#6 Philippines, Feb. 12, 2010

Dear Everybody,

What a morning! On Saturday I had decided to leave my guesthouse in Siguijor town and check into a beach resort for a couple of days. I explained to the tricycle driver that on our way sightseeing, we would drop into the Islander’s Paradise Beach Resort where I would check in, leave my pack, and we would be on our way to sightsee the western side of the island. Unfortunately that resort and about seven others that we tried were ‘fully booked.’ Finally we went east of Siquijor town where we had been the day before, and I was able to book a room at the nice Blue Wave Beach Resort. While I missed out on the sightseeing because it took the whole morning, at least I found a good place to stay! It was really tough on the tricycle too, as all the resorts have their own long driveways from the highway to the beaches. These were terrible to drive over and a few times I had to get out and push if the rough incline was too steep for the small motorbike of the tricycle.

The beach at the Blue Wave was lovely and when the tide came in, I went for a dip. Dip it was as I’m such a poor swimmer that I didn’t venture out alone very far. In my next life I’m going to be a very good swimmer! After ‘dipping’ I encountered a woman who I had spent time with in Dumaguete. She was just using the resort facilities as a day-tripper from a guesthouse in Siguijor town.

The next morning I went for my walk to Siquijor town which works out perfectly—30 minutes there and 30 back. I ate breakfast at one of only a couple of restaurants in town. I had the ‘American breakfast’ which was a good fried egg, sliced fried Spam, funny bread with oil and sugar (!) on it and hot tea. After that I did internet for over an hour. It’s amazing how this tiny village on a tiny island has good internet service! I see that many hostels, hotels and restaurants have wi fi, too, so maybe I’ll have to consider a small notebook to bring along. They are getting lighter-weight which is a big consideration for me.

The next day I explored more of the island by getting a jeepney to Lazi, a town on the south coast of the island (I’m on the north coast). Lazi has a huge church and huge convent constructed in 1884 of coral stone and wood. This stone is pinkish and mottled—very pretty. The convent is now a school.

I had lunch in Lazi—half of a rotisseried chicken and a beer. It hit the spot—I craved some meat. I had eaten breakfast in a stall in the market—the biggest omelet on earth but kind of greasy.

Coming back from Lazi, I got another jam-packed jeepney that went up the western side of the island, so I made a complete circle. Each half took an hour or more; there were lots of stops and we weren’t going very fast so I suppose the whole perimeter road is about 120 km or 75 miles. It’s a really beautiful island, so far, very unspoiled.

I had a few conversations with locals—the man who made my omelet who, when he learned I was American, glowingly spoke of president Obama—a common occurrence. Two other women—one in the tricycle coming back from Siguijor and one at the market while waiting for a jeepney (she brought me a stool to sit on while I waited!) and I had nice conversations. The lady in the tricycle had worked in California for 30 years. It certainly is evident that large numbers of Filippinos go out of the country to work. You see advertisements all over the place to come and work in Hong Kong, Cyprus and Taiwan, among others. There are ‘remittance’ bank-places all over, too.

The lady at the market said, “There aren’t any poor people in America, are there?” When I told her there were many poor people, she looked skeptical. She was missing several teeth as is often the case here. It seems to be the worldwide chasm between haves and havenots—dental services and the ability to access them. The lady who had worked in CA also was missing some teeth.

The next day I left Siquijor by fastboat and went back to Dumaguete long enough to get money from an ATM and to get a bus going to Bais City. Here the attraction was dolphin watching (with an occasional whale, but not common) and shore-bird watching among the mangroves. To find where to go, I asked my hotel and everyone else I could find on the street—finally got sent to the Tourism Bureau who said it was too early in the season as the boats hadn’t been re-licensed. Since the mangroves where the birds are have to be approached by boat, this was out, too.

The hotel was a treat, however. LaPlanta is a turn-of-the-century hotel with lots of atmosphere, and was really charming. I had an excellent dinner in the hotel’s old-fashioned dining room (lots of old photos on the walls) first ordering a rum and Sprite with ice. She brought me a whole (small) bottle of Tanduay rhum. I asked, “Am I buying the whole bottle?” and she said, “Yes.” “Well, how much does it cost?” “40 pesos” which is 85 cents American! It was only about a half pint, however—-even so!! On the bus we did pass lots of sugar cane fields. I think that rum is made form sugar cane.

After a beautiful 5 1/2 hour bus ride over the mountains, I arrived at Bacolod and checked in to the Pension Bacolod. I had a lovely lunch at the very good Green Gardens restaurant.

Today I shall see the Bacolod highlights and send this off!

Carol

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