Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Philippines Adventure Day 6

I'm tired so ill be brief. I woke up early an saw the subset. Then we ate breakfast, then we went kayaking and snorkeling. The snorkeling was cool because we held into the supports for a Banca (small boat) and he pulled us through the water over the reef. It was actually a little scary sometimes because the water was only 3ft deep in some places and the idea if being scrapped across the coral wasn't particularly comforting. The boatman then took us to an underwater cave. Well, the entrance was on the shore but you were soon in the water and to get out you had to swim about 2ft down before swimming 10ft out to clear the rock. This was all fun, but sadly we have to catch a ferry back to the mainland.

We packed our things, ate lunch, and took a Banca to the Puerto Galleras where we were just in time for the ferry back to Botangas. Once there, we were picked up by our previous driver and taken to our hotel in Manila near the airport.

The rest can be summed up as--eat, sleep, eat, 4hr plane ride, 4hr layover, 12?or more hour plane ride, 1.5hr layover 2 hour plane ride, 45min car ride back to CCU. And thus ended our Philippines

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Philippines Adventure Day 5

We woke up early so that we'd have time to eat a quick breakfast before departing to Batangas at 7:15 in order to take a ferry (small boat) to the Puerto Galera on the small island of Mindoro (the day before we learned fem our driver of some beaches there). After a quick google search, we made reservations. We were picked up by two guys that the hotel had arranged for us. The driver's name was Louie, he was very helpful. We inquired the need for the second guy--his job was to open doors. We drove alongside many street vendors, fruit stands, and junk shops for about an hour before reaching the port city of Batangas. Louie dropped us off at a really sketch location that we could only guess was close to the coast. Some guys came and took our bags.Louie communicated with them, and we believed that we had an understanding that we were to take a boat directly to Mindoro rather than the slower, public ferry. As these men began walking away with our bags, our driver beaconed us to follow them but to keep a close eye on our belongings. We proceeded to a locked door in a concrete wall where we and about 8 Filipino men waited for the guy with the key to come. Once he got there we were rushed onto a banca (small boat) with the driver and his uncle and were soon on our way into the ocean and hopefully to Mindoro and Puerto Galera. This was all very exciting and had the potential to be scary, especially after they locked the door behind us, leaving us with about a dozen sketchy guys; but for some reason I wasn't frightened. 

The boat ride was pretty exciting. We were still a bit sketched. Half way across the channel the waves grew and the sea spray got us pretty wet, fortunately they had some plastic bags to put over our bags so we could keep our computers safe. My thoughts were filled with excitement thinking about what it would have been like to be here during WWII. I also formulated a plan in the event that our driver and uncle tried to throw us overboard and take our belongings. In that case, I don't think I'd think twice about throwing them overboard and driving away. If we tried to save them, once we got to shore they'd talk to their friends and tell them we attacked them! After leaving them, we'd have to aim for a portion of coast that was deserted, then we could leave the boat and make our way back to the city. As much of an adventure as that would have been, I'm thankful that it didn't come to that. We did see some dolphins and flying fish.

After nearly an hour and a half, we reached the Coco Beach Resort. All the structures are made from natural materials and have a very tribal look. We soon learned that this also meant that there was no air conditioning. Our luggage was snatched by the local bell boys and we soon found ourselves hiking up a steep trail to our hut. The view was fantastic. Soon after that, our "service family" came and greeted us, they said that they were there to assist us with anything we need for the duration of our stay. They showed us the string that we could pull to activate a bell inside their house to usher them up. Very cool. 

We made reservations to go scuba diving, ate lunch, then made our way to the scuba hut. Here we met Neil who would be our instructor after a very brief safety briefing. We threw on wetsuits and found ourselves in the pool practicing our new scuba skills. After about 30 min we were on a boat headed out to Sabang to see "sea grass." Soon we rolled backwards off the boat and were in the water where we were met by not one, but two giant sea turtles! --way better than just sea grass!

