12 hours in Cebu City

I arrived on the ferry from Bohol into Cebu City at the passenger ferry terminal in San Roque. I had really limited time here, it was already midday and I was leaving Cebu island first thing in the morning.

Luckily for me, the ferry terminal is near some of the more interesting sites of Cebu City. as soon as you walk out of the terminal you’re right by Fort San Pedro, Built in 1565 by Legazpi and replaced by the stone fort we see today in 1738 to repel Muslim raiders it’s the oldest triangular bastion fort in the country. The fort was also the center of the first Spanish settlement in the Philippines.

The surrounding park area was nice with some statues of famous Spaniards, and the forst itself is definitely worth a walk around, you can even get up onto the old walls and get some magnificent views of the City. From here I walked along to Magellan’s cross.

Magellan landed on Cebu Island after navigating from Spain past the Southern tip of South America and across the Pacific Ocean. The cross in the little chapel is said to be built around the original cross. It was cute and housed in a nice little square.

Just along from here are two beautiful Basilica, one built in the 1500s! Everyone was lighting candles and it was a nice atmosphere.

It was about a 30 minute walk to my hotel from here, so my plan was to check in and then head out for a nice dinner. I was staying at the same hotel I stayed in when I first arrived in Cebu. It was so nice the first time, but a week later I was so disappointed I had to leave. The room was dirty, had so many mosquitos in it and then I noticed about 5 cockroaches on the wall.

Then a huge spider crawled out from behind a picture frame and I was done. Luckily they gave me a refund instantly, and I booked a really nice hotel up near the airport.

For reasons unknown to even me, I decided to walk the almost 9kms to the new hotel. It was certainly an eye opener as I passed slums and shanty towns, bright newly built malls and some interesting street art along Soriano Ave in the North reclamation area.

I stopped at SM City mall and ate all you can eat Korean food. Bought a load of drinks and snacks including my favourite Calamansi soft drink. So tasty and fresh. Then carried on to my hotel.

The Maayo was beautiful, service was brilliant, bed was comfy and they had an amazing rooftop area and pool. I had one of the best night’s sleep here, and the buffet breakfast was insane. I think it cost around £50 for the night, expensive for Asia but a bargain for what I got.

I took the bus to the airport and I was soon on my way back to Manila. Ready to fly to Indonesia and see what adventure awaited me there!

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24 hours in Brisbane.

Brisbane is the 3rd largest City in Australia, the capital of Queensland and a great gateway to the Sunshine coast and Great Barrier Reef. It has 283 days of sunshine, making it the perfect place to wander around and relax with a beer

Many people fly in to Brisbane just to head back out, but I had an opportunity to fly up with my partner for a night, so I tried to cram in as much as possible in 24 hours!

We arrived at the Domestic airport, and took a taxi to the City using Didi for the first time.

It was the cheapest option at $25 and it took around 18 minutes. We checked in to our hotel, the Mercure at North Quay and dropped our stuff off.

It was 12:30 and we were ready for lunch, I had found a cute little place called Brew just off Albert St. They do great vegetarian options on their menu and a good selection of beers. We had the halloumi bagel and Mac cheese balls, both with fries and both were delicious!

We were nearby the City Hall which is the largest in Australia, I had read you could go up to the top of the clock tower and it was free! So off we went, taking the lift to the 3rd floor. Unfortunately there wasn’t a tour space until 15:30 but we took our tickets just in case.

After this we walked straight down Albert Street past all the shops and through the botanical gardens where the first macadamia nuts were cultivated for farming! It was super cute and there were little lizards and interesting tropical plants.

Crossing the Brisbane River on the Goodwill bridge we went past the Maritime museum and began walking North along Southbank. The weather was gorgeous and the walkway beneath bright purple Bougainvilleans was stunning.

It’s so great to have such amazing green spaces in the City, and even better is the Streets beach! A man made turquoise blue beach pool in the middle of the City. A great place to swim, relax and catch some rays.

A top thing to do in Brisbane is take the City Hopper a free boat taxi that runs up and down the river. Just make sure you take the free one as the other boats charge.

We took the boat past kangaroo point, where you can abseil down the cliffs, past the waterside restaurants of Eagle St pier and under the famous Storey bridge.

The final stop was Sydney St and we got off here to walk back up to the City over the raised walkway above the river.

It was so beautiful, with places to stop and sit and water fountains. I had read there were bill sharks in the river, and spent my time keeping an eagle eye out for them to no avail.

If you follow this walkway till the end, you can reward yourself with a beer at Felon’s brewing company. A wonderful spot directly underneath Storey bridge. Nearby is Wilson outlook reserve, which affords you spectacular views of the city.

