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Day 1 of the walk photos are in this blog. Day 2 photos will be posted next week.
Saturday 17th March:
Sleep in this morning after a busy week. At 11:00am I was off to see Berthold and picked up the USB with the Two and a Half Men season on it.
Then hit the market for a few last minute food supplies for the across the island walk starting on Monday. I arrive home just on midday and Guy had already left for the office (Mahjong).
After lunch I went to the new Internet Café across the road from the Gasan market. We finally got my MacBook connected to their Wi-Fi network after a few anxious moments and it was pretty good, Not the fastest Wi-Fi but right up there and very stable considering that every PC in the café was being utilized by the local kids.
I got the blog posted and emails done and then we had a brownout so that finished that. Brownout was from 2:30pm to 4:00pm (1.5-hours).
I also need to remember that the best time to go there is during school hours when hardly anybody is there. It was packed today so I sat outside which was okay.
Sunday 18th March:
Awoke to a brownout but it came back on at 9:00am.
The Thunder Monster got a wipe over today, as she hasn’t been out in any rainy weather this week.
At 11:00am I headed into my new Wi-Fi shop opposite the Gasan market. The boss wasn’t there today (in church all day) and the guy who was minding the shop didn’t know the password. So no Wi-Fi today. Oohhh well.
I made my way to Barbarossa for the expat gathering. We had quite a crowd today with 12 expats turning up.
John the aussie from Darwin is back and has moved into his new two story house (for a few weeks). He’s the guy that was here when we were having the 8-hours on 8-hours off with the electricity and couldn’t handle it so went back to AUS.
He and his wife are going to now divide their time between here and Darwin as he is still working at the moment.
He seems a bit afraid of retiring (he’s 66) as he doesn’t know what he will do and will get bored. Had a chat to him how getting bored is the last thing on my mind with the retirement thing.
Guy was off to Mahjong at midday.
Monday 19th March:
Today is the day we start our across the island walk. Ron (The Yank) picked me up at 6:00am with Gerald and Ferdinand (our local fixer) soon after. We then made our way over the mountains to Tigwi on the east coast and the starting point. We dipped our feet into the water at the beach and off we headed for Tambunan at 7:00am.
The first 8km was along the main island road so pretty uneventful. The last 7km into Tambunan was along the “fire trail” which has had some maintenance work done on it since our last time up there. A pleasant walk back into the mountains as Tambunan is the highest point of the walk. All downhill from here, figurative speaking of course.
At 11:30am we arrived in Tambunan where R2D2 (our guides’ nickname whose real name sounded like R2D2) meet us (along with the school kids) and showed us to the Barangay Hall where we would be camping for the night. Tambunan is a small community of some 130 families who are all spread out along a valley and the ridge top.
We signed the visitor’s book and it was noted that we are the first westerners to sign their book. They also brought us some soup for lunch, which had all “sorts” of stuff in. It was actually very nice.
Gerald had also carried up some Pasalubong (a gift) of dried fish for R2D2 and his wife as a thank you for all their help. Fish is a rare commodity back in the remote mountain communities.
After lunch we walked to the top of the hill so we could get mobile reception and sent the first of our messages to the Police in Boac letting them know where we were.
The arrangement we had with the Police was that we would text them our GPS coordinates whenever we could so they know where we were just in case anything happened.
At 4:00pm we made our way to R2D2’s house to see him but he was out working in the hills. At this stage it was raining steadily so we made our way back to the Barangay Hall for dinner.
We cooked up out noodles and rice with hot drinks on my “converted” stove and it worked a treat. The locals rigged up a light for us as the Barangay Hall had no power so we were set. We also topped up our water supplies with local water that I then purified 1L at a time with a “SteriPen Adventure” electronic purifier.
At dinner I noticed that Ferdinand (our local fixer) had a “Drizabone” hat from Australia. He said that when he got it, it was all “oily” and it took him lots of washes and scrubbing to get all the oil out of the hat. The “oil” on the hat is actually what makes it water proof as is part of the hat. Little did he know he was destroying the hat.
