Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Siargao - The Philippines (Entry 6)

Siargao

Day 8 - 5th July:

Today was my last day in Siargao! My travel agent advised that I change my flight due to bad weather approaching and considering my TRAVEL STRESSES I had just a week ago I decided to listen to him.

Yesterday was the 4th July and although we don't celebrate that in South Africa, apparently they do in the Philippines! After a really lazy day of lounging in bed and FINALLY patching things up with Sam (I wrote SORRY in shells I'd collected from the beach and he'd responded with ITS OK, I LOVE U, written in woodchips from his machinery show in Taiwan) *insert 'awwww' here*




After everything was feeling back to normal and loved up, my Kiwi family tapped on my door and invited me out to a fireworks party in celebration of the 4th of July. It was beautiful to see Fireworks. I normally hate them because of how they effect animals but they were really small and quick. It was so festive there as well, one guy called Neil who is from NYC (he's about 8 feet tall and looks like a professional basketball player,) wore a full USA outfit and I just had to get a photo with him:


For my last full day in Siargao we went Island hopping. It was AMAZING!!! If you ever find yourself in Siargao you just HAVE to get to Kermit Resort and put your name down for the Island hopping. The food is out of this world. There's volleyball and swimming in the ocean that just plummets down so deep and blue it's breathtaking. I had the absolute time of my life. The locals are incredibly friendly and welcoming, they hack you up coconuts and you can drink the gorgeous coconut water. It's a full, unmissable day trip that you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Here's a few snaps from my time there:

Arriving on one of the 3 islands




The food was the best food I had all week long

Drinking the coconut water

Getting 'high' in the trees with the locals

I was invited to a bonfire in the evening and that was my send-off party. I only stayed for one beer because I wanted to get back to the resort, pack up my bags and get an early night before a 5am surf in the morning. 

The surf on the 6th July was GINORMOUS. I kept begging my instructor, Eloy, to let me go back, but he just laughed at me and made fun of how huge my eyes were. I was petrified. The waves must have been 8 feet high and I got absolutely annihilated. 
I'm sitting close to the Mactan Cebu airport right now in the Philippines waiting for my flights to Bali and I have a wonderful bruise across my face from the surf-board slamming me in the face. Luckily it's not blue yet - just extremely sensitive. 
Surfing is a rough sport and you need to be ready for it - with all of it's conditions. 

I was really, really sad to leave Siargao and I definitely feel like I'll go back there again in the future. It's a place that will resonate in your heart for the rest of your life... and leaving left me feeling like this:


But now it's on to Bali.... I'll update you all when I can. I don't think I'll be online as frequently in Bali as I was in Philippines. But the days I'm silent just know I'm out soaking in the sun, surf and surreal holiday feeling, taking photographs to share with you all when I can. 

Love to all - and to all, a safe life xxxxx 

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Siargao - The Philippines (Entry 5)

Siargao

Day 6 - 3rd July:

After a full day of relaxation barring a two hour surf at Cloud 9 yesterday, I was re-energized and ready to jam-pack today with more exciting things to see and do in Siargao. 

At 6am when the tide was high Ellie and I went for a surf. The water was freezing compared to the other days we've had here so far. 
In the last week my surfing has improved dramatically. I can't believe it's nearly been a week already, it seems like I arrived yesterday. I laugh at the fact that when I first got here I was wondering how I was going to get through an entire 9 days here without any friends and with hardly anything to do. Things really turned around - they turned out better than I could have possibly wished for or imagined. 

Today was another great day. After the surf I stopped at the side of the road and bought a t-shirt saying, 'I Surfed Cloud 9,' because it's one of the top 5 places to surf in the world! It's a huge thing to check off of your bucket-list. 

We'd scheduled a trip to the Magpupungko Rock Pool which is a major attraction for visitors to the island. We rented the resorts vehicle for the day which cost just over 3000 pesos split between us and to enter the rock pool its 50 pesos per person at the sign in desk. 


