Day 380 of retirement

February 27, 2011

Hi All

Sunday 20th February 2011:

Power on all night and all day.

Sunday so the Thunder Monster wash and wax time. Gave her a good going over this morning and that little extra wax in places not normally waxed.

At midday I dropped Guy off at the office and I headed to Barbarossa to catch up with the expats.

Had a good chat to Wayne (retired doctor from Brisbane) on where the Australian pension regulations are going for people living overseas. Currently we are not eligible for the pension but that may change in the future with an agreement being discussed between Australia and the Philippines. Fingers and toes crossed.

Home just on dark and dinner warmed up quickly just in case of a brownout but thankfully power remained on.

Monday 21st February:

Up at 5:00am for hike with Gerald and left the cottage at 6:10am. We did a bit of exploring off track today to see if we could find a short cut to the Tabionan Road that leads to the Dawis River. The path started behind the cottage and for a couple of km took us up to a ridge line which we then traversed, aiming for the highest point on the map on the Tabionan road.

The first three km ish on the ridge was fine as we followed some open ground and a few existing tracks. Then the tracks ran out and a bit of bush bashing was required.

I brushed off my map reading skills from old and as we had a 1:50,000 map (not the best in hilly terrain) and we pretty much kept on our compass heading sticking to the ridge tops with a few saddle crossings to get to the next ridge.

We were also lucky enough to have a GPS fix on the high point from our walk last Friday, so a quick check every now and then confirmed that we were going in the right direction and how far we had to go.

With about 800m to go (and we could see the hill top) we were stopped by a steep ravine with impenetrable vegetation. So close yet so far. But with some back tracking and a big step down to the valley bottom and up the other side, we made it to the road only 400m off our target, so we were both very pleased with ourselves.

We had a quick look at a track that lead into the jungle from the high point but this will require another day to explore as it disappeared off into the valley towards the Dawis River.

This short cut was 5.6km and the road round was only 4.5km so not really a short cut but ooohhh so much more fun.

We headed for home back down the road and 12km (3h 36m) later we were back at the cottage for some nice cold iced tea as the sun was well and truly up and had a sting to it.

Guy had once again walked into the Gasan markets (6km), done the shopping and caught the Jeepney home so a nice big pot of Beef Sinigang with fresh Jack fruit for lunch was enjoyed immensely.

A nice long siesta followed.

A quick trip into Gasan for some Pineapple Juice (and a few other supplies) to go with the Malibu Rum for cocktails before dinner. Power has been on all night and all day. When will the next brownout hit?

Tuesday 22nd February:

We were caught sleeping in this morning. John arrived at 9:30am ish for his semi regular visit and we were still in bed after watching the late night movie last night.

He stayed till 11:00am ish then Guy was off to the office with Vicki after a quick lunch. I headed for the block and spent some time slashing the growth round the Nipa Hut and along the boundary lines. Wasn’t too bad as the dry season is here now so no new stuff growing.

Home and chopped up the pile of coconut palms, which I use for burning up the rubbish in the incinerator. Then a walk down the road to the local Sari Sari store for some Coke supplies. Walked home along the beach in the cool of the afternoon sea breeze, which was very pleasant indeed.

I warmed up dinner (Beef Sinigang with rice) just as Guy arrived home (she won today) at 5:30pm, just in case of a brownout. No brownouts for about 48 hours now so I’m guessing that we are due for one in the next day or so.

Wednesday 23rd February:

Up at 8:30am, boarded the Thunder Monster and off to Tabionan back in them there hills (a 30 minute Thunder ride compared to a 2 hour hike) to catch the high school kids before class and drop off the pics I took last Friday. The kids were full of smiles, laughter and lots of “thank you” as I had printed off one pic for each student plus a few spares.

We were invited back on Friday night to cover their Prom night but I politely declined, as I really wouldn’t like to be riding home in the middle of the night on that fire trail.

Guy and I both noticed that the students are made up of 90% girls. The drop out rate amongst boys here, especially in high school, is pretty high. It is compulsory to attend school but it isn’t really policed.

On arrival back home we enjoyed our breakfast sitting on the front veranda watching the world go by. Then into the Gasan market for some supplies. Guy made a Pumpkin soup with ground Pork wrapped in cabbage leaves.

Now Guy needed some toothpicks to hold the cabbage rolls together so off I went to get some. Tried a couple of the local Sari Sari stores but no luck. Into Gasan and finished up at the market (and some 5 stores later) and finally found some. Just one of the challenges of living on Marinduque.

