Day 133 of retirement

June 25, 2010

Hi All

Monday 21st June:

Back to the Mall today to try and catch a movie, stock up on last minute supplies and escape the midday heat. It is definitely hotter here in Manila than the provinces, with the heat radiating off the roads and buildings. Even after the afternoon rain it does cool down for a while but then it gets really humid due to everything being so hot.

The movie was a non-event as there wasn’t anything we wanted to see so Starbucks (no coffee as it is crap) and free Wi-Fi it was. There is a supermarket across from Starbucks so while we took turns to catch up on emails and a few forums we belong to, shopping for those last minute goodies was in order. Then back to Guy’s Mum’s pork Adobo and fish.

Tuesday 22nd June:

6:00am start (which is rather early for us) with the final packing and off to the bus station some 500m from home. On the bus to the Port of Lucena by 6:50am and arrived at 11:50 some 5 hours later. Was a good trip, as the buses don’t travel that fast due to all the traffic so you get to see the countryside.

As we arrived at the port, the Ro-Ro was about to leave in 10 minutes so we just made it with no waiting time, so happy with that. Three hours later we arrived in Balanacan (Marinduque) and once again the fly fish on the crossing entertained us. Amazing creatures as they glide and skip across the waves. Ooohhh and no sea sickness for me (didn’t take any drugs this time) so even happier……

Jeepney to Boac for our late lunch and back to the one big meal a day (including a Halo-Halo). Then another Jeepney to the Eastpoint Hotel between Boac and Gasan, which is central to our activities for the next three days.

Eastpoint is luxury for us as it has air-con, hot shower, cable TV, free Wi-Fi and is on the beach (Black volcanic sand/rocks but okay for swimming). And all for the princely sum of P750 ($18.75) per night.

Wednesday 23rd June:

Hard day at the office today with a 7:00am start and back home at 6:00pm. Looking at property all day on the west side of the island.

Meet John the Pom “at the far end of the bridge past the airport” (the instructions to the Jeepney driver) and he showed us a couple of properties on the beach. First one no good as the house was not in good condition. Second one was okay but built in a river flood plain (yep it will flood one day) and out of our price range.

Then off to meet his wife “at the first house past the old Mayor’s house with the multi coloured fence” (Jeeney driver got us there no worries). This is the very nice cottage that she is completing for rental which we are also interested in. She bought her beachfront property a few years ago and is just finishing it, so she is a good source of information and advice and being a local knows everybody.

Curba Grill (The one out by the Hot Springs) was the next stop for a leisurely lunch. Great food but they only have one CD, “Kenny Rodgers Greatest Hits” and they play it over and over and over. If I have to listen to the “The coward of the county” one more time……………..

Finally meet with Laura the lady with new sub-division and beach frontage. Went and had a look at the block and beachfront and discussed the details of what would be required if we were to purchase. We are looking at 1,000 square metres with 45m beach frontage. Current price is P500 ($12.5) per square metre. So that equates to P500,000 ($12,500). The beach is the volcanic sand with the large smooth rocks. Perfectly okay for swimming.

Then back to Eastpoint and had a good chat to the owner lady as she knows everybody and anybody and gave some great advice on what to look for when buying property here.

Thursday 24th June:

No property visits today but into Boac to check out motorcycles.

Caught up with Yolanda (John the Poms wife), before leaving our hotel, to discuss renting her new cottage (will be ready in 2-4 weeks) and another possible property on the beach next to her cottage. At this stage it looks like we can rent her new 2 bedroom cottage on the beach for P10,000 ($250 AUS) per month. Absolute bargain. So we are considering renting for some months as we take our time to investigate property. Still considering our options, as we still want to go to Romblon and Palawan.

Into Boac and visited the two motorcycle shops. Looking at a 125cc or 175cc.

To give you an idea of the prices these are the bikes we looked at:

  1. Honda XRM 125cc P58,900 ($1,500 AUS). This is an auto, no clutch.
  2. Suzuki Thunder 125cc P67,900 ($1,700 AUS). Clutch bike.
  3. Kawasaki Barako 175cc P77,400 ($1,950 AUS). This is a Trik ready bike, which means is has a beefed up suspension and frame for the addition of a Trik sidecar. Not looking at a sidecar yet but it gives us the option later on.

Then we were amused by a Suzuki “go slow” contest. Suzuki were running a promo day in the town square where they will service your Suzuki for free (Chain lube, adjust and oil change) and ran a competition to see who could go the slowest between the cones (see the pic). Very amusing and no I didn’t have a go.

Arriving back at Eastpoint Hotel there was another brown out (so no air-con). So off to the beach for our daily beach walk, then back to the bamboo floating pontoon for a quick siesta. Back to the room at 6:00pm and the power is back.

Friday 25th June:

Another busy day at the office. Went down south to the remote property and had a look but not for us. The description was that it is on the national road with the beach directly across the road. Well that was correct, except that they failed to tell us that the beach was full of fishermen’s houses.

