Day 352 of retirement

January 30, 2011

Hi All

We are getting used to living without power. Due to a fuel shortage for the generators here on Marinduque (there are three generator plants) there are rolling brownouts till the 12th of February. The brownouts range from 3 to 9 hours and can happen at anytime day or night.


Sunday 23rd January 2011:

A very slow morning this morning as we are exhausted after a fantastic visit with Jo and Jordan. We needed a few things to take back to the island with us so went and shopped for them. Dropped them off at the condo and had brunch at a very nice Thai place we have visited a few times as the food is great.

After lunch we both went our own ways for a few hours, as I wanted to look at gadget stuff. Also swung past the Mountain Bike shop and they had the new Trek Superfly 29er on the floor fully fitted out with the SRAM X0 gear. Niicceeee…… Brought back memories….

Meet Guy for a Chai Latte before retiring for a late siesta. Dinner was ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches as Guy also had a hankering for this little delicacy.

A very quiet evening as we move to Beth’s place tomorrow and then back to the island on Tuesday. We need a rest……

Monday 24th January:

Last day at the condo so definitely a sleep in as we only have to be out of the condo later in the day. Once up and showered we rounded up all our gear and started the packing process. Seems like some of our stuff has multiplied, as I’m sure we never had this much stuff. But anyway we managed to get it all packed including some supplies for the island. Guy bought a carry on suitcase so it’s stuffed with the entire foodstuff we have purchased that isn’t available on the island.

Off to the mall one last time for brunch which consisted of corn on the cob and a donut, my last sweet treat. All finished off with a Chai Latte and a very nice little piece of Pistachio Nut Cake washed down with the Chai.

Caught a cab to Beth’s place and made a few last minute calls to try and track down my residency status and some info I need from the Australian Embassy. Alas we were not successful in either case. Oohhh well another day and another call.

Yummy dinner cooked by Guy’s Mum and off to bed as we have an early start in the morning to get home……

Tuesday 25th January:

Alarm went off at 5:30am. Quick pack of the last few things and off we Triked to the JAC Liner (Bus) depot just down the road. The bus left at 6:20am and 4.75 hours later we arrived in Lucena Port for the 12:00 noon Ro-Ro. We had some time to spare which was good as I psyched myself up for another rough Ro-Ro ride.

The forecast was for strong winds and rough 3m – 5m waves. After my last rough trip I was a little weary. Drugged myself up and we were able to get some nice large padded bench seats as we boarded. So we both lay down and stretched out as the Ro-Ro hit the rough seas. It wasn’t as rough as the previous trip from hell but it was pretty rough as the Ro-Ro rocked and rolled.

We both felt a little “flushed” but I must say that it is better being able to lie down. At about the 2-hour mark the seas abated and the last half hour of the ride, as we approached Marinduque, was actually quite smooth. No vomiting for either of us….. yyeeeaaaaaa…..

We arrived at Balanacan Port at 2:30pm and boy we were both glad to have our feet on dry land and be home. Ron was there waiting for us (our ever faithful Taxi) and we headed for home in the pickup. Quick stop over at Barbarossa for cheeseburgers and fries, as we hadn’t eaten all day.

Home to a nice hot fresh cup of tea watching the sun go down from the veranda. And we were then really welcomed home by a lovely brownout at about 5:00pm which lasted till 9:15pm.

Must say Marinduque is certainly our home now and we are so so so glad to be back and away from the smog and hustle and bustle of Manila. Rest day tomorrow then Guy has Mahjong on Thursday, we both have Bridge on Friday. No rest for the wicked.

Wednesday 26th January:

Very nice little snooze in and breakfast on the front veranda watching the world go by on the beach.

Off to the Gasan markets for some fresh supplies followed by a visit to our local “supermarket” down the road for my Coke. I cooked up some Pork Adobo for lunch and just as Guy was cooking the rice in the rice cooker, it blew up. So we had to rough it and cook the rice on the gas stove. Yolanda and the boys are working here today and she gave us a plate of tofu, tomatoes, pechay (local spinach) and Pork. It is kind of like a soup. Had this with the rice and Adobo and it was so nice to have local fresh food again after being on the road for the last four weeks.

Also the boys got us 4 fresh Buko so a nice big batch of Buko juice was made and chilled in the fridge.

After lunch we headed to Joseph’s Mini Mart for some free fast Wi-Fi as Guy wanted to upload a heap of pics from our travels to her old high school website.

All done and home for a very relaxed evening with a nice cold Buko juice with a dash of Malibu (Rum). Man that was good. I think that it should be named the TGB (Trevor & Guy Buko) cocktail.

Thursday 27th January:

After a leisurely breakfast, I had a look at our three electrical items that have died (Rice cooker, DVD Played & Jo’s portable DVD player). Yea things do happen in threes.

No life in any of them so the rice cooker has been retired (element burnt out), the DVD player (power supply dead) given back to Yolanda and the portable DVD player (comes on but won’t play) I will persist with.

One of the boys gave us a couple of fresh Papaya and Yolanda gave us some bananas and a Papaya so good for fresh fruit for the next few days.

Guy off to Mahjong with Vicki after a four-week lapse so she’s really looking forward to getting back into the “office”.

Cherry is also here today to catch up on all our washing from being away for the last four weeks. I rigged up an extra cloths line between a couple of coconut trees for the extra load.

I caught up with Ron in the afternoon and sharpened all his knives. He was complaining how blunt they all were and nobody knows how to give them a good sharpening. So after my sliced finger episode he asked if I could help.

Oohhh and the finger is all good. The cut has healed well but it is still a bit tender and swollen round the scar.

After the knife sharpening, we did a quick trip into Gasan as I needed a spare gas cylinder for our cooking stove, as it is too big to fit on the Thunder Monster. Brought that back to the cottage and sat under the Nipa hut talking to Yolanda’s son and girlfriend who are visiting from the USA.

3:00pm and another brownout greets me. Power off till 5:30pm, just before dark. At least we had power for dinner. The rumor going round the island is that there is a current shortage of fuel oil for the generator engines. So there will be continuous rolling brownouts during the days to come.

Guy arrived home at 5:00pm with a break even day at Mahjong.

