Posts Tagged ‘Travel’


20 June, 2008

Managed to get away for a couple of days a couple of weekends ago (is it that long already?).  We chose a place called Mati which is around 4 to 5hrs drive from Davao.  The plan was to stay in a resort and do some swiming and sightseeing and of course generally relax.  It was a mission.   Here is a hit by hit retelling. 

Spent alot of free time in the leadup looking for transportation details, resort details.  The infallible Internet is of course only as good as the information people put on it.  In this case none.  Oh well, we had a few photos and mentions of resorts to go to so that was enough, and we could always stay in a hotel if needed.  I got up at a reasonable time on Saturday morning and decided to go over to the Davao port in a last attempt to find a snorkel and mask as I had been unsuccessful in the mall the day before. 

I found a taxi, which like most of the others was hanging on by just a thread.  Most taxi’s here are Korean kia’s – never maintained.  The clutch has all but gone in most of them and it’s all the driver can do to keep them from stalling…  The taxi driver commented on my lack of pronunciation of my ‘r’s.  This wasn’t the first time as the major english influence here is American so my fake American accent is better understood than my own.  A muslim taxi driver too so we had a good talk.

The dive shop i found wasn’t much but had some good equipment in it and I managed to bargain the guy down a reasonable amount (p1500) – to the disgust of an american who was also in the shop;  ‘God! you bargin like a Filipino!’.  I take it as a compliment and the shopkeeper was laughing so I said ‘oh sorry I only have 1400 cash on me…’ 

 Took my taxi to the hotel were some work colleges were staying and we had a coffee then headed to the bus station.  While there I managed to find the bus schedule. It’s nowhere except at the station.  That was frustrating before we discovered that the buses basically went everywhere every half hour for most of the day.  It’s not New Zealand.  People live here. 

After some deliberation we decided to go to the mall in the hope that we could hire a van and get there a little quicker.  So the saga began.  We managed to negotiate to hire a van and got a driver and conductor to go with it for a round trip to Mati all for P5,000 which comes out to around NZD 150.00.  We settled for a non aircon van which was fine – particularly when your moving.  So off we went or so we thought.  A quick stop at the conductors house to load up the back of the van with furniture and our lead on the bus was gone.  

It was easy going after that and the roads were reasonable, switching between concrete and rutted ashphelt.   Beautiful too, with plantations of coconuts and bananas or mango. 

We stopped at a small canteen to have a bite to eat.  We wound our way over a range of hills then down into the land surrounding Pajuda bay.  We arrived in Mati where the driver picked up his girlfriend and her friend and then headed out to find the resort and hopefully have a place to stay.  They all assured us that this resort was definitely the best…. well, what did they know?  They definitely didn’t know that it was 45min out of Mati township on rutted dirt roads and by the time we had gone ten min, they were asking for more money.  ‘We’ll see’

We finally made it to the Cinco-Masao Beach Resort which in the western sense was not a resort at all but really just some beach houses on poles in the sea.  Very picturesque but only the basics.  After looking around for someone to show us where to go we found some rooms above a sort of function room at the end of the Jetti.  They were fine and going for only P300 per night. 
We got organised and went for a swim in the sea around the resort.  It was full of seaweed here and full of starfish and kina.  We made friends with a couple of others who were swimming and joined them eating fresh kina.

After dinner listening to the karaoke we got a large bottle of beer and went up to the balcony and talked until we thought it time to get to bed.

Evening brought a blustery storm and torrential rain – meaning I got a full 2hrs sleep and got up at around 4:30 to take a look at the sunrise.  People were already swimming as the water was a little warmer than the wind chill and of course no-one came prepared for cold weather.  We had breakfast then got on the boat we had organised at around 6:30 and headed off to do some Island hopping.

It would be great to be able to speak tagalog but we didn’t.  Apparently we had only paid to go to one island and of course as soon as we arrived everything cost something – 300 for a seat – 50 admission to the island – 150 per fish for lunch etc.  The people were nice though and there was some nice coral and fish off the beach.   I bartered through someone who spoke better english to get agreement on a trip to the main island in the bay – Pujada Island.  No one lives on this one so it seemed more appealing to me.  We got out there and spent some time walking around and had a couple of swims.  It was hot! The water was as clear as I have ever seen it and the sand sloped down to a swathe of sea grass then dove off into the bay.  There were 0.5m starfish browsing around in the grass which I dove down to to get a photo…  We found a really amazing ‘brain’ coral and some really interesting amphibious fish in the mangroves on the other side of the island.

By the time we headed back to the resort we were all quite tired.   The van turned up while we were having lunch and we left the bargining to later – they seemed happy enough.   Of course what we didn’t realise was that they had figured out a way to make it worth their while… pick up more passengers.  Of course as soon as they pulled into the depo we figured out what was going on but came to an agreement on money and passengers.  Although I would have preferred noone we settled on two extras and were on our way.   It’s always hard when you can’t communicate.   The agreement I thought we had reached was that if they picked up extras then no extra money… good old richard though (work colleague) felt bad though and we paid them an extra P500.  LOL

Got back after a long trip and the shower at the hotel had never felt better.  Plenty of extra detail that I skipped of course but as always here it’s never straight forward and never boring!




Philippine Toad?

27 May, 2008

I thought this toad was giant (being quite familiar with the central Asian type at an earlier age).  I almost stepped on it on the way to dinner. Indeed it was giant.  The biggest of the lot apparently.  A Philippine toad?  Nope.  An introduced poisonous cane toad.


16 May, 2008

Well I went out the other day on a site visit to the scheme that is being constructed here.

Incredible terrain and a huge engineering challenge to get anything into place.

I’ll put photos up on my photoblog as I get them uploaded.

On the lighter side of life, we often go down the road to ‘Cynthia’s’ a roadside resturant around 5min from here.  You chose from a couple of the dishes on the counter and are served with rice.  Quite good actually.

Here it is on Panoramio…

In Mindanao

15 May, 2008

Well here I am, in Davao Philippines.

It was quite uneventful getting here actually.  Hoped on a flight to Singapore then on to Cebu and Davao.  Davao has a nice small airport and was generally quite a welcoming place to arrive.  I got picked up by one of the drivers here, Jason, and went to the bank for some pesos and to a roadside cell phone store for a sim card.

Essentials out of the way I headed to the project office and met up with some of our colleges here.

After that I headed back to the city to stay in a Hotel, the Apo View Hotel in fact.  Reasonable although I seem to get lost between the lobby and the lifts.

Went for dinner at a buffet place just around the corner from the hotel and had rice, fish, mussels and some chicken and desert, all you could eat for 128p or around $5.00 Kiwi.

Everyone is friendly here and all up I think I will really enjoy my stay. Will blog more tomorrow but until then check out the photoblog I’ve started

Driving with Google…

30 April, 2008

Here’s a cool new addition to google maps….

You put in the driving directions and, if available, you can jump to street view and follow the path, not unlike an in-car GPS navigation system.  You can see where this one is headed.  Download the trip before you go and hey presto you not only have the map but landmarks photos etc.

Check out this video which gives you preview.

When will this sort of data be available in-car for less than a fortune?

Trip to the Philippines

30 April, 2008

Well, I’m off to work in the Philippines for a few months next week on Sunday.  I plan to keep this site updated with links to photos etc so keep a watch out if you want.

Here is where I’ll be going on google maps: