Day 163 of retirement

July 24, 2010

Hi All

Monday 19th July:

Quiet day as we are just waiting till Wednesday now for a copy of our approved sub-division so we can hand over to Laura the second payment for our land.

Usual trip to the Mall where I armed myself with my beloved Leica M8.2 camera and the 15mm f4.5 lens (equals 21mm on the Leica) to get some wide shots of the newest Mall called The Annex. There are no issues with the security guards here taking pics in the Mall. Just as long as you don’t take pics of them, they are happy.  Got some good snaps of the great flowing shapes in the building.

Also have confirmed that our rental cottage back on Marinduque will have the power connected by the weekend. So all being good we will now head back to Marinduque at the weeks end.

And Guy started work on the “Food Stuff” blog page. Page is up and we will get some recipes up soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday 20th July:

Another quiet day. Spoke to Laura and all the documents for the sub-division have not arrived so looks like Thursday now before the payment can take place.

We walked to the local Beauty Parlor and Guy had her usual manicure and pedicure. Was a leisurely stroll as it has cooled down somewhat now due to the wet.

Quick trip to the Mall and good old Starbucks for the free Wi-Fi. We both tidied up our Gmail accounts and contacts list. One of those things you always mean to do but never do. Well we did it.

As we got off the MRT (light rail) and were walking to Mall 2 there was this huge fire just down the road. Turns out it was in one of the slum areas and 150 houses were lost. The Department of Agriculture building next door was also damaged.

Watching it on the news there was a looter who was caught by the locals. Lets just say that they handed the appropriate punishment to him for his crime and he will be one very sore and sorry individual tomorrow,

Wednesday 21st July:

Still waiting for the approved sub-division plan. Late call from Laura and it has arrived so tomorrow is “pay” day.

Usual trip to the Mall for lunch and Wi-Fi. Enjoying this while we can as once we head back to Marinduque there is no Mall and all the luxuries it brings. Just our cottage by the beach which I must say is looking pretty dam good right now after a couple of weeks in the big smoke.

Ooohhh and in the outside Mall pics you will see the huge billboards that abound. Now all these billboard-advertising banners are made out of vinyl so that when the Typhoons come they roll them up so they don’t catch the wind and blow done. Then they come back after and unwind them again. Neat system when it works.

Thursday 22nd July:

We meet Laura and her brother at the lawyers offices just round the corner this morning and we have now signed the “Deed of Sale” after witnessing the approved sub-division plan. Our 2,908sqm of paradise now exists in Marinduque .

We are meeting Laura at the bank tomorrow morning for the second of three payments. Then we can start clearing the land as it has been surveyed on the ground. Looks like I will be back to work laboring in the midday sun…..

The final payment will be in a few weeks once the new title is issued in our names.

Had a bit of a nervous time re tomorrow’s payment. I had transferred the funds from Australia last Friday and as of this morning they hadn’t arrived (usually takes only 3 days max). So a call to the bank in AUS and all was fine on their end, the funds had been transferred successfully. Then after the signing of the deed Guy and I went to the Bank here to recover our funds.

They were really great at the bank and after a 20-minute phone conversation to their overseas processing branch the funds were to be in our account by the COB. And sure enough, they were. Always a bit nervous when transferring funds over the Internet especially overseas, but (touch wood) all good.

Friday 23rd July:

All went smoothly this morning at the bank. Paid Laura the second payment and we now have a copy of the plan showing the approved sub-division of our slice of paradise and the “Deed of Sale”.

Leisurely day after the bank. Lounged around, watched some TV and had a little siesta.

Just waiting on Yolanda (Cottage owner) to let us know that the power is connected and we head back to Marinduque.

Saturday 24th July & Sunday 25th July:

Leisurely couple of days in Manila waiting for our cottage to be powered up so we can return to Marinduque .

Caught the MRT (very efficient light rail system) to the Mall for P10 ($0.25 AUS) each. It’s a two-block walk to the station and then two stops to the mall so nice and quick.

Pretty much know all three malls now and what is where. Have determined that Mall 2 has the best free Wi-Fi. It is actually supplied by the Mall itself and available in most of the mall. But some spots are better than others.

We always used to go to Starbucks cause that’s where everybody goes to connect. But there are times where the Wi-Fi grinds to a halt as somebody decides to download some huge YouTube file.

So we now go to little café on the second floor in the middle of the building. Great food ($2 to $5 a meal) and great Wi-Fi connection with no grinding halts. And we are usually the only people there connected.

We are enjoying this current quiet time. Once we return to Marinduque the work begins as we start the clearing of our land. We will hire locals to do the work and we will supervise and do what we can. I think I am going to like this……..

The wet is certainly building. Rains most days and has rained pretty much all day today. The great thing is that it is a very pleasant temperature. Even if you get wet it isn’t cold and you dry off in a short while. So different from good old Aussie rainy weather.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 156 of retirement

July 17, 2010

Hi All

Wednesday 14th July:

Well we survived Typhoon Basyang. Hit our section of the city about 9:00pm last night and lasted for about 7 hours.  The power went off at 9:30pm last night and came back on at 6:30pm (some 21 hours later). There for a while it looked like we might have to endure another night in the dark.

Was lots of wind and rain (no flooding here luckily). You would hear the gusts coming (sounded like a freight train) and they would hit turning the rain from vertical to horizontal. Then 10-15 minutes later they were gone (still windy though) till the next one. We found out in the morning that the blackout was for the whole island of Luzon.

In our first floor room we got a birds eye view (well sound effects anyway) of the proceedings. We started with our windows open to catch the cooler wind but Guy had to shut them as the rain was starting to come in and stuff was getting blown round the room. Re-opened everything after the storm front had passed and was nice to feel a cool breeze (the coolest breeze we have felt since arriving).

Main damage here in our area was trees, rubbish and some minor building damage (windows and fences). Went for a walk earlier and it is business as usual (minus the power of course). All good in our suburb.

Schools and colleges are all closed today so the kids are all enjoying their free day. Globe mobile has been on and off all day. Smart mobile has been on but noticed the signal isn’t too good. Both Globe & Smart Broadband were down all day.

Tonight we have power and broadband connection so my life is complete.

OOohhh and yesterday while Guy was following the paper trail in the Immigration centre I went for a wander across the road and found this huge (and very interesting) old derelict building.

It was the Aduana (Spanish word for Customs) house. The history is:

  • First built in 1823 to 1829.
  • Damaged in an earthquake in 1863 and demolished in 1872.
  • Rebuilt in 1874 to 1876.
  • Damaged in WW2 by Japanese bombs in 1942 and American artillery in 1945.
  • Ravaged by fire in 1979.
  • Partly restored in 1998 but as nothing since, so mother nature has pretty much taken over, even in the middle of a big city.

You can see by just looking at the facade and inside the broken windows that it was a majestic building in its day. Sad to see it come to its present state where it is just falling down, brick by brick.

Would have loved to get inside and take some pics. But will have to be content with the pics I did get from the outside during the rain.

Thursday 15th July:

Well we have just come from the bank where we have paid a deposit to Laura for 2,908 sqm of beachfront property on Marinduque. Two more payments to be made (one next week and the other about 6 weeks away) and we will have the title.

We have already started on a floor plan for our Bungalow (including Typhoon proofing it as best we can) and will work on this further on our return to Marinduque in a few weeks. As it is the wet now, you can’t build so plenty of time to play round with the plans. Building can start round December ish and we would hope that the Bungalow would be ready to occupy about this time next year.

We will get the land cleared during the wet. Only removing the bush and leaving all the coconut and other big trees there.

The land is on the west coast of Marinduque. You have Boac at the top of the island, Gasan in the middle and Buenavista at the southern part. Our piece of paradise is about 5 km north of Buenavista (where the Hot Springs are), which is less populated than the north. Also this is the area that has the expat community. They meet in Gasan each Sunday lunchtime to chew the fat.

Laura’s (local lady – our land seller) story is that she was married to a German guy but they are now divorced. There is a total of 9 hectares land that has been split as follows:

  • 3.5h now belongs to their two kids who live in Germany (northern section which is cleared except for the coconut and big trees).
  • 2.0h is Laura’s (her divorce settlement & middle section & still native bush land).
  • 3.5h belong to Laura’s ex husband who lives there (has large house, visitors’ house and sheds) when he is in the Philippines (southern section and cleared except for the coconut & big trees).

So we will be all alone on our little patch as Laura has left the rest of her land in two big lots (8,000sqm and 8,500sm).

All very exciting and will keep us busy for a couple of years as we build and plant our local fruit trees on the land.

The Bungalow is that one step closer.

Went to the Mall after and saw the movie “Inception” with Leonardo diCaprio. Interesting movie. Got a bit lost with the old guy but won’t give anything away.

Friday 16th July:

Well woke up today and we have nothing to do and all day to do it. After a leisurely brunch at Guy’s Mum’s (next door) we headed for the Mega Mall (haven’t been there before), which is a short MRT (train ride) ride away.

After a bit of a walk round we came to the annual Gun exhibition. You could get pretty much anything you wanted here if you have the cash. They had everything from pistols, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, pepper spray, stun guns and all the accessories to go with them. Was a bit weird seeing all this hardware after coming from AUS where there is very very strict gun control.

