China: Shanghai

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Shanghai was somewhere we were excited to visit. Being one of the largest city by population in the world it was going to be interesting.

Our overnight train from Xi’an was much smoother than our previous one. We shared our cabin with an elderly doctor and an older man. They were both asleep by 9pm leading the way for our early night. However when I woke up I felt like death. We were meant to get the subway to our accommodation however a taxi was needed. I had no energy. As soon as I got in the room I flopped in to bed and there I stayed with a bad head, chest, nose and throat along with no energy. I slept most of the day and right through the night. Andy woke me up with a burger and some strawberries. He really looked after me making sure I was eating and getting lots of fluids and rest.

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The following day I felt much better. We then made our way to Andy’s birthday present….the cooking class. We got a bit confused with the address and ended up in a random block of flats (as did some other attendees) but we got there ready in our aprons looking like pro’s. The class was great with the chef demonstrating the cooking techniques and us copying. Once we had cooked each dish we sat at the table where beer was brought out as we dined. It was such a great lunch and the time flew by. We cooked spicy squid which was so easy and tasty, definitely one to copy at home plus a demonstration of a fish dish followed by what was meant to be bean sprouts. I’m guessing they weren’t in season because we ended up with something that looked like spinach and we never really found out what it was!!

When we got back to the apartment again I felt like all my energy had been drained and felt rotten. So back to bed I went. I stayed there until the following evening. Poor Andy. On his birthday I was in bed feeling sorry for myself drinking Lemsip, rehydration tablets and anything else that could help me feel better. However that night I made it out for a couple of hours to celebrate Andy’s birthday at an Italian over the road. The restaurant was closing down and had run out of many things on the menu as well as some of the wine but after many attempts we ordered some delicious food, drank cocktails and had a lovely evening. Happy birthday Andy!

On our last day I was again feeling better however this could have been a fluke. I made myself get up and get out to make something of our last day. I’m so pleased I did. We walked through the modern city and went down to the Huangpu River followed by a walk along the old European buildings of the Bund. It’s one of the most popular places for tourists to visit with the modern Shanghai skyline on the other side of the river.

We walked further along and ended up in a shopping area where we came to the zig zag bridge that led to the Yu Gardens. There was only what I can say felt a Christmas feel. Everything was so festive on the run up to the New Year. The decorations were amazing and so dramatic. Hundreds of people milling around making the most of the sales with arms full of bags pushing through the crowds of this Chinese out-door shopping centre.

The Yu Gardens are extensive gardens in the old part of Shanghai dating back to 1559. It was a maze of paths and walkways leading to out-houses, small buildings and garden rooms. It was gorgeous and I’m so pleased we made it.

I’m a bit disappointed with my experience of Shanghai. Being ill really spoilt it but when you need to slow down and rest that’s exactly what needs to be done. From what we saw of Shanghai it was a really exciting city. We barely scratched the surface. I loved the cooking lesson and Yu Gardens. However it was extra special being Andy’s birthday and Skyping our families. We were keen to explore some of the outer cities with their waterways and history but maybe another day. Until then we have fond memories and some great food experiences! 🙂

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China Xi’an

 

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We got the overnight train from Beijing to Xi’an. We were sad to leave Beijing but excited for what we would experience over the next couple of days.

Getting the tickets was bit of a nightmare with any security checks and check points. So any people were travelling as well. It would have been quite stressful if we hadn’t done our research. The overnight train was interesting with six people in a four bed cabin. We had to share with a family of four. One fussy mum, noisy toddler and ten year old that wouldn’t stop eating. Dad just sat looking a bit fed up. Welcome to the world of overnight trains in China. We slept OK but I knew I would need a nap when we got to our accommodation.

We arrived out our Airbnb to find that the lady we booked with had gone to San Francisco and had left her aunty in charge. Aunty didn’t speak English, we didn’t speak Chinese meaning we had many confusing, tiring but quite enjoyable conversations ahead of us. I went to bed feeling shattered but woke refreshed ready to explore.

The street outside was full of street vendors and open front restaurants which was really exciting for us. There were many locals so we knew we would be in for some food treats!

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We spent the afternoon walking through the streets of Xi’an to the ancient Goose Pagoda. It was built in 652 BC to hold world artefacts. We then went to a restaurant for lunch/early dinner. The place had a picture menu so we were happy.

