Labuan Bajo, Gateway to Komodo.

Come for the Komodo Dragons, but stay for the chilled atmosphere, liveaboard boats and stunning scenery. Just be prepared for the plastic waste everywhere, unfortunately this isn’t just a Labuan Bajo issue so try to limit your plastic consumption at all times.

THINGS TO DO IN LABUAN BAJO.

Labuan Bajo is a far cry from Bali, with just one main street by the water, it’s mainly filled with dive shops and a few restaurants/hotels. Make sure to take a walk along the promenade and check out the amazing Komodo statue and the cute pink jetty.

STAY ON A BOATEL

Our first two nights were spent on Le Pirate Boatel! Le Pirate Located out beyond the harbour, it’s so cute. With just ten rooms and a deck it’s small and it doesn’t feel busy. The room consists of a double bed, a shelf and a cupboard and toilets are communal. Make sure to book through their own website for free breakfast.

We arrived via the shuttle boat service which runs throughout the day for those missing dry land. We got there in the evening, but awoke to the most beautiful sunrise. Make the effort to get up, it’s worth it for the views and the turtles that swim past.

The rest of the day was spent lounging on our private outdoor area, in the hammock and diving into the beautiful warm waters. The sunset that night was possibly even better than the sunrise!

Snorkeling is free on the boat and if you head towards the jetty and beach there’s a lot of marine life to see. Unfortunately the beach is absolutely covered in rubbish and there’s quite a bit in the water which was a big let down. It was fun watching monkeys playing on the beach in the morning though.

RENT A SCOOTER

We rented a Scooter for the day and rode up to sunset hill for amazing views of the bay. It’s much prettier on the opposite side to the docks. We found a secret beach that all the locals were at, drive around the East side of the peninsula to find it.

The water was so warm and clear, and you can walk out for ages as it’s so shallow. Park up, strip to your swimmers and jump in! It was fun to be around all the locals, they’re so friendly and find it extremely fun to talk to us.

We got back on the bike and it wouldn’t start, a small kid tried helping us to kick start it before another local just lifted the stand up and it worked. It was pretty embarrassing stuff.

There were a few nice beaches along this road, but be prepared for plastic everywhere, it’s such a shame because it would truly be paradise otherwise. We drove around and found a cool bar up at the top of a hill called One Tree Hill! It was super colourful and had cool street art covering it.

The views from the top were amazing! A huge storm rolled in as we were there having a beer and it was incredible. I bet the sunset is amazing from here too.

As we drove along we stopped off at little shops along the way to cool down and get a can of something to drink. It was great to use the local places rather than spend all our money in a circle K.

VISIT SOME CAVES

As we were driving around we saw some caves on Google maps and it was such a fun experience.

Batu Cermin is only a ten minute drive or so from the town, and costs 50,000pp to enter plus a small parking fee. We weren’t sure what it would be like as we walked past clumps of bamboo and spotted monkeys playing around.

As we got closer we were amazed by the formations of the rocks, and we found out that the whole island used to be underwater and these rocks even had coral embedded in them.

As you walk between the rocks birds and butterflies are flying around you and the light coming through makes everything look even more beautiful.

You can take a guide if you’re nervous about going into the actual caves but otherwise helmets are provided at the entrance. It’s pretty cool being underground and you do have to crouch and crawl a bit, but it’s totally worth it for the passageway with a small window high above that lets in the sun to light up the cave.

There are more caves around Labuan Bajo and you can even swim in some of them like Rangko cave.

PLACES TO EAT

We ate at a few places, our first night was at Le Pirate hotel on the top floor. It’s decked out nicely, with a hostel vibe to it, the food was good but nothing spectacular and reasonably priced.

Happy Banana is the highest rated restaurant in the area, but it has no soul and you could be eating anywhere in the world, it’s also on the higher end for prices and no sunset views.

Bajo Taco is a Mexican place that we went to for the rooftop bar, and stayed for the happy hour deals and tasty food. Get there before sunset for amazing views and a soundtrack of the Islam call to prayer. The food here is really good and well priced, the free chipotle mayo was gorgeous.

Warung Mama was our favourite place, just walk up the stairs and over to the glass cabinet, pick out your choice of Indonesian food with rice and enjoy. It was really good for us vegetarians and the cheapest meal at 66k for 2 and 80k for 2 plus drinks.

We stopped at Blue Marlin for lunch one day and at the time thought it was pretty good, but after visiting Warung Mama and Bajo taco we realised it’s pretty basic. Also watch out for the extra taxes that aren’t included in the price. The sunset was good from here though.