But it was worth it as the cabbage rolls were very yummy.

Siesta after lunch and then into Barbraossa for a quick broadband email check and home to watch the sun set.

Thursday 24th February:

Very nice sleep in this morning till 10:00am followed by a leisurely breakfast.

Guy off to the office with Vicki and I was scheduled to catch up with Ron. But he rang to say that he was still up on the mountain road, which was blocked by a fallen tree. He was waiting for one of the locals to find a chainsaw so they could clear the tree and open the road and didn’t know when the road would be cleared.

I watched the midday movie (was okay B-grade movie) and then headed to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi and to tidy up my email. Finished up and enjoyed a beautiful afternoon ride back home along the coast with a stop at the bakery for some fresh Pan de Coco buns.  Guy got home just on 5:00pm and had another big win today.

Friday 25th February:

Was supposed to go hiking with Gerald this morning but he had to postpone, so Guy and I decided to walk into Gasan market and back (12km round trip) for a few supplies. We left home at 7:00am ish and arrived back at 9:15am. It was a beautiful morning for a walk, not too hot nor humid. And you get to see so much more while walking, of the locals and their neighborhood. Had the camera with me of course and took a few pics and chatted to the locals.

Breakfast and lunch kind of merged into one till 1:00pm when we left for Boac. First stop was at PhilHealth to pay our private health insurance for the rest of the year. All up the total cost for 12 months is P1,200 ($30.00 AUS). Bargain…..

Then we headed a couple of km past the Boac river out west to visit Wayne (Aussie) and Grace (Local). Had a great chat to them and a good look at the house that they built last year. So got a few good tips from them on the challenges of building here on the island.

On the way home we called into the local hairdresser in Gasan and booked in for Wednesday to get ourselves “more” beautiful for our trip back to Australia in a couple of weeks.

Arrived home just on dark after a great day out.

Saturday 26th February:

A leisurely day with Cherry here first thing to carry out the washing and cleaning. I did the rubbish burning and have now found a great process of burning that ensures everything burns up. I layer dried coconut palms with rubbish and dried coconut husks in the incinerator. A couple layers of this and it burns a treat.

After lunch with Cherry (as we supply her with lunch) we headed into Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi.

And wouldn’t you know it I couldn’t connect. Tried a few things and then phone my Brother Craig (the Mac expert). He was able to determine what the issue was, which was at the supplier side of things. After a few more tries I was finally allocated an IP address and all was good.

Had a good online chat to Jason (my son) and it looks like he and Mike will be visiting us round the 16th to 29th April (for Easter) so really looking forward to showing them “our” island and the huge Easter Moriones Festival.

Leisurely ride back home in the beautiful cool of the even with a quick stop at the bakery for the usual treats.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 373 of retirement

February 20, 2011

Hi All

Saturday 12th February 2011:

Power came back on at 10:15pm last night and remained on all day. Wwoooo hhhoooo.

Today is my 365th day of retirement. One year down and many many more to come.

Big storm last night with wind, lightning and heavy rain. Had a minor leak in the bamboo roof on the cottage. The boys checked it out this morning and all good.

Cherry here today for the washing and cleaning so up at 8:00am. Got here organized and at 10:00am we headed to Frank (Aussie) and Rosie’s (Local) place for some cake and iced tea. Had a good chat to them and back for lunch.

Then back to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi to finish our travel requirements for AUS. Managed to get our return flights back to the Philippines on Frequent Flyer points, so all good.

On the way home picked some very nice sweet Jackfruit as it is now in season. You eat the yellow flesh that enclosed the seeds then boil the seeds and eat them as well. The boiled seeds are kind of like soft Brazil nuts. Very nice as well.

Sunday 13th February:

Power on all night and off at 2:00pm and back on at 3:00pm and off at 5:30pm till the early hours of Monday morning.

As the Thunder Monster got her wash and wax earlier this week she was all shiny this morning after a quick wipe over.

Rubbish burning completed, as too busy yesterday.

Then dropped Guy off at the “office” and I headed for Barbarossa for the expat catch up. Small crowd today (6 in all) as some were sick and some are currently back in their home countries.

Had a cheeseburger and chips for lunch. The burgers are all home made with real meat patties and real buns they bake in-house. The cheese is plastic cheese but better than nothing.

Monday 14th February:

Power came back on in the early hours of this morning after being off all last night.

What do we do during the brownouts you ask?