The next day was our Terracotta Warriors day. We got a taxi to the bus (the lady we booked with said buses were busy and quite confusing so taxi would be easier) then we found a local bus that took us to the Terracotta Warrior pits. It was only about an hour away which was good. The Warriors were amazing. It’s been one the must visit list for years and I was thrilled to finally be visiting. The details unimaginable until you get up close to the statues. I had no clue of the actual size of the pits and the warriors. I had read about them but it just didn’t compare to actually being there and seeing them. he area is huge with more pits being excavated. We were there for a few hours viewing all three pits before getting the bus back to the city where we walked around the shops stopping for an early dinner.

It was a bit like a pick n mix where you choose your ingredients and they weigh it before cooking it up. It was delicious however not so sure about the Ovaltine/Horlicks/wheat drink they gave us! In the evening we hit the local street restaurants to sample some of the buffets and nibbles. I had a really bad headache which meant I either needed food, water or just painkillers. I was keen to get back to rest but my headache didn’t leave until the next day. Unfortunately this was something that would continue in to Shanghai.

Our final day was spent taking our belongings to the luggage store at the train station, collecting tickets and heading to the Muslim Quarter for the day. It was fantastic and such a surprise. Streets and streets of all types of food.

We were in heaven walking along picking up random stuff (especially if we didn’t know what it was)generally with good results. It was great eating as we browsed the next stalls.

The high light was a soup/broth with noodles. It had little tiny pieces of bread broken in and was so tasty.

The place was pretty busy with the approach of New Year but it just added more energy and excitement. There were some really great decorations around which some how made it feel like Christmas.

A visit to the great Mosque rounded up our afternoon. In all the bustle of the markets and streets the Mosque was so peaceful and pretty keeping in the traditional Chinese style.

 

It was then time to say goodbye to Xi’an after our whistle stop visit to board our night train to Shanghai.

 

 

 

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China: Beijing

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We spent a few days in a nice clean apartment in Manila before flying to Beijing. We did some printing, sorted our luggage out and generally relaxing whilst catching up with correspondence 😉

Our flight was just after 7 in the evening so had the whole day to prepare. Luckily we set off hours early. The accommodation said it would be 15 minutes to the airport but it took nearly an hour! The traffic was terrible.

The flight was delayed (great start) and then when we managed to get on we sat on the run way for over an hour. It was so frustrating but we have learnt not to expect anything less from Cebu Pacific!

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We landed nearly two hours late as the wind was against us but were thinking how lucky we were that we had booked a hotel close to the airport. Not the case. The taxis that had queued up waiting to collect passengers only wanted long fares and refused point blank to take us. At 2 am in -20 degrees this was not what we wanted to hear. So after being told we could get a bus at 6 am we decided to take a gamble and spoke with one of the dodgy taxis who had been offering to take us. Well we made it to our dark and cold room where we huddled together to keep warm. On a plus the shower (although a trickle) was hot and there were noodles available for our grumbling tummy’s.

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The following morning, through the help of a translation app, we managed to flag a taxi down that took us to our hostel. We were surprised the taxi was so cheap (always a good start) and the staff at the hostel were wonderful. We had a lovely clean room which was nice and cosy when the wall heater kicked in. The staff were so helpful and helped us to suss out the local area. Well I must have done a great job as we were really central and only a ten minute walk from a well located subway and ghost street so we wouldn’t starve!

The first thing I noticed was the food. In the Philippines I’d had a poorly tummy quite a lot and really didn’t want to eat to much. But in China I want to eat everything! It all looks and smells soooo good. Plus all the food comes out piping hot. The street vendors cook

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everything in front of you and you can see it piping. My favourite was a wrap made from what looked like a crepe mix. They crack an egg over it as its cooking then add a huge slab of what looked like pork crackling but I’m guessing it was fried bread, pork meat, salad and two different types of sauce. They then fold it up in a parcel ready to eat. It was just heaven!

On our first day we headed to the Temple of Heaven. We enjoyed walking around the gardens and seeing people dancing, singing on karaoke and doing various health and fitness activities. The temple itself was gorgeous and made some great photos. We also had an hilarious time dressing up as emperor and empress for a tacky tourist photo but I don’t think the photographer appreciated my none stop tear filled laughter when I saw Andy dressed up.

