Location: Coron, The Philippines
Highlight: Island hopping boat trip
Here we go then. The one we’ve been waiting for. The Philippines.
We’ve seen the photos. We’ve read up on which island is best for beaches, which is best for snorkeling, which is best for surfing etc.
But before we get into all of that, we’ve got a night in the bustling capital – first stop, Manilla!
Cebu Pacific Air flight #1 – delayed by an hour. Once we were cruising the flight attendant gave us all a Christmas Fun Quiz. Fastest finger first situation – whoever gets their hand up and answers correctly wins. Expecting Filipino specific questions I laid low for Q1. “In the Christmas song ‘12 Days of Christmas’, what did my ‘true love give to me’ on the first day of Christmas.” 2 more similar questions later and prizes were handed out, followed by much applause by the passengers. We were delighted about the spirit being shown in the week leading up to Christmas by the locals – we weren’t going to miss out even though we’re on the other side of the world!
As for Manila, we didn’t have long enough to properly explore, so we didn’t get further than the road our hotel was on, but that was ok because we were staying in the Philippines’ red light district. Loads of creepy, old white men, sitting alone at tables and lots of female waitresses not giving any attention to Simon and who were clearly not potential customers, as we sipped away at our Extra Strong beers (7% abv really creep up on you when you’re used to <5%… we were both in bed by 21:30 and drunk-texting anyone who hadn’t already blocked our numbers).
We did eat at an excellent restaurant and grabbed a pint at a brilliant craft beer bar, but by that time (20:00) we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Glad to have had a refreshing 12 hours of sleep, we were ready for our first Filipino island: Coron.
The excitement was palpable as we boarded our little propeller plane (which included two sets of seats facing each other). It was another Cebu Pacific Air flight which meant two things: another 1 hour delay and another quiz! The flight attendant began: Q1. “In the Christmas song ’12 Days of…’” and my arm shot straight up. “A partridge in a pear tree… I know this one.” I would have said, had they not ignored my furiously waving hand which was blatantly the first up. Pfft. Stupid Christmas Fun Quiz. Spirit ruined.
Then out the window was the most incredible scenery, I won’t even attempt to describe its beauty, see photo:
Coron is a place of amazing natural beauty. We drove between huge, tree-covered, rolling hills and arrived at our west facing hotel which looked out across the ocean at hundreds of islands fading away to the horizon.
We chartered a boat to explore some of them (for less than £12 each) which included coral snorkeling at an uninhabited island, a little trek through the jungle to a picturesque large lake, a large fish buffet and a green lagoon which was half warm, murky, freshwater and half colder, clear, seawater. What a day.
Brekkie of garlic rice, sweet and sour pork and a fried egg (I thought that the fried egg is a token extra to make it a breakfast… but later learned that this is the classic breakfast in Philippines), and we were ready to bathe in the Maquinit Hot Springs.
To get there we flagged down a man with a tricycle – which is basically a moped with a one-wheeled buggy built around it. Mopeds aren’t built to carry three fully grown men, and this one struggled so much that every 5 minutes Simon and I had to get out and push it up the hill, which meant that it was less useful than a skateboard since you also have to push a skateboard up hills and ride down them easily enough, but you don’t have to fill skateboards with fuel and you can’t do an ollie on a tricycle.
The hot springs were wonderful when we arrived. It was somewhere between 37 and 42 degrees, the sun was beaming down on us and we were surrounded by mangroves. We only had to share it with three others
Our tricycle driver took us back (read ‘we pushed a tricycle and a tricycle driver most of the way back’) and then climbed up Mount Dalara to watch, debatably, the best sunset I have ever seen, which sadly my photography skills can’t do justice.
Next up – 6 hour ferry trip to Palawan.
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