Felon’s brews all it’s own beers on site, and the cool instagrammable Percival’s bar is right next door too. As we sat enjoying our beers a huge thunderstorm appeared out of nowhere. Lightning filled the sky above the skyscrapers and the rain suddenly poured down.

It was such a cool experience, helped by the fact that we were sheltered from the rain. Plus it was a great excuse to get another beer.

The sun soon appeared again, so we took the City reach boardwalk all the way back to Eagle Street pier, through Queen Street mall and back to the hotel. After a quick change and freshen up we had a drink in the hotel bar and went in search of food. The best place to go would be Fish lane in South Brisbane but we stayed local and tried Harajuku Gyoza.

This was really good, dumplings, agedashi tofu and deep fried eggplant. Tasty beers including a cool Japanese ale. All for $30 each with rice, edamame and miso. Filled to the brim we went back to the hotel as Craig was up early to work the next day.

Craig was off to work in the morning and I was off to solo explore. I walked down Fish lane with it’s amazing Street art and hipster cafes. I stopped at Naim on Melbourne street and had incredible smashed avo on toast. It’s a fabulous little brunch spot.

I was now ready to hit up GOMA, with perfect timing as it opens at 10am it’s free too which is a bonus. It’s the gallery of modern art and it had some very interesting exhibits on aboriginal art and life, and some really cool media displays. It’s got some cool architecture moments as well.

I spent around an hour here at a leisurely pace, and then quickly popped over to the state library of Queensland to see an exhibition on satirical comic strips from 2018.

After missing out on the clock tower from the previous day, I was determined to do it. So after another cute boardwalk I headed back over the river and picked up a ticket. This time it was an hour’s wait. I quickly checked Google maps and found an old windmill, which turned out to be the oldest convict-built structure in Brisbane!

I also got to enjoy a couple of nice parks, a quaint little shopping arcade and finally took the plunge and tried the Hungry Jack’s vegan whopper. It was soooo good, and whoever invented the spider is a GOD. It’s soft serve on top of a slushy and it’s incredible.

Ready to hit the clock tower, we went up in the original lift and had about 10 minutes to enjoy the views of the City. It was fun and because it’s free it’s definitely something good to do but I wouldn’t worry if I missed it. We stopped behind the clock on the way down and it was done!

I had about 2 hours left in Brisbane! So I marched back over to the Southbank, found the Brisbane sign near the Lyric theatre and walked past the wheel of Brisbane. It’s well priced at $22, I wish we had done it the night before as I bet the City looks amazing lit up.

An insta-friend had recommended The Terrace bar to me, so I thought that it would be a great way to finish the trip. It’s located on floor 21 of the emporium hotel, next to Southbank train station.

I was so glad I went, the views over the City are 10 out of 10. Service was really good and the drinks were pretty well priced. I had a caramelised peach mojito and green coast lager. I could have stayed there all evening, it’s definitely one I’ll recommend on to others.

Being so close to the station was good too, it cost $23 to get to the domestic airport from here, not much less than the taxi so a little pricey, but the journey was fine and there’s a Coles nearby to pick up snacks. The train takes about 30 mins. Then it was check in to the airport and back to Melbourne after a lovely little Brizzy getaway.

Bohol adventure! Chocolate hills and Tarsiers.

Today was going to be a good day! I had my guy coming to pick me up in the morning for a full day of adventure.

I had a quick breakfast and off we went, our first stop was the Xzootic Animal Park, unfortunately this was a really run down zoo that didn’t look like the best place for the animals. I felt really awkward just being there and refused to hold the animals for pictures as it just didn’t feel right. If you’re offered a similar tour I would ask not to be taken to these ‘zoos’.

My driver was amazing though, he set my phone up to the tuk tuk Bluetooth and had us singing along to 80s and 90s power ballads, he was also great in stopping anywhere he thought I would find interesting so I could take pics.

Our next stop was an ecotourism park, basically it was just so I could zipline across this valley and back, all for about £5. It was great, at first I was a little apprehensive about the safety but once there I felt completely confident.

I loved it, zooming along with this amazing rainforest beneath me. A great way to get the blood pumping!

After this it was a little more sedate, we stopped at the man made forest. This place is beautiful, with mahogany trees forming a tunnel through the greenery. If you have more time there are some walking trails you can do through the forest too. It was also lovely and cool under the shade.

The chocolate hills were up next! Probably one of two reasons people head to this part of Bohol. Unfortunately they’re not giant hills made of chocolate, but are named because of the grasses that grow on them and turn brown when surrounded by a sea of green forest.

Nobody really knows why they’re there, these bumps in the scenery that stretch for miles in this one place. We arrived and my driver dropped me off, agreeing on a time to meet because he couldn’t park up by the visitors centre.