In the evening we met a friend for dinner who suggested I get fur lined jeans and shoes. The weather was -10 degrees and so cold but I had no idea such a variety of fur lined clothes were available so that was top of my list for the following day.

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We were told by friends who were teaching English in Beijing that the children don’t finish school until 8 pm so by the time we are showered and relaxing thinking of getting an early night, the kids are having dinner, playing computer games and generally being what I would call a night owl. However once the kids calmed down we had some great nights sleep.

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We were very lucky that another friend took us sight seeing for the day. He took us to Tiananmen Square, Chairman Mao memorial and some hutong’s for food. The food was wonderful with the biggest surprise being pork in a slightly sweet ‘n’ sour kind of sauce which you wrap in sheets of tofu. It was really nice. We ate so much, just delicious. The whole day our friend gave us hints and tips and told us stories of his adventures in China. It’s so handy meeting up with friends! The day was heavily polluted but because it was so cold it gave it a weird wintry look. Lots of people had the face masks on which A)protect from pollution, B)protect people from your germs and C)keep your face really warm!

One of the best things about Beijing is how close the Great Wall of China is. We did an organised tour. We read in tour books, on websites and heard from friends that its really easy to get the bus there plus cheaper however we were short of time and being new in a country felt an organised trip was better. It turned out to be the best thing we did. The weather was terribly cold at around -20. It was painful and that thought of standing

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waiting for a bus or wandering around not sure where we are trying to suss everything out didn’t sound like a great plan in such low temperatures. The trip had a heated mini bus and a wonderful hot lunch with so many different types of food. However the star of the show was the wall. There was the option to take a cable car but we walked up (because we had no money as apparently I spent it all the day before buying fur lined legging and fur lined boots). But the walk only took about 20 mins and warmed us up nicely. The wall was incredible! The views spectacular. It just snakes on for ever. It’s simply unbelievable that humans managed to create such a wonder so many years ago. It was blooming freezing when we were there and probably boiling hot in the summer so the people who built it and manned it must have been out in all weather. Wow! It took my breath away on so many occasions, I couldn’t stop taking photos!

In the evening we took a trip to Dunghuamen night market. As is the fashion now with travellers in Asia a trip to a night market with things on sticks is a must. Before my hands froze off (it felt like a million bees were stinging them and I was hopping around like a

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mad woman trying to find anything to warm them up) I ate a little scorpion. It was quite nice, just like crisps. I also had a really tasty barbecued pigeon but that wasn’t too unusual. When my hands froze off we scooted to a shopping mall to warm up. I think Andy was very disappointed that he didn’t get to indulge any further in his stick tasting evening however I did point out that there would be more chance to come as we travelled around Asia.

The day after the wall was colder. We walked up the street to the Lama Temple which was gorgeous and so compact but seemed to go on forever. So ornate and detailed. The weather had decided to take a turn for the worse and as the Russian lady from our hostel reception said ‘ice from hell’. We stayed out for only a few hours before the cold became unbearable and we had to stop for coffee and making the difficult decision to admit defeat and go back to the safety of our warm cosy hostel where we hid for the rest of the day.

Our final day was so busy. We had to go to Beijing West train station to start the challenge of collecting our tickets. As we were checking out of the hostel that morning we also had to leave our luggage at one of the left luggage stands and it all surprisingly went well giving ourselves time to make our way to our last stop and must do visit in Beijing, the Forbidden City!

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People are always saying to get off the beaten track but most of the time staying on the beaten track is a wonderfully marvellous experience and the Forbidden City is no exception. There’s a reason why so many tourists head there. It’s spectacular and with so much history. Andy and I tried to sum up the area in a few words and it just wasn’t possible. It was as if everything we had seen in Beijing all came together to create these stunning meeting rooms, halls, palaces, suites and prayer rooms so ornate and luxurious. It was so detailed and so grand on an epic scale. So I took loads of pictures and we wandered through trying to take in all the details. It was just splendid and the most perfect way to end our time in Beijing!

 

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My Favourite Pictures From the Philippines

I always love looking through my pictures and sometimes there’s some that pop up that I really love. They either remind me of something funny, have a bit of a story or the picture is just really nice. Here’s a few pictures that I really like from the Philippines.

