The 3 month holiday

Mid way through a 3 month trip so pretty late to the game. Countries visited so far: South Africa, Singapore and Bali. Still to visit: Lombok, Kuala Lumpur and the Philippines
  • Day22

    Palawan

    June 16, 2017 on the Philippines

    Direct flight ✈️ to El Nido from Caticlan was so easy and stress free, air swift even provided a free lunch which included a brownie. You fly in right over the ocean and practically land on the beach, it's a tiny place and I heard up until recently you used to collect bags from under a palm tree 😂 now it's just a guy handing them out from a van. We found our air bnb and headed out to get some food and explore El Nido. It's a very dramatic setting, huge black limestone cliffs are to the west of town and everything seems squashed on to the beach front and surrounding streets. We found some very decent spots to eat though, first night a vegetarian place that did amazing falafels and humous. I was surprised I managed to get Bailey in here and sure enough he didn't like his meal and we had to swop 🙄

    The next day we took a trike to ? waterfall, our guide Bong showed the way for the half hour sweaty trek and well deserved swim afterwards. Next up Napcan beach, we just missed a downpour and to be honest neither of us were very impressed when we arrived. This is the beach every trike driver wants to take you too mainly cos it's miles away (30/40 minutes from town). The shore line was full of little jellyfish so no chance of a swim, we attempted to go in some water on the opposite side of the bay but it was filthy. Feeling disappointed we decided to get some lunch and ask to go to Las Cabanas Beach a little earlier than planned. Las Cabanas was 👌🏻 we made it for an amazing sunset and had a couple of drinks in the little bars. We went to a place called La Traverse for pizza and pasta that evening and it was unreal, so good in fact that it's where we ate for the next 3 nights 🙊 creatures of habit!

    So up until now I'm loving El Nido but then El Nido decides to not love me by ravaging me with sand fly bites 😭 I wake up at 1am clawing my legs off and have upwards of 75 bites on legs, arms and back! We visit the chemist before going on boat tour Z. Genera consensus is its sand fly bites from Napcan and I start to notice lots of other people with bites, white patches of calamine lotion (the only thing to soothe the itch) and plasters! Tour Z offers alternative locations to the usual boat tours, kayaks, SUPs, on board massages and giant inflatable unicorns. It was a small group of us on board but we had lots of fun, even stopping on a sandbar to play a game of volleyball. We saw the most stunning sunset from the boat, the colours were like nothing I've seen before.

    Unfortunately it was back to another night of sand bite hell and I had to return to the chemist demanding anything they had! We moved to spin "designer" hostel for our first hostel experience of the trip. The place has a really cool design, lots of open spaces with sofas and chill out spaces. We were sharing with two older American guys, I felt it was now my duty to warn everyone about Napcan so made sure they took plenty of protection.

    We joined a combination boat tour of A/C the next day, the most popular stops for tourists in El Nido. We were on the boat with another couple which was good as not too busy and people delaying the boat moving on when we were ready. I was very cautious about going on the beach, Bailey described it as getting back in the water after a shark attack. All was soon forgotten though and we were snorkelling and enjoying our BBQ lunch 😊 kayaking in the small lagoon was definitely a highlight. The boat tour routes are very busy though lots of bangka boats jostling for the best spot, and we weren't even in El Nido in peak season!

    Not many places in El Nido had a pool available and with my bites still causing trouble we decided to go down to Puerto Princessa and enjoy the last couple of days at a nice hotel away from the beach.

    Puerto Princessa had a couple of nice places to eat and bars to drink in, La Terasse and Hibiscus were favourites. There was a summer festival on while we were there so we watched lots of live music and visited food stalls at the main municipal building.
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  • Day18

    Boracay

    June 12, 2017 on the Philippines

    Sometimes the best plans go awry and figuring the two flights to Boracay would be about the same as ferry and bus we opted for the later. This turned out to be one of our longest ever journeys 😫 made only slightly easier by the rum and gin we purchased before setting off. No rest for the wicked though, as soon as we arrived it was a quick shower and back out to make the most of the first night. Boracay was really busy and is definitely a party island!

    The rest is a blur and I don't remember how we got back to the hotel just that I woke up in the dreamiest bed. Boracay is divided in to stations and our hotel (Fairways and Bluewater) was in station 3 in the north east of the island. It was HUGE so big you had to get a shuttle bus around it, 6 pools, private beach and is built around a golf course. The Ventana pool was our favourite, an infinity pool looking out at crystal clear waters and boats zipping back and forth. We spent the day recuperating there before joining the Irish for a meal in the evening. Bailey decided he couldn't pass up on a chance of playing on the golf course so went off at 7am the next day.

