Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
42Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
The place we stayed was great at under $50 a night. They had a great pool with a restaurant, balconies off every room, Filipino breakfast included every morning, and a five minute walk to the beach. Actually, the town is so small you could walk to the beach from anywhere in five minutes. Alona Beach is only about a mile long, and not too wide, but the sand is perfectly white and soft, and you can walk far out into the ocean with it never going over your head
We spent three full days on the beach, only getting up to go eat or swim. One day we rented a bangka (all of the Philippine boats are the outrigger style) to drive out to Balicasag for some snorkeling. It is ridiculously cheap to rent your own boat, with only a guide and yourselves, and spend as long as you'd like out on the ocean. The snorkeling was the best we have seen yet. There were hundreds of fish and it was so clear you could see forever. We saw clown fish, parrot fish, brilliant blue starfish, and so many more. You could buy little cracker packets, like the saltines you would get for soup, and crush them up, then make a little hole, and squirt the crushed crackers out to feed the fish. Hundreds would swarm around you as the little cracker pieces floated through the water! We visited another island after an amazing seafood lunch that was probably less than a square mile wide. It's called Virgin Island and has a long, skinny sandbar sticking out from it where boats can pull up to dock, along with a few sea urchin and beer vendors
The rainy day we decided to rent a driver and head north two hours to the Chocolate Hills. They are named so because in the dry season they turn brown and look like rolling hills of chocolate. We were there at the perfect time, near the end of the dry season, and it had been raining for days. Not only were they bright green, but it was so stormy that we could barely walk up the trail, let alone see them. On the way back we were delighted with a visit to a Tarsier reserve. These little guys are just amazing. They are the smallest, and oldest living primates, but are not considered monkeys. Because they're nocturnal, their eyes are humongous, and you can get right up next to them during the day because they are so lethargic. At night, they will leap through the trees from branch to branch. They are very endangered, particularly due to their cuteness factor and people wanting them as pets. The little guys are only 3 1/2 - 6 inches tall! It was a highlight of the trip to see such a unique animal so close up.
On the second to last day we rented a motorcycle, no scooters here. We do this almost everywhere we go, if it's possible, because it is just so nice to have the freedom of going anywhere you would like
As a final note, I better mention the food, because, as most of you know, we like to eat our way through the countries we travel. Filipino food, at least in this part of the country, is not too exotic. They have had influences from so many countries in their country that the food is really a mixture of everything. Rice is still a staple of most meals, and seafood is plentiful. Many of the dishes are complimented with sauces made from tropical fruits or coconut milk. The chili prawns were amazing, as were the fresh fruit juices! All that said, we had one of our most daring food moments and ate raw sea urchins, fresh out of their spiny little shells. It was from some vendors on Virgin Island who had freshly harvested them from right off shore. The couple selling them just cracked open the shell with a knife, plopped it out into your hand, squirted a little vinegar mixture on it, and you were just supposed to slurp them down like an oyster. They only cost about 50 cents, but are considered a real delicacy. I guess in Japan they can sell for like $225 per pound! Surprisingly, we found that they were pretty good and we each ate two. They only charged us 100 Php, about $1.10, what a bargain!
That concludes this edition of the travel adventures of Peter and Melissa. From the tiny part of the Philippines that we saw, our conclusion is that it must be a little slice of heaven, and we can't wait to go back and visit another island!
M & P