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Groovespook


53 Blog Entries
3 Trips
66 Photos

Trips:

Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
Nuttter's S.E. Asian Escapade
Australia Family Madness 2014

Shorthand link:

http://blogabond.com/Groovespook




Coominya.

Coominya, Australia


I really do not know where to start now that the vacation has actually started.

Just catching up with the family is beyond awesome and capturing the emotion and the togetherness that just instantly spills out between us all is just too much to describe.

The interactions between Quinn and Grandma and Granddad and the family are just gorgeous to witness and the idiosyncrasies between them a dream to be a part of.

Quinn is at that magical age where he is picking up more words every day, chatty and grappling with pronunciations which, in Australia, is a hoot. “Gidday Maaate” he has down. Love it.

But where we are, Coominya, is also a slice of Australia you cannot buy in any package tour. The landscape is parched from a long lack of decent rain which seems to only keep the termites happy. Dotted throughout the gum tree tainted scrub are great mounds of glued dirt, as firm as a concrete slab and as big as (and often mistaken for) kangaroos.

My parents, Sarah and Sharon live in a sweet house on 10 acres of bushland. Compartmentalized into about eight or so fenced off areas with varying degrees of sheds and aviaries and kennels and ponds with (draws a deep breath) 9 puppies, something like 7 fully grown German shepherds, I can’t count the amount of beautifully colored birds of varying species, a couple of lizards, frogs, and, oh yeah, the poultry.

The poultry. A never-ending clucking and cooing brood of 20chickens, 4 ducks (actually 5 but the fifth is convinced it is one of the 20 chickens and lives almost permanently in a roost with the chickens laying eggs, oblivious to the other little cluckers), and 4 (I think, they move fast) guinea fowl.

I nearly forgot the 2 guinea pigs (not related to the guinea fowl). And yesterday, inconspicuously and allegedly based on a threat of rain, 7,000 ants in the kitchen. Though they did not last long. ;-) As I type this, Ella is oozing out of the stereo as mum and dad punch their iPads and chat about the day and a very cool, fresh breeze flows in.

Despite the menagerie of animal life, the place is as peaceful as rural Australia can get. I laughed at the first car that past our property at 8am (I was on the porch since 5.30am with poor, tired Q boy, still adjusting to having his idea of night and day turned utterly upside down whilst being flown halfway around the world a few days previous).

Since we arrived, Quinn has been face to face with kangaroos, wallabies, tree frogs, horses, all the afore mentioned creatures that live with us (yes, even the ants) and the unfathomably rare koala with attached joey that literally walked right past us, stared and nonchalantly dissed our humanity and casually climbed a tree at an empty, silent park overlooking Wivenhoe Dam. The damn is a body of water the size of Sydney Harbor about 10 minutes from the property. Dotted with Pelicans, Cormorants and soon-to-be-caught fish that hopefully include Bass, Yellowbelly, Perch, Murray Cod and “shit-loads” of other fine fresh water scaly things. Not to mention the Redclaw Crayfish which we intend to harvest in the coming few days on a small convoy of boats and kayaks.

As we drive down to the damn we pass an abattoir where Sharon works. Fields of cows awaiting shrink wrapping in much smaller pieces sit in fields that my father affectionately calls out to when we pass… “five days left,” “three days left” etc.

Tomorrow the extended, immediate family all congregate for a weekend of animal adoring, boating, fishing, Motorbike riding, barbecuing goodness as we all catch up and just live life to the fullest together as only we know how to do.


permalink written by  Groovespook on October 23, 2014 from Coominya, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia Family Madness 2014
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The trip.

Coominya, Australia


We started off in high spirits. Our arrival to Newark airport was painless (thanks J and T) and check in was actually friendly and efficient. To anyone who has been to Newark airport, or checked in to virtually every national carrier in America, this is a rare treat.

Of course, I blame Quinn for the fact that people are now nice and friendly to us, he has a winning way with people.

The flight took off at about the same time Quinn would normally go down for "night nights" so we thought we may have this in our favor.

We did not.

