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Reisverslag All good things come to an end....
5 juli 2010
Aantal keer bekeken 1510 Aantal reacties 10
All good things come to an end....
Our story commences, but we are no longer in China.. How strange to leave that beautiful country after so many months.. China is such a unique place and we immediately felt we were in another world upon arriving in Manila, The Philippines (our next destination). Suddenly everybody can speak English, everything is dirty, everybody is smiling and let us not forget everything is done in Philippino time (in other words: take your time and don’t rush.. EVER) - the exact opposite of that which we had been experiencing for all those months.
Our destination for this trip was to be the island group of Palawan, in the west of the Philippines. Palawan is known for its natural beauty, beautiful (endemic) flora and fauna, diving and beautiful beaches and its remote location. Sounded like a plan to us!! Our first destination was to be the Island of Coron. This island is situated northeast of the main island of Palawan and is famed for two things: the ridiculously beautiful neighbouring islands which can be visited by boat on a day trip and the fact that around twelve Japanese warships were sunk here during World War Two. The latter is therefore one of the world’s most spectacular venues for wreck diving.
We had decided to do both the island hopping and the diving. The island hopping was grand, but the thing we were most looking forward to was the diving and boy was it memorable.. We headed off in the morning in a boat and after about an hour reached our first wreck. We got in the water and started to make our way down.. The wreck was at about 25 meters and we had been briefed about the route we would take by our dive master. We would swim into the wreck and make our way through the ship, getting back out at the end. We would be going through some very tight spaces and had to watch out that we didn’t kick up any mud on the ground which would completely screw up our visibility. This place was apparently not for claustrophobics! So down we went and boy was it amazing! You could see the boiler room, engine room stairs, and all kinds of other things, which after 60 years underwater had become quite overgrown with corals and other sea life. So we are about half way through the wreck and I start to realise that there is something not quite right with my air tank. Using my flashlight (parts were very dark as very little light comes through) I look at my air levels and see that it’s still half full, but when I breath in it becomes more and more difficult. After another few breaths I realise that there is less and less oxygen coming out of the tank. I figure I have no more than 5 meagre breaths left before complete lack of O2 and hastily head off to signal my dive master. Physically getting to him was hard as there was very little room for manoeuvring inside this dark and cramped space but I eventually get hold of him and he gives me his spare mouthpiece just as my air has run out altogether.. We continue the dive both using his air tank. It turned out there was a malfunction in my air tank.. The second dive was a lot less stressful, we visited another spectacularly beautiful wreck and this time there were no problems.
From Coron we made our way to El Nido, which is situated on the northern tip of the main island of Palawan, El Nido is most famed for the Bacuit archipelago which is just in front of the town of El Nido. The best way to explore the archipelago is to go on one of the island hopping tours that are organised there. We got ourselves a private tour and visited the most beautiful lagoons and pristine white sandy beaches, had freshly caught fish cooked for us for lunch and snorkelled our hearts out.
Another day we rented a small paddleboat and made our way to some deserted beaches on uninhabited islands in the Bacuit archipelago. It was absolutely wonderful. We just got in the boat and started paddling until we found a place that looked nice. At the end of the afternoon it started to get cloudy and we could hear thunder in the distance, so we decided to paddle back to El Nido. We knew we had at least a one hour paddle back when it started to get stormy around us too. The wind was seriously picking up and so too were the waves. Then came the piece de resistance: we saw a shark fin come out of the water NO JOKE. At first I thought I saw something in the water and said to Mar “hey look a turtle coming up for air” then to my horror (and to those of you who know me well and are familiar with my fear of sharks this must be amusing) I noticed this triangular shaped fin breach the surface of the water.. Mind you I was not a happy camper after this and got us the fuck back to El Nido in record time..
We spent about 5 days in El Nido and from there we decided to go to a place called Port Barton. Physically getting there was the hardest part of all.. We found ourselves a ‘travel agent’ and started the following conversation which went approximately like this:
Us: “Hi we would like to get to Port Barton. How do we get there?”
Travel Agent: “Uh, by boat”
Us: “OK, so when does the boat go?”
Travel Agent: “I don’t know”.
Us: “So do you think you could ask?”
Travel Agent: “uhm OK”
Us: “ Now?”
Travel Agent: “Alright alright”
Travel Agent: “it goes every two days”
Us: “OK so is that tomorrow or the day after?“
Travel Agent: “Uh I don’t know”
Us: “Do you think you could ask?“
Us: “…………….uh now?”
