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Taking Flight

By the time you read this I will already be in Bali for the week. I will be checking in when I can so bear with me if I don’t get around to your blogs for a while or indeed any comments you are kind enough to leave on my upcoming posts which should be scheduled at decent intervals.  I will bring photos and stories back and hopefully, the odd book too.

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Posted by on 19/04/2018 in Blogging, Travel

 

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Maligcong

This is the reason why we feel compelled to travel. Before heading to new places, I always make sure to avoid all photos of anything exciting I may encounter, it was the right decision here.  This vista was a stunning surprise and well worth the short hike up Mt Kupapey.

Jumping up at 6am, having had a restful first night, we loaded up on the local coffee, and with a wave at the view which was slowly becoming defogged we started on a climbing experience, that was for the first twenty minutes, brutal.  Thanks, in part to the altitude and also my laziness of late with not walking too far due to the nature of the traffic around the local area.  Once it levelled out and we had a rest for the obligatory selfies, it became much easier and I felt healthy, as opposed to the imagined teetering on the edge of unconsciousness.

Getting to the top generated a good feeling of camaraderie, thanks to what we were looking down on and experiencing together.  It was a perfect place to just exist in the company of the few people who joined us.  The terraces reminded me of Machu Picchu and I pondered how Hiram Bingham must have felt when he accidentally stumbled across it.  Bizarrely the sounds of The Lion King soundtrack which was playing from someone’s mobile was oddly appropriate for the occasion.

That view alone easily justified all the travel.  We then wandered over to the other side of the mountain and found yet another valley rich in beauty.  It felt like a timeless place of natural rhythms, coming down the terraces it was virtually silent (which I hardly noticed at the time) apart from the odd stumble from our group, it felt like descending into a land that time forgot.

The rice terraces were pretty steep in places and the paths, a mixture of concrete or compacted soil,  It made for slow going as the sun beat down but also provided many chances to take in the view and greet the odd traveller or worker who passed by.  Although later in the year the terraces are a sea of green, I liked the patchwork effect and the different colours on offer. In short, it was blissful. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 07/04/2018 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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Going Over to Suzette’s House

The jeepney rumbled off and we were left to soak in the peaceful atmosphere, hardly anyone around, no bustle of any kind ,just peace and the glorious knowledge of being in parts less travelled. As luck would have it – or should I say the kindness of Anne and Louie, who sorted this adventure out for us as a wedding gift – we landed in Suzette’s homestay which had the best view of the rice terraces.

It is certainly a place conducive to writing, especially on the balcony where all the residents can gather and load up on the free coffee, encouraged by the friendly and welcoming staff.  That first afternoon – just before a generously proportioned meal of chicken and rice – I sat to reflect on our first short walk just taken and the journey that we undertook to get here.  The view (below) was what met my gaze.  A gentle breeze was blowing, a few birds and crickets making their own casual noise, a distant bark of one of the many dogs that roam free up here and plenty of sunshine, It is just the sort of place one would come to write a novel.

With homestays and hostels, there is always a high chance of meeting some really interesting people and as the sun went down, we made the acquaintance of good number of such people.  Plenty of stories of past hikes were being exchanged, mostly in Tagalog which was fine, I got the gist but also enjoyed the game of working out what was being said and piecing sentences together as the rapid fire of conversation bounces around me.

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Posted by on 05/04/2018 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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Bound for Bontoc

To experience this lovely view from our homestay…

…the challenging must be faced, namely EDSA.  This highway is the longest and most congested in the country, and it’s not just the road that’s jam-packed and choked with fumes.  The coaches are rammed full and people don’t give an inch and will gladly push against those seated, then barge their way off with little regard to fellow passengers or politeness.  To make matters worse, a pirated version of Kingsman:  The Golden Circle was playing throughout the trip.

It was a hot messy chaos,which is what happens when big businesses and all the coach stations decide to take up location in one area.   After eating siomai from the local Chowking, we took to avoiding the sun and hanging around in the local malls, whilst waiting for out bus. It was a shame to see the police doing nothing about the flagrant flaunting of stolen phones. by pickpockets wanting to make some quick money.  I counted 11 people with both hands full of phones offering them to the passing crowds.  No wonder there are so many phone shops in the malls.  Finally it was time to go, past all the passengers queuing without a ticket (if which their were many), hoping for a seat so they could get to their loved ones for the Easter weekend. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 03/04/2018 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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Monumental Reading

Many thanks to Crissy for taking this and the pther Philippines photos

by dint of studying, of analysing myself, of reaching out for higher things, and of a thousand corrections, I was transformed little by little, thanks to the influence of a beneficent professor….cultivating poetry and rhetoric had elevated my feelings, and Virgil, Cicero, and other authors showed me a new path which I could take. – Jose Rizal, spoken shortly before his execution on 30th December 1896

*photo taken near the Rizal monument in Rizal park…I was reading Rizal.

 
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Posted by on 08/12/2017 in History, The Philippines, Travel

 

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Pulag Night Sky

I left out one of my favourite experiences of the Mt. Pulag trip from the last post and that was because I didn’t have the photos, and my words can only describe so much.  Many thanks then, to Aaron Palabyab who has kindly allowed me to use a selection of his impressive photos so you can see some of what I saw that night.  For more of Aaron’s fantastic work you can check his site here.

Having spent a good two and a half hours in the woods, dodging between puddles and uneven stones, we finally came out to an open area and our long line stopped, giving us chance to look around and have a breather.  The atmosphere changed once we were out into the open, there was a sense of anticipation building, partly because we knew we into the final third of our journey and partly because of our surroundings.

At eye level, there was a vast expanse of blackness in front of me – which I later found out was a huge grass field – and bordering this was an L-shape queue of the many of my other fellow hikers, the tiny lights from their headlamps flickering back and forth but mainly upwards to the glorious canopy above our heads. Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Mt. Pulag

Doing the hike was only half the drama of the Mt. Pulag (the 3rd highest mountain in The Philippines) experience, the nightmare of getting there was challenging enough.  Attempting to head across Manila at half six on a Friday evening is not the most fun thing to do.  It took nearly three and a half hours and took one van, two buses and a taxi. It was my first experience of the EDSA highway, the busiest in the Philippines.

That got us to the place where we would take a six-hour coach trip through the night to get to Baguio City, in which we were told to shut the curtains so we would be less conspicuous to bandits.  When we arrived we had another four-hour drive up to our base camp, up a long and winding road with some stops along the way – including a breakfast with spectacular view that it was too early to remember to photograph ans some sulphurous geysers – and an orientation which was less than entertaining.

Our group arrived utterly exhausted and after a bit of a walk and food, it was finally off to bed for a few hours.  There had been a lot of talk about extreme cold so we wrapped up and started walking at 1:30am in order to beat the sunrise which happens around 5:30.  For a hardy European fresh out of a British Spring, the 12 degrees was just a fresh morning for me and I promptly delayered much to the surprise of my fellow hikers. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on 20/08/2017 in The Philippines, Travel

 

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