Then back to Yolanda’s Cottage for a quick catch-up with her as she had another property to look at by the airport.

Called in and had a chat to Laura (new sub-division) at the Barbarosa Western Restaurant in Gasan on a proposal we had in mind for beach frontage property with access of our own off the main road. What we want is a 40m by 40m block on the beach with a 15m x 100m access from the main road. This would give us a total of 3,100 square metres of land, which would give us plenty of room away from our neighbours.

Should it all work out we would then build our bungalow on the beach and once the land was cleared of the rubbish (leaving all the coconut & big trees) we would plant fruit trees (like Mangoes). She is considering it at this stage. We shall see.

And while we were at the restaurant, we ran into Geoff (another Pom) and as it turns out Geoff’s wife plays Mahjong on Sundays while the boys meet at the Barbarosa. So guess what Guy is doing on Sunday while I meet the boys????? She hasn’t played since we left AUS so she is rather delighted.

She is delighted and excited but daunted as they play the game with a joker tile, so she is hoping that ‘beginner’s luck’ will be on her side!  It is also acceptable to have a ‘quota’ of money you can lose. Geoff’s wife’s is P500 ($12.50) so Guy will start her first game with that.

Then visited the last property behind the airport. Once again not for us. But it was amusing getting there. We caught a bicycle Trik from the airport to get to the property. As we approached the runway the Trik pedals through a narrow entrance, looks left & right and across the runway we go. And this is the main airport for the island. Had me going “what the……..”.

So now not heading for Romblon till Monday. Mahjong needs to be played on Sunday.

The deal with Marinduque for us on why we are now considering buying here (before even getting to Palawan or Bohol) is:

  1. Proximity and easy access to Manila, you can leave one place and be in the other within 1 day without flying and the total cost of transport is P1000 return and Guy’s mum’s house is walking distance from the bus station
  2. With our budget, we doubt very much whether we will find a white sandy beach anywhere else, we seem to be 20 years too late to get a real bargain.
  3. The island is very peaceful and the locals are friendly. Also the expat community is small and they all seem to be very warm to other expats considering to retire here
  4. We are now happy to let go of our white sandy beach in exchange for the quiet and simple life that this island has to offer for our slice of paradise.
  5. The dialect spoken here is Tagalog so Guy is right at home. No need to learn new dialect.
  6. It feels right. We both feel right at home here and can see ourselves growing old in our little plantation and Bungalow on the beach.

We will still continue to travel to the other islands using this as our base and can now concentrate on enjoying the sights rather than constantly being on the lookout for a real estate bargain.

Till next time from the hard working retirees.

Trevor & Guy

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Day 128 of retirement

June 19, 2010

Hi All

Not a lot happened this week apart from eating to much…..

Wednesday 16th June:

On the road again to day as we head back to Manila and Grace’s (Desiree’s sister) house at Paranaque which is near the airport. Desiree’s very spritely 81 years old mother and her cousin joined us on the 9-hour bus ride (450km). Edwin and Desiree flew back but unfortunately the plane was all booked out hence the bus ride.

Once again it was actually a very pleasant bus ride looking at the changing countryside as it has certainly now started to green up (especially the rice paddies) with all the rain.

All made it safe and sound and of course Grace (as she leaves for Australia tomorrow) put on a huge food spread for all the relatives who came on over. Ooohh and we had a suckling pig served up but all cut up this time. The Pork was divine. The great thing about the food here is that it is mostly fresh and organic and I must say you can taste it. So we ate too much…again.

Also had the bride and groom from the wedding on Sunday here as well and had a good chat to the groom about Palawan (one of our islands we want to visit).

Palawan is one of the few islands where they have taken a hard stance on litter. It is an offence to litter and it carries a P200 fine. The island is one of the cleanest in the Philippines.

Thursday 17th June:

Well a rest day today at Grace’s. We have the house to ourselves as everybody is off doing chores. So updating the journal and watched four DVDs. Never watched that many DVDs in one day, ever. Oohhh and snacked on all the food left over from last night. Very relaxing indeed.

Friday 18th June:

We all (6 of us) headed down south again (about 1 hour out of Manila) to Tagaytay to stay at the house of a high school batch mate of Guy and Desiree’s.

Had lunch up on the mountaintop over looking lake Taal, that has an active volcano (Also called Taal) in the middle on an island. It is currently “smoking” but that hasn’t deterred the locals who live round its base.

Upon arrival we were treated some local / freshly cook / delicacies by our gracious hosts. They were:

  1. Fresh organic Jack Fruit ripened on the tree (very sweet).
  2. Turrones De Casoy, which is, caramelized cashews wrapped in editable paper (outstanding).
  3. Buche, which is a dried sticky rice ball with red bean inside (sweet and yummy).
  4. Sapin-Sapin, which is ground sticky rice with three different colours (Sweet).
  5. Biko, which is sticky rice with sweet coconut topping (I think my sweet tooth has dissolved….).
  6. Fresh coconut cut down from the tree. Drinking the juice and then eating the soft white flesh.
  7. Fresh local bananas.
  8. Oohh and “Cheese” ice cream. Not quite local but different (very nice).