For afternoon tea we found this Coffee shop that caters for us Wi-Fi folk. They had free Wi-Fi (you have to buy a coffee to get the password) with power points at all the tables. I reckon that 85% of the people in the café were on laptops and all had a coffee. Very nice establishment and one I will go back to. Even the Royal Tea Latte (Chai Latte) wasn’t bad. Almost like home……..

Tonight we are going through a “Deed of conditional sale” from Laura. This will need to be completed for our next payment on the land. Hope to have that sorted by mid next week.

We are then thinking of heading to Palawan for a couple of weeks before returning to Marinduque and our new land. But we will see what next week brings.

Saturday 17th July:

Further work on the Deed of conditional sale this morning. Getting it ready to be signed at our next payment, which will hopefully be next week once the sub-division plan is approved.

We are dealing directly with Laura (the landowner and no agent or broker). Will save us both some expense. We are getting a huge amount of help from Aura (Guy’s best friend) who has just gone through the same process. And also Laura’s sister works at the Bureau of Lands, so we are both doing it by the book. Laura is fantastic to work with (lots of communication), as all parties want a smooth transaction for the least cost.

Guy and I are so glad that we are “retired” and can devote our full attention to the process. Then once the land clearing and Bungalow building starts we will be involved hands on.

So much for a quiet “retirement”. That will come in a year or two when I can sit on my veranda in the deck chair with a Coke and lemon in hand gazing out over the beach and snoozing.

Back at the Mall again this afternoon to escape the heat and sort out our mobile phones (well Guy’s and my Broadband). All fixed now so we can share Pre-Paid loads and the free texts. Got to love technology… when it works….

Sunday 18th July:

Another day of not much to do and all day to do it. Now waiting for Laura’s sub-division plan to be approved so we can make the second payment of three on our land. Should be all sorted in the next few days.

Then we leave Manila and either head for Palawan or back to Marinduque if our long-term rental beach cottage is ready. Just needs the power connected and all go. When we get back to Marinduque (either now or after exploring Palawan) we will get ourselves a motorbike and spend our time organizing the clearing up of our block, designing our Bungalow (plans and organize a builder) and exploring the island.

Went to another Sunday market today with Beth and family. Now I should warn you all I love markets (anywhere in the world if there is a market, I’m there). I just love the sights, sounds, smells and the people. Had Goat Adobo for lunch and it was very nice. Anyway see the “many” pics.

Life is good.

Take care all.

Trevor & Guy

Day 151 of retirement

July 13, 2010

Hi All

Thursday 8th July:

Sleep in and then Vilma made us our usual banana & mango pancake (we get one and share it as it is huge). Very yummy. Then we assumed the usual position under our shady tree to watch the world go by and admire the view.

Went for my last snorkel before lunch. Got quite adventurous and swam out to the where the coral reef drops into the channel a few hundred metres off shore. Lots of fish life and saw two nice big crayfish lurking in their lairs. Pity it’s a marine park. Also had this little bright orange clown fish, the ones that live in the sea anemone, come right up and give me the once over. Such fluorescent colours.

Nice fresh fish for lunch with rice and veggies being our one big meal for the day. Couple of strolls along the beach and watched the sunset before retiring. Dinner was 2 bananas each, washed down with Ice Green Tea (Apple flavor).

Time to pack as we are heading back to Manila tomorrow to attend to some more paperwork.

A leisurely day really.

Friday 9th July:

Well we sadly have to leave this beautiful piece of paradise. The Bangka took us back to the dock at Romblon to catch the “big” Ro-Ro (this is the biggest Ro-Ro we have traveled on so far) to Batangas then a bus trip to Manila.

The Ro-Ro left at 1:30pm on the 13-hour trip (yea a long one) with one stop on the way. About 4 hours into the trip the air-conditioning “broke” and couldn’t be fixed. So the crew came round opening all the windows that “would open”. We were lucky as we were sitting by a window that opened so had nice sea breeze on us for the whole trip. We did actually manage to get some sleep, which was good. Others sitting in the middle of the boat were not so lucky. A lot of passengers finished up on the top open-air deck. One resourceful guy even broke out a hammock and rigged it up out on the top deck.

Saturday 10th July:

The Ro-Ro arrived at Batangas at 2:30am and we hustled straight onto the bus. Not much sleep with the bus stop and starts (dropping off and pickup passengers) and a bus driver who seem insistent on beeping his horn at every other vehicle on the road. Good run though as there wasn’t much other traffic at this time of the morning. Arrived back in Manila at 5:00am. Short two block walk and we were back at Beth’s house (Guy’s sister where we stay).

Grabbed 4 hours sleep and then off to the Mall. We have a bit of list of “luxuries” to get for when we return to the provinces so have started the buy up. And of course Guy had to get her Zagu (hasn’t had one for ages).

