Friday, 29 April 2011

Whale Rider

On Saturday a friend of mine who I was supposed to meet arrived in Manila. We were trying to figure out our itinerary but we could not decide whether to fly south, or take bus north and if we fly south than where we should fly – Caticlan, Legaspi, Puerta Princessa? In the end we’ve decided for a bus to Legaspi which is an entry point to go to Donsol to free dive with whale sharks – the biggest fish. It reaches up to 13 m and 36 tons. But on the other hand eats only plankton and is not dangerous at all. Huge pet.

We got there on Monday, but somehow did not feel at all like going for a dive that day, so we’ve only signed in i.e. paid fee of 300P and announced that we’re gonna come tomorrow morning. So we’ve been hanging around the whole day. We’ve checked out what’s going on in the city and found out that there are some preparation going on for the Butanding Festival 2011 (Butanding – whale shark) and even came across school kids training choreography for that event.

In the evening we went to Baracuda restaurant where I had the best ever sashimi from Jack fish (whatever that is) and tomato vinegar salad and potatoes and grilled fish (don’t ask me what kind of fish, we just picked something from the huge bowl) and prawns big as tube of a tooth paste. That was more than delicious.

The next day we got up early enough to be on time in Visitors Center to meet up with a guy who we met yesterday during the dinner and who was arranging a group of six people to fill the bangka (Filipino boat) and to reduce rental cost as much as possible.

We got on the Bangka, took snorkeling gear and started to spot whale sharks. Ok in fact we were enjoying the sun and the captain was searching for them for us. But the problem was weather – a little bit cloudy and it was raining in the morning what is not the favorite of whale sharks. We were jumping into the water and then coming back and jumping again. First time I did not see anything. Second time when I dived I saw whale shark 3 times. It was about 8m long but still quite deep. I’m not sure if I saw the whole shape. But when we jumped in for the 3rd time it was impressive. Whale shark – 12m long was swimming just under the surface. I’ve taken a dive and first I saw a lot of fish. I thought to myself – what is it about? I was supposed to watch whale sharks and not fish, I’ve seen fish already. But when I’ve turned my head it got almost scared. Huge head was just in front of me. The biggest head I’ve ever seen. I think I could have touched it. I did not do it as I was running out of air and had to go up. I was diving again and again and swimming along with the whale shark. It was swimming so shallow, its fin was maybe 20 cm under the water. I had to touch it. It was not really allowed to do so, but it was too close not to do it. I could spot all body parts of whale shark: eyes, gills, fins, tail. I should have movie soon where you can see me swimming with the whale shark.

The same day when we were saw sharks we’ve packed and started the journey to Boracay. That was long and adventurous one. I’m not sure if I manage to recall all the means of transport that we come across and all the places where we’ve been. Let me try:
1. Tricycle from GH in Donsol to Donsol city
2. Jeepney from Donsol to Pilar
3. Ferry form Pilar to Masbate
4. Minivan from Masbate to Mandaon. In Mandaon we’ve been sleeping in the worst place I’ve ever been. Small smelly room, no running water, some Filipino couple in the second room with a cock in a box. In fact we were three ppl sharing double bed. We were sweating whole night as it was boiling hot. I don’t recommend that place. Definitelly not. We went there to have some beer in local KTV bar, which except us and one table full of locals was empty, but karaoke was on and all the time there was someone singing.
5. Big Bangka from Mandaon to Estancia. This was really nice, sever hours on the sea.
6. Tricycle in Estancia to bus station.
7. Bus from Estancia to Roxas.
8. Tricycle from Roxas bus station to jeepney terminal
9. Jeepney from Roxas to Sigma (to make it clear jeepeny’s roof)
10. Bus from Sigma to Kalibo
11. Minivan from Kalibo to Caticlan
12. Boat from Caticlan to Boracay. On the boat we met local girl who showed us good and cheap place to stay in Boracay in station 3 (supposing the cheapest area in Boracay)

The best thing about it all is that we never had to wait longer than 30 minutes for the next bus or boat. When we would plan it, it definitely would not work this way, but without a plan, spontaneously it was just perfect timing that we had.
So now I’m in Boracay and actually I’m planning to take some kite boarding classes.

Mt. Mayon. Perfect volcano.

Jeepney ride from Legaspi to Donsol

Donsol. It was reminding me of 4000 Islands in Laos.
Bangka. Traditional Filipino boat, it used to carry whole family from one island to another.

Triple colour flowers

Kids longing for photos

Sun set in Donsol
Mandaon - KTV in local bar

Very cosy room for three in Mandaon

Big bangka from Mandaon to Estancia

Filipino crew and me ;-)

Can u see CR sign? It's Comfort Room - Toilet. In fact it's a hole in the floor.

This picture is taken from the roof of jeepney. It was as packed as this tricycle.

Jeepney's roof ride. Actually it was good to have some roof ride experience, like I had the one riding on the trabant 's roof. Luckily this ride did not end that painfully for me as Trabant ride, where falling down I've twisted my ankle and thumb. Prolly jeepney was slower than 60km/h

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Live for today, gone tomorrow, that's me

So I'm on the road again. Dubai was nice (yeah I'm gonna be back there quite soon), especially last days when I did indoor sky diving, met my Dubai friends and was getting ready to go to Philippines.

