Day 715 of retirement

January 28, 2012

To view the photo descriptions please click on the “Permalink” at the bottom right hand corner of the pic in the slide show. Once in the descriptions slide show you can view the full size pic by clicking on it.

Hi All

Sunday 22nd January:

We had a sleep in till 11:30am ish and then had breakfast in the apartment (Melted cheese on toast).

At 2:00pm we grabbed a taxi and headed off to the Mall of Asia concert grounds for the Katy Perry concert. We arrived and found the correct gate at 3:00pm ish. There was already a small line up at this gate but the kids were at the front of the line.

Guy and I left them there and went exploring to firstly find a place to meet after the concert and a place for the kids to eat before the concert. I then took their place in the line while Guy took them off to eat as the security guys told us that the gates would open at 5:00pm.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, they opened the first gate (there are two gates to go through to get in) at 4:00pm while the kids were away. So I just surged in with the crowd (the kids had the tickets) and got a spot at the second gate, luckily managing to get past the guards with no ticket.

A quick call to Guy and the kids came a running. Jordan had finished his dinner but Jo had to leave half of hers. On arrival the kids were stopped at the first gate by security. But after some hand waving by me to the security guard he let them into the second gate where I gave them their spot in the crowd.

Guy and I got them some water and managed to get it to them over the fence and we left them there. We hit the Mall of Asia for some wandering.

We found the Columbia outdoor shop had a sale on shirts so I got 2 and Guy got 1. Also found a really good backpack to replace my daypack that is disintegrating from use. We then hit Starbuck for some Chai, Wi-Fi and people watching while waiting for the kids.

Just before 10:00pm we headed back to the venue only to discover that Katy Perry hadn’t been on stage yet. So off to a Chinese restaurant for a snack and mango shake. We arrived back at the venue at 11:00am and Katy was playing. At 11:30pm she finished and the masses hit the streets. The streets and traffic were gridlocked so we walked across the road to the sea shore and sat on the sea wall for a while.

At 12:30am we decided to hit the streets and see if we could get a cab or a Jeepney to take us to the main road where we would get a cab. Within 30 seconds of getting to the road we saw a group “negotiating” with a cab driver and they failed to reach an agreement. In these circumstances the cab drivers can pick and choose what fares they want and charge anything they want (just cab drivers all round the world).

So we cut right in and agreed on P400 ($9.50 AUS) for the trip home. The normal cost is P250 ($6.00 AUS). Little did he know we were willing to pay more. Home by 1:00am.

The kids were hungry so we did a 24-hour MacDonald’s delivery to the hotel which took over an hour. In bed by 3:30am. It has been a long day.

Monday 24th January:

Our plan was to get out of the apartment by 10:00am and off for a family lunch at Guy’s mum’s place. After the late one last night we managed to make it out by 10:30am, so not too bad.

We had a family lunch with Guy’s mum’s very yummy Sinigang (she makes the best Sinigang followed closely by Guy, of course). Jo’s biological sister from the provinces was there with her two boys for a visit, so all good.

After lunch it was off to the Mega Mall and back to Greenhills for the kids last shopping chance to get rid of their Pesos.

As it is the Chinese new years day, the dragons were everywhere. In the supermarket isles and the markets with their drumming and plucking small envelopes with money in them from high places.

Had our final dinner and on the way home the kids did a final DVD purchase. I picked up our washing (P180 ($4.30 AUS) for 6kgs) from the Kuff N’ Kollar laundry service in the basement of the hotel. We found that one of my tee-shirts was missing so a quick trip to the laundry service and they found my tee, so all good.

We did a first pack with the kids and they are currently 13kgs over weight with their bags. As Guy has organized Ed to escort them through check in, we are hoping that he can get them some excess baggage allowance.

Tuesday 25th January:

Everybody had a sleep in this morning. At 11:00am it was shower time and then the final pack. We weighed the final three bags and they had about 15kgs over their 40kg total allowance. Guy texted Ed (Policeman friend at the airport) to let him know. Ed texted back that he was busy but one of his offsiders will look after us.

