It’s more fun in the Philippines

IMG_0305

The Philippines; a place full of fantastic people, home to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and over 7000 islands. This is where our Asian adventure really started.

After the chaos of almost missing our flight to Manila, we arrived in the capital on the eve of Manny Pacquio’s infamous fight against Floyd Mayweather. What a start! The city was a buzz with excitement, anticipating the fight of the century with their hero and icon hopefully coming out on top. Unfortunately, the fight failed to live up to expectations but the country certainly did.

Manila

IMG_0313

Manila is a place that personifies rags to riches. Split into multiple towns, we spent the majority of our time in Makati. The area showed stark contrasts in the money food chain from one street to the next. From walking through the red light districts and shanty towns, featuring many homeless and street children, to immediately entering into rows of towering skyscrapers, home to some of the world’s leading organisations.

One of our best nights in the city came when going to an event called “HottAsia”. Ladyboys, Filipino comedians, terrible singers and a fantastic laugh! This really was a welcome to South East Asia. After a night of social drinking and filling ourselves on the multiple food stalls available, we ended up on stage with one of the scariest looking bald ladyboys you are every likely to see. Brilliant!

IMG_0315

Manila is a great city but it is not New York, Hong Kong or London. It has its own positives such as some incredible food markets but the Philippines is an incredible place for much more than just its capital.
.
Palawan

IMG_0314

Visiting Palawan is a must for anyone visiting this awesome nation. A beautiful island in the south which homes the Underground River, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world! Taking a short boat ride to this island, you will pass some of the most beautiful and secluded islands you are ever likely to see. Beaches never been touched by man and seawater so clear you can envisage every detail of the rainbow coloured coral below.
.
IMG_0312
.
The underground river itself is beyond belief. A huge maze of tunnels spanning for miles inside a cave full of bats. With thousands of stalactites and stalagmites, you are guided through thin streams and enormous caverns which have been forged over thousands of years. Words don’t do it justice, you need to visit it to believe it.
.
However, that wasn’t all Palawan had to offer as we also went on an island hopping tour visiting Starfish, Luli and Cowrie island.
.
IMG_0311
.
Starfish Island is probably the most appropriately named place in the world! Getting off the boat, we expected to come across maybe one or two starfish. The island is so small you can see from one side to the other, and soon enough we did come across our first starfish washed in the dead coral on the beach. With a hard and spikey exterior, we were delighted to have seen our first ever wild starfish…
.
After walking on a bit more we decided to put on our snorkels and swim out to sea, at which point we were greeted by hundreds of starfish scattered across the sea bed! This really was a sight to behold, swimming out slightly further, we found a coral reef to rival the Great Barrier, with fish featuring more colours than a rainbow.
.
IMG_0310
.
Luli and Cowrie island were equally as incredible, just without the hundreds of starfish. These were also islands small enough to walk around, with colourful coral and a furore of fish just metres from the point where sea meets sand. With a diving board in the middle of the sea and San Miguels on tap, these islands were a real heaven on earth.
.
Volcano Taal
.
IMG_0309
.
Volcano Taal was the second volcano climb of our travels, following our ascent of Mount Batur. Picture this, a giant dormant volcano with a huge lake filling the crater stretching as far as the eye can see. Within it lies another island, with what looks like a small mountain within it, that’s volcano Taal.
.
Deciding to climb the volcano during the hottest part of the day was a mistake. With temperatures of near 40 degrees, we decided against using the poorly treated horses and instead climbed the mountain ourselves, by foot, the way it should be done.
.
IMG_0316
.
Arriving on the island was inspiring in itself, knowing you are at the centre of a gigantic volcano crater, one of natures most powerful and destructive weapons.
.
The island is mainly made up of sand and after being guided to the right path, we were told to stay on the main track as we trekked through a series of small villages with locals who have probably never taken the short 20 minute boat ride to the mainland. The white sand proved to be our downfall as each step saw our feet sink deep into the grains. As the sand cleared, we came to our next obstacle, a near vertical ascent in the searing heat.

IMG_0308

After numerous water breaks, we finally made it to the edge of the crater and wow! Once walking about 150 metres from the small village based in the tip of an active volcano, we were encountering one of most surreal experiences of our travelling adventure so far. Standing on the tip of an active volcano, within the crater of another enormous volcano crater, a sense of accomplishment was writhe as we finally made it to the peak.
.
Food
.

IMG_0307

The food in the Philippines was extreme, from the beach buffets to the crazy markets. This was our first encounter with delicacies such as grilled chicken feet and chicken liver and to be honest, they didn’t look the most appeasing dishes you’ll ever see but like any good traveller, we tried it. And we never had either again.
.
One thing we didn’t try though was chicken blood on a stick. Yes, somehow, the locals manage to squeeze chicken blood onto skewers and then grill them on barbecues in cubes, mental.
.
However, Manila is full of a multitude of eateries, and to our delight we found our favourite restaurant, Bubba Gumps. This is where we celebrated K’s 24th birthday and it exceeded expectations with the Filipino rendition of “Happy Birthday”.
.
Wingstop was another of our favourite restaurants whilst here, after months of travelling a good western eatery is a great find. With a wide variety of chicken flavours, buffalo wings and personalised chips, it really was a haven for chicken wing lovers!
.
There are also a number of markets and barbecue stalls to eat at and don’t worry, they don’t only serve chicken blood!
.
Volunteering

IMG_0306

With such a large section of Manila’s population homeless, and many children without education, we spent some of our time volunteering with Hands on Manila. Click here to find out how we helped redevelop and revamp this school in one of the poorest areas in Manila.
.
The Philippines is up there with one of our favourite countries and we will be sure to return. With thousands of islands to discover and the most hospitable people in the world, who wouldn’t go back?
Advertisements

8 thoughts on “It’s more fun in the Philippines

  1. Hello, Kieran and Hannah! 🙂

    Sorry we weren’t able to say goodbye the other day. We had a great time with you two. Feel free to contact us when you go back to the Philippines. We’ll be happy to show you around 🙂

    Like

    1. Hey Dulce 🙂

      That’s ok, we had a great time too but must have lost you at some point!

      You should add us on Facebook, “Kieran Sandhu” and “Hannah Sparkes”. We can catch up if you ever come to the UK too. 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s