Have also started checking out prices of “house” fixtures here in Manila. Will use this as a guide if / when we build our bungalow. Hopefully we should have the property purchase on Marinduque sorted within the week. Fingers and toes crossed.

Sunday 11th July:

Bit of a sleep in this morning. Late breakfast and off to a huge local market just 3 blocks away. They have the market divided into sections (meat & fish, veggies, clothes & shoes and other knick knacks) which are all housed under this huge corrugated iron roof complex.

Hard to tell but I recon it would easily cover more than one city block. Now there is no air-conditioning, no fridges and no freezers here so if you want to keep anything cool you have to use ice. They wheel in these huge man size blocks of ice, break them up and feed the bits into a huge ice crusher which produces the ice for the merchants.

It appears that the meat market is most active first thing in the morning and pretty much over by early afternoon (to avoid the heat).

We were after a small transistor radio to take with us on the nights when we had no TV. Couldn’t find one at the mall (only had TVs, laptops & iPods) so the local market was the go. Found exactly what we wanted. No iPods here. They even still sold cassette players. Like a step back in time seeing all this ancient technology. See the pics.

Quick lunch and back to the mall for a few other bits we needed. Stop off at our favorite café for a Coke and catch up on emails.

This evening was spent digging out all our documentation (Passports, Birth Certificates, Divorce papers, Marriage papers, etc.) ready for a trip to immigration tomorrow and start the dual citizenship process for Guy and myself. Let the fun begin………

Monday 12th July:

So off to the NSO (National Statistics Office) for Guy to get a certified copy of her birth certificate for her application for Philippines citizenship. Now there are thousands of people each day go through this “office”. They actually have a bit of a system to keep it all orderly. You progress through three sections, completing a bit of your paperwork in each section. Guy’s number was 3220 and it only took us two hours from start too finish so not so bad.

Had to come back between 3–4:00pm to pickup the final copies.

So off to the LTO (Land Transport Office) to get Philippines drivers license.  A much simpler process as our Australian license only need conversion, otherwise, we need to do written and physical exams on top.  The process is:

  1. LTO to get the relevant paper work to be filled out.
  2. Off to a private “medical centre” where they test / gather the following:
    1. You pee into a jar and they test for drugs. No bags in the room and you have to pee with the door open so then can see you not substituting another bottle.
    2. They take your photo electronically.
    3. They take all your fingerprints electronically (both hands).
    4. They test your eyes with the good old eye chart on the wall.
    5. They test a few leg exercises just to make sure you legs work.
    6. They test your blood pressure.
    7. They measure your height.
    8. They measure your weight. Been a couple of months since I have been on scales and I have lost 7kg in the last two months (since leaving AUS) and it feels great, Guy no change.
    9. They give you hard copies of all the above tests to take back to the LTO. Ooohhhh and you have to sign the final documents in two places and then next to each signature you have to dip your thumb into ink and leave a thumb print. Just to be sure to be sure.
    10. Get photocopies of your AUS license, passport main page and the VISA page. You do this on the sidewalk on some doggy old Xerox photocopier that should have been retired when they build the ark.
    11. Back to the LTO with all the relevant documentation.
    12. Have your photo taken again and signature recorded, both electronically. Had to do this twice for some unknown reason.
    13. Pay your money.
    14. Then you get your new shiny Philippines license.
    15. Total cost including the “medical” is P1020 ($25.00 AUS). And takes about two hours all up.

Back to the NSO and once again Guy was put in the 3:00pm queue to get her documents. 45 minutes later she emerged with her certified birth certificates. Tomorrow we start the immigration process for dual citizenship for Guy and myself. Yep I am going to look at being an Aussie and Filipino citizen. This will allow us to own land and live here permanently, which is what we want to do.

Looking at the weather tonight there is a huge tropical storm building out east of Manila in the Pacific Ocean. Just a storm at present but if it builds up could be my first Typhoon. They predict that Manila will only get the edge of it if at all. We shall see.

Guy’s mum cooked Sinigang for dinner tonight. One of my favorites.

Tuesday 13th July:

Off to the Philippines Immigration office this morning via the MRT (rapid train) and Jeepney ride. Three hours later and Guy is now once again a Filipino citizen. She now holds dual citizenship with the Philippines and Australia.

It was quite a painless process. She had all required documents and with the addition of a few more, which we were able to organize at the office, it was a smooth process. You have to get lots of signatures and stamps from various “officials” but the good thing is that they all reside in the one building.

Then she had to take the oath before a “JP”, who is in the building, then pay the required Pesos and all done.

While there we completed all of the paper work we could for my Filipino citizenship as well. I have to wait till Guy’s official citizen certificate comes through in about 4 weeks, then I can continue with my Filipino citizenship processing.

