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????