Out to dinner and all enjoyed some great Filipino food. Then back for some more of the above delicacies for desserts.

As you may know, I have a bit of a sweet tooth and believe me it was overloaded today. But I loved every minute of it, as it will have to keep me going for some time as we are back on the road next week.

Saturday 19th June:

Travelled back from Tagaytay to Bicutan (by the airport in Manila) where Desiree’s house is. Yum Char for lunch and then dropped Guy and Desiree off to a school reunion planning meeting. In December there is a huge class reunion gathering here in Manila. There was an organizing meeting being held today hence the girls attendance.

Meet them after the meeting and Guy and I then headed back to Beth’s (Guy’s sister) place and time to plan our travel in the provinces for the next few months.

Ooohhh and saw my first Ducati today. On our way back from Tagaytay I spotted a group of “big” bikes by the roadside. Mainly Hondas and Yamahas but there in the midst was a Ducati 999. Couldn’t stop as we were going the other way but was good to see a nice shiny red Ducati.

Sunday 20th June:

Back to the Mall to top up on a few things and escape the midday heat. As it is Father’s Day here today the Mall is a sea of families. The farther’s are out taking advantage of the opportunity to buy themselves anything and everything. Even the local gun shop (in the middle of the Mall) had dad’s shopping for the latest 9mm & 45 cal handguns. Interesting.

We are heading back to Marinduque on Tuesday (Bus then Ro-Ro (7 hour trip)) to continue our Bungalow search.

We have an inspection teed up for Friday and in the process of organizing two more for Wednesday and Thursday. Will see what transpires from these. We still intend to explore Romblon, Bohol and Palawan and see what we can find.

Other Stuff:

Okay for all the gear / Tec heads out there here is a run down on our gear that is being used to record our travel and provide you all with the blog updates.

Computer Gear:

I use a 13” MacBook Pro with a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo processor with Mac OS X 10.6.3, 4GB Ram and a 500GB HD. This machine also has a built in SD card slot so I can plug in my camera SD cards directly (no USB adaptor required).

As I have every digital photo I have taken on this machine, I use “Time Machine” to back everything up to 2 x 1TB USB WD drives. Disk 1 travels with us and every few days I do a backup. The disk travels in a padded bag in one of the packs separate to the Laptop. Disk 2 resides in Manila at Guy’s sister’s house so whenever we are there it gets a refresh.

Also before I left AUS I did a complete backup to 2 other USB drives and they are with Jas (son) and Craig (brother). Yea I know I am a bit anal about backups.

For connection to the web we use Wi-Fi wherever we can. Wi-Fi is actually pretty reliable and fast wherever you can get it. For other times I use USB Broadband. I use two USB providers. SMART which works best in the provinces and GLOBE, which works mainly in the bigger cities. The Broadband coverage is pretty average though. You just never know when it is going to work and it is not uncommon for the whole network to be down for 24 hours.

The MacBook is carried in a STM (huge thanks to Lisa P) neoprene soft cover that goes into my daypack and I ALWAYS carry it with me. I also have a STM shoulder bag, which is used round town only.

Phones:

We have two Nokia Pre-Paid phones. Mine with SMART and Guy’s with the GLOBE networks. That way we have both bases covered with the main providers here. I must say that in all the areas we have been we both have had coverage. Mobile coverage is fantastic. It is the broadband coverage that is crap.

Cameras:

All the pics you have been viewing to date are taken with a Canon G9 (current model is the G11) that is carried in a Lowrepro Apex PV AW small case. I used this camera on my Mustagh Ata mountain climb and it proved one tough, dependable camera in some very adverse conditions so more than up to the task here. As we are traveling light and rough at present I am only carrying this camera.

I shoot in JPG (the G9 JPG engine is pretty dam good) and use Capture One Pro V5.1.2 to process all the pics. 90% of the pics are as they come out of the camera apart from some cropping. I crop to get rid of dead space which helps reduce the size of the pic for posting to the web.

The other 10% will have some processing to bring out the highlights / shadows. Also will throw in the odd HDR (use Photomatix Pro V3.2.9) and Panorama pics (use Hugin V2010.0.0 for Mac) as well. When processing for the blog all the pics are processed by reducing the scale to 50% and the quality to 50%. I am amazed at the quality of the pics even with this level of processing from the G9.

My other camera is a Leica M8.2 with 15mm f4.5, 35mm f2.5 and 90mm f2.5 lens and a SF24D flash. Currently in storage in Manila. Once we settle down I will retrieve this camera and get serious.

