Day 261 of retirement

October 31, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 24th October:

Guy’s Mahjong day and my expat day.

First job was to give the Thunder Monster a nice fresh wash and wax. After all the wind this week she had a nice salty film covering her shiny bits, but all good now.

Dropped off Guy at the den and meet up with the usual “United Nations” gang at the Barbarossa for the afternoon. We solved the problems of the world…… Again… After a few beers were consumed.

Back home in time for a quick stroll up the beach before a light dinner.

My flu is still hanging on (chesty thing now) and it hits me in the evenings (get really tired). So had a little nap on the couch, showered and then off to bed.

Early start tomorrow as we head back to Santa Cruz for Guy to see the ear doctor after last weeks no show. Ron is picking us up at 7:00am, which is very early for us.

Monday 25th October:

Another Public Holiday today on the island so all the schools, government offices and banks are all closed. This one is for the Barangay (council) elections. Each Barangay on the island elects a Barangay Captain and his Kagawad’s (deputies). The term is for three years and you can be elected for three terms (9 years in total).

These people are the grass roots mediators in the local community for disputes as in noise, property boundary’s, squatters, drunks, parties, live stock, youth misbehavior, etc. They even have a van that travels round the Barangay collecting kids out too late and being mischievous and delivers them home to their parents.

If you have a dispute with anybody you go to the Kagawad’s first and they attempt to mediate a solution between the parties involved. If that doesn’t work you then go to the Barangay Captain and if that doesn’t work you then go to the police.

The system works quite well here in that the local community basically police themselves.

Early start for us as Ron picked us up at 7:00am and we headed for Santa Cruz to see Dr Almonte the ear doctor for Guy. Made it at 8:00am and he had arrived so all good. This is the Dr trained at Harvard in the USA and now has his practice in Manila but comes to Marinduque each Monday to see the locals (he has family here). A really nice guy in his 30s.

He saw Guy and determined that the extended use of cotton buds, over many years, to clean her ears has damaged the middle ear thus causing some hearing issues. But it is repairable given time and NO more cotton buds in the ear and he gave her some natural remedy pills that will help in the ear recovery process.

She has to go back in two weeks for a further check up so I will have my ears checked as well. His consultation fee for this was P200 ($5.00 AUS).

So to all of you who use cotton buds to clean your ears, DON’T…..

We then went exploring as we had some instructions on how to get to the Kawa-kawa waterfalls just outside Santa Cruz. Well as it turned out the directions we had were all wrong but after talking to half a dozen locals we finally found them. Great spot where they have developed a swimming rock pool at the base of the falls, which is fed and flushed by the falls’ flow. It has a large shaded walkway over the pool where you can enjoy a picnic.

We will certainly be back for a swim and picnic some day soon.

Then went bush again looking for a partly built power station (Ron is an ex power worker from the USA). Drove for ages back into the bush and finally found it. It was started a couple of years ago but came to a halt with, shall we say, some money issues (it was being funded by three private companies). So the partially built structure has just sat there all this time.

But it looks like work has recommenced and talking to one of the workers they hope that it will be producing power in 2012. Be fantastic when it come on line and will certainly help with the brownout issues.

Back to Boac for lunch and Ron showed us where you could get Bacon. So guess what was for dinner, Bacon burgers and dam they were good.

We also got eleven more Buko from Ron’s wife, Vicki, so fresh Buko juice for the next 3-4 days. Some in the fridge chilling right now.

So all in all a very busy day. Rest day tomorrow……

Tuesday 26th October:

Rest day today after our big day out yesterday. Had a leisurely breakfast watching the fishermen go by. Then headed for the Gasan Tuesday markets at 10:30am ish. About five hundred metres down the road we felt a few rain spots and looked up to see a huge storm coming our way from over the mountains. So a quick turn around on the Thunder Monster and back to the cottage.

Just as we hit the veranda down it came. Rained for an hour or so, so we decided to have lunch and a little siesta while we waited for it to clear. 2:00pm ish we headed for the market in nice blue skies.

Got all our supplies (getting good at balancing them all on the bike with the two of us now) headed home. Prepared the Pork for cooking this evening and I did a quick trip back to Barbarossa for an email check and still trying to fix their Wi-Fi connection to my MacBook. No luck yet.

Back home and we headed up the beach for our evening stroll.

Started cooking the Pork Adobo for dinner and processed some more fresh Buko Juice as well. We are freezing some this time to see how it goes. Should be okay but time will tell.

Pleasant evening as they are starting to cool down just a bit now (high 20Cs to low 30Cs).

Wednesday 27th October:

Cherry the washer lady was supposed to turn up today but at 9:00am no Cherry. We then learnt from one of the boys, who are working at the cottage today, that her husband is ill and she will try and come tomorrow. She did drop by later in the afternoon to see Yolanda and us to let everybody know what the go was with her husband. So hopefully we will see her tomorrow for our washing.

Today was “Clean up the beach day”. The weather has now settled back down to nice calm days so time to clean up the beach. I decided to pile all the debris into one big heap hoping that it will burn better. It meant carrying some of the debris some distance so I had lots of rests and drinks in between shifts.

The locals tend to make lots of small piles (so you don’t have to carry the stuff too far) but they don’t burn up very well. This is due to the debris being damp and salt encrusted from the ocean. And the humidity also makes it hard to burn anything.

Got the pile burning nicely with the addition of some bamboo and a few tree branches. By 7:30pm there were some very nice coals, just right for a good old aussie Barbie. But sadly no Barbie plate, spuds, onions, snags and steak, so I had to dream.

Guy and I went for our evening walk and I delivered another photo. The guy who was playing “air pool” was the recipient of this photo. Saw the kids playing on the street but he wasn’t there. He was inside one of the houses so they rounded him up and we gave him his pic. He was very thankful for his “action” pic and loved it.

Guy cooked up some very nice snake beans and pumpkin and pumpkin mash, which we had with rice and adobo pork from yesterday. Very yummy after a hard days work and washed down with a nice hot cup of tea.