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This picture make me smile. Its the only picture I have of me and my scooter. On Camiguin Island we hired these bikes to explore the island. It turns out bikes with engines are not for me. After four hours of scooting around the island (at about 20 km p/h) I decided to ditch the bike and climb on the back of Andy’s. I was very proud that I didn’t fall off or crash the thing. Maybe there are some bike skills in me somewhere however they didn’t show themselves on Camiguin!

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In the Philippines there didn’t seem to be the abundance of fruit and veg we were expecting. After we visited the underground river in Sabang we stopped for lunch. On the menu was bruschetta. I really fancied some tomatoes so this was my choice. However when it came out it was sweet bread toasted on one side and soooo much garlic! You can see it in lumps on the picture. It burnt my throat but was strangely addictive. It was the most unusual bruschetta I’ve very had and probably ever will have!

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This picture was after our lunch in Sabang. We were on our way to Puerto Princesa. We were just walking past and saw that the jeepney we wanted to get was there ready. It was 45 mins early and they were just starting to load it up. After have a tricky journey with the buses on the way to Sabang I decided that I would get on the Jeepney so we were guaranteed to get seats. It was such a good call as there were already some other people on the bus and very quickly filled up.

 

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Momma. Oh my gosh! This stuff is just a nightmare. We have experienced it in the pat but it had become a distant memory. However in the north of the Philippines it decided to rear its ugly head. In all fairness I have no idea what it is but its bright red and people chew it to give them energy. Its a stimulant that eventually gets spat out. It was all over the floors and walls. In some places its such a messy and dirty problem that they put these signs up. Its a bit scary to because when people chew it their mouth, lips and teeth go blood red and their eyes go a little crazy. Funnily enough our driver in Banaue seemed a bit lack lustre but once he chewed Momma he was on fire and became the most enthusiastic and speedy tour guide around!

Yep I like my sleep. These pictures highlight what happens when I don’t get my ten hours of quality rest each night. The first was at a restaurant. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was so hot and I had my travel cushion. Food in the Philippines get cooked from scratch and so takes quite a while to arrive. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open and nodded off on the table. The second picture was in the north going from Bontoc from Banaue. We had been doing days of bus journey’s to visit the hanging coffin’s and caves in Sabang and were on our way to Banaue for the terraces. We arrived to get our jeepney and after an hour of waiting we didn’t have enough people to fill the bus so the driver said we could split the cost with a few other travellers and have a private tour. This was a great option that we were all keen to do. At first Andy and I sat on top of the jeepney to get the best views as the area is known for its scenery but after an hour I was so tired I decided to go in to the main bit of the bus and have a nap.

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This was a picture I took on Camiguin. There were so many gorgeous flowers. I love the colours in this picture.

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This sign made me smile. Advertisement at its finest. On our bus from El Nido to Sabang we stopped at a rest area. I saw this and had to take a snap!

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North Philippines: Our Last Few Days

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The last few days of our time in the Philippines was incredibly tiring with long travel days, jam packed tour days and overnight buses.

We started off with a 7 am flight from Camiguin Island to Cebu. Then a connecting flight from Cebu to Manila followed by an 8 hour bus journey from Manila to Baguio. We were looking at doing the overnight bus but we arrived in Manila at lunch and would have to hang around the city all day (and from my experience it’s not the most pleasant city to while away the hours in). The other thing was that we would arrive at our destination at around 4 am and would then have to start looking for somewhere to stay, something not to appealing when you’re exhausted from a long drive. So we decided to hop on a bus straight away. The bus had many surprises such as air con, movies and wifi making the drive quite pleasant. It was such a long day but when we arrived we luckily found a place to stay quite quickly which was quiet, included breakfast and close to our departing bus terminal. The place itself was a little rough around the edges but not terrible.