Tips:

  • Bring booties - although the reef is actually really soft, there's sea urchins all over the place and there's a really sharp, jagged rock you can climb up to jump into the pool.   
  • Pack lunch - like Sohoton Cove there are snacks available to purchase like ice creams, crisps etc but if you plan a full day there then it's best to bring a light lunch along with you.
  • Waterproof bag - if you bring your backpack with you while you go swimming in the rock pool you have to leave your bag on the reef which is pretty damp, so keep that in mind for if you want to go there.
  • Pack a Towel - You'll be swimming. I dried in the sun and wind but I'd have loved a towel for after I'd gotten out. 
We had a really good day there. After swimming in the gorgeous rock pool we went shell collecting on the reef. It was so tranquil and peaceful - a day of pure bliss. 

I have to admit that if I had a choice between the Magpupungko Rock Pool or the Sohoton Cove which you can read about HERE then I'd choose Sohoton Cove hands down. There's just more to do at the cove - but if you have a chance to do both of these activities you really should. Both are incredibly beautiful if you just relax and soak it all in. 









There was an earthquake today. I'm not kidding. It was the first earthquake I have ever experienced and it was petrifying. 6.0 on the richter scale. 
I'd gone to the bathroom when suddenly it felt like the floor was falling from under me and the walls started to shake - the roof felt like it was going to collapse. 
I ran out of there so fast it was insane. The locals were all screaming as they picked up the contents from the shop which had all fallen over and when I chatted to the other visitors that had been down on the reef they said it had felt like the entire reef had moved. 
It was so scary!!! Then everything was back to normal a few minutes later... there wasn't even an aftershock. 
Crazy experience.... and when we got back to the resort I think we all needed a cocktail to relax which is exactly what we did.

Devouring cocktails after the earthquake!!!



On Friday nights there's something called Jungle Disco on the island. It's exactly what it sounds like, a disco in the jungle. Strobe lights are flashing, music is pumping, rum is flowing and people are dancing. There were so many people there that I'm almost convinced the entire population of the island goes. 







It was so fun - boiling hot and super crowded. I didn't stop dancing all evening. A tip would be this though, the bathrooms are pretty vile. As a traveler I have seen my fair share of disgusting bogs - but this one really is high up on the list of the worst. They reek... and there's no toilet paper so bring some with you in your bag. There's also no flush and no sink to wash your hands but there's a bucket of water outside and you flush the loo by pouring a measure of water down the loo and it's also how you wash your hands. 

The party starts getting good by 11pm, we arrived at 22h30 and danced until 2am. We then took some bikes down to Cloud 9 and while the others went for a dip in the ocean I sat on the wooden steps and breathed in the salty early morning breeze. I had a lot on my mind. Sam and I were still in a bad place - the fighting has been getting worse and worse. I realise a lot of it is my fault. I have some major anger built up inside of me from my past - I also have a lot of fear and anxiety. It's never going to be easy for me to let myself be vulnerable to someone. The second I start feeling really close with someone I freak out and form this wall around myself because I want to protect myself from being hurt again. I try so hard to open up and embrace love but it petrifies me to know that someone has the ability to completely tear me apart. It's hard to let someone have that power. From bad things happening when I was younger to being cheated on, boyfriends being stabbed to death, boyfriends choosing drugs over me and all of the other hurt I've been through - it's hard. 
The reason Sam and I have been in a bad situation is because of me and I realised that at 2am this morning while I sat watching the barreling waves at Cloud 9. I need to stop doing things the way I've been doing them. I need to realise my faults and fix them for not only my sake but for Sam's. I love him endlessly. I have loved him from almost the first moment I saw him - on the day I was supposed to have moved to a big scary city. Sam and I should never have met - but we did and I fully believe in my heart that the reason I didn't move to the city and start this new life all those months ago is because that very day I was going to meet him - I just didn't know it yet. 

Life has handed me something amazing - our love is so pure and intense - and that honestly petrifies me... but I need to stop being afraid to let my guard down 100%. I need to let Sam show me that he isn't like all of the others... he's not. I know that.



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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Siargao - The Philippines (Entry 4)

Siargao

Day 4 - 1st July:

This was the best day on the island yet. It started with a 5am surf at Cloud 9.
The waves were staggeringly perfect, the water warm, the vibe phenomenal.