I had a quick browse of the souvenirs and looked out at the landscape. It was beautiful, there’s a stairway up to the top of this hill, which gives you 360° views of the hills surrounding you and a better idea of the peculiarities that they evoke.

Everyone up there were super friendly and offered to take pictures of me with the hills etc. It was a bit of a sweaty climb in the heat but you’re rewarded with a lovely breeze at the top.

It was another wonderful experience and I was so excited for the next one! We were off to see the Tarsiers. This is the other activity that Bohol is famous for. We stopped a couple of times on the way to get a drink and look out at the amazing countryside.

Then we arrived! Tarsiers are one of the smallest primates in the world, are fully carnivorous and they have the largest eyes per body size of all nammals and their status is critically endangered in the wild. Bohol is one of the only places in the world you can see these weird but adorable creatures.

The center was exactly what you would expect, with some information and then you entered the park, it’s a big space for them and there were employees stood almost guarding them against tourists getting too close or being too loud. It’s the only successful conservation center for tarsiers at present. Allowing them to live in a semi wild environment.

It was amazing seeing the Tarsiers, they remind me of little Gremlins.

This day had been so action packed and it was only mid afternoon! So our last stop was back in Loboc. The river cruises here are famous, it’s 250 peso and you get a buffet dinner, desserts and drinks with alcohol extra.

I found the queue system a little confusing but eventually made it onto the boat, which then lazily made it’s way upriver. There was music and we stopped twice to watch some traditional dancing. The food was good and I had a couple of beers to get into the spirit of things.

It was fun seeing the river in the day time and watching families fishing and kids playing with natural slides and rope swings.

You reach a small waterfall and then it’s time to head back to town. My driver took me back to the hotel and I lounged around in the gardens reading before getting another early night.

The next day I was leaving, but not before I took a morning paddle boarding lesson. This time it was just me and the instructor and after setting off I immediately got up onto my feet! Once you’re up I feel like it isn’t too difficult to keep your balance.

I had the most fun doing this, it was so serene and the instructor was really friendly. It took around an hour and a half in total as we leisurely paddled up stream. The water is such a vibrant blue/green colour.

Once back at the hotel, I paid up and started my journey back to Cebu Island via the Jeepneys. My driver from the day before even gave me a free lift to the Jeepney stop! The kindness from the Filipinos is unparalleled.

I arrived at the ferry terminal after stopping off at a small shrine to the blood pact the Spanish Legazpi made with the Chieftain of Bohol in 1565. I even had to ride clinging on to the back of a Jeepney which was definitely an interesting experience!

Anyway, I was soon on the ferry and ready to explore a little of Cebu City!

Gold Coast Getaway, Coolangatta.

So I had arrived in Melbourne, ready to explore a bit of Australia for a few months. So one of the first things we did was book a flight up to the gold coast.

The gold coast is Queensland’s second largest City/Metropolitan, it’s south of Brisbane and the beaches stretch over 43 miles of pure paradise.

The flight is so quick, and we were soon in an Uber to our cute little home for the next two nights. The Pink Hotel in Coolangatta is Instagram friendly, comfortable and cool. With a secret piano bar, a rooftop terrace and a rock bar.

Check in was nice and easy, the rooms were large with interesting features. We loved the pink fluffy flamingo robes!

After a quick freshen up we went out to explore Coolie. It was warm but with a cold wind and we decided to walk up around snapper rocks and to point danger. The beach was white sand, clear blue water and plenty of surfers, it was paradise.

We were pretty hungry, so we stopped for lunch at this great little place on the main strip called Raw Energy. The food was so good and very vegetarian friendly.

After that recharge we walked around the little peninsula at snapper rock, spotted brush turkeys, lizards and rainbow lorikeets, watched the surfers and enjoyed the beautiful views.

Up on point danger we looked out for whales, and checked out the monument to Captain Cook and some nice little war memorials. There were even turkeys up here! The views down the coast we stunning.

It was pretty windy up there, so we wandered back down and decided to stop for a beer. We chose the rainbow surf club, with it’s cute balcony overlooking the beach and ocean.

Lucky for us it was happy hour! So we sat and watched the surfers, the sun slowly going down and enjoyed ice cold beers. Then to our surprise we noticed fins in the water, and before we knew it a pod of dolphins started leaping, splashing and playing right in front of us to the backdrop of a hazy orange sun.

Sadly there were a lot of bushfires inland and you could see the smoke up high causing the sun to go an eerie red as it set.

This was such a great experience so we were buzzing as we walked back to the hotel. We got changed and decided to try Eddie’s Grub house, the bar attached to our hotel.

It was pretty cool, they had a really fun live band playing country/rock music. The beer was good and the food was delicious, especially the jalapeno hush puppies!

