am, it’s definitely worth a visit. 

Do not miss out on the chance to swim with whale sharks, the town of Oslob is famous for it, and for just 3,000P each, just over £50, you’ll be glad you did it.

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Not my pic (from creative commons) as it was hard to take photos on the sea, but this is what we saw when whale shark watching^

Despite a 6am wake up call and just a slice of left over pizza for breakfast, we headed for the beach, and arrived in time to watch the orange sunrise over the sea. 

This alone would have been a good enough reason to wake up at silly o’clock, but with our life-jackets zipped up and snorkels on, we headed for the choppy waters. 

The sheer size of the creatures doesn’t hit you until you’ve jumped in the water and you realise you really just feet away. Fortunately, they don’t spot you, and they’re more than happy to float around, eating fish and minding their own business. 
This experience is definitely worth the price and early start, and as you’re done by 8.30am, you can always go back to bed.

Siquijor 

Named the Isla del Fuego or the island of fire, Siquijor is famous for its witchcraft and known healers, and was the first green lush area with a lot less tourists than we had expected. 

We booked a small wooden hut, complete with a huge double bed and mosquito net, and a tiny bathroom with one toilet, sink and a shower head. This was a typical Philippine style bathroom, and hot water was a rarity.

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Waterfalls
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The 400-year-old tree in Siquijor Island
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Siquijor beach
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Our wooden huts in Siquijor

With help from friendly locals, we found the island’s 400-year-old tree. It was an impressive size but we were pointed in the direction of the island’s stunning waterfalls. After a ten minute walk downhill on rickety wooden steps, we discovered four stunning waterfalls, and spent the afternoon swimming around in its clear blue waters- the best way to cool down. 

Boracay 

After a week and a half of travelling around, staying just one or two nights in small hostels, we finally arrived at the stunning island of Boracay. Now, I do not use the word ‘paradise’ lightly, but I can’t think of another word to describe how I felt when I saw the 4km stretch of white sand at the White beach in Boracay. 

The area was an obvious tourist spot and if you want to avoid overcrowded beaches, the typical souvenir shops, small cafes and chain-restaurants, this is not the place for you. 

Fortunately what we had planned to do was to spend out last few days relaxing. We did as little as sunbathing, swimming and eating too much Italian ice-cream. Im so glad we went Island hopping (boat pic below), I think it was the best way to see Boracay. Guides will take you to secret caves and stop at beaches to swim or snorkel along the way. 

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^Island hopping with my friend, Fran

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^Delicious ice-cream at an Italian cafe in Boracay

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^Sunset on the last night

If I could change anything about my time in the Philippines, it would be to travel a lot less and to research all the places we had planned to visit beforehand. It’s a beautiful country and I would fly back there tomorrow – but on my own terms.

It’s hard to pack everything into a two-week holiday, and experience has taught me to prioritise what you want to do and where to avoid, and if that means travelling a group or venturing on your own path, then so be it.

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Broadchurch Ep 3: So many questions…

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So, the news is out.

And the (ex) husband can’t remember what happened.

And who sent Trish that threatening text messages and the flowers at night? What kind of person does that?

I can’t say I believe it was the ex-husband, as Broadchurch love springing surprises on us, and it seems a bit too obvious. And honestly, who would have guessed the first series’ killer would be the copper’s husband?

Trish and her ex have both confessed to having argued before it happened, and clearly her ex ( for the life of me, I can’t remember his name) isn’t dealing with the new girlfriend/separation very well.

I was waiting to see if and when Trish would find out who Beth was. I believe her honesty will help Trish in the long run but her words ‘it never goes away’ and she has carried on for Danny, were touching.

The shop owner (Lenny Henry) appears to have a temper on him, and I think he is telling the truth, to an extent…

But it can’t be the cabbie? Can it? He’s a liar and a cheat, yes, and I couldn’t help but want to reach into the television, give this wife  big cwtch and tell he she needs to leave him! For her and her son’s sake!

And we heard out that Alec disappeared for 2 years (yes it was to be with his family, a noble thing to do) and despite their love-hate relationships, I was surprised to hear he hadn’t even called Ellie in that time. Come on, surely she’s a friend and a colleague after everything?

 

And what was that on Tom’s phone? Something tells me it’s local people on that video, local people who shouldn’t be anywhere near each other. Possibly the same thing as on the laptop of the ex-husbands?

Ellie is right, the net is widening, doesn’t seem to be narrowing down enough to pick out main suspects. Too many people are hiding what they did and where they really were that night…

Sooo many questions from tonight, I’m really going to have to start writing them all down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Broadchurch ep 2: Everyone has a secret..

So we’re only on episode 2,  but with more than a few looks from some shifty characters, at this point it could be anyone..!

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Granted this one wasn’t as powerful as the first episode, but we’ve learnt a lot more and we’re introduced to more characters, adding to this series’ plot.

The ex husband (though they’re not divorced) is definitely hiding something and her friend Kath’s husband (can’t remember his name) is acting strangely too.. by surely it’s too obvious to be one of them?!?

And who is Lenny Henry’s character?

Is he important? and how is his relationship with his daughter, the annoying junior police officer who is reallly annoying Ellie and well, me too, if I’m honest.

Miller and Alec are back in their usual love-hate relationship, but appear to be on the right tracks.

And it turns out Trish really is hiding something.. my guess is she’s been about town and is keeping quiet in fear of what the police might think..

It’s hard to see Mark still struggling to come to terms with Danny’s death or the fact that justice wasn’t served and Joe Miller is out there, living his life, and Danny’s was cruelly taken away at just 11-years-old.

And of course, the news that Maggie would have to relocate to keep her reporting job, was horribly too close to home.

Unfortunately this seems to be happening all over the country, staff redundancies, lack of resources, real local stories being dumped for clickbait nonsense.. *sigh*

My housemate seems certain that Reverend Rory (we like Dr Who), is his name Paul in this?

Anyway, she seems sure he has something to do with it, given how empty the church is on Sunday mornings, and people only turn to him during their dark days…

But I refuse to believe he has anything to do with it.

So who could it be? Well, I’m still stumped, thought that doesn’t stop my mind from wondering

Until next week I guess..

 

 

 

Yup.
Today I am one of those.

Maybe I shouldn’t buy my coffee here, but damnit I do like it, and I do support local places, and don’t particularly favour this place…

But, I need to calm down.

I am reminded of the Sex and the city episode, where main character and all round fabulous but selfish Carrie Bradshaw runs to her nearest store, escaping from her clingy but sweet boyfriend at the time.

She too is on her laptop in a busy cafe, wondering why people have been drawn here, and I find myself doing that too.

I can hear a few languages, some I’ve heard before, and people are mainly sat by themselves like me.

A couple is sat near me and I can feel the glare of the woman one me, so I angle my laptop away from her and turn my screen brightness right down.

 
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(My view of Embankment station ^^)

And that Zayn and Taylor Swift song from 50 SHADES is on, and I find myself singing along, surprised at just how much I know and like this one..

 

Id love to plug cup the courage to ask people why they are here. Why they have chosen this place, what they’re doing, what they’re thinking…

How nosy of me. But I love people watching. Wondering what their relationship is with each other, where they’re headed and why?

But surely Im not the only one who thinks like this?

I ahem stumbled across this by author Simon Sinek:

“Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores. Starbucks was about a space with comfortable chairs, lots of power outlets, tables and desks at which we could work and the option to spend as much time in their stores as we wanted without any pressure to buy. The coffee was incidental. “

Very true, no?