Sky diving outfit

Cedric was doing quite well on his own. But he did that before.

Skydiving tube. BTW look at the hair pulled out of the helmet by the wind.

I required some help from the staff, but after the first run I was doing not bad too. I even flew 8m high.
On Thursday, after busy day in the office I got to the airport with a colleague cause I was trying to send my bag with him to Warsaw, but it was not possible (Austrian charges 30e/kg). So I wanted to try cargo (forget it) but in the end I gave up. I decided to take my big luggage with me to Manila and store it somewhere.
I dropped my luggage and went to Warehouse in Le Royal Meridien to meet some friends to say goodbye. My flight was at 3.45 a.m. so I had some time to kill as it was 11.30 p.m..
After I went back to the airport I got really surprised how busy it was at 2 in the morning. Whole terminal was full of people. Although there were no queues and surprisingly I managed to smuggle whole bottle of shampoo in my hand luggage. I don't know if it was only my lick, as the guys at the security were rather relaxed and had fun there or what.
When I was going via passport control there was Emirati guy checking my passport and asking me where do I go. I told him Manila. He asked if I'm going alone.
- Yes I do.
- Oh, but it's boring alone (he was laughing already).
- No, It's not. It's even more fun (meaningful laugh).
That was good start.
Later it got only better. I took my sleeping pills before boarding and when I was getting on the plane they've already took effect so I had to hold the wall to be able to walk. Even funnier was when I woke up for the second meal, I've started to eat it and I asked guy sitting next to me if he remembers if I had my first meal cause I cannot recall it. Insane? Well, I tend to be insane sometimes ;D. I remember seeing some food, like a roll and fruits but I don't recall any taste.
I got to Manila at 4 p.m. Left my luggage at the airport n a storage room and took a cab to the Friendly's Guest House. As soon as I've arrived there I knew that, that's the place to be. In an instant I I got that SE Asia feeling. Freedom, joy, world belongs to me feeling. I went upstairs to the balcony, get myself a bottle of beer, took a sip, asked a group of guys sitting at the table if I can join them and the party started.
Unfortunately it was holly Friday so not much was going on in the city itself but we had fun at the balcony. They've showed me some photos from St. Fernando - crucifixion. I wish I arrived one day earlier to see that...

It's easy to join this kind of group, a sin fact everyone is a single traveler

View from the GH
On Saturday on the other hand with one of the guys (actually Polish guy) we went to do sightseeing. And that was load of sightseeing. Not a single minute was wasted.
First we went to the Chinese Cemetery

Kids at the entrance playing with water. Indeed it was shot day.

Chinese cemetery. All tombs are in small houses, where (depending on the richness of the family) there are bedrooms, tv, toilet and so on. In front of them there are small chimneys to burn faked money. This is to send money to the dead people as they might need it there where they are now.

Dead ppl also want to receive letters ;-)

They call it Alcatraz here

And Beverly Hills (90210?) . In Beverly Hills houses have two levels

You will even find white house

Kids' graves

Silent highway

Chapel with figures of Buddha, Jesus, Maria, Magdalena, Confucius

Ash house

From the cemetery we took a tricycle to go to see a cock fight

Tricycle ride

Cocks are first made angry. Small cock bites them to rise aggressiveness level.

In the same time ppl are betting. I dunno how they do that, there is such a noise that it's insane. They give some signs to the guy who takes bets and apparently it works,.

It was a break in the fight
After a cock fight we walked the streets and took jeepney to Chinese district and Intramuros. Actually with jeepneys we were rather lucky. Lonely Planet claims that you never manage to take the correct one for the first time and in fact we never got lost. We went through some slums where I got robbed (my necklace was pulled), through a park and got back to the guest house.

Looks good? Tastes even better. We've managed to try a little bit of meat and crispy skin. We wanted to buy tiny bit but they offered us small piece to taste.

Some more tasty pigs

Jeepney. Gift of God. Philippines are 90% catholics and actually you can see christian signs everywhere

Street vendor

Chinese district

It was impossible not to enter any church. To make things better I've been to four of them....

Kids on the street

First I've thought it's a dead body without a head. Only later I've seen that it is puppet stuffed with wood. They will burn it in the church on holy Sunday. I suppose it's Judas.

Kids in slums. They were asking us to take some photos of them.

They are not kids, but wanted to be on pics too.

Basketball is a big thing in Philippines.


Lady boys in slums

Again kids and laundry on a basket ball field

Rizal park

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Gonna take her for a ride on a big jet plane

This weekend was not too productive, but definitely relaxing. Late breakfast in More Cafe in Dubai Mall, running, BBQ in Al Safa Park surrounded by Indian and Pakistanis families, Corona in 360, breakfast again, beach, swimming and running, dinner and early night. Not too much to write about, but pictures are awesome.
Contrary to everyone, our BQ was in version mini

Burj Al Arab - one of the most luxurious hotels in Dubai. It looks nice from outside, but apparently there are some gossips in the city, that they have leak problems and it's a little bi damp in some of the rooms.

Waterfront of Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Jumeirah Beach Hotel

Artificial pic

Polish, French, Indian and South African party crew with Burj Al Arab in the background

Burj Al Arab

And now it's time to pray. This is how they announce prayer time in Mall of Emirates....
To make it clear - there are also praying rooms in there. Separate for women and men.