Day 198 of retirement

August 26, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 22nd August:

Today is Guy’s Mahjong day and my day with the expats at the Barbarosa (German restaurant) in Gasan. Guy had a small loss today and is still getting used to the different way they play here. Waiting for the big win…….

The expat group today was made up of 2 Pommies, 1 German, 1 Swiss, 1 Yank and 1 Aussie (me). Out of this group there are only two drinkers of alcohol and one smoker. So all in all we are a pretty healthy bunch (for a bunch of old cronies).

For lunch I treated myself to Goulash with mash potato and it was pretty dam good. My one western treat for the week.

Made it back to the cottage before the afternoon storm hit so all good. Bought some sweet corn from a roadside vendor (6 cobs for P20 ($0.50 AUS)) on the way and cooked up 3 of them for dinner. Very sweet and different to ones I’m used to in Aus. Much nicer tasting.

Monday 23rd August:

Off to Buenavista to meet the local Mayor. It is important when moving into a Barangay to meet your local Mayor and Captain (deputy Mayor). If you have any issues these are the people you go to for help as they know everybody and who’s doing what. Had a good chat to the Mayor and we discovered he owns a house right next door to us (doesn’t live there at present but soon) so we are neighbors, so to speak.

Still to meet the Barangay Captain but will do that over the next few days.

Then we went and had a look at two existing houses for sale. They are just the other side of Gasan and one of them is of interest. It belongs to one of Guy’s Mahjong pals. They are looking at going to America to live so have their house on the market. We shall consider this one some more as it is in our price range and is a very nice largish house about 100m from the beach.

Stocked up on food from our local “fast food” lady on the way home. Got enough for 2 days (for the sum of P80 ($2.00 AUS) so all good.

But did get caught in a tropical down pour before we made it back. The trusty cheap poncho’s kept us dry though so all good.

And to top it off we now have a brownout (1:30pm). Currently happening about every two days and they range from a couple of hours to 6-8 hours. Used to it now. We have a gas stove so cooking isn’t an issue. Just need to keep the Nintendo DSi XL and MacBook charged all the time so we can amuse ourselves during these times.

Finished the day with a nice leisurely long walk up the beach and took a few pics.

Tuesday 24th August:

Had a great day today. Meet up with John and Jeff (the pommies) at John’s house, which is at the end of an interesting dirt road (3km long) off the main road. From there we did a hike through the rice paddies to the end of the valley, then up the side to the top, along the ridge and back down a creek to the paddies and home to John’s.

Was all through the jungle and was hot, humid, muddy and dam slippery all the way. We had Nilo (one of John’s workers) come along with his Bolo (machete) as the path up was over grown so he cleared the way.

Was very nice to reach the ridgeline as we then had a breeze and were out of the very humid jungle.

Then back into the jungle as we followed a creek back down. As there was no track we were in the creek with Nilo chopping a path through. We finally emerged in the rice paddies very sweaty, hot, wet and muddy. We were hiking for 2 hours, which was enough as it was starting to heat up by the time we got back to John’s. Finished off by a nice cup of tea on his balcony on the hillside overlooking the bright green rice paddies.

But man it was fun. Thoroughly enjoyed it and ready for more.

Now apparently there is this epic walk that goes across the island (about 30km) through the jungle. A group of expats (including John) trained up to do it a few years ago but only one person (a German guy) ever managed to complete it. It took him 3 days.

So might have to investigate this one a little further. A possible adventure looming…….

And all this time Guy was playing Mahjong in Gasan so a very pleasant day for us both.

Had to pick Guy up at 5:00pm ish so went in Barbarosa (Wi-Fi) early and got myself on Facebook at long last. So now I can see what you all are up to.

And wouldn’t you know it. Home to a brownout and a brilliant lightning show………

Wednesday 25th August:

Uuuggghhhhhh…Brownouts. Power went off at 5:00pm last night and not back on till 5:00am this morning. Then off at 10:00am this morning till 5:00pm this afternoon.

But anyway we survived with fully charged laptop and Nintendo and Petzl head torches. Gas stove cooking and hot water for a tea was in order so all good.

Rest day today. Cherry (washer lady) came and did all the washing even with the brown out. Used water from our emergency barrels and rinsed at the local well pump only 50m away. Just got to get it dry now, as it doesn’t dry too well in the humidity.

Quick trip to the “Supermarket” for some fresh food. We had to feed Cherry and us today so lashed out and spent P80 ($2.00 AUS). Still got some food left for tomorrow. Today we had sweet corn, banana que’s (afternoon tea), assorted veggies cooked in coconut milk and taro leaves and fruit cooked in coconut milk with rice. All very yummy.

Afternoon siesta was then in order before I washed the Thunder Monster. She goes into Gasan for her first service (500km) tomorrow so has to look her best.

Guy enjoyed the afternoon in the Nipa Hut playing her Sudoku. Bit windy here at present and the sea is quite rough. But the upside is that it is a bit cooler and not so humid.

Oohh and now we have screens on all the windows and doors thanks to Norman (the carpenter). So no more bugs (well about 90% less) with everything open to let the breeze flow through. And he has built a second wardrobe for the spare room. All done without any power tools (all hand tools). So now you have room to hang your spare tee shirt when you visit us……

Thursday 26th August:

Into Gasan and dropped the bike off for it’s first service. Then caught a Jeepney into Boac. Had to do some banking stuff and Guy then had a pedicure while I went to the local free Wi-Fi for one of my twice-weekly catch-ups.