Being in an airplane is nothing like being in a crib, in a silent, dark room. Quinn figured this out fairly quickly and wriggled and writhed for most of the 5+ hour trip. Finally exhaustion took over and he slumped on top of me, like a comatose bag of coffee beans. Which coincided with our descent into LA.

So sleepy, grumpy Q and Maria and I and far too many carry-on bags navigated our way from one terminal in LAX to another on a shuttle bus, then on to customs. Customs was pretty much a horror show of an enormous line up and pat down and we made it into the terminal with about 20 minutes to spare. Fairly nerve wracking.

Qantas are pretty consistently awesome, in my opinion, and despite a wee fricassee with our stroller (it ended up about 5km away from where we needed it when we arrived in Brisbane-forcing us to walk with Quinn and ALL of our carry-on luggage to the enormously overcrowded customs center), the flight was pretty good.

Of course, the flight itself is 12-13 hours and, as it takes off at 11pm Saturday and arrives in Australia at 6am on Monday, for almost all of the passengers it can be counted as 1 good night's sleep.

We and our toddler-carrying neighbors, who I think may have been the only other people on the plane with a "little tacker" (Australian for small child), managed to dispel the "good night's sleep" option for at least the 12-16 passengers anywhere near us. Quinn and Monte fell into a synchronous ritual of melt-downs on a seamless three hourly schedule. Thankfully Quinn was a little more reserved than Monte so his street cred was slightly higher with our disgruntled neighbors.

The food was pretty good (that is coming from Maria who is the toughest critic - being one of those vegetarian types) and the service was cool too. I did get a kick out of a steward with a torch asking us if "everything is alright?" during a Quinn melt-down, which I found particularly interesting, as if he might have some magic way to stop a child from crying?

Finally we arrived and walked the 5km to the customs chaos (see earlier note on "fricassee" regarding our lack of stroller) , then on through the declaration arena where a dog nearly cost us $66,000 in fines for illegally smuggling an apple into the country.

And then on through the doors and there they were, grandma and grandad, overjoyed to see us and us them.

A great start.



permalink written by  Groovespook on October 20, 2014 from Coominya, Australia
from the travel blog: Australia Family Madness 2014
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Preperations? who needs em! (FYI: we do)

West Orange, United States


Maria's birthday.

The early morning sun is blasting through the city streets of New York. From my 17th floor office I see a wall of hotel room windows with increasing flickering lights and disturbed curtains as tourists are slowly getting their act together as they prepare to go into this megatropolis of bustling life. Massive corporations open their doors to the myriad workers bees like myself as we swarm about the streets and clock in to keep this silly engine running. I quietly sip my coffee and stare at 3 huge monitors filled with numbers and progress bars and emails and XMLs and PDFs for the last time in 4 weeks.

4 long, relaxing, quiet, stress-free weeks in Queensland. In the middle of nowhere. The Outback (with no Steakhouse).

We have been thinking and preparing to prepare to pack for what seems like weeks and yet tonight and tomorrow morning - hours before we fly out, is when all this is going to come together. Packing for us is easy, packing for Quinn, well, that is a different story, one that Maria has been researching for quite some time, her mothering instinct and general awesomeness has us pretty much ready to go, except none of the stuff is in suitcases and "carry-ons" yet. Fun times!!

"Ahhh Queensland, beautiful one day, perfect the next" That is actually the official slogan of the tourist industry there. And it is pretty much true, barring poisonous snakes and spiders and droughts and floods and intense sunburn and stuff. Thankfully we are going in spring so the weather should be lovely and mild.

My parents and sister moved to Coominya, just under 2 hours directly inland from Brisbane a year or so ago and have some acreage near an enormous reservoir. The property is filled with dogs and birds and yes, some poisonous snakes and spiders and droughts and floods and stuff and is regularly visited by roaming koalas and the odd lost cow.

Although this is less of a "travel and discover" trip like the Philippines was, we will still be seeing some sights and experiencing a fantastic part of Australia that I want to share here.


