Permanent Vacasian

The traveller sees what he sees; the tripper sees what he has come to see. – G. K. Chesterton

El Neato!

January 29, 2011
by Stuart
3 Comments
9,467 views

El Nido, Palawan, Philippines – At the northern tip of Palawan is El Nido, a sleepy little beach town with one road and a few hotels scattered along the shore. Since the beach isn’t much, every morning people escape on boats to explore the Bacuit Archipelago – a vast collection of jagged limestone islands with hidden lagoons, soft white beaches, and crystal-clear water. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Bangka on the shores of Simizu Island.

Bangka on the shores of Simizu Island.

We arrived around lunchtime after a seven-hour van ride from Puerto Princesa – which included a drunk Polish guy – who threw a tantrum at the hotel that morning – spending most the ride asleep on Tina’ shoulder. When we got into the minivan the driver told us to move to the back because the front seats were reserved for some locals who reserved these seats “weeks ago”.

Never in our travels have we heard this, so we refused and remained in our seats because of the extra leg room (for the ride back to Puerto Princesa, our request to reserve the front seats was met with laughter).

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Palawan: A Joel T. Reyes Project

January 25, 2011
by Stuart
6 Comments
6,202 views

Puerto Princesia, Palawan, Philippines – Anytime you take a bus or minivan in Southeast Asia, it’s guaranteed the first stop will be around the corner at a gas station – getting fuel is done on your time. And drivers never top up the tank: For short trips they buy just enough fuel to get to the destination, and for long trips they buy enough to get to the next rest stop – where they can refuel and receive free meals in exchange for bringing busloads of potential customers.

Apparently the same thing is true when you fly. Due to “heavy traffic” at the Tagbilaran airpot (two planes), our connecting flight coming from Manila had to be rerouted for a refueling stop. The flight from Manila only takes 45 minutes. So after flying about an hour, the plane ran low enough on gas that they had to fly to a different city just to refuel. Hope the pilots got free meals!

Boats leaving Sabang for the Underground River.

Boats leaving Sabang for the Underground River.

Once the two planes departed, our plane landed to the usual fanfare which had little to do with this particular flight – when a plane comes in for landing everyone in the airport rushes up to the windows to watch, shouting and taking pictures. And as if trying to atone for their tardiness, the airlines handed out little orange umbrellas for us to use for the the short walk out to the plane.

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Semi-Sweet

January 23, 2011
by Tina
2 Comments
3,923 views

Bohol, Visayas, Philippines – As we were planning this trip, Stuart and I discussed some of the things we wanted to do differently this time. One of them was to spend more time in less places – not to be on the move every two or three days like our last time out. But when we awoke on our third day in Siquijor and it was overcast and looking like rain again, we make a quick decision to leave and take the ferry back to Dumaguete and then on to Bohol, another island in the Visayas. So much for staying still.

Too upclose and personal with a tarsier.

Too upclose and personal with a tarsier.

Bohol is home to the Chocolate Hills, one of the most advertised tourist destinations in the Philippines. The 1,268 rolling hills are the result of uplifting ancient coral reef deposits followed by erosion and weather. In summer, the hills turn from green to chocolate brown – hence the name.

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Slippery When Wet

January 19, 2011
by Stuart
6 Comments
31,873 views

Siquijor, Visayas, Philippines – The island of Siquijor turned out to be the mellow island paradise we’d been looking for: little villages and the occasional place to stay on a beach. The island also had a sealed coastal road providing stunning views and almost zero traffic. So after disembarking in Siquijor Town after the ferry from Dumaguete, we rented a motorbike and headed around the western edge of the island in search of someplace to stay.

Hammocks at the Royal Cliff Resort; Lugnason Falls.

Hammocks at the Royal Cliff Resort; Lugnason Falls.

We ended up at Royal Cliff Resort, which sits above the beach on terraced cliffs with rooms tucked away within its lushly landscaped grounds. Now, it should be noted that most places to stay on the islands are called “resorts”, but they are hardly the modern immaculate palaces we have back home. Most of them – at least in our price range – are beautifully landscaped but have poky cement-walled rooms with a fan, a cold shower and mosquitos. But for around $20 a night, you can’t complaining.

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Goin’ South

January 17, 2011
by Stuart
2 Comments
3,240 views

The Visayas, Philippines – After spending five days on the beach in Boracay, it was time for a change of scenery: more beaches! We decided to head south to the Visayas, a group of islands forming the geographical heart of the Philippines. The only question remaining was how to get there.

Kids fishing along the promenade.

Kids fishing along the promenade.

One of the major differences with this trip is the amount of flying we’ll do fulfill our itinerary. On the last adventure, except for Stuart taking a flight in China saving two days of backtracking by train, we didn’t fly until our ninth month of travel. This time, however, with geography and border politics working against us, we’ll have to fly to almost every country (toss in the insanely low prices of discount airlines and you’d be crazy not to).

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