Friday 28th January:

Another brownout last night. It started about midnight and ended at 8:30am this morning. Just in time for showers before we headed off to our Bridge Club game at Terry’s place just down the road.

The players today were Terry, John, Guy and I. All a bit rusty as we last played before Xmas but Terry and Guy won one set with John and I the other.

Off home for lunch then off to Buenavista to pay our land tax (Council rates) for 2011.

After lots of paper shuffling (all hard copy here, no computer system at all) they discovered they have to create a new ledger account for us. This won’t be ready till Monday so we need to go back then to pay the P200 ($5.00 AUS) for our 2,908 metre square block.

On the way home we called into the block and it certainly has become over grown once again. Looks like a few days slashing with the Bolo are required. I will get a start on that job next week.

Into Gasan for some supplies and a new rice cooker. Arrived home in time for a nice leisurely stroll up the beach before watching the Australian News on the Australian Channel. And we still have power so all good.

Saturday 29th January:

Brownout last night started at 11:00pm and the power was back on at 6:00am ish.

Up and about as Gerald (my pommie hiking guide) was coming over for a cup of tea and a chat. Had a good old chinwag and organized a hike for Monday to have another go at finding the waterfalls we could find last time. We have a guide this time that is one of the locals for the area so we should find them.

Rubbish burning day today. As there is no rubbish pick up I have to burn our rubbish apart from the tin cans, bottles and plastic bottles which I leave by the roadside  for the junk man.

Off to Joseph’s Mini-Mart (40km round trip) for Wi-Fi but when I arrived it appeared that they have change the password (which they do regularly) and the mini mart was closed so couldn’t get the new one. Ooohhh well, back to Barbarossa and the USB modem as I still am having trouble with their Wi-Fi. USB is slow but it is reliable so I managed to get done what I needed to do.

Back at the cottage Yolanda and the boys were cooking up a storm including a Lechon (suckling pig) from her farm. The reason for the gathering was that her son and partner are returning to the USA tomorrow so it was a goodbye food gathering, Filipinos call it a ‘despidida’.

The food was outstanding once again and we all ate too much, again. Also meet Berthold (German) and his wife Josephine (Filipino) and his sister Ingrid (German) who is visiting them from Germany. They spend part of their time in Greece and the rest on Marinduque as they have a house here by the airport. They have been coming and going for the last 14 years. Also his mom lives here in a separate house on their land.

Day finished off with a nice hot cup of tea and watched the movie “Red Dragon”. This is the movie pre “Silence of the Lambs”. Great movie.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 345 of retirement

January 23, 2011

Hi All

Monday 17th January 2011:

We all crashed round 6:00am ish after the epic journey and slept till about 2:00pm. We slowly woke up, unpacked and took a load of washing off to the laundry (P270 ($6:75 AUS) for 9kgs).

Still a bit seedy but at 4:00pm we headed across the road to a very nice Thai restaurant for our first meal in nearly 48 hours. Was very nice to be able to get some food in the old body.

Then over to the Mall as the kids were after a few more things as presents for friends back home. I left them to it as I was on grocery detail. Off to the supermarket to get a few supplies and back to the condo for a nice hot cup of tea and rest before they return.

At 8:00pm ish we caught a cab to Beth and Guy’s mum’s house for a visit and to get a suitcase full of the kids’ stuff that we left there when we went to Boracay. Back to the condo and the kids did a “practice” pack to see if all they have bought so far would fit. So far so good.

Guy also had a chat to Ed (Airport Police Chief) and he has arranged for them to have 10kg of excess baggage at no cost. So looks like they will get all their shopping home in one piece.

It was about midnight by the time we all hit the sack and we crashed accordingly.

Tuesday 18th January:

Jo had a 10:00am booking with a beauty parlor in the mall to have extended eyelashes installed. We were all still in bed at 10:30am so Guy texted the salon and moved the appointment to 11:00am. Guy and Jo headed off and Jordan and I met them at about 2:00pm ish for a few hours shopping.

At 5:00pm we headed for Makati to meet up with a group of Guy’s friends for dinner at 6:00pm. Of course we arrived on time and the rest of the party arrived at 7:00pm. Going to have to get used to Filipino time. Home after a very nice dinner.

Wednesday 19th January:

Very very slow start today as all the adventures of the last 3 weeks ish has caught up with us all. We all slept till midday and then slowly awoke, showered and got ready to head for the 3 malls out past Guy’s sisters place (Quezon City). Made it to the mall by 3:00pm ish and we all wandered as the kids shopped for cloths. At 4:00pm ish we hit Shakeys for brunch / dinner (down to one meal today). They do great pizza so pizza it was.

I then left them to it as I headed for the two floors of electronic gadget in SM North. We all meet up at Starbucks for a Chai at 5:30pm. The kids kept shopping as Guy and I rested up in Starbucks. Guy even managed to have a little catnap as we managed to score two very comfortable armchairs.

Grabbed a cab and home by 9:00pm and feeling just a little weary.

Thursday 20th January:

Slow morning as we are meeting Naty (Guy’s class mate who lives in Sydney), Doug (her hubby) and Christopher (their son the same age as Jordan) round midday.

Caught up with the gang at the mall and we all did a very nice lunch. Then we split up and the kids went one way, Guy and Naty the other and Doug and I another way. They hadn’t been to Greenhills so we all just wandered and showed them round the different sections. Doug bought a new wallet and I got some tee shirts.

We all meet up at the food court later in the afternoon and retired to the condo to “inspect” everybody’s purchases. Then up to the pool area on the roof where a few hours were spent with Guy and Naty catching up.

The kids migrated between the Time Zone across the road and the Internet Café down stairs.

Naty and the gang headed off home at 11:00pm and we all crashed.

Friday 21st January:

Woke the kids at 9:00am as it is their last shopping day and they wanted to hit the mall at 10:00am when it opens. 11:00am they headed off as Guy and I snoozed till midday, showered and meet the kids in the mall food court at 1:00pm for lunch.

Back in the condo at 2:30pm with all the mornings purchases and we stayed put and rested up as we are all headed out for a family night (leaving here at 5:00pm) this evening.