Thursday 28th October:

Up at 9:00am ready for Cherry, the washer lady, but she was a no show. She had told us if she wasn’t there by nine she wouldn’t be coming so hopefully tomorrow now.

Guy was off to Mahjong for the afternoon with Vicki picking her up at midday. Right on midday we had a brownout. Wasn’t too bothered as I was going exploring anyway. 12:30pm ish got a call from Guy that Ron was off exploring and wanted to know if I wanted to join him. Yep happy to be chauffeured around so meet him on the road and off we went.

First stop was the Gasan cemetery. Next Monday it is “All Saints Day” (ooohh and it is another public holiday) where you go to the cemetery and honor the dead with a party at the graveside. So right now everybody is cleaning up his or her families’ graves ready for the party next Monday. You pay somebody to do the clean up or make a day of it with the family and do it yourselves.

Apparently it is quite a beautiful scene at dusk on all saints day with all the candles burning in the cemetery so I will certainly be back next Monday.

Now this cemetery is one where 99% of the bodies are encased in concrete on top of the ground (not buried). Also the entire “fence” around the cemetery, and it’s a long one, is made up of caskets stacked on top of one another and concreted in. See the pics and you know what I mean. A very fascinating place indeed and looking forward to next Monday’s celebrations.

Next stop was “Paradise Valley”. This is a private residence built by Jan (Dutch I think) who has built this huge residence back in this beautiful valley. There is a swimming pool with bar, huge house overlooking the valley, tennis court with covered entertaining area (as big as the tennis court), horse stables and equestrian yard, large monkey cage, two garages (for 6 jeeps and about a dozen quad bikes plus 18’ boat), two generators (16KVA & 8 KVA) and a man made water fall (huge pump to make it all work) with a Japanese Restaurant at the top.

Jan isn’t here at the moment (he’s back in December) but we were given a grand tour of the property by the caretaker, a really nice guy. There is a staff of about 10 who maintain the place while Jan is away. He is only here for about 6 weeks of the year. The story is he has spent about P50,000,000 ($1,250,000 AUS) on the property. It is very impressive.

Then off to Boac to get some more bacon and back home at 4:30pm and the brownout continues.

At 6:30pm (6.5 hours of brownout) the power came back on. And of course this is after we had cooked up dinner in the dark (well headlight dark) on the gas stove. Ooohhhh well good to have the power back for the evening.

Friday 29th October:

Cherry turned up at 9:00am so all good. Was a bit worried that we might have to do some washing ourselves.

Late morning we headed into Boac to catch-up with Eric (late 40s – Swiss German) who has been here for the last 18 years. Eric is the greenie in the group but he does practice what he preaches and he knows his stuff. Eric was married to a local but they separated many years ago (she moved to AUS) and he has stayed on, as he loves it here. He has 8,000sqm on the beach, outside of Boac, that is mostly mangroves. He lives in a bamboo house on the beach that is actually very nice and has a really good feel about it. He is trying to protect the beach and mangroves and educating the locals as well on how to live in and sustain the local environment.

He is also the only other gadget buff I know here who I can talk about techno stuff to. He has a DSL connection at his house so I took my MacBook along to confirm that my AirPort and Ethernet ports are working okay. I’m still having issues connecting to the Wi-Fi at Barbarossa in Gasan. Anyway was able to connect to his network via the AirPort and Ethernet connection so my MacBook is fine.

Back to Boac where I got some more of my Pics for People printed and I will deliver them as I’m out and about. Got a few supplies as well and called into our favorite bakery at the Gasan markets for a few goodies.

Been a rainy day all day today. Luckily we have been able to dodge the down pours right up until we were 2km from home. Alas we got hit by a shower and got wet but the good thing is that it isn’t cold. Bit like taking a cool shower. I have a dry bag that fits inside my pack so the MacBook, camera, phone, wallet, etc., are all kept dry.

Our washing is also getting a nice fresh water rinse as well so all good.

Saturday 30th October:

Yolanda and the boys are back at the cottage today working and they delivered us a new TV (well new secondhand). The one that was here is an old Chinese one that had really bad sound, crap picture and no remote. So Yolanda changed it over to a smaller Sony, which has good sound and picture and a remote.

We need an okay TV as we are looking at getting “Dream Satellite TV” here so we can see what is happening in the world. It even has an Australian channel with news so be good to see what is happening in our old homeland.

I made a quick trip to Joseph’s Mini-Mart (opposite the Municipal Offices & Hospital & 20km from home) up Boac way to load up the pics for the blog post tomorrow and download some email attachments. I have Broadband access in Gasan but it is slow and suffers from dropouts (okay for email & only 5km away) so currently any heavy net use it is off to Joseph’s. Joseph’s Wi-Fi is fast and stable so a quick 40km round trip is worth it for good access. Plus it was a beautiful day and 40km on the Thunder Monster is great at any time.

Hooked up the DVD and we watched two crap DVDs in the afternoon / evening. Most we have watched in one day since being in the cottage.

A very leisurely day indeed.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 254 of retirement

October 24, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 17th October:

Woke to a glorious day. The calm before the storm (Typhoon) maybe.

Gave Thunder Monster her weekly clean this morning. Got some wax shampoo in Manila so gave her a good old wash and also waxed her as well after the wash. Try and keep the salty sea air at bay just a bit. Anyway she is now nice and shiny till the next storm.

Then Guy was off to Mahjong and I spent the afternoon with the expats. Had 8 in our group today (American, English, Aussie, Swiss, Danish). We are growing. And of course we once again solved world peace……..

Guy’s Mahjong went a little late we so finished up riding home in the dark on the Thunder Monster. This was our first time riding in the dark here and it was, interesting. People walk all over the road and other bikes and trikes ride round with their lights off. And the light on the Thunder Monster is an old filament globe so not real flash at all. Man where is a HID when you need one. We made it safely but will certainly avoid dark riding where we can.

More Typhoon waiting and last minute check list check.

Monday 18th October:

No Typhoon yet. The sea is getting quite rough, the skies are looking very stormy and the wind is picking up but no rain.