Packs:

To carry all our gear we are using 3 backpacks. The main pack is a Macpac Genesis which is an 85 litre pack. The best feature of this pack is a zip over cover that encloses and protects the harness when traveling. The harness is very supportive and comfy and carrying 20kg is a breeze. All our cloths are placed in a good old Macpac Pack liner to keep them dry. Also within the liner I have dry bags for anything electronic (camera charger, batteries, water purifier, etc.).

I have a Mountain Designs “Outrace” 30L daypack and Guy uses a Mountain Designs “Endurance” 40L pack. The beauty of these packs is they have many exterior pockets for water bottles, lip cream, drugs, RID, sun screen, sun hats, etc. I have two dry bags in my pack. One for the laptop, charger, USB Broadband, etc., and the other for the camera, phone, wallet, etc.

We both carry the good old el-cheapo plastic ponchos in our daypacks that can be used in an emergency if / when we get caught in a thunderstorm. They are big enough to cover packs and all if required.

I think we have everything covered for when we get caught in the wet

Medical Kits:

We carry a comprehensive medical kit, which consists of four sub kits. There is a main drug kit with all our drugs (as supplied by the travel doctor in Sydney and topped up with local drugs). There is a Malaria kit, which enables us to test for Malaria, and if confirmed we have a course of drugs to take and then find a health centre for further treatment (we are not taking any Malaria drugs). There is another kit with band-aids, bandages, swabs and the like. And the last kit is a small one I carry in my daypack which has a few drugs (Panadol, travel sick pills, Stingose, band aids, etc.)

Other Gadgets:

I carry a SteriPEN™ Adventurer water purifier. It is the only hand held water purifier using Ultraviolet (UV) light to damage the DNA of disease-causing bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoa. We mostly drink bottled water but on the odd occasion when we need to drink local that is suspect I do purify it with this great little tool.

And of course I always have my trusty Swiss Army knife (the Hunter), knife sharpener and a roll of duct tape. You can fix almost anything with these tools. Now as a few of you may know I have a thing about “blunt” knives. Hence the sharpener and rest assured all my knives are sharp and anywhere we stay, the knives are sharper when we leave.

Also carry a trusty compass (Silva Type 4/54) that is calibrated for both hemispheres so I always know where north is. It is pretty easy to get turned around when traveling whether in the country of city streets. Throw back to my old adventure racing days.

Two Petzl head torches are a necessity with the brown outs experienced. Have a small Tikka Plus and the larger MYO XP. Great LED lights for all occasions.

And the most important item we both carry in our daypacks… Toilet paper. Yep almost nobody supplies toilet paper, even the large malls.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 123 of retirement

June 15, 2010

Hi All

Friday 11th June:

Well the wet is starting even in Manila now (raining at the moment with thunder and lightning – 7:30pm). Although it is quite humid the cloudy sky and rain have cooled things down a bit. Much nicer than when we left three weeks ago.

Time to stock up on few items and send the latest email so off to the mall we go (and its air-con…).

Guy stocked on some munchies that keep us going as we travel (the ones we can’t get in the provinces). Drug kit has a new addition. I have a bit of the cough / chesty thing that Guy had previously. Beth (Guy’s sister) gave her some blue pills that worked a treat. So off to the drug store, show them the foil blister pack and out we go with twelve more of these bombshells. Ooohhh and I lashed out and got myself a good set of goggles and snorkel ready for our next beach adventure. No fins as they are just too cumbersome to carry right now.

All finished off with Guy’s Mum’s Pork Adobo with rice. Very very yummy.

Saturday 12th June:

Well today we checked in to the EDSA Shangri-La (5 Star) Hotel in Manila till Monday courtesy of Desiree. We can’t thank her enough for this huge bit of luxury that we are not accustomed to and way outside our traveling budget.

It is rather daunting (even a bit uncomfortable) to be waited on hand and foot. And where the price of 4 Cokes pays for a whole night’s accommodation at most of the places we have been staying at.

But hot water, a huge soft bed, flushing toilet and even a real cup of tea (no milk but creamer) are kind of nice and will be savored.

Desiree and Guy are having nails done today and then the full beauty treatment tomorrow before the wedding at 4:00pm. Oooohhhh and Guy also had a foot spa to fix that “traveling feet” (rough heels) she has developed.

Out to dinner tonight at Gloria Maris, a very popular Chinese restaurant that serves very good yumcha and Chinese banquet and the other specialty is called shabu-shabu (hot steam boat).  The table has 2 hot plates in the centre, they put 2 woks divided into 2 halves where they place 4 different kinds of soup flavors in each half, and you order any kind of dumplings, tofu, meat, chicken, vegetable, noodles and you put these food into the soup once its boiling and cook it the way you like it.

They also provide 6 different kinds of sauces and add ons like garlic and shallots for your dip, which you make whichever way you like. Once the food is cooked you fish them out with the ladles provided and dip it in your sauce and eat away!  Very tasty, very filling and we want more!