I must admit that over the last two days we have achieved twice as much as I thought we would. Although there is lots of paper shuffling and waiting, it is a pretty efficient process and just works.

Manila is now on “Signal 1” Typhoon “Basyang” alert.

The signals range from 1 to 4 (summary below):

  1. Winds of 30-60 kph may be expected in at least 36 hours or intermittent rains may be expected within 36 hours.
    Means get ready.
  2. Winds of greater than 60 kph and up to 100 kph may be expected in at least 24 hours with lots of rain, signal no.1
    Some schools and businesses start closing
  3. Winds of greater than 100 kph up to 185 kph may be expected in at least 18 hours with lots of rain, signal no. 2
    Primary schools and some businesses close.
  4. Very strong winds of more than 185 kph may be expected in at least 12 hours with lots and lots of rain,signal no. 3
    The Typhoon is here good and proper.  All school levels are cancelled and most offices/businesses as well.

Marinduque in on Signal 2 so lucky we are not there at the moment. Been raining all day here in Manila. Mostly steady rain but with the occasional thunderstorm. We shall see what tomorrow brings.

Here is the Philippines weather bureau web site where you can track Typhoon Basyang”.

Jerry’s birthday (Guy’s brother) today so a nice big chocolate / rocky road cake is in order. A little bit of luxury after my 7kg weight loss since we arrived.

Take care all.

Trevor & Guy

Day 144 of retirement

July 7, 2010

Hi All

Saturday 3rd July:

This morning we had two Bangka choices to get to Romblon (the capital on a separate island). One at 8:00am and one at 1:00pm. Didn’t quite make the 8:00am one as we decided to sleep in being a Saturday morning and all.

So into the market for some fresh Pan de Coco (bread buns filled with sweet coconut) and washed down with hot instant Kopiko (3 in 1 coffee, sugar & creamer) for Guy and hot instant Milo for me. Bread is yummy, drinks are hot but very average…..

Bangka left on time and one hour later we arrive in Romblon. We were entertained buy a huge pod of porpoises (about 50 or so) that would shoot straight up out of the water (like sky rockets) spinning round and round till they fell back into the water. Never seen that before and amazing to see in the wild.

Arrived in Romblon and it was sad to see all the rubbish floating in the bay. When we arrived it was raining. We were meet by a guy from the Parc Bay Mansion on the pier where we wanted to stay but unfortunately there were no rooms with a view available.

So off to the Muravian Hotel back in the back streets (and I mean the back streets) of Romblon. Is okay with air-con and satellite TV. No light in the bathroom or flushing toilet though.

Found a great little café for our one big meal then back to the room for a siesta out of the humidity. Then off for our evening walk where we found an ATM (so cashed up again) and the Romblon Book Café with free Wi-Fi at a reasonable speed. The menu looked pretty good as well so we go back tomorrow and try the food. The café is owned by an aussie couple from Perth, but they don’t live here, yet. Guy had a good chat to the manager who was able to give her some good info on the island. I caught up on web stuff / emails (hey Jukie…).

Sunday 4th July:

Hired a RUSI 100cc motorbike this morning for the day for the sum of P500 ($12.50 AUS) plus P52 ($1.30 AUS) for gas. It is a Chinese copy of the Honda Postie bike.

We firstly wanted to check out the Marble cutters and carvers then do a trip round the island (the ring road is 50km). Romblon is known for its marble (tiles and sculptures). It is comparable to any other marble in the world. Lots of marble here in Romblon (tables, sculptures, etc.).

So headed out to the cutters area and stopped at a few places. They all pointed us back to town for sales enquiries. So back we went as we are considering using some in our bungalow.

Then headed north up on the mountain road where all the carvers work from their roadside “factories” (Bamboo huts). These guys are amazing with the sculptures they produce ranging from small tabletop ornaments through to full size people figurines. They use a combination of an angle grinder with a diamond cutter through to a hammer and chisel.

Now it was time to head south and follow the coast road round the island. The 50km road is half sealed and half dirt “fire trail”. The sealed sections were either end of the capital Romblon.

The dirt section consisted of road next to the beach, on the cliff tops, cut into the cliffs and through creeks. Some sections were okay with others being rough dusty track. At about the 30km mark we stopped and I had a swim to cool down and wash off some of the dust. Guy relaxed under a nice big shady tree. The little RUSI 100c was screaming in first going up the steep bits and screaming going down the other side as we try to stop with the so called brakes.

As we traversed the northern section of the island, through the mountains, there were all these huge natural cliff faces of marble. There were sidetracks running off into the hills where all the mines are. Very impressive.

Ooohhhh and gears on the RUSI were 4 down (1st to 4th) and then 4 up (4th to 1st) which are the opposite to the Ducati. So, shall we say, there are a few interesting moments on a couple of the tricky sections but we made it. Had a blast cruising the island.