We did a re-pack of the kids’ suitcases, as Ed was only able to get them an additional 5kg each, which means they have a total of 50kg available now (25kg each). There is a set of bathroom scales in the condo so we were able to weigh the three bags. They are right on the limit so we shall see what happens at the airport at check in.

Headed over to Guy’s Mum’s house for dinner with all the cousins and family. Family snaps all round and a very yummy dinner.

Saturday 22nd January:

Well, last day for the kids as they leave at 2:30pm today. We were up at 9:30am and wandered off for our last breakfast of waffles, French toast and burgers. A quick dash to the markets for a few last minute purchases and back to the condo where we meet Beth (Guy’s sister) who took us all to the airport.

Once again Ed (Police chief) arranged “long term” parking in the 2-minute zone and had arranged a pass for Guy to accompany the kids into the terminal for checking in and immigration clearance. All done and no excess baggage charges so kids were pleased.

All said our goodbyes and the kids are off on their way home. This was a fantastic visit for us all and especially for Guy, Jordan & Jo who enjoyed some special bonding time. Will only be 6-weeks until we are back in AUS for a visit so not too long till we see them again.

Back to the condo and Guy headed off for a night out with the girls and some Karaoke. I headed to the supermarket as I was having a craving for a cheese and tomato sandwich so was looking for the ingredients to make my own.

Found some Australian Coon cheese, some grainy bread, a sort of tomato and some ham off the bone for that bit extra.

Back to the condo and had my ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches that were absolutely delicious. Craving satisfied. All washed down by a nice hot cup of tea and settled in for a night of cable TV.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 339 of retirement

January 17, 2011

Hi All

Saturday 8th January 2011:

A condo full of kids greeted us this morning. Guy off to the 7Eleven to get a loaf of bread and Cheesewiz for breakfast, which worked a treat.

Guy was then off to one of her high school reunion meetings for the day so it was the kids and I. They all headed for the pool on the rooftop for most of the day. I supplied them with Coke’s to keep them going plus they had a big bag of chips and other delectable delights which turned out to be lunch as well.

Back to the condo for a few hours before the cousins are being picked up at 4:00pm. At the pick up we gave Beth Jo’s big case and some carry bags with all the stuff we are not taking traveling with us for the next 8 days. Will get it all back on our return.

Jordan, Jo and I wandered across the road to a very nice Thai restaurant for dinner. Food was great. Back for the final pack ready for a 5:00am start tomorrow morning to get back to Marinduque tomorrow night.

And of course being our last night the toilet goes and gets blocked up at 9:00pm when the maintenance office is closed. Tried reception but no joy and the admin centre was also closed so took my chances and went down to the basement to the security centre. And as luck would have it there was a maintenance man there about to go home. But he very kindly came straight up with his plunger and cleared the blockage. So not having to hold on all night now……..

Sunday 9th January:

Uuuggggg a 5:00am start. Finished the packing and grabbed a cab (and it was full with us 4 and all our luggage) to the JAC liner bus station for the 6:30am bus to Lucena. Now this trip normally takes 5-6 hours with the worst time being 8 hours. Well this morning we had a dream run. 3.5 hours later we hit Lucena port for the Ro-Ro to Marinduque. Even managed a nap on the bus.

A two hour wait for the Ro-Ro and once again a nice pleasant surprise. We had the “New” Ro-Ro, well the newest one in the fleet.

This one had one full-enclosed air-conditioned deck for passengers. The front half had wooden single seats that enabled you to watch the movie on the big screen. In the back half were these huge padded bench seats, big enough for two people to sleep on (with legs bent) but you can’t watch the movie.

So with the kids we commandeered two of these bench seats. The Ro-Ro was only about half full so was great to be able to stretch out and grab another nap.

And to top it off this Ro-Ro is faster so the crossing that normally takes 3.0–3.5 hours only took 2.5 hours.

We had Ron waiting for us at the port with his pickup so all the luggage was thrown in the back and we headed for Barbarossa for a very late lunch / early dinner. We also organized Ron for a road trip tomorrow round the island to show the kids our piece of paradise.

Made it back to the cottage by 4:00pm and relax after our big day. I moved the Thunder Monster outside and tried to start it. Alas I flooded the baby but eventually got her going and a quick spin up the road blew out the cobwebs. She is all good now and she is ready to rock and roll.

Great to be “home” with the kids. Played cards (Monolopy cards) till late.

Monday 10th January:

Up in time for a pick up by Ron at 10:00am as he was our chauffeur for the day trip round the island.

First stop was the Curba Grill for a late breakfast / early lunch. After eating we headed down south on the coastal road round the island. Stopped just off Elephant Island (The 6 Star Island Resort) for some pics. Ron had organized a visit to the Flintstone house by Torrijos so this was our next stop.

Alex (Norwegian) and Divine (Local) were both home. Last time we were there Alex was away so was great to finally meet him. Jo is currently studying interior design so was very interested in the building. Divine gave us the guided tour of the whole house, which was very interesting to see. It is a very unique house indeed with all the concrete furniture.

Next was White Beach, the only white sandy beach in the island. We were going to go for a swim but it was a little windy and as it was very pleasant just sitting in the Nipa hut we rested up with Ice Tea and Banana Que’s.

Finally just after 3:00pm ish we headed on to complete our circumnavigation. The kids sat in the back of the pick up for the remainder of the trip waving to all the locals and seeing who would wave back.

We hit Barbarossa for Dinner. Guy was going to cook but as it was getting late we decided that we would cook tomorrow after a trip to the Tuesday Gasan Markets.

Home and we broke out the BB gun, which was now all charged up. We all proceeded to demolish a Coke can and some old seashells I had previously picked up in the lights of the veranda. Full automatic BBs made short work of the Coke can and the kids loved it…….

Finally a nice hot cup of tea to finish off the day.

Once again played Monopoly cards till late. We have a running tally going and Jordan is the champ so far and I’m afraid I have the wooden spoon.

Tuesday 11th January:

Jordan was up early, as he wanted to go exterminate all the tin cans and old shells with the BB gun round the cottage. Interesting as you really struggle to get him out of bed in the mornings but this morning he was up a 7:00am. Kids and BB guns, yea I know, I am a big kid toooo…. Anyway loaded him up with a fully charged battery and 300 BBs and off he went. Kept him amused for several hours.