Ooohhh and we had to break out some “good” cloths for our stay. So we raided our stash that we brought from AUS (and last worn in AUS) only to find that they are now all quite loose. Mmmmmm we have lost some weight and it’s all-good.

Sunday 13th June:

Well today is the big wedding day. Didn’t know a soul there but still felt very welcome.

Guy had the beauty makeup and hair artists do a make over on her followed by Desiree and her sister, Grace. This took about 5 hours all up. And I must say I have a new wife. Desiree also organized both our outfits for the wedding. I am wearing the traditional Philippine suit called the Barong Tagalog and Guy is wearing a very nice orange cocktail dress. Pics will explain what these are better than words.

The wardrobe artist for the bride made 35 different types of gowns for the wedding party. They are all the same Magenta colour (the bride’s favorite colour) but different styles.

Wedding all good (26 in the wedding party including the bride & groom) and then to the reception in the hotel (180 guests). Food and drink was outstanding. Ate and drank too much but hey, it was a wedding. Ooohhh and finished up dancing with the bride.

It is just the normal run of the mill Filipino wedding……… Not.

Monday 14th June:

Well we are now headed down south with Desiree and her brother, Edwin, for the week after their gracious invitation to join them. But it meant a 5:30am start for Guy and I to catch the bus for a 9-hour trip. This early start was a shock to the system after our leisurely weeks.

But it was a great trip down (450km) where we got to see the plains, some more coastal regions (mud flats and rocks so not for us) and then the mountains (could build some mean MTB tracks here). Actually enjoyed it in the bus viewing the countryside.

And as the wet has started some of the rice paddies are now a brilliant green. Great to see after all the dry countryside we have been experiencing.

Desiree and Edwin flew down and picked us up when we arrived. Then a huge feast was prepared by Desiree with all the relo’s coming over and we ate and drank way too much (just like a good old aussie Barbie). A great time was had by all.

We are in the Bicol region (town of Pili) just outside of Naga. The volcano Mount Mayon is just in the distance and has the perfect cone, apparently (clouded in at the moment). We are staying at Desiree’s mum’s house where her mum spends the Australian winter (she’s from Melbourne so that explains it).

Tuesday 15th June:

On the way into town (Naga the local provincial capital) we visited the Wake Boarding Park that was built and used for the world champs last year. They built the whole facility including resort style accommodation just for the event.

You can now go stay there and enjoy all the facilities, which also include restaurants, two big pools and basic to luxury accommodation. There are two lakes. One for Wake Boarding and the other for water skiing and a mini “Wipeout” style fun park. Very impressive place.

Then visited a huge old church with a very impressive stained glass window and watched the guys doing renovations on one of the huge walls outside with only minimal bamboo scaffolding. No OH&S here………

More great food and more visitors this evening. On the bus back to Desiree’s house outside of Manila tomorrow.

Retirement is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 118 of retirement

June 13, 2010

Hi All

Yep we still alive and kicking. Just been enjoying our time at “our” beach.

Friday 4th June:

Organized the cook today (via good old text messaging) to come and cook us Chicken Adobo, which will feed us for the next 2 days. As we were heading into Torrijos for the morning to get a few more supplies, the cook would come and cook the adobo at the shack and leave it in the cupboard away from the roving animals. Also we left “Toddy” to keep an eye on things and a great job he did.

We walked to White Beach and caught a Trik into town and found an Internet café but they didn’t have any Wi-Fi. They pointed us to the local store. Yep this guy had Wi-Fi and was happy to connect us in. And at a reasonable speed so we were able to send the last email update (Retirement 111) and catch up on email responses and some banking stuff. We were there for about 2.5 hours and it cost us P30 ($0.77). Bargain.

Back home and hot lunch waiting for us (Chicken Adobo with Rice). Very yummy and a real treat to not spend any effort in having home cooked meals when you have a ‘hard day’ at the office.

My afternoon’s work was to fix the hammock. It was pretty much split down the middle. So out came the trusty Swiss Army knife, found a piece of rope in a tree, unwound it and then stitched up the hammock (Robyn M, Neville would be proud of my net mending skills…..). Once my handy work was finished time for a siesta.

Another balmy evening as we watch the Gecko’s feast on all the bugs. Also saw, for the first time, the Tuko (Large Gecko). They are about 6”-12” long and make a very distinct sound (their call sounds like “Took-oooohhh”). Sounds like someone calling you. It is considered lucky to have these in your house as they eat all the bugs. We have two here so we are very lucky.

Saturday 5th June:

Leisurely day at the shack (rest day…). Swimming, (discovered my $3 goggles & snorkel from the local market don’t work so well, will get some good ones when we next pass through a diving centre), eating, siesta, more hammock work and a stroll to White Beach for a Coke. Finished up playing cards under the stars and watching our two Tuko’s catching grasshoppers and crickets attracted by the lights.