We fly out tomorrow. 20 hours in airports and airplanes with a 2 yr old boy eager to see more of the world. Usually flights excite me anyway, but this one a little more so as I am getting a chance to see the wonder and spectacle of it all through the eyes of a small child. He is going to LOVE it.

This is going to be a blast.


permalink written by  Groovespook on October 17, 2014 from West Orange, United States
from the travel blog: Australia Family Madness 2014
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The End.

West Orange, United States


GROOVESPOOK:
Yeah, so Eew.

We have now been home for 5 days. We stopped taking the Malaria medicine on Friday - as prescribed - and well, we have both been in some strange haze. Feeling a bit like travelers and marveling at the weird things people do in this country.

3 reasons for our malaise.

1. The first and most obvious being jet-lag. A lethargic "almost" headache coupled with the expected muscular death as we do not continue getting up super early and walking 4 or 5 miles a day, either with or without backpacks. Oh, and drinking LOTS of water (always on hand as we trump around the Philippines).

2. The second being a certain nameless (enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli) bacteria that managed to lodge itself in BOTH of our respective digestive tracts and has been playing havoc with certain necessary movements since - and unfortunately during - our return. We are beginning to feel better, but this could last anywhere up to a month according to Doctor WWW.

3. Thirdly? HELLO… WE ARE NOT SNORKELING IN EL NIDO ANYMORE.

The reality of the end of this monumental vacation has been tempered nicely with the wonderful news of Nuttters sister giving birth to her TWINS! Little nieces A and B (long, long story - no names yet) are a trifle small and "pre-me" but otherwise are happy little creatures spending time in a greenhouse till they are properly grown and really prepared for the outside world.

Plus, the almost completely painless purchasing of a car that actually resembles something other than a PILE OF CRAP like we have been driving for years.

So tomorrow I go back to work in the big bad city of New York, laughing at the luxury of it all and hopefully with a better outlook. After all, I have been swimming with thousands and thousands of brilliant-yellow, tropical fish amongst giant techni-colored coral. I am looking forward to the lavish air-conditioned coach that will be driving me in style on paved roads. The free and drinkable water that spouts from everywhere. The BEEF I am taking in for lunch, cooked by myself in an incredibly hygienic kitchen (by Philippine standards, ahem). Seeing my fun-time co-workers and regaling them with stories of thousands and thousands of brilliant-yellow, tropical fish amongst giant techni-colored coral.

Once again, I extend a HUGE thank-you to my darling Nuttter, who organized everything and kept us on track. It truly has been a world-beater of vacations and I will not forget it. Thanks Babe.

And thanks to all the well wishers and followers too, it was really great to get a little feedback here and there from all our beloved friends and family who followed our little trek.

Anxious, dubious and pensive, I am off to work.

love to all!

Porl (aka Groovespook)

permalink written by  Groovespook on August 9, 2010 from West Orange, United States
from the travel blog: Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
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Sniff, it is over.

Manila, Philippines


GROOVESPOOK:
I have Sarah's loaned backpack on, once more (huge props!!) and am leaning back against it on the bed at Hedefes Cottages, prepped and ready to go.  I am super sad.  Said goodbye to "grandma", the lady in charge of these huts overlooking El Nido bay. 

Watched Nuttter, my financier, pay the bill and I grabbed a coffee. The sea out front is still, like a mirror, and wonderfully reflects Cadlao Island. 

Even the cockerals don't bother me this morrow. I am a little excited about the 6 hour van ride as we have had a lot of rain so the roads might be muddy and dodgy.  We secured the front seats with the driver so we will have the most leg room and a panaramic view.

The Flip is fully charged so I can get this rollercoaster ride in HD.  Maybe. One never really knows how this will pan out...

SIX HOURS LATER...

We didn't end up in the front seats of the nicer of the two vans. At the last minute we were shunted into the older, smaller, unhappier van. 

We watched as racial favoratism reared it's ugly head and all the Filipinos got comfy in there whilst all the backpacking, gangly, longer-legged, white-folk joined us and bitched about the lack of leg room.

SIX HOURS LATER...