The following day we arrived in Sagada after our six hour bus journey and checked in to a basic but comfy inn in the centre and just spent the rest of the day relaxing and looking around the streets. That night was quite noisy due to workers outside, jeepneys and scooters but the noise at 6am was another level! The inn manager decided to crank up her music, move all the heavy furniture in the dining area and wax the floors. It was so noisy but people do seem to start their day earlier than us back at home. They go to bed late and wake early, it’s just their way of life. So I found another inn further out of town to stay in that seemed to be much quieter. We met a Canadian chap who made the great point that if you’re in a city it’s the noise of jeepneys, scooters, shops and workers keeping you awake. If you’re sleeping in the quiet countryside it’s the sound of cockerel’s, cats and dogs that keep you awake. You can’t win!

On our first full day we visited the tourist info to sort out our tour. We could have done an

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organised tour through a company which has the comfort of a mini bus. However the tourist information uses local farmers as guides. When there’s no farming work to be done they guide tourists. We didn’t have to book a guide, we just turned up at tourist info where lots of guides were waiting. You can’t access any of the coffin/cave areas without a guide. Your guide has to show your tickets and passes to the attendants to gain entry to the sites. We ended up with a nice chap called George. He walks two hours every day to get to work and works seven days a week. This is completely normal and the reason so many people embrace the red (spitting) stimulant Momma. He took us a ten minute walk out of town to the cemetery and further down the hill to the hanging coffins telling us the history as well as caves with coffins. Coffins kept in caves were seen to be very important as Jesus was placed in a cave after his crucifixion. It was quite a steep hill and I keep getting so out of breath, I’m very unfit! I had to make the joke that they might need to make a coffin for me on the way back up. The coffins were pretty impressive especially when we learnt they were positioned to be closer to heaven. Also they had to be positioned in a way that they would be protected from water so there are only a few places in the area that can hang them.

 

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There were different options of tours to choose so we did the walk to the coffins with the short cave tour. There’s also an option to do a big cave tour but I think it’s more for people with caving experience!

After the hanging coffins we walked back in to town and walked for quite a while through the streets to get to the caves with a few stops on the way to view more coffins in caves. It’s this walk that made me think a tour with a mini bus may have been a pleasant option. This was the second part of our tour and another big walk, well big if you’re unfit like me.

We had no idea what to expect but the caves were brilliant! Locals had said to go to the caves but they weren’t very informative about what a visit to the caves would involve. Our guide told us it would be better to wear flip flops as a posed to trainers. The caves were so steep and dark. Just like in the underground river in Sabang they haven’t attached lights to the walls to preserve the caves so the guides go down with head lamps and oil lanterns. Visibility was pretty low and with many slippery rocks I think health and safety not a priority. Flip flops were not the best foot wear of choice. However we slowly climbed down about half way where we left our flip flops by some rocks as there were so many clear water rock pools to walk through, so for this reason flip flops were a good choice. It was stunning. We climbed down through many pools and eventually came to one massive one at the end. The climb back was pretty challenging with ropes and old tyre’s to help us but it just added to the adventure. It was so much fun and although we didn’t learn too much about the caves themselves it was such a fun experience.

Our day in Sagada was perfect giving us a taste of everything the area has to offer (as well as little cakes that looked and tasted like carrot cake…sooo good! A must try!).

 

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The following morning we made a 45 minute bus journey from Sagada to Bontoc. The plan was to get an early jeepney with an early onward bus to Banaue for the rice terraces. The first part was easy enough but the onward bus needed a minimum of ten passengers. We ended up waiting for over an hour with three Canadians. The wait wasn’t too bad as all the local students were graduating and a big parade went through the town to celebrate. We enjoyed watching this whilst we ate our breakfast. Eventually the driver said if we didn’t want to wait any longer we could pay for the bus and he would do a mini tour. We jumped at the chance along with the Canadians and had the most amazing drive. We sat on the roof of the jeepney to get the best view. The route from Bontoc to Banaue is known for its scenery and was definitely a highlight!

We arrived at around 11 am in Banaue. The first thing we did was buy tickets for our overnight bus that evening. We were lucky as there were only a few seats left. I think they get filled up fast. We then spoke with a local tricycle driver who took us to the Batad

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terraces. The tricycle couldn’t take us all the way due to landslides. There’s a big steep hill that the drivers can go down but you obviously have to pay extra. So the 30 minute walk with our hiking sticks began. The views were terrific! When we reached the end of the road there was a bit of forest that led to views of some rice terraces that cascaded down the mountain. They were unbelievable and so defined. The walk continued to an amphitheatre of terraces. It was just an amazing sight and at 2000 years old it’s a wonder how they manage to create them. Apparently the terrace idea was brought over from India making it an incredibly old practice. Luckily on the way back we didn’t have to walk all the way up the hill as I think our driver felt sorry

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for us (and he was going a bit wide eyed and crazy from chewing momma) so he picked us up a little way down from the top. Thank goodness!! Another walk where I might have died!