Oohhhh and my daily litter pick up on the beach. Marilou does a great job of keeping her shack area litter free so each low tide I pick up whatever litter has washed up. Not much to pick up but keeps “our” beach pristine.

Sunday 6th June:

Well, went to church this morning. Nope this isn’t a miss print and we didn’t get struck by lightning. Trev & Guy went to church. This all transpired with Guy meeting Ramon (on the boat over here). He has been really good in providing us with great local info and also further contacts in Palawan, Boracay and Ilo-ilo. Turns out he also is a pastor in one of the small local gospel churches and invited us along.

So this morning along we went. The service is done mostly in Tagalog so not sure what was happening but very casual and lots of smiles in this very warm little church. Part of the service is to welcome new comers and they invited Guy to speak and introduce us to the congregation, which she obliged.

Once again I can’t say how friendly and helpful the Filipinos are.

At 1:30pm Aurora (our lovely cook) arrived and cooked up a pot of Sinigang (Pork, taro, snake beans, tamarind and herbs & spices & eaten with rice) for the next two days. Sinigang is a cross between soup and stew and is one of my favorites. So a long lunch and siesta followed.

Meet Ramon again at 4:00pm for a guided tour of the local area and who owns what. The property boom has just started here on the beach frontage. But talking to locals the main issue on the east side of the island is reliable water. You have to rely on wells (which tend to be salty) or the local reservoir, which has water restrictions (basically you just can’t get any) in the summer and then the other extreme in the wet, too much water everywhere.

Ramon’s family owns pieces of land here and was offering us free ‘squatting’ privileges where the unwritten agreement is we build our shack and stay as long as we want and can leave anytime and leave the shack where it stands, apparently, this practice has been going on forever and seemed like an acceptable way of accommodation.  Sadly, the piece of land available has no beach frontage and we are not comfortable with this ‘practice’ as yet, so have not made any commitments.

After dinner Guy and I went for our usual night beach walk and just as we headed back we saw movement by the coconut shells pile by our bbq corner. And there they all were. About half a dozen of the Coconut crabs (from big to small) all emerging from the pile of coconut shells. Apparently they are very delicious to eat but they are also endangered so we let them be and were not game on killing/cooking these very prehistoric looking crabs.

Monday 7th June:

Back to work today. Tried to fix the cheap goggles but to no avail (where’s a tube of silicon when you need it). Although I did manage to see a beautiful little black and white stripped sea snake before the snorkel completely died.

Litter pickup on the beach and of course the mandatory swims to cool off in between jobs, eating and all followed by a siesta. Ooohhh and a quick stroll to White Beach for our Halo-halo and meet a fellow aussie called Harry from Coffs Harbor who owns a resort just down the road.

Hiring a motorbike tomorrow and going exploring / house hunting.

Tuesday 8th June:

Picked up the trusty Kawasaki 125cc this morning and off we headed. The aim was to circumnavigate the island in the reverse to what we did with the boys last week. As we were house / land hunting we concentrated on the section between Buenavista and Gasan.

So over the mountain pass we headed. It was a very twisty road up and down and okay but with a few rough sections (all concrete road). Not really Ducati monster type of road but definitely Multistrada country. Where’s a Multi when you need one….. But we had fun anyway even though I was 100hp down on my old S4RT. We finished up doing just under 200km for the day so our butts were a little numb (for $5.00 worth of fuel – slightly better than the S4RS hey Jukie, Matty and gang…).

This was also Guy’s first outing ever on the back of a bike, she was a bit nervous and sat up on our first bend, had to stop as I realized we are headed the wrong way and told Guy to just follow my lead on the bends and after the next couple of bends, she was doing it like a pro from then on.

So after a day of meeting with a new subdivision owner, developer cum builder, landlord with new cottage on the beach for long term rent, Pommy & German expats who currently live here we have three options on our accommodation and house hunting expedition.

  1. New cottage on the beach that will be available for long-term rent. It’s very nice (don’t know price yet as still to be finished).
  2. Purchase beachfront property about 900 sqm and build (to build a nice 2 bedroom house with water, power, furniture, landscaping and with a 175cc motorbike thrown in (P2,000,000 = $52,000 AUS). The lot has a 45m water frontage and is 20m deep.
  3. Purchase existing property on the beach but in a slightly more remote area which means 5km of dirt road to get to it (P800,000 = $21,000 AUS).  It has views of the 6 Star Elephant Island Resort so right down south.

The beaches for all of these are the dark volcanic sand with smooth rocks and pebbles. No white sandy beaches on the west side of the island. But they are very nice as all the rocks are very smooth and it is very acceptable for swimming. The water is crystal clear and warm.

So we have decided to stay here at Marilou’s for 3 more days (till Sunday 13th June) and are setting up further inspections to look at the properties just to give us ideas on what we can expect to pay at least here in Marinduque.

And so ends another tough day at the office.