After that, we went a little dealer (only about 30ft) and soon were greeted by a host of small fish dwelling within the now visible coral. Pretty dang awesome. There were many fish that I recognized from finding Nemo, as well as a great number that I hadn't seen before. The coral reef was different colors and hosted sponges and purple starfish. Dad say's he saw an eel. I took a lot of pictures before my camera battery was depleted, but honestly there was just to much to see and not enough time. Also, my mask kept filling with water so I spent a lot of time concentrating on that rather than on other things, but honestly it was a fantastic experience. I don't remember seeing much sea grass though, but that was ok with me. 

After returning to Coco Beach, we spend the day lounging around the not so silent "silent" pool. After dark, we ate dinner and bet in our first frog race. (first frog out of the circle wins!) We were very tired at that point and wasted no time going back to our hut to go to sleep. We crawled under out mosquito netting into our beds and slept in the humid, blanketing heat. Thankfully, we all were exhausted enough to be able to sleep without a problem.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Philippines Adventure Day 4

Sorry, I have no Pesos.

We departed the hotel after another great breakfast and met "Jonathan" in the lobby. We jumped in his car and were on our way down to the Taal lake for we were scheduled tour the island volcano within the lake. Jonathan was very nice and told us of other locations nearby that we should check out. Driving down to the boat dock yielded many opportunities for good views of the dense forest and scenic overlooks.

We reached the bottom of the steep winding road and Jonathan dropped us off at one of many houses along the shore. Here we were met by a boatman who would ferry us across the lake. We jumped into the small boat and soon were skipping along the water. Off to the starboard side, we marveled at the numerous fish farms; each contained a small 5x5 hut where the fisherman lived. What an interesting life that must be!

About 15 minutes after departing we reached the other side. The structures littering along the landscape lacked loveliness and were really rather rudimentary. People on this island live in the dust. Our boatman beaconed us to continue away from the coast thus we proceeded inward though we didn't know what exactly was expected of us. No one on this side of the lake understood much English. Some small children were quick to capitalize on the situation and ran up trying to sell us a "soft drink for your guide." Other children ran up and also tried selling us things. Especially face masks; "very dusty!" they said.

We continued and three guys brought us some horses. Thrust into the situation without much need for orientation, we mounted the horses and proceeded up the trail with our guides. After a bit the guides struggled to tell me I had to put my backpack on backwards. Eventually, after much persuasion, I did. My guide ten jumped onto the back of my small horse and we continued.

After about 15min we reached the top of the crater. The view was spectacular. The Tall volcano consists of a volcano within a lake within a volcano within a lake within a volcano. It's also the smallest active volcano or something like that. I believe it last erupted in the 80s. Along the top and inside if the crater were many holes with steam gushing out. We hiked along the crater and tried to soak in the experience.

After a while we were ready to head back. We located our guides, saddled up, and went back down the volcano to the boat to the other side and into Jonathan's car.

I'm now gettin tired of writing all this ok my phone so a brief summary and pictures will have to suffice for the movement.

We got back to our hotel ate lunch across the street, relaxed, ate dinner at another place across the street (really nice place for about $10 a head) then at 8 went to the spa place in our hotel and got massages. Having never had a massage before I signed up for the 1 hour one.. Turns out time seems to fly when you're getting a massage and I felt shorted when she told me we were through. Before I knew what was going on I was asleep on the couch in our room--packed and ready to depart on tomorrow's adventures in the morning.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Philippines Adventure Day 3

We woke up at about 6:30 and went down to breakfast. The meal was heavy and there were lots of different things to try. The mango and pineapple juice was particularly refreshing. Elizabeth and I watched Dad's speak at the conference and everyone seemed to really enjoy it. Two ladies learned that we were his children and took their pictures with us. E and I exchanged some travelers checks and walked around.

Short story: WWII Memorial, egg roll, Methodist church, worlds largest puzzle museum, pork on a stick.

Everyone here is very friendly. Elizabeth and I jumped onto a Jeepme (public transportation thing) and thankfully were dropped off right at the hotel. We went swimming and waited for dad who had been having his own adventures.

We were invited by the Filipino microbiology convention leaders to dinner in the hotel. The Meal was a buffet and everything was very good though I don't know what anything was. The salmon head soup wasn't particularly my favorite. After that we were pooped and went to sleep.

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I love life and aspire to be all I can be in everything that I do.