Nemo: found.

The final few days of this wonderful, tropical break before the onslaught of an arctic Seoul winter have been in some ways fraught with typical travelling misadventures, but in most ways glorious. From Bohol to Boracay, we were to traverse at least half way across the central Visayas islands by buses and ferries (my choice) rather than taking the hour long flight (Wonderboy’s choice) in order to spend a few days lounging on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

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It’s better in Bohol!

I was duly forewarned by a friend who had visited the Philippines that it would be possible to spend a month here and still not have seen and done everything you’d want to. On a two-week holiday, tough choices have to be made: Cebu or Bohol? Whale sharks or tarsiers? Snorkelling or ferrying?

snoozy baby beastie

snoozy baby beastie

Having read discouraging reports of the way the whale sharks are currently treated in Oslob in the south of Cebu, and being unable to plan in a trip to Palawan, where things are apparently less disruptive to the natural environment and the whale sharks themselves, we opted for Bohol, tarsiers, and ferries. Teeny, tiny tarsiers have been high on my list of things to see for a while anyway, so this seemed an excellent option.

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If a thing’s worth doing…

it’s worth doing by bike.

On my second day in Manila I decided, as is my wont, to take a guided tour of one of the main sites: Intramuros, the remains of the Spanish colonial Philippines (or Felipines, after Spanish King Felipe II, anglicised to Philip during the American colonial era) and the heart of modern Manila.

An abandoned Japanese cannon from WW2

An abandoned Japanese cannon from WW2

The old customs house - vast fortunes mined from the American colonies passed through here.

The old customs house – vast fortunes mined from the American colonies passed through here.

Monument to national hero, renaissance man Jose Rizal.

Monument to national hero, renaissance man Jose Rizal.

As a poor backpacker, I have previously avoided tours unless they were either free, very cheap, or really essential for any understanding of what I was looking at. I also hate the idea of being on a prescribed schedule and being shown stuff other people have decided is interesting. However, in recent (and more affluent) years, I have relaxed into the joy of discovering small stories I would never have known about without the expert knowledge of a local guide, and so on each big holiday I’ll generally look something up for an area of interest to me.

This was my second bicycle tour this year, and so I’m going to focus today not particularly on what I learned about the Intramuros area of Manila, but on what I learned about booking tours – particularly on bikes. More

Feathered friends

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