Guy took the kids in to the Gasan Tuesday markets and I headed for Boac as we need to get cashed up for our Boracay trip tomorrow. In luck as the ATM was working. Drizzling rain as I left the cottage, dry up Boac way, but drizzling again as I approached Gasan so I headed for home (was going to meet Guy and the kids at the markets) as I was a bit damp. Not cold just damp.

Guy bought some chicken from the market and I proceeded to cook it up adobo style for lunch. In the process of cleaning my very sharp knife I managed to slice my index finger quite badly. Cleaned it all up and wrapped it tightly in a dressing as we were heading out for the afternoon. Probably would have a stitch or two but no time for that.

Ron picked us up at 1:30am and we headed to the Hot Springs for a swim. Had a nice hot refreshing swim for a few hours before we headed up into the mountains to visit Leif, a Norwegian friend of Ron’s. Quick Coke and back home in the drizzling rain.

Re dressed the sliced finger and will see how it all goes.

Packed our bags ready for the road trip tomorrow.

Watched the Australian TV channel and saw all the floods in Queensland. Our hearts go out to all the people affected.

Wednesday 12th January:

Off on our road trip with the kids to Boracay. Left the cottage at 7:00am for our planes, trains & automobile adventure (or in our case Boats, Trikes & automobiles).

The day’s travel consisted of the following:

  • 15min pick up ride from Ron that got us to Gasan port.
  • 3h 30m Bangka ride to Pinamalayan on Mindoro. Bit rough in the middle but not too bad. Our seats consisted of deck chairs (yea good old deck chairs) on the upper deck of the Bangka.
  • 10min Trike ride to the Mini Van pick up stop.
  • 1h 15m Mini Van ride to Roxas port on Mindoro. Had Mario Andretti for a driver but we made it in one piece.
  • 4h 15m Ro Ro ride to Caticlan on Panay. The air conditioning just happened to be broken so it was bake on the top un-shaded deck or roast in the passenger cabin. We managed to open a window with a nice breeze so Guy & I chose to roast and the kids chose to bake. Once the sun sets it cooled down and was very pleasant.
  • 15min Bangka ride to Boracay. After buying a ticket, paying a terminal fee plus an environmental fee we were on the way.
  • 15min Trike ride to the Villa Camilla Resort on White Beach
  • Plus waiting time of 3h ish..

We left home at 7:00am and arrived in Boracay at 8:00pm some 13 hours later. Big day but we are here for the next 3-days for some R&R. All our connections were timed perfectly, for a change, so all good.

Wrapped the sliced finger well for protection and was all good till it got wacked by a guy in the Mini Van. That hurt…….

We are staying at the Villa Camila on White Beach at the southern end of White Beach, Boracay. It is a nice 4 person room (with loft for 2 & 2 on the ground level) with a little kitchenette. Plenty big enough for us all. Cost is P2,975 per night ($75.00 AUS) which is mid range for Boracay.

From our brief walk up the beach tonight it is very evident that this is a very “tourist” oriented place. Not for Guy and I, but the kids love it so we shall see what daylight brings.

Ooohhh and we have free Wi-Fi so even better.

Thursday 13th January:

Boracay is an island that is about 9km long and about 1km across at the narrowest spot. We are staying on White Beach, which is a 4km long and is a true white sandy beach on the western side of the island. The whole beachfront is packed wall to wall with resorts, restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and all the tourists that go with that. Along with this you have all the hawkers peddling any and all the activities you can think of. Rather hectic really.

Bit of a sleepin for us all this morning after all the travel. Once up, we headed up the beach to find a nice café for brunch. Sat and had a very yummy brunch as we watched all the people stroll by and man there are all types here.

We spent a few hours wandering up to the “Mall” (a collection of shops just off the beach) and then left the kids to their own devices as we headed back to the room for a siesta.

Kids arrive back at 4:30pm ish and went for a swim. So Guy and I hit the rooftop bar (happy hour is from 2:00pm to 8:00pm) overlooking the beach (and the kids) and enjoyed a few P30 ($0.75 AUS) cocktails as we watched the sun set. Found a very nice smooth, strong, Rum and Pineapple juice drink. A few of those slide down very nicely.

Off to the Nigi Nigi Nu Noos restaurant on the beach for dinner where the food was dam good. They do a great meat lover pizza which Guy and I shared.

A walk along the beach with a stop over to watch the fire dancers and back to the room quite tired after our big day out. I hit the hay and Guy returned to kids to watch the fire dancers some more. They all rocked up at 12:30am after a great night out on the town.

Friday 14th January:

I must say that Boracay is growing on me now that I have had time to explore the place by day and night. Still wouldn’t want to live here but a great place to visit. Why you ask?

Well they are managing the whole place very well and it is a pleasure to visit. Things they are doing well:

  • The beach and promenade are litter free. Very pleasant to be able to stroll along the beach and not have to side stepping litter.
  • So you can swim in complete safety and the water is very clear, clean and fresh.
  • There is no smoking on the beach so there are no butts. It is a P500 ($12.50 AUS) fine if you’re caught.
  • All dogs are barred from the beach so no dog crap to worry about.
  • All water activities (Para Sailing, Jet Ski’s, Banana Boat Rides, etc.) are all conducted about 1 km off shore. So you can see them but can’t hear them. The beach is very peaceful as all you hear are the waves lapping.
  • They have 3 Boat Stations along the beach where the boats / bangkas pick up and drop off people who are participating in the off shore activities. These are the only areas they are aloud to land so 99% of the beach is boat free.
  • The beach has a 300m-exclusion zone out to sea that is boat free so swimming is completely safe.
  • It feels and is very safe wandering round, day or night.
  • The south end of the beach is nice and quiet (where we are staying). From about the middle of the beach north it livens up (Live entertainment as in Bands and folk singers, Fire Dancers, Bars, etc.).
  • There are lots of activities here for all the family both on and off the water and they are easily organized by local “fixers” and are reasonably priced.

After the big night out last night things were a little slow this morning. Guy and I went for brunch at 10:30am and then hit the beach for a few swims and some relax time including a little siesta.