So with an early start, Ron picked us up at 7:00am and we headed for Santa Cruz, which is a one-hour drive, for Guy to see the ear doctor (Dr. Almonte). Arrived at 8:00am only to discover that he hasn’t made the trip due to the Typhoon warning out. He has his practice in Manila and consults on the island on Monday’s only, so if the Ro-Ro stops due to the Typhoon he is stranded here.

Oooohh well we will be back same time same place next Monday.

So given that we now have the whole day to ourselves we decided to do a road trip round the island and visit a few of Ron’s mates. Firstly we did a walk round Santa Cruz and Ron introduced us to the Police Chief and the local “Bunnings” (hardware) store owner. Two important people to know.

Then we visited Ellie (local), a Canadian friend’s wife who lives here on the island. Ray (her husband) is currently working back in Canada but his wife is still here for now. Had a great chat to her over a nice cup of green tea.

Then off down south through Torrijos and over the mountain pass to Buenavista. On the way over the pass we stopped at Lyf (Dutch) and Elena’s (local) place at the foot of Mt Malindig. Great place with fantastic views of Mt Malindig but it is quite remote and has no running water. Each day they have to cart water by bucket to fill up their containers and are more susceptible to brownouts as well.

Then we hit Curba Restaurant, just past the hot springs, for cheese & bacon burgers with fries for a late lunch. They were not too bad at all I must say.

It was great talking to all these folks and looking at their houses as we are still finalizing our design.

And as everybody knows everybody else on the island we were able to get some great feed back on people that we are looking at using for our house design and building. Also some tips and tricks on what to do and not what to do.

Made it home at 3:30pm after a great day out with Ron.

Typhoon-wise the sea is still quite rough. The skies are getting even stormier and the wind is picking up. Still looks like Typhoon Juan will hit well north of us though so all good. We will know by the morning what the go is.

Tuesday 19th October:

No Typhoon Juan here. It has passed well to the north of us up at the top of Luzon. Talking to locals in town this morning it has killed about 26 people up north so not good. All we have here is strong winds that have now turned from northerlies to southerlies with some very rough seas and no rain. Has come out quite humid as well so need a good storm to clear the air.

Ooohhh and the brownouts are back today with all the strong winds. Power has been off most of the morning.

Quick trip into the Gasan markets (the big weekly market day today) to get some fresh supplies of fruit (Lansones, Banana’s), chicken (for chicken rice), rice and a few other bits and pieces including corn on the cob. Ooohhh and a fresh banana que for morning tea washed down with a nice cold Coke.

Cooked up the corn for lunch and it was very sweet and tender. Got a good batch this time. We got some corn last week that when cooked was like eating road gravel. We now know what to look for so we get the good sweet tender stuff.

Off to Laura’s in Gasan tonight for her 49th birthday party. Very yummy food and of course we ate too much. Was an interesting party as there were all of Laura’s female friends but their partners don’t come along. It was an all female affair and I was the token male.

Wednesday 20th October:

Another windy rough day. The sea is very rough with the southerly blowing. Hopefully only one more day and things will calm down again.

I now have that head cold that Guy had a few weeks ago. Had the sore throat yesterday and now it is the runny nose and congested head. A few days rest will sort it out.

Did a quick trip up to the block and spent an hour slashing back the jungle round the Nipa Hut and the boundary line. If I trim it once a week I can keep on top of the re-growth. To get the rest of the block under control I’ll get the boys back in a month or so.

Cherry back for the washing day today. She finished up at about 1:00pm ish so we had lunch and headed into Barbarossa to check web stuff. I currently have a problem connecting to their Wi-Fi but the SMART broadband works fine there so have a backup. Still unable to connect so back to SMART broadband but at least is works okay in Gasan.

Ron also called in for a coffee so had a chat to him before heading home at 4:00pm ish and a brownout. I went for a walk up the beach in the wind and then a quick siesta before the power came back on at 6:00pm.

Light dinner and early to bed and try and get this cold under control.

Thursday 21st October:

Awoke to a brownout this morning. Guy said it went off at about 10:00pm last night and it only can back on 4:00pm this afternoon so a bit of a long one this time (18 hours). Ohhhh well we got to defrost the fridge at least.

Weather wise it is still blowing a Gale and the sea is rough.

Guy had a Mahjong date today at midday in Gasan so a bit of a sleep in. Then we headed to Barbarossa a little early to do email stuff. Barbarossa has a generator so we had power while we were there and the mobile/broadband network has backup power along with generators so all good.

Then I headed off exploring. I had seen a sign in Gasan saying “Talao Cave 6km” so I decided to try and fine the Cave. 6km later up this quite rough, steep, washed out dirt track I came to the end of the road and no Cave in sight. Asked a local but he just smiled and nodded each time I asked so I think he didn’t understand the aussie accent…..

On the way back down I spied this waterfall off in the forest so stopped for a look-see. Found this 20m high beautiful waterfall (see the pics) that came from a side creek and fell into the main river. Definitely a cool spot for a picnic and a swim on another day.

Then about half way down I took a right turn up another valley and went exploring on a much better road. Came to a river crossing that looked a little too deep for my liking so turned back for Gasan.

Quick stop at the market for some fresh Lansones and a couple of treats from the favorite bakery. Got home and still no power so went for a spin down to Buenavista and back. Got home just after 4:00pm and power at last. Guy said that apparently one of the power plants in Santa Cruz broke down hence the 18-hour brownout. They have three power plants on the island that supply all power and from what I gather they are all running at peak capacity. So when one breaks down the others can’t supply the power required so they just shut down the network or part there of.

At least we get a hot dinner.

Friday 22nd October:

Wwooo hhooooo the wind has dropped at last. Just a gentle breeze this morning after three days of strong winds.

And the head cold is on the mend. Feeling a little better this morning. Just all blocked up at the moment.