Filled up with great food, we walked over to an interesting statue, marking the divide between two states, Queensland and New South Wales. So we took a couple of fun pics of us in either state and took a little walk along the beach. We finished the night off with ice cream.

The next day we hit the beach, at first the weather was a little cold and wet, but by midday it had brightened up and we had fun paddling in the water, relaxing on the beach and enjoying our little picnic we had put together from the Woolworths on the main strip.

It was great to relax, and we spent most of the day here, going over to the rainbow club for more happy hour drinks and then enjoying the view from the top of the hotel.

Tonight we had a drink at the Coolangatta Hotel, watching the lorikeets come in to nest for the night. Then we walked over to have what is probably the worst pizza of my life. I always thought pizza was something you couldn’t get wrong, but Earth and Sea pizza restaurant managed it.

The pizzas came out with about a cm of water under the base so they were really soggy and super small for the price. Definitely avoid it!

It didn’t dampen our spirits though, so we got mcflurrys from McDonald’s and wandered back to the hotel. I peeked into the piano bar which looked really cool but we were getting up for sunrise in the morning so called it quits.

That morning we got up while it was still dark, got dressed and walked up to point danger. We stood looking out over the ocean, watching the sun slowly come up. Then the most amazing thing happened, we spotted something big come up out of the water and disappear.

There was a little pod of Humpback Whales swimming right past us! It was truly a breathtaking experience and my first time seeing Whales! Sadly they didn’t breach but they did a lot of tail slapping which was fun to see.

We were both super happy to enjoy this experience together, it’s definitely worth getting up early to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals.

Breakfast was at the Bread Social, a really good bakery where we shared a blueberry custard donut and savoury eggplant pie. It was delicious and we’d definitely recommend going there for breakfast/lunch.

The rest of the day was spent on the beach, swimming in the cool clear waters, walking along the surf and then it was nearly time to go! We ate some tasty pokebowls on the hotel rooftop and then took a taxi back to the airport. It’s less than ten minutes away so it’s a great place to stay.

Then we were back on a plane to Melbourne, through the smoky haze of the forest fires which gave the landscape a weird look.

It was a great little getaway and we’d definitely go back to Coolie! I can’t wait to explore more of Australia.

Bohol, a morning cave swim and a night time firefly paddle board.

I left Siquijor by ferry, this time doing a full loop up to Bohol and Panglao island. The only ferry leaves at 12:30 from Larena and takes around 1 hour 30. The price is only 500 peso!

I didn’t hang around at my hotel after the spider and bugs from the night before. So I went off by jeepney to the main town, got some cakes for breakfast and took a taxibike over to Larena. I was over an hour early so wandered around the town, there wasn’t much going on, so I waited at the port. After a lovely ferry journey I arrived on Bohol island! I took a taxibike to my hotel and arrived at around 14:30.

I had decided to stay one night at Natura Vista, an adorable looking ecolodge right by the beach. It was such a cute place, after the little hut on Siquijor it seemed like paradise. So I relaxed for half an hour or so then went down to the beach. I was enjoying these relaxing days having some beach time after so many Cities.

I watched the fishermen heading out for the night catches and the sunset was another stunner. I think the Philippines has some of the best in the world!

I ate at the hotel, some lovely veggies and rice and obviously a San Miguel. Then had a great spider-free nights sleep.

The next day I woke early, got up and ready and walked the 30 mins or so around to Hinagdanan cave. It was a fun little walk with some very random statues. I arrived at the caves and paid the 175 peso entrance.

The caves were amazing, the limestone has caused dramatic stalactites, but the best part was the cold lagoon that you could swim in. I was a little nervous at first as the only light coming in is from some holes in the roof.

Once I got in though I loved it, what a way to start the morning! I helped some girls take photos in return for my own. Then went back up to the hotel feeling refreshed.

I was heading to the jungle interior of Bohol this afternoon but I wanted to do it on the cheap. So I took a jeepney into Tagbilaran City. Walked up to the integrated bus terminal and had a quick wander around the mall. I bought some donuts and snacks.

Next was another jeepney to Loboc. Known for its scenic river and a gateway to some great adventures. I was staying at the Fox and Firefly, it was a little above my budget but totally worth it.

The main reason I wanted to stay there was the stand up paddle boarding, I had never done it before and was super excited to try. So obviously I booked a night time one to see fireflies for my first time.

I had dinner in the lovely open restaurant after checking in, and rested until it was time to go. There were only 4 of us, we put on our lifejackets and went straight out onto our boards after a quick lesson. We started by sitting on our knees and paddling.

