Goodbye Philippines, hello Cambodia.


Back in Cambodia as of Sunday, we were very sad to leave the Philippines, even after the epic 15hrs travel, but we will return one day!

Writing this from Anlong Vieng, a town up near the Thai border, famous as the last refuge of Pol Pot…

Tomorrow headed to Preah Vihear temple.


Planes buses and boats…

Sitting on the bus back to Cebu… Minivan actually, and quite a nice one, supposed to be faster than the bus, although he’s driving erratically in only first gear so who knows.


Sal is sitting next to me, head in her lap with eyes closed trying not to feel sick.  She woke up this morning covered in red spots again.  I read that in the final stages of dengue you get another itchy rash and then your whole body peels… She looked horrified when I passes on that little gem.

There’s bad 80’s pop playing on the stereo, a bit too loud for me, but the Fillipino’s love it. Karaoke is huge here, and everyone sings. 

‘Touching the night… It feels like heaven…’ more synthesiser

Now we’ve stopped for some reason.  Sal’s getting pissed off… It’s going to be a long day.

To get this far, we’ve already caught a small boat to a big boat to cross between islands, then another small boat to shore as it’s low tide so the big boat couldn’t come close to shore.


Van now stopped at the bus station. People routinely pile out and stand around outside as though we won’t be leaving for a while, then the driver ushers everyone back on, and we wait in the bus another ten mins before everyone gets off again. This seems to be normal. 

Oooh we’re moving… Nope we’re not.

Anyway last time I wrote we had just missed the last boat to Malapasqua and so had to stay in Maya, the port town. Port towns are always a bit shit and this one was no exception. 

Now we’re moving, but in the wrong direction.

So in Maya we got a cheap but still disproportionately crap room, full of bugs, no fan, 2 single beds.  There wasn’t much to choose from so it had to do, but Sal had a fever of 39.5 so we insisted the guy who gave us the room should find a fan…

He initially tried to steal one from his auntie (after she fell asleep) but that didn’t wash, and the only other thing he could find was the type of fan people used to screw to a car dashboard, about 10cm in diameter… Brilliant.

‘Boom boom boom lets go back to my room, so we can do it all night and you can make me feel right…’

Next morning we headed to the port bleary eyed and waited for a boat.  At which point it occurred to me to ask whether there were any ATM’s on the island…

‘No bank or ATM on Malapasqua’
‘OK so where is the closest one?’
‘It’s about 40km away in Bogo city. ‘ ‘WTF??  That will take a couple of hours!’
‘You take moto taxi, very fast 45mins, 200 pesos one way.’

I smelled a rat. A moto guy telling me I needed to travel 45mins to get to the nearest bank… I politely declined and went into the nearest store to ask the shopkeeper where I could find a bank.

‘In the next town, you take jeepni, 12 pesos, only 5 mins’

The moto guy hadn’t taken no for an answer, and followed me into the shop. At this point he started arguing with the shopkeeper, who then told me that he said the ATM down the road was broken, by the look on her face it was clear she didn’t believe him.

Flashdance is now playing… What a feeling!!

We laughed and said we’d try the close one first. 5 mins later with wallets full of pesos we were leaving the bank when  the same moto guy rolled around the corner hoping the ATM was broken and we’d need to go further… Asshole.

We offered him a pittance to take us back to Maya, and then took a bus back.

But nothing is simple… at the port we found a boat ready to leave but were told that it was too late to get on that boat. We needed to wait for another. The boat wasn’t full by half, and was still tied on so we couldn’t see why we needed to wait another hour.

‘One night in Bangkok makes a hard man crumble…’

If you know Sal very well you’d know she doesn’t have a very long fuse, and by this stage things were getting quite heated. 

‘What’s wrong with this boat?’ She demanded
‘Too late, you take next boat’
‘No no no this boat is just fine!!’ and she scrambled down a pile of slippery boulders and across the narrow 2m long plank of wood onto the boat. 