Back to town for a late lunch, shower (to cool off and get rid of the dust) and siesta. Just on dusk a stroll to the Romblon Hotel just round the corner to the roof top Nipa hut to watch the sunset over the bay. Ooohhhhhh and a Halo-Halo of course.

Monday 5th July:

Down to the docks at 10:30am to be picked up by the Bangka from the Cabanbanan Resort. After a 25-minute very pleasant ride going up the north coast we arrived in a lush cove and were meet by Josef (the Swiss owner) and his wife, Vilma.

Now this resort is a very pleasant surprise. The rooms (set back in the cove forest) and grounds are very well maintained, groomed and a pleasure to stroll round. There is a marine park directly in front so no fishing or any other coral destroying activities allowed.

The rooms are basically very open and airy Nipa style huts with an electric fan (no TV or air-con) and screens on the windows to keep out the bugs and especially the mosquitoes out. Josef and his family live here with Vilma being the cook. We had Pork Sinigang for lunch and it was very very good. Basically whatever food they have here at the time is on the menu.

We are the only guests here so we have the whole resort to ourselves once again. Is great as it is very peaceful and all the shady trees and sun lounges are ours. We have staked our claim under this one big tree with sun lounges, table and chairs, which gives us 180 degrees view of the islands across from us.

Went for a snorkel this afternoon and the coral and fish life was amazing. Lots of colour and teaming with life. And all just off the beach. Such a contrast from all the other resorts we have visited. Josef also runs a PADI diving centre here. He has the entire gear required and takes diving trips out round the islands. Looking at some of his pics the diving looks pretty dam good.

Just watching the sun set over the islands in front of us after a walk up the beach. Back in our cottage and another brownout. It’s about 8:30pm ish and it is so quiet. No dogs, chickens, pigs, Trikes, Jeepneys, karaoke or wind. Just silence apart from the occasional Tuko, cricket, fireflies and other creatures of the night. You can hear yourself think.

Life is good even with the current brownout.

Tuesday 6th July:

Bit of a sleep in as the power only came back on about 7:00am this morning. Slept without the fan so was a little stuffy. But with the fan it was very pleasant.

Vilma made us a very nice Banana pancake for breakfast. Then we assume the position back under “our” shady tree. I went for a bit of a walk and had my first spill. As your mother used to say, “never walk on wet slippery rock with your thongs”. Well I didn’t listen to my mum and took a tumble. Took a bit of skin off my right knee and give it a bit of a bang and bruised my right wrist.

Soon as I got back I broke out the first aid kit and applied the Benadine to my knee. Don’t want any nasty infections happening. All good tonight just bruised my ego more than anything. Really makes you appreciate how lucky we are in the western world to have instant access to excellent medical help if you need it.

After another Vilma lunch I went snorkeling out over the magnificent coral reef again. On my return I was telling Guy about how good it was and suggested that we both got back out.

Now Guy can’t swim. So off to see Josef and he outfitted her with a life jacket (PFD), goggles and snorkel. A few practice swims for Guy and off we went into the wild blue yonder. I took her to a few of the best spots not far off shore and she had a great time. Each time I go out I see some thing new. A new coloured coral, a new fish and some new baby giant clams. It really is a little piece of paradise here.

Then to finish the day off we sat under our tree and watched a beautiful bright red / orange sunset with an electrical storm (thunder and lighting) off to our right.

Ooohhh and the fireflies are back. Had one in the room with some more flying round outside. I think the one in the room was trying to mate with my laptop as it has this little slow flashing led light on the front which signifies it is in standby mode. Another amazing little creature.

Wednesday 7th July:

Had a huge storm here in the middle of the night last night. There was thunder, lightning and torrential rain which was quite spectacular. The grounds were lit up by the lightning with the instant claps of thunder rattling the hut. And with all that, there was NO brownout. Bonus.

Back under our tree this morning after a late breakfast followed by our usual snorkel this afternoon and beach walk this evening.

We are here at the Cabanbanan till Friday now as we are then returning to Manila. This involves a 12 hour Ro-Ro ride to Batangas from Romblon and then a 3 hour bus trip to Manila. Going to be a long day.

Got to attend to Guy getting her Philippine citizenship back along with some Bank stuff. Need to get this stuff cleared up so we can buy land here in the Philippines, as only Philippine citizens can own land. Guy is an Australian citizen presently but is able to hold dual citizenship. Nothing too difficult just need to get all the paper work sorted as we could become land owners sooner rather than later.

And we have discovered that broadband works here provided you sit under the big tree on right, face NW and hold you tongue slightly to the left with your right eye closed. Don’t you love technology?

