Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shipwrecks and Starfish

Danvic, Carlo and I woke up bright and early and ready for our next adventure. We rode in a tricycle back to the port and hopped on the same boat from the day before.
We got to snorkel around a coral garden and two different shipwrecks. The coral garden was breathtaking. I’ve never seen so many fish of all different colors, or as much coral that hasn’t been touched by commercialized tourist ventures. We even found Nemo (or rather, several of them!) Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get any pictures of the underwater wonders we experienced.  
Luckily, I pulled out the camera in time for lunch!

The shipwrecks were rather eerie—we were swimming on top of Japanese WWII ships that had been shot down by American planes. I won’t lie, it freaked me out a little bit.  
My favorite part of the day was when Jack and Nader (our tour guides) took us off the original tour and decided to take us to a small, deserted island with a lot of coconut trees.
Jack climbed up the coconut tree quicker than you could say coconut. I’ve never seen someone move so quickly up a tree.
*you can see Jack shimmying up the tree

Nader and Jack helped us open the coconuts on a rock (and made monkey noises). It was rather fun to act a little barbaric…And we got to “taste the wild” as Jack would say.


We feasted on fresh coconut juice and meat—these were the most fresh (straight of the tree will do that) and tasty coconuts I’ve ever eaten. 

On the way off the island we found several starfish and had a mini photo shoot. All in all it was a surprisingly fun day. 

My favorite part about these trips is that the islands and tours (as well as Coron as a whole) aren’t completely commercialized yet. To find the second shipwreck the boat driver knew where to go because a plastic 1 liter bottle was the marker. I think it will be sad once this place becomes commercialized, but for now it’s a fabulous escape from the city.

Island Hopping

Early Monday morning we got on another trike, and headed for the local harbor. It was time to hit the water and go island hopping for the day!
(These are the trikes)

After a long boat ride through a rain shower, we had arrived at our first destination—Bulog Island! A little damp but we were excited to warm up on the beach. The water was crystal clear and the most amazing shade of blue at the same time.  

Our next stop was the beautiful Banana Island, where we had lunch. 

The fresh fish and crab on this trip made the entire vacation. I’ve never had such fresh seafood. Our fish was caught earlier that morning and the tour guides would grill the whole fish on the back of the boat. Pair fresh fish with some rice and a seaweed/eggplant dish, and you have a full, happy tour group. 

No need for forks and knives for these bad boys, out here you eat with your hands!

Danvic liked it so much he stayed for 4ths, and made a new friend.

Our last stop was Malcapuya Island, and it was a glorious final destination. 

The beach was beautiful with clear water and warm sand, there were also many places for exploration and adventures. 

We found a couple of starfish in the water and decided they would become great swim accessories. 

After a long day of playing in the surf & sand followed by a savory meal of coconut and chicken soup, I fell asleep soon after the sun went down… Sunburned, but satisfied. 

A Change of Plans

I often feel that one of life's main lessons is to teach us that we can't truly plan for the future. With all the factors and variables in life, the only constant is change. 
For the past few months I've been raving about teaching in Thailand. I had a sweet deal through the LanguageCorps program where I could spend my first two weeks of training in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and then travel to Pattaya, Thailand for student teaching before finding a job in Bangkok.  
Well, as I've learned over the past few weeks (and I'm sure I'll continue to realize over the next few months) nothing ever really goes the way you plan. And it's a beautiful thing. 
I'm pretty excited to announce that I will not be traveling to Pattaya and then on to find a job in Bangkok. Instead, I will be staying here in Phnom Penh for the rest of the year!
Cambodia, you've won me over. This city has stolen my heart, and in it I see my future home. 

If this is any indication of how the rest of my time in Southeast Asia will be, I'm excited for a whirlwind experience and ready to face whatever changes come my way. 
Although I think this will continue to be a part of life I struggle accepting, for the moment--lesson learned. 
Here's to living with you, Cambodia. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Coron, Palawan

We hopped off our [tiny] airplane and already felt a difference in the air—gone was the hectic, polluted air of Manila—we were soaking in the island breeze. 

After a bumpy ride through Palawan’s countryside [and past imported Aussie cows eating imported Aussie grass], we arrived at our hotel, the Princess of Coron.
After a quick nap, we hopped into our swimsuits and headed out to the Maquinit Hot Springs. Our mode of transportation was what Filipinos call a tricycle. It’s basically a motorcycle with a side car and roof attached to it (and it has 3 wheels). They’re fun to ride around in, even though they feel dangerous at times.
When we finally arrived at our destination, we were all amazed at the beauty before us at the hot springs. 

We wandered around and took touristy pictures—marveling at the amazing view, the clean air, the clear water, and eventually got around to taking a dip.

Whew, it was hot! The water was the perfect temperature to loosen up our muscles and push us into a deeper level of relaxation. We sat under the waterfalls and felt the water melt away previous stresses. 

About an hour later, we decided it was time to leave this magical place and head back for dinner. With rumbling tummies we were greeted at the hotel and invited to the owner’s birthday celebration and a ceremony blessing the hotel’s dining room. Oh. My. Goodness. The food was amazing. There were at least 5 different pork dishes in different sauces, grilled tropical fish, enough rice to feed a small army, and a giant smoked pig. 
It was a feast fit for royalty. Sadly, being as I was starving and jetlagged (so not thinking clearly), I only got a picture of the hog. 
After dinner, the day finally caught up with me and I was in bed and asleep by 8 pm.