Wednesday 9th June:

Quiet day today after yesterday’s adventure. Walked to White beach and bought two fresh Bonito (baby tuna kind of fish) for lunch for today and tomorrow. They were caught last night so nice and fresh

Filleted and fried strips of fish one for lunch. Eaten with rice and a dipping sauce consisting of Soy Sauce, coconut vinegar and calamansi (local lime). Very yummy and even healthy.

Siesta then Halo-halo as we watch the sunset from White Beach, again. Very quiet leisurely day.

Thursday 10th June:

Well the beat laid plans….. At 9:30am this morning Guy received a text from her good friend Desiree in Melbourne. She will be in Manila for the weekend for a wedding and was wondering if we could catch-up. So a quick review of our plans and we decided to do it.

By 11:30am we had cleaned the shack, packed and were on the Jeepney from Torrijos to Santa Cruz. Then switch to a mini van for the trip to the port of Balanacan where we caught the Ro-Ro (Roll on roll off ferry that transports vehicles and people) to Lucena. Final leg was on a Jac Liner bus that took us to within one block of Guy’s sister’s house (Beth) some 12 hours later (11:30pm).

Will be in Manila till early next week, stock on a few little “luxuries” while here, and then back on the road again.

Stuff:

As we have our own private estate here at Marliou’s, the dress code has gone even further down hill. Down to just my jocks now and loving it. And no the full Monty is not going to happen. With the intensity of the sun here, sun burnt bits that don’t see the sun could be very very painful.

To explain what the white beaches are here. They are definitely white, as they are made up of crushed coral. This makes them courser that the fine aussie golden sands we are used to. I would have to say that to date Australia has the best sandy beaches anywhere in the world. But don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with the white beaches here (quite happy to have my own little stretch here). They are just different. They say that the further you go south the finer the beaches become. We shall see.

I haven’t worn shoes now for 5 months and my feet love it. Wear thongs most of the time and Teva’s when traveling. My feet have never felt so good and been so healthy. OOohhh and no hair cut yet either…. Mmmmmmm dreadlocks or maybe braided?????

Guy is having concerns as her feet are developing hard skin around the edges and thinks that a foot spa is very much required to remove these ugly dead skin.  For those of you who do not know what a foot spa is, its where they will apply softening lotion on the foot and scrape off all the dead skin till it is baby bum smooth followed by a pedicure, not for me I’m afraid, though happy to try a pedicure maybe….

Life is good….

Trevor & Guy


Day 111 of retirement

June 13, 2010

Hi All

Wwwooo hhooo we found Wi-Fi in Torrijos. You just never know when and where it will pop up.

Monday 31st May:

Left Eastpoint Hotel this morning and caught the Jeepney south to Buenavista where we then had to transfer to a Trik to get to the Hot springs. Upon arrival in Buenavista we walked to the pier and were sitting under a shade enjoying the cool sea breeze when Guy struck up a conversation with one of the locals.

We were going to eat at one of the local eateries before heading to the Hot springs so were enquiring on where to eat. Well this guy recommended a lovely local spot called Curba Grill, just out of town, and organized a Trik who would take us to the grill, wait while we ate and then take us to the Hot springs all for the sum of P60 ($1.55 AUS).

So Curba Grill it was. Well this is a great little spot where we had a Lomi (thick soup with pork meat and liver, veggies and noodles). A Pork bun was also utilized to soak up the yummy thick soup.

As a few of you know I also like a slice of lemon with my drinks. So out comes our ice tea with a lemon slice (lemon is not big over here). I was in heaven with great food and my “lemon” ice tea. And all this food and drink for a total of P160 ($4.10 AUS). Absolute bargain.

Made it to the Hot springs, which is a very pretty little place with gardens and bamboo nipa huts in the grounds. It has 3 hot pools (2 big and 1 small), which are fed by a hot stream coming out of the mountains. And they are hot. But it is very refreshing when you swim then get out and sit in the breeze. We repeated this process many times. Then time for our afternoon Siesta.

Beautiful evening so we walked back to Curba’s Grill (40 minute walk) and enjoyed a Halo-halo (made up of ice, milk (tinned evaporated), ice cream, purple yam, coconut, gelatin, crunchy rice, sago and other sweet fruits). Very nice treat as you can’t always find them out bush. Curba Grill is this little restaurant on the first floor that catches the breeze and views of the surrounding fields with a loud stereo playing mellow music and very relaxing with very friendly staff.

Trik ride back to the hot springs and a leisurely dip before bed.

Tuesday 1st June:

Bit of a sleep in, breakfast (some yummy coconut small buns locally called hopia) then hit the springs. 1:00pm ish we headed for Curba’s once again for the main meal of our day, lunch.

As it was a very balmy coolish day (low 30sC) we decided to spend the afternoon at Curba’s in the breeze watching the locals. We were entertained by a guy and his buffalo with skid trailer and the local kids carting bricks, cement and building supplies from the road to about 500m up in the dry rice paddies for somebody’s new house.