Off for our last lunch and a very quick last minute shop by the kids. Off to the airport at 2:00pm. Arrived at 3:00pm and Verdeflor (Ed’s offsider) meet us took the kids and Guy into the departure area (I stayed in a restaurant in the terminal) to check in and pay the terminal fee. The airport was packed so very grateful for Verdeflor’s help. And the kids got away with their 15kgs excess baggage so they were very happy.

The kids came back to the restaurant till an hour before departure. Guy met a batch mate of hers (Ben) in the airport who works there as well. He escorted the kids back through the terminal crowds (via the flight crew gate) to immigration and the departure area as Verdeflor had left us at this stage.

Guy and I hung round for 30-minutes just in case there were any issues but all good. The kids were on their way home after a fantastic 21-day visit all round. The apartment was very quiet when we arrived back.

We went to the supermarket and got a few supplies and had a dinner of cheese, ham and tomato melts as we have a mini toaster oven in the apartment. We also hit the DVD sellers in the alley way (we know it well) and got 20 more TV series to while away the hours back on the island.

Wednesday 26th January:

Up and about and our first job was to contact Qantas in Manila and see if I could extend an old frequent flyer ticket from last year to December this year. Took 2-hours to finally get through only to learn that it expires in March and no, we can’t extend it, which we sort of knew anyway.

Late morning off to the Ali Mall just up the road to pickup Guy’s TAG watch. She had all seals and battery replaced and the band cleaned and all for P900 ($21.00 AUS). We plunked ourselves in a lovely French Bakers cafe for lunch with good and fast Wi-Fi. While Guy caught up on web stuff, I wandered round for a look see.

I came across this great outdoors store with lots of good stuff. Now, when I came to the Philippines I brought with me my MSR Pocket Rocket Butane stove. It use butane cylinders with a screw top and you can’t get them here (they have a bayonet top).

Now in this shop they had the MSR stove so I enquired on how they connect it to the bayonet gas cylinders available here. The guy produced an adaptor for P150 ($3.60 AUS) and the gas cylinders for P75 ($1.80 AUS). I bought the adaptor and a couple of gas cylinders so now, can use my stove on our longer hikes. Very happy…..

They also had climbing rope (only place I have found that has it so far) from 2mm up to 11mm so I got some at various sizes as I use it for making small rigs for my packs and camera stuff.

Back to the apartment late afternoon with some gourmet supplies for the island. Did a pack of all our stuff as we are heading home tomorrow at 4:00pm on the JAC liner. Means we can put our luggage on the Bus at the station and not have to touch it till we arrive home (JAC liner drops us off at the front gate of the cottage).

We ate in for dinner and had toasted aussie coon cheese and tomato and man they were good.

Thursday 26th January:

The last morning in the apartment was a leisurely one. The caretaker was going to meet us at 12:00noon but texted us to say she couldn’t make it and just hand the keys to the administration office in the basement.

Midmorning we went for the last stroll to the supermarket for a couple of supplies. As it turned out, we were ready to go at noon so after dropping off the keys we headed for Guy’s mum’s place for lunch. After lunch we chilled there till 3:30pm when it was time to make our way to the JAC liner bus depot, 5-minutes away by Trike.

We arrived with 3 pieces of luggage and are leaving with 5. The extras are supplies that we are unable to get on the island (things like cheese, specialty tea, body wash, shampoo, cooking spices & sauces, etc.).

The beauty of the JAC liner is that we can stow the baggage on the bus and we don’t have to touch it till we are dropped off at our front door on the island. The JAC liner is great for us bringing big stuff back to the island.

Some 12-hours later (after a Trike-Bus-Ro-Ro-Bus ride) we hit Marinduque. I was lucky that I was able to doze on the Bus and actually slept for the 3-hours on the Ro-Ro. As it was only about a third full, Guy and I had a hard plastic bench seat each to lie on. Guy got a bit of sleep on the Ro-Ro as well. The Ro-Ro crossing was a little rough so very glad I was able to sleep through it and not suffer from seasickness.