    Our final day we spent by the pool before going to Villa Camila where Rosie had organised some surprise birthday celebrations for Graham and his mum 🎂
    I couldn't leave the Philippines without having a go on karaoke and got up to sing a duet with Jamie to back for good by take that. Everyone was stunned when the host performed a duet independently (male and female vocals) switching between the two seamlessly 😳 we loved our time in Boracay and only wish it was for longer 😍
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  • Day15

    Bacolod Irish / Fillipina wedding

    June 9, 2017 on the Philippines

    A weekend in Bacolod for Graham and Rocelyn's Wedding 👰🏻

    We arrived early on the Friday morning and headed straight to the mall so the boys could get barongs for their wedding outfits. A traditional Filipino wedding attire for the men, it's a long sleeved shirt with a pattern on the front, it's usually a sheer material meaning they have to wear a t-shirt under (intense in the heat). It was nice to see some friendly faces from Guernsey and meet all the Irish and Filipino family of the couple. Bailey risked a hair cut and beard trim, communication can be an issue here when you get asked "is that ok?" You reply "yes" and they continue to cut.

    The wedding was at a nearby Catholic Church, a surprise when we arrived was seeing our names in the order of service stating we were making an offering of candles to the priest. Rosie looked absolutely stunning and service was beautiful, few years from Graham, apparently this means he has to do the washing up for 6 months. Our candle offering went without a hitch, very nerve wracking though as we were first down and the candles kept being blowing out by the fan. Afterwards we had photos in the church, they always take one nice one and a silly faces one 😜 it was lovely to see how many people had travelled to share the day with the couple.

    The reception was held at L'Fisher Hotel where most of us were staying. It was a huge room and big wedding with lots of guests, we had a good table with all the guernsey guests. The bar staff were very attentive often double parking the boys which probably contributed to the outcome of the evening! It was lovely seeing everyone from all different cultures and backgrounds coming together and dancing together. The Filipinos love to singing and we were treated to lots of guests getting up to sing during the reception. I felt like a celebrity when some teenage girls kept asking me to get in photos with them, they love the blonde hair over here.

    The next day one of Rosie's friends had organised a dog show as it was a public holiday due to it being the Philippine Independence Day. The show therefore was based around this theme, it was an amazing sight to observe some of the costumes were very dramatic (especially the dog that had been coloured pink!)
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  • Day11

    Dumaguete

    June 5, 2017 on the Philippines

    Another day another bus/boat journey! This time from Cebu down to Dumaguete on the south east tip of Negros Oriental. A long journey, almost 6 hours in total. The hotel we were staying at was really cute and quaint, lots of different seating areas and clashing prints and colours. It also had a lovely resident dog with soft fluffy fur who was named Bailey 😂 so funny when everyone was calling the dogs name and confusing Bailey. We got changed and headed to Rizal Blvd in central Dumaguete, it's a University town so lots of young people and live music - some of it really good and some of it really bad! The next day we had slightly sore heads and spent the day chilling by the pool, only downside was no loungers in the sun. Dumaguete was very cheap, rum and cokes £1 for a double and meals for £2-4 in restaurants.

    We took the bus out to Zambougita, a half hour south of Dumaguete and close to the port for Apo Island. Feeling like we had been on the move forever we settled at Kav's resort for a couple of nights. Beachfront, nice pool with water slide, clean and good food with lovely staff 👌🏻 one of the nicer places we have stayed in the Philippines.

    Apo Island is a half hour by boat from Dumaguete and famed for its snorkelling and abundance of turtles. We had to hang around at the port for a while to find some people to share a boat with. The island is very dramatic as you approach, lots of dark jagged cliffs and reminded me of something a Bond villain would be living on. There's some accommodation on the island but I scared myself with tripadvisor reviews and the only electricity being available 6-10pm (therefore no fan or air con). We headed out snorkelling with a guide and were met by turtles almost immediately. The marine life was amazing and our guide was really good pointing things out and taking photos of us underwater. We spent the rest of the time chilling in hammocks and enjoying the food available on the beach.
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  • Day9

    Bantyan & Malapascua Island

    June 3, 2017 on the Philippines

    We arrived in Bantayan, Santa Fe after a long bus and boat journey and it was HOT. For the first time during our travels we didn't have anywhere pre booked to stay and this will be the last time we make that mistake. We got a trike with a man who looked like a Bond villain, he only had one eye and red painted finger nails. I didn't really trust him showing us different hotels, we gave him the name of one we were considering and he took us to a random housing area and stated that was the location. A few places we tried were fully booked so in a panic we picked up some wifi and booked a place, he wasn't happy about going there wanting us to take his recommendations instead. Traveling around looking at different places in the heat is not for me and the place seemed cleaned and central. We headed out in Santa Fe, our hotel was based just a couple of minutes from the main strip with all the bars and restaurants. We went to a place called Cafe Del Marre and had delicious fresh pasta. Whilst sitting there we experienced 2 power cuts, island life at its best!

