Kumusta Hô to Philippines

Manilla
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1) First impression – Well.. what can I say.. after being in some of the safest places in the world (Japan & Taiwan).. we arrive in a place where firstly the cheaper airport taxi’s look as dodgy as anything.. like you would most likely not make it to the right destination. When we finally got to our guesthouse.. it’s protected by security guards with guns.. when I say guns I don’t just mean a small gun.. I mean a god damn shotgun!! We’re now holding tightly onto all of our belonging and making sure everything is locked up as anywhere you walk, you feel there is a set of eyes on your belongings.

2) Body Guards – After dropping our bags off we we’re after some food.. we asked the guard where to get a bite to eat and he said I will walk to you a place across the road.. like seriously, the restaurant was less than 50 metres away but he walked us there, dropped us off and said he’ll be back in 1 hour to bring us back. Walking down the street I could kind of understand why, every restaurant, hotel, bank has a guard with a shotgun outside. The next day the guard and his friend took us to the shopping centre and then we had lunch together.. they were pretty cool so we we’re just cracking jokes with them.
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3) Gun Shooting – so we decided to try “fit in” with the locals and the guard mentioned we can go do some gun shooting. We went to a gun shop that had a shooting range and put on some goggles and ear muffs and took some shots of a handgun and some automatic weapon. Although people might doubt my ‘lazy eye’… it must be a super eye rather than lazy as my shooting skills are on point.. hitting the middle of the target on many occasions with the handgun.. though after taking a go at the automatic weapon, my aim was a little bit more off as the feedback and the continuous shooting just tears the target to pieces.
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4) Betting on Cock Fighting – We heard that Phillipines is the only country you can watch a cock fight, so we asked the taxi driver to take us to a cockfight stadium. Now he was a bit sceptical to take us at first as he said it’s not advised for foreigners to go, especially by themselves without a Phillipino speaking person as the locals will rip you off and try take your money as a slight hand gesture can mean that you have placed a bet.. but we went anyway. We arrived, paid to get in then paid a bit more to go into the stands to get a better view. Locals surrounding us, I sat there with my arms folded to ensure I was not randomly betting with someone. Now if you don’t know about cockfighting, the rules are basically two cocks in a ring, each have sharp blades attached to them and there’s only one winner .. literally one winner, as the loser is the one which is dead at the end. Watching this was pretty interesting and we couldn’t keep our eyes off the fights, we stayed to watch about 18 cocks being killed by another. We initially started betting with each other.. but then met a young phillipino guy who started explaining to us how to bet..so then we started betting with the locals with the low bets.. all in all we came out winners with a few extra Peso’s in our pockets.. so we can’t complain.
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5) Phillipino Friend – so the guy who helped us out in the Cockfight ring suggested we hang together and go back to his house and see his wife and kids and have dinner together. So we climbed onto his bike and he drove us to his house. We met his family and the kids were sooo cute.. we played with them for a bit then got some food together. After we headed back to our area with the guy and got some drinks and Shisha.. he had never had it before.. but I think we now have him hooked on it. The guy actually worked for a PPI call centre and it was hilarious when we spoke to him about it.. he asked us a really serious questions.. “When I phone people in the UK, they always tell me they are very busy.. why are you guys always soo busy in uk?”.. to that me and Veron pissed ourselves and told him the truth of what ‘I’m busy’ means. He also said UK people always tell him they are ‘having their Tea, so phone back later’ and when he phones back later they pretend to be someone else. Haha funny stuff to hear this from a call centre worker. Great dude though and we hope to see him again one day.
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Boracay
1) The Singing Ferry – We took an overnight ferry to Boracay. The ferry was pretty cool, we had our own room with bunk beds and a private toilet. The Ferry had a bar on the top deck with live singers. There wasn’t soo many people there but we made the most of it for sure. There were two pretty girls (Paola and Reina) singing and a guy playing the keyboard. They were actually pretty awesome singers and could sing anything you requested.. so I did.. I sent in a few requests, a bit of Alicia Keys, Rihanna etc as this is what I could tell their voices would do well in and yess they sure did me proud. We had soo much fun on the boat with them, having a few jokes and listening to them sing. Thank you for the lovely music Ferry band. They dude was cool and he said he wanted my watch.. as I had a few drinks I was like yeah sure, if you want it I will give it to you.. I think he was surprised by my generosity but hay it was like a $5 dollar was.
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2) White Beach – the most famous beach in Boracay, supposedly very amazing, but due to us being here in the wrong season, the waves were a bit too high to be able to chill in the water and the beach has a few washed up sea items due to the sheer power of the waves. Though it’s a long beach and in the evening it comes alive, with lots of restaurants and bars pumping away and live music.

