#5 Philippines, Feb. 5, 2010

Dear Everybody,

Drink-kin-rum and – – – CocaCola at Nuts Huts, a jungle camp on the beautiful Loboc River. I took a jeepney from Tagbilaran and was let off at the turnoff. I walked, carrying my pack, about a km over a rutted path, then when arriving at Nuts Huts, negotiated 156 steps down, down, down to the main dining room/lounge area. There are 16 huts; luckily I got the last one (!). It is run by a Belgian couple and has been open for 11 years.

Another 120 steps led me down, down to the row of huts made of woven bamboo with thatched roofs that were situated along the river. What a gorgeous setting. Across the river is a mountainous wall of jungle vegetation and all around are the sounds of the jungle, especially in the early mornings.

In the evenings in the dining room/lounge there were many languages being spoken among the guests including Lithuanian (I asked!) but luckily all knew English. The food was all prepared fresh and I sampled such as muesli with peanuts, fresh fruit, homemade yoghurt and honey, and good fresh salad.

About the rum—the only company that competes with the saturation of advertising by CocaCola is Tanduay Rhum (yes, that’s how they spell it). I asked for it before dinner at several restaurants but they didn’t have it, or serve it. Finally I bought a small bottle at a supermarket in a shopping mall along with some fruit juices and ice and tried it in my hotel room—ummm good! At dinnertime at Nuts Huts I ordered a Coke with a glass of ice and surreptitiously poured in some rum. It seems like such a vacation drink—I can’t believe I’d ever drink this at home! Actually I think the last time I had Rum and Coke was in Mazatlan, Mexico on Christmas Eve in 1969—a long time between Rum and Cokes!

When I put my sneakers on again after two days of sandals, something had chewed completely through one shoelace. So a square knot held the ends together as I checked out, climbed up all those steps, walked to the highway, and flagged down an overloaded bus into which my pack and I were stuffed.

I spent the night in Tagbilaran and the next morning, caught the 8:00 Ocean Jet fastboat to Dumaguete on the island of Negros. Here I had a spectacular hostel (Harold’s Mansion) that was well organized, very clean, extremely cheap and just plain likeable. They didn’t have any single rooms available so I took a dorm bed. The large room with six beds had its own bathroom which I shared with four other guests. The price was about $6 and that included a complimentary breakfast, free coffee and water all day, plus 30 minutes per day of use of their computers/internet. There are beautiful wooden statues/carvings all around the hostel. I hope I can buy some somewhere. I have learned that they come from Bauguio where I am going after Feb. 19th (the bamboo organ recital). I spent some time in bed last night trying to figure out where I could put them in my condo. It’s getting full!

Four of us hostelers went to the Wednesday morning market in Malatapay, a small town about 45 minutes away by bus. It was situated so beautifully on the shore with those high coconut palms giving some shade.

 

There was lots of interesting livestock—carabao, ponies, cows, bulls, steers, pigs, goats, and all. And there was lots of good-lookin’ food to eat, as well as stuff for sale. From the shore we could see Apo Island, a very popular dive place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the evening I ate at a popular restaurant that specializes in seafood. I ordered scallops but they turned out to be oysters on the half shell, but baked with cheese. That might be somewhere near Oysters Rockefeller? I also had some Tanduay Rhum with fresh limes, sugar and club soda—a pretty good concoction.

The next morning I got the fastboat over to the island of Siguijor (See’-kee-or). I had a nice visit on the way with a young Dutch man who has been working in places like Australia to fund his several-years traveling. Arriving on Siguijor, I got a tricycle to a guesthouse that was recommended by Lonely Planet. It has a beautiful garden setting with lots of exotic tropical plants and flowers surrounding my little patio. The mattress was about as skimpy as I’ve had (ouch!) but my strategy for tonight is to put both of the mattresses (there are two beds) on my bed.

Siguijor town is tiny, pleasant, and colorful. As I’ve noted before, the tiny towns are so much prettier than the bigger towns/cities. This morning I hired a tricycle driver to take me around the island. We stopped many times—to watch a man plowing a field with one ox and a hand-held plow; to watch a man getting ready to go fishing in his bangka (very narrow canoe with two outriggers); to look in on the upscale resorts; and to visit several beaches—they’re all around the island with beautiful white sand. This island is lovely. It feels ‘real’ even though there are quite a few resorts, but they don’t seem to dominate the island. They’re kind of tucked away on some beaches, while the main highway near the water is lined with ‘real’ houses and enterprises of the islanders.

The tricycle driver did a usual thing—asking if it would be OK with me if he took another passenger back to Siquijor town with us. Hey, they have to make their money while they can! I had a nice visit with the passenger—a man from Australia near my age with a local young man along with him.

I did scope out an especially nice resort run by a Japanese couple as I thought I would treat myself to something more upscale, (in spite of bad news from the stock market!) but they’re booked until Tuesday. I might just stay on here that long, but maybe that’s too long!

Anyway, all’s well with me, and I’m still enjoying the Philippines!

Carol

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