We took a couple of flights today, Dumaguete – Manila – Bangkok, so that’s it for Philippines.
So how did we like it? You might have guessed from our articles:
We freakin’ loved it!
Some of the countless amazing things in the Philippines:
- The diversity: Philippines are made of 7 000 thousand islands, yet every time we arrived on a new island it had it’s own vibe and landscape.
- The activities: Caving, sea-kayaking, biking or driving quads, wake-boarding, cliff and waterfalls jumping, snorkeling with turtles or whale-sharks and of course diving… This is just a few of the dozens of awesome activities Philippines have to offer.
- The people: Filipinos are incredibly nice people. They try to help as much as they possibly can, and have always a sincere smile on. Our host in Bohol said to us “We’ve got problems so we have to smile”: what an amazing mentality. Almost everybody speaks an ok English, which is nice for getting around.
- The prices: Philippines are cheap, really cheap. It is also probably the only Asian country where you don’t have to negotiate because people don’t try to scam you: we’ve paid the same prices as locals for the entire month.
Settling in paradise: It was hard to pick with side to choose
- The travelers: We feel that backpackers coming to the Philippines are people seeking a unique and authentic experience. As a result, we’ve bounded with everybody we’ve met on the trip and made great friends we would be happy to see again.
Lunch with friends on a Coramoan Island
Followed by a fun evening
Nevertheless, we did find a few classics / dislikes for you to enjoy:
- The travel times: A 50 kilometers drive is a one hour trip – top – right? Wrong! Try 2 hours. Even thought the distances are small, every trip takes forever, whether is by bus, jeepney, van or even boat. The only option to not spend days travelling is to fly as much as possible, which involve connecting in Manila or Cebu every time.
- The transportation means: Filipinos transports are far from the luxurious Malaysian buses. In addition to being uncomfortable – which is ok for us – Filipinos transports aren’t well organized (remember our bus leaving way before time in Luzon?) or developed and it’s a real pain to move around.
This was the Coramoan ferry. On the left, the “jetty”
- The food. Okay, this one is a so-so. We really hated it at first when we were in the cordillera, and we really couldn’t find a decent meal – the only option being fried chicken we really didn’t know how long ago (hours or days?) it’d been fried. But after a few days in South Luzon, we got to figure out how to pick good food at a restaurant. Most of our meals still included fried chicken though.
Enjoying a mango smoothie
Aaaand that’s about it.
Oh right, shit happened. A lot of stuff actually, we feel like we’ve had enough bad luck for the rest of the trip – but let’s not fool ourselves. We learned a lot from all of this.
Anywho, here are the stories (and some pictures that have nothing to do with them):
Bananas were amazing, even when eaten on a tuk-tuk
The biking stuff
Aaah the biking. We’ve loved moving around islands on bikes, feeling totally free and awesome. But the bike didn’t love us so much on their end. After a first flat tire just at sunset in Bohol that we got repaired quite quickly, we renewed the experience of biking in Siquijor a couple days later. Not surprisingly, we got a new flat tire in the middle of the mountains right before dark (because why change?).
Now this is just the beginning. After an hour trying to repair the tire – the night was fallen – the repair guy told us that there were too many holes in the tire too repair it and that we had to go to the nearest city to buy a new tube. We hopped on our second bike – the one that didn’t have a light, obviously – to find out once we got there that every store selling tubes were closed (it’s night, that’s fair). Hence, we tried to go back to see the repair guy and tell him to keep the bike overnight.
That’s when the second bike broke as well. The chain broke, to be more specific. We managed to find someone to keep the broken bike, hopped on a tuck-tuck and made it back to the hotel… Missing two bikes. The funny part was when the rental guy tried to make us pay for the broken chain: we had him pay for our tuck-tuck ride instead.
No, it’s not just in the postcards
The luggage stuff
Now this is a cool one. Coming back from Apo Island, we had to take a pirogue to cross the 50 meters separating the beach from the ferry. The boat guys put our luggage on the pirogue and tell us to hop in. We didn’t wanted to.
See, the sea was really agitated. And the pirogue really small. So we told them to go without us and we’d just swim across. That made them laugh and they replied that there were absolutely no problem and they’d done that multiple times. So we reluctantly got on board.
Not even 2 meters away from the shore, the boat capsized with the first wave, throwing our luggage and us in the water. Now were talking about all of our luggage, so all of our clothes, but also electronics, computers, phones, passports and money… Thankfully, we wrapped the most important ones in plastic, so we didn’t loose much – my kindle is dead and Tom’s computer was not working anymore (he got it repaired using the warranty). But we had to use our evening in Dumaguete – and our entire room – to rinse with clear water and dry our clothes and virtually every of our possessions.
Oh, and to top it off, we got hurt by some corals and urchins when trying to save our stuff. It hurts.
Next time we’ll trust our instinct.
All of this made us a bit less on top of things, and we arrived one day earlier to the airport for our flight by mistake… To almost miss it the next day because our alarm didn’t ring. We did get it – 10mns before departure.
But even with all those things happening, we still loved it and Philippines is our favorite country visited so far.
Our only regret? Not having another couple of months to spend there. We’ll be back.