Cheers all from a little stretch of paradise.

Trevor & Guy


Elementary school here starts at 7:00am and finishes as 12:00noon so the kids miss the heat of the day. The schools are not air-conned.

About 6 weeks into each School term the kids are weighted as they are looking for under weight kids. These kids are then enrolled in free nutritious feeding programs. So how many “under weight” kids are there at your kid’s school????

Day 140 of retirement

July 2, 2010

Hi All

Saturday 26th June:

Well today it finally happened. Somebody has tried to sell us swampland. Got a call on some prime beachfront property for sale, which is owned by a Chinese family. So agreed to go have a look.

Well we had to walk down a muddy road then along the beach and there it was all nicely cleared, except for the coconut trees. The land behind the beach was about 1m lower than the beach (first warning sign). Upon looking behind the bushes on the back of the block there were rice paddies (second warning sign) and to the right was a quite large creek (third strike and out…).

Come middle of the wet season this place will be fit for a fish pond. So thanks but no thanks……

Went back to Laura’s sub division and had a look at the beach at high tide and also wandered round the land looking at the bit we are interested in. Picked where we would build a house and checked the access from the road. All good. We are meeting Laura tomorrow for further discussions.

Then Jeepney into Boac for our one large meal for the day. Found a nice little place (Tahanan Sa Isok Hotel) in the back streets with very good food and free Wi-Fi (I love free Wi-Fi).

Guy went and had her nails down (for P70 $1.75 AUS) so I caught up on web stuff, email and tidied up my Gmail account. Just waiting for the rain to stop at the moment so we can wander round Boac before heading back to Eastpoint.

Ooohhh and the brown outs are back. Friday night we had 3 overnight and tonight had another one for half an hour.

Sunday 27th June:

Interesting day today. We meet Laura at the Barbarosa in Gasan midmorning and had further discussions on the proposed purchase of 2,908sqm of her beachfront land. We shall see…….

Then I meet with the expats at midday at the Barbarosa (They meet here every Sunday) while Guy went off with the girls and played Mahjong. They play slightly different than she is used to so a learning experience for her.

I spent all afternoon with the Poms John & Geoff, the Germans Eric & Hans, the Danish Aussie Ivan (was in Melbourne for 20 years) and the German Aussie Harry (30 years in Coffs Harbor). I got “lots” of advice as the beers flowed. Was very entertaining and I did actually get some good tips from them all. They are a great bunch of blokes, beer and all.

Back to the Eastpoint and Guy and I have just put together a proposal and emailed it off to Laura for the possible purchase of 2,908sqm of her beachfront property. Getting interesting now……….

Monday 28th June:

Early start this morning as we headed for the island of Romblon. Caught the Jeepney to Gasan port then onto a passenger Bangka to Pinamalayan back on Mindoro.

A leisurely 3 hour trip which was a little rough in the middle. But they pulled out the deck chairs for this trip and set them up on the top deck. So we actually managed to get some sleep laid back in the deck chairs.

From Pinamalayan we caught a Mini Van to the port of Roxas. As there is only one Bangka a day to Odiongan (on Romblon) at 10:00am each day, we are overnighting in Roxas in a lovely little place called “Pauline’s”. Has air-con and Sat TV so all good. Sadly no flushing toilet and the shower doesn’t work so a scoop shower is in order.

Also meet a kiwi guy and his son (Eric and Jett) from Melbourne who are going to Boracay. They arrived with us and discovered that the next boat only left at 8:00pm. There was supposed to be one at 4:00pm but it never turned up. So had a late lunch / early dinner with them.

We had our afternoon siesta and then decided a Halo-halo was in order. Couldn’t get one at the port so a Trik ride into town (5km away) was in order. First place was shut then our very industrious Trik driver took us on a bit of a tour of the town and found us a Halo-halo place. He even waited for us and brought us back to the port. He did charge us P150 ($3.75) which is quite steep…….

Tuesday 29th June:

Arrived at the port at 8:45am and discovered that there was a Bangka going to Looc at 9:00am and the Odiongan Bangka was only leaving at 11:00am. Looc is down the road from Odiongan so decided to go early as the weather was building to be very stormy.

We had a big storm last night, which also caused another brownout.

So off we went and 4.5 hours later we arrived in Looc. This was our roughest trip yet with rain and rough conditions on the water as we went through a storm. But I must say that the Bangka rides very well in these conditions with its sharp deep Vee and outriggers. I made it without getting sea sick, yyeeeaaaaa……

And for entertainment on the trip we had a pod of porpoises pay us a visit. They were jumping right out of the water and giving us the eye, especially the mother with a young small baby. And as usual the flying fish were bouncing off the wave tops and as there were some larger waves they would glide up and over the crest then down into the trough before over the crest again. All very entertaining.