Some purchases at the local market of fresh produce and back to Gasan (5 hours later) to pick up the bike.

Well the bike was ready, as nothing had been done to it. You see the mechanic who was supposed to be there was sent off on another job even though mine was booked in. Just the way it is.

Anyway have “booked” in my service on Saturday now. We will text the shop before we go in this time just to be sure the mechanic is going to be there.

Quick trip to the block to check out the Nipa Hut and it’s almost done. Just the netting to go on the roof to hold it together in the wind, clean up the site and it’s ready to “move in”…….

Later lunch of left over’s from yesterday and some Lansones. Man I love these things. We actually bought 2 kilo’s this time round (you can’t always get them) so might last a day if we’re lucky.

Rang Jordan (Guy’s 15 year old son) and wished him a happy birthday. He arrives here in 4 weeks time for a 2-week visit (school holidays in AUS) so Guy is getting excited at seeing him.

Nice 1-hour leisurely stroll up the beach to finish the day followed by some local sweet corn on the cob.

Friday 27th August:

Woke to another brownout. Starting to wonder what’s going on as they are now daily and off for long periods.

On our walk to the “supermarket” this morning for our freshly cooked lunch, all was revealed. The boys are trimming the trees along the power lines just down the road from us so they turn off the power while trimming is in operation (8:00am to 5:00pm). The trimming consists of guys with two bamboo poles tied together with a curved blade on the end. They just basically slice through the branches and letting them fall to the ground. They are cutting through some pretty thick branches with these things so they are very efficient. No chainsaws or cherry pickers here.

Quiet day at home and we finished it off with a walk back into the mountains behind us. The dirt track goes in for about 2km to the last house and then turns into a hiking track that heads up the mountain. Definitely will require some further exploration with a pack, compass, water and rations on another day.

Saturday 28th August:

Have discovered a very weird phenomenon during the brownouts. I can connect to the SMART broadband via GPRS from the cottage and it is okay (dial up speed). Then when the power returns, broadband returns to an EDGE connection which just doesn’t work and times out. The wonders of modern technology on Marinduque.

The Habagat (very strong southerly wind and king tide) is back. Bit of a wild and wooly night last night. Big crash this morning but nothing on our block Was next door and don’t know what it was yet. The up side is that it cools things down a bit. Might have to put a singlet on if this keeps up.

Well the Thunder Monster was booked in for its service at 9:00am. Quick text and the mechanic won’t be in till 1:00pm (he comes from Boac 15km up the road). So at 1:00pm we went in to Gasan anyway as we had some supplies to get.

When we arrived no mechanic. He was “stuck” in Boac. So now booked in for Tuesday morning at 9:00am. Milton (the boss) assures us that it will happen on Tuesday. We shall see…. To all the Sydney Ducati folk. And you thought you had problems with Fraser’s……..

Back home and made our first batch of homemade Buko (coconut) juice drink. Yolanda and the boys are harvesting the coconuts at the cottage so we grabbed a few.

To make the Buko Juice you:

  • Cut into the coconut eye, through the husk, and drain the juice of 2 coconuts into a jug.
  • Split the coconuts open and you cut out the soft white flesh with a special little tool that shreds the flesh into stringy bits and add to the juice.
  • Add one small can (168ml) of condensed milk to the mix and stir.
  • Chill and drink / eat the mixture of juice and stringy flesh.
  • Really really really dam good in the hot humid conditions.

Walk down the windy beach to finish off the day with some fresh sweet corn for dinner.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

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Day 191 of retirement

August 22, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 15th August:

Back to Gasan for Guy to play her Sunday afternoon Mahjong and me to catch up with the expats at Barbarosa (German Restaurant) who now has just installed Wi-Fi. So was able to do emails and post today’s blog. Being just 6km from the cottage it will have to suffice for our web access, as we have nothing here.

Is good meeting the guys each Sunday as I run past them ideas and thoughts I have picked up during the week.

Brownout for an hour in the mid afternoon. Getting used to them now. Nothing you can do so just wait cause it will come back on eventually.

Monday 16th August:

Off to Manila today to get Guy’s Filipino citizenship papers as they have now been processed and approved. Left the cottage at 10:30am and headed via Jeepney to Kawit Port, caught the midday Ro-Ro to Lucena and a bus trip to Manila with a two-block walk to Beth’s house (Guy’s sister). All in the time of 11 hours door to door. Getting used to these road trips now as I did manage to get some sleep on the Ro-Ro (3.5 hour trip). And on the bus they had the “Karate Kid” movie playing, which certainly helped the trip go faster.

This is the first time we have traveled with empty packs. As we have clothes still here in Manila we literally only had the clothes we were wearing. The aim is to stock up on some food and supplies that are not available on the island. Things like Gladwrap, good tea bags, pasta, etc.

Also Guy will be bringing back some more clothes as we are now settled into the cottage. Okay I might bring back some tooooooo….

Tuesday 17th August:

Off to the immigration office expecting a long wait but within 15 minutes Guy had her brand new citizenship certificate. We once again checked up on my requirements for when I apply for mine in the New Year and all good. I will apply for my permanent residency by January next year then I can stay as long as I want with the visa renewable every 12 months.