Don’t be afraid to try the little Warungs dotted about, Craig got a really good Nasi Goreng in a place just across from our hotel. If you’re worried about the meat etc, just ask for it veggie! We had no problem with this everywhere we went like one place on the main street that we tried after Mama had run out of veggie food.

Eco-tree hotel gets a bonus mention, we only had beers here but the sunset views were amazing! Plus it’s a cool building, head to the top floor to walk the plank.

LIVEABOARDS AND DAY TRIPS

Read all about our Komodo National Park boat tour HERE. Booked through Seek Sophie

After doing the tour we would definitely recommend taking a liveaboard boat trip for a few nights around the islands, our tour was amazing but we wished we’d had more time at each place and could’ve discovered more of the amazing islands.

We spent the rest of our time here relaxing by the pool at our hotel, Bintang Flores and enjoying the amazing Indonesian sunsets. I don’t think we had a bad one in the whole week.

Komodo, Land of Dragons.

Today was the day we had been looking forward to, we were off to see the Dragons! We had been on Flores Island for a few days and booked the trip while we were there through Seeksophie for £45pp. Seek Sophie

This was a full day boat trip to 4 locations and we were so excited for each one. We were picked up at 5:30am and taken to our boat for the day. There were 12 other people on the boat and we bonded with a girl from Perth and a guy from India.

It was pretty quick and easy getting on the boat and sorting money etc out. You have to pay between 300,00-460,000IDR in national park fees depending on how many people are on the tours. We were given all this information in our emails from seeksophie, and ended up paying 350,000.

So off we sped! We went to the top of the boat and watched the sunrise, it’s beautiful out on the water with all the little islands and villages on the way.

Our first stop was Padar Island, famous for it’s views of 3 beaches, one pink, one black and one white. It was 3 hours away but it went so quickly, you could say it sailed by!

Arriving at a little jetty it’s a pretty steep hike up to the top when you consider the heat even at 9am, but there are lots of places to stop and admire the amazing views. The landscape is truly incredible.

The downside was the black beach, there was a lot of rubbish on it which was a sad sight.

There were cute deer on the main beach eating old coconuts and playing in the water, we had some time to spare waiting on others to climb down so checked out the crystal clear water and the jetty.

We had an hour here and once everyone was back on the boat it was on to our next stop. As we sailed around the island we enjoyed the views and the interesting rock formations, some of them looked like animals or shapes.

Pink beach is about an hour away, named because a certain red coral mixes with the white sand making it a gorgeous pink colour. There were only 2 other boats and it didn’t feel crowded at all which was amazing.

The beach exceeded all expectations, it was so pink! The water was crystal clear and the snorkeling was amazing, we saw so many fish including a clownfish. The surrounding area is also photo worthy, we both wish we’d had more time here as 45 minutes was not long enough.

The excitement of the next destination prevented us from being too sad though. We were headed to Komodo island! Finally after months of looking forward to it we were here!

This time we met up with a few other boats and there was quite a large group of us. We were given a few rules and then taken into the island on a 2.5km walk by the park rangers armed with sticks.

We spotted some wild pigs and deer, then as we approached a watering hole we spotted two Komodo dragons lazing in the sun! There was even a baby Komodo walking around which is quite rare as the adults eat them.

The park rangers helped us take this amazing photo and we stood watching the Komodo for a while, they’re pretty big but they seemed chill as they mainly sleep in the heat of the day.

We were then herded along the track to see if we could spot more, but we found ourselves at a cafe/bar. There were two huge Komodo sleeping under some steps and it was fun having a super cold Bintang after trekking in the heat.

Then we were all hurried along to the boat, as we were walking along the jetty we spotted a small reef shark swimming along which was cool!

Our next stop was Manta Point where we’d hopefully see some Manta Rays! Indonesia is where the Indian and Pacific Oceans meet and the current between them means there is a huge variety of marine life.

We passed some amazing looking islands and sand bars on the way, definitely worth a trip if you have time.

We were warned that the currents out here are pretty strong, and the depth is about 10 metres. We jumped in and the current was really strong, I’m not an amazing swimmer but we stayed close to the boat and it wasn’t too bad.

There were no Manta though! We saw a few fish including one with a long nose and I’m pretty sure I saw a bamboo shark laying on the bottom. However our snorkeling got cut short as the girl from Perth was struggling with the current.

We all had to jump back in the boat and sail over to rescue her, and after this there was no more snorkeling. It was sad that we didn’t see Manta but we were happy everyone was ok, there’s always another time!