Even at night it was amazing, we had to keep to the side of the river due to boats, but there were only a handful and otherwise the sky was beautiful, it was peaceful, and best of all we saw hundreds of fireflies.

Our guide took us to two trees that were absolutely covered in them. It was another awe-inspiring moment on my trip. I even managed to stand up for a bit on my board!

We headed back halfway and then took a truck back the rest. I chatted to the driver and he gave me a good price for a full Bohol tour the next day. I went to bed really happy and excited for what was next.

Time to chill on Siquijor, Island of Witchcraft

Siquijor is a small island in the Philippines known for it’s mystical mountain healers, witchcraft and superstition. It’s also got some amazing little beaches and forest interior.

I was travelling there from Dumaguete on the ferry, which took around 2 hours and cost less than £2. We also saw dolphins on the relaxing boat journey! A real bonus.

Like most places in SE Asia a huge group of tuktuks, taxis and taxibikes awaited us, so I showed one guy my hotel, popped a helmet on and off we went. There’s basically one road around the island, with a few smaller ones leading Inland, so it’s hard to get lost!

Arriving at the hotel it was around lunchtime, so I checked in and realised I was actually staying in a small shack in someone’s back garden. It was very basic but super cheap and I thought at least it’ll be an adventure. If it sounds up your street the hotel is Lagkaw sa Sawang.

I dropped my stuff off and decided to try out a jeepney, the bus like transports found all over the Philippines. It worked a treat as I jumped up into the back and, once at my destination paid and jumped off!

My destination was Paliton beach, a small expanse of white sand, turquoise waters and not much else. It was another little paradise and I lay here for the whole afternoon, swimming and reading.

I got chatting to some guys who were opening resorts on the island who were a little bit cringe, but it led me to chat with two German girls and we sat enjoying the spectacular sunset and agreed to meet for dinner later.

The sun had set and it was pretty dark along the small track to the main road but wasn’t sure if I jeepney would be coming, so I started to walk to the next barangay which is like a village. From here I took a taxibike back to the hotel, got changed and went for dinner at a lovely restaurant called Baha bar. They did great vegetarian food and the beers were ice cold.

The next day I rented a motorcycle from the owners of my little hut for 300 peso a day, I was nervous but I had been on the back of bikes a few times now and got used to it.

So off I sped! My first stop on a island wide tour was the enchanted Balete tree. Around 400 years old it is said to have magical properties. It’s literally on the main road and after paying a 10 peso entrance fee you can sit under it, dangle your feet in a small stream and let fish nibble away.

It was starting to get super hot now, so I decided to head up to Cambugahay falls. There are a few waterfalls dotted around the interior but this one is supposedly the best. You park up then walk down quite a few steps to be rewarded with this beautiful blue pool of water and cascading waterfalls.

I was in heaven and enjoyed cooling down in the second pool, watching people swinging into the first pool from little treehouse. I lay back under the waterfalls and watched the sunlight through the trees.

I had to have a go on the swings, it cost just 10 peso for a go, so I had a few and it was so fun! Swinging out and dropping into the beautiful water. I spent a couple of hours here just relaxing and enjoying the natural theme park.

So I carried on around the interior of the island, enjoying the views over the hills, when I noticed signs for a cave. So obviously I took the small dirt track to a dead end, where a guy took me down into the forest.

We ended up at a small cave entrance, and with a head torch we went in to explore. There was a bit of clambering and some cool formations in there along with bats, but it was probably only a 10 minute journey to the end and back. It was only £1.50 though.

I was pretty sweaty and grimy by the time I got back to the bike. I met the girls again for dinner and drinks and then gave one a lift back to their hotel.

Today I was my last day here, so I was going to hit up another beach, and explore the interior more. So off I went on my little bumblebee bike to the opposite side of the island. Riding around is definitely the best way to get about, and the views from the bike were lovely.

Salagdoong beach wasn’t that great though. Compared to Paliton it’s busier with a restaurant pumping out music, what looked like a very rundown water park and two beaches that were really busy. I lay down and went for a swim, got an ice cream and did enjoy it, but I kept thinking of how great little Paliton was.

There are also meant to be some concrete boards you can jump into the sea from but I couldn’t find them. As we got into the afternoon I decided to get up into the mountains. Driving up I found a cute little hill to walk up and view the whole island from, it was epic.

I got back down and as I drove off noticed a snake in the grass! I tried to swerve but didn’t have time so I either ran over it or just missed it, but I wasn’t going back to check! I drove on and went down past some gorgeous colonial buildings. I didn’t know what else to see and couldn’t make my mind up.

So I took a leisurely pace back to the hotel, when I went into my hut, there was a huge huntsman’s spider crawling along my stuff! I absolutely shit it. I couldn’t get past the spider to get a shower or fresh clothes. So I did what any sane person would do. Closed the door and left.