Had some banking, blog and email stuff to attend to so headed to a place just outside of Boac called Joseph’s Mini-Mart (opposite the Municipal Offices & Hospital & 20km from home). They do free Wi-Fi, meals and sell “corner store” type groceries. Very pleasant place and the food is cheap, very tasty and the Wi-Fi is fast. With the road works almost finished now it is a very pleasant ride there and back on the bike. We had a leisurely lunch there while we sorted out our business (Lunch was P150 ($3.75 AUS) for two good sized meals and three Iced Teas).

On the way home we called into the “Goat House” (they’re specialists in Goat meat meals) and picked up a couple of serves (including Kari-Kari a local Pork Blood Jelly delicacy) for tomorrow’s lunch.

Home in time for a quick cup of tea before we headed off for our afternoon walk up the beach. The wind and sea have calmed down today and as the tide was out we were able to walk below all the debris washed up the beach from the last three days of high winds. All this debris is made up of coconuts & coconut tree bits, bamboo, timber and some litter. It is quite dense in places and I have no idea where it all comes from.

After a big storm like this the locals heap up the debris in front of their homes on the beach and have bonfires in the evenings until it is all gone. You can see the glow of these fires dotted up the beach when dark. Also the smoke from these fires is a great mosquito repellant.

For the first time I managed to scale a coconut tree, detach some coconuts, de-husk them and get the Buko juice out without breaking my neck and making a mess. I guess I should clarify that the coconut tree I scaled was only about 3m tall and I used a make shift stand to get up, but hey, got to start some where. Fresh Buko juice in the fridge chilling.

Leftovers for dinner and a very pleasant evening with the power on for a change.

Saturday 23rd October:

Time for the Thunder Monsters second service (Oil change and strainer clean). Have the bike “booked in” at Starbike in Gasan for 9:00am this morning. So we got Milton, the boss, to text us when the mechanic arrived after the last time when he didn’t turn up for two days.

11:00am got the text the mechanic is there ready and waiting so 10 minutes later we dropped off the bike. We had to pay him in advance for the oil (P170 ($4.25 AUS)) so he could go down the road and get it from the supplier.

We walked to the market and got a few things and I printed off 10 copies of John’s puppy photos for him for his Christmas cards.

Back at Starbike an hour later and all done. When we enquired how much the service was the mechanic just said to pay him what we thought it was worth. So we gave him P100 ($2.50 AUS) and he was very happy with that. This equates to probably half of his days wages.

Thought about doing the service myself but it just isn’t worth it and we are supporting the local business by getting them to do it. The only thing I will do, and let no other do, is clean the Thunder Monster. Nobody cleans a bike like me. The Ducati folk back in Sydney will know what I’m talking about……..

It’s a nice sunny day out so got my moldy stuff hanging out on the line to de-mould them. See below re “Other Stuff – We Have Mould” for further info on the joys of mould we are now experiencing.

We had a drop in from Frank (Aussie) and Rosie (local) whole live about 5 km up the road from us towards Buenavista. They heard we were in town so dropped in to say hi. Frank is a retired Civil Engineer from Sydney living the good life here on Marinduque with his partner who is a local. Had a great chat and learnt a little more about the expat community here and some of the characters.

Today I kicked off my “Pics for People” project. I won’t double up so read below in the “Other Stuff” section for all about this project of mine to give something back, that I love doing, for a change.

Life is dam good.

Trevor & Guy

Other Stuff:

Pics for People:

Today I started a Trevor project “Pics for People”.


The people here on Marinduque are economically poor (one of the poorest provinces in the Philippines) but what they lack in monetary prosperity they exceed in culture, community and a really great smiling cheerful attitude. They live from day to day on a few dollars. Things like having pictures of the family are not on the priority list when you are just surviving to eat.

My Project:

As I love photography and always have a camera with me, I have started to collect some great pics of the people in their every day life. What I want to do is give back to these people hard copy pics of them, as they just don’t have any. So the aim is to process some of the best pics, printed them at the local Fuji quick print machine (6’ x 4” prints) and give them back to the people.

Current Status:

Today Guy and I made the first delivery of pics.

First stop was the weaver family from the last blog post. The whole family and friends all came out and were passing the pics round and having a great old laugh. The joy in their faces in seeing themselves / family was absolutely fantastic.

The sewing machine man that is blind in one eye was the next stop. He also loved his pic and shook my hand as thanks for his one and only picture of himself.

The supermarket lady (pic of her in front of her shop) was the final stop on our delivery route. Once again that huge toothless grin and “thank you” was all that was required to make it all worthwhile. She said “it was her Christmas present”.

Once we were home we went for our evening walk up the beach and made today’s final delivery to the family of the two boys (brothers) sitting in the Bangka. This family live on the beach in a shack and the dad is a fisherman. These guys always have a wave and a smile when I walk past them.

I gave them two pics, one for each son. The boys loved their pics as did mum and dad. We continued up the beach for our walk and on our return both of the boys came running out with this huge shell for us in thanks for their picture.

This shell will take pride of place in our new house and symbolizes that when you have nothing, you still have something to share.

So all in all we feel pretty dam good tonight after bringing something to these folks that they didn’t have before. The smiles, laughter, thankyou’s, handshakes and shell mean more than any money could buy.

This is now my way to give back something small that I love doing and provides people with something they didn’t have before. My project continues.

Life is dam good tonight….

We Have Mould:

Well now that we have been here for a few months we are discovering the joys of mould. With the heat and humidity we have discovered that there are some things that grow mould quicker than others.

I have a leather belt (the only leather we have here) and didn’t wear it for several weeks. When I retrieved it from hanging in the cupboard it was covered in mould.

My Macpac canvas backpack that has traveled the world over a few times also goes moldy quite quickly so I have to hang it out in the sunshine at least once a week and brush off the mould.

My bathroom bag is the same. It goes moldy very quickly and I keep it in the spare bedroom out of the damp bathroom. Had this bag for many many years as well.

Guy had a shirt that must have been hung up damp in the cupboard and it went moldy.

I have a felt camera lens pouch that was stored back in the cupboard and it went moldy. The lens was okay, luckily.

We now have to be really careful with our washing that we get it properly dry before you put it away.

If anybody has any ideas on how to prevent mould I would love to hear them.