Travel agent: “ OK I’ll ask….. Yep boat leaves tomorrow”
At this point we ask our infinitely helpful ‘travel agent’ (a lady in a wooden shack with a painted sign which says ‘travel agency’ who until we had arrived was lying in her hammock watching her soap opera) how much the boat is to Port Barton. Our reply is an amount which I’m sure could buy you one of the smaller islands of The Philippines.
Us: “Hmm that seems like quite a lot”
Travel Agent: “It’s the only option”
Us: “So how do the locals get there?”
Travel Agent: “By bus”
Us: “So there’s a bus as well?”
Travel Agent: “Uhhh…. Yeah” (you can just see her pissed off she just let that one slip)
Us: “so when does it go?”
Travel Agent: “I don’t know”
After many, many more inquiries we finally found ourselves a Jeepney the next day and after a ridiculous amount of hours we finally made it to Port Barton
Port Barton is a very small and out of the way place. There were almost no tourists there and it had a nice beach. Unfortunately it was a little too quiet for us there so we decided to make our way to our next destination: Sabang, From Port Barton we took a Jeepney to Sabang. A Jeepney is a sort of big extended jeep, resembling a bus, which is decked out with as much bling bling as possible. They are usually silver coloured, which brightly coloured letters on them, pictures of Mary or Jesus (the Philippinos are very catholic) and other items of bling. You cannot for the life of you imagine the amount of people/stuff they can manage to pack on/in to a jeepney! Our trip from Port Barton to Sabang was especially memorable. We started off at 08.00 in the morning from the little village of Port Barton. Subsequently we made our way through the village THREE times(!!) and every 50 meters some people would get on with so many things, from goats to giant wooden crates with fish in them (the smell was unbearable), entire wooden bed frames were tied to the roof, a refrigerator, bags of rice and the ALWAYS present cardboard boxes with chickens in them. Seriously, after the first time having gone through the village, we had enough people and stuff that we thought we would be leaving, after the second time our eyes were wide open with surprise that so many people could fit in the Jeepney and the third time was just disbelief.. In the end we left Port Barton at 09.45, having spent almost two hours loading the thing.
After many, many hours we arrived in Sabang. This charming beach town is actually no more than a beach. There were two restaurants there (one for lunch, the other for dinner and the best part was our waitress coming up to us every day with the words “welcome, today we have no squid, no pork, no fish and no beef” In other words: we have chicken…. Full stop. Also as in all of Palawan there is power from 18.00 in the evening to 22.00 at night, which means that there is no power for the fan you so desperately need at night when it cools down to about 30 degrees Celsius.
Our residence in Sabang was sublime. We were right at the end of a beach in a little place which had 8 huts on the beach. The sunsets were great (I’m a huge sucker for sunsets), the beach was quiet and there were palm trees everywhere. At one point a coconut fell about 1,5 meters from our heads and my manly instincts beckoned me to open it up. All I had was a pathetic pocket knife, but I persevered and two days later I had cut off enough of the outside to crack it open on a rock. Boy a coconut never tasted that good and I’m sure it never will ever again. Mind you, I will never for the life of me open up another coconut with anything less than a machete..
After a couple of nights there we were invited by the owner of the beach huts where we were staying to come over to his ‘private section’ for a drink. In The Philippines this means drinking copious amounts of the local rum called Tanduay mixed with coke or water. He was drunk as a skunk, filling our glasses at every opportunity, having fried fish brought to the table, which they had caught a few hours earlier and busy telling us about his military intelligence past and how he still knew most of the people in the higher echelons of Philippino military. After many hours of fun we fortunately only had a few meters to walk back to our hut and in the morning we made our (hung over) way to one of Palawan’s most famous attractions: the Sabang underground river. The longest navigable underground river in the world. It’s either a 20 minute boat ride from Sabang or a two hour hike through the jungle.. We opted for the jungle hike. It was really cool, we saw loads of birds, monkeys and monitor lizards and were continuously pestered by every single mosquito on the southern hemisphere. Whilst walking behind Marlinde I could literally see them following her, sort of like one of the original Star Wars films where you have the really big spaceship and all the hundreds of smaller ones tailing it. Stopping was impossible due to the immensely annoying mozzies and seeing as we were doing the hike at the worst time of the day (one in the afternoon at about 38 degrees Celsius) and we were still feeling the rum from the night before we were happy to get to the river. The underground river itself was nice, lots of rock formations and bats who made a sport out of depositing as much guano on the visitors.