Even though I'm the furthest thing from a morning person, you can't help but be stoked when you're awake at 5am on a hot and humid tropical paradise, the suns already out and crisping your shoulders and nose, there's a handful of travellers and locals combined all trying to score the waves and cheering each other on.

After the surf I treated myself to a delicious cappuccino and an Asian spicy fried rice breakfast with an egg on top at Kermit resort.



When Georgie, Harry and Ellie woke up they had a quick bite to eat and we all got ready for a day trip to Sohoton Cove.

Things you need to know about your trip to Sohoton Cove:

  • It takes about 1.5 hours to get there by a really loud engined boat (travel expense: 5000 pesos)
  • While they do have snacks available there (the most incredible chocolate I've ever tasted / crisps etc) it's best to pack yourself a light lunch. We ordered sandwiches from Kermit Resort. 
  • The boat ride can be a bit choppy depending on the weather so if you suffer from sea sickness then it's best to pop a pill beforehand.
  • For the girls: Just a tip... wear your hair in a tight bun. I tried to plait mine loosely and it didn't last long at all. My hair was flying every where and knotting up - a headband isn't a bad idea either.
  • For the girls: Don't bother wearing a stitch of makeup - it's going to come off. The boat ride splashes water onto the boat and onto you - plus you'll be going swimming and jumping off caves into the aqua blue water anyway so save the makeup for another time. 
  • There's a fee you need to pay when you get there (and they don't accept cards). It depends on how many people you are but it's a couple of hundred pesos for the day at the cove. This will cover the boat trip you'll take with tour guides when you get there, a guided cave tour where you get to climb up to the top and jump into the water down below - petrifying but so worth it!!! It also covers your kayak ride, one kayak per person, to go and see the jellyfish sanctuary. The jellyfish don't sting so you're welcome to gently touch them.
  • There are souvenirs there, from keychains to fridge magnets. They're all very touristy but if I'd had the bucks I'd definitely have gotten something to remember my trip there. My favourite was a little fish keychain going for 80 pesos. Everything ranges in price though so bring a little extra for that if you want. 













It was a really amazing day trip and well worth the long ride there. If you ever find yourself on this incredible island then the Sohoton Cove is definitely something you can't miss out on.

When we got back we were all knackered, sipping sleepily on Happy Hour mango daiquiri cocktails, slurping up some amazing Kermit pasta and discussing our plans for the evening.
I could have easily gone straight to bed at 7pm. It had been a full day of activities - but the others were quite keen to go and check out the nightlife again so after a 20minute nap I joined them at Buddha.

Buddha is a bar you just have to go to if you're in Siargao! It's got live acoustic music, karaoke, giant jenga, swinging hammocks and tons of travellers flock there to enjoy the chilled out vibe.

Buddha - a great bar with live music in Siargao



We left at about midnight - bumping into my surf instructors brother on our way out. He asked us how we were getting home and we told him we have one motorbike. There were four of us so he offered to take two of us home to be safe. 

Our motorbike wouldn't start, the battery was dead so it was really lucky that we'd bumped into Eloy's brother. 

Instantly we had tons of offers from his friends, all offering to help lift us back home. 

(You never really know if they expect a tip afterwards or not. Some do. Like when I was in the airport in Cebu trying to catch my connecting flight to Siargao, someone offered to push my trolley and show me where to go even though I didn't really need help. 
They can be a bit pushy. 
Anyway, so he got me all the way to my gate and then said he accepts tips. I told him I had nothing which was the truth and he said he could take me to an ATM. Little did I know the ATM was ALL THE WAY out of the airport again... it worked out for the best because there really aren't many ATM's on the island (the closest to me right now is in Dapa which is a 20 minute bike ride away). So after drawing some pesos I had to go all the way through check-in and bag scans again!
Still - I wish people would help you out of the goodness of their heart. This guy in Cebu even told me how much to give him!!! I didn't even tip my massage therapist in the hotel that much! Cheeky bugger... It did teach me to be a lot firmer with them again in the future though.) 