The kids didn’t emerge till 12:30pm so wandered off to find some food. They came back at 1:30pm and decided they wanted to go Para Sailing for P1,200 ($30.00 AUS) each. All organized with a friendly man on the beach and they all headed off at 3:00pm. I stayed back as I wasn’t too keen on going out to sea on a rocking pontoon / boat (I get sea sick easily in these circumstances).

Back by 4:00pm and the kids headed off up the beach exploring and swimming. Guy and I hit happy hour for some more P30 ($0.75 AUS) cocktails. The Rum and Pineapple juice is my favorite. They slide down very nicely I must say.

Guy and I then took a wander to a little restaurant that she wanted to eat at as the kids wanted to go Mexican. Had a great La Paz Batchoy, which is a noodle soup with shallots and meat. Was really nice.

We meet the kids at the Mexican restaurant where they had Taco’s. Kids wandered off to see how their hand painted tee shirts were coming along as they are supposed to be ready at 10:00pm and we wandered back along the beach to the room for a nice hot tea and early night as we are off on a road trip tomorrow.

Saturday 15th January:

Up and left the resort at 8:00am to catch a Trike then Bangka back to the mainland. Here we caught a Mini Van for a 1h 15m ride from Caticlan to Kalibo for the Ati-Atihan festival. It is the feast to celebrate the child Christ with the name Sto Nino. Lots of very colorful elaborate costumes with groups marching round the Town Square and streets to the sound of lots of loud drums. You could feel the drumbeats reverberate through you as they passed by.

It was wall-to-wall people at times but we did get to see most of the marchers and experience the festival’s festivities. We took a stroll down one of the back street markets and found some cheap DVD’s with groups of movies on them for a particular actor. The kids went crazy and got heaps at P50 ($1.25 AUS) each. Pics will be posted next blog update.

Then back on the air-conditioned Mini Van to Caticlan, the 10m Bangka ride back to Boracay and a Trike ride to within walking distance of the resort. Rest required before we head out for our last dinner on Boracay.

A quick swim followed by a nice refreshing shower and we sat on the beach with a cocktail and watch the sunset. Very pleasant indeed.

Being our last night here on Boracay we hit one of the many buffets (P300 each ($7.50 AUS)) where you had a great selection of meats and some seafood and everything to go with it. Even had mash potato and it was actually dam good. All very delicious and even came with desert so my sweet tooth was sweetened very nicely.

Beanbags on the beach were then in order at the fire-dancing bar where a few more cocktails were consumed. There were three main dancers and along with some great DJ music they fire danced into the early hours of the morning.

Lets just say that there were a few people moving a little slowly Sunday morning.

Sunday 16th January:

We awoke this morning to rainy, windy and overcast conditions. Little did we know how this would impact on our travels.

The aim today is to head back for Manila and get as far as we can, stay the night in a hotel and then finish the trip Monday, arriving at the condo Monday night.

We were hoping to catch the 10:00am Ro-Ro from Caticlan to Roxas but were told to check with the shipping lines as it doesn’t always run. We rang and rang but no answer so as the gang was a little sluggish this morning we decide to aim for the midday Ro-Ro which was rescheduled for 2:00pm (didn’t find this out till we arrived) and of course didn’t leave till 3:00pm.

Upon arriving at Caticlan port we discovered we could get on a bus that would take us all the way to Manila arriving at about 4:00am Monday morning. This would consist of 2 Ro-Ro rides and 2 bus legs. Quick family meeting and it was decided to go for it and we will just crash in the condo Monday.

Well, little did we know of the adventure to follow? This is our story:

  • 15min Trike ride from the resort to the port on Boracay.
  • 15min Bangka ride to Caticlan port. Now this was a taste of the weather to come. It was quite rough even in these protected waters and half way across we saw a smaller Bangka than ours, upside down with two men clinging to it. The Coast Guard was there in a rubber ducky rescuing them.
  • 5 hour Ro-Ro ride from Caticlan to Roxas. Now as we headed out into the open water the conditions were very very rough (forecast was for 3.7 – 5.5m waves). The Ro-Ro was no small boat but it would strain up the face of this huge waves, smash through the tops and shudder as it fell down the other side. Not good as I was starting to feel sea sick with in 15 minutes even after taking pills.
    So down the back of the boat it was for me in the open air and close to a handrail to vomit over. I lasted about 1 hour before the first vomit and believe me I wasn’t alone. As the seas were so rough the spray was continually coming in over the open area which meant that I was getting all crusty and damp as well. Not fun.
    At this point Guy joined me down the back as she had vomited and was white as a sheet. At about 3 hours in, the guy next to me didn’t even bother to go to the rail and just vomited on the deck and as it was so wet it just sloshed round with all the other vomit. This set me off again so off to the rail I went.
    As I had a talk to the sea gods I looked up a huge wall of spray enveloped the whole boat including me clinging to the side rail. Right about then I couldn’t care less if it washed me over board. I was crook…..
    After 5 grueling hours we made it to Roxas port and boy were we glad to hit dry land. The kids had survived okay and it was Guy and I who were white as sheets. A quick family meeting and we agreed to continue on knowing we had another Ro-Ro ride to endure. It couldn’t get any worse than this….
  • 2 hour 30 minute bus ride to Calapan (Mindorro). Onto the bus in a sorry state of affairs and I just curled up in a ball on the seat. This bus trip was quite rough as it felt like it didn’t have any springs. At one point we all thought the bus was going to roll over on one very rough section but looking back now it was just that everything was still swaying from the Ro-Ro ride.
    Guy and I both managed to make it without any further vomiting.
  • 2 hour 30 minutes Ro-Ro ride to Batangas (Mainland). Guy and I prepared ourselves for another bashing on the Ro-Ro. We both went down the back of the boat again and managed to get a bench seat where we could at least lay down. As we headed out into the night the sea was once again rough but not as bad as the last ride.
    We both managed to avoid the handrail visit and about ½ hour in the seas started to abate. And within another 1 hour the seas were flat calm and we “enjoyed” the rest of the ride with a little sleep on the hard bench seats.
  • 2 hour 30 minute bus ride from Batangas to Manila. We all pretty much crashed and dozed in between all the constant stops for passengers. Made it to Manila and almost home.
  • 15 minute ride in the taxi and we were at the condo. The caretaker has graciously left the key for us with security so we were able to get in.
  • 5 hours ish waiting time at terminals at various stages.