Our time in Sabang was coming to an end. Something we had not anticipated on Palawan was the fact that there are no ATMs anywhere on the island except for the capital Puerto Princessa. Yeah right we thought, no problem, they always say these things, but there are always banks and ATMs around.. Well it turned out they were right, so we had to seriously watch our spending. We were not the only ones however, it seemed every single person we met had the same problem. We even met two guys who were eating nothing other than rice for two days so they could spend an extra day in Sabang.
After Sabang our destination was the capital of Palawan and finally a place where we could get our hands on an ATM! ‘Puerto’ as they call it, is pretty much a shithole. The surroundings are what make it worth the visit. We got a ride from Sabang to Puerto from our alcoholic secret service resort owner (who was thankfully sober at the time) and rented a motorbike for the day. Our main reason for renting the bike was to visit the Iwahig prison, some 20km outside of Puerto Princessa. This prison is home to some 4000 plus inmates who, with the exception of 135 absolutely insane maximum security inmates, are allowed to roam free on the grounds, doing manual labour and even acting as guides to the people who opt to visit the place. They are divided into minimum security inmates (up to 20(!!) years), medium security inmates (virtually everything else) and then there are the aforementioned 135 maximum security inmates who are confined to really small and decrepit building. The minimum security prisoners are the only ones who can roam around the grounds without supervision. The medium security guys need special permission and an escort. We found ourselves a minimum security prisoner who had served 14 years and ’only’ had 6 more to go to show us around, which he did. We visited the medium security grounds which was pretty heavy and then he brought us to the maximum security building. WOW…. He told us to buy some cigarettes to hand out to the inmates through the steel bars lined with barbed wire. The look on the faces of these people was really disturbing. I’ve never seen people with such scary looks on their faces. A man came up to us in front of the gate and started to tell us about them. We asked him whether these people were murderers or rapists and he told us “oh no, that’s medium security. These guys are serial killers, torturers, multiple child rapists, kidnappers who have killed many, many people” Alrighty then, He subsequently told us that when one maximum security prisoner leaves the building he is escorted by three armed guards. He then whispers to me “do you want to buy a maximum security shirt?” (the ‘uniform’ of the inmates) and I say yes. He then leads us to an abandoned building adjacent to the maximum security building. I ask him why and he says “the guards aren’t allowed to see me sell this” and we are puzzled and ask him what his job is here. He laughingly tells us that he is one of the 135 maximum security prisoners, but that he is friends with the head guard who is on duty that day and that when his friend is working he is allowed to leave the building for a few hours. It turns out that the t-shirt he is selling me is in fact his prison t shirt!! We quickly pay him for it and walk back into sight of the heavily armed guards and continue on after giving out still more cigarettes to the inmates through the bars. We left this place totally exhilarated and with racing heart beats. The rest of the motorbike trip was also nice, albeit slightly less hardcore.. We visited some bays, a butterfly farm and just took in all the beauty of the countryside and villages we passed.
Our Philippino trip was coming to an end and we had two more days in Manila before heading to Singapore and then Bangkok. We spent our days in Manila walking around, visiting the immense shopping malls which are scattered throughout Manila and generally taking it easy.
Our next destination was to be one of our favourite cities in all the world: Bangkok!! First we spent one day in Singapore and did the sights before arriving to this wonderful place. The nice thing about Thailand is that you can come back after a couple of years and actually recognise the place.. It doesn’t change.. They still have chicken cheese pizza sandwiches at the seven eleven, falafel at the beginning of Khao San Road, MBK is up and running once again and thankfully the recent problems in Thailand have not affected the tourist numbers and much needed tourist revenues. The dark side of Thailand is on the other hand also still well preserved: They continue to see you as a dollar sign and you know that for 90% of them they will always have a vested interest when talking to you..
Anyway, our Thailand trip was to be purely for relaxation. We had planned to visit two of the southern islands, Koh Phi Phi and Kho Phangan. Our plan was simple: lie on the beach, eat (lots of) Thai food and drink (many, many) buckets. We succeeded spectacularly J..
We first spent 4 days in Bangkok. Mar got a really bad throat infection and was bed-ridden for most of that time, only getting out to watch The Netherlands play football haha..
We met a bunch of English on the bus down to Koh Phi Phi and spent most of the rest of our trip with them.. Koh Phi Phi had changed a lot since we had been there last (4 years ago). But it was amazing once again. The entire nucleus of the island has switched from the south of the island to the north, which took a little getting used to. Our time was spent on the beach in the daytime and would switch to the Irish Bar in the evening for buckets and World Cup football.. From there we would head over to the boxing ring where every night drunken Farangs (tourists) would get in the ring and kick the shit out of each other. Our last stop would always be the beach for a beach party and then bed..