  • We go exploring on the Thunder Monster (day time)
  • We go for walks (day time)
  • We take long siesta’s in the Nipa Hut (day time)
  • We read (I’m on my second book for the year so look like I might break my record of 3 books a year) (Guy reads heaps)
  • We play cards
  • We play the Nintendo DSi XL
  • We watch DVD’s on the MacBook (I get 4 hours + battery power watching DVD’s)
  • Work on my pics and blog stuff on the MacBook battery power
  • We read stuff we have downloaded from the web previously (mainly me with stuff I’ve saved to PDF) (ooohh and love the Mac speech as all I do is highlight the text and it reads it back to me…. Yea I’m lazy..)
  • We cook (on the gas stove)
  • We talk about life, love and the universe
  • We go to bed early

The filtered water boys called by (as they do weekly) and we topped up our drinking water with a replacement 25L container (P25 ($0.63 AUS)).

Well today is our first year’s wedding anniversary (we have been together for 5 ½ years) and what a year it had been. We celebrated with a sleep in, lazy morning around the cottage and at midday headed to Barbarossa for a valentine / wedding anniversary very yummy lunch.

Back to the cottage for a nice hot cup of tea then an afternoon siesta. Finished off the day with a stroll up the beach and back along the road.

We cooked up some Adobo Chicken (one of my favorite meals) for dinner to finish off a great day.

Tuesday 15th February:

Power on all night and then when I arrived home at 4:00pm it was off but came back on at 4:15pm. Then at 5:30pm off it went again till 10:00pm.

Market day so off to Gasan markets for some supplies. We are getting quite good at loading up, us and the Thunder Monster with shopping now. You would be surprised how much you can carry when it is organized.

Guy found this very cool bug zapper at the market for P150 ($3.75 AUS). It is a tennis racket that has a metal mesh with re-chargeable battery that powers up the mesh. When you swish a bug into the racket it zaps them. Just what you need for those pesky mosquitoes.

Guy has a manicure appointment at 11:00am and then off to Mahjong at midday. But the best-laid plans were doomed. The manicurist had double booked so Guy was bumped to tomorrow now.

After an early lunch Guy caught a ride to Mahjong with Vicki and I headed to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi surfing, which I have been missing, just a little.

John (the pom) met me there at 2:00pm, as he wanted to get an online registration setup for his pension fund back in England. You see John doesn’t own a computer and has basically never used one. He has been corresponding with his pension fund mainly via snail mail and the odd phone call, which is tedious in this day and age.

Anyway got him all registered and setup and now he has to wait for a letter from the UK with his user ID and password and then he will be able to manage his fund online with a little help from yours truly I suspect.

Topped up the Thunder Monster with gas and I am currently getting 47km to the litre including 90% of the time with Guy on the back. I fill up about every two weeks for about P400 ($10.00 AUS). So very happy with that.

Arrived home at 4:00pm and no power but at about 4:15pm it came back on then off again at 5:30pm and back on at 10:00pm.

Wednesday 16th February:

Power on all day today. Bonus…..

Alarm went off at 6:00am as I was going to take Guy up the Dawis River and show her the Gold rush site. I hit the off button on the alarm and we just dozed for one more minute. Woke up and it was 8:00am. A bit too late to go now as Guy has her manicurist appointment at 11:00am. Oohhhh well there’s always another day.

I dropped Guy off in Gasan and headed back to Joseph’s Mini-Mart to complete my Wi-Fi fix. Guy arrived at 12:30am via a Jeepney and she spent the afternoon sorting out her bulging email inbox.

I headed into Boac to get some re-charge cards for the DREAM Satellite TV, some ATM cash and have a wander round the market.

First ATM was down but luckily the second one was good so cashed up once again.

Made it home just on 5:00pm and quickly warmed up dinner as the electricity usually goes off at 5:30pm if the powers that be decides to cut it off in the evening. But tonight we had the power.

Thursday 17th February:

Leisurely morning with an equally leisurely breakfast on the front veranda.

Guy is off to the office with Vicki at midday and Ron and I head to Boac to try and get some Bacon.

Now you would think that with all the Pork that is eaten here on the island that there should be lots of Bacon. Wrong. The Pork is eaten fresh and nobody does the curing and smoking of Bacon. The Bacon we get here is imported from the mainland.

We tried the first little Sari Sari store but they were out so off to another store and they were out as well. Back to Gasan for our last chance and luckily managed to get a pack of Bacon (which was the last of three packs they had).