Friday 27th January:

At 3:15am we were welcomed home to the island by a brownout. The bus dropped us off at the cottage at 4:00am in the dark. I was wide-awake but Guy was rather tired so she hit the hay.

At 5:00am the power came on as I was enjoying a cup of tea. So I got the fridge and water pump going and made sure they were all okay after being switched off for a month. At 5:15am I hit the sack as well.

Round 10:00am ish I got up and started to unpack all our goodies. After uncovering the Thunder Monster and rolling her outside, I attempted to fire her up. Took a bit of doing as she suffered from a lack of fuel problem that I have had before. Finally got her going but she is a bit rough at the moment. Will drop in to the mechanic tomorrow in Gasan and see what he can do.

Midday we cruised into the market and restocked up on supplies. The afternoon we spent chilling and sorting out the last of the stuff from Manila.

Brownout from 3:00pm to 3:45pm to welcome us back, again.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 709 of retirement

January 23, 2012

To view the photo descriptions please click on the “Permalink” at the bottom right hand corner of the pic in the slide show.

Hi All

Monday 16th January:

We all slept in this morning as were up till 2:00am last night playing cards.

After showers we headed to the Swiss café once again for a very nice brunch.

As the weather was a little stormy the kids decided on an afternoon in watching movies. Guy and I headed to the Fish Foot Spa. You sit with your feet in a fish tank and all these little fish nip at your feet cleaning them of dead skin.

It feels like a thousand needles finely pricking your feet. Not good if you are ticklish (As Guy is). But man do your feet feel great after.

We called into the grocery store on the way back for a few supplies and relaxed for the remainder of the afternoon with a nice cup of tea.

At dusk we wandered down to Shakey’s on the beach for dinner. A nice walk up the beach admiring all the lights followed. A quick duck into DMall where the kids got some souvenirs for their friends back home and back to the resort for a few nightcaps.

Tuesday 17th January:

We had an early night last night. In bed at 12:30am.

Usual brunch at the Swiss Café at midday. Omelets and Pancit all round.

After lunch the girls wandered off to the DMall to get souvenir tee shirts for the relatives and friends, Jordan just chilled in the room and I went for a walk to the southern end of the beach.

I came across the extreme in resort contrasts. There is this really swish bungalow style resort up on the cliff tops with access to a quiet beach below and next to it is a large failed resort complex consisting of three multi story buildings that are derelict (they are stripped out of any valuable stuff) and being consumed by the jungle and spiders.

I wandered round the derelict buildings for a while and took some great pics. We all meet back at our resort at 3:30pm ish and relaxed ready to face the evening’s activities.

Cards were played while watching “Gene Simons” on cable while I had a bit of a late siesta. At 11:00pm everybody was feeling the late nights so off to bed we all went.

Wednesday 18th January:

Jo woke up this morning with a very nice head cold. So we got take away breakfast for her and Jordan while guy and I paid our last visit to the Swiss Café for the best omelets ever.

Early afternoon we found some Vicks Vapor Rub and along with some hot water, a shower scoop and a towel we made up an inhaler / humidifier for Jo.

Guy took Jordan to the Henna tattoo place up by DMall so he could get his very specific tattoos done. On his arrival back the three of us headed off for dinner as Jo just wanted to stay in the room.

After dinner we got Jo some noodles and garlic bread and delivered it to her. Guy and I then went for a long walk up the beach to the northern end and back. We stopped and listened to s few bands on the way back. We arrived back in the room at midnight. Quick check on the kids, showered and off to bed as we leave Boracay in the morning.

Thursday 19th January:

Up at 7:00am, packed and we were met by our guide at 8:30am who is organizing our transport off the island of Boracay to the Kalibo airport. So after a small Jeepney ride, Bangka crossing and bus trip we arrived at Kalibo at 11:00am.

Our flight had been brought forward from 3:05pm to 1:50pm. But due to various delays we actually didn’t leave till 2:30pm anyway.

Made it to Manila airport (it is a 45-minute flight) and were stuck on the taxiway for 10 minutes while we waited for a gate to be made available. Then into a cab and off to our apartment at Greenhills once again.