Koh Phangan was very much the same story. We had timed our stay there to coincide with the Full Moon Party which I had never had the pleasure to visit. Mar had visited a few Full Moon parties and I had been to a Half Moon, but never the elusive Full Moon.. We met up with the group of guys we had been chilling with on Koh Phi Phi and stayed in Haad Rin, on the south of the island (where the full moon party is held). The days leading up to the event were great, more and more people arriving on the island every day. The parties becoming better and better and on the day itself it was crazy!! After these two weeks of living off of Thai food and buckets we decided to head off to the north east of the island of Koh Phangan: a place called Thong Nai Pan Yai. This place was the opposite of Haad Rin: families with small children, couples and no real nightlife whatsoever.. It was kind of nice for a change and so we spent a few nights here. Finally we got back to Bangkok and poor Mar got really sick again! We booked ourselves into a slightly nicer hotel with two rooftop swimming pools and spent our days by the pool, evenings eating street food and we watched Holland beat Brazil amidst hundreds of Dutchies on Khao San Road..
Unbelievably but true, this trip has also come to and end.. We are really looking forward to being back, but must admit that we really do miss China, The Philippines and Thailand.. We are not quite sure what the future holds for us at the minute, but we will let you know when we do!!
Bye for now!!
p.s. One of our stories from our ‘round the world trip 2008’ has been published!! Waarbenjij made a book with a number of remarkable stories and ours was one of the ones they picked out!! Mind you it’s Mar’s story about Bolivia (See ‘In love with Bolivia’ in ‘round the world 2008’ somewhere on our waarbenjij page)..
p.p.s. I spotted a McDonald’s from about a km up in the air when arriving back in Manila. Three weeks of rice and chicken adobo (the local specialty) had got my 6th ‘McD’ sense going. The look of pride in Mar’s eyes was priceless..
p.p.p.s. Come on Holland!!!!
These are the first countries we have visited which we have already made a beer diary for (see ‘Pinoy Perfection’ under ‘round the world 2008‘) so I had to try hard to find beers I had not tried back in 2008..
SAN MIGUEL SUPER DRY: 8,5. Very interesting beer. The label states: clean crisp taste and they are spot on. Taste is slightly more refined than regular San Miguel (THE beer in The Philippines), with more ‘hoppiness’, and slightly more fizz. This is one of those beers you can drink all night!
SAN MIGUEL STRONG ICE: 8,5. Good bloody beer. This ice filtered concoction is somewhere between a normal San Miguel Beer (SMB) and a San Miguel Light (SML), but with a higher alcohol percentage (6,3%). More body than an SML, however still a ‘summery’ drink which requires lemon. Very refreshing and great aftertaste.
SAN MIGUEL PREMIUM: 7,5. San Miguel’s most exclusive beer (still significantly less than a Euro per bottle) Taste is very much like San Miguel Beer, but a lot more bitter. Not really worth the extra Pesos..
Beer diary: Nope, tried them all..
Just for this once I’ll make a bucket diary instead.. Buckets are a Thai invention: They are a small plastic bucket which typically you would see a small child playing with on the beach. They fill these with alcohol, some mixer, ice and a bunch of straws.. You buy them along the beach or wherever.
SANGSOM, COKE, REDBULL: 7. This is the classic original bucket. Sangsom is Thai whiskey which gives you BRUTAL hangovers and gets you drunk before you can say: “another one please”. Bucket of ice gets filled with a half litre of whiskey, a can of coke and a bottle of Kreting Daeng (Thai Red Bull). I like these ones because they are by far the strongest buckets around. Taste is not as good, but they are much cheaper than other buckets..
GIN AND TONIC BUCKET: 8. Jummy.. The name says it all: Lots of gin, a bit of tonic, limes and ice. These are twice as expensive as Sangsom buckets and have half the alcohol inside but they do taste niiiiiiice..
VODKA BUCKET: 7,5. For those who cannot stand Sangsom (there are A LOT of people who will not touch the stuff with a ten foot pole). Lots of (cheap) Vodka, coke, red bull and ice.. Not as strong as the classic bucket, but still packs a punch..
LONG ISLAND ICE TEA BUCKET: 8,5. This one they only had in one bar on Koh Phi Phi, but boy were they good.. More than half of the bucket was 40% alcohol (5 different types of drink whoohoo), a little bit of coke, ice and lime juice to top it off and you are ready to go!!
FUCKING CHEAP BUCKET (that’s really what they call it) 6. For those who were really trying to save a buck.. The Thai whiskey tastes disgusting and really makes the bucket taste like poo.. Don’t do it..
