Monthly Archives: November 2012

Adventure in the Philippines

My trip to the Philippines was a real adventure. After arriving 24 hours late in Manila thanks to flight delays I was greeted by an uncompromising concrete jungle that I couldn’t get out of fast enough. Banaue in the north was a welcoming change of pace and home to some incredible rice terraces. Panglao Island showed off postcard worthy beaches while Bohol had a little bit of everything. The Chocolate Hills were my favourite spot and I’m glad I managed to stay there overnight, seeing the hills as the sun came up in the morning was breathtaking. Obviously there’s much more to see in the Philippines and I can’t wait to come back one day to do some hiking, visit Mount Pinatubo and explore Palawan, but until then, these are my favourite photos from an adventure in the Philippines.

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Exploring the Island of Bohol

After 3 days exploring the island of Bohol I think I’ve done a pretty good job of experiencing what it has to offer. The Chocolate Hills were amazing, the forests were majestic, the wildlife was incredible and the beaches were (checks thesaurus) beauteous. If you’re in the Visayas region or the Philippines in general I definitely recommend checking it out, it’s probably worth it for the Chocolate Hills alone (and no they don’t make chocolate there, I know you were wondering).


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Alona Beach on Panglao Island

It would be rude to come to the Philippines and not lounge around on the stunning white sands of a local beach so I trundled along to Alona Beach on Panglao Island and enjoyed a day of beach activities. There’s swimming, snorkeling, boat trips and plenty more on offer for the energetic as well as some good old fashioned sun bathing for everyone else. It’s pretty much paradise so naturally their was an incredible sunset that topped off a fun day at the beach and a wonderful trip to the Philippines in general (if I forget about Manila that is).


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Hinagdanan Cave

On my last full day in the Philippines I’m hanging out on Panglao Island, a nice spot south west of Bohol where you’ll find the Hinagdanan Cave among other natural wonders.


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Loboc Butterfly Sanctuary

Up next on my magical mystery tour of Bohol was the butterfly sanctuary in Loboc. They had some interesting species on display and I managed to get a few nice photos of the butterflies frolicking among the plants.


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Hanging Bridge over the Loboc River

In a funny story I nearly ran out of pesos at the Chocolate Hills, forcing me to skip a few meals and take a slightly dodgy ride on the back of a motorcycle to Tagbilaran where I could hopefully remedy the situation. We stopped at a few touristy spots on the way in a well organized attempt to remove whatever remaining money I had from my pockets but it was quite fun so no harm done. At the Loboc River I walked across the hanging bridge before quickly walking back when I realized they were selling t-shirts on the other side, classic tourism that one, classic.


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The Chocolate Hills of Bohol

Visiting the Chocolate Hills of Bohol was probably the main driving force behind my trip to the Philippines. I love the alien landscape the hills create and I was looking forward to capturing it in a few photos, there was also an element of mystery to them as information was relatively scarce, thankfully they did not disappoint. After arriving at Tagbilaran airport I jumped on a local bus (much to the amusement of the locals) and made my way to the centre of the island where the hills can be found. I’d heard that work on the hotel there was never completed and that rumor proved to be true, the person standing at “reception” gladly took a few pesos off me and showed me to my very basic room. They’re not going to win any tourism awards but all I needed was a roof over my head so I could be there with my camera to capture the hills at sunset and sunrise. The weather ended up being perfect with dramatic clouds and early morning fog creating the perfect backdrop to the already impressive hills. The whole experience (hotel included) was surreal and definitely something I won’t forget any time soon.


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Philippine Tarsier

After exploring the northern end of the Philippines I’ve moved south to the island of Bohol, home to the Philippine Tarsier, one of the smallest primates in the world. It’s not hard to fall in love with these little guys as they cling to tree branches with their E.T. fingers, looking at you with those outrageously big eyes. Can I keep it mom?!


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Natural Wonders in Banaue

Banaue is a beautiful area of the Philippines and a welcome change of pace after the stress of Manila. It is full of natural wonders that make photography a pleasure, and while the Batad Rice Terraces are definitely the star of the show, there is much more to enjoy in and around the local villages.


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The Sun Room

The chances of me sleeping in today were incredibly slim when you factor in the intense sunlight flooding into my room at 6 in the morning. I love my sun room, and who needs sleep anyway…


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Enjoying the Ride

The kids in Banaue love nothing more than to jump on the back of Jeepneys passing through their village. It’s usually a short ride down the road to their mate’s place but I don’t think they care much about where they end up, it’s all about jumping on and enjoying the ride, life is about the journey rather than the destination after all. This shot stood out to me because of the sunset reflection and the two old guys in the background who look seriously confused.


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Saddle Clouds

Back at the top of the saddle above the Batad Rice Terraces some dark clouds had set in to hide the sun and create a little drama for the ride home.


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In Need of a Caption

I really like this photo but for the life of me I can’t think of a decent caption. Are they friends? Is one threatening the other? Are they hugging? Trying to stay warm? I’m lost.


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Tappiyah Falls

Around 30 minutes on foot from the Batad Rice Terraces you’ll find Tappiyah Falls, an impressive waterfall that is a nice complement to the terraces. It’s a steep hike to get down there and quite exhausting on a hot day but you can cool off by swimming underneath them. Just don’t forget you have to walk back up the hill to get home (it’s a real gut buster so you’ve been warned).


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Batad Rice Terraces

With the help of a guide I made my way up to the legendary Batad Rice Terraces, an amphitheater shaped UNESCO world heritage site that needs to be seen to be believed. The Batad village is nearly 4000 feet above sea level and it’s an amazing destination to visit in person. I’d made quite the effort to get here but it was well worth it.


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All Aboard the Jeepney!

How does one get around in Banaue? (or anywhere in the Philippines for that matter) By Jeepney of course! US military jeeps left over from World War II were modified by the Filipinos and now they are a popular form of public transportation. They don’t hold back on the ‘pimp my ride’ aspect either, there’s clearly some Laker fans in these parts.


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Sunrise in Banaue

Today I woke up in Banaue, a mountainous area of Northern Luzon that is famous for its rice terraces. I feel much more comfortable here than I did in Manila, I’m sure this sunrise photo helps explain why…


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Intramuros – The Walled City of Manila

Intramuros is the original fortified area of Manila. Also known as the ‘Walled City’, it was where the Spanish government were based during the colonial period. There’s a lot of history here so it was interesting to walk around and check it out.


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Manila Has Me Now

After 24 hours of delays (nice one Malaysia Airlines!) I’m out of airports and starting a new adventure, this time in the Philippines. I’m getting things started in Manila but I can’t wait to get out of here to tell you the truth, the traffic is horrendous! Anyway, this is the view from my hotel, I’ll just leave it at that.


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A Week in Croatia

You can’t do Croatia justice in a week but you can bloody well try! Well that’s the attitude I had anyway as I raced from destination to destination, ignoring anything that involved standing still, maximizing my time and enjoying some of the best moments I’ve ever had while traveling. This was no sailing trip, I missed the sunny shores and all the beautiful islands that go with them but I’ll save that for another day, this trip was all about life in the fast lane. Dubrovnik was delightful, Split was spectacular, Plitvice was perfect and Zagreb was….zesty? These are some of my favorite photos, thanks for the memories Croatia, till we meet again.

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