I went to the main town by the port and treated myself to pizza, chips and a banana shake, and tried to decide what to do. After a couple of beers I went back with determination. When I got there I couldn’t see the Huntsman anymore, but that wasn’t really a help. So I spent the night with all the lights on, attracting all kinds of insects. It’s fair to say I didn’t sleep much!

I had to laugh at myself, because I know that the huntsman aren’t dangerous, but I did not want to wake up with one on my face! I decided as I carefully packed my stuff up the next day that it’s all part and parcel of staying on such a mystical island.

Facing my fears at Kawasan Falls

Today was going to be interesting! Over the last few years I’ve started to notice a real fear of heights and I couldn’t put my finger on where it came from. So I was heading to Kawasan Falls on Cebu Island, travelling from Oslob I took the bus again. I was heading south again to Liloan, the last stop. Then from here you have to take a bus going North, but along the West coast.

Kawasan Falls is famous for cliff jumping and canyoneering, but also for the beautiful turquoise waters. So hopefully I’d be able to do the jumps and get over my vertigo.

I made it to the entrance way and started walking up. There were taxi bikes offering to take you up and various tour companies offering canyoneering. It was a nice pleasant walk and I had decided to check out the waterfalls before doing any jumping/canyoneering.

I paid the small entrance fee, and found that the falls are quite the attraction. There are restaurants and shops all right by the big pool at the base of the falls. You could leave your belongings in a manned locker store which was good. I sat and watched people swimming in the water and going under the waterfall.

I decided I had to do the jumping. So I went over and booked a guide to take me up. We wound our way past a couple of waterfalls, up along the river and finally to a beautiful spot where we watched a couple of people jumping. It looked so high and I started to get very nervous.

We clambered up to the top of the rocks and he showed me where to jump. It was such an effort to get my legs to move, but I did it with a large (manly) scream. I couldn’t believe I had jumped! Then I realised my GoPro was no longer on my stick and it had floated to the bottom, as you can see from the video!

My guide was a hero, and dived down to get it for me, I made sure I tipped him later for the effort. I was now pumped and so I did the jump again, then went down a natural rock slide before swinging on a rope and falling into a beautiful turquoise pool.

It was so much fun! My fears had all gone and I couldn’t wait to do the next jump, this time it was a big one, off an amazing waterfall, I climbed onto the spot and jumped! My guide took over recording duties at this point, it was amazing and I got to go again. This time I could enjoy the quieter pool to swim in, then we went back to the main waterfall and parted ways.

I’d love to go back and do more canyoneering and it really made me feel like I had achieved something. I spent the next couple of hours having a beer and swimming some more. Then it was on to the next adventure!

Back at the main road I took the bus south to Liloan again, and stopped at the docks. This time I was taking a ferry to Dumaguete on the island of Negros. My stop off point to reach the small Island of Siquijor. The ferry journey was quick and easy, my hotel was cheap with breakfast and I enjoyed walking along the promenade.

Dumaguete is quite a big City and I stopped at Chowking to enjoy the national dessert dish of shaved ice, condensed milk an various weird sweets/beans/coconut and topped with ice cream, Halo Halo!

I also finally got my haircut after 5 weeks, had some tasty food at the chowking and a beer on the promenade. Then it was back to the hotel, bed and ready to leave for the ferry the next day.

Cebu Island and the Whale Sharks.

So I arrived in Cebu, and knew I wouldn’t get to Oslob, my next destination until the following morning. So I took the bus from the airport into the centre which was really easy. Then took a grab bike to my hotel, it was a cute place I ate in their restaurant and went to bed early.

I was up at 6am ready to walk over to the South Bus terminal. It was easy to find the correct bus and staff were helpful in buying a ticket etc. The bus takes around 3 and a half hours, it actually got pretty busy too as we wound our way South. It also only cost about £2! You can do a day tour but these can cost up to £80 each.

I was heading to a place where you’re guaranteed to see whale sharks, and as I had got closer to the day I started to read that it was a bit controversial. There are arguments on both sides of this, with some saying that by feeding the whale sharks the fishermen are interrupting their natural migration.

There were also issues with boats injuring the sharks, however there is also research that shows the coral and fish in the area are flourishing because the fishermen are no longer using poor techniques to catch, as they’re making money from us tourists. Plus the local government are continuing to introduce stricter rules when it comes to entering the water and numbers visiting.

I decided to check it out, I’d like to say it was out of interest but I definitely wanted to see these magnificent animals. They’re the biggest fish in the world, and are beautiful gentle beasts.

I arrived in Tan-Awan where I was staying, dropped my stuff off at the hotel and went straight to the Sharks. I got offered a few prices as I walked up, just ignore them and go straight to the people there. It cost me 1000 peso, which was around £15.