We made our way back to Banaue and viewed some of the more local terraces. We left our luggage with a nice lady at the bus terminal and went to a local inn to shower. The shower was cold and I wasn’t in the mood for a cold shower but Andy was keen so paid his money for what was more like a trickle (he also had a shave to get his money worth!). We then ended up with a great evening meal before heading to the overnight bus, along with every other traveller in the area. There was only one Filipino couple doing the same journey. We ended up on the back seat which in our opinion was a blessing in disguise. The air con was nonstop and so cold however the back seats must have been over the engine as we were nice and warm. Also because there were no other passengers behind us we could recline our seats back further. I had a pretty good nap!

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The north of the Philippines, although short, has been my favourite part of the country. It’s so green and lush. The mountains and landscape are spectacular and although farmed, still manages to keep its natural wonder. It was gorgeous and I’m so pleased we made the choice to go there even if it was only for two days of sites.

 

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We’ve Arrived!

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So far China is amazing and I can’t wait to write and little about it. I love this picture I took of the Great Wall! 🙂

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Camiguin Island

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Camiguin was a wonderful surprise for us. Less tourists than other islands, a few expats from around the world and incredibly friendly locals. An amazing place to stay for four nights.

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We flew from Palawan and arrived at Camiguin airport at a lovely time of 7 am. The airport itself is what I call a fun airport. Very basic with only one room and the staff carrying your bags to you for collection. No conveyor here! Jim from the Casa Roca Inn was there waiting for us. He took us the short drive to the B&B. This accommodation was by far the best we had stayed at in the Philippines! The house was stunning with old wood, white walls and a feeling of tranquillity. The views from the patio were amazing, looking out over the ocean with the island of Bohol in the distance. Surrounded by trees and stunning sun sets in the evening we knew we would love this place. The small bar was well stocked with beer spirits and wine! We hadn’t seen wine in so long that I felt the need to take a photo. Jim had

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spent time trying the source everything a traveller or holiday maker might need. The wine is imported from Spain or various countries in South America. He also has a good friend in the town who owns a wine merchants and often gets some treats from there. The breakfasts were huge with bacon and eggs with fresh baked bread, loaded omelettes which came with potato, bacon and eggs or mango loaded pancakes which came with the same extras as the omelettes plus many different Filipino breakfast choices. The coffee was the best I had in the Philippines with locally sourced coffee beans, a percolator coffee pot plus the most exciting bit…milk! No creamer or 3 in 1 at Casa Roca. The breakfasts were huge and also came with fresh fruit such as pineapple, mango or water melon. They were so big we didn’t need to eat until the

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evening! If the breakfast menu didn’t tickle your fancy Jim simply offered to cook whatever we wanted as long as they had the ingredients. Jim and his wife were so laid back and welcoming. Perfect hosts! The evening meals were just as big and so tasty. Having been in the Philippines for a few weeks I was starting to crave familiar food. The menu was perfect with Filipino and western dishes and I was so happy when my quesadillas arrived with loads of cheese. I was quite excited by the cheese as I hadn’t seen any since Australia. It was heavenly! The staff finished at 10 pm which is when the bar shuts however Jims wife Evelyn explained the type of honesty bar policy they have. Help yourself to drinks, write it on a docket and pay in the morning. Jim offered the same sort of thing with food. If we were hungry in the night simply make something to eat, write it on a docket and pay in the morning. They were so relaxed, it was really refreshing.

We were so surprised at the cost to stay per night. It was under budget for us and knew we had found a gem. The rooms were simply decorated but with nowhere to hang clothes. There was just a shared shower room but the accommodation only sleeps 6 adults so was perfect. We didn’t spend much time in our room but if we had the front room with the wrap around balcony and glorious views of the sea I’m sure we would have been in there much more!