Now let me say that there isn’t much in Looc. 5-minute walk and you have covered the town. We are staying at Angelique’s Inn right in the centre of town. Room is nice and big with air-con but nothing else (no TV). The bathrooms are shared with the 4 other rooms but as there are only a few of us staying here it should be okay.

Ooohhh and another brownout as we ordered dinner. Luckily Angelique has a generator.

Tomorrow we are leaving town and going to check out the Gishells Beach Resort just down the road, about 4kms.

Wednesday 30th June:

Made it to Gishells Beach Resort. Caught a Trik (a rather well used Trik….) which was an adventure all in itself. About 1 km out of town we hit the back dirt roads. Just before the resort there was a rather steep hill. Well the poor old Trik struggled and twice I had to jump off and push to keep us moving forward.

The resort is isolated from the town. There are 3 rooms with air-con (quite small with no views or balcony) and one large Nipa Hut (Bamboo Hut, no air-con, only fans). No TV once again. We have opted for the Nipa Hut as it has lots of room and a balcony with bamboo chairs that over looks the beach and it catches the afternoon sea breeze nicely.

The floor is made of bamboo slats, which means it isn’t solid (ventilated is a good description). Drop anything small and it will fall about 1 metre to the ground below (the Nipa hut is on stilts). But this also means that the breeze comes through the floor, which certainly aids in cooling the room.

There is no restaurant so what you do is order what you want from the housekeeper and she relays your order back to town. It is prepared at a local restaurant and then they bring it out to the resort for you. You can get bottled water here but that is about it. Hey it works and the food was great and hot so all good.

Beach is “white coral sand” and is okay but as you get out a bit it turns to weeds and rocks. Tried out my new goggles and snorkel and all good although there isn’t much to see here.

Got some washing done as we sat on the “restaurant” balcony and watch the world (well local fishermen) go by.

It’s 10:00pm as we play cards. The housekeeper has gone home. The owner lives in town and there are no other guests here. So we have the whole resort to ourselves. Felt a bit like one of those horror movies where the couple check into the hotel and find themselves all alone battling the hillbilly locals.

Thursday 1st July:

Well the brownouts continue. Had about 4 last night. Was okay in the Nipa Hut as it only affected the fan and it was coolish anyway.

The Toku’s were back and throughout the night they serenaded us with their calls. Unfortunately they didn’t manage to eat all the mosquitoes. I got attacked for the first time on our travels. Out came the “Rid” then crawled under the sheet and all good. Guy hid under the sheet all night so she was okay. Mossie coils will be out tonight.

Went for my morning swim / snorkel. The Lonely Planet (now 2 years old) reports that snorkelling off the beach is good. Sadly from my exploration the coral has since all died. The El Nino has had a dramatic effect on coral over the last few years and it is certainly evident here. Very sad seeing all the dead baby giant clams, coral and no fish life.

Lunch was a bit late today (only two hours). Bit of a mix-up in placing our order but hey, at least it did arrive today…..

Once again we have the whole resort to ourselves for the night. Played cards on the balcony till 8:30pm ish when once again a brownout hit us so off to bed as we waited for the vampires and werewolves to arrive…….

Friday 2nd July:

Early start as our Trik was waiting for us at 6:30am to take us back to Looc to catch the Jeepney. We caught the Jeepney that headed round the south of the island for the port of San Agustin.

Lets just say that the Jeepney was “Rustic” in appearance and operation as it bumped, rattled and rolled it’s way to San Agustin. The road round (about 50km) wasn’t much better. There were some good bits with some very rough, dusty and narrow bits cut into the cliff side. The good thing was that we took 2 hours to cover the 50km so it was a slow ride which means we were able to get a good look at the country side.

So all in all a very interesting ride.

San Agustin is a very pleasant place. It is on the waterfront with the mountains directly behind. They have developed the long pier front with a sea wall, paved walking track and concrete seats. There are two piers for the Bangkas and the Ro-Ros to dock.

We are staying in the Felnor Lodge on the first floor right on the pier front. The room is huge (3 beds) with air-con (No TV) and a balcony to sit on and watch the Bangkas and Ro-Ros come and go all the while catching the sea breeze. Just watching a Ro-Ro unload now as they load up the Triks with sacks (21 sacks per load) of rice for the market. Very pleasant.

Have had a walk round the markets in the town square just behind us and they have everything you could need. Had our big lunch in one of the many eateries. Got lots of “Hi Joe” greetings as well. Very friendly people. A stark difference to Looc.

Ooohhh and wouldn’t you know it. Brownout when we arrived. Power was on for a while in the early afternoon but then brownout again. Nothing you can do about it so a siesta was in order.

From a very chilled out

Trevor & Guy