We sat through a very thorough guidelines video and talk of the dos and don’ts once we got in the boats, we had to shower before leaving to wash off any sunscreen as it’s damaging. The people working there genuinely seemed to care about the whales but it was pretty hectic.

Once in the boat you get taken out to a spot, jump in with snorkels and watch as the sharks glide past. Surfacing now and again, you couldn’t touch or go within 3 feet of them. Although the fishermen try to control the tourists there are some that are ignorant and try to get close. Also a lot of the tourists couldn’t swim but still jumped in and started thrashing about. So watch out for arms and legs that could hit you.

I was amazed by it all, I’m usually nervous being out of my depths and sharks terrify me, but I think I was so in awe of them that I didn’t even think about it.

The only thing I found uncomfortable was just the number of people in the water at the same time, and I’ve read that they are limiting numbers more and more which is good.

After the buzz of seeing these amazing sharks I decided to keep the adventure up and go to some nearby waterfalls. It cost 200 peso for return trip in a mototaxi, 20 peso entry and 60 peso return for motorbike down to the falls from the carpark. It’s only about 15 mins from the village.

Tumalog falls were incredible, totally different type of waterfall to what I’m used to. It’s about 100 metres tall, and instead of a steady flow of water it sprays down the side of this cliff sparkling in the sunlight. There’s a huge pool at the bottom that you can swim and relax in. Plus the rainforest environment is beautiful to relax in.

I spent a good two hours here, the water was cold and refreshing in the heat and I couldn’t stop looking at the waterfall from different angles.

After a full day I finally checked in to my hotel, Casa Bonita and chilled out for a bit then went for a wander around the little village. There wasn’t much going on, but there are a couple of little stores selling food and a few restaurants. I ate at the hotel again. Some lovely fried veggies and rice. Then I was ready for another busy day tomorrow.

Puerta Princesca and the Wonder of the World.

I arrived into Puerta Princesca with the aim of seeing one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The massive underground river system of Puerta Princesca subterranean national park.

As a capital of the island I was expecting quite a busy City, but it actually was more like a small town. My hotel was on the edge of the town and about a 30 minute walk from the airport where the bus had dropped me off.

It was a bit out of the way and another remnant of my hangover choices back in Nacpan. It was nice enough though, and I booked my underground trip, but also a dolphin trip.

I spent the evening trying to find somewhere to eat, and ended up with an overpriced pizza. Then had a beer back at the hotel. I got up early and met the bus driver who took me to a larger bus which then went around the City to pick up the other adventurers for the trip. It cost 1700 pesos including everything such as transfers, lunch and permits.

Located about 50 miles north of the City the cave system is around 15 miles long with a 5 mile stretch of underground river that flows directly into the sea. The river system features giant caves and stalactites/stalagmites. It was voted as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world in 2012.

We arrived and had a couple of options before going to the caves. A zipline or a boat trip through a mangrove forest. I chose the latter because there was the offer of snake sightings!

So off we trotted to this little boat, where a lovely lady began rowing us gently up this little river, with mangroves surrounding us. As we went we started to spot these mangrove snakes perilously close to the boat, and I started to regret my choice.

It actually turned out to be really interesting, and although we didn’t spot any more interesting creatures it was a great way to start the trip.

We had a quick lunch of rice and veggies, meat for the others, then set off on another boat trip to reach the caves. It’s an amazing little journey past amazing scenery that you would never get to see from land.

Finally we were at the cave entrance, boats were waiting to take us through, so in we jumped and what followed was an amazing underground trip through vast caverns, small tunnels and past incredible rock formations.

We had a hilarious guide too which made the trip even more fun, the cave system you can reach is 8km long and we covered 4km. You can do more with a special permit. The caves are also filled with bats which were fun to spot.

As we finally entered back I felt exhilarated to have witnessed a true natural wonder. The bus back was uneventful, and i managed to meet up with some fellow travelers from my stay at the Mad Monkey in Nacpan. We had a traditional Filipino meal a couple of beers and then I walked back to my hotel ready for a busy day.

I awoke early in the morning, packed my stuff and waited for another van. This time I was off to see Dolphins! Arriving at the port we waited for a few more people and then jumped on the boat and headed out.

It was a great experience, we followed these dolphins up and down for ages. (Or they followed us!) They were playing and swimming next to us, it was so much fun.

Then we were taken to a snorkeling spot, but a large group with us demanded to be taken further out. Unfortunately non of them could swim, and they were splashing about so much that the fish did a runner.

So no one got to see any fish, and we headed back to the dock. I got to sit right at the front of the boat which was so much fun. We arrived back and after chilling for a couple of hours I went to the airport, ready to hit up Cebu, the island of adventure.

