Micky d's, kookoo for kookoo's

Trip Start Nov 06, 2006
Trip End Jun 15, 2007

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Where I stayed
Takatuka Ldge

Flag of Philippines  ,
Monday, April 30, 2007

From Moalboal, we head south by bus then ferry to Dumaguete City on the island of Negros, which is named after its dark colored volcanic sand. Dumaguete has a brand spanking new McDonald's, and though we've avoided good ol' Micky D's like the plague over the past six months, this one is SO new and SO sparklingly clean that it looks like it was suddenly plopped down here from outer space, and it's so entirely packed full of Filipinos that it seems like some sort of warped cultural travel experience that's too hard to pass up. The young women at the counter are bursting with excitement and enthusiasm and wear their crisp new polyester uniforms with gleaming pride and they look like they've just won the lottery when they realize that they're about to serve two foreign dudes. We're a little embarrassed when they call us from the back of another line to the front of their line and smile at us like we're a couple of rock stars. This is weird. And funny. But all is forgotten as soon as I taste that strangely acidic but deliciously gooey caramel sundae. It's the gastronomic equivalent of teleportation - instantly I'm transported home by the simple sweet familiar taste of caramel and soft serve ice cream. How ridiculous is this?

None of the Filipino cities we've visited yet has appealed to either of us, so the next day we're off to Kookoo's Nest, a teeny resort that Lonely Planet says is "the most isolated resort in Negros." Sounds perfect for us, and it is. Four charming bamboo beach huts on a sandy private beach, facing west for the glorious sunsets, and owned by a warm and welcoming couple, Nikki and Jamie. We settle in nicely for several days of pure R&R - wake up to the bright sound of birdsong, look out at the early morning waves as they gently roll in off the horizon, munch on the delicious thick-sliced home-made bread for breakfast (with strawberry jam - Todd's in heaven!), take a swim, read a few books, lounge around on the porch. We break things up with some fantastic scuba diving at Apo Island and just offshore on the house reef as well as some fine snorkeling off the end of the dock. Life really could not get any better than this. We're deliriously happy here.

We're torn between staying longer and moving on (awww - tough life!), but curiosity gets the better of us and we head off again to see what else we can discover. A few minutes outside of Sipalay we book a room at the quirkiest, wackiest place we've seen yet, the Takatuka Lodge at Sugar Beach. The zany colors and bizarre layout of the place are playful and kitschy, the staff is nice enough, and the perfectly sandy beach without a spot of seaweed or coral in sight makes for nice swimming. But it's anti-climactic after our experience of travel nirvana over the previous few days. The food's overpriced, the snorkeling trip is over deep water and challenging, and the visitors don't quite click with one another since there are so many weird nooks and crannies to hide in. We could have found more of interest here - there's a good hike nearby, a village to explore, another beach better known for snorkeling just up the way, but the afternoon rains that build up against the mountains here have us a little bummed and we still dream of finding an inexpensive tucked away cabana somewhere, so after a few days it's time again to move on from this freakshow habitrail with the 80's heavy metal muzak soundtrack.

Another bus and another ferry lands us on the island of Panay. In Iloilo (ee-lo-ee-lo) City, like a couple of addicts who haven't scored a hit in awhile, we practically run to the internet cafe, desperate for our e-fix after having been "dry" for over a week. E-mail is an illness, it really is. I frequently think about just disappearing for awhile like a Leave No Trace traveler, but keeping in touch is just too much fun! Anyway, one night here, just long enough to check up on a few things and make some travel arrangements and we're off for the nearby island of Guimaras.
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