I was laughing hard but followed trying not to fall over and took a seat wondering what would happen next.
With Sal still glaring at them, there was some discourse between the captain and the guy on the pier, ending with the captain shrugging his shoulders as if to say ‘they’re on now, what am I supposed to do?’
In the end the pier guy took half the fare and the captain got the rest.

Now playing ‘Boys boys boys, hoping for a food time…’


After all that Malapasqua was really great.  We found accommodation quickly, beach front for $24, and lined up some diving for the next two days.


The view from our room.

Sal’s fever came back down that night so she dived without any problems, the diving was pretty average but we had fun nonetheless.  We found a nice Spanish bar on the beach and some local BBQ to eat next door and passed our time under the water and on the beach.  Pretty hard going 😉

One of the dive highlights at Malapasqua is seeing Thresher Sharks, a very rare species with a really long tail fin, as long as the rest of the shark combined, which it uses to whip around and hit a fish it wants to eat.  They live much deeper than we can dive, but in some rare places they come to the shallow to be cleaned by other reef fish at dawn, before the sun gets too high as their big eyes are sensitive to the sunlight.  We got up at 4am for that dive…

So it’s 5am, still almost dark and I’m 30m below the surface of the sea, kneeling down on a rocky bottom hoping to see a shark.  The visibility is really poor, maybe 5m so it’s easy to lose your dive group, and with another 50 people in the same area it’s chaos.

Someone kicks me in the head moving my regulator and my mask floods, I resist the urge to PANICK and control my breath, reset the mask and clear it again… ‘What the fuck am I doing down here!?’

‘Sweets for my sweet, sugar for my honey…’

Our group move away from the masses and the dive master puts us on another ledge, I’m wondering how much longer we can stay so deep, at 30m we are absorbing 4 x as much nitrogen into our blood as we should be, and more than 15mins is a risk for decompression sickness.

I’m still having a bit of a ‘WTF are we doing here moment when the guide excitedly points into the blue and one of the sharks appears, swims across us, turns and disappears again.


The guide seems pleased and we ascend to finish the dive in the shallow, where we’re treated with 3 eagle rays gracefully circling above us for ten minutes, really cool!  We’re back on the shore before 7am, tired but happy.

Which brings me back to the bus trip…

‘You’re a woman I’m a man, this is more than just a game, i can make you feel so right, be my lady of the night’…

The 80’s have a lot to answer for.

Last Malapasqua Sunset


After 2 diving days we’re off tomorrow morning 🙁
Long trip back to Siem Reap, we leave here at 7am to get there at 9.30pm!
Boat+tricycle+bus+taxi+plane+plane+tuk tuk… Sigh.
Sal’s dengue has almost passed which is great news though, very relieved!!

From the ferry back to Cebu

So our Philippines adventure continues, today we have left Bohol and are doing the walk+ferry+taxi+bus+tricycle+ferry+walk to get to Malapasqua, for the last 4 nights in this lovely corner of the world.


In Bohol we went to Panglao and dived at Balicasag Is for a day, and then rented a couple of motorbikes for 3 more days to explore the main island of Bohol. 

It’s always fun trying to work out what we should be paying for things, for example someone tried to charge us 500 pesos for a bus ride to Panglao that we later  got for 50 pesos! 


Jeepni travel, 25pesos a trip.


Sally making friends

So we shopped around to get a good deal on the bikes, which were eventually brought to our hotel in a strange slightly dodgy situation. 

Three guys brought the bikes, with a used disclaimer/waiver, and went to great pains to point out what little damage was already on them.  They also had three helmets thinking there must be another guy in our group, but we gave them one back saying one bike was for Sal…  This initially confused them, but then they were super impressed that a foreign girl could ride a real motorbike.  They were less impressed when I drew pictures of both the bikes on the agreement, showing all  the existing damage 🙂

The impressed men was to be a bit of a theme for the next three days, with teenage boys often blowing kisses to Sal along the road, as you could imagine she hated the attention 😉

So we visited the Tarsier sanctuary, home to one of the oldest creatures on the planet, these little primates branched off from the primate evolutionary process something like 55 million years ago, and one variant has lived in isolation in Bohol ever since. 