These little kids would hoist 1 and some times 2 bricks onto their shoulders and off they would go. Each time they arrived back it was a contest to see who could carry 2 bricks.

And we were entertained by this little kid with an old motorcycle tire that he would guide along this narrow twisty cement path in the rice fields with only a stick. He was pretty dam good at it getting round all the corners without stopping.

Ooohhh and we managed to have a couple of Malibu and Pineapple juices Sandy L and Lynne A while we were at it.

I managed a quick nap on the bamboo bench seat (this practice is acceptable here) before we finished off with a Halo-halo. Then a stroll back in the cooler evening air. We purchased tomorrow’s breakfast (some more coconut buns) then back to the hot springs for a dip to cool off in the hot water.

Wednesday 2nd June:

Another hard day at the office. Breakie, hot springs, Curba’s for late lunch, nap, explore Buenavista (on the coast), Curba’s for Halo-halo, hot springs and bedtime.

Today we meet the guy who runs the hot springs and had a great chat to him on the history of the springs and the real-estate market in this area. He also took us up the back of the resort to pick some organic Sineguelas (Small sugar plums). If you eat them slightly red they are slightly sour and crunchy. If you eat them dark red they are sweet (almost like mango). Tried both reds and both very refreshing although I like the sweet ones. We have a bag full to take to Torrijos with us.

The history of the hot springs was that it was a bit of a dive until 2007 when Francis (The administrator come developer, come designer) took over running the resort for the owners. He completely redeveloped it, as it had been the local dump for the neighborhood. So he buried the dump and built two new pools, landscaped the grounds and updated the accommodation. He made the resort self sufficient in one year. They have 9 hectares of land with only 2 being developed at present. He showed us the next stage of development that is another pool with an island bar for private use by the high-end users (well you can have private functions there).

Had a bit of a storm last night with thunder, lightning and very heavy rain along with the usual brownout. The days are now cloudier (stormy clouds) and a bit cooler (at long last) but still pretty muggy. So hopefully the wet is on the way. The locals are all waiting so they can plant their rice crops.

Thursday 3rd June:

We left the hot springs sadly and headed for Torrijos (about 30km away on the east side of the island). From there it was to the far end of White Beach at our home stay home called Marilou’s. Guy did her usual hard negotiation with one of the local Trik boys and we ended up taking the Trik for about a $1.00 more than the Jeepney ride and far more pleasant.

It was a very pleasant ride through the mountains. On the home stretch Trik boy switched off his engine and for 12km we just coasted down the mountain taking in all the sights and sounds. When we hit Torrijos he waited while we got 2 x 20 litre containers of water and some supplies and then transported us to Marliou’s front door. All for the princely sum of P300 ($7.75 AUS).

This is one very cool place as we have our own private beach with a 300m walk over two headlands to get to the resort area of White Beach. Luckily we are far enough away from White Beach that we don’t hear or see them but we can walk to get supplies.

The local fisherman sell their catch at White Beach as well so looks like fresh fish on the Barbie tomorrow night cooked with coconut husks. Ooohhh and we got some coconut vinegar for the fish. I am a vinegar lover from my childhood and this coconut stuff is pretty dam good. It has chilies, garlic and other secret herbs and spices in it.

Our shack is 20m from the waters edge with lots of shady coconut palms and a larger veranda out the front, which houses the kitchen and “lounge”. And it catches the cool afternoon sea breeze.

We also have a private cook if we need her. You negotiate with her what you want (local food only) and she will get the required ingredients and come and cook it right here for us. For her to get the food and come cook it here, you are looking at about P400 ($10.00 AUS) for two days worth of food for us. We will be utilizing her services.

We had an afternoon “wet” storm and due to it being that heavy we were able to shower and wash our hair in it while standing in the “front yard”. Yep we are going feral. After the storm passed we picked some fresh apple mangoes for our dinner. Don’t get much fresher than that.

Balmy evening watching the lightning show off shore and the Fireflies light up as they buzz past us. Then off to bed under the ceiling fan.

Stuff:

We now have a whole new eating regime. Basically we eat a light breakfast (9:00am ish – fresh fruit or some sweet bread buns) and make lunch (1 to 2:00pm ish) our main big meal of the day followed by light snacks for dinner (6:00pm ish). If we snack (which we hardly do) in between it is usually nuts or fruit

No more cheese, biscuits, cakes, chocolate, tea/coffee or any of that other great western food. This is working for us about 90% of the time and we actually feel pretty good.

And we now have a mascot travelling with us. I found a little teddy bear on the beach today so we washed him off and he now “hangs” on the veranda with us and will now accompany us forever. Oohhh he is named “Toddy”. Yep Todd Stafford he is named after you and your teddy that went on every race with you come rain, shine or hail.

Take care all.

Trevor & Guy.