It has been a while…
Welcome to the Bibs & Gigs Abroad section. If you know me personally or if you just read my blog, surely the point is crystal clear: I’m a passionate eater and a music lover! On top of that I also love to put my ass on airplanes directed to random places around the globe (who doesn’t?!).
My lovely Mamma always told me: “Whatever you do in life make sure you’ll find the time to travel as much as you can”.. God she was right! Being abroad certainly stimulates a lot of incredible feelings. And with going abroad I’m not referring to the All-Inclusive holiday in Sharm El Sheik, with bacon and eggs for breakfast, zero life outside the resort and a pile of shitty pictures of paper cocktails umbrellas or selfies in the swimming pool with your drunk ‘orange skin’ tanned mates.
I’m talking about unbelievable adventures like couchsurfing in Argentina, trekking in Patagonia, having a laugh with the amazing Filipino kids, almost getting arrested in Bangkok, eating a simple but delicious Pho soup from a dirty food stand in the streets of Hanoi, getting naked on the Machu Picchu, paying 20 bucks for a bungee jump in Ecuador.. Making friends from all over the world, being homesick and once you’re back start immediately with arranging the next backpacking mission, because these days abroad were probably the best you’ve had in your entire life.
In 4 simple words: Bibs and Gigs Abroad! Well, more or less…
And what a great country to start with: Philippines!
More than 7000 islands, great sandy beaches, really good food, smiley and friendly people, cheap and always cold San Miguel beers (the Spanish influence is still strong from the booze point of view), tarsiers, whale sharks, bangkas & jeepneys etc.. Philippines is the place to be if you are in a desperate need to unplug completely from the Western world.
I reckon that a good part of its beauty comes from the fact that it’s still a destination off the beaten track, with very few party goers and Gringos.. Apart from Boracay, that we obviously skipped.
Rather than trying to be the new Lonely Planet website, and tell you where to go, what to do and how to do it, I’ll be making a short list of our destinations, with some basic info and some pictures.
Here we go..
Palawan Island: Super clean Puerto Princesa (if you get caught littering you’ll be in deep s**t!), with its classy restaurants and the well-known Underground River and Honda Bay, was the starting point of a really relaxing week.
From there we moved up to an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G resort called Qi Palawan, situated between a pristine beach and a virgin forest, in an undiscovered and unexploited part of North-eastern Palawan.
It was a bit sad leaving Qi but luckily the stunning sunsets of El Nido (our next destination) that followed were the perfect cure for the nostalgic blues, and a strong signal that there’s surely a lot more to come to our trip.
Cebu Island rhymes with Lechon, whale sharks, bumpy bus journeys, Malapascua and Bantayan, good weather, good beaches, good times. Despite being the second most populous Metropolitan area in the Philippines after Metro Manila, Cebu City got a complete different vibe from the messy capital. Walking around is safer, most of the buildings don’t look like they may fall over your head at any point, people are friendlier and you won’t feel like you’ve just eaten a piece of cat after buying some food from a street vendor.
Oslob, a little village 2 hours south of Cebu, is the place to go if you feel brave enough to swim with giant whale sharks. Even if these dudes are completely harmless to humans I can honestly tell you that I was pretty fucking scared at the beginning, especially when one of them swam under our little bangka; once in the water though the fright disappeared completely and the all experience turned in one of the best I’ve ever had in my life!
Malapascua and its super kind inhabitants (I need to mention Mike from Mike&Diose, who made our stay there incredible, even if the weather was a bit rubbish) and Bantayan, with its crystal water and the super talented basketball playing kids were our last stops in Cebu Island.
Bohol and Panglao were in my opinion the best part of the all trip. I absolutely loved the Chocolate Hills, even if we got lost and stuck in the mud with the scooter on the way there, seeing the tarsiers was pretty cool, and chilling by the lovely Alona beach was not as boring as I expected it to be. I eventually got a little tanned even if I spent most of the time sleeping on a hammock in the shade.
Manila was the last stop before flying back to London and apart from the Walled City (aka Intramuros), the Mall Of Asia and some good Chinese restaurants (Dong Bei in particular – See pictures below) there’s not a great deal to explore over there, especially when there are much better places.
If you are planning to go to the Philippines and you need some advice, the first one I’m giving you is: Do not hesitate! Just book your ticket and GO! If you need more help please feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to help.
Filipino Bibs: Prior to this trip when I read that the Filipino word for “Hello” is “Have you eaten?” I almost came in my pants! These guys knows a lot of stuff in terms of food.
There’s a huge variety of fish and it’s always fresh, Lechon (roasted sucking pig) is taken seriously over in Cebu, their Sinigang soups/stews are sensational, Pancit Noodles are always coming in huge portions and proper Italian pizzas and Chinese dumplings can be easily found, especially in the big cities but even off the beaten track.
Which one of the following would you eat right now? If you’re thinking about the 7/11 toasty then you’re definitely reading the wrong blog.