We arrived here at 5:00pm and dropped all our gear and off to the supermarket for some supplies for the next few days. Then back to our favorite Thai restaurant The BananaLeaf for a very yummy dinner.

The DVD street sellers now know us on sight due to all the DVD’s the kids have bought (over 100). So after some looking and bartering I bought Top Gear seasons 15, 16 & 17 and a couple of movies. The kids got some more series as well.

I fell asleep while the rest of the crew watched DVD’s to conclude another busy day.

Friday 20th January:

Sleep in this morning with us hitting the food court in the mall for lunch. Then it was shopping day for the kids. They had their cash and their lists of what they wanted and off they went. I meet them on and off during the day as I had a few things that we wanted as well. A successful day all round with the kids finding some bargains so were able to get more than they thought. Needless to say the cash was expended by the day’s end.

I needed my glasses fixed as one of the nose guides had broken off. Found a very friendly Optometrist who replaced both nose guides on my glasses and cleaned them (didn’t realize how dirty they had become) as I waited and only charged me P85 ($2.00 AUS). Bargain.

Dinner was at the Peri Peri restaurant, which is a Mexican grill. Very very nice food all round once again. I finished off the evening with the best Chai Latte from the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf House.

On the way back home we hit the DVD sellers on the street once again. The kids got a few more DVDs and I got seasons 1 to 6 of LOST. Still need to get season 7.

We then all sat up watching “Cage Fighting” till 2:00am. Don’t ask me why cage fighting, we just did……

Saturday 21st January:

Off to the other side of the city to visit Aura (Guy’s best friend from school), Philip (her hubby) and some of her old batch mates. An hour in a cab and we finally arrived.

Aura and Philip have built a new 3-story house with a lawn on the second floor balcony and the roof. It helps a lot in keeping the rooms cool from the blazing sun. On the second floor they have a large curved window that protrudes onto the balcony off the master bedroom.

Lots of great food was consumed and in the afternoon the karaoke and dancing emerged. And no I didn’t sing. We did manage to get some Wi-Fi as the kids wanted to see the availability of Katy Perry tickets as she is playing here at the Mall of Asia tomorrow (Sunday) night.

It showed some good tickets were still available but we weren’t able to purchase them online, as you need an account with Ticketworld. But they have offices everywhere and the most convenient for us was back in town at the National Book store in Makati (On our way home).

So at 5:00pm we caught a cab to Makati and the kids got their tickets for tomorrow night. They are rather pleased with themselves at getting some good tickets.

Back to the apartment and Papa John’s pizza for dinner. Jordan proceeded see how many of the bottomless iced teas he could consume. He peeked at 7.5 glasses.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 702 of retirement

January 15, 2012

To view the photo descriptions please click on the “Permalink” at the bottom right hand corner of the pic in the slide show.

Hi All

Tuesday 10th January:

Up and off to Guy’s Mum’s for lunch. She has made a batch of the best pork Sinigang for the kids as they love it. After lunch we all hopped into Beth’s van and headed across town with Albert (Beth’s husband) driving (Beth was working) to visit Jo’s biological parents and her other brothers and sisters.

You see Jo was adopted at birth by Guy and Brian (deceased husband) so Guy is her mum. But she stays connected with her biological family.

Spent the afternoon there and back to Guy’s Mum’s. On dark the fire works were broken out. These were some leftovers from New Year’s eve that Beth had kept for Jo and Jordan. So we let off skyrockets and super jumping jacks (lots of crackers in a row all tied together).

Back to Greenhills and the Bananaleaf for a light dinner. Got a few more DVD’s from the street venders who now know us, and even what we have bought and still want.

Wednesday 11th January:

Up and packed ready to head to the airport for our Zest flight to Boracay. We left a suitcase and bag in the apartment as we are returning in 9-days and nobody else is staying there.

Zest only allow 10kgs per person and Jo is not known as a “light” traveler. But we did manage to come in with some kgs to spare for the Boracay souvenirs on the return trip.

