Phillipines and Thailand (Part 1) – From Rags

Me and Carolina were lucky enough to have a choice of anywhere on the KLM network as a destination of our holiday without paying for it, so we wanted to make the most of it and make sure we chose a destination that would have cost a lot of money to get too. We decided to do a bit of multi destination trip we went to a couple of islands in the Philippines and spent some time in Thailand. I really don’t how long this one will be so let’s see 🙂

The Journey

We had a long journey to get to Siquijor it consisted of Heathrow > Amsterdam > Taiwan > Manila > Dumaguete ⛵️Siquijor. It took about 3 days, it was worth it. This was right before Covid-19 pretty much shut down the travel industry so we did have a few concerns only a few days before we were meant to travel the Philippines weren‘t allowing people entering who had transitioned through Taiwan, we almost changed our entire holiday thankfully that wasn’t necessary in the end. I was prepared for a long journey and happily accepted it seeing as the flights were free.

We arrived in Manila at about 10pm and we didn’t have to be at the airport until about 4/5am so we decided to book ourselves in to an AirBnB conveniently located within walking distance of the airport. The trip since we left Heathrow had already been quite long and we still had quite a journey ahead of us so decided it would be best to get a few hours rest.

After a Filipino McDonalds and literally 4 hours sleep we were walking back to the airport refreshed and ready for leg 2.

Much shorter and slightly more fun, leg 2 would take us from Manila to Siquijor via Dumaguete. It also, aside from the short hop from Manila to Dumaguete, gave us a brief respite from air travel sooo 👍.

Very tired eyes on our transport from Dumaguete airport to Dumaguete port and it only cost about a pound for both of us

After the hair-raising journey on the back of a moped we booked our 7 pound tickets for the boat that would take us to Siquijor.

Siquijor

The most noteworthy parts of the boat journey were the very uncomfortable seats and a concerning leak that the staff were ignoring. Our journey had nearly come to an end after the boat it was just a quick cab (Tuk Tuk) to our hostel.

It was about 9 in the morning and our check in wasn’t until 12 but we thought we’d give it a try anyway….and it was an experience.

We were early so it wasn’t strange when we couldn’t find anyone at reception. It only became strange when I called the hostel and the guy who answered sounded drunk, when he appeared in front of us, he was drunk he confirmed it himself “I’m drunk as a motherfucker” he said. He told us our room was ready, then he couldn’t find the key then after 30 minutes of standing around he told us he forgot that he rented the room last night and so we’d have to wait. We decided to give him until 12 o clock to sort things out before looking for other accommodation. After all that’s when he was expecting us. We went and had a beer and some breakfast for a couple of hours.

When we returned to “The Good Vibes Inn” Magnus was in a much better frame of mind and had sorted the room out. Now we were able to check out our room and get our bearings in our surroundings it seemed like a really decent AirBnb. We went on to later find out that Magnus has recently split up with the Mother of his child who he was raising by himself and he was struggling with the running of the place. Our experience with Magnus was just badly timed all other reviews on the place say it’s really good.

The island is well picturesque and travelling around by Tuk Tuk means you go slow enough to really take in the scenery.

The next day I rented a moped and Carolina hopped on the back and we drove too Cambugahay Falls. When you arrive a man comes and helps you park your bike and then a group of people will approach you and ask to be your guide. You don’t need a guide but I found it really useful as there are issues with stealing and so the guides will also look after your stuff if your party wants to go all go in together, they’ll also act as your photographer, obviously this service isn’t free I gave 500 pesos which about £7.50 I think I over paid but they guy was alright so it’s all good. Any….the falls they are really fun. I took the opportunity to do some jumping

This was fun and there are loads of places to just chill out and take in the scenery. I don’t know why and I am sure I can google it but the water is a really weird blue colour.

After the waterfalls, we went back to our apartment and chilled until the night was upon us. We went to the sunset bar just about 50 metres away from our accommodation and sat down and had something to eat. There was an odd make up of the party next to us, 5 clearly middle aged men, who happened to be Irish, and 3 what looked to be Filipino woman who could have been varying in age from 14 – 70, we couldn’t for the life of us work out the dynamic but we landed on an assumption that we stuck with for most of the holiday. The conclusion that we had drawn were the three ladies were ladies of the night and that the man who had the youngest girl was a borderline peadophile. We saw these on many nights and there was bum slapping, talks of drinks at other bars and we were so disgusted by it that we stopped going to the bar that we often saw them in. We saw them again later on in the holiday, we might have misjudged these men.

There were a couple of recurring characters on this Holiday, you already know the drunk hotel owner Magnus and I’ve just introduced the Irish men, I’ll give a quick breakdown of a couple of others.

The island itself is small, think like the size of the Isle of Wight and there are only a few towns that attract tourists so the town we was in San Juan, is a busy town but it follows just one coast road so day to day, going to the shops or going out at night you become quite familiar with the surrounding and people. First off we had “feathers” we saw this guy almost every day and everything about him screamed, “I know more about travelling than you” just looked like one of those people that travel alone and just doesn’t do “the normal things” likes to get to know the locals and all in all pain in the arse, anyway we called him feathers cos dangling from his waist band was a set of feathers probably to ward off bad karma or something. Another man we saw quite a bit was someone we called “meme man” he was the spitting image of this bloke.