Day 247 of retirement

October 17, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 10th October:

Our last day in Manila so back to our second home, the mall, for some supplies that we can’t get on the island. These include our favorite gourmet nuts, Polvoron (sweets made from milk powder, flour & sugar), dried mango, Choc Nut (sweets made from peanuts, coconut & sugar) Guy’s Kopiko 3 in 1 Brown Coffee and some condiments for cooking.

We are slowly discovering where to get some of our more “special” treats on the island but still can’t get the above treats.

I also needed some tools for the Thunder Monster. As previously stated I couldn’t get a tire pressure gauge anywhere on the island so this was on the top of my list for the hardware store at the mall. Finished up getting 2 tire pressure gauges, small socket set, feeler gauge, tire valve tool, bike wax shampoo and some good spray on wax chain lube. All for the princely sum of P1,500 ($38.00 AUS). It is a real pity as I have most of this still back in AUS but would cost twice as much to ship but for $38.00 can’t complain.

Back to Guy’s Mum’s for a fish dinner and then Guy headed out to play Mahjong while I packed.

Monday 11th October:

Well the alarm went off at 5:30am just as Guy walked in the door from her all nighters Mahjong game. And to add insult to injury she lost this time (she was a winner last time she played with this group).

Quick shower and off to the bus station a few blocks away arriving there at 6:15am.

7:00am departure from Manila and 5 hours later we arrived in Lucena port to catch the Ro-Ro. Three hours later we arrived in Balanacan port and into a Jeepney for the ride back to the cottage where we arrived at 4:30pm. So a bit of a long day (10.5 hours) but a bit quicker than usual. Usually takes about twelve hours for this trip.

First job on arrival was a nice hot cup of tea down in the Nipa hut as the sea breeze hit. Quite hot and humid here at present but the hot tea went down a real treat.

Yolanda and the boys were here working on the property as well so Nato (one of the boys) was dispatched up a coconut tree for 4 coconuts for fresh Buko juice, which is currently in the fridge chilling for our nightcap.

Dinner was some nice freshly cooked rice (sick of “eating out” food in Manila) and some Adobo Tuna (from a can), which is almost as good as fresh adobo.

We both agree that it is really good to be “home” on Marinduque. Each time we come back here from Manila it feels more and more like our home.

We are looking forward to the next few months (until Xmas) just exploring and doing what we want, when we want, how we want.

Life is dam good….

Tuesday 12th October:

Very pleasant surprise this morning, our food parcel from Alina R (Newcastle, NSW, AUS) arrived 4 weeks after she sent it. After visiting the Gasan Tuesday markets for some supplies we called into the post office and there was Alina’s parcel ready and waiting for us.

This was a “test” parcel to see how the postal system would work and work it did. Actually I wasn’t worried about the Philippines Postal service, was more worried that Australia Post would lose it…… ha ha ha

The tea is in perfect condition but the chocolates are a little melted but hey any good melted chocolate is better than none. So if any of you want to send us some Haighs chocolate (dark choc, wink wink nudge nudge) suggest you put it in a zip lock bag so when it arrives we will put in the fridge to harden it back up and break off chunks as required.

Huge thanks to Alina for the parcel. It was the highlight of our day.

Was good to get back on the Thunder Monster today after 2 weeks away. Felt great riding into Gasan with the wind in our faces as we cruised…..

October is the wettest month here on Marinduque and today certainly lived up to that. Absolutely poured for several hours (90mm fell), complete with thunder and lightening, so I took advantage of the situation and had a long cool shower under the down pipe complete with hair shampoo. Very refreshing.

We also had some minor flooding on the up hillside of the house. As the water runs down the hill it can go left or right. Left means it runs past the cottage and right means it pools up against the wall and yep it went right.

So Norman (one of the boys who is working here today) knocked a hole in the retaining wall to drain the dam while I created a diversion drain about 2m long to get the water to go left. Worked a treat but will need to modify my landscaping efforts when the rain stops to accommodate the diversion drain.

I was feeling a little vulnerable during the drain excavation as I was using a metal handled shovel with all the lightening around. I survived so all good.

Had a nice cool Buko juice for afternoon tea as we sat and watched the lighting show and listened to the thunder music.

The one good thing about these storms is that they cool things down a bit (till the sun comes out again) so we enjoy it while we could.

Wednesday 13th October:

Having a chat to the boys this morning and they said that the storm yesterday was the heaviest so far this wet season (90mm in 2 hours). There was some minor flooding but nothing serious. Talking to Ron (the yank) and the rice paddies out back of his place all flooded but all gone today. The local rivers are flowing the highest I have seen as well.

It is incredible that today out riding you couldn’t tell that there was a huge storm yesterday. The water drains away so quickly and as the soil is quite sandy right along the coast there are no puddles or pools of water anywhere. The rice paddies tend to start about 0.5km to 1.0km back from the coast

Cherry our washer lady was back and earned her money today as we had more than the usual load from our two weeks in Manila, holiday.

Quick trip up to our block for a look and no flooding from the storm, so all good. But man it has been 3 weeks since I was there and with all the rain and sunshine, the jungle re growth has gone berserk. Will do some trimming myself but will leave it for 3 weeks (till after October which is the wettest month here) and get the boys back for a few days to slash it all back.

We dropped into Ron (the yank) and Vickie’s on the way home for a chat and to drop some Choc nut and Polvoron as a thanks for organizing fresh Buko for us so we can make our special Buko juice.

Ron also knows a really good ear and eye doctor on the island and will take Guy and I there on Monday, as Guy wants’ to have here ears checked. He will pick us up on Monday morning and take us to Santa Cruz (about 1 hour away at the top of the island) and introduce us to the doc.

Oooohhh and of course Guy and Vicki just happened to organize to play Mahjong tomorrow. Mmmmm might have to go exploring on the Thunder Monster.

Afternoon storm didn’t hit till 6:30pm tonight so was able to get in a lovely one hour stroll up the beach before hand. Very pleasant.