We left for the airport at 9:00am for our 12:10pm flight. Made it in plenty of time only to be stuck on the taxiway for 30 minutes as we were delayed due to lots of traffic.

Arrived at Kalibo 45 minutes later followed by a 2-hour coach ride, a 15 minute Bangka crossing and finally a small Jeepney to our hotel “The Bamboo Resort”. An okay place in a good location on the beach.

As we had missed lunch we dropped our bags and went a wandering to find a place to eat. We finished back at the Swiss Café (went there last year) for burgers, fries, and Pancit. Very nice indeed.

A bit of a wander up the beach boardwalk and back for an early night as we all were a bit bushed.

Thursday 12th January:

Up just in time for the 10:00am breakfast deadline. A nice leisurely stroll up to the DMall and back followed. Latish lunch after which the girls went and had a manicure / pedicure while the boys had a siesta.

The evening was concluded with a Poker tournament, which was won by Jordan followed by a game of Hearts, which Jordan lost.

Friday 13th January:

After breakfast the kids watched a movie while Guy and I went for a swim and relaxed on the padded banana lounges. I indulged in a 30-minute neck, back, leg and foot massage which was very nice indeed. Especially having my toes massaged.

For lunch, we walked back to DMall and this little Greek restaurant hidden away in the back streets. The food and service was outstanding and we will definitely be back.

The highlight was desert where we had a “Flaming Mango”. You take a fresh mango and take the skin off. You bake it in a caramel sauce till it is ready to melt off the seed. Then serve it on a sizzling hot plate while flaming (on fire) to the table and eat with pistachio / honey and vanilla ice cream. Yyuuummmmmmm ooohhh.

After lunch we got a few supplies and back to the room to rest up for the evenings activities. Boracay Rum had a special on for 700ml of coconut flavored rum (50 Proof) for P99 ($2.40 AUS). So a couple of Pineapple juices were added to go with the rum and it was consumed with the night’s card games.

Saturday 14th January:

The card game finished at 1:00am this morning but the kids (they have their own room) watched movies till 4:00am.

Guy and I were up at 10:30am and wandered down to the great little Swiss restaurant for a breakfast of really good mango pancakes. We eat here regularly as they have great food, great service and good Wi-Fi, so works for us.

The kids finally arrived at 12noon so brunch it was. After a leisurely brunch we had a wander along the beach and went to check out an ice cream café that sells different and interesting flavours, Jordan had avocado, I had halo-halo, Joanna had calamansi and Guy had jackfruit/cashew then walked slowly back to the rooms while enjoying our frozen delights. The kids and I went for a swim for a few hours as Guy relaxed and read.

After showers all round we walked down the beach to find a nice venue for dinner. We found this great place on the beach where the food was outstanding. The highlight was the banana truffle dessert. We shared one and it was so good we shared another one.

A bit of a wander after dinner to the grocery store for a few supplies and back to our rooms for another card night. Guy and the kids did a short midnight walk along the beach before bed.

Sunday 15th January:

Up mid morning and off to the Swiss café for brunch. The kids hit the beach (to get a tan….), Guy stretched out on the beach on a lounge to read and I went for a walk (5km ish all up) up to the northern end of the beach.

The northern end of the beach is the posh quiet end. Some very very nice resorts up there with prices to match. You know we are actually quite happy where we are. The Bamboo Beach Resort is more in our life style of living, simple.

We all meet up at 3:00pm at the resort and sorted out a load of washing and dropped it to the laundry lady. It will be ready tomorrow afternoon.

A stroll to DMall and monster burgers for dinner. Then back to another card night in the room.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Other Boracay Stuff:

The Bamboo Resort:

It is located in a great location in about the middle of White beach, boat station 2. It is one of the older resorts and it is, shall we say, a little “tired”.

The structure, especially the plumbing, has seen better days. They are in the process of renovating the resort ,so once that is completed and it is brought back up to modern standards it should be a very cool place. I think we arrived 6 months too early.

The rooms are large and clean and the aircon, TV and fridge work so suits us fine as we are out most of the time during the day.