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Our first two days on the island were a wash out. The rain was constant and only stopped in the evening when we came down for early evening drinks. The sunset was gorgeous. We didn’t mind the rain as the B&B was so beautiful and peaceful, we were happy relaxing, playing cards, reading and sampling the cocktails (the frozen mango margarita was yum!). Jim had spent the summer building and infinity pool and as we looked at it and the views beyond we vowed when the weather was good we would be straight in there. Made from a natural spring it was definitely going to be a refreshing treat!

We had two days out exploring the island. We wanted to hire scooters to go exploring but only if it wasn’t raining as neither of us had any scooter experience. So day three was

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chosen and what a perfect weather day! Jim helped us organise the bikes for 500 PHP (300 PHP for manual) per day and they cost less than 150 PHP to fill with fuel. I honestly thought I’d be good on a scooter and really enjoy it. However after 4 hours I realised a scooter was not for me and we returned it to the B&B and doubled up on to Andy’s bike. In the four hours though we explored a lot. There is one road that follows all around the edge of the island in a big loop. They call it a high way but really it’s just a road. There was very little traffic with the key to success being if someone is in front beep your horn to let them know your there.

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Only a few minutes away from the B&B there was the sunken cemetery. It sunk in the 1870’s when the islands volcano reputed. Randomly you can go snorkelling and diving here but that seemed a little bit weird for us! We then followed the road some church ruins before turning off the main high way to visit Tuasan Falls where we had a fresh coconut and Andy played photographer for an Asian couple. After dumping my bike and us both getting on Andy’s (he’s really good at riding) we went to the main town on the island to get cash, have some lunch at a pork restaurant and visit Katibawasan falls. The island has so many water falls, walks and tropical beauty spots that the advice of getting a bike was spot on.

Day two we followed the road to the Walk Way. The walk goes up a hill with twelve stops along the way. The twelve stops make up the story of

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Christ’s crucifixion with large statues depicting the images. Once a year there’s a pilgrimage to the island where visitors walk a full lap of the highway and when they arrive at the Walk Way they walk to the top before returning to the road below. It’s a big event and very important in the local area. We then hopped on our scooter and travelled further along the high way passing some of the sights we had visited the day before with the aim to visit Sagay Church and the watch tower. No signs appeared so after what felt like forever we stopped and checked the map whilst enjoying a coke and water at a quaint rest stop. We realised we had gone past the sights and were heading up the coast on the other side of the island. We decided to back track. We still didn’t find the watch tower but we

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found the church. Our aim was to bike around the whole island which you can probably do in two hours but our aim wasn’t to be as our fuel was getting low but we had a great time trying!

When we arrived back at Casa Roca hot from a day of riding, we headed straight for the infinity pool. With beers and local rum with coke we had the best afternoon cooling off and looking out over the ocean.

The airport and our accommodation was on the north of the island but from the south there were views of Mindanao. After checking on the UK government website it stated that this island was one that British tourists must avoid due to Muslim rebels. In Camiguin, whenever we met Filipinos from Mindanao they would be quick to say ‘but I’m not a Muslim’. I’m not sure if that was because they wanted to make us feel comfortable or if they were not happy with the way things have developed there but I felt it was a fact that some people felt the need to clear up. The island of Camiguin was listed as perfectly safe for tourists.

Camiguin itself was quiet. Very few visitors and peaceful roads to scoot around. We could

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have stayed on the island of Boracay but people had described as being great for tourists with bars and quite lively. We wanted to relax so Camiguin was the perfect choice. We didn’t find any other restaurants on the island but we didn’t need to look as our place had everything we needed. It was only on the Sunday evening at the open mic night held at our accommodation that our accommodation got lively as more tourists came out of the wood work as well as expats and locals. That was one of the great things about the place where we stayed, there was a great mix of different nationalities and locals creating a perfect mix. Jim started the open mic night as a progression. It started as a few mates randomly playing guitar together and agreed to meet up the following night. It then became a weekly event with some people doing their own sets.

A great thing about the island was its really accessible from Bohol which is another place to visit with whale sharks at certain times of years, old church and native cute little Tarsiers with their big eyes. We toyed with the idea of going there from Camiguin but time was short and we wanted to relax!

For me Camiguin was wonderful. Peaceful, quiet, beautiful with our accommodation being a high light in the Philippines!

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