Wednesday, 2 October 2013


After leaving Taiwan the first place I headed was The Philippines. I had previously been there before a few times and felt that it was right to spend a few weeks there before heading closer to the location of my next job. Ninoy Aquino International Airport isn't my favourite place in the world and I have spent the start and end of a few trips there so avoiding it completely was a welcome option when I managed to buy flights with Air Asia along a new route to Clark Airport just north of Manila. Upon arrival however I just wanted to hit the beach and had no intention of spending time in and amongst Angeles and it's extra-curricular entertainment, instead I immediately headed south and within an hour of landing in Luzon I was on a bus to Manila and my old friend NAIA. I managed to purchase a ticket to Cebu almost instantly and the next day I flew there but only after holing up in a Filipino cafe for 8 hours drinking 3-in-1 Nescafe in the hope that it would have enough caffeine and sugar in it to keep me awake. Part of the reason I headed straight to the airport was that I had a limited amount of Pisos and wanted to exchange them at a BNP counter at the airport due to the simple fact that the exchange rate is higher and more competitive than any other I've seen in the PI - particularly the muppets in places like Boracay that offer laughably low rates.

After landing in Cebu the first thing I did was take a taxi to the northern bus terminal and head straight to the port town of Maya. By this point I was knackered and completely bored of my Ipod and my own company but fortunately during the ride - not all the way to Maya, but most of it - I was sat next to a little girl and presumably her grandfather who had possession of a hen in a box covered with a tea towel in the hope that it wouldn't realise that daylight had sprung upon us and that it should be clucking and scratching and doing whatever it is that chickens usually do during the course of the day. Upon arriving in Maya I was delighted or rather not so delighted to hear that the boat to Malapascua wouldn't be leaving for a while. By this point it was approaching midday and my grumpy meter was about to hit boiling point with the afternoon heat. I remember talking to a couple of girls and a man from Israel and a Spanish lad with pretty good English. I was back in the world of backpackers and chatting to positive or semi-positive people again... well grunting but it was a start. I gave my copy of the Lonely Planet to one of the girls and let her browse the options of places to stay on the island. Finally arriving on the island after an extremely long plane-bus-taxi-plane-taxi-bus-boat trip was somewhat relieving and no better place to relax than a quiet diving retreat with decent snorkelling and a sleepy vibe that I was understandably keen to embrace.

Upon browsing the 'budget' options on offer it was decided that I'd share a room with the Spanish guy I'd met on the boat. His name was Carlos and he would only be staying for a couple of days. After a nice meal on the beach and watching sunset among the locals I decided that I was going to be dead to the world for quite a while and sleep as long as I needed to. I woke up the next day and after breakfast found myself with an invitation to join some Spanish people to snorkel off of one of the northern beaches on the island. Apparently there was a shipwreck to be seen and the Spanish guys made straight for it as soon as they had put on their flippers. These guys were obviously experienced divers and were snorkelling as somewhat of a climax to their morning dive where as this was to be the highlight of my day. They possessed things such as common sense perfectly exemplified by the knowledge that it is a lot easier to walk into the sea wearing flippers if you walk backwards... I lack such common sense and roared into the sea with the grace of Andy Fordham dropping a hot meat pie and consequently chasing it before it got too soggy to salvage. I was also wearing a t-shirt that was too small for me and that resulted in sunburn. Pluses for the day were that I managed to see a few anemone fish of Finding Nemo fame and try out my new cheap but waterproof camera. After a lunch of steamed stuff with rice I again took a nap and read my book by the sea watching the sunset over Northern Cebu. Malapascua is a really nice spot and after two years of not so much holiday time it was the perfect place to start a trip in the Philippine Islands :) ... After Carlos and the Spanish guys had headed to Negros to seek further diving opportunities I basically spent the rest of my time between an all-you-can-eat fish buffet, the nearest beach and my beach hut. After a few days on the island I felt perfectly at ease with myself and the gentle calmness that comes with a tropical white sand beach and its azure blue waters and decided that I'd wobble south to the town of Oslob in Southern Cebu to try and catch myself a glimpse of a whale shark...


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