Had a stop at Barbarossa for coffee and iced tea and a chat to Geoff (Pom) who was enjoying an afternoon ale.

So for dinner tonight we had Bacon and rice with some juice of the Adobo Chicken. Very nice.

Ooohhh and power off at 5:30pm till 8:30pm. I had dinner cooked before 5:30pm so we were able to still have a hot meal.

Friday 18th February:

Power on all night and all day.

Up at 5:00am as it was hike day with Gerald. Today we left from the cottage at 6:30am and headed up into the mountains to the village of Tabionan (8km fire trail walk) which sits on the Dawis River, followed the river (past the gold rush site) back to Dawis Village (3.5km), another track back (2km) to the main road and back to the cottage (2.5km). All up a very nice 17km hike which took us just on 4.5 hours.

When we arrived in Tabionan the high school kids were all out and wanted their class photo taken so I obliged. I will get a print of the class photo for each student and take it back and give to them next week. Lots of laughter and kids full of smiles.

Had another look round the gold rush site on the Dawis River as well. The crowds have thinned but there are still a few hardy souls getting a few specs of gold left. The river is quite low now so won’t be long before it will be reduced to a trickle which will force the gold miners out.

Home for a very yummy lunch as Guy walked into Gasan markets (6km), grabbed a few fresh supplies and caught the Jeepney home. Very impressed with her outing to the “shops”.

And as we both had a huge morning it was time for a siesta after lunch. Leisurely afternoon doing a few chores round the house and watched a crap “C” grade movie on TV.

Saturday 19th February:

Power on all night but went off at 10:00am and back on at 12:00noon. Then off again at 6:00pm and back on at 7:30pm.

Cherry here for her washing and cleaning day. Luckily she had all the washing containers full before the power went off. And it was back on a 12:00noon so she had no problem rinsing the washing and finishing it.

It was a glorious day so after lunch we enjoyed a cruise on the Thunder Monster to Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some more Wi-Fi. I posted the pics ready to complete the blog post tomorrow and Guy finished off her email inbox tidy up.

While she was doing that I went into Boac and printed off the Tabionan high school pics for the kids. We will deliver them to the kids next week sometime via the Thunder Monster.

Back for dinner which was consumed before 5:30pm just to be sure. And sure enough at 6:00pm off went the power. On again at 7:30pm so not too bad.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 365 of retirement

February 12, 2011

Hi All

Sunday 6th February 2011:

Power went off at 9:30pm last night and came on at about 3:00am (I heard the fridge start up). It was then on all day till 6:00pm, then it went off again till 8:30pm.

Had Bridge this morning at 9:30am, as Terry is back in Manila for a while and this is his last day on the island for a month or so. This meant the Thunder Monster had to forgo her Sunday wash and wax. Will do tomorrow or Tuesday so all good.

At midday we headed for Gasan where I dropped off Guy at the “office” and I joined the 11 expats at Barbarossa once again to solve the problems of the world.

As I am interested in getting a generator it was good to talk to a few of them that have purchased gen sets for different sized houses. Kevin (the other new aussie) purchased one some months ago so was able to pick his brain and I am now getting closer to knowing what Guy and I will need. Work in progress.

Guy caught a ride home with Vicki and right on 6:00pm off goes the power till 8:30pm. So much for the “brownout schedule” we got from the power company yesterday. Oh well that’s life on Marinduque and we can’t complain as we survive very nicely, brownouts and all.

We watched the movie called “Unthinkable” with Samuel L Jackson on the MacBook during the brownout so all good. Not a bad movie actually.

Monday 7th February:

Power off at about 3:00am this morning and back on at 5:00pm this afternoon then off again at 9:00pm so really only 4 hours of power at the cottage today. It did come back on at 10:00pm but we were in bed by this time.

Up at 5:00am and off to Gerald’s for a 15km ish hike on “fire trail” back in them there hills. We left at 6:30am and after a walk along the beach we headed up into the mountains (walking on a fire trail type track) and did a big loop back to the main road. The last 5km were on the main road. Great easy ish walk after the epic trek last Friday. We are both still getting our fitness back so another easier walk scheduled for this Friday.

At 10:30am we hit Buenavista. As we were preparing to catch a Jeepney, a friend of Gerald’s came along in a van and they drove us back to Gerald’s house for a nice cool drink of ice tea followed by an even better cup of hot tea.

Back home for a scoop shower as no power followed by lunch and of course a siesta for an hour or so. Great way to finish the morning’s activities.