So now we can officially own land here in the Philippines. Meeting Laura tomorrow here in Manila to make the final block payment and commence the title change to our names.

Then off to the markets to get some fishing net for our Nipa Hut roof. It is thrown over the coconut-thatched roof to hold it down in the strong winds (Typhoons). Had to cart this largish bundle with me all day and had it checked by every security guard we came across in all the MRT / LRT stations and the Mall cops. They all looked strange at me when I told them it was fishing net.

Meet Aura (Guy’s best friend) for a long leisurely lunch at the Mall of Asia.

At 6:00pm ish it was time to head home. Quick Jeepney to the MRT station and onto the MRT for a 20-minute ride home. Or so we thought. At about the second station an announcement was made that there was “an incident” ahead with a train and we were grounded. As it was rush hour we were all packed in like sardines. After 10 minutes of nothing we decided to get off the sardine can and try for a cab. Got the cab okay but he informed us that there was a total traffic jam going north due to the train incident.

So we opted to go back into town and catch two different LRT’s the long way home. Well 2 hours later we arrived home. Hey at least we made it.

The MRT / LRT system is fantastic when it is working. But when there is an incident, everything grinds to a halt. So I have now survived my first MRT / LRT incident and lived to tell the tail.

Wednesday 18th August:

Put on some clothes that I hadn’t worn for many months today and man I have lost some weight. No scales here but I recon it would be 8-10 kilos. I have gone from the 4th hole in my belt back to the 1st one. I haven’t been able to do that for about 10 years. And it feels damn good to be slim, trim and terrific again.

Off to the lawyers office first thing and meet Laura there to sign the final “Deed of absolute sale” document which is required to enable the transfer of title to us. Then off to the bank and made the final payment to Laura. All that is left now for us to do is to go to the Lands office in Boac (Marinduque) and present the paper work, pay the fee, and we get a new clear title to our block. All very exciting

Off to the Mall for some Wi-Fi and stocking up on supplies to take back to Marinduque. Also topped up the Nintendo DSi XL with some new games from the shop we bought it off. We get all the free games (not the latest) we want from their catalogue for life. Just pick what you want, leave the mini SD card and 30 minutes later all loaded. We don’t ask where the games come from.

We caught up with Zeny (good friend of Guy’s from Australia here at the moment) for lunch. Guy and Zeny had a great catch up and chin wag.

And upon arrival home Guy’s mum had Rice, Sinigang and Fish waiting for us. Very nice way to finish the day.

Thursday 19th August:

Quick trip to the Mall after a bit of a sleep-in to get our final supplies. We now have a rice cooker and electric kettle for the cottage (our little luxuries). Also raided Beth’s DVD collection and have taken a wide selection as we have a TV & DVD but no reception.

Plus a few food items as well. We actually found some Australian Parmesan Cheese so got a few packets for our pasta dishes (had to get the pasta here as well).

Caught the “6:00pm” Jac Liner bus from round the corner to Lucena. Now the go is that the bus is “scheduled” to leave at 6:00pm. What happens is that the doors open at 4:00pm and when it is full they go, regardless of the time. So Guy and I and our entire luggage arrived at 4:00pm. We were the second people on the bus surprise surprise. The bus finished up leaving at 5:45pm so a bit of a wait on the bus. But they did show a movie so the time went pretty quick.

Then onto the Ro-Ro at midnight and arrive on the island round 4:00am. The Jac Liner bus does a trip round the island dropping off it’s passengers and goods and goes right past our front door so all-good. Got to the cottage at 5:00am ish with our 5 bags / boxes of stuff all intact. Happy about that.

The trip wasn’t too bad as we did managed to get a few hours sleep. Although sleeping on a narrow plastic bench seat laying down is an art form all in it self (balancing in your sleep….).

Man it was good to be “home”. We both agree that for the first time since we arrived in the Philippines we feel like we are home. Great feeling.

Friday 20th August:

Bit of a sleep in then off to the block to check out the Nipa Hut progress. The boys have done a fantastic job and with a few more days work all will be done.

Quick trip into Boac to the PNBank to deposit a bank cheque that we got from the BPI Bank while we were in Manila. We now have local bank access to some cash so all good.

Stopped off at the Gasan markets on the way home and got a few local fresh supplies. Especially from our bakery. They have some really nice coconut filled breads things.

While I was in Manila I bought a few tools for the bike. Damn shame as I have all I need back in AUS but no good there. Anyway I forgot a tire gauge to measure PSI. No problem as gas stations have air and gauges. Or so I thought. Nobody has a gauge for sale here on the island. The two petrol stations I went too had air but no tires gauges. You just pump up the tire till its full.

In Boac went to a local gas station and the guy had a gauge. Well it looked like a gauge. Basically the margin of error was about 10PSI and it looked like it was used by Noah to build the Ark. Anyway tires on the Thunder Monster are now pumped up to about the right PSI. I shall keep looking for a gauge.

It’s the little things like this that make you realize you are living a simple life here.

Saturday 21st August:

Brownout last night that started at 5:00pm and no power till about 2:00am this morning. We were pretty tired anyway from the all nighter traveling last night so to bed at 9:00pm and we crashed.

Usual trip to the block as the guys here work 6 days a week. And Saturday is also payday for them so paid Yolanda as they are her workers. There has been a bit of “pay in advance” happening during the week as well so we need to keep enough cash at hand to cater for all the paychecks.

