Hello all!Here is our blog entry from Siquijor.
It took us most of the day to get from Bohol to Siquijor. Part of the trip involved us sharing a bangka (think giant canoe with stabilisers) with about 40 Filipinos and a motorbike!
We eventually got to our bungalow at 22:00. It was right on the beach and even in the dark we could tell that the view was spectacular. We were right too! It was such a lovely spot that we ended up staying a whole week just chilling in our hammock watching the waves roll in.
Siquijor has a reputation of being spooky mainly because of healers living in the mountains who use local herbs for remedies and practice age old healing techniques. Most Filipino's (and tourists) avoid the place which is a shame (or great for the intrepid traveler) as the island is fantastic. It is just the right size so you can motorbike round the whole island in a day along the tarmacked coast road. If you do not have any experience on a bike (like us), don't worry as there are hardly any cars. There are beautiful empty beaches and lush rain forest up in the mountains. So if you come to the Philippines, give Siquijor a try. We coincided our visit to the island with the healing festival that we'd read about in the Lonely Planet. Basically it is a festival where witch doctors come together and mix their herbal remedies in a large cauldron. It was a right mare to get to the festival, no tricycle driver would take us, as the mountain roads were too steep. We eventually found a willing driver called Robert who basically became a mate whilst we were on the island. The local nutter also befriended us but that's another story. So anyhow we eventually get to the festival after a few false stops (we ended up climbing one mountain which we thought was leading us to the festival until Robert came running after us to tell us he had stopped at the wrong turn). Robert had never heard of the festival which we thought was strange as we were led to believe that everybody turned out for this huge event. It turned out that we were led down the garden path by Lonely Planet. When we got there there was hardly anybody about and a smattering of uninteresting stalls selling unappetising food and a couple of massage tents, besides loads of armed Police. We will never get used to seeing so many guns on people. We had to wait for a couple of hours before the cauldron mixing started and as we were kind of stuck for ideas we had two massages while we waited! Well I did, Kaz had this strange thing done to her where this guy blew into a straw in a glass of water with a rock in it. Apparently if you have any ailments the rock sucks them out and turns the water cloudy. Karen's water remained clear! (Phew!) I got the better deal by far with my lovely massage. So that was the festival! The witch doctors did not even turn up for their 2nd "performance". I don't think Glastonbury has to worry yet about this festival.
On the way back Robert took us to a butterfly sanctuary. It was small but very good and it's run by this very passionate man who clearly cares about the plight of the local butterfly population. The government do not give him funding so he relies solely on tourists for the farm's existence. So if you do come here, skip the festival and go to the butterfly place instead. P.S. Interesting fact - step one in having more butterflies in your garden is to find out what kind of vine they feed on and plant it in your garden.
As I said earlier, a great way to see the island is by scooter. So we decided to bite the bullet and rent one. Now the pair of us had never ridden a scooter before so you should have seen us setting off from Larena town. We were all over the place. I am quite sure that the guy who'd rented us the scooter was seriously regretting doing so. We got the hang of it though and managed to ride around half the island. We traveled slowly along the coast road past empty white sand beaches and lovely wooden villages. The road is full of palm trees and thankfully devoid of traffic. Eventually we stopped at a fantastic beach called Palinto where I will let Karen talk about that......
Well our beach was certainly worth the trip. Another deserted white sand beach, lined with palm trees and with crystal clear waters. At this rate we were risking taking these gems for granted. We did what one's meant to do at the beach and chilled out, day dreaming about opening up bungalows on this gorgeous beach and living a true islander's life.
Our week in Siquijor gave us some well earnt respite from our travels. Our cottage was in the perfect spot, so close to the water that I could smell the sea when I opened the door in the morning. It was the kind of place you'd imagine writers going to, to write their book. TGhe sunsets were even more spectacular. Absolute peace and inspiring surroundings. Ah what bliss!
But as tempted as we were to just stay in this place, the adventure had to continue. So a week after getting here, we packed our bags, got into a tricycle and headed to Dumaguete, a busy university town and gateway to Apo Island, where some fabulous diving awaited us.
More when we get there
Lots of love
Karen and Paul