Thursday 14th October:

Had a “drop in for a chat” visit from John (the pom) this morning just as Guy was leaving for Mahjong with Vicki. He stayed for a couple of hours (we drank tea & coffee under the Nipa Hut and solved world peace…) as we were hit by the edge of a thunderstorm.

Once the storm passed he left and the skies cleared. So I grabbed the camera and went exploring on the Thunder Monster for the afternoon round the local area. Got lots of great pics of people, places and things.

Called into the Gasan markets for some fresh supplies as well. Got 1.5kg of sweet ladyfinger bananas, 1.0kg of Lansones (sweet fruit) and six Pan De Coco buns (buns filled with sweet coconut) and all this for P90 ($2.25 AUS) in total.

Back home for a nice cold Coke and some fresh fruit for a late afternoon tea. Guy returned from Mahjong and sadly had a P300 ($7.50 AUS) loss today. Oh well you win some you lose some.

Dinner tonight was some Pork (cooked Adobo style) with pumpkin and snake beans cooked in coconut milk with rice. Must say I do like the food here and it is actually pretty dam healthy as well.

I am now back to the first hole in my belt (was at hole 4 back in AUS). Haven’t been in that hole for many years and it feels dam good.

Oohhh and Alina I finished off the chocolates today. Even melted they were very very nice. I am savoring the tea for special occasions (had a couple so far).

Friday 15th October:

Off to Boac today with Laura to finalize the title to our block.  Meet Laura in Gasan and we rode in on the Thunder Monster (as it was a gorgeous day after all the rain) and Laura and Dong (Her partner’s name) drove in. We meet at the “Land Registration Authority (Registry of Deeds)” office at the municipal centre where all the government offices are situated. I counted eight there but I’m sure there are more. They love their government offices.

As this was going to take a while I went across the road to a very nice little restaurant that just happened to have nice fast Wi-Fi, so I settled in with a cold Coke and the MacBook. After about 1.5 hours Guy and the crew turned up to say that they had to go back in an hour to finalize the process and we will then get the new title to our block.

So we had a leisurely lunch at the restaurant while we waited. Very nice food and very reasonably priced. Guy and I had a plate of noodles for two, which cost P70 ($1.75 AUS).

After lunch they went back to the office to finalize the title and of course pay a small “gratitude” fee for having it all done so quickly. 1.5 hours later we had our brand new title for the block. We are now officially land barons with 2,908 sqm of jungle paradise with a 40m frontage onto the beach. Wwwooo hhooooo….

Then off to the PhilHealth office to sign up for private medical coverage. As Guy is a citizen she is registered as a member and I am a dependant so get coverage as well. All we needed was the registration form completed along with a copy of Guy’s birth certificate, our marriage license and my passport.

The way it works is that there is only one fee paid by all. PhilHealth then have recommended hospitals and doctors that you get more coverage at than other not so recommended ones. We are still trying to figure it all out on the claiming side. Spoke to Laura and she had her son in a hospital in Lucena (where the island’s Ro-Ro docks) a while back and they paid about 70% of all her costs.

And the cost of this coverage is P300 ($7.50 AUS) per quarter or P1,200 ($30.00 AUS) per year. It is highly subsidized by the government here for a fee like that. Ooohhh and there is a three month waiting period so we can’t get sick till January.

Back home in time for the sunset and a nice leisurely dinner of left over’s and all washed down with a nice hot cup of tea.

Discovered a really good desert tonight. Sliced up the sweet lady finger banana’s, sprinkled some brown sugar over them and added some evaporated milk and mixed it all up. Left stand for 30 minutes and yum. Yea I have a bit of a sweet tooth.

Saturday 16th October:

Got our first Typhoon (Juan) warning this morning while in Gasan. Had a quick look on the web and it is still some ways off Marinduque. They are predicting that it will go north and we will only get the edge of it but you just never know. The ETA on Marinduque is Monday morning so we shall see.

We did our first Typhoon readiness check, which consisted of:

  • Checking our rice and food supplies (tinned and packet) – Check
  • Filled up the Thunder Monster with gas – Check
  • Have an extra full gas cylinder for cooking – Check
  • Ordered another container of drinking water (80L in total) – Check
  • Checked batteries for our head torches – Check
  • Filled outside water barrels (washing and flushing water) – Check
  • Have cash to buy stuff if required – Check
  • Will get some fresh fruit and bakery stuff  – Sunday
  • Charge up all our phones, camera and laptop batteries – Sunday
  • Thunder Monster inside – Sunday night
  • Quick check outside for loose objects outside – Sunday night

So now it is just a waiting game.

Did some actual work this morning. Was in at Barbarossa as they are having trouble with their Wi-Fi router. Removed all the security settings and I still couldn’t connect. I have no issues with any other Wi-Fi connections on the island (was connected to another network yesterday) so looks like it could be a router issue. Laura will get one of the government network specialists to come have a look. I didn’t want to mess with it too much, just checked the obvious things like security settings.

Felt rather weird doing work type stuff.

Very thundery and rainy at present so an afternoon siesta is in order. Cleared up at 4:30pm ish so off for an hour stroll up the beach and watch the sunset with a nice cold Coke.

Dinner was some very nice Pumpkin soup that Guy made from some fresh pumpkin from the market with my banana, sugar & evaporated milk desert and all washed down with a nice hot cup of tea.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 240 of retirement

October 10, 2010

Hi All

Sunday 3rd October:

Bit of a sleep in this morning before heading to the Mall (our second home…) at 11:00am ish. We needed to sort out a dodgy Globe mobile phone load for Guy’s phone. Bought the card yesterday and when we tried to load it, it said the card was invalid.

The Globe lady was very helpful and after checking everything out, she gave Guy a new P500 load card to replace the dodgy one. This one all loaded okay so all good.

We found this really great little designer tee shirt shop in our travels with some very cool designs. Jordan purchased six of the designs and unfortunately he had to pay full price, which was P400 ($10.00 AUS) each. Yea okay still a bargain….

Jordan spent a few hours at an Internet café catching up with his friends back home in AUS on Facebook and Guy and I chilled out at Starbucks with a Chai Latte while posting the blog and doing emails.

