Philippino Adventures

Continental south east Asia was a big exciting journey. We've been traveling around for 60 days in packed planes, second class old trains, crazy tuk-tuks, tiny rusty tricycles, zippy scooters, wall-less illegal bamboo train, modern sky trains, rowing boats, suicidal tour vans, fast speedboats, slow home-boats, murderous buses and even a lovely lady elephant. Plus uncountable kilometers of walking. So when we say we've been on the road for a long time, it's easily an understatement. But still, this was just the beginning. I was looking forward to our next destination and waved a happy goodbye to Bangkok.

Oh, lovely Philippines! How much I longed to be here. The country has a vastly different culture, religion, language, people and history compared to the continental Asia. It felt quite nostalgic to see familiar Catholic faces around. The country has so many incredible things to see and do that it becomes a burden to choose just a few. Our 3 weeks schedule would be rushed. And to top it all, there aren't many connections so we ended up traveling via some ineffective routes. But, with some extra flexibility, it all worked out.

Riding the trycicle around Banaue

A black & red Cathedral in China Town, Manila

Frog pouches, it can fit an iPhone 5S easily. Puka Beach, Boracay

I got much more than expected during our stay. We planned and made it to wonderful destinations like the thousands of years old rice terraces of Batad. Hiking those artificial valleys and swimming on its rivers and waterfalls was tough and wonderful. We were dazzled by the turmoil of graduates and shops on the beaches of Boracay. It's literally a shopping mall on the sand! We did fulfill another of my dreams: swimming with whale-sharks in Oslob. One of the best 30 minutes of my life! They're so big, so beautiful, so gentle. Now I'm ready to swim with a proper whale and a proper shark.

Gigantic animals and crowded waters, Oslob, Cebu

Riding the giant, Oslob, Cebu

We had to walk the last 2km to Batad on the rain. FUN! Batad.

Spectacular views of the rice terraces, Batad

High-five on the lake of Tappiya Falls, Batad

Jumping around the rice terraces. We climbed that mountain, Awa, on the background. Batad.

By scooter we got lost and found a deserted paradise, Duli Beach, Palawan.

The list gets better! What about a sunset over the sea that makes you pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming or hallucinating?! Only in San Juan beach, Siquijor Island. In El Nido we swam with beautiful tropical fish, lush corals and a sea turtle on the deep blue sea. We had delicious lunch on boats with fresh fish overlooking a limestone forming a lagoon. So many paradisiac white sand beaches that I can't count! Going by rowing boat with lamp hooked into a car battery to illuminate the darkness of the underground river. We listened to a our lady tour guide sing and perform her own song about the sacred mangrove of Sabang. Philippines, you're too much!

The setting sun and the crescent moon, El Nido, Palawan

Is this a dream or reality? Breath taking sunsets at San Juan, Siquijor.

Philippine kids learning how to fly, Tingko Beach, Cebu

Big blue explorations, El Nido, Palawan

Fernanda & Paolo were great company! El Nido, Palawan.

Mangrove lady singing us her own song, Sabang, Palawan.

Entering the incredible Underground River, Sabang, Palawan.

But there's always the other side of the coin. Philippines demanded a lot of me because of comfort, actually, the lack of it. After you hike on a paradisiac rice terrace trail, nature calls you and you have to squat over a nasty latrine, flush with a bucket and ask someone to rescue you with some toilet paper. You walk on the streets of Manila surrounded by street kids, beggars, all giving you menacing looks. You walk outside at 7 AM and the sun already burns your skin and when you go inside any place you wish you had your winter jacket because the airco is set to 'snow'. The food was very bland, fat and greasy most of the time. Internet was always slow and scarce. Philippines is a classical underdeveloped country with a terrible wealth distribution. You may call me soft but I really like comfort, not much, but some. The fact is that if you don't have a big budget, Philippines is not a comfortable country.

Street kids everywhere, begging. Manila.

We didn't spend enough time in Bohol so we only had time to get into a tour for the top touristic destinations which was almost a total flop. Two words to describe the chocolate hills end the tarsiers: over hyped. After 3 weeks, I was feeling run down, a negativity was building up and I didn't like it at all. I need a break, I needed some comfort.

The over-hyped Chocolate Hills, Bohol.

The awesome gang from out Bohol Tour!

Perfect additions to our bodies, butterfly wings, Bohol

To tell you the truth, I'm glad we finally left, before those negative feelings could spoil anything. Even tough there's still so many cool things to see and do in this incredible country, 3 weeks was enough. I want to come back one day.

When I look back on our time on the Philippines, I'm easily reminded of how great it was. So many awesome moments. And I'm pretty sure I feel this way exactly because it was rough around the edges, with minimal comfort. Don't they say that the more effort you put into something the more gratifying it feels when we accomplish it? So let me challenge you, step outside your comfort zone and go explore this beautiful country. It's totally worth it!

Free fish spa under an old enchanted Balete tree, Siquijor

Wonderful Tumalog falls, Cebu

Oh, before I forget, Philippines added more remarkable transportation methods: jeepney, which are old American military jeeps turned into 'buses', and zip lining over valleys.



  1. Another wonderful window into the East. Thank you for keeping it real with the second part, if you had stopped at the 'travel brochure' lingo I would have hated you (it's a 12C, grey day here in Amsterdam. It's May).
    What did you use to shoot underwater?

  2. @CianoZ, we are using GoPro Hero 4 Silver with the standard waterproof case! Most of the times the colors are very smudged because the water is not so clear or the lack of strong sun light. But it works well!