14th March 2006
We left early on the morning of the 9th of March, which was a challenge for me as this was the morning after my night out with the teachers. I probably had about 3 hours sleep.
We also went into a very cool church. The church had many statues adorning the walls. This one was quite odd. It had an adolescent looking Christ on what looks like a broken cross. I am unsure what the significance of this is. I'd be very interested to find out.
You have to walk 750 meters down a country road and then descend down 293 steps to get to Nuts Huts. It is well worth the effort. Nuts Huts is nestled inside a valley that has a river winding through it. Very idyllic and quiet. I felt guilty when I coughed.
Nuts Huts had a lot of personality to it, due mainly to the Belgium couple that ran it. There were quirky statues everywhere, the rooms had names - Moonstruck, Falling Star and so on - as opposed to room numbers and the restaurant was full of character. Paul and I spent quite a few hours there sipping on banana shakes and chatting to the owners and other guests.
Chocolate Hills and Motorbikes
Paul and I hired some motorbikes from Nuts Huts for 500 pesos ($NZ 12.50) and drove ourselves to the Hills. The bike ride to the hills will be a fond memory of my time here in the Philippines. The bikes were dead easy to drive and zooming in and out of small townships and lush scenery was great fun.
I kept on bursting into song as we were riding. I wanted to sing "Born to be Wild", but "New York, New York" kept on coming out instead. Weird.
The sense of freedom really got to me and I decided to ride helmet-less (sorry Mum). A little dangerous? Yes. Did I care? Nope. My biggest concern was some tosspot of a cop catching me and slapping some white guy fine on me. This didn't happen. I reckon about 75% of Filipinos drive with bike helmets.
When I first came here I was a little anxious about getting doubled around on motorbikes. Now it doesn't phase me at all. Heck, after the baptism I attended the other day I got a lift home with a total of four people and zero helmets on a motorbike. Eden claims to have been on a motorbike with eight other people in her native Mindanao, where they bolt a plank of wood onto the back, just incase you need to transport around a Rugby Sevens team.
As a caveat to this whole motorbike thing, Eden - the volunteer coordinator - had a nasty motorbike accident the other day. Her and two guys fell off their motorbike when they had to stop suddenly. Eden was in the middle of the bike and had the worst of the injuries. She is fairly badly grazed down one side but thankfully nothing was broken. She was wearing a helmet a time. There is probably a lesson in all of this, but I refuse to see what it is.
I also received the Best Text Ever from a student while we were on the Chocolate Hills. It was sent by a Grade Four pupil called Janica. Janica has also said that I'm like a second father to her. Man, it is going to be so hard to leave.
We also visited the MagsaySay National Park, which was - quiet frankly - shit. The best and worst park was the mud we had to bike through to get there. The park itself featured a bunch of Filipinos lounging around, a crap butterfly garden and an overgrown walk. The only person we saw working was the guy on the gate who charged us a whopping 100 pesos ($NZ 2.50) to get in. I noticed a sign that said it was partially sponsored by my government. I may have words with my Prime Minister, the R.H. Helen Clark.
We headed back to Loboc to try and find a way to get to the sanctuary . The only jeepney that was heading anywhere close to the sanctuary was going to leave in about two hours. A two hour wait in Loboc was about one hour and fifty five minutes longer than I wanted to spend there.
I got talking to a guy in a cafe who had a relative working in Auckland, New Zealand. He seemed like a nice enough guy, so I bought him an ice cream. He disappeared for a minute and then told us that his mate would drive us to the sanctuary on his motorbike for a very reasonable 150 pesos ($NZ 3.75). There is probably some Karma Lesson to be learnt here. But fairs fair, I'll refuse to learn anything from this as well.
We wound around yet more country roads on the back of the guys bike. He drove us right to the entrance of the sanctuary, which was cool, because if we had caught the aforementioned jeepney, we would of had a 15 minute or so walk in the hot sun.
A guide at the sanctuary took of for a tour around the enclosure and pointed out where all the Tarsiers were. They were very cute. I wanted pick up three of them and juggle them, but I thought this probably wouldn't of been a good idea.
We also learned that the Tarsiers are not monkeys (they are primates), and even if they were, they would not be the smallest. "Worlds Smallest Monkey" is a very deceptive way to describe a Tarsier.
Not Witch Island
Alas, we got some bum advice from a fellow New Zealander at Nuts Huts and there were no ferries going there on the weekend. Poot. We wandered back and forth around the Port of Cebu trying hard to find another way to get there, but we had no luck.
The Camotes Islands
The Internet is a complete waste of time, and that is what's good about it.
Very true. Paul and I killed the waiting time with some mindless surfing on the internet. Well, mine was mindless. Paul might have been curing cancer. Dunno.
The boat that took us from Cebu to the Camotes Islands was very cool. It was an overnight vessel and was stacked with rows and rows of bunk beds. I had rather fortunately decided to stay in the air-conditioned section of the boat. The non-air-conditioned section was open to the elements and reeked from the fish that they were transporting. I managed to sleep through most of the four hour journey.
We arrived on the Camotes Islands at around one o'clock in the morning. We made a token attempt to find some accommodation, but our heart really wasn't in it. We decided to ask one of the crewmen if it was okay if we slept on the boat. He was cool with it and we slept on the boat.
We found some a place to stay in the morning called The Pension House, which was ran by some hard core Catholics. There were stickers and signs everywhere. Some of them proudly displayed Family of the Year awards, and some of them denounced everything from divorce to homosexuality. Other than that though, it lacked any real character and was just a place to sleep.
We headed to the other side of the island to a place called San Francisco. No, not that San Francisco. There happened to be a mountain bike race on the day we visited, so the streets were lined with people watching the bikes. As we headed down the roads, we got round after round of wild cheering just because we were white. Small kids, big kids, adults, old people. It didn't matter. Everybody cheered us. Very surreal. This must be how famous people feel.
In San Francisco, we found a beach resort with gorgeous views and relaxed the day away. We had to wander around the bustling metropolis of San Francisco to find a ride back. I really like this picture of Paul searching for a ride. We eventually lucked upon a guy who offered us a ride.
2005 and 2006 Malcolm Trevena.