We then headed for Joseph’s Mini-Mart up Boac way to see if they had power for some Wi-Fi. And luckily they had power so we were able to get our emails sorted. Being on the outskirts of Boac (the capital) and across the road from the municipal (Government) offices they tend to get power first.

While Guy was Wi-Fiing, I headed for the ATMs to get some cash. The first two were “off line” and the third one was operational with a small line up. Only 3 people in front of me so I lined up. The first two got their cash and as the guy in front of me tried to use the ATM it went off line “for maintenance”. Dam.

The security guard in the bank said it would only be 10 minutes or so. The guy in front of me waited for 5 minutes then left so I decided to give it 15 minutes and see. And sure enough the ATM came back on line in 5 minutes and I was able to get cashed up once again. These power cuts are playing havoc especially with the ATMs.

We headed home at 4:30pm and stopped off along the way for some freshly cooked beef stew stuff for dinner. Got home just after 5:00pm and yep we had power. Dinner warmed up and eaten immediately just in case………

Tuesday 8th February:

Power off at about 3:00am and back on at 7:30am. Yeaaaa we have power in the morning. Off again at 5:45pm and back on at 7:15pm.

Gasan market day so time to do our weekly shopping. With the brownouts we are just getting anything that is non-perishable. Perishables are a day-by-day purchase at this point in time.

Guy off to Mahjong at noon with Vicki and I headed over to see Kevin (Aussie) and have a look at his generator. On the way I passed Ron pulling into his driveway so stopped for a chat. Just as well as he informed me that Kevin left for Australia this morning. He was going tomorrow morning but left a day early.

Back home to grab the MacBook and off to Barbarossa for some broadband.

Guy home at 5:15pm so dinner organized ASAP while we had power.  And sure enough at 5:45pm, off it went. But it did come back on at 7:15pm so not so bad.

Wednesday 9th February:

Power on all night till 8:00am then off till 6:00pm.

Rest day today with a bit of a sleep in then a nice leisurely breakfast sitting on the front veranda watching the world go by.

Ingrid (German), who is visiting the island and staying with friends, came over at 2:00pm for a visit. She spends her time between a Greek island and Frankfurt in Germany. This is her first visit to Marinduque and she can see why we love it here, living the simple life.

She left at 4:30pm and we just sat on the front veranda and watched the sun set waiting for the power to come back on (came back on at 6:00pm instead of 5:00pm). Once the power was on it was quick showers all round and dinner eaten just in case it goes off again.

A very leisurely day was had by all.

Thursday 10th February:

Power off at about 3:00am and back on at 8:00am and then on all day. Wonders never cease to amaze.

Beautiful day and a lazy morning enjoyed by all. As the Thunder Monster missed out on her wash and wax on Sunday I decided to do it today. She is once again all clean and shiny.

Midday and Guy headed to the “office” with Vicki and Ron and I headed over Balanacan way to have a look at a new 4 Star Hotel / Resort being built by some Filipinos who are currently working in USA. The owners were there visiting from the USA so we had a good chat to them. They are looking at putting in cottages, swimming pool and marina. All that is there now is a large function centre.

It is in a beautiful spot over looking the bay and I wish them well in their new venture.

Guy and I both arrive back home at 5:00pm and the power was still on… Yyyeeaaaa……

Friday 11th February:

Power on all night till 7:30am, then back on at 9:00am, then off at 5:30pm till 10:15pm

Up at 5:00pm and off to Gerald’s at 6:15am for our Friday hike. Guy came with me to Gerald’s house and once Gerald and I left, she walked back home in the early morning light.

It is a 4km walk along the coast and she enjoyed the leisurely stroll at first light.

Gerald and I did a nice slow easy 2h15m walk today. Walked back into the hills and tried to find our way across to the Grotto (Guy & I visited it from the road a while ago) a couple of valleys away. It finished up we were one valley too short but now know for next time. It was a nice walk through them there hills and we concluded it with a walk along the beach back to Gerald’s for tea.

Once home and showered (power was still on) we headed for Joseph’s Mini-Mart for some Wi-Fi to sort out our itinerary to see as many of you as we can on our March visit back to AUS. And enjoyed a nice noodle lunch there whilst working.

On the way home called into Cawit Port to get some freshly cooked food for dinner and lunch tomorrow. We made it home just on 5:00pm so quickly put on the rice cooker and Guy had a shower. Just as Guy finished her shower and the rice cooker “clicked” off, went the power at 5:30pm and came back on at 10:15pm just when we had given up and were about to head to bed.