Foto's bij verslag (29)
7 juli 2010 10:08 | Door: Susan Spitter
Ik ga straks weer even uitgebreid jullie verhaal lezen maar ik/we vroeg(en) me/ons af of ik/we Co laatst zag(en) in Breda??? (Walter heeft hem niet gezien, daar liep ik voor in de weg)
Ik heb de laatste tijd echt een geheugen van een goudvis en kom steeds mensen tegen waarvan ik niet meer weet waarvan ik ze ken. Oepsie!
Btw is dat omdat ik zwanger ben :D
We verwachten een kindje! We zijn nou 26 weken op weg en dus half oktober uitgerekend. Another great adventure!
Groetjes Susan (en Walter)
7 juli 2010 10:30 | Door: Val
Absolutely fantastic! Have loved reading all about your exploits; I really think you should write a book between you. What now?
7 juli 2010 12:34 | Door: Marlinde
Gefeliciteerd guys.. Onwijs vet voor jullie zo'n kleintje!
Jullie kunnen Co niet gezien hebben.. kwamen gister pas terug, net op tijd om Oranje te zien knallen! Genieten zondag..
7 juli 2010 14:17 | Door: Peter
Jammer dat jullie avontuur ten einde is! Wij hadden graag nog heel veel verslagen van jullie gelezen.
8 juli 2010 10:08 | Door: irene 207
zo gelukkig had ik even een uurtje over om jullie verhaal te lezen ;) maar voor t eerst een cultuurschock gehad? dan kan je vast wat hebben na al die plekken die je al hebt bezocht toch?! hm ik zie dat jullie alweer een ander paradijs hebben aangedaan... klinkt ook niet verkeerd. maarre zijn jullie nu al terug of wat?
iig ronald ook gespot op 1km hoogte, wat hilarisch haha! tot in rdam een x of strand in scheveningen?
9 juli 2010 14:11 | Door: Suzanne
Hoi Co en Marlinde,
Een aantal maandjes geleden ben ik tegen jullie reispagina aangelopen..en zo nu en dan effe zitten checken waar jullie je bevinden. Ik vertrek over een weekje richting China voor een maandje(waaronder Yangshuo) en moet zeggen dat jullie reisverhalen me al behoorlijk nieuwsgierig hebben gemaakt! ;)
Ik ben benieuwd waar de volgende reis naar toe gaat.. Zal zo nu en dan effe checke,
13 juli 2010 09:20 | Door: Dennis
Ben zoals gewoonlijk heel erg jaloers, geniet altijd van jullie verhaaltjes en zal ze gaan missen.
27 september 2010 14:56 | Door: Mireille
Klopt het dat ik jullie 100.000ste bezoeker ben?
6 oktober 2010 15:12 | Door: Marlinde
100.000 bezoekers! Inderdaad Mireille.. ik denk het wel! Heel cool!
7 december 2010 14:58 | Door: Timo van der Geest
Hallo Marline en Mark,
Ik heb net op mijn ziekbed de afleveringen bekeken van Peking Express 2008. Wat een sensatie en een spanning. Ik kreeg het er warm van en dat was niet alleen van de koorts.Ik was erg blij dat julllie als winnaar uit de bus kwamen. Ik zou zelf ook wel aan zo'n programma mee willen doen. Nu zijn we 2 jaar verder en ik kwam op deze site en zag/las dat jullie een wereldreis gemaakt hebben. Wat gaaf zeg!!! Zelf houd ik ook van reizen maar zoveel landen heb ik nog niet bezocht. Ik ben afgelopen zomer in Florida geweest ook erg mooi maar het land waar ik echt verliefd op geworden ben is Mexico. Ik maakte daar samen met mijn ex een rondreis van 16 dagen door yucatan. Super mooi was dat alleen veel te kort. Ik zou daar nog een keer naar toe willen gaan maar dan wat langer. Omdat ik toch 6 weken zomervakantie heb(voordeel als je in het speciaal basisonderwijs werkt) kan ik me nu een langere vakantie permiteren. Het lijkt me leuk om in contact te komen met jullie en jullie verhalen en ervaringen uit te wisselen.
Mijn naam is Timotheus van der Geest uit het mooie Harderwijk. Timo voor vrienden. Als je mijn volledige naam googled lees je en zie je wie ik ben.
Ik hoop wat van jullie te horen; ik heb zelf facebook > timo van der geest en ik heb hyves > familiewapen79.hyves.nl of je mag me ook mailen > email@example.com
Een hartelijke groet van,