By 7:30pm I was in bed which consisted of a silk sleeping bag liner spread out on a piece of cardboard on the concrete floor. There were no mosquitoes and it wasn’t cold, so apart from the hard floor, it wasn’t too bad.
Tuesday 20th March:
Up at 4:30am after spending the night sleeping on the concrete floor with my cardboard mattress. I did actually manage to get some sleep so didn’t feel too bad. The rain had stopped overnight and the skies were still cloudy so a great day for hiking.
We made a brew on the stove for breakfast and we were all packed up and ready to go at 6:00am. At 6:20am our guide (R2D2) still wasn’t around, so one of his offsiders volunteered to guide us. and we headed off.
On the way out of town one of the local older ladies gave us a bag of boiled peanuts. She had heard we were in town and waited on the trail for us to come along so she could give us the peanuts. It was humbling as this old lady shared some of her meager food supply with us.
About 20 minutes later, R2D2 turned up and caught up to us with his wife and the other guy left us to it.
Here we were with our high tec hiking gear (boots, packs and walking poles) and these two were in Crocs and with a shoulder bag and they ran rings around us.
The first 9km (3-hours hiking) was through the wilderness. We were taken half way up the side of a mountain, along the side and then we dropped back down to the Boac River.
This involved sliding up, down and across slippery mountainsides, walking up, down and across creeks through water, mud and slippery stones. In the muddy slippery bits, Ferdinand would go bare foot and he was slipping round a lot less than we were.
We got to see some “old” jungle and some magnificent big old trees all covered in Orchids. Very spectacular.
Once we hit the Boac River we came to the settlement of Bio. This is where we left R2D2 and his wife (and paid them their guiding fee of P500 ($12.00 AUS), as we now only had to follow the large Boac River all the way to Boac (some 22km away).
Along the river we followed an old “wagon” trail, which traversed the river many times so the wet feet continued. It was a very pleasant walk along the river as the cloudy skies continued, so not too hot.
Once we got mobile reception we text our coordinates to the Police to let them know where we were. They were impressed with our fast progress.
We were going to spend the night about 13km from the finish and complete the walk tomorrow. But as were making such good time we decided to go for it and complete the walk today.
So with no more water crossings (in the last 13km) and a good road we hightailed it to the coast arriving at 4:20pm some 10-hours and 50km after leaving Tambunan. And man was it good to finally arrive at the other side of the island. We dipped our feet into the ocean and the walk across the island was completed.
From here we caught a Trike back into Boac (3km away) and crawled into a Jeepney for our trip home. We were a bit smelly but at this point in time we really didn’t care. We were on the way home.
I arrived back home at 5:30pm and the first stop was a shower and boy it was good. The second stop was a hot cup of tea so now my life was complete. I was pretty stiff and sore as I crawled into our very comfortable bed that night and Guy provided me with some tender loving care.
Wednesday 22nd March:
Feeling much better this morning and apart form some tiredness and a little stiffness, I’m ready to go.
We did a market run in the morning for some supplies and Guy cooked up some very nice Pork spare ribs with rice and Mongo (a legume) to satisfy my hunger pains after burning up some 7,000 calories over the last two days.
An afternoon siesta was then the order of the day. After the siesta I got a little energetic and did the rubbish burn up and unpacked, sorted and cleaned my gear from the walk.
It was a very quiet day today and we loved it.
Thursday 22nd March:
The rain started in the early hours of the morning and it rained steadily till 1:00pm ish. Cooled things down and watered the garden very nicely.
Ailyn turned up at 9:15am for my two-hour massage. And boy was it good. The best part was having my tired feet massaged.
At midday Guy and I headed into town on the Jeepney as it was still raining. After a couple of stops we parted as she made her way to Mahjong and I to Wi-Fi in the new internet café opposite the market in Gasan.