3) Raggae Bar – this place seemed to be our regular hangout/meet-up place with anyone we met.. and was pretty cool. The live reggae music was awesome and we could chill here for hours having a beer and smoking some Shisha on the beach just ‘Jammin’ as Bob Marley would say.
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4) Puka Beach – We headed to the other side of the island where the waves were calmer and the beach was beautiful.. We found a place to have some food.. fresh Red Snapper fish which was caught in the morning with some chilli squid.. nothing beats fresh BBQ’d seafood. We also found John lock from lost.. he’s not lost.. he’s on boracay island.
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5) Viewpoint – We headed up to the viewpoint of Boracay to see the scenery, you could see most of the islands points with various beaches.
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6) New Friends – we made a few good friends along the way, an Israeli guy who stayed with us in the room, a Lithuanian guy who was couchsurfing at a Phillipino girls place, a phillipino guy from manila and a girl from Panama City (yes Panama City.. now that’s a first for sure.. and as I’m heading there next year it was just awesome to meet her).. whats even more strange is that she’s studying in Sweden.. who knows we might just bump into each other at xmas.
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7) Ceylam Shawarma – After wondering around and being hungry.. we found a place that served up Shawarma’s…now that we was not turning down… soo delicious that we didn’t just have one.. but two and then a few more after nights out.
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8) Angok’s Chicken –The Phillipino girl recommended we go eat at a place called Angoks.. now I don’t know if it was my hearing or wishful thinking.. but I swear it sounded like she was saying Nando’s.. so I was soo excited.. I was like nooo freaking way.. you have nando’s.. like grilled chicken.. she was like yes… when we turned up I was like ohhhh not nandos … But It seemed to be pretty famous to have grilled chicken and rice, so this is the place to munch it.. a nice full on fat chicken goes down a treat. .. not as good as nando’s but I guess good enough.

Cebu
1) Swimming with Whale Sharks (Oslob) – After hearing that you can snorkel/dive with Whale Sharks, we was definitely going to head this way, hence the main reason we booked a flight to Cebu.. After finding out you need to get on a bus for 5 hours to the south of the island, we finally arrived! Getting onto a small boat with our snorkel gear and GoPro ready (the first time I could use this thing for something very exciting). The boat takes us only a few minutes out and what is swimming around us.. FOUR GIANT and HUMUNGOUS WHALE SHARKS!! WOW!! These things are enormous.. 12-15 metres long (that’s like 6-7 times my height). I jump off the boat and start swimming towards them.. (Supposedly they are ‘friendly’ and don’t eat humans) so I trusted the tour guides and took the plunge. Thank god they were right, because these things swim right up close to you like 1 metre away… staring you right in the face with the BIG open mouths. The fishermen here feed them and protect the whale sharks so they seem to be well looked after. There’s me with my GoPro chasing Whale sharks trying to get some good close up shots.. and not to mention a few Selfie’s with the GoPole stick. Veron on the other hand is not the strongest swimmer but I encouraged him to give it a try and he got in with his lifejacket and was just amazed about how cool it was down there and how large they were. All in all an Awesome experience.. one not to miss if you go Philippines.

