Woo! What An Amazing Place.

Well, the Philippines is a very interesting place to say the least. New scenery, new smells, new food, and new modes of transportation (ie. “tricycle”: a motorcycle with an attached sidecar, “jeepney”: see Jon’s previous post). The people here are all a part of the fun too - they’re easy going, full of smiles, and like to chat. We are often greeted here with “Hello Sir” or “Hello Ma’am”, which at first comes off as a little strange, but you get used to it. When passing people in the street, you are always acknowledged with a “hello” or a raise of the eyebrows or a nice smile. Despite the poor conditions some of the people live in here, everyone seems to be generally happy.

This past week and a half we have been hanging in Palawan - an extraordinarily beautiful place. It’s a bit difficult to get your way around from town to town, but Jon, Evan and I have seemed to manage okay. One highlight included an 8-hour bus ride packed with locals through the jungle along some good muddy stretches. Tires were changed a couple times. Imagine a large jeepney with all the bags on the roof with the “bag guys” who sit up on the roof the whole trip to watch them. It was actually a really enjoyable trip scenery wise. There is so much beautiful vegetation in Palawan. You go through stretches of jungle, and then here and there you pass a nipa hut with a few kids running around and waving at you. Each nipa hut had water buffalo, pigs, dogs and chickens hanging around without any concern that a big bus full of people was driving by.

A typical beach in Palawan

Palawan is so beautiful, it’s hard to believe sometimes what you are seeing. There are beautiful islands and beaches and limestone karsts jutting up from the blue-green ocean. There are secret lagoons and spectacular caves to check out too. Apparently there’s some treasure to be found around the Philippines too… If you’re reading this and you’re a pirate, the Philippines is where to come. Arrgh! Throw the carrrcass overboarrrd! Anyway, this makes for lots of adventuring around, which we managed to do a lot of. We were able to hire a private boat to ourselves for 2 days to check out caves, go snorkeling and just relax on the beach when we felt like it. On the downside, there seems to be a lot of coral damage around, which we are unsure of the exact reason for it (dynamite or cyanide fishing maybe?). Nevertheless, we were able to find some pretty amazing reefs and fish to check out. And, as a bonus, we were 3 of very few foreigners around. You can’t ask for more when you’ve got a gorgeous place all to yourself!

Evan has fantastic rain attire

So things have been great all around! The trip has especially been fun with Evan hanging around - you can’t beat his sarcastic humour and fantastic rain attire. But, things are also changing very soon - Evan’s off to Thailand in a few days for some lazing around at the beach and mingling with the ladies. I’m off to Tablas Island in the province of Romblon here to do some volunteer work for 2 months. Jon’s got 2 more weeks before he heads home to sort out his life in Vancouver before he starts (gasp) law school.

So… lots of change, nervousness and excitement to come!

As for friends in Taiwan and back in Canada - we’re thinking of you a lot and miss you tons!

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