Old man Meme

As with all holidays there has to be a worse part and for Carolina and I, our third night on Siquijor was the worst part. There are a lot of dogs on the island, some owned and some strays and at night they can be very friendly and you’ll be having a much needed cocktail in the bar and they’ll come and say hi like in the picture below. Sometimes things aren’t so cute.

A little friend in our garden

We were having last orders in a bar not far from our hotel sitting outside and enjoy the warm evening and watching the dogs play with one another. It was always quite nerve racking watching them play as some people fly down the road then that night it happened. We saw a motorbike hit a dog and both wheels went over it, the dog sadly died after about ten seconds but it truly was traumatising watching it. What shocked me were how the other dogs reacted they went MAD and it just goes to show how social the animals really are. This was definitely the low point.

Did you even go on a Beach holiday if you didn’t google where the best sunsets are? For Siquijor that was a place called Paliton Beach. We heading over there by Tuk Tuk late one afternoon did some snorkelling, chilled out and listened to some music waiting for the sun to fall behind the horizon, a much needed highlight after the dog incident. It also cheered me up that we were twenty minutes away from where we normally saw Meme man and Feathers BUT we saw them both here. This was one of my favourite days and we got some great pictures

Meme man wasn’t our only run-in with a meme like situation Carolina was often coining the phrase “fucking mint” throughout this time and one night we were out buying something from a shop that was open quite late. The boy before us was a white guy, dreadlocked hair, surfer shorts, bracelets for days and an air of middle class ness to boot and as he thanked the worker bowing his head, fist folded in to his hand speaking not English. Now, this alone would be fine but this coupled with his general aura made him annoying and as we walked away Carolina made me crack up when she said “Fucking. gimp” I mean as I’m writing this I realise it’s one of those in the moments moment but it was in my notes so it’s going in the blog, simple. So deal with it. Quite frankly if you’re this far in to the blog you must know Carolina or I and so it might be a bit funnier to you…..who knows.

One of the days we were there we went to Apo Island a kind of nature reserve about a 40 minute boat ride away from Siquijor. The plan was to snorkel around the island and see some turtles. There’s a reef just on the island and there are turtles there, this was good. I think it was the highlight of the trip but couldn’t say for sure as the whole holiday was great. Anyway, we put our gear on and got told who our guide was then we got swimming. We got some mad shots of turtles and you really get to get relatively close, when a group spots a turtle it seems like everyone descends in it and I started to feel a bit bad although the guides do a good job and not letting people get too close the real joy is when you swim away from the crowds and get to see a turtle in your own small group, the guides let you get a bit closer. It was a bit of a shame really, in our group when had an obnoxious French lady who would not leave the turtles alone, at one point, desperate to get the most “instagrammable” photo I saw her flipper hit the turtle. Carolina and I got a bit sick of her but even with the French lady lurking about we still managed to get some good shots ourselves.

I’ll admit Carolina got a better picture than me but this was the best one from my collection

After the first swim we stopped for some lunch and met a lady who was from Harrow on the Hill, it’s so weird you go all the way round the world to meet someone who used to live ten minutes away from you. This lady was with an Australian and this Australian had HIGH standards. Nothing pleased her, she had been staying on an island for 3 days with no cell signal, relaxing beaches, paradise and yet she was so up tight nothing was good enough not the price of the coffee the journey time back to Siquijor and she was even skeptical about her hostel on Siquijor that she hadn’t even been to yet!!! Eurgh she annoyed me, luckily, although we saw her from a far a couple of times later on in the holiday she did not become a recurring character. Our swim back to the boat was cut short, the current was Strong, we could barely swim in it. I luckily found a rope of another bit and managed to pull myself close enough to ur boat to swim it. Some of our group, including Carolina, weren’t so lucky to find the rope and they were a minute or so behind me and the currents were getting even harder pushing the remaining people away from the ship. It got quite scary at one point when the guides and some of the scuba divers dived back in to help the stragglers….I mean I didn’t do a head count but I’m sure I heard one of the guides say “successful trip we only lost two guests” 🤷🏼

The strengthening current made the journey back “fun”. It was the choppiest not ride I’ve even on. We were dealing with big swells and there was a big window at the front of the boat so went we would reach the top of the wave we would plunge what looked like nose first down the other side of the wave. It was an experience, weirdly exciting and thankfully I’m still hear to tell the tale.

We had a week on Siquijor and we did miss out on some recommended trips such as the church in Lazi or the old spiritual tree. I think we maybe could of explored more but ultimately I was really happy with the trip sometimes if you try and fit too much in you’re so tired you can’t enjoy it. The good news is, we weren’t going home we were going to Bohul.

Going to Bohol meant another boat journey. We were tired of slumming it, we’d had a week of staying in an adequate apartment but knew that we were going to be living a bit more luxuriously for the next few days so we upgraded ourselves to VIP on the boat. It was during this journey we realised our embarrassing misjudgement we had made earlier in the trip. It was about the Irish peados. They were on our boat, now there wasn’t five of them now there was only two but still with the same three ladies. Old, middle and young. On the boat Irishman 1 sat with Middle, old and young sat together and Irishman 2 sat alone, it dawn on us this could quite easily, and probably was, an Irishman with his wife/girlfriend and her daughter from another relationship and Mother. Poor judgement call from us!!!!!

This got a bit longer than I anticipated I was just going to a “1 Parter” but decided to split it up so I’ll do the second part “too Riches” in August or September 🙂

Some more pictures of our time in Siquijor.