Spent a couple of hours catching up on stuff as the Wi-Fi was quick and stable. I left at 2:30pm and as I was on my way to catch up with Guy at the Mahjong house, Ron pulled up and offered me a ride home. Quick stop to retrieve the groceries from Guy and he dropped me at the cottage. I’m still feeling a little tired so Ron’s lift was greatly appreciated.
Friday 23rd March:
Bit of a sleep in before I headed to Gerald’s at 8:00am for a review of the walk across the island. I had plotted the GPS coordinates of the wilderness section so it was interesting to see where we went.
Midmorning off to the market for all the ingredients for a big pot of Sinigang that Guy cooked up.
After lunch it was off to the Wi-Fi café in Gasan. Guy used one of their PCs and I connected via Wi-Fi so we got lots done (no fighting over the laptop….). I had a minor update for the MacBook and had to update Skype to the latest version.
We then Skyped Jo (Guy’s daughter) and Dave (partner) and had a good chat to them about the impending grandchild and our visit to Australia at the end of the year.
I finished reading my 11th book of the year “Under The Banner of Heaven” by John Krakauer (Kindle Book). A very interesting read about the Mormons.
Saturday 24th March:
A leisurely morning was had by all. At midday we headed over to Gerald and Juliet’s place for lunch. Wayne (Aussie) and Grace were also invited but they had to cancel as Wayne has the flu.
Gerald has been telling me how he makes a great curry so he was out to prove it to us. When in Manila recently he procured all the herbs and spices for his secret curry recipe. Well the curry was pretty dam good, no, outstanding I must say.
After the leisurely lunch we made our way back home (with a doggie bag) for a little siesta and savor the yummy lunch.
And we had a little brownout from 8:30pm till 9:30pm.
I finished reading my 12th book of the year “Factoring Humanity” by Robert Sawyer (Kindle Book). This is a great read about family tragedy, quantum mechanics and alien messages.
Life is good.
Trevor & Guy
Across The Island Walk Summary:
It was a tough walk even though the weather was very good to us. It was cloudy and not too humid on both days. The rain in the afternoon of day one cooled things down a bit as well. Luckily we had arrived in Tambunan before the rain started.
Up in the mountains it is also cooler than down on the coast so that helped as well.
We traveled with 12kg ish in 40L packs. Half of that being water (I carried 4L) and food as we were allowing for 3-days worth of supplies.
I took lots of GPS waypoint readings in the wilderness hoping that we might be able to do the walk again without a guide. But it isn’t going to happen. The GPS was all over the place in the valleys and thick jungle canopy.
We would be walking along a small creek and the guide would suddenly veer onto a little track that we couldn’t see.
And up on the mountainside there are animal and local paths that go every which way. So a guide is definitely required for the 9km wilderness section. The rest of the walk was fine, navigation wise.
On day one, I burnt up 1,943 calories (stats courtesy of my Polar S625X Heart Rate monitor) over 15km and 3.5-hours hiking.
On day two, I burnt 5,142 calories over 35km and 10-hours hiking.
I wore my Waterpro Manistee (Boulder) shoes the whole way. They worked perfectly with all the water crossings, wet feet and muddy tracks as they are well drained with mesh sides. I highly recommend them for water / wet feet hiking.
Gerald and I also had one trekking pole each and they worked a treat in the slippery creeks, fording the river and in muddy sections. Made life much easier.
I must say that all the mountain people we meet along the way were very very friendly and helpful. We had heard that they were “suspicious of visitors” but we never encountered that at all. We have been invited back by the people of Tambunan. As it looks like that there are some great remote hiking back up there, so we shall return.
Apparently there is a way from Tambunan back over the mountains to Bagtinjon, a village just down the road from us towards Buenavista. This walk definitely requires further investigation.
As for Li-Lo-ing down the Boac River, definite possibilities exist there.