I’ve been so bad with blogging my trip in a timely matter and realized that I’ve started to forget the everyday stories I could have shared. This was giving me huge writers block cause it became a “chore” for me to remember every nitty gritty detail and I didn’t feel the same passion for writing that I once did. SO, I decided to share the main memories that stuck with my for each destination (for whoever still cares to know about my travels)!
The Philippines was very much an introverted trip where I took a lot of time for myself and got very very comfortable in my own shoes. It was also a place for adventure, for beautiful places and people, for amazing diving and the first country I connected with the local people on such a deep level.
So first, the adventure – I faced my fear of heights and jumped off multiple cliffs. I’m not gonna lie it’s not like my fear is gone, I’m still terrified of heights and looking back, I was so fucking brave! It’s interesting that the right place at the right time with the right people can really change what you end up doing! There is a place in Moalboal that is known for canyoneering where you’re taking on a tour weaving in and out through the canyon by jumping off different cliffs and trekking through the canyon. They start you off at reasonable jumps, 5 meters…6 meters…8 meters…all the way up to 12 meters. It was a really good way to have the tour because by the time you get to 12 meters you feel like such a pro, you don’t even feel that nervous feeling anymore. It was very touristy and can get crowded and although it may put some people off, I think it’s worth every penny. Just ignore the people there and remember that you’re in the middle of a canyon about to jump off into some amazing blue water! Don’t let the crowds deter you from this special experience.
Amazing diving – wow I just don’t even know where to start with the diving here. I was a newbie diver when I first came to the Philippines. I only had 12 dives at the time and only went diving in Thailand. I’m actually grateful I learned in Thailand because the Philippines has much, much, much more beautiful dives than Thailand did! A friend had told me I shouldn’t have gotten all my certifications in Thailand cause there’s so much more to see in the underwater world but I didn’t listen to him. I don’t regret it but I definitely see what he means! Philippines is part of the coral triangle of the world and the name does not disappoint – some of the most beautiful coral gardens with rich marine life are here. There are so many good dive sites but my top two destinations were Coron for the World War II wreck dives and Apo Reef for the 40 meter visibility and incredible coral. Let me try to describe the wreck dives. These ships were Japanese ships in the Philippines Sea that were sunken by American aircrafts during World War II. They’re massive and the ones I went to were sunken at 30-36 meters. For all divers out there, you know that around 30 meters is where most people start feeling the affects of nitrogen narcosis. I won’t get into detail about it, but it basically means you feel like you smoked a joint at this point and you’re feeling very happy and relaxed (high, pretty much)! So you’re narc-ed while you’re swimming through the opening of the wreck caused by the bomb explosion, past machine guns, unexploded bombs, and jail cells that enemies were kept in, then through to the engine room with an engine so massive you can’t even look at it without swimming back and looking up and down to fully grasp how massive it is, and finally through another hole to exit the ship and see how much coral has grown on these beautiful ships! I mean, it’s fucking incredible. You get to see history and imagine what this ship must have looked like when it was still floating. It’s another world under the sea. It’s one of the best feelings alive. It’s the one activity that allows me to fully forget all my problems. Once my head is in the water, I’m the most carefree version of myself! For all people who haven’t gone diving before, you’re missing out. 70% of our earth is ocean – don’t you want to explore it?! Unfortunately I don’t have photos of the diving in the wreck cause I lost my memory card but hopefully my words do the job well enough!
Beautiful places – the country is filled with beautiful lagoons, tidal pools, secluded islands, secret beaches, volcanoes and incredible mountain landscapes. It’s got so much to offer and even two months wasn’t enough to see half of it. I ended up going back for another two months and even FOUR months wasn’t enough to see it all. Each island has different scenery and different beautiful stuff to explore. My favorite islands were Siquijor, Siargao, and north of Luzon. I won’t talk much about them, you can see for yourselves in the photos!
Beautiful people are everywhere, but it just so happened that I connected with Filipinos the best. It helps that most speak English so your conversations can go past the “where you from ma’am?” And then end in awkward nodding of heads. It also helps that everyone I met was so happy, always singing karaoke (which I LOVE) and so curious about where I came from. There are too many people to name but one group that really stood out to me was a group of friends I met in Sabang, near Puerto Galllarta. I was staying at the same hostel at them and feeling pretty anti social. I literally spent 2 days just sleeping and not talking to anyone in the hostel. But this group of 8 friends insisted that I join them for a few drinks and invited me to come on a snorkeling tour with them the next morning. It was one of the girl’s birthdays and they rented a private boat to take her out! The more people they had, the cheaper it was going to be so they pitched it to me and I agreed. They took care of me the entire day, shared their food with me, taught me so many Tagalog phrases, and shared so many laughs and stories. At the end of the day I gave them some money but they refused it and wouldn’t allow to pay for any of it! They insisted and said as long as I was shown Filipino hospitality, then they were happy. I was very shocked and taken aback by this gesture. I mean, it’s not about the money at all and 10 dollars might not seem like a lot but its a lot more for them than it is for me. So the fact that they did that for me after only having met me 7 hours before the trip meant a lot to me. It made me think of people at home and how I never felt that from strangers in New York, sometimes not even from my own friends. It taught me to show my gratitude to people in anyway I can and to pay it forward because a little token of appreciation can touch the heart of someone forever. A little effort can seriously go a long, long way!
Like I said, I loved this country so much I came back again. This time I came back with Craig and for a workaway program. But more about this trip later! There are a few countries in between that have stories worth sharing first!