Ooohhh and their Wi-Fi is crap so a big black mark from me.

The Beach:

It is interesting seeing Boracay some 12 months since we were here last. The white sandy beach has definitely receded and they are placing short bamboo sea walls to try and halt the loss. Some of the coconut trees on the edge of the beach have lost sand from around their roots exposing them. The walking track along the resort / shop fronts has lost sand as well as pipes and conduits once buried there are now exposed.

And the litter is starting to creep back as in cigarette butts (even though it is banned on the beach) and food wrappers. It is still pretty clean but you can see the bits of litter starting to show.

Boracay is still a beautiful place to visit and we highly recommend it.


Being the camera snob that I am, it is interesting seeing who is using what.

The Japanese tourists love their Sony NEX and to a lesser extent the Olympus EP cameras. I have seen heaps of them about.

The Korean tourists love their DSLRs and big lens. Nikon is slightly ahead of Canon.

The European’s also love their DSLRs with Canon slightly ahead here. They also seem to have most of the video cameras as well. You don’t see a lot of video cameras around here.

And then there are the usual Point and Shoot of every brand you can think of.

Haven’t seen any Leica’s or X100s though.

Day 697 of retirement

January 10, 2012

To view the descriptions please click on the “Permalink” at the bottom right hand corner of the pic in the slide show.

Hi All

Thursday 5th January:

Bit of a late one last night as we caught up on all the news from AUS. The kids were a bit wired from the plane trip over as well.

After cheese on toast for breakfast it was off to the supermarket for supplies for the kids. After depositing them in the apartment we headed back to the Bananaleaf for lunch once again. A very nice Thai selection was had by all.

A wander round the Greenhills Mall (more like an open air market indoors) for some essentials for Jordan.

A siesta followed and it was back to the mall, as the kids wanted some “ dr.dre” headphones for their iPods. They are all the rage back in AUS and of course the genuine fakes are very cheap here. The quality of them is actually very good. I even bought a set of earphones to replace my old Mac ones and the sound is pretty dam good.

On the way back the DVD sellers accosted us on the street corner. So some 60 odd DVD’s later ($1.33 Aus per DVD) we headed back to the apartment for a DVD night. The DVD sellers did a roaring business tonight from the kids (I bought four DVD’s).

Friday 6th January:

Sleep in this morning for us all. At 11:00am we caught a cab to visit Fort Santiago. Basically this is the original Manila area where the Muslim leader lived. The Philippines was originally Muslim influenced by Indonesia and Malaysia. The Spanish came along, moved them out and built a wall round the area. At one end of the compound they built a Fort, which was used by the Spanish and English in the early days then the Americans and Japanese during WWII.

We hired a guide who gave the history of the Fort and explained the layout. It was very interesting and even Guy learnt a few things about Filipino history. We wandered round the old compound area and had lunch in an old Spanish styled restaurant.

From there we made our way back to the SM Mega Mall just up the road from the apartment in Greenhill’s. The kids wandered off and Guy and I setup in a coffee shop and enjoyed some Wi-Fi with a Chai Latte. I had a bit of a wander as well.

A few supplies were purchased from the supermarket and home we went. A few more DVD’s were watched and off to bed.

Saturday 7th January:

Well it is now official. Guy and I are to become a Lola and a Lolo. (Lola = Grandmother & Lolo = Grandfather). Guy’s daughter Jo and her fiancé Dave are expecting a baby later this year.

Today we caught up with her grandmother and all the aunties, uncles and cousins and told them all. We all meet at the cemetery where Guy’s dad is buried and had a lovely picnic round the grave site (which is a common thing to do here).

Back to the apartment late afternoon for a siesta and a little more evening wandering and shopping round Greenhill’s Mall.

Sunday 8th January:

Bit of a sleep in this morning, as we weren’t up and about till 12:00 noon. As it was a drizzly day we caught a cab to the ANNEX / EDSA Malls for some wandering. These are two malls that are next to each other and our favorite malls as they are the closest ones to Guy’s sister’s / mum’s places.