El Nido and paradise at Nacpan beach.

I arrived on Palawan Island in the Philippines, excited to get to the beach after a month of City and Country. I landed in Puerta Princesca, the capital of the island. I knew it was pretty easy to get to El Nido in the North via a minivan. It cost around £10 and took 6 hours.

El Nido is basically the name given to the area you stay in to explore the Bacuit Archipelago, a group of karst islands that is unparalleled paradise.

The journey there was beautiful too, through lush jungle and past dramatic coastline. It was a bit uncomfortable but there was one stop to stretch the legs and eat/buy snacks/toilet.

I finally arrived in El Nido and for some reason hadn’t really planned my itinerary there very well. But I’ll go through it anyway! I stayed at a little hostel called Pawikan which was cheap, clean and only sharing with one other person.

The first thing that struck me about El Nido was how small the little town seemed, stuck between huge karst cliffs, it felt like I had reached a different world. I immediately set off to wander the streets, full of nice looking restaurants, shops and beachfront bars.

El Nido is famous for it’s boat tours, of which you can do A,B,C or D or a combination of them. So there were plenty of places to book, all offering them at similar prices. For reasons unknown even to me, I didn’t book the boat trip immediately, instead I decided to drink a few beers on the beach, got some amazing deep fried chillis and booked a mid morning bus to Nacpan beach for the following day.

Nacpan beach is found North of the town, down a small dirt track that was barely passable. There was one or two hotel/bar/restaurants on arrival, but I was staying at the only hostel. Located right on the beach, The Mad Monkey is a well known chain for backpackers across South East Asia.

After about ten minutes of walking along the beach, a good bonding session with a Swedish guy who had also been on the bus we arrived in paradise. Beautiful beach, clear blue sea and a bar. After checking in we stripped down and got straight on the beach.

I ordered a couple of beers and spent the next 2 days soaking up the sun, drinking heavily, making new friends and enjoying our little slice of paradise.

The mad monkey offered all you can drink for one mad, happy, crazy hour every evening. This is how probably the best experience of my trip started. I had made friends with a Dutch guy called J, and a Ukrainian girl called Svetlana. So we met on the first evening and started drinking, and these were strong rum and cokes and red horse, a 7% San Miguel.

Feeling a little tipsy, I agreed to Svetlana’s request to go for a night swim, now I’m not recommending drunk swimming as it can be dangerous, but off we went with J and a Canadian girl called Sam and dived in. As we were swimming we noticed something odd, we realised that glowing plankton was all around us. Every time we splashed in the water it lit up, if we dived down lights glittered around us.

It was truly an incredible experience, we were so excited and spent so long swimmimg and couldn’t believe our luck. The people working there said it’s super rare to see.

On my last day I felt super ill, hungover and unable to bear the heat. So I cut my trip short by a night, booked a room in El Nido with air con, bought enough snacks to last me at least 2 days and spent the afternoon hibernating. Feeling a little refreshed I finally booked one of the boat trips for the following day.

I was up early and ready to go, our boat left from the main beach and we were soon on our way to small lagoon We arrived and everyone jumped into kayaks, but being on my own I just jumped in the water and started swimming, it was amazing, the water was warm and so clear. It was a lot of fun going through the little cave and emerging into this pool surrounded by vegetation and cliff faces. I couldn’t believe how cool it was.

The next stop was big lagoon! This was just as interesting, it was so shallow as we walked between two cliffs to then dive into the deepest blue lagoon ever. I could see fish swimming in the depths beneath me and it was a nice way to cool off.

Even sailing between all these islands was amazing, like a less crowded version of Ha Long Bay in it’s beauty. We stopped on this tiny beach for lunch and got to explore and swim a bit. The lunch was great, even for a veggie like me.

It was too rough and busy to go to the secret lagoon which was a little disappointing, but we headed off to 7 Commandos beach. Here I went snorkelling for ages, saw clown fish, a big white sea snake and loads of other colourful fish. Then I attempted to play beach volleyball, I was pretty bad but it was still fun. Although I think the Filipinos were a bit more competitive than me. I was also told you could sometimes see turtles!

After lazing on the beach with a coconut it was time to head back. I had really enjoyed the trip and to top it off we had a karaoke competition on the way back and I won! With a beautiful rendition of Oasis – Wonderwall.

After a busy day swimming and still feeling a little rough from Nacpan beach I had a tasty dinner and booked my bus back to Puerta Princesca in the morning. Looking back I wish I had spent more time in El Nido and planned my itinerary a little better. I rushed off and regretted not going to Coron and even maybe doing a different boat trip, but there’s always next time!