So 18 ½ hours (11:00am Sunday to 5:30am Monday) after setting off from Boracay we were back at the condo and man it never felt so good.

First order was to clean out teeth and try and get rid of that stall vomit taste that has been lingering for the last 12 hours. Then a hot shower for me to wash off all the salt from the first Ro-Ro ride. My hair was all crusty and my shirt can almost stand up by itself.

A nice hot cup of tea and into bed at 6:00am ish.

Life is good now that our feet are on dry land.

Trevor & Guy


Day 330 of retirement

January 8, 2011

Hi All

Sunday 2nd January 2011:

Packed our bags and headed down the road closer to the city to a one bedroom apartment at Greenhills called the Greenhills Elan Hotel. It is a 40-story building with private condos on the upper floors and a hotel on the lower floors. A friend of a friend (he’s a Filipino who works in Sydney, AUS) owns the condo on the 32nd floor and through word of mouth hires it out to people visiting Manila.

Guy’s nieces and nephew came along and enjoyed the afternoon in the roof top pool on the 40th floor. Was very pleasant as we have sweeping views of the city right through to the port from the rooftop and our room.

After the kids left we wandered down to the restaurant area and found a grill that served Australian Lamb Shanks and mashed potato. I just had to try them and dam they were good. After no lamb for 10 months it was actually very very good. Guy had pok ribs and they were dam good also.

Elan is right next to Greenhills Mall. Now this Mall is slightly different to the other Mega Malls in that it is smaller and has sections dedicated to certain product lines and in these sections the vendors has market type stalls. So it is more like a huge market.

It is the Pearl capital of the Philippines here as well. There is one huge section where all that is sold is Pearls (fresh and salt water). There is also a clothing and electronics section (my favorite). There is a smaller traditional Mall section as well with the usual shops, restaurants and movie theaters. It is one of my favorite Malls here in Manila.

Guy’s kids (Jo and Jordan) arrive tomorrow and we will be spending a week here before we head back to Marinduque and Boracay.

Monday 3rd January 2011:

Quiet day waiting for the kids to arrive tonight. Had a Pancake and French Toast for brunch which was very nice. Then off to the grocery store and stocked up on a few things (drinks and chips) for us and the kids.

After a little rest back to the Mall for some shopping. Guy and I parted company for a few hours and meet up in the food court.

I was after a 16GB Sandisk Cruzer USB Flash Drive to be setup as a boot disk for my MacBook Pro. Found exactly what I was after for P1,250 ($31.25 AUS). Wander for a while in the electronics section and browsed the Mac and camera shops.

Meet up with Guy and on the way back to the condo we found a very nice Chai Latte (even better than Starbucks) in the Coffee Bean café.

6:30pm ish Beth picked us up and off to the airport to pick up Jo & Jordan. Guy once again had Ed (her police chief friend) organize our parking (3 hours in the 2 minute drop off zone) and to escort the kids through customs and immigration.

The plane was about 45 minutes late but once it arrived Ed took care of everything and the kids were delivered all in one piece to us. Hugs all round were in order.

Ed has helped us out immensely and Guy has offered to take him out to dinner in thanks but he never asks for anything.  Although Guy did discover that he likes Levis 501 jeans so she organized Boots (Guy’s friend from Sydney (thanks Boots)) to purchase a pair and give them to Jo to bring over. We gave them to him as thanks for all his help and I think he liked them.

Back to the condo and lots of catching up before hitting the hay round midnight.

Tuesday 4th January:

Big sleepin this morning for us all. Leisurely start with showers all round and we were alive again. Then we headed for Subway for brunch just down the road.

After brunch it was shopping time. First stop the mobile phone section so Jo could get a new phone for use here in the Philippines and Jordan just needed a SIM card. Then off to the cloths section. Jordan’s main purpose was Vans shoes which he found and Jo was after bags and other stuff.

Very successful day with us back to the condo at 4:30pm. Kids had a swim and Guy and I rested ready for dinner tonight with Desiree and friends at the Shabu Shabu restaurant just down the road.

Meet up with Desiree and friends and once again had a great feast. Love the Shabu Shabu. See the pic to see how all the food is cooked in two pots in the middle of the table. A leisurely stroll back to the condo where the kids hit the internet café to catch up on Facebook update and Guy and I enjoyed a nice cup of tea to complete the day’s activities..

Wednesday 5th January:

Up and off to McDonald’s for breakfast with rice. Different.

A bit of power shopping was in order before we headed to Guy’s Mum’s house for lunch and a catch up with Jo’s real Mum, Dad, Sister and brother. You see Jo was adopted by Guy and her then husband at birth from Guy’s brother and his wife. Guy is her Mum with her birth parents being her “nanay and tatay” , local term for mother and father.

Jo’s sister and her two boys were there along with her brother so it was good to see them after many years since her last visit.

After a leisurely lunch we left them and headed to the big SM Mall, which is our second home when in Manila. Jo and Jordan managed to spend quite some time seeking out the best bargains for some more merchandise. It got the better of me so I hit Starbucks for a nice hot Chai and a bit of a rest.

Had dinner at the Old Spaghetti House before cabbing it back to the condo and a nice hot cup of tea.

Thursday 6th January:

Guy, Jordan and I slept in a little while Joe got up and went for a walk and then a swim as the walk was quite humid and hot.

Off to Shakeys for the best pizza lunch. They do really good pizza there.

Once all food and watered we grabbed a cab to off to the Mall of Asia (MOA). Now this is one huge Mall and is situated in the port area so close to downtown. Hence it is also the most popular mall for all the tourists visitng Manila so the prices do tend to be more expensive than the other malls in the suburbs. We wandered and then hit Starbucks for a Chai Lattee and hot chocolates.

Back into a cab and off to the Star City theme park just down the road where you can do all the ride you want for P350 ($8.75 AUS). Oohhh and a once off entry fee of P60 ($1.50 AUS). And there were no line ups as it is a school night so the kids had plenty of great rides on the roller coaster and other things that make you vomit.