After lunch at “Kangaroo Jacks” (yes it is an aussie themed restaurant) we setup in Starbucks and the kids wandered off. Later in the afternoon Guy and I joined them as we made our way through the masses to the taxi rank.

After a bit of a wait we headed back to the apartment. A quick wander to the food court across the road and dinner was sorted.

Monday 9th January:

Rest day today. Off to Shakey’s for lunch and wandered back through the markets. The kids got a few goodies and we bought some Poker chips for cards to night.

A Chai Latte finished off the afternoon nicely and a few more DVD’s were watched as well.

I finished my 1st book of 2012 “Thunder Point” by Jack Higgins. Not a bad read.

The night concluded with a marathon Poker game which Guy finally won (took all our chips).

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

Day 691 of retirement

January 4, 2012

Hi All

Thursday 29th December:

Our masseuse Ailyn arrived at 9:00am and it was Guy’s turn today.

I headed for Boac and some Wi-Fi at 10:00am. I tried Goodchow first but it was slow so packed up and went to The Boac Hotel and all good. Got the blog posted and emails tidied up.

I caught up with John (Pom) in Goodchow and gave him his USB stick back with the processed pics of his Labrador puppies that I took yesterday. They turned out pretty good if I may say so myself.

Guy made her way to Mahjong at midday as I headed back to Gasan. I was going to have lunch in Boac but it was packed with people so came back to Barbarossa in Gasan. Had a burger with fries and they were very nice indeed.

Geoff (Pom) was there so had a chat to him.

Home after 1:00pm for a siesta and a cool shower as the weather has cleared and the sun & humidity is creeping back.

Friday 30th December:

Cherry here for our washing and cleaning day.

At 9:00am I rode up to see Gerald for a cup of tea and a chat and to swap over my MacBook backup drives. I have 2 x 1GB USB drives. One is used for my daily Time Machine backups and the other is stored at Gerald’s (Off site backup). I swap them round each week to keep them current.

After lunch we headed for Boac and The Boac Hotel for some Wi-Fi. Guy’s turn to sort out her email. We also managed to Skype Jo (Guy’s daughter) for a chat. She and Jordan will be here in the Philippines on the 4th January so only 5-days to go.

I tried the ATM in Boac but it was out of order. The ATM back in Gasan was working so go cashed up as we leave for Manila on Monday morning.

Sad news when we returned to the cottage. Nato (one of Yolanda’s workers) was working here at the cottage when he received a call that his baby girl (less than a year old) had just died. She was born prematurely and was quite sick at the time and sadly she never recovered. Nato’s other children are twin teenage boys and a daughter.

Yolanda gave Nato the wood to make the coffin and we contributed for the funeral costs. Makes you realize how lucky we are in the west with medical care when having our children and they become ill.

Saturday 31st December:

The Thunder Monster got a very thorough wash and wax this morning as she will be tucked away in the cottage for the next four weeks while we are away.

After lunch Guy was off to Mahjong and I did a quick run into Gasan to fuel up the Thunder Monster for her rest.

I spent the afternoon with a bit of a siesta then tidied up round the cottage and burnt up all the rubbish which got me very hot and a ball of sweat. A nice cold shower fixed that.

And just to see us out in 2011 we had a brownout at 5:30pm. Luckily it came back on at 6:15pm.

We made it to midnight, saw in 2012 and off to bed.

Sunday 1st January 2012:

Bit of a sleep-in followed by a leisurely morning. At midday Guy and I caught a Trike into town for her Mahjong and my expat gathering.

I walked home just after 3:00pm and proceeded to sort the stuff we are taking away with us tomorrow. We have a 6:00am pickup by Ron to take us to Balanacan Port in the morning so packed up tonight.

Monday 2nd January 2012:

Up at 5:00am, final pack and down to the road where Ron picked us up at 6:00am. At 7:00am we arrived at Balanacan Port to be greeted by a 200m line of people trying to get into the port (they had shut the gates) and onto the Ro-Ro. The Ro-Ro was also fully packed at this stage so it looked like we could be there all day waiting to get on a boat.

