I WILL NOT TEACH OTHERS TO FLY - Bart Simpson on chalkboard in episode 9F05

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The Philippines

April 1

- Landed in Manila. Stood in a long passport control line.

- Caught a cab to our Airbnb near the Mall Of Asia.

- First stop was the Pet Cafe. We had our choice of hanging out with dogs or cats. Naturally we chose the cats.

Played with the cats and sipped on our ice tea.

Some of the cats loved to chase the feather, others were happy to sleep.

- Made our way back to the condo, and went for a swim. It was quite the ordeal to get into the swimming pool, as it required registration, and payment. Making our way to the lobby, we were directed to the pool payment office, which we discovered crowded with about 50 people waiting, each of them going through a painfully inefficient registration process.

- After having just about giving up on the swim, the guard told us to go ahead and just pay later. So we did get to go in the pool after all. By that point it had started to rain, but it was still nice.

- Walked over to the Mall Of Asia. Just as busy we had expected. Found Ramen Nagi, the ramen restaurant we had wanted to try. It was quite good, although almost every option had pork in it.

- Walked through the mall, and bought some donuts from J. Co - Green tea and Chocolate cream to eat back at the room.

- Turned in for a pretty early night after a long, long day of travel.

April 2

- Jumped into the taxi with our singing cab driver who loved the American oldies and headed to MNL airport

- Checked in for our Air Swift flight and flew to El Nido.

- Arrived at the tiny El Nido airport. A jeepney was waiting for us to take us to the 'terminal'. Some local El Nido singers welcomed us with a song. There were snacks and refreshments while we waited for our luggage.

- Hopped into a tricycle-taxi, a little cramped, which took us from the airport, through El Nido, feeling every bump along the way.

- Made it to the drop off point, which was somewhere along the beach. Someone from our accommodation at The Birdhouse was waiting for us, and we walked along the beautiful beach for quite a ways before heading inland.

- After walking inland for a bit, we made it to the stairs, and a couple hundred steps later we were at the top of The Birdhouse with it's awesome view of the El Nido area.

- We checked into our 'nest', which was a very nice glamping tent, and also had great views.

- Walked down to the beach, and had lunch and a few drinks at the Marmegmeg Beach Bar and just soaked it all in.

- Walked along the beach around sunset time, and then back to the Birdhouse and relaxed some more. Played 'Ticket To Ride' and The Birdhouse made us some vegetable curry and hummus.

- Went to bed a bit early, as the power went out and we were a bit jet lagged anyways.

April 3

- After breakfast at the Birdhouse of chocolate chip pancakes, we headed down to the beach to rent a kayak. Our destination was Paypaya Baech, about 1 hour kayak trip away. Our kayak looked fairly new and a lot nicer than some of the other ones we saw out on the water, although after kayaking for a bit, we realized it had a few design flaws; one was that it was too short so we sat close together and kept hitting oars.

Another one was it had holes in the bottom (on purpose) to allow for water to go in and out of the boat, but mostly it came in and we ended up taking on a lot a water as we went. It also had no backrests so became quite uncomfortable after about 10 minutes of paddling. At least we had real oars unlike some of the others we saw people using!

- We made to small beach beside Paypaya Beach, we took a break and realized that all our stuff that bags strapped onto the back of the kayack was completely soaked. This included the camera which we could no longer turn on. After finding a cup on the beach to bail some of the water out of our boat with, we headed onto Paypaya Beach.

- By this time the wind had picked up so sitting on the beach was like sitting in a sandstorm. We decided for a swim and then start our trip back. We got back the kayak and with great difficulty paddled out of the bay into a headwind. A fiece headwind. It was hard going and at one point we were paddling as hard as we could and where basically treading water and not going anywhere. We finally made it around the point and back to the little beach.

- On on the little beach we met up with some British tourists who were new to kayaking and were planning on heading on to Paypaya beach until we advised against it.

- We sat on the beach and waited until the wind died down. While waiting watched as several oblivious tourists headed the easy way towards Paypaya Beach with the wind at their backs.

- Finally the wind died down and we were able to make the paddle home without any difficulty.

- Once we got back to the Birdhouse, it became apparent that Chris had failed to put sunscreen on his legs - they were burnt to a crisp.

- Had dinner at the Birdhouse again. This time it was quinoa salad followed by mango pudding.

April 4

- Had museli with banana for breakfast and then took a tricyle to meet Skipper Charters for a boat trip around the beaches/islands. First stop was the little lagoon. Most people rented kayaks to paddle into the lagoon, but after our kayak experience the day before we decided to swim instead. Our group had the lagoon all to ourselves for a bit.... The lagoon had limestone walls and nice blue water, saw a few fish,including a couple jellyfish.

Then the other boats started to arrive. Kayak after kayak made it through the narrow entrance to the lagoon. Once we were able to get out, the area was completely congested with other tourist boats and kayaks. Somehow our boat captain was able to navigate our speed boat out through them and head onto the next stop, the Big Lagoon.

- The next stop was a snorkel place, we saw lots of coral and different kinds of fish, including an interesting triangle shaped one.

- Following that we stopped near snake island and walked up to the top for a nice view. On the way back down we saw a monkey sitting on a log.

- Next up was lunch, our guides took a loooong time preparing a meal of chicken, pork, mussels, squid, fish, octopus, rice, fruits and salads. After lunch we went into a sea cave and then onto another lagoon, for swimming in beautiful turquoise water. We saw an interesting bird, which we called an Asian Toucan but later learnt it was a kingfisher. One person in our group stepped on a sea urchin in the water.

- After that it was another snorkelling spot, by this time we were a bit tired of swimming so hung out on the beach instead. Our final stop was 7 Commandos beach. We bought buko (coconut) to share, lots of good water in it!

- We made it back to shore and made our way back to the Birdhouse to pick up our bags as we were staying a hotel in town that night. At the birdhouse we made paper cranes with Camille as part of their "guestbook". Reluctantly we left the peaceful Birdhouse into the chaotic El Nido town. Checked into the Sea Cocoon and then went for pizza and pasta at Mezzanine where we had a table overlooking the bay.

April 5

- Took the bus to Puerto Princessa with a van company called Day Trippers. It was much more comfortable than expected and more spacious than other vans. Along the way we stopped at Amy's Cashews near Roxas, an area that produces a lot of cashews according to our bus driver.

- Got dropped off at our Airbnb, where we listed to some music on the record player while Chris rested his sunburnt feet/legs.

- Decided to Hans's recommendation of a restaurant,Panja, within walking distance. Walked along a dark road using our cell phone flashlight for what seemed like a fairly long times, especially since Chris was hobbling slowly due to his sunburn. Navigated our way though barking dogs and finally made it to Panja, what seemed like a fancy resort/hotel. Chris was worried he was under-dressed but since there was only one other table occupied I don't think they would turn us away.

- Picked a table over looking the pool, I had Pad Thai and a Pina Colada and Chris had bishon guisado, a Filipo noodle dish with chicken, he liked it so much it was worth hobbling back the next night.

April 6

- Woke up bright and early to go on our snorkel with whale sharks trip. We waited for our 6:15 am pickup but no one came. After calling, I was informed all the trips that days were cancelled because the water was too choppy.

- Unable to come up with anything else to do, we went back to bed.

- That afternoon we decided to venture out to walk to a drugstore and butterfly farm. Chris hobbled along the hot, noisy, exhaust filled streets of Puerto Princesa in his lounge pants, flip flops with socks and a yellow umbrella for shade.

- We finally made it to the butterfly farm, it cost $1 each. I got to hold a spotted gecko and we looked at some butterfiles, 2 sleeping bearcats and then we told to go meet the native people. We sat on some benches as a guide told us about a native Palawan tribe and the tribe members demonstated playing musical intruments,lighting a fire and shooting a poison blow dart.

- After that we made it to a drug store to get Chris some pills and then back to our Airbnb for some more relaxing.

- That night we made the walk once again to Panja for dinner. Same waiter, we had the restaurant to ourselves for most of the time. The waiter convince Chris to try a Koren noodle dish, but it wasn't quite as good as the one the night before. I had the veggie curry.

April 7

- Got picked up in a tricycle to head to the airport. Our driver had her 2 year daughter on the front of the motor bike with her and Hans also hopped on the back for a short ride. As we made our way into town we were glad we hadn't to come into town the previous days. The ride was filled with traffic, noisy and exhaust filled though not the prettiest town to say the least. On the way we got slightly side swiped by a motorcycle. Chris said he was lucky he didn't lose a foot as he riding without shoes. He had a helmet at least!

- Boarded our flight to Cebu and then once we landed in Cebu went straight to the ferry terminal through more traffic clogged streets. Got on a Supercat ferry to Tagbilaran.

- Once in Tagbilaran, we found a driver to take us to to our night trek a the Tarsier Sanctuary. On the way we stopped at the Buzz Cafe for some food. Once at the sanctuary, there was no one to be seen. Our driver was pretty impatient and so we headed onto Loboc to check into the Fox and Firefly.

- We where shown to our hut, which featured an outdoor bathroom. That evening we went for a walk along the road by the river and saw some fireflies.

April 8

- Woke up and Chris wasn't feeling well. Ducarol didn't work. Watched Chris eat breakfast (omelette). Chris had a ginger drink.

- Cancelled our SUP trip.

- Rested for a bit and decided to go to the Tarsier Sanctuary instead. Turned out to be a lot better than we had expected. Saw a tarsier close up right away, and he even moved around. Luckily we were just there early enough that their eyes were still open.

Tarsiers are a lot smaller than we thought. It takes them about 1 hour each morning to locate them, and are sensitive to noise. Yet, that doesn't seem to prevent people from talking on their cells during the walk.