Saturday 12th February:

Well day 365 of my retirement has been reached and what a 365 days it has been.

Some of the adventures we have endured during this time are:

  • Quit our long standing jobs in Sydney
  • Got married
  • Sold / given away 95% of all our worldly possessions
  • Moved to a foreign country (new for me and back home for Guy)
  • Travelled round some of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines looking for a new place to call home
  • Found a new place to call home (The island of Marinduque)
  • Built a whole new life in a new culture with new food and a new language
  • Built up new friendships and missed our family and friends back in AUS
  • Explored new activities with our new friends (hiking / exploring the mountain jungles and back roads)
  • Bought a piece of paradise property (our 2,908sqm of beachfront)
  • Living in a simple life in a simple cottage on the beach (no malls, supermarkets or fast food chains on the island)
  • The purchase of my new Thunder Monster which is our only form of transport on the island
  • Got to retire at age 55 (something that I have dreamed about since I was 19) with my beautiful wife (she’s 52 but don’t tell anybody)

It has been a fantastic adventure and one of the most amazing year that either of us has experienced in our whole lives, so far.

We have absolutely NO regrets and love our new life style. It hasn’t been easy at times with us both missing family and friends and adapting to our new lives but we would do it all again in a heartbeat.

We have had Jordan (Guy’s son) and Jo (Guy’s daughter) over to visit us and showed them our new home and are looking forward to some more visitors this year (Deb K my cousin in May kicking it off).

I wish you all an early retirement so you can enjoy the fruits of all those dedicated years of hard work.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy


Day 359 of retirement

February 6, 2011

Hi All

Sunday 30th January 2011:

Brownout from 11:00pm last night to 7:00am this morning. Can live with that time frame, as it doesn’t impact on us too much at all. Just means we can’t watch the late movie on satellite TV…….

Being Sunday it was time for the Thunder Monster wash and wax. Has been 5 weeks (since the last wash & wax) with us being away and all so a little extra care with the wash and wax was required. She is now all clean and shiny.

Guy off to Mahjong and I caught up with the expats at Barbarossa. There was quite a crowd with ten of us there today. It was Germany day with the German’s making up half the group.

Guy and I back home just in time to sit on the beach and see a glorious sun set with the fishing boats cruising past on their way home after a hard day’s work.

Fired up the new rice cooker for dinner and all good. Just waiting for tonight’s brownout to commence now.

Monday 31st January:

Brownout from 11:00pm last night to 6:00am this morning.

I was up at 5:00am and leaving the cottage just after 6:00am to catch up with Gerald for a hike to find some waterfalls. Had a cup of tea made on the gas stove by headlight as it only gets light at about 6:15am. Power came back on at 6:00am so all good for Guy when she gets up.

Arrived at Gerald’s and in the process of parking the Thunder Monster in his driveway, we both had a little lay down. I flicked the side stand down with my foot and proceeded to tilt the bike onto the stand. Well my foot slipped and the side stand flicked back up. I struggled to keep the bike upright but it was on the point of no return.

It was a slow motion fall as the Thunder Monster and I both finished up on the ground in front of Juliet, Gerald’s wife. She rushed in to get Gerald but I was fine (just some skin off my left leg) and the Thunder Monster only suffered a scratch on the foot peg and clutch lever. I suffered more embarrassment than anything….

Gerald and I headed off on our hike with Gerald’s nephew as a guide this time as he knows these hills well. We hiked up and over the ridgeline down to a river and then proceeded to follow it up stream. The river got narrower with cliff walls closing in and we were now wading round the stones as trying to keep your feet dry was hopeless as the rocks were all covered in moss and very slippery.

We eventually found the falls and I had a quick swim to cool off. Then back to the small village 30 minutes away where Gerald had arranged for another relative with a Trike to pick us up and bring us home. Glad the Trike was there as we both were starting to feel it and the temperature and humidity was now increasing, as it was late morning.

We always start our hikes at day break and aim to complete them by midday due to the heat and humidity, so gives us 4-5 hours of hiking time in the jungle which is plenty right now as we start to get fit again. We are aiming for two hikes a week for now. Mondays and Fridays are the days as these days suit us both.

After lunch and a very nice little siesta Guy and I headed back to Buenavista to pay our land tax (council rates) for 2011. All done and we had to pay the princely sum of P55 ($1.40 AUS) for this year and that is with a 10% discount cause we paid in January.