So Guy went off looking and found a “fixer” who was selling JAC Liner Bus tickets (the bus we needed in Lucena) and also said he could get us on the boat if we bought all the tickets off him. So we handed him the cash and off he went. I had thoughts of never seeing him again.

But 10 minutes later, back he came with the bus and Ro-Ro tickets and ushered us to the Port gates (Guy gave him a little “tip” for all his service). We showed our tickets and made it to the Ro-Ro with 10 minutes to spare before it left on time. The Ro-Ro was standing room only and we both had flashes of the news headlines “Over crowded Ro-Ro sinks in the Philippines”. But all was good and we made it to Lucena.

With all these people disembarking off the Ro-Ro it was like a stampede of Wildebeasts as everybody rushed to get a seat on their respective buses. Guy and I joined the stampede and got a seat on our JAC Liner bus to Manila.

At 3:30pm (some 9.5-hours after leaving home) we arrived at Beth’s (Guy’s sister) house, which is next to her mom’s. A nice cup of tea was enjoyed followed by a little siesta by Guy. I caught on Wi-Fi stuff as they have good Wi-Fi here.

Guy and I had a good Skype chat to my sister Lyn back in WA in AUS. She has just had a hip replacement and is up and about with no more pain so she is loving it.

Guy’s mum cooked us a very yummy dinner.

Tuesday 3rd January 2012:

Off to the Mall after a bit of a sleep in. I had a few things I needed so we went shopping. I finished up buying some Merrell Waterpro Manistee shoes and a North Face Enduro 30 day pack.

The shoes are well ventilated (let the water and sweat out) with a good grippy but soft ish sole. My old Brooks trail runners (a running shoe with an off road sole) are dying so time to replace them with a more ventilated shoe for here in the tropics.

The pack is nice and light and can accommodate a bladder. It is slightly bigger than the Mountain Designs “Outrace” that I currently use. The Outrace has lasted 2 years with everyday use and been sown up once already but the main zipper is about to die. Can’t get Mountain Designs stuff over here but very impressed with the Enduro 30.

Also picked up some Speedo (Yep it is an aussie Speedo store) shorts which works well here in the heat and humidity. I have a pair from AUS that I love but have worn out.

Guy found a small block of Coon Extra Tasty cheese so cheese and crackers tonight.

We both had a Chai Latte (first in several months) and Guy finished the day with her favorite, a Zagu.

I used my credit card for the first time in 6 months and it did feel a little weird. I almost forgot my pin. Ooohhh well back into hibernation for another 6 months.

Back home at 5:30pm rather tired.

Wednesday 4th January:

After a bit of a sleep in we headed to get Guy’s TAG watch serviced. We discovered that the TAG service centre is only a 15 minute taxi ride away from Guy’s sister place. We found the place and after an inspection they will replace all the seals, clean the band, replace the battery and pressure test all for P1,250 ($27 AUS). The last time Guy had this done back in AUS it was $125 so very happy with that.

We caught a cab back to Guy’s sister’s house and asked the driver to wait for us as we grabbed our bags and made our way to Greenhills where we have rented an apartment from a friend of Guy’s. We stayed here last January when the kids were here.

It is across the road from Greenhills Mall and pretty central to the city and surrounds. This will be our base till we leave for Boracay next week. After our 9-day stay in Boracay we will be back here for the remainder of the kids’ visit when they leave on the 24th January.

Once settled in, we had lunch at the Bananaleaf restaurant across the road. It is our all time favorite Thai food place in Manila. Then off shopping for some goodies at a real supermarket. We found some aussie cheese with some real bread so I had a toast cheese sandwich for afternoon tea and man it was good.

Ooohhhhh and the apartment has hot water. Our first hot shower in 10-months and man that was good. Not that you need hot water here…..

At 6:00pm we caught a cab to the International Airport Terminal and meet the kids (Jordan & Jo) on their arrival at 9:15pm. Guy organized her Police Chief friend Ed to meet them as they disembarked and escorted them through immigration and customs.

Great to see the kids again and it was a late ish night as we caught up on the news from home.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy