Day 128 of retirement

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

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