Sunday, March 8, 2009


the last part of our trip involved a 13 hour bus ride down the coast of luzon, dropping us off in the small town of legaspi in the dark at 3 in the morning. cold and tired, we waited half-sleeping in a jeepney for the first run of the day while the driver dozed across the front seat of the vehicle. at 4 or 5 (who knows, really? time was a blur at that point) we took off and ended up in donsol. the main attraction of donsol is the migration of the whale shark (wiki entry) through their waters. these huge animals travel through the ocean near donsol to eat the plankton that is plentiful there. and, because we are so lucky, we get to swim alongside the gentle giants!

i don't have pictures of our actual swim (these were procured from google images), but we got to swim literally feet from 4 different sharks that day.. some appearing out of nowhere in the dark waters just to come swimming right at me! as the day wore on, i got cold and cranky but when our boatman called out at the sight of a whale dorsol, we all jumped in eagerly. it just so happened that the sky opened and rays of light poured into the water just in time for us to swim alongside the whaleshark and the crisp clearness of the amazing animal leaves me at a loss for words.

thusly, however, our journey through the philippine islands comes to an end. today, we are back in manila, doing the internet thing and watching movies. we took a trip to see the very first house i lived in as a child so that was kind of neat.

in two days, we fly back to the cold of madison and then get ready for our new adventure: hiking the appalachian!! :)

island hopping through the visayas.. .

from puerto princesa, josh and i caught a flight over to the visayas and deplaned in dumaguete -- the main port on the island of negros. we spent quite a few days there, relaxing, reading, surfing the net -- things we long to indulgde in. :) we also got around to the surrounding areas to check out the sights of negros.

one day, we went up to the national park to do some trekking. to get there, we had to ride this habal habal (a motorcycle with an attached uncomfortable seat on the rear for extra seating) on a long gravel road that had me terrified the whole ride up and back down the mountain. once we reached the park, we found that due to high waters, trekking wasn't possible so instead we kayaked around the twin lakes and hung out and enjoyed the scenary.

as another side adventure, we went caving in mabinay! we met our caving guide, jeffrey early in the morning and he prepared us for the experience. although i had brought a swimsuit and extra clothes, we had been apparently misinformed that flip flops would be sufficient for caving. jeffrey frowned at our choice of footwear but took us to a cave called baliw which was listed in the "difficult" category on our list of caves from the tourist agency. the cave itself was so much fun. we squeezed through small crevices, sunk in mud and guano, belly crawled through parts impassable otherwise, and in the end had to take off our helmets to swim through the small slit leading us out of the cave.

after dumaguete, we took a LONG few bus rides to the other side of the island and stayed on a beautiful secluded beach called sugar beach (or, langub beach). we met a lot of nice people at the neighboring driftwood resort and hung out there and went snorkeling at the marine reserve. we again saw a lot of cool marine life and corals -- but still nothing compares to the colors and expanse of coral we saw at port barton.

after saying goodbye to our pseudo family at driftwood (they stood waving on the shoreline and shouting goodbyes as our boat sailed away), we bused and boated to ilo ilo in hopes of being about to do some rock climbing at the national park. however, once we arrived, the climbing gym we were supposed to seek information at was closed (the owner had moved to the u.s. apparently) and the park was off limits due to the rebel inhabitants.

instead of climbing, we took a trip to guimeras where we checked out a waterfall where local kids went to swim and a mango research farm (which wasn't as cool as it was made out to be). bummed out, we bought some mangoes and prepared to go back to manila and to donsol, our last stop before going home.