I will try to make this short and sweet. Arrived in Manila, Philippines on Saturday (Feb 23rd). After figuring out our bus route to Pasay, south part of Manila, and taking the ride there, we got our ticket to Legaspi (13hrs bus ride away) and left with a couple of hours on our hands we took a metro (LRT) train to Intramuros. 1km or so area surrounded by the old stone walls where Spanish invaders lived while locals inhabited the surrounding area.
On our night bus to Legaspi the bus broke down so instead of arriving at 7am we arrive at 10am in Legaspi and go meet our local tour guide (which I contacted before going to Philippines). His name is Richard and he arranges a tour guide for us to climb Mt. Mayon. I believe I covered our attempt at Mt. Mayon in the previous entry so to make this brief: we come back to Legaspi. The weather sucks, rainy, foggy, nothing to do. I and Loic leave Rahel in the tent in front of Richard’s office (on the 2nd floor balcony facing the city) and go walk around town on Monday night at 11pm. Everything is closed. We stumble upon a bar and hear the music coming through the open door. We enter. Karaoke bar. We sit down, there are couple of “waitresses” entertaining the “customers” so we just ask for an album list and sing some Bon Jovi and Oasis. Go back to our tent and try to sleep a couple hours in order to get up at 6am when the other stores on the second floor open and we need to take down our tent and the “spiderweb” of clothe lines that we used to hang our wet EVERYTHING we brought from the Mt. Mayon.
Wednesday we take a shuttle to Donsol. We meet 5 other guys from NUS, one of them is my floor-mate Don. We arrive in Donsol excited to go on the boat and snorkel with whalesharks! Friendly creatures in sizes of up to 18meters!
On the boat it is raining and windy. No sharks around and aprox 12-15 boats chasing the brave ones who decided to come near the surface in such bad weather.
We head back to Legaspi, pick up our clean and dry laundry from a laundry shop and catch the first van going to Naga city, 2hrs north of Legaspi. In Naga we take decide to stay in a Golden Leaf hotel and its a clean place. Our first place with a bed since arriving in Philippines. Quite nice to sleep in the bed. After dinner in the restaurant with FINALLY some great food we head back to the room while the other guys decide to take a walk and check out some bars.
On Thursday we take a Jeepney to the hot spring north of Naga and chill in a 39c water for a few hours. Nice way to relax. Afterwards we had back to Naga and settle for a good dinner in the restaurant Jellato. Owner DomiNikko met the guys the night before and had a lot of drinks complemented with some great food. Nikko is a chef and makes great food. Although we did not see him make the food per se, he has graduated from a culinary school in Manila.
At night the boys take a bus to Manila and we (Loic, Rahel, Gabi and I) join Nikko to check out CWC – we didn’t know that, but its a world famous place for wake boarding. We arrive in the restaurant and see a “surfer” type crowd partying it up with booze and music. We meet them and they are here from all over the world, France, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Serbia, etc. Most of them are staying here for a couple of months while they practice their wake boarding tricks… which are amazing as we found out on Saturday. After partying up with the crowd we join them for a trip to a local club and spend couple hours there, then head to Nikkos house and spend an hours on the couch. At 3am we head to bus terminal to catch a bus going to Caramoan. Arriving in Sabang I am awaken by aprox 10 eager men opening the door and one of them saying “this is the end of your trip”… would serve as a good culmination to a nightmare but I realize that we did indeed arrive to Sabang where we will catch a boat going to Caramoan. Its raining, nasty, streets are dirty, there is no restaurant where we can get a decent meal so we just sit down in one of the places that reminds of a restaurant and chill for an hours while we wait for a boat. Take a boat and it is still raining… Reach Caramoan and take a Jeepney to Centro Caramoan. Here we find a decent place to eat and sit down to have some breakfast. After breakfast the sun comes out and we are unusually cheerful as we are excited about the weather. We take a tricycle to a nearby village where we need to hike for another 3km to reach Gota beach. It is known for its white sand and beautiful coves surrounding the area. There we find a bunch of white people talking on walkie-talkies. They are personnel for a french Survivor TV series. We are not allowed to take any pictures or stay on the beach. After conversing with one guy for a few minutes we are told many details about the show and he answers the questions we have. Then he was nice enough to offer us a ride from one of the locals who is working for them and drives a rented Honda SUV. After unsuccessful attempt to convince the guy that he should hire us as doubles for the Survivor series:) we thank him, jump in the car and slowly traverse across the muddy road full of huge puddles. Then we attempt to convince the local guy who is driving the rented car to give us a ride to the next village only a couple of kilometers away but he refuses. We thank and continue our trek to the next village.
…to be continued in PART II. Stay tuned:)