If you pay in the last quarter of the previous calendar year you get a 20% discount and if you pay in the first calendar year quarter the discount is 10%. So this December we will pay and get our 20% discount of P11 ($0.28 AUS).

Back to the cottage for a nice relaxing evening as I must say I am a little tired.

Tuesday 1st February:

Brownout from 11:00pm last night to 6:00am this morning. And then the power goes off at 12:00 noon and comes back on at 3:00pm. Just got a text from Gerald to say that the new schedule times for brownouts are anywhere from 12:00 noon to 8:00pm till the 12th February. AAhhhgggg. “Not happy Jan…..” Ooohhh well a good excuse to go explore on the Thunder Monster then.

Sleep in this morning after the big day yesterday. Then off to the Gasan markets, as it is market day. Didn’t need much but topped up on a few supplies.

Guy was then off to her manicurist at 11:00am and then Mahjong for the rest of the day. After dropping her off at the manicurist I hit Barbarossa for some broadband activity to catch up on emails and stuff where I was hit with the 12:00 noon brownout.

So home for a nice hot cup of tea and a little siesta. Got some nice little sausage things at the market for dinner that I cooked up after the “rest” and my afternoon movie “The Hurt Locker” (one of the “cheapo” DVDs I bought in Manila).

Dinner and both showered before tonight’s brownout.

Wednesday 2nd February:

Brownout from 11:00pm last night to 6:00am this morning.

Off to Bridge this morning at 9:30am at Terry’s place just down the road. It was John and I against Terry and Guy. Final score was them 2 games and us 1 game.

Terry leant us a Bridge book and photocopied the first couple of chapters for us so Guy and I have been reading up. It is the bidding that takes a bit of getting used to but we are learning. Once we get into playing the cards I’m fine. We also have Bridge on the Nintendo XL so have been practicing. Long way to go yet but we are enjoying the game as it certainly exercises the old brain cells.

Back to the cottage and quick lunch and I then dropped Guy off at the “office” (Mahjong) for the afternoon.

I hit broadband at Barbarossa as I investigated the “Philippines Retirement Authority” (PRA). This is an agency that encourages people to retire in the Philippines and offers another way to get residency.

I already have my resident papers in the system and we are waiting for our marriage certificate to be authenticated. But we do need to look at all possibilities just in case we can speed up the process or short cut the system. We shall see as I have downloaded all the relevant paper work and we now need to read it and then a call to the PRA to see where I stand.

Back home and I headed off for a 1.5-hour stroll up the beach talking to and photographing the locals. A very pleasant time was had by all.

Dinner of leftovers and another day bites the dust.

Thursday 3rd February:

Brownout from 11:00pm last night to 6:00am this morning.

Nice sleep in this morning as all we have on today is Mahjong for Guy at noon. I dropped her off at the office and headed back home as there was a little drizzle of rain. Waited a few hours (watched the midday movie) and all good so I headed into the “supermarket” (Gasan markets) for our supplies.

Back home and off for a nice 1-hour ish walk up the beach. On my return it’s time to get dinner cooking. Guy is making chicken rice so I get the chicken a cooking.

The weather at the moment is quite cool and windy. By cool I mean high 20Cs during the day to low 20Cs at night and the humidity has dropped as well. I wear a tee-shirt instead of a singlet and we sleep with a sheet on us at night. It is actually very pleasant.

The wind is from the north so we are pretty protected where we are. The Ro-Ro out of Lucena actually turned back a few days ago due to the rough seas. We have two large ships (a container ship and fuel ship) anchored off Gasan in the calm waters waiting for the seas to abate so they can continue on their voyage.

Friday 4th February:

Well the brownout start at 11:00pm last night and the power only came on at 5:15pm today (18.5-hours brownout). Apparently this is going to be the norm for a while with the power only being available from 5:00pm to 11:00pm each day. Lots of rumors on why this is happening so who knows what the truth is and when / if it will end.

We are surviving okay, just means that you can’t store anything in the fridge / freezer. We just cook (Gas stove so all good) and eat fresh stuff each day. Looks like more fresh fruit and veg, which isn’t a bad thing anyway.

Up at 5:00am this morning as I was off hiking with Gerald and our guide (his nephew). We left his place at 6:30am and headed up to the top of the ridgeline behind his place. From there we traversed along for some time and then dropped down to the Dawis River. The walk along the path just below the ridge top was spectacular with views out over the coast and the surrounding islands and we saw a spectacular rainbow in one of the valleys.