Despite that, I can definitely say that over the past four days on the island I have completely fallen in love. I've fallen in love with the Philippines people, I've fallen in love with Siargao Island, I've fallen in love with Kermit Surf Resort and I've fallen in love with the people I've met along the way. My trip would have been completely different if the other travellers I've met hadn't been here - so I'll be forever grateful to those who have included me in their plans instead of me having to enjoy Siargao by myself. 


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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Siargao - The Philippines (Entry 3)

Siargao

Day 3 - 30th June:

After last nights party which you can read about in my previous post HERE I'm feeling a bit rough.
I was supposed to go surfing at 5am... that didn't happen. I completely overslept. Whoops. I think 5am was a bit unrealistic anyway. I'm the worst morning person - especially after a night out!! But I'll attempt it again tomorrow. 

Not surfing this morning meant I had a pretty lazy morning chilling around the Kermit Resort. 
My arms were covered in a heat rash and the reef was still stuck in my foot.


Relaxing and nursing my rum induced hangover wasn't bad though because the sun peaked out from behind the clouds for the first time since I arrived and I was able to find a lovely sun lounger on the Kermit grounds where I lay and soaked up the sun and read my book. 
I never thought I'd be so excited to put suncream on!! :)

When the others from the party last night all woke up we decided to rent some bikes and explore Siargao Island. There was supposed to be a local market close by that we wanted to check out. We thought it would sell touristy things like shell necklaces, clothing and other souvenirs but after finding it we realised it was really nothing more than a fruit and vegetable market. The only other market we heard about was in Dapa which was roughly a 20 minute drive and that we learned was more of a fish market so we gave it a skip and walked along the pier instead.





The Philippine locals love to stare and giggle at you. They talk about you amongst themselves as your walking past and they often compliment you and tell you how beautiful you are.
Some tourists find it a bit creepy but the locals think it's completely normal to stare at you. They're curious about you.

Our two favourite locals we two little school girls who walked with us all the way along the pier, naughty cackling giggles erupting from them every few seconds as they skipped and hopped along. 

Harry, Ellie, Georgie and I wondered through the dirt roads close to the market and found a handful of quaint shops selling anything from plants, fruits, fuel, snacks, all sorts of different types of rice. Some shops were so quirky, dangling upside down umbrella's at the front of their shop. Every little detail made the little town too cute. 






My other surf session was scheduled for 2pm so we made our way back to the resort and Harry and I got ready to go to Cloud 9 to take on the waves. 
I have never seen waves as perfect as the ones in Siargao. Even on a small day, there are barrels to be scored and tons of people out in the water having the time of their life. Everyone is so happy - I just love it! 
I didn't bring my Go Pro with today because water got trapped inside the casing when I was rinsing it out so it's got rice inside it right now to try and soak up the moisture. I was too afraid to put the camera in it just in case water damaged it. 

The surf today was harder than the last two days - not just because of the hangover. Although the sun was shining and it was a gorgeous day, the wind was crazy. It made the current and the waves unforgiving and really difficult to paddle in - plus the rock in my foot was aching like hell so I was finding it really difficult. 
I did manage to catch the best wave I've had since coming here though!


I've been taking in everything my instructor's been telling me and trying really hard to improve and it's definitely paying off. I'm slowly getting there - Luke, the South African I met last night, was out in the water and said that he was really impressed and that I was 'owning' the waves. Smile.
We stayed out in the water for nearly two hours - then had to get out because there was a yoga class scheduled for 16h30 that I wanted to go to.
Eloy, my surf instructor, raced me home on the bike to shower and change before the class situated in the Cloud 9 tower. When we got to where the class was supposed to be no one was there so after waiting it out for a couple of minutes we decided to re-plan the afternoon and decided to take a couple of beers up the mountain on the bike to watch the sunset.






When the sun had set Eloy took me back to Kermit and I ordered a stir-fry for dinner before heading to bed before 8pm. It had been a full, amazing day and I was once again going to go to bed with a huge smile plastered across my face. 

Feeling so liberated and free - just like my old self. It's so good to be back out traveling and experiencing the world again. This is what I live for. 




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