They’re tiny little things, that would fit in your palm, with huge eyes that don’t articulate, and a neck that rotates 360 deg instead. Of course they’re on the endangered list, loss of habitat and poaching… Very sad.  Such little curious animals that have survived for so long, hopefully the Fillipino’s take better care of them than the orangutans in Indo.

Then we rode to the Chocolate mountains, which are a cluster of small hills that go brown in summer… Wow.

From there we rode about 300km around Bohol, stopping a night at a lovely little beach where a local band played mostly covers but with some cool Fillipino songs thrown in.

The bad news for us in this, is that Sal seems to have contracted dengue fever – red rash, a very high temperature, bad aches and pains and cold sweats.  She’s soldiering on with paracetamol for the aches as there is no other treatment available, just stay hydrated and wait for it to pass.


Now we’re on the aforementioned bus going north in Cebu.  It’s a strange vehicle, 3 seats each side of the aisle, fasten your seatbelt signs everywhere but no seatbelts, one driver who constantly sounds the air horns, one man who hangs out the centre door continuously shouting at people on the street to see if they need a ride, and one ticket collector who still hasn’t given me my 700 pesos change ($20).



Very slow going with all the starting and stopping, 6 hours to travel a bit more than 100km!

Hopefully we make the last ferry when we arrive!


We missed the ferry 🙁

Filippino food


This is the street food place across from our hotel today, 26 different dishes available!
They range from sardines in vinegar and chilli, to smoked eggplant with coconut and ginger, chicken hotpot with tomato and soy beans, stewed pork belly, it’s all delicious, and at only one dollar a plate it’s amazing value.


This is our breakfast, greens, rice, eggplant and sardines…
Loving it here!


From Bohol


The sign just outside our room

Toledo to Cebu city today on the scooter, we took the road over some ‘mountains’, up to almost 1000m!  Nice to feel some cool fresh air for the first time in months.
It’s always nice to find some altitude anywhere in the world, for whatever reason it’s usually cleaner, better kept and people take more pride in their houses and surroundings.  Lots of flowers, bullocks lazing in water flooded terraces, dogs sleeping on the road, smiling people. Really nice ride.
Then Cebu city… Horrible. Where we went shopping for some bits and pieces in a couple of mega malls. Christmas decorations are in full swing over here, the street kids begging for food are even singing carols to try to make money!
Anyway we eventually got the bike back to the hire place, then took a mini van thingy half way to the pier, and a taxi the rest of the way, 2 hrs on the boat and a 20min walk to find somewhere to stay in the town we landed in called Tagbilaran.
So now we have a lovely clean room, walls painted pink? and green, two single beds and a shared bathroom.  Sal is asleep, time I did the same.


Vampires and tricycles

Last couple of days have been making miles on the little hired scooter, from Dauin to Binalbagan last night, then to Toledo tonight which we opted to stay in rather than push on into the night to cross the island to return the bike in Cebu city.

Today’s ride was really pretty, we crossed Negros island, west to east over some little mountains. The road was lined with sugar cane most of the way, but in all the little towns there were nurseries set up on the roadside selling flowering plants, very colourful.

It can be hard work on such a little bike though, sharing the road with lots of sugar cane trucks, buses, motorised tricycles and in the towns the pedal powered tricycles are everywhere.

I’ve never seen these type of tricycle before, they’re an old bmx bike, with a sidecar welded to the side. People use them to go to get around town with, I guess it’s like a budget taxi.

The next step up is a little motorbike with sidecar welded to it, 7 pesos for a 5 min ride, (20c). 

Then it’s the jeepinos, imagine a stretch jeep, with people crammed in like sardines.  And finally the mini van, which is usually only carrying twice as many people as seats, and may even be air conditioned!