We saw 6 tarsiers altogether, which seemed to be above average.

- After that we headed back to the Fox and Firefly and Chris had some breakfast. Good bacon, Filipinos know their pork.

- Got picked up by the same driver, and headed towards the Chocolate Hills. Our driver seemed to have previous experience as a rally car driver as there wasn't a single car that he didn't pass, honking his horn as we passed each person/vehicle/animal.

At one point our speeding vehicle sped up on a group of unwitting tourists, taking photos of the forest. There was no attempt by our driver to slow down, in fact I think he sped up, as the tourists quickly scattered and jumped to the side of the road to safety.

- Walked up however many steps to the Chocolate Hills viewing point. Extremely hot. A lot of people. Took some pics and got back into our air conditioned car.

- On to Anda at breakneck speed. Checked in to J&R residences and sipped on our welcome drink (cucumber something). Had bruschetta for an appetizer. Freshened up in our room and then went for a walk along the beach.

- Went for a swim in the pool, and then had some dinner on the patio/veranda/gazebo. I had the chef's special, pasta with chicken. Chris had kung pao shrimp (spaghetti, with a few hairs).

April 9

- Had breakfast at our hotel and then were picked up by James, from Anda Adventures, to go visit Can-umantad waterfalls. It was about an hour long drive, the "air conditioning" was leaving the side door of the van up there. Passed through some small towns, lots of rice drying on tarps on the side of the road as it was harvest time.

- Walked down to the waterfalls and then swan around in the pools at the base of the falls. We had it all to ourselves. Chris tried to go underneath the falls but they were pretty powerful.

- After our swim we took a different route back to van walking through a small town with lots of friendly locals saying hi to us. Walked through the rice terraces with some nice views overlooking the valley. It was very hot. A 20 minute walk was about the most we could handle.

- On the drive back we stopped at the viewpoint that overlooked the whole area and you could see out to the ocean.

- Went to James's cafe, Coco Loco, in Anda town for lunch.

- Got dropped off back at the hotel and rested, play a game of Lost Cities and I went for a swim.

- Went for dinner at a nice resort, Uman Ini. I had Kimchi rice, which was like a Bimimbop and Chris had blackened spice chicken. Both were delicious. We then had a Calamansi crepe and begneits for dessert.

April 10

- Headed out on a snorkeling trip with Ralph and a German family living in China. We thought we were going on a little boat, but it turned out be a pretty decent sized boat.

- Our first stop was the beginning of a 15km reef. We jumped out and snorkleda along the reef. It felt really easy to swim in the direction we were going. And for good reason. When it came time to swim back, it was all we could do to make any progress back towards the boat. We saw some good coral, a whole lot of little fish, many of them colorful, some starfish, and a few jellyfish.

- To try and speed up a bit, Chris tried out Ralph's gigantic flippers.

- Next stop was to check out the sea turtles. Our guides on the boat were experts at tracking them down and diving down to the depths of the ocean to point them out (and annoy them a little bit, so they would move). We ended up seeing 4 or 5 different sea turtles.

- Packed up and walked next door to Anda White Beach resort. Had another welcome drink. Our place this time was even a little nicer, with a nice ocean view. Sat on the big veranda attached to our room.

- Met Torch the cat. Went out for a swim in the very nice infinity pool.

- Had dinner (cantonese fried noodles with chicken, and bihon fried noodles with shrimp). And some nice Gato Negro wine,

- Went out to the pool area with the local dog. Chris won at Lost Cities (again).

April 11

- Woke up and had breakfast in the restaurant, overlooking the pool and ocean view in the background.

- Went in search of a cave pool, named 'Cabagnow'. After walking along the beach for a while, we hit a dead end. A local boy showed us the trail inland.

- We were the first people of the day to make it to Cabagnow. The locals charge 50p for the right to use the cave pool, and provide a ladder to get you out.

- We jumped off the edge and plunged into the cave pool. Very refreshing. The cave was pretty interesting, with stalactites, clear water, and even a few fish.

- More tourists showed up a bit later, and we watched as they built up the courage to jump in.

- Walked back to our hotel to pack up. Had some lunch, and then our van picked us up to take us to Tagbilaran.

- Bought our tickets for the Oceanjet ferry to Cebu. Arrived in Cebu as the sun was setting, and the full moon was blood red.

- Took a taxi to a restaurant parking lot, and then someone picked us up to take us to Mactan Breeze.

- Checked into our room, which was a little weird, and had doors that were more like a closet.

- Ordered pizza.

Things We Learned About the Philippines

1. Everyone calls us "sir" and "mam"

2. Anytime you order anything at a restaurant, they ALWAYS ask when you're done ordering, "May I repeat your order?" It works as we've never recieved a wrong order!

3. They like to honk their horns, signifies passing, get out of the way or don't run out onto the road.

4. We discovered a new constellation, 'The Big Wok'

5. They call lizards 'geckos' and geckos 'lizards'