Very relaxing day.

Monday 4th October:

Up early (6:00am) this morning as we are headed to Subic Bay, the old American naval base that was vacated back in the mid 90s. All 14 of us loaded back into the hired mini van and off we headed north for 2 hours.

This is our first time going north of Manila so interested to see the countryside. It is more rolling hills and rice paddies and was a very pleasant drive. We passed the old American Clark Air force base on the way, which was also vacated by the yanks back in the mid 90s.

Arriving at Subic Bay you would think that you have entered an American suburb or an aussie one. There are parks, baseball grounds with bleachers and lots of “western” looking shops and amenities.

The stores are “Duty Free” which means that the American goods are tax-free. No need to show your ticket or anything, you just buy it and it’s tax-free. Also the American goods are all marked in US$ with the local goods in PHP. And when you check out the final amount is all in US$ and then converted to PHP. All a bit confusing but it works.

And of course the American goods consist of a lot of super sizing. For example you can get a 10L pack of Fruit Loops and other “nutritious” serials.

We went for a drive round the bay past the international airport built by the yanks on the bay to support the naval base. This is quite a large airport and looks like it is still used by the occasional flight. But up the opposite end to the terminal there is a huge maintenance / hangar area that is all deserted and derelict. Would have loved to sneak in and get some pics of the big old derelict buildings but there were men with big guns there.

Also round the port there are lots of the old storage sheds that have now become derelict. Driving back in the hills we passed lots of old ammunition storage bunkers from WWII vintage and old living quarters that are almost fully consumed by the jungle now.

We went to a Safari Park behind the bay where they have the only Tiger population in the Philippines, which includes several white Tigers. The kids went on a two-hour Safari to see the Tiger’s, Crocodiles and some other wild animals. They said it was okay but a bit lame. I didn’t go as I’m not into seeing animals all caged up.

But all in all Subic Bay is an interesting place and we wouldn’t mind going back there and explore it some more especially the history of the old naval base.

Tuesday 5th October:

Back to Greenhills Mall as Jordan wanted to get a “Rolex” watch. Found the one he wanted and after some negotiating the deal was done for P880 ($22.00 AUS). Not bad for a “Rolex” where the negotiations started at P1,800. The watches like the Nike shoes are actually pretty good copies now. The quality has improved.

Then off to Shakey’s for brunch. This has become our favorite eating-place as the food isn’t too bad and it is reasonably priced. Have tried some of the others (Maccas, KFC, Jollibee, etc.) and yet they are crap no matter where in the world you go. At least they are consistent.

Then off to our second home Mall just down the road for some Wi-Fi and Jordan for some Facebook at the Internet café.

Dinner at guy’s Mum’s as her sister, Nida, and three kids return to Queensland (AUS) tomorrow after their holiday here for the last two weeks.

Wednesday 6th October:

Very relaxed day. Back to Greenhills Mall for Jordan who wanted to get some more stuff and of course finished up buying something completely different. Lunch in the food court where we found a Buko Shake. Not as good as our Buko Special but still not bad.

Back to the hotel as Guy has a bit of a cold for the afternoon siesta and then played cards for the evening.

Thursday 7th October:

Slept in till 11:30am this morning as we were playing cards well into the night.

A nice leisurely start then off to the mall once again to escape the midday heat. Bit of a wander round once again. We still manage to find little corners with some hidden away shops when we explore the malls.

Guy and I picked up our new glasses. Amazing how much better you can see when you have the correct glasses.

Jordan was back at the Internet café for a few hours and Guy & I hit Starbucks for a Chai and some Wi-Fi. Dinner at Guy’s Mum’s as it was Guy’s niece’s birthday so of course we had to supply the cakes. Bought two different ones for a bit of variety (Chocolate and a Merangue with custard type as stuffing).

All washed down with a hot cup of tea.

Friday 8th October:

Jordan’s last day today as he flies back to AUS tomorrow so we headed for the Mall of Asia, which is down by the port, as it is one of the biggest in Manila. This is the Mall that has an ice skating rink in the middle of it. Amazing how it is so hot and humid outside and yet in the ice ring it is frozen (no melt water at all).

To get there it was a Trike, MRT and Jeepney ride, which was Jordan’s first experience on the MRT and Jeepney in the heat and humidity.

After a wander and lunch we braved the afternoon traffic in a cab to get back to the hotel. This little trip took over an hour, as the rush hour traffic was bad. The cab driver wanted Guy to pay him P100 extra on top of the fare due to the traffic but after some negotiations she paid him P220 ($5.50 AUS) in total, which included a P40 ($1.00 AUS) “traffic fee”.

We spent the evening playing cards to determine the final cards champion, which is Guy. The card game we have been playing is “Monopoly” which is the card version of the real game. Great fun game.

Saturday 9th October:

Checked out the hotel and moved all our stuff to Beth’s house just a few blocks away. Guy and I will stay here for a couple of night till we head back home to Marinduque which looks like Monday at this stage.

Jordan’s last day so back to the Mall for some last minute “supplies” for the trip back to AUS. Then off to the airport with our taxi driver Beth.

Guy had her good friend Ed (The Police Chief at the airport) organize parking for Beth’s van in the 2 minute area so we could stay for a few hours. Ed arranged for a security pass for Guy to accompany Jordan and him into the departure area for Jordan to check in and immigration sorted while we all waited in a restaurant just outside.

Jordan was able to bypass all the queues with his personal escort and was checked in at Business Class and then through the diplomatic immigration process for all his paper work. All this done and dusted in about 30 minutes.

He joined us for about 1.5-hours back in the restaurant before boarding. As all his paper work was completed, Ed showed him the quick way to get to his gate.

Bit sad to see him leaving but he had a great time with his Mum and cousins and will be back in the New Year for another visit with Jo, his sister, so all are looking forward to this time.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 233 of retirement

October 3, 2010

Hi All

Monday 27th September

Breakfast at Guy’s Mum’s before heading to the Mall for a few supplies and get cashed up.