Over dinner last night we got to talking to the owner of the resto about the Philippines, life in Manila and the people in these little towns.  He explained that life in Manila is comparatively hard, so he and his wife had moved to the country where food is much cheaper to buy, and so here they can exist without so much of a struggle.

He went on to tell us that the ten year old boy hanging out across the street was actually homeless, pointing to a bench seat across the road, ‘that’s where he sleep’.  Pretty hard going to be only ten and homeless.

In the same breath he asked whether we’d had any problems with people here, which of course we haven’t, and he told us that it’s quite dangerous in some parts, that it’s not uncommon for someone to be carrying a gun!

Then he lowered his voice and told us that many people still believe in vampires, or not really vampires, but people who can change form into animals at night time. It was a full moon too…

Then he told us that one night his wife and her friends were in their house, when they heard some noise from outside, like a man breathing, deep heavy breaths.  Then out of nowhere a cat jumped through the window and ran through the kitchen, and they had to chase it out of the house.  He leaned forward in his chair and whispered

‘before I did not believe, but now I not sure’

‘Ok… There are cats everywhere here, why couldn’t it have just been some random cat?’ We asked.

He nodded wisely and agreed that maybe that’s how it would seem to us…

We’re still not sure if he was having us on 🙂

Tomorrow we drop off the hunk of junk scooter and get a bus to Bohol Island.

Four years I love you!

So after lots of days on buses and then lots of hours on a crappy hired scooter we finally made it to some recommended dive sites!

First stop was Moal Boal, on the west coast of Cebu. Macro dives which were made more interesting with a fantastic dive master who pointed out animals we had never seen before. Apart from losing Dean on one of the dives it was pretty easy diving…. Luckily he was waiting on the boat for us when we surfaced 😁

After a few days we caught a ferry over to the next island, Negros and headed straight down to Apo Island. 

We ended up diving with a Korean dive shop named Crazy Bubble and it was one of our  best days yet ☺️. It was one of those days where everything just flowed and we didn’t want the day to end. We ended up spending about 15 hours with the manager Gemma, dive master Blue and fellow diver Joon (no doubt incorrect spellings!) and left wanting Korea to be our next travel destination!

The diving was good, made better by Blue and his attempts to communicate with us in Korean but the company was even better.
We were lavished with Korean food and culture and ended the night with white wine (the first since I left home 😁) and a sad good bye 😔 but I have no doubt we will see Gemma back in Australia one day!☺️

Back on the road today we had to negotiate about 30kms of unmade road which was pretty hard going on the scooter which already sounds like it’s about to break in half! Not so much fun… We may need to revise our plan of travelling around the islands and just head to the next dive spot!  



Back on the road

Today… Another moto taxi, a boat, another mini bus, a plane, a mini van, another mini van, 7km walking, more mini vans and a hired scooter… Eventually brought us to Minglanilla.

Never heard of it?  Neither have we!

I was in high spirits this afternoon getting on the plane. Cebu was supposed to be the land of milk and honey where we’d no longer need mini vans to get around and we might even get in the water at some stage!

There was a strange quiz on the plane, where they gave prizes for the first person to hold up a…

Pair of sunglasses. BAM! Dean wins a crappy toiletries bag


The safety card.  DOUBLE BAM!! Dean gets told off by the hosties

“that’s enough for you sir, please give the other passengers a chance…”

Anyhow. It turns out winning the toiletries bag is the highlight of today.


We eventually hired the world’s worst scooter, overpriced Chinese junk that makes my ebike feel fast, and rode from the airport down the island we landed on, in choking traffic, dust, heavy vehicles and tricycles jamming the streets.  Eventually we arrived in shitsville, paid too much for a terrible hotel room with a shower that literally  feels like someone is standing there urinating on you.


The fine white sands of Boracay now a distant memory, we’re back on the road again, the beer we drank over dinner has never tasted so good 🙂