Also as Yolanda was working on the cottage block today she cooked us lunch. Pork Blood Jelly with red rice was the order of the day and it was very very yummy.

Pulled out both of my camera’s (Canon G9 & Leica M8.2) and gave them a clean. Made sure the lenses were all nice and clean and wiped over them to remove any salt spray. One of the downsides living by the beach. Got to look after anything electronic just that bit more to minimize any corrosion damage.

Quick trip into Gasan for Wi-Fi to see how the Geoquest gang was doing. Ben Scott, Wayne Morrison and two others (team of 4) are currently doing a 48-hour adventure race (kayak, MTB & Trek) up in the Lake Macquarie (NSW) area. They are being supported by Dean Saul and Wayne’s wife Jenny and others. Sent them a quick email via the Geoquest website.

Caught in the afternoon rain for the ride back to the cottage but not too wet plus it is warm so not cold at all like good old AUS winter at the moment.

Nice and relaxed at the moment after a leisurely day.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 184 of retirement

August 15, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 8th August:

The third day of the Habagat (very strong southerly wind and king tide) is here and it can stop anytime it likes. Had some minor flooding down in front of us but the cottage is fine as it is up on a rise well away from the water.

Did another quick trip to our block but it is fine. Water wasn’t even close to any flooding so relieved with that.

Then off to Gasan for the afternoon so Guy could play Mahjong. She broke even for the first time so happy with that as they play slightly different rules that she is used to.

I caught up with the expat Sunday afternoon gathering in the Barbarosa restaurant (German food and very good). Usual group but I did meet a new guy Ron, an American, who has been here for 20 years. Had a good chat to him.

We arrived home on dark and wouldn’t you know it, our new water system had sprung a leak. But at least we were able to shower before I had to turn it off. Looks like the plumber will be back tomorrow to fix it.

Monday 9th August:

Man what a hard day. We are trying to open a bank account here on Marinduque as our current bank, BPI, don’t have a branch on the island. Our choices are LandBank or PNB. Now LandBank wants Guy’s citizenship (hope to have that in the next few weeks) and passport and two passport photos to open an account. PNB only want a copy of her Philippine driver’s license and two passport photos. So off to PNB we go.

Asked all the usual questions on international transfers and yep all good, or we are lead to believe. To open the account we needed P5,000 ($125.00 AUS) which is not a problem. We were in town to stock up on cash anyway.

Now there are 3 ATM’s on this side of the island and they are all in Boac. So off I go to get cashed up. Well as it turns out all three ATMs are down. The two LandBank ones were out of cash and the PNB ATM was “not working”.

Anyway the good PNB lady created the account for us (we will go back tomorrow and hopefully the ATMs are back online to pay her the P5,000) and gave us the “Swift code” which is needed to do international transfers. Off we go to the free Wi-Fi and attempt to give it a go. Well you guessed it the Swift code doesn’t work and they don’t seem to understand that we need a Bank ID (BSB) and account number as well. All we got was a big long number and they said “just use it”.

So back home we come. Luckily with still some reserves of cash to fall back onto. The Plumber was here when we arrived and “touch wood” the leaks are now all fixed.

The boys (Yolanda’s workers that we are using on and off) were here also working on the materials for our Nipa Hut on the block. They are doing what they can here at the cottage and tomorrow they will take the materials to the block (all on a Trike) and start building. We are building a 10’ x 10’ raised bamboo floor with a 12’ x 12’ thatched roof to cover it with no walls. This will be there for shade and to get out of the rain when the boys and us are working onsite. Our first structure on the block.

We are learning that things happen here when they happen. You can’t change it, cause that is how it is, has been and will be forever. So you just have to live and work with it. We are adjusting…… Slowly……

Tuesday 10th August:

Back to the block this morning with the boys to show them where to start building the Nipa Hut. They loaded up all their gear on a Trike (after negotiating the price of P150 ($3.75 AUS) and off they headed 6km down the road to the block. And man did they have this poor Trike loaded. They had bags of concrete, steel reinforcing, timber and all their tools

Then another meeting with an architect in Buenavista, who was recommended by Vern (our Germany neighbor at the block). This is also the area that our land is in so was worth a good chat. More food for thought.

Off to Boac to sort out the PNB account. This time the ATMs were working so all now fixed.

We are going to slow things down a bit for now.

We have the preliminary sketches done for the house so will sit on those for now. We will continue to work bit by bit on the block which includes the Nipa Hut, gravel the roadway in and get the well dug. But that will be it for the next 6 months or so. Also we will be away for 3 weeks in October, 5 weeks in December / January 2011 and several weeks in March 2011.

How things are done here are very different so we need time to adjust and get our minds thinking “like a local” before we continue. We didn’t come here to change anybody. We came to change ourselves into locals.

Everybody has horror stories of building here so we want to take our time and get to know the locals and their way of doing things before we go too much further.

We also really want to explore Marinduque further and get to know “our” island.

I am really enjoying getting back into my photography and want to pursue that further which requires “time”.

The rental cottage and area around it is fantastic with all we need to live comfortably. So we will just rent here for sometime now and “acclimatise” to Marinduque life. This includes me experiencing my first full Typhoon.

And we have a spare room for visitors so all is good.

Wednesday 11th August:

Rest day today. Cherry (our “maid”) came today and did the washing, cooked up some Pork Adobo, veggies and rice for us. Enough left over’s for several days so all sorted for food.