It was quite slippery as it rained over night (drizzled a bit at the start of the walk) and the ground up on the ridges is very very sticky mud. We slipped and slide our way along and finally hit the river.

We followed the river for about 4km down to the main road and back to Gerald’s place. The river walk was fascinating due to the “Gold Rush” going on. Gold was found in the river years ago and apparently some more gold has been discovered recently. So in the one 2km section of the river there are about 30 gold prospectors with their pans and slush gates. Some are mining the riverbed (working in the running river bed) and others are mining the banks (digging big holes in the banks).

Basically they dig out the river sand and wash it in their homemade slush gates setup in the flowing river. The miners were not interested in showing us their gold apart from one guy who showed a few gold specs he had found.

The Dawis River is a beautiful walk in itself with towering white limestone cliffs on either side. 5 hours after leaving, we made it back suitably hot, sweaty and tired. Hikes here are not measured in km but in time due to the terrain and all the ups and downs and windy trails in the jungle.

Had my first “brush” with a nasty stinging plant today. All three of us took this little short cut along the riverbank and after walking through some native vegetation, all three of us then developed this burning sensation on our right legs on the shin. It really burnt for some hours and felt like a hot nail being pushed into your leg. Some 10-hours later and it is still tender to touch and it burns. Good old aussie Tea Tree oil is helping heaps.

Quick cup of tea at Gerald’s and home to a scoop shower (no power), lunch and then a very welcomed siesta for us both.

At 2:45pm we head to meet up with Berthold (German), Josephine (his Filipino wife) and Ingrid (German & semi retired family friend) for afternoon tea. They live on the other side of Gasan and currently spend half their time here on the island and the other half in Greece where Berthold has a Yacht Brokerage business. Ingrid also spends her time between Greece, Germany and the Philippines (she has houses in Greece & Germany).

Very pleasant afternoon chatting and we had a good look at their house for some ideas.

Home at 5:00pm just in time for the power to come back on. Filled up all the water containers we could find so Cherry can do our washing tomorrow morning, as we have no power for water till 5:00pm.

All electronic devices placed on chargers so we can survive till 5:00pm tomorrow.

Saturday 5th February:

Brownout from 3:00am to 5:00pm today then off again at 9:30pm (only on for 4.5 hours today). We called into the power company office this morning and they informed us that the 5:00pm to 11:00pm (6-hours electricity supply per day) time would remain for the month of February due to fuel shortages for the generators. Guy heard at Mahjong that this might not be so. Who knows?

So we currently have a minimum of 6-hours power per day but it could be more or it could be less. We are starting to look at getting our own generator…..

Cherry here to do the washing and cleaning. We filled up every water container we could find last night so she had enough water to do the washing. My rubbish incinerator burn up completed as well.

We then headed to Barbarossa as they have a generator to do some email catch ups via broadband which still works during the brownouts as the towers has batteries and generators to sustain power supplies. It was actually a bit faster than usual so all good.

At midday Guy headed to Mahjong and I finished off loading all the blog pics and doing my email stuff. Dropped off the laptop at home and headed for Boac to get some broadband and SMART phone load cards.

Also dropped in and finally got the Thunder Monster number plate from Starbike (where I bought the bike) some 6-months after buying the bike. Now try and figure this out:

  • I bought the Thunder Monster on July 30th 2010 and paid twelve months rego. So by my reckoning that would be my next rego is due in July 2011.
  • The rego papers are dated 10th January 2011.
  • Picked up number plate in February 2011 (after Starbike let me know the plate was ready).
  • I next have to register the Thunder Monster in February 2012 (for 12 months).
  • The last number on your plate indicates what month you have to register your bike (mine ends in 2 so February it is).
  • And my 12-18 months of rego for the princely sum of P889 ($23.00 AUS). Excludes comprehensive insurance which you can’t get anyway.

Some thing just doesn’t make sense here but hey who am I to query it. I have some how got 6 months free rego…. I think????

While in Boac I tried to get some cash but all three ATMs were off line due to the brownouts. We are okay for now but we will need to make sure we have a bit of a stash for circumstances like this.

I headed for home and picked up some dinner (Goat meat in a stew thingy).

Power back on at 5:00pm so filled up all the water barrels, showered and cooked up some rice for the goat stew quickly.

Think about how you would function right now with only 6-hours of power each day. Interesting challenge but we are surviving okay.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy