Friday, December 31, 2004

Up North

After xmas we travelled up north to the rice terraces. It's really incredible how people have made lives for themselves up here - and have done for years!! There are amazing vegetable terraces as well as the famous rice ones. People will walk for however long it takes to get whatever it is they might need - incl. clean water, food, coca cola, crisps and a song book! This is on really rocky/muddy roads and bare foot. But this is only when they've missed the few jeepneys that travel between the mountain provinces. When there is one available, it's amazing how many people they can fit on!

As for the terraces - they really were an amazing sight and worth the hike ;o)

My guide told me lots about the terraces and the history of the Ifugao people so have learnt lots. What I found funniest though was that despite UNESCO wanting to preserve the villages around the terraces as much as possible by not bringing in electricty (it would look ugly, apparently), they've managed to sneak a pylon in and now have videoke (karaoke) like the rest of the country!

All is good in the mountains!

It's better to travel than to arrive...

Something we saw written on the wall of the Nuts Huts restaurant in Bohol.

Thought about this a lot while on a rickety old bus driving towards the Banaue rice terraces - rocky roads (not the ice cream) and that's if there was road. A lot of the time it was just rocks and if it rained, mud...while the bus would be teetering on the edges of the mountain. We did this for about 12 hours altogether...not quite like riding on the N38!

It was worth it though - spent most of the time with a slightly higher heart beat worried for my life but the scenery was spectacular! Amazing mountain views and watching people going about their business, working, playing, singing on the karaoke was really pretty cool. And something we missed out on with the bus journeys around NZ - only saw sheep, no people!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Filipino transport

Tricycle - a motorbike with a side car attached. Looking at one, you'd think you could fit maybe 3 people in comfortably. 2 in the side car, one passenger on the bike. In reality - we've seen one with 9 people on. 3 on the bike, 4 squished in the side car and 2 standing on the back of it.

Jeepney - Jeepneys are the main way of travelling around. They're decorated with the owner's love for their family, God, sports heroes and Spiderman (basically anything!) Comfortably, the seats could probably take 14 people. But when they're taken, there can be little 2 seater benches found underneath the main seats. 3 of these can fit in the aisle. After those are all taken, people can stand on the back, holding on to the poles. And after those spots have been filled?? There's the roof!! You'll usually spot as many people as you can fit on a roof of a jeepney on rides between the mountain provinces. Looks pretty cool too but haven't been brave enough to be one of those people yet. It's ok, I can wait for the next one.

3-wheeler - a bicycle attached to a side car. Probably not best to cram this vehicle with too many people - unless the driver has legs like Arnie.

Calesa - horse-driven carts. Tend to do shorter journeys and are an interesting way of getting about...smelly too.

Then there's the air-con shuttle. Can fit around 10 passengers and are more of a direct service. They usually don't leave until they are full. We waited an hour for one still waiting for 8 more passengers. We decided to go to a different place instead.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

I see white people

Travelling around the Philippines...away from family and on our own (watching out for bad people), it's been the most bizarre thing seeing white people!! I know from previous holidays here that westerners'll get stared at. Carly's not done too badly, although when she told someone she was from England they did ask her why she wasn't blonde! Even I've started staring at the few white people we've seen.

Where to spot white people...

Borocay Island - big tourist hotspot for the Philippines (unfortunately, they do tend to be older, ugle, balding white men with young filipino girls on their arms)

Baguio City - North of the Philippines and almost swiss like because of its location high in the mountains

The Rice Terraces - Also in the mountain provinces - and for the more curious white traveller looking for a bit of adventure, some tribal action and...rice!

Monday, December 27, 2004


It's karaoke with the aid of a video - if you're lucky, you'll get some lovely scenery, cheesy coupld walking along the beach etc and if you're not lucky (unless, you're a straight male), you get videos of busty bikini clad women on a beach. Pretty distrubing when you're aunt, dad, cousin half removed are singing away to Frank, Britney or Neil Diamond.

You can't escape it here either....filipinos love to sing! And what's funniest, it's a really cool thing to do here - no worries about your machismo being under threat if you want to sing Celine Dion's 'My heart will go on' at the top of your lungs!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Back home again...

It's been tough trying to figure out plans here with so much family to see...feel like a diplomat or something!

Anyway, after travelling south of Luzon to visit the Visayas (for choc hills) and Borocay Island and then spending hours on outriggers, bangcas and a big ol' ferry, getting tricycles, shuttles and jeepneys, we travelled to visit family in Tanay and Morong. This is where I lived for 4 years before moving to England.

We only had a couple of days there as we planned on being back in Floridblanca for xmas (where even more family are and our main base). It was great being with the people that looked after me (Nanay Tita, Kuya Apollo and Ate Christy and their families) again. And strange to be in the same house again - not much different too! We saw old pics, ate bananas and watermelon (my fave when I was a kid, I'm told - nothing much changed there!), went to the fair and to Charms where we boogied the night away.

We also visited Daranak Falls - a beautiful place full of waterfalls and swimming holes. The water was beautifully blue and I didn't have to swallow bucketloads of salt or chlorine while swimming in it. It was brilliant! Also, having fun there were beautiful dragonflies - saw loads of lovely red ones and a few stripy green and black ones. V. cool as I'm such a fan!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

I'm ready for my close-up

Travelling to Panay on a big boat Posted by Hello

EA (short for Eurika Ann) Posted by Hello

DM (short for Dean Martin...seriously, that's his name!) Posted by Hello

Jena Posted by Hello

Yep, roast pig is tasty!  Posted by Hello

In thought and in fight mode Posted by Hello

Ok then, give me another drink Posted by Hello

Borocay Island, Philippines Posted by Hello

Muhammed Ali Jr (but you can call me Earl) Posted by Hello

Sweet dreams Posted by Hello

The odd looking filipino

The Odd looking Filipino, Raymond, EA, Oliver and Malou Posted by Hello

Carly has officially become the odd looking filipino - as well as being the 5th daughter of my dad's - they even have the same curly hair!

A big ass beetle Posted by Hello

The Pig's head Posted by Hello

A big ass gecko Posted by Hello

What you do when you have no engine and no paddles Posted by Hello

No, Nemo's not here! Posted by Hello

Quite like it here... Posted by Hello

How to get off a boat 2 Posted by Hello

Puka (not Pukka, Jamie) Beach, Borocay, Philippines Posted by Hello

I am an amazonian woman - hear me roar! Posted by Hello

asleep...again Posted by Hello

Our boat Posted by Hello

Just swam in... Posted by Hello

Crystal Cove...on the way to cave 2 Posted by Hello

And this is my balcony Posted by Hello