We are now back to one main meal a day which is lunch. Snacks for breakfast and snacks for dinner (fruit, nuts, raw veggies, local bakery delights, etc.). And tea for breakfast and dinner. Have found some good tea bags but have to use powdered milk as no fresh dairy products are available which includes cheese (I loveeeed cheese…). A good Double Brie King Island would go down realllll good about now.

And I haven’t had any chocolates in 90 days and nights……  (I loveeeeeed chocolate). Hey Alina some Haighs would really really go down nice about now.

Quick trip to the block to checkout the Nipa Hut construction and all good.

Then the afternoon rain came so quiet one indoors watching the world go by. Guy on the Nintendo / Sudoku and me on the Mac playing with photos.

Rained stopped late afternoon so quick wash of the Thunder Monster and tucked her into the shed for bedtime.

Ooohhh and topped up the Thunder Monster yesterday with gas. 350km and 7 litres of gas. So about 50km to the litre and gas is about $1.00 per litre. And all this on a brand new bike with Guy on the back 99% of the time. Love the Thunder Monster……..

Thursday 12th August:

Another rest day today. Got up briefly at 7:00am to let the boys into the tools shed as they are working on the boundary brick wall with the neighbors. Then back to bed till 10:30am ish.

Brownout till midday but luckily came back on for lunch so we could warm up (using the microwave) some of our food stash from Cherry’s cook up yesterday.

The Banana lady returned so of course we have to support the locals and bought a couple of the Banana Que’s. Very nice for afternoon tea.

Then I went for my first big walk up the beach and back down the road, camera in toe. Lots of “Hi Joe” along the way.

Meet one old guy, in the middle of nowhere, who asked where I’m from. When I answered Australia he proceeded to tell me that I was living in the Yolanda cottage and buying land next to Vern and talking to Alex the architect. He went to school with Alex.

Everybody in this Barangay knows what everybody else is doing, especially the new residents in town.

And the best news yet. Guy received news today that her dual citizenship has been approved and is awaiting her pickup. Wwooohhhoooo we can now have the title to our block finalized. Going to Manila next week to pick up the document and make the final payment to Laura. Then back to Marinduque land office to have the title issued in our names.

Friday 13th August:

Another meeting with the architect from Buenavista. He showed us some sketches and we discussed the cost options. As we are putting things on hold for a while we will go away and look at the house plan and try and digest all the costs that have been thrown at us. They vary wildly.

Raining so caught the Jeepney to Boac and finalized our new bank account. All working now.

And the ATMs were working so got cashed up. As I said previously everything is done on a cash basis here. Credit cards just don’t work anywhere and with the doggie ATMs we need to keep a reasonable amount of cash.

Saturday 14th August:

Quick trip to the block to see the progress of the Nipa Hut. All good.

Then down to the “fast food” shops. Within 2km of us there are a number of roadside food vendors who cook up fresh food each day. There is also a school in this area hence the larger number of vendors who feed the kids. Works great for us.

You have a little choice in what is available but most vendors cook the same thing each day so you do the rounds to see who’s cooking what.

Today we had fresh pumpkin, string beans, fish, garlic and okra cooked in coconut milk. This was followed by a desert of freshly cooked pancakes with butter and sugar (hot off the cooker). All this for the total princely sum of P30 ($0.75 AUS). We had rice already in the fridge. This was our one large meal for the day.

Tonight for our “snack” dinner we have fresh cucumber and some of lunch left over’s followed by some nuts. It will be a small meal.

So with fresh food being available every day for prices like these we will not bother cooking ourselves. We will support the local community.

Being Saturday it was payday for the boys. They work 6 days a week here and payday is Saturdays. Just finished sorting the cash pay packets, as they will knock off at 4:00pm.

Other Stuff:

Water Facts:

Okay here is how the water system works in the provinces. There is no reticulated water here in the bush.

For drinking most people get filtered water delivered for P25 ($0.63 AUS) per 20 litre plastic jerry can with a tap (which is what we do). So that takes care of drinking water.

Everybody has a well and either a hand or electric pump (most people have a hand pump) to access the water for other purposes. Here at the cottage we have a well with good clean water (no salt) that is on an electric pump pressure system.

Some of more industrious folks have an overhead water tank that gravity feeds the house. This means that they have a supply of water during brownouts.

So while we have power we have water. Now when we have brownouts (which is quite a lot in bad and hot weather) that means we have no water for washing, toilet & showering. These brownouts can be from several hours to 24 hours. Current brownout as, I write this, has been for the last 8 hours.

So we have 3 drums of water at the back door, that I keep full when we have power. With the brownout I can put a smaller drum in the bathroom that is filled using buckets and it is used for flushing the toilet and scoop showering.

When these drums get low in a lonnnnng brownout I can refill them from the local Barangay well, which is about 50 metres away from the cottage using carry buckets and hand pumping the water. Never thought I would be pumping water from well to survive but it is actually a very efficient system.

Ooohhhh and there is no hot water. Hot water systems don’t exist, period. With the hot weather they are not really required. But I must admit that our well water is rather fresh (cold) when it first hits you.