Kids bought lots of cheap stuff at the stalls including Ray Ban sunnies (P50 each ($1.25 AUS) & tee shirts & magic stuff (cards and coin tricks).

I managed to buy myself a Xmas present as well. It is a full size replica M16 BB gun. You fill up the mag with BB pellets, plug in the re-chargeable battery (runs a mini internal air compressor) and blaze away in either semi auto or fully automatic mode. No tin can will be safe at the cottage……. Pics next week as it is all packed up for traveling right now.

Finally made it back to the condo after midnight.

Friday 7th January:

Big sleep in after our late night last night (1:30am to bed). Then off to the food hall at the Mall for breakfast / lunch. After lunch there were a few more things that the kids wanted so Guy and Jo went one way and Jordan and I the other. They found pretty much all they wanted. Jo was extremely happy as she found some Jimmy Choo shoes on sale here at about a quarter of the price back in AUS. Filipinos and their shoes………

Then back to the condo to rest up for few hours before their four cousins arrive to stay the night and ‘bond’. Also need to sort out our packing for the trip to Marinduque and Boracay (leaving Sunday) as we will be away for 8 days and don’t want to carry everything with us. We will leave a case full of excess stuff (including all the cloths & stuff the kids have bought so far) at Beth’s house so we can travel light ish.

Cousins arrived and after dinner they played pool in the pool room till it closed at 10:30pm. Back to the condo and they all played cards till late.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 324 of retirement

January 2, 2011

Hi All

Sunday 26th December:

Nice quiet morning after the feasting yesterday. Laid about and of course ate just a little more food. All finished off with my favorite, Buko Salad.

Headed to the mall in the afternoon to get a few things and enjoy a nice hot Chai Latte.

The Chai’s are one of the luxuries we enjoy whenever we come back to Manila from the island. The Chai is pretty close to what we used to make back in AUS so got to be happy with that.

A very light dinner and preparing for Guy’s 35-year high school reunion gathering tomorrow. It will be interesting to see all her old school mates including a few “old boyfriends”. I do know a few of them already from other gatherings here in Manila I have attended.

Monday 27th December:

Off to Guy’s 35th high school reunion for the day. Beth took us to the Villamor Air Base Elementary School out by the airport. Where the original school was, it is now all high-rises and malls. The school was moved many years ago down the road to a low lying area that is prone to flooding during Typhoons, but okay for a school.

Guy got to meet some of her old school mates (including old boyfriends) that she hadn’t seen for 35 years so it was a pretty exciting day all round. I was lucky as I already knew a few of these people from previous gatherings.

There was of course copious amounts of food, drinks and activities during the day. It was very well organized with some 100 alumni and all up over 300 people there for the day. The activities included games for the big and little kids and dance routines from the kids, which weren’t bad.

One of the activities was “bingo” where you had a sheet of questions about people who you had to then name and get them to sign to say it was correct. One of the questions was “Name somebody who can’t speak Tagalog?”. I was a very popular choice for that question and signed a few sheets.

Guy and I were crowned the “honeymoon couple” as we were only married back in February so still in that honeymoon phase.

The only other westerner there was Doug (from Sydney) who I knew already, so we were definitely in the minority.

Once again I must say that the Pilipino people are very very friendly and hospitable and I didn’t feel left out at all.  I get to take a lot of pictures as it seems to be everyone’s favourite activity, they pose and cameras come from everywhere and take shots after shots after shots……

Tuesday 28th December:

Bit of a sleep in this morning after the big day yesterday. After lunch Guy and I headed off to the beauty parlor so Guy could get made up for the reunion gala ball tonight. The parlor has free Wi-Fi in this little lounge waiting area so I spent a couple of hours there catching up on emails and surfing the web.

Didith, one of Guy’s classmates, arrived at the salon for a salon finish hair and the two of them headed off to the event dropping me off at the end of the street as I then walked home. This is a spouse free event so I had the night to myself.

It was about 4:30pm ish and a beautiful evening so I grabbed the camera and went wandering round the streets and took a few pics of the locals enjoying the evening.

Enjoyed nice freshly cooked fish and rice for dinner as cooked by Guy’s mum then retire to a MacBook maintenance night. I verified my backup disk and made sure it was fit and well. I backed up my MacBook disk (I use Time Machine) then successfully ran Disk Repair over my disk to rectify one minor error I had. This was followed by another Time Machine backup and all went well.

As I have the original 160Gb disk (I installed a 500Gb disk at new) from my MacBook I decided to use it as a spare boot / install disk. I can then use it to boot and run disk utilities if I ever have an issue with my main MacBook disk.

A quick call to my Brother Craig back in AUS and he sent me links to some docs on how to easily setup the USB boot disk from the original install DVD. A few hours later and all successfully done. I now have a bootable USB disk with the Mac OS, Mac applications and MS Office for Mac 2008 images.

I shall leave the original install DVDs in a safe place and carry the spare bootable disk with me back to the island. Going to also get a 16Gb USB stick (no moving parts) and make that into a bootable drive as well just to be sure to be sure.

Guy arrived home at 4:00am after a great night with the gang. They had a great turnout at the Ball and all enjoyed it. After the function ended round midnight these guys and gals headed for an all night cafe and continued gossiping about the good old days.

Wednesday 29th December:

At 10:00am ish we headed off to the Immigration office (an MRT & Jeepney ride to get there) to submit my paper work for my permanent residence in the Philippines. We made sure we had all the correct papers and form filled out. I had to get a photo taken, which were able to do there, so attached it to the form and lined up for processing.

The woman checked everything and yes all the correct papers were there BUT our Australian marriage certificate needs to be authorized. Now to do this we had to go to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) across town. So in a cab we went to the DFA “new” building. Upon trying to get entry to this building we were told that for marriage certificate authorization you had to go to the DFA “old” building back towards town.

So in another cab and back we went to the old DFA building and after lining up for an hour we were told that no sorry this building is only for Pilipino marriage certificates and you have to go to the new DFA building for foreign ones.

So back again we went to the new DFA and sure enough we found the right window this time. We were presented with a form to fill out in quadruplets and had to supply the same amount of copied documents requested. Well wouldn’t you know it we had left one document at home but had all the rest.