click here to watch me chase a whale shark

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2) Skechers Day – After Veron left his trainers (and medication) on the bus to Boracay, he was determined to find another pair of Skechers.. which in Cebu there was a lovely area with restaurants and a shopping mall. We found a skechers inside and Veron found a pair.. whilst I was in the shop, I wandered around and ended up buying myself a pair of Skechers flip-flops.. now I used to think Havianas were the best flip-flops.. but my god, give the Skechers a try, comfortable is not the word. I also had given my watch away, so was missing a timepiece and saw this lovely watch in there.. and it being pretty cheap, like 20quid I just bought it.. Veron being a bit jealous of my watch also just decides to buy himself one too.
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Palawan (El Nido)
1) Island Hopping (Bacuit Archipelago) – After a disastrous and sickening long ass bus journey to El Nido, we went on a boat trip around the Bacuit Archipelago, a lovely area which kind of reminds you of Halong Bay in Vietnam, but probably better in my opinion as it’s less touristic and less commercialised. We went through the small lagoon, big lagoon and some cool other areas.
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2) Squidoo’s – A popular restaurant which everyone heads to.. as the name suggests, the best dish to get is stuffed Squid with onions, peppers and a delicious sauce.. WOW this was the best squid I have ever had.. sooooo delicious.
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3) Hotel on the beach – so we arrived and had no idea where to stay, so we took a scooter taxi around town.. we found a few places but just couldn’t resist the view of this hotel on the beach.
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4) Zip-Line Across Beach – We went to this lovely beach and they had a zip-line across from one end to this other island bit.. A great opportunity to use the GoPro flying along the Zip-line. Such a cool thing to do.

watch the zip line video by clicking here
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5) Las Cristianos Beach – A lazy day relaxing on a lovely beach, taking a nap on a Hammock, sipping on some Fresh Palawan Mango’s (which are undoubtable the best Mango’s I’ve ever tasted).. they even have a mango patrol before you enter the area to make sure you don’t bring any in just incase a disease spreads and ruins their Mango’s.
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Palawan (Puerto Princessa)
1) Underground River – One of the 7 Natural wonders of the world.. this underground river was pretty great.. you get a bus for 3 hours, then a boat for half hour then a small boat to go inside the caves on the boat with just a small flashlight. Quite cool inside and they seem to have limestone formations of random fruits and animals.
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2) Crocodile Dinner – looking for some food we find a nice restaurant outside and look through the menu.. chicken.. pork.. beef.. CROCODILE… we thought Crocodile.. what the hell.. I’m sooo ordering that! We split the dish between us, Croc, chicken and Rice.. lovely combination. Tasted pretty bony actually but a descent texture to munch.
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3) Cheeky Monkey’s – Around the underground river were some monkeys.. now my love for monkeys I like to get close to them.. a few cheeky selfies with them is what I was aiming for. This other lady who was with us had a handbag.. not sure what was inside, but the monkey had it’s eye on it.. it leaped up and was hanging on this ladies handbag trying to open up the zips.. hilarious!

link to monkey stealing

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Banaue & Sagada
1) Bus Rides – Another so called ‘fun’ bus journey that nearly made me throw up.. after about 8 hours on the bus, we arrive at Banaue. The roads being small, twisting and winding around the mountains with long ass drops on the sides.
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2) Banaue Rice Terraces – The famous rice terrace around Banaue, so beautiful and amazing views. We met some Koreans and had a few pics together with some of the locals too.
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3) Hanging Coffins – Sagada is the place to see some hanging coffins.. here in the olden days instead of burying the coffins they used to hang them on the mountain edges. We went on a short hike down the mountains to see them.
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5 thoughts on “Kumusta Hô to Philippines

  1. Ricky, I read your entry on the Philippines with “mucho gusto,” as they say in Spain.

    I remember when I went to the Philippines, I took this Korean with me. He went up to some security guard, pointed to the shiny shotgun, and asked “Is that a real gun?”

    The guy looked straight ahead and just tried to ignore him.

    When I was there, we never had any offers to be escorted across the street. We simply walked across the street.

    That reminds me, I was kidnapped in Angeles, Luzon. I will try and find the article, published in the Asia Wall Street Journal, and send it to you.

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