So after you read this and go to your tap for a “safe” drink of water, go to the loo and flush it, then take a nice long hot shower with uninterrupted electricity supply, spare a thought for Trevor & Guy and how doing some of those things requires some planning and muscle power to complete.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 177 of retirement

August 8, 2010

Hi All

Monday 2nd August:
Well today we packed our bags and headed for Yolanda’s cottage 6km south of Gasan. Dropped our gear and then headed another 5km south to our block. We have a couple of Yolanda’s local workers clearing the boundary line for us. And their fee is P170 ($4.25) per day each. So for P340 ($8.50) per day these guys will hack through the jungle and clear a line for us so we know where the boundary lines go.

From here we will then commence clearing the 40m x 40m “house” block so we can see where the Bungalow will best fit. Will get 4 workers for this job and will probably take a few weeks. Pretty much everything is done by manual labor. There are very few machines here on the island and with labor so cheap it really is a no brainer. So what if it takes a few weeks to do a job, it will get done and you are stimulating the local economy.

Meet with two local architects today to get an estimate plus an idea on the work involved to build. Processes are very similar to AUS but how they construct is slightly different. Anyway we will be here through out the building process and onsite everyday and we have told them so.

Over the next while we will select our preferred architect and start the process of finalizing the plans, getting a contract price, getting all the approvals required and then commence building.

Tonight is our first night with no power. And guess what? There is a brownout happening. And how do we know? All the neighbors are now in the dark. No lights on anywhere. Who needs electricity anyway….

And who said we would be bored in retirement……….

Tuesday 3rd August:
WWooo hhhoooo we have the power.

At 5:30pm today we got the power connected onto at the cottage. Still no water as they need to wire up the pump from the well yet so another scoop shower tonight and more buckets of water to flush the toilet. Water is for tomorrow. Then we will have all the mod cons. Running water, microwave, fridge and a TV with no reception but it has a DVD player. So might have to go to the market for some cheap, eeerrrrr I mean legal DVDs.

Back at the block today at midday to see what the guys had cleared. They are doing a great job just the two of them. By the weekend we should have the blocked slashed so we can see what’s where. And all for P2,200 ($55.00 AUS). They have pretty much cleared the section where the Bungalow will go so that was absolutely fantastic to see. It is all slowly falling into place.

And another meeting with the two architects today. They both have some more preliminary work to do and we will see them on Saturday. From here we will select one of them and it’s then all systems go. We pretty much know which one we will select already. He talks the talk but does know his stuff and has some good ideas as well. We shall see.

Well we are just about to settle down to our first DVD “Terminator Salvation” here on the island. Got it cheap in Manila but sadly it wouldn’t play on the Mac. But fine in the DVD player here.

Feels absolutely fantastic to be in our cottage and have a home base now. We will be here till we move into the Bungalow. At this stage, being very realistic, that is probably about this time next year with lots of grey hair for both Guy and I along the way.

Wednesday 4th August:
Back to the block and inspect the land clearing operation. The boys are making real progress. The section where the Bungalow will go is now cleared of the undergrowth. We haven’t touched any big trees, as we want to leave the ones that won’t interfere with the house.

These boys work from 7:00am to 12:00noon and from 1:00pm to 4:00pm with a smoko break twice a day. We pay them P200 ($5.00) per day each, which includes their food (they supply their own) and transport to the site (they catch a Jeepney).

We then went next-door and meet Vern (he’s a German) the original owner of the land) who has just arrived back after being in Germany for the last 3 months. Had a great chat to him as he has been here on Marinduque for 19 years on this property. He was able to give the history of the land and how it is one of the last tracks of native vegetation in this area.

He was also able to allay my fears of flooding in the area during Typhoons. You see there looked to be a bit of a creek in front of us and creeks flood in Typhoons. But it is actually an old series of fishponds that Vern had constructed but weren’t successful. Vern was able to assure us that where we are should be fine re flooding (touch wood).

Quick into Boac on the “Thunder Monster” for some supplies and free Wi-Fi to catch up on emails.

Another afternoon storm, but we made it home by the time the rain hit. And of course with each storm comes the brownout. Sitting here with no power, again….. Actually getting used to it now. Nothing you can do about it so between the MacBook and the Nintendo DSi XL, we are amused……

Today we have hired a local woman “Cherry” (she also works for Yolanda now 2 days a week) who lives across the road from us to do all our washing once a week and cook twice a week for us (2 full days in all). She will cook up enough food for 2-3 days at a time so we certainly won’t starve. All this for P170 ($4.25 AUS) per day plus the ingredients for the food. The other times when we need food we will eat from the roadside vendors where a meal for us both is less than P100 ($2.50 AUS) in total.

We may cook a fish or two from time to time on the charcoal stove out the back. But not much cooking going to happen here when you have great cooks on hand with fresh local produce available.

So all we have in the cupboard is some snacks (fruit, nuts, etc.) and tea/coffee. Yea I am now back to 1 cup of tea a day for breakfast. And the fridge has cold water, ice tea, Coke, ice for the Coke, fruit and the excess food.

Go to your fridge and pantry and see how much stuff you have. We were the same back in AUS. It is amazing how simply you can live in a situation like this.

Thursday 5th August:
Rained most of the morning so we slept in till 11:00am. Was rather nice.

We have power at the cottage but still no running water so scoop showers carting water from drums outside to flush the toilet and wash dishes.

The Plumber arrived after lunch and they proceeded to get the pump plumbing done at the well. By about 5:00pm it was connected and they decided to turn everything on. Well, what a fun time was had by all.