So back home we came to fill out the forms and round up the quadruplet copies of documents and back again tomorrow.

We arrive back home just after 4:00pm after a loooooong day of document chasing just in time for a quick siesta before dinner cooked by Guy’s Mum.

Thursday 30th December:

We spent the morning going through all our documents and pulling out the documents that the DFA have asked for, the documents we reckon they will ask for and the documents they don’t know about but will probably ask for.

They also had a form that had to hand printed four times, no photocopies allowed. So I created it in Word with all the tables and we typed the info in and printed it four times (they accepted these printouts but wouldn’t accept photocopies, mmmmm…).

Also Guy did a very polite covering letter asking for them to please consider processing the documents ASAP.

Then off to the printers round the corner and we got five copies of everything (4 for DFA & 1 spare for us). Some 50 odd printouts latter (total cost P83 ($2.08 AUS)) we were ready to hit the MRT and a Taxi ride back to the DFA across town. And of course by this time it is pouring rain just to make the exchanging of vehicles that little more interesting.

Back to the DFA and submitted our four copies of “everything” we had. The poor guy was a little bombarded with all the paper work and had to make a call to check on ‘something’, which turned out to be Guy’s reacquisition of her Filipino citizenship which took place ‘after we got married’, the usual process is that one of the parties getting married should be a Filipino before the ceremony. Anyway he accepted everything, and told us that they will send our paperwork to the Phil Embassy in Sydney to find out whether they will accept our marriage for registration and if so, then the process of getting it registered will begin.

And now the best part, it could take 2-4 months for this process!

We then headed to the big Mall of Asia on the waterfront for a nice hot Chai and a rest up as we were meeting a group of Guy’s friends there at 6:00pm for dinner. The rain was bucketing down at this stage.

We all met at a very nice Chinese restaurant for way too much but very yummy food. We won’t mention the couple that only arrived at 8:00pm, will we Naty? Who was followed shortly by Aura…….

Anyway it was during Guy explaining to everyone the last few days dealings with the DFA that one of the gals said, why don’t we just get married again here in the Philippines and problem solved as the marriage certificate is registered in the Philippines and is approved for my papers immediately.

Don’t know why we didn’t think of that. So Guy is in the process of checking it out with a friend of hers who works in the courts that this will indeed solve all our marriage certificate issues for my residency. The only possible little glitch is that we are both divorced (divorce papers are from AUS & not Philippines) from previous marriages back in AUS.

Then a stop over at another party (more of Guy’s old school friends) and home about 1:00am. We then found that the big steel gates at Guy’s mum’s house were bolted shut and we couldn’t get in and everybody seems to be asleep, surprise, surprise…. So after some bending, twisting and stretching with my long arms I was able to “break in” and off to bed we went.

Guy was also exhausted as she has picked up a flu thing (sore throat and achy body). I suspect that it is from our comings and goings in the air-conditioning in the Malls and the smog that was rather bad this last week. All the rain yesterday has cleared things a bit now.

Bring back the crisp clean air of Marinduque.

Friday 31st December:

Guy has the flu thing well and truly (sore throat & achy body) and after the last few days’ mental stress of dealing with the DFA, a very quiet day at home was enjoyed by all. Had a nice 2-hour siesta after lunch then a quiet stroll round the block in the cool evening breeze.

The weather is very pleasant here after the rain yesterday cleared the air. High 20Cs during the day and low 20Cs at night and the humidity is very bearable.

The fireworks has well and truly hit now just on dark. Sounds like world war three outside. And there are some pretty big bangs going off out there. Big enough to set off the entire car alarms in the street from time to time.

Jerry (Guy’s brother) brought out the big gun. It is a PVC tube about 3’ long with a screw cap in one end. You unscrew it and squirt in Metho and screw cap back on, give it a shake and hit the built in electric igniter and this goes off like a canon. Very very loud indeed.

Well as midnight rolled around the celebrations hit full swing. Right on midnight the whole area was lit up with all the fireworks. Our street was end-to-end full of firecrackers, fountains of sparks and flame and the whole sky (360 degrees) was lit up with skyrockets. And these skyrockets were the full on colored star burst ones.

The noise was deafening and with some of really big crackers you had to cover your ears as the sound/percussion wave hit you. It lasted for about 30 minutes and was very very impressive. Felt like being in the middle of the Sydney Harbour bridge during the fire works display.

We all then retreated to Guy’s Mum’s to eat noodles for good luck and have our special treat of ice cream. Man the ice cream was dam good. I even had seconds.

We all then settled back and watch the movie 2012 on cable. Crap movie and most of the kids fell asleep watching it. 3:00am and off to bed after the noisiest New Years Eve I have ever experienced.

Saturday 1st January 2011:

Happy New Year you alllllllll……. And here’s to all the great adventures awaiting us all.

This is the one-day of the year that the Malls are closed so a bit of a sleep in and then lots of sitting round, watched a few movies on cable and of course more eating.

Guy’s flu is much better today but with her kids arriving on Monday she rested up ready for a hectic week. Her fever has broken but she still has the sore throat and generally feeling achy and flat.

As it was a beautiful crisp cool evening I went for a long slow stroll round the streets and watched a couple of the street parties in action. They had the usual games for the kids as in egg throwing / catching and a clay pot suspended on a string, blindfold the kids and see if they can hit it. At one gathering they were handing out food parcels to the locals that consisted of rice and some tinned goods.

Lots of hi Joes and happy New Year.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Other Stuff:

Interesting news item came through during the week. All the Police in this one area have had their M16, shotgun and pistol barrel ends sealed with masking tape and signed by the local Police Chief.

Why you ask?

Well the Police can get a little carried away with all the New Years celebrations and have been known to fire their weapons into the air to celebrate. The President wants it stopped as it is a bit of a dangerous thing to do, as there have been “injuries” in the past.

So if your muzzle tape is broken by firing your weapon you have to explain why.

I recon that the cops at Sydney New Years celebrations should let off a few rounds to celebrate. It could make for an interesting evening…….

Update: There were 546 injuries New Years Eve from fireworks and stray bullets. (526 fireworks & 20 stray bullets).