    The next day we hired a scooter from the hotel and drove up the coast to Bantayan to use the only cash machine on the island 😱 we stopped at a couple of beach spots on the way back for food and drinks. The Philippines has amazing beaches, soft white sand and crystal clear waters make it an absolute treat to swim in. Bantayan is very chilled and we couldn't find any accommodation we really loved so decided to move on to Malapascua island the next day by boat.

    We decided to hire a boat to get to Malapascua instead of the public boat - bus - boat option. The bangka was supposed to take 2 hours but it was more like 4. We stayed at thresher cove dive resort in a little cabin on the beach 😍 it wasn't flash by any stretch of the imagination but it was still nice to wake up to sunrise over the sea. The first night a little dog came to get ready on the balcony with me which obviously had my sold. Malapascua is huge for diving with thresher sharks, you can do the dive as part of an advanced open water course. We attempted to tell a little white lie to the dive shop about Bailey having his PADI but got rumbled ☹️ Malapascua has some nice little beach restaurants which we visited each evening, no real party scene maybe because everyone has to get up at 4am to dive with the sharks 🦈 Bailey started doing part of his PADI and we completed another dive together.
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  • Day7

    Mount Rinjani

    May 26, 2017 in Indonesia

    Based on a recommendation from Bailey's friend we decided to tackle Mount Rinjani, signing up for a 2 night / 3 day trek with a company. We were collected from our hotel at 5am for the 2 hour journey north to the starting point. Banana pancakes for breakfast, again, the novelty definitely wearing off. Our group consisted of 3 Chinese, 3 French, German and Deutsch, most people spoke English and for those who didn't we managed to get by and communicate with smiles and hand gestures! First up we had to sign in at Sembalun and that was when I realised we were massively unprepared for this trek when other people had proper walking boots, poles and backpacks. It was a hot and sweaty 5 hour climb up to the base camp with a couple of stops for drinks, biscuits and lunch. The porters were carrying all the tents, cooking equipment and resources using bamboo baskets, they weighed 30-40kg and they completed the climb carrying them and in flip flops 😱

    Camp was set up and we had another meal before an early bed of 8pm as we had to get up at 2am to climb Mount Rinjani. It was pretty special to be camping above the clouds and the sky was unbelievably clear and filled with stars. The mountain was in sight and to be honest from our vantage point didn't look too far away, a gross misjudgement on our part.

    We were woken up at 2am with a cup of tea and biscuits before quickly changing and setting off. Deciding it wouldn't be wise to take our whole backpack up we left some things behind, including all of our snacks BIG mistake. The first hour was a steep climb using bushes and branches to pull up before reaching the peak leading to the ascent of Mount Rinjani. The next bit was the most physically and mentally challenging, there were short sections of flat ground but it was mostly uphill on volcanic sand/stone that for every step you took slid back down by 2. We reached the summit just before dawn at 6am and it was absolutely FREEZING. Other people were obviously prepared for this change in temperature and had thermals on, we jealously looked on in our one jumper layer and thin pants. We found one of our guides who thankfully gave us some biscuits 🙌🏼 the descent was mainly sliding down the rocks/sand but in the daylight it was clear there was a sheer drop either side if you fall off this section. The sun eventually became strong enough to warm us up and we lost some layers. The descent took 2 1/2 hours and we thankfully had time for a nap and breakfast at camp before setting off for the lake. This descent took a further 3 hours and was again mentally and physically challenging due to having to consider where to safely place each foot and the loose stones which can cause you to slip and fall. The lake was stunning and went to some hot springs to wash and clean up, the water was amazing and refreshing and we came out spotless. By this point it was half 2 and we were all in food moods due to lack of input for expended energy!

    The last part of the trek for that day was another ascent up to the crater rim for camp that evening. By this point I'd have happily camped by the lake, after setting off after each rest my legs and feet would ache and demand to stop. We managed to complete this section in 2 1/2 hours and fell in to the tents as soon as they were up!

    The third and final day 😃 more banana pancakes! We set off at 7:30am despite massive protests from my legs. This was much more intense than any feeling after I've completed any running races. The initial terrain was difficult and full of loose stones which caused lots of slips, bailey and I developed a tactic of him going first and me running at him so he could stop me. The descent seemed relentless and we didn't reach the final gate and end of the jungle terrain till 1:30pm.

    Whilst waiting to be collected to get our things from the hotel in Sanuru some girls who were starting the trek the next day asked how it was, poor timing! Once back in senggigi we had long showers, beers and a nice meal. Full body massages and mani/pedis had us feeling relaxed and refreshed before our flight to Kuala Lumpur the next day.
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  • Day1

    Cebu

    May 26, 2017 on the Philippines

    Kuala Lumpur - Cebu, Air Asia, flight time 3 hours 40.