Guy and I need new glasses as we are both far sighted and it has been a few years since our last check up. We both need to replace our existing glasses as reading is starting to get a bit of a challenge, again. So checked out a few Optometrists and found this very friendly lady who carried out all the tests and helped us with frames. The cost of the glasses is basically the same at all the places. It is the frames that are negotiable.

So selected some new frames, got a discount after some “negotiations” on Guy’s behalf. Both our glasses are bi-focal, multicoated (blocks out all the nasty rays) and transitional (go dark in the sunlight). All up the total cost for both glasses with new frames is P26,000 ($650 AUS). From memory we paid about the same for a single pair back in AUS.

Had a Chai Latte at Starbucks and some free Wi-Fi. The Chai is actually not too bad from Starbucks especially after not having one for 6 weeks.

Then back to Beth’s (Guy’s sisters) and off to the airport to pick up Jordan (Guy’s 15 year old son) for a two week visit from AUS.

Guy organized her Police Chief friend to meet Jordan as he arrived and escort him through immigration and customs and deliver him to us at a restaurant in the international departures area. This saved us mixing with the masses at arrivals while waiting. He also arranged for Beth to park her van in the 2-minute drop off zone for over an hour just outside the restaurant. Very handy indeed.

Jordan arrived safe and sound and Guy was very happy indeed to see him. We headed back to the hotel via Guy’s Mum’s for some fresh Adobo.

Tuesday 28th September:

Bit of a sleep-in for us all after the big arrival yesterday. Then off to the Mall as Jordan had a few things he really wanted. Breakfast at Jollibee’s and off we set. We wandered back and forth over the three Malls looking for some specific stuff. After a day of walking a thousand kms, or so it seemed, he had pretty much all he was after (for today) so a great day all round.

Tomorrow we head for Puerto Galera (Mindoro Island) and the Tamaraw Resort, all 14 of us. Going to be a bit of a military operation to get us all there with a 3 hour bus trip and a one hour Bangka ride.

Wednesday 29th September:

Early start this morning (up at 7:00pm). Everybody made it to the bus station by 7:30am so all 14 of us loaded up (luggage & food) and headed for Batangas (3 hour bus ride).  There was a Bangka ready to go when we arrived at Batangas so quick transfer and off to Puerto Galera and the Tamaraw Resort.

One hour later we arrived, just on midday, so perfect timing. We have two apartments, side by side, with 7 people in each. There are two bedrooms up stairs with two double beds in each and a kitchen / living area down stairs. Great setup.

Quick lunch, up packed and hit the beach for the afternoon to relax and a swim in the crystal clear warm waters.

We also brought Guy’s Mum along for a treat and one of her sisters graciously cooked up dinner for us (Spaghetti), which was very nice indeed.

As it is the low season here now the resort is pretty much deserted. Probably only 20 other guests here so nice and quiet. Much different when we were here in May in the high season.

Must say that organizing 5 adults and 9 kids wasn’t too bad at all (they are all used to travelling this way which helps heaps).

Oohhh Tamaraw Resort is just up the beach from Mengies where we stayed on the start of our journey here back in May. So we have come full circle.

Thursday 30th September:

Bit of a sleep in this morning, as we had nothing to do and all day to do it.

Had a late brunch, which consisted of Mango & Banana pancakes. Very nice.

Then lounged about with some swimming and a bit of a wander up the beach. At 3:00pm we had a Banana boat organized and all enjoyed the ride and several dunkings. See the pics.

Everybody sort of ate when they felt like it so a very relaxed day. Oohhhhh they have free Wi-Fi here so quick email and Facebook check was in order.

Then right on dark we headed up the beach to White beach, which is about 1km away for the fire dancers show, which wasn’t too bad. More food and drink before the show and then a leisurely wander back to our resort in the cool of the evening.

OOohhh as you know Guy and I haven’t had a hair cut in 8 months and it is getting a little long and blowing every where sooooooo today we had cornbraids done to our hair. It actually is very comfortable and certainly stops your hair blowing everywhere. See the pics for what it looks like.

Feels like I’m a born again hippy from the 70s …… Love it….

Friday 1st October:

Rounded up the gang for the trip back to Manila. As the tide was out at the resort, the Bangka couldn’t pick us up at the beach so we all pilled into a mini Jeepney (luggage and all) and off to the port we go.

Arrived safe and sound and loaded up onto the Bangka for the ride to Batangas.

On arrival in Batangas we were going to catch the bus back to Manila. Guy did a deal with a 14 seater mini van driver to drive us all directly to her Mum’s place for P2,500 ($62.50 AUS), only P50 more than the bus fare. So we all loaded up into the van, luggage and all. Now this is a 14-seat van with virtually no luggage space. So all the luggage was packed and prodded into and around all the passengers and off we went. Three hours later we arrived all safe and sound back in Manila and extracted the luggage and passengers from the van.

Soren, Doug, Margaret and Tony it reminded me of one of our plane trips from Lukla to Kathmandu.

We headed for the hotel just down the road as Guy’s two sisters and kids are staying at the house.

Saturday 2nd October:

Off to Greenhills Mall today. This Mall is renowned for its clothing/shoes (genuine fakes) and electronics sections. Jordan was after some Nike stuff and some PS3 games.

After many hours of wandering round and “negotiating” with the vendors he found everything he was after so all good.

The Nike copies are actually not too bad quality wise, better than what I remember from a few years ago. You can get the latest Nike shoes for anywhere between $10 to $30 AUS so yea a bit of a saving.

And PS3 games are about a half to a third the cost of AUS for new ones and much less for second hand, which has a big market here as well. For the second hand ones they allow you to try them first before buying so it is pretty much all above board,

And of course we managed to get a few extras. Managed to acquire 21 assorted DVD’s along the way as well (that were not so genuine).

Back to Guy’s Mum’s for a very yummy Pork Adobo dinner followed by Buko fruit salad which is like our Buko drink but with lots of other fresh fruit added. Went back for thirds for this one.

From the born again hippies….

Trevor & Guy

PS: Life is good…..