Thursday, 31 January 2013

To Legazpi or not to Legazpi, that is the ultimate question!

Thurs 31st Jan

Think yesterday was bad? This morning was worse.

Woke up mega early to try and book my flights, still no luck. Went to the mall next door which had a travel agent, wasn’t open until 11am, (the flight was supposed to be at 01.45pm) went back and tried to ring the airline but they said I couldn’t get a flight as it was less than 4hrs before departure. So I was screwed!!  Had a little cry and went to tell Paul and Laura, they decided to head to the airport early to see if they could get me a flight at the check-in desk. Until then I researched other places I could go to before meeting them in Palawan. The women (Selina was especially helpful) at the hostel were amazing! They helped me arrange a bus to Banaue (where the rice terraces are), find accommodation etc just in case I couldn’t get a flight. So I packed just in case I would be able to fly and just waited for the call from Paul or Laura to find out my fate – to Legazpi or not to Legazpi, that was the ultimate question...

I got a call half hour later to say they’d managed to get me a flight – YAY! So I hurriedly got my bags, said my goodbyes to Selina and the gang, who also helped me to a taxi, and made my way to the airport! In the car the driver was trying to overcharge me, so thinking I was all cool I mentioned that I knew exactly what he was doing because I had been in the Philippines for the last 2 months and I knew how much it should be (going by Lonely Planet terms). It did the trick and shut him up, however the next 20mins was spent frantically trying to make up my life over the last 2 months I'd supposedly been in the Philippines as he fired questions at me - How long have you been here, what have you been doing (I said 1 month volunteering and another travelling, my friends had now come to see me on holiday then I was headed to Vietnam), if I had a boyfriend (I said I did to avoid awkward convos such as, 'ah so you don't seek Filipino boyfriend?'), and what foods/dishes I had tried - thank god for the Lonely Planet! But he also gave me some more dishes to try (like Chicken's heads which is apparently better than their feet, urgh). I'm not sure if he was convinced on my time in the Philippines, especially as I said I had been living in Minela (instead of Manila - idiot!) for the last month.

Arrived at the airport, found Laura and Paul, went to check in and pay for my baggage. Then it was a short 1hr flight to Legazpi - Cebu Air is much like AirAsia - full breakneck speed on the runway and emergency-stop-style landings. Upon landing we arrived at the smallest airport I've seen since Koh Samui in 2011 - one building with one conveyor belt for the luggage. But it did offer a great view of Mt Mayon behind it!

We then grouped together with a couple from Germany to get a taxi to Donsol, a small fishing village on the west coast of Bicol (an hour from Legazpi City), where we were headed to try our luck at swimming/snorkelling with Whale Sharks. The drive was so so beautiful, tons of little bamboo-hut villages, lush green rice paddies, palm trees everywhere, and lot's of Jeepney's and Tricycles! 

Jeepney’s for those who don’t know, are like Songthaew’s in Thailand, but bigger and more like trucks used in WWII, they are decorated, mostly with catholic names and various colours and are used by locals like buses – there are Jeepney’s for certain areas/districts in each city/town, you hop on and off along that route or change Jeepney’s if you need to get somewhere else. Tricycles are basically like a moped and side-car. It can fit two people in the covered side-car, and normally one person behind the driver on the bike, however the locals tend to pile on like with tuk tuks in S.E.Asia – we saw one with around 6 people on, and the Jeepney’s can also take items like luggage, massive speakers and even people on the roof! 

So we arrived in Donsol and instead of staying in Donsol Proper our driver took us to a better hotel which was right next to the tourist centre where we needed to register/be for the Whale Shark trips. It was called Dancalan Resort and it was right on the beach offering some amazing views, and all for the grand total of 1000 pesos for a room for 3 (about £4-5 each a night). So we checked in and went to the tourist centre next door to register for our trip the next day. Then just spent the afternoon on the beach, drinking San Miguel.

We had also booked for a Firefly tour that evening so at around 5.30pm the boat moored up at our hotel and we went on a 2hr tour to Donsol River to see the fireflies. We also had a great view of Mt Mayon from the sea and an awesome sunset! The firefly tour was with a guide and 2 boat crew who took us down the river to various tree’s where the fireflies mainly grouped. Along with the amazing clear sky and a cruise down the river under the stars, the fireflies were amazing! They were so tiny but emit so much light (our guide caught one to show us). They are like a glowing heartbeat on the trees, they all glow in-sync with each other! He told us some cool facts about them (mainly that their light is to ward off predators and a call to other fireflies to let them know it’s safe) and also taught me a little Filipino Lingo – thank you; Salamat Po, Hello; Hello (some things don’t have a translation!), Ayam is Dog, and a few other things that I can no longer remember – I’m hopeless with languages!

We then got dropped off in Donsol Proper and had some food at Gilly’s which wasn’t amazing and rather expensive but it was ok. I had Chicken Adobo (chicken cooked in soya sauce and spices with plain rice).  Then we went back on a tricycle, watched some Inbetweeners and went to bed as we had an early – 6.30am – start for our whale shark swim (hopefully).

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