    "It's better in the Philippines" is the tagline for tourism here. However due to reading about the unrest and martial law declared by the government in the press and on tourism advice sites we felt nervous about arriving in Cebu. There was definitely an increased police and security presence at the airport, hotel and malls. This did provide some reassurance and on the whole I wouldn't say I felt unsafe in Cebu but preferred to remain in what we deemed "safe" areas. We arrived at the Cebu Parklane International Hotel after a looooooong taxi ride, the rush hour traffic here is insane. We visited an area called Lahug as recommended by the lonely planet but didn't rate it and mainly stayed in the Ayala Mall area. So we probably didn't see the "real" Cebu but we both agreed we would rather feel safe than risk venturing further. The last week had been dominated by trekking and lots of travel so we mainly chilled by the hotel pool and even managed to fit in the gym a couple of times. Feeling recharged we decided to head north to Bantayan Island, a 3.5 hour bus journey and 1 hour ferry.

    After the northern islands we passed through Cebu again and stayed at a really nice hotel called Golden Prince, comfy beds and amazing showers. We won't be able to stay there after a disagreement regarding some beans included in the room service breakfast, I did get 2 free apples that I refused to share with Bailey for not supporting me in my complaint 😂. In contrast to the rest of Cebu the city and capital is very developed with lots of western shops and restaurants. Island life is good but you can't beat modern amenities - Cebu is one of the few places I've actually used a hair dryer! Not much of an issue for me but baileys curls are becoming unruly.

    So that is why there is only one picture from Starbucks of Bailey photobombing a guy with a DJ Drew top.
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  • Day1

    Senggigi

    May 20, 2017 in Indonesia

    We arrived at Senggigi from the Gili islands by boat and hired a private car for transport, there's so many people trying to rip you off so try and get a bluebird taxi on the meter, they are easy enough to spot. Lombok has a beautiful coastline and tropics feel, cliffs and long stretches of beaches and palm trees as far as the eye can see. Craving some western food we went to a place called the Cowshed that evening for steak and beers.

    Due to it being much quieter than Bali and the roads infrastructure pretty decent I managed to finally persuade Bailey to hire a scooter to explore. Neither of us has any experience on a scooter and after a shaky start (careering from one side of the road to the other, losing a flip flop and giving everyone observing this a heart attack for our safety) we were off! Being on the back of a scooter is more frightening than I expected and I was happy to crawl along at 20mph and have every car overtake us. We explored a couple of beaches with amazing soft black sand and not another soul around.

    We attended a cooking class at , they were so accommodating as they don't usually run classes on a Saturday but put an extra one on just for us two as Friday was fully booked. We both loved the experience and learnt so much, my arm was aching from grinding spices in the pestle and mortar but the flavours were definitely worth it. Can't wait to try and recreate these dishes at home especially the corn fritters with some ice cold beers. I made chicken satay and a banana leaf fish curry dish and Bailey the corn fritters and chicken curry. The staff and setting were perfect and they even provided transport.
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  • Day10

    Gili Air

    May 16, 2017 in Indonesia

    The third and final of the Gili Islands that we will be visiting during our trip. Really enjoying the island lifestyle, this place is a cool mix between the madness and parties of Gili T and the chilled vibe of Meno. Bikes are a must to get around the place.. trying to cycle in sand is probably my biggest issue of the day 😤 Bailey likes to put this in perspective for me and remind me that we are currently on a paradise island, snorkelling with turtles and sipping on banana smoothies all day! The locals on Air are very friendly and you can't get far without someone wanting to say hello and have a chat. We arrived by the public boat from Gili Meno for only 70RHP - bargain. The beers (bintang) are cheap and the happy hour cocktails do the trick! We went to a hotel called Ombak on Monday night for outdoor cinema on the beach and watched Drive on big comfy beanbag chairs. Spent a day at scratch beach club on the west coast which is definitely worth a visit. A little spot called Ruby's does amazing curry 👌🏻 number 2 on trip advisor and well deserved. The sunsets on all the Gili islands seem to be amazing but Air has definitely delivered some of the best so far.Read more

  • Day6

    Gili Meno

    May 12, 2017 in Indonesia

    We arrived on Gili Meno just after 4pm after getting the ten minute boat from Gili T. We headed straight out to watch sunset on the west coast. Meno is much smaller than Gili T and very quiet and peaceful. We had a couple of chilled drinks and a nice meal in the centre that evening. We had big plans for snorkelling the next day and got fully kitted out with snorkel, mask and flippers - bailey with the go pro attachment on his head. After 20 minutes of swimming and seeing some fish we realised that after scuba diving snorkelling is pretty rubbish and we hate the sea, sand and coral! Moving further north on the island we stopped at seri hotel and spent a lovely day chilling on their comfy sun loungers, using the pool and spa. Gili Meno is supposedly for honeymooning couples and families due to it being so quiet and peaceful, we found 2 nights to be enough.Read more

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