The shower couldn’t be turned off as the tap hit the wall. The hand basin has water spurting from the joints. The sink in the kitchen leaked. One of the pipes outside then blew apart so it all came to a screeching halt. The plumber will be back tomorrow…….

And we are going to build a house with these guys!!!!!!!!! No boring retirement here…..

I did a quick trip to the block and caught up with the boys. All the boundaries and house section are now cleared. When I got home Guy and I did a scale drawing of the block and cut out a little scale house and Nipa hut (bamboo beach shelter) and started placing them on the plan just to see how it all fitted. And fit it did so very pleased with that.

And to top off the day I washed “Thunder Monster” which I find very therapeutic. And for all the Ducati folk I used a bucket of water with a wet rag and paintbrush to get the dirt off and then some dry rags to polish her up. And finally tucked her in under her new cover. She polished up like new again.

Friday 6th August:
We headed into Boac (25km away) tomorrow with Laura to meet the Land Bank Manager. Laura knows the guy so introduced us so we can open a local account. We have a current account with BPI but they don’t have a branch in Marinduque so need to fix that. And with all the work we are about to commence we need a local bank to handle our funds with contractors etc.

As all the road works are between Gasan and Boac and with all the rain we took the Jeepney. Left the bike home as you get your legs all muddy and since we are meeting the bank manager figured we better set a good impression.

Big lunch at the free Wi-Fi hotel (P250 = $6.25 AUS) and while I “surfed” Guy went and had her nails done (P60 = $1.50 AUS). Stocked up on a few more supplies and back home.

Had a visit by Yolanda’s brother who is a Policeman. Arrived on his motorbike complete with M16 and loaded up ammo vest. He is on a 24-hour patrol on this section of coast as they are looking for some “outside” fisherman who are apparently “dynamite” fishing in this area. Haven’t heard any big bangs so hopefully they are not in our area.

Saturday 7th August:
Usual meeting with the two architects Arnel and Alex and we have a floor plan and sketches of our Bungalow. All very exciting. See the pics. Next week we have to decide who we will select for stage one which is to draw up all the plans including, electrical, plumbing & engineering, and have them submitted for approval to the local Barangay (council). Once approval is granted we then select a contractor to build. This can be the architect and his gang or another contractor who uses the approved plans. We are looking at the architect we select also doing the building, as it is much easier that way, dealing with one person for the whole project.  He will also supply all the materials so we don’t have to worry about that. Our involvement will be to be onsite everyday watching what they all do, checking the materials and ensuring that the house is built as per the plan. Then the fun really starts.

For the second day in a row we are experiencing the Habagat (very strong southerly wind). It is blowing a gale, which in turn pushes up a king tide on the coast with big waves. Shuts down all the Ro-Ro’s and Bangka’s. Went to our block for a look-see and no flooding so that’s good (thankgoodness). From the cottage we can see the full force of the Habagat on the ocean. And all the time it is still hot and humid. Cools down a bit though which is nice especially at night. No sweating in bed.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Other Stuff:

Courtesy of Ben Scott (thanks Benny…)

Marina of Malindig:

Marina is the fairy who lives in Malindig Mountain (just up the road from us). Her helpers/slaves are the Puggots. In addition to the Marina and the Duke Legend, Buenavistans have tales of townsfolks who befriend Marina. These friends lapse into catatonic states. During the catatonia, they are with Marina. Invisible to all humans, they travel through Buenavista and the rest of Marinduque and even going to Manila! However, Marina is very choosy about her friends and not everyone has the honor. Don Angel Sevilla was rumored to be her boyfriend.

The Puggots of Malindig:

The puggots are small, dark-colored, supernatural helpers/slaves of Marina, the fairy of Malindig. They also frequent the rivers and streams of Buenavista and are fond of the Bukal area of Bagakay. For centuries the puggots and the Buenavistans have had a love-hate relationship. While the puggots can be helpful, the stories often portray them as naughty mischief-makers.


Day 170 of retirement

August 1, 2010

Hi All

Monday 26th July:

Quiet day lounging round the house. Fixed my $1.50 umbrella that had started to come to pieces so kept me occupied for a few hours.

Also it was the address to the nation by Noy Noy Aquino (the new president) today. All the schools were closed in the suburb where the speech took place. They also did this when he was sworn in. The kid’s recon it’s great.

And the Australian stuff up with the debate between Abbott and Gillard and the Master Chef final even made news over here.  So you would rather watch Master Chef final over the Abbot & Gillard debate hey. Can’t say I blame you.

We get snippets of Aussie news from time to time especially now with the election.

Tuesday 27th July & Wednesday 28th July:

Not much happening as we are still waiting on Yolanda’s cottage to be ready. To the Mall to escape the midday heat and my first gadget in six months. We have purchased a Nintendo DSi XL. The shop loaded up a heap of games and we bought a Sudoku game for Guy and a Left Brain Right Brain game for me. Something to amuse us when we have no TV or power on Marinduque. As we both have birthdays coming up in September it is an early birthday present.

We have packed up our stuff once again as we head for Marinduque tomorrow. The cottage isn’t ready so we will stay at “Eastpoint” just outside Boac (where we have stayed a couple times before) until the cottage is ready.

First job is to go back and inspect “our piece paradise” as it has now been surveyed and pegged.

