Asia's Latin American Branch - Part 2

Trip Start Aug 12, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Cliff View Resort

Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Thursday, February 2, 2012

It is said that when travelling, one should submerge oneself into the local culture, common parlance is known as "be a local". So with that in mind, we felt we should explore as much as possible in the short time available. So we signed up for an 'excursion'.

First stop was a Tarsier sanctuary. These are the smallest primates in the world and those of a certain age may remember a movie called Gremlins, for which Tarsiers were the inspiration. There eyes are huge, yet their bodies are tiny and they surely have the most fragile fingers we have ever seen. For all that, they can jump up to five metres at a time, but they are sensitive souls. Kept in captivity, they die within a year, many are said to have actually committed suicide, so they are not a pet option and it was wonderful to see them in their intended environment. 

We passed many a beautiful church, the Spanish have clearly left their mark around here, but curiously when we inquired with our driver as to the age of one particular church, he scratched his chin and said, hmmm, 1910! Curiously the Spanish left the Philippines in 1898 so perhaps a few builders stuck around..... 

To the Chocolate Hills, a bizarre place of natural beauty where there is a landscape of humps. And they are brown, the kind of colour grass is when it hasn't seen much rain. Donald Trump would probably see the potential for a great golf course; with snow, skiers would be provided with some very fine moguls indeed. From the top, the view is magnificent, so much so that any potential sniper has to deposit his or her firearms before ascending. For the locals, there appears to be a kind of witchcraft ritual, most of which got lost in translation. 

It was time for lunch, in this case a cultural river cruise down the Loboc River with traditional food and music. The "all you can eat" buffet was led by some elderly Italians who literally took all the crabs and consequently moaned relentlessly about how poor the "pasta" or as we like to call them in Asia, noodles was.... Ah ha, the music and before we knew it the band was "Killing Me Softly" or rather quite violently and there was a Bridge Over Troubled Water to boot which felt most appropriate given the circumstances. 

A quick stop followed so that we could appreciate some indigenous folk singing and dancing. This will be more like it we thought until they belted out "When the Rhythm Starts to Play...." and Dean Martin would have wept. This all got too much for Steve who declared that if he even hears the opening to Lady in Red he was jumping overboard. They waved goodbye to us singing "Bye Bye Love"!

Back to our on-board crooners and before we knew it, the Italians were up and demonstrating their superior salsa skills and trying to woo as many women as possible in front of their wives. The dancing got kinkier, at one point there may have been some cheeky spanking, any wildlife from the banks had buggered off, figuring they couldn't compete with the wildlife aboard. 

Time to see the site of the pact between the Philippines and Spain, an agreement where to spare bloodshed the two leaders drank each others blood instead as a symbol of unity and friendship. Sadly historians have now confirmed that this is in totally the wrong place, but it is a nice monument nevertheless. 

We felt that following this action packed adventure, perhaps our own steam or motorbycle was a better bet and for the next few days we explored at our own pace and genuinely built a huge affection for the place and its people. Tania reworked the Timotei advert in one of the most beautiful waterfalls we have ever seen and Steve ate cake, citing the long-held merienda tradition in the Philippines whereby it is essential to eat at least one cake every afternoon.

Back at base, Tom and Irv decided to arrange a trip out on a fishing boat. The first boat offered up was essentially a kayak and clearly wasn't up to it. Having kindly advised said fisherman that they needed a bigger boat, he returned an hour later with something more like a canoe. In fairness, they really did try to take it fishing on the Pacific, but just as we were calling the coastguard in between fits of laughter, they decided it was a non-starter. 

All the while Yves' wife continued to refuse to return from strike action, he kept mumbling something about "wishing he'd never dropped his pants", how the Japanese wife had been much easier to deal with or was it the American one, nope it was definitely the Swiss wife, as his two young kids steadfastly refused to do anything he asked of them.

And over yet another bottle of rum, he declared, "one million dollars and it's yours!" So there it is, one stunning cliff-side resort for sale looking out over the Pacific Ocean, two houses, eight cabins, two swimming pools, beautiful grounds, jeep and all fixtures and fittings. He did refuse to guarantee that the wife and kids wouldn't be thrown in however.....

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