Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Island Hopping in the Philippines

This morning we are both up before the sun, and move to the daybed on the balcony to lazily watch the sun come up.  We enjoy a late breakfast—I have fallen into a route of smoked fish, cheese, croissant, and fruit (usually dried apricots and prunes)—before we are off island hopping.

Our first stop is Vigan or "Snake" Island, so named for the curving sandbar that connects this tiny island to the mainland at low tide.  There is a short hike up to the high point where we discover a lovely view of the entire Bacuit Bay. 

View from top of Snake Island

On the boat we introduce ourselves to a Filipino family from Chicago and have an interesting morning getting to know them.  Both Renee and Susan were raised in the states, but still have family in the Philippines.  They are accompanied by their two adult daughters and son-in-law.  There is also a young Japanese couple who have happened to be on some of the same excursions as us.  They seem very happy; always smiling and taking photos while making funny faces.  They are so cute, and I enjoy watching them as they seem to be having such a great time.   Another family on the boat is from Mexico City who have been living in Shanghai for the past five years.  With them is their six year old daughter who is fluent in Spanish, English and Chinese.

Our second stop is Cudugnon Cave, where we crawl through a small opening in the limestone cliff into a large cave.  There are many sparrows here, but unlike their cliff dwelling cousins their nests are made of a mixture of saliva and grass—instead of pure saliva, which is so sought after for making bird’s nest soup—and so their nests are not hunted.  Chito tells us that there were human bones discovered here from people who hid in this cave during WWII; creepy.  We all take photos of each other and Chito even takes a group shot of the “Americans.”

Entrance/exit to the cave

The Americans
Next we are off to Pinasil, a hollowed out rock with a small cavern accessible by dingy or kayak—as we are in an outrigger, we can only pull up to the entrance for photos—but, today it is even to choppy for those.

We are back at Miniloc for lunch and a bit of relaxing and then at 3:30pm we are off for snorkeling at Pagugaban Island.  There is a strong current today and it is suggested that those of us who are not strong swimmers settle for snorkeling along the shoreline, which is where we head.  There are plenty of beautiful fish to watch, but the coral here is like a bone yard, broken pieces blanket the floor of the bay.  Even so we have a good time.

On the boat ride back to Miniloc we strike up a conversation with a young American couple, David and Lindsey, who are living in Beijing.  Later when our sunset cruise is cancelled we meet up with them at the bar and chat about what it is like living in China, the pollution, and communism.  They tell us that the pollution is so bad that they wear hepa masks wherever they go—David even shows us a picture of his filters after a week; picture a hardboilded egg cut in half,  but what would be the yolk are somwhat larger dark spots of pollution—and have recently bought a filter for their apartment. 

A large group arrived this afternoon for a class of 1961 Medical School Reunion. While we are talking with Lindsey and David, I notice that an older gentleman keeps looking at us.  Before long he approaches us and we soon learn he is Jewish—no matter where you are in the world Jews just seem to find each other—and is here with his wife who is part of the reunion.  He lives in San Diago, but spent 25 years in Durham and is surprised to find that we are from Atlanta, as he doesn’t think we have accents (this is the first time I have ever been told that).

We invited David and Lindsey to joy us for dinner and share a bottle of wine, and continue our talks of China and the United States.  They both express a desire to move back, but with the current economy they have to stay in China.  David is in the symphony and Lindsey is a music teacher at the British School.

To see more pictures, check out my Picasa Web Album

1 comment:

  1. Tried Bird Nest soup last year from like www.geocities.jp/hongkong_bird_nest/index_e.htm . Tastes really good... yeah, I thought it was gross at first, but wow, you won't regret it.