Then get our motorbike organized so we have wheels. Once we have wheels we will set out and explore the island lots more and get to know our new home. As it is only 120km right round the island we can do day trips and be home each night.

There are some caves and waterfalls we haven’t explored yet and Geoff (pommy expat) has offered to take me hiking up in the mountains on the trails he knows (not on any tourist map or book). Will also be checking them out as possible mountain bike trails as well.

Looking forward to getting back out bush again….

Thursday 29th July:

Well we are “back home” on Marinduque. It is good to be back and it does feel like home.

After a 10-hour trip that consisted of a Bus, Ro-Ro and Jeepney ride, we are back at the Eastpoint Hotel. The staff here now knows us so they give us the same room each time, which is a great comfortable touch.

Busy day tomorrow with catching up with Yolanda (get an update on the cottage power) then into Boac and get our bike organized and finally see our new land acquisition with the area now pegged.

Friday 30th July:

Wwwwwwoooo hhhooooo. Well I have a new motorcycle. Today we picked up our new mode of transport. It’s a Suzuki Thunder 125cc. After looking at and riding various bikes this one felt right for Guy and I. And it’s Ducati RED……

Also it is the model that two of the expats ride so they highly recommended it as a good “two up (pillion)” bike.

All I have done so far is stiffen up the rear suspension a couple of notches and with Guy on board it rides extremely well.

Now the sad part. It was delivered all nice and shiny. As you know it is the wet season here so rains daily. Any bit of road that isn’t paved or concrete is a mud bath. So with less than 5km on the clock we had to ride through about 2km of “mud” road works. My new shiny bike got very muddy.

Some of you may remember my old Ducati Monster and how it never was ridden in the rain let alone the mud. I am afraid that the Thunder is our everyday transport now come rain, hail, mud and snow. It shall get “looked after” but it is going to get dirty, very dirty.

Now that we have transport it is soooo good to be able to get where and when we want. We have just come back from Gasan where we meet with Yolanda, Laura and Alex (local architect recommended by Yolanda). Went through the remaining process to acquire our land (getting close now) including viewing the approved sub-division plan.

Then discussed with Alex our draft floor plan for our bungalow. He will go away and draw up some preliminary plans and look at some costing. Meeting a couple of other architects / contractors over the next few days and then will select somebody out of these to build the Bungalow.

And wouldn’t you know it. Back at 6:00pm just in time for a brownout. Lasted a couple of hours.

Saturday 23rd July:

Went for a ride this morning down to our land to have a look for the survey markers and check out the creek that runs through the property. But due to the crappy weather we didn’t stay long and will go back once the weather clears.

Unfortunately we were caught in a tropical downpour so we had mud and floods to contend with. But the new Thunder handled it all in its stride. The bike is now very very dirty and it is only two days old. Will have to wait for a few days before any cleaning. After the way my old Ducati was pampered, having a dirty bike is very new to me but something that I now am getting used to.

On the way home we called in to see Manfred (Danish expat living here for the last 15 years) who has been a building contractor on Marinduque in the past. He has retired now, due to ill health, but was able to give us some good advice. Well worth the chat.

And wouldn’t you know it, another brownout when we arrived back at Eastpoint Point. Thinking our Bungalow just might have to have a generator.

Sunday 1st August:

Well after the last two days of crap weather we awoke to a glorious day. I couldn’t resist the urge to clean my new bike. So armed with a bucket and a couple of face washers I managed to get the bike 90% clean. AAhhhhhhh I felt better after that.

Guy has Mahjong from noon in Gasan and I’m catching up with the expat blokes for the Sunday gathering. Was a very pleasant ride today to Gasan that is only 11km from Eastpoint Hotel. All the rice paddies are now full and the rice planting is growing in various stages. Will get some pics for the next blog update. Haven’t got any at the moment due to the weather.

I dropped Guy off at Mahjong and meet up with the guys. Showed them the house plans and picked their brains on building on Marinduque. Got all the good with the bad. No surprises and even some good advice from Eric and Ivan (the Germans).

Tomorrow (Monday) we move to Yolanda’s Cottage on the beach. There is no power at present, but everything else is good to go furniture & cooking). Cooking is by gas so that is fine. And Yolanda is supplying lighting. Water will be in barrels by the front door and will be filled daily by the “boys” from a hand pump on a well 100m away. We will use buckets to carry water indoors to flush the toilet, wash the dishes and to “scoop” shower. Drinking water will be by filtered water delivered from Buenavista so no problems there. The great part is that the cottage is rent-free until the power is connected which should only be a week at the most.

So you all, how would you go living in your house for a week with no power? No TV, fridge, microwave, computer, games, lights, washing machine, etc. And having to cart your water by bucket. Guy and I are actually looking forward to it. Now this is really going back to basics.

Okay how will we charge the Mac, phones, camera and the Nintendo you ask? Well every couple of days we will go “into town” for lunch and charge up at the lunch stop. We already know of a few food spots that will cater to these needs. One of them in Boac even has free Wi-Fi so they may get some additional business.

Having transport is the lifesaver as we can come and go as we now please. And “when” it gets really wet again, we will catch a Jeepney 50m from the front door rather than ride in the wet and mud again.

We also have to do another trip back to Manila in the next week or so to finalize Guy’s citizenship and get mine started. But then straight back to Marinduque and house plans.

Life is good.

Guy & Trevor