Everyone was tired after the heat of the day as we made our way back to the mainland. So we watched another magical sunset behind us and arrived back in the town at 18:30. 13 hours after we left! We stopped off at Warung Mama for dinner to talk about the spectacular day we’d had.

The food here is great, you pick what dishes you want from a glass counter with some rice, the vegetarian options were great and the spicy sauce is a must!

After that it was time to walk back to our hotel, obviously with a pit stop at the supermarket for ice cream. I couldn’t recommend this day enough, it felt like such an adventure in a wild part of the world.

Temple trekking in Yogyakarta

After spending a few days in Bali just relaxing and really not doing much at all, I was looking forward to having a little adventure over on Java island. The City of Yogyakarta is only an hour and 20 mins away from Bali by plane and couldn’t be more different! The flight was cool, going over volcanoes peaking through the clouds.

This is more authentic Muslim Indonesia, less touched by tourists but with some amazing sights to see. I arrived early and after a taxi to my hostel, The Arjuna homestay. I booked a taxi through grab, it was 8 hours for £23. It was the first time I had used this feature and it was so good! Our first stop was Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist monument. It was built in the 9th century but was only rediscovered in 1815 completely covered in volcanic ash.

It took us about an hour to get there, and my driver parked up and pointed me towards the entrance. Be prepared for a lot of sellers trying to get you to buy food and souvenirs on the way in and out of the temple. It cost £16 to get in this was a combo ticket with a temple I would be visiting later, and I was greeted with an amazing approach to the temple to really set the scene. I started to climb this huge complex, its incredible, and even knowing it was restored I still couldn’t believe the magnitude of it. You could get lost going up and down the steps.

There were cool Buddha statues, with more than a few missing their heads and then towards the top you start to see these huge stone bell type structures, each one housing a Buddha. The views of the countryside from the top was also amazing.

The walk back was a bit depressing with some sad looking chained up elephants and more people trying to sell me stuff. I had to wait a little while for my Grab driver to turn up because it was call to prayer so I bought a big pocari sweat and relaxed in the shade for a little while

Our next stop was Mount Merapi, Indonesia’s most active volcano that last erupted in May 2018. I had read you could do a jeep tour of the lower volcanic slopes and see the volcano. Again we parked up and I was pointed in the right direction.

This time the jeep tour cost about £24, it would be less if you weren’t a solo traveller. I greeted my new jeep driver and hopped in. It was pretty fun driving off road, and crazy that you could see where old villages used to be. There was a huge eruption in 2010 that sadly claimed hundreds of lives.

We stopped at a few old buildings, with some possessions inside that you could see the effect the lava had on them and some background to Merapi. The mountain is sacred to Indonesians and they even have a shaman who looks after it.We drove past valleys formed by lava flows and took some pics at a place where huge chunks of rock had landed miles away from the volcano.

My driver was a full on Instagram photo shoot connoisseur, he had me trying all sorts of poses. Especially when we got to the view of the volcano, don’t expect to be that close as it’s so active. It was covered in cloud when we got there, but after ten minutes or so it cleared slightly and I got the view of the volcano! It’s pretty unassuming for something that has caused so much damage and death.

Our last stop was a bunker that actually got buried by 6 feet of lava. Sadly two men had taken refuge there and died from the heat. It was pretty eerie and not very big inside, I couldn’t imagine being trapped in there.

It was definitely a fun adventure and the jeep company were really good. It was now on to our last stop, Prambanan! This time we were heading to the largest Hindu shrine in Indonesia, and the second largest in SE Asia.It was built in the 9th century and believed to be a response to Borobudur, to show that Hinduism had claimed dominance in the region.

I loved it here, unfortunately a lot of the temples have been damaged over the years from earthquakes, looting and volcanic eruptions but it was beautiful. The temples that remain are so amazing. I arrived as the sun was setting and it gave the whole place a mystical quality.

You can climb up and explore inside some of the main temples, spotting little Hindu statues hidden away. I had a lot of fun taking pictures from different angles and took a lot of selfies I think! The temple complex is still used by the Indonesian Hindu community to perform sacred ceremonies and rituals.

There are so many temples in this area, but I didn’t have any more time to explore, so I walked back to the car. Again be warned that you have to walk through a small market to exit. With everyone trying to sell you things. Back at the hostel I wanted to check out Milas vegetarian restaurant nearby but I was tired and just had some veggie Nasi Goreng, dipped my legs in the pool and headed to bed. The hostel was nice at first, but when I woke up in the morning I had been bitten all over by what looked to be bed bugs! My first ever time after 15 weeks and 3 holidays in Asia.

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!

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!

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.