Tried to get a bit of the trip but aside from a twenty minute section of one-laned, mud-splattered madness it was a pleasant, non-event.

We are now sitting in a slightly less dodgy, cold-water-only but AIR CONDITIONED room waiting it out till our flight tomorrow morning for Manila, then, after a night there, STEAK AND WHISKY, I mean, HOME!

This whole trip has been a bit of a rollercoaster with what seems like 3 seperate, dream-like vacations mixed in. 

Nuttter has done such an awesome job of organising everything and managing to deal with yours truly at the same time. I am so blessed and there is no way in the world I would have ever experienced SOOOO MUCH AWESOME WORLD without her.  She is a trooper!

THE NEXT DAY...

Especially today she troops.. We are at the airport awaiting now, our plane to arrive and take us to Manila. Palawan has seen fit to gift my wonderful Nuttter with a cold. 

Boo Palawan, boo!

Traveling is always touch and go with Nuttter. It amazes me that she has managed to "local bus" it around almost all of S. E. Asia knowing what I know now about her motion sickness - let alone some ugly, stuffy, sinus yuckiness.

Crazy!

CUT TO 10pm in Manila.

We beat the local taxi driver in Manila into actually using the meter as opposed to making up some ridiculous fare, with the help of the local police - I kid you not - and just got back from the Green Belt Mall in Makate.  An awesome, restaurant-filled mall, replete with everything from TopShop to Rolex to an Apple store!!!

I just spent more pesos on a meal - Porl style - then 3 days of our usual budgeted meal allowance and am pretty damn content.  Nuttter is still ill unfortunately and it is 10:10pm which is 10:10am at home.  I am about to get onto home time by staying up as long as possible so that I die on the plane and be well rested when we get to EWR.

Or I might fall asleep now.......

permalink written by  Groovespook on August 2, 2010 from Manila, Philippines
from the travel blog: Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
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Snorkeling is so passe

El Nido, Philippines


GROOVESPOOK:
We did not end up doing "the same thing tomorrow" after all my brandishing of the word SNORKELING from the last post. Oh no.

We happened to pass a small shop whilst idling down the streets of El Nido and, written on a blackboard was the phrase "Affordable day of diving - no PADI Certification required"

HELLO!!!!

We walked into the shop and Yoshi, an ex-Tokyo, Japanese (surprised?), pen-pusher sized us up for wetsuits, weights and other SCUBA what-nots for a day that featured (at least for me) 2, one hour long, thirty feet deep dives. Thirty feet is the max that you can go, assisted by a trained frog-man type.

The first session we both completed in turn. First I went in and Yoshi took me through the safety precautions. You know, how NOT to breathe in seawater if you lose your regulator, how NOT to have your sinus cavities in your head implode every 3 feet, how to keep breathing despite being THIRTY FEET BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE SEA (did I mention we went thirty feet below the surface of the sea yet?). That sort of boring rigmarole. Blah blah blah. Whatever mate, I'm an Australian. Sort-of.

Then Yoshi finished the training by holding my hand as we slowly swam out to coral magnificence THIRTY FEET BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE SEA.

It was utterly beyond description - even for me - and only really ruined by being completely in love to the point of dreamy extacy and then turning to find you are holding hands with a wrinkly but spry forty-something Japanese man and NOT your loving wife who made all this come true.

We surfaced - slowly enough so that the air trapped in the bronchials in my lungs did not explode (the bends) - and I sat on the snow-white, powdery beach, nestled amongst angry station-stones of razor sharp rocks covered in tangled, rain-forest. I made a magnificent sand castle whilst Yoshi stole Nuttter for her intro into a different magical world.

Unfortunately, Nuttter's right ear did not seem to adjust too well to being taken THIRTY FEET BELOW THE SURFACE OF THE SEA so for the rest of the day and even now as she sleeps beside me, her right ear "feels like there is a small balloon inside it".

This feeling is slowly dissipating and we are assured will be gone - at worst - in 3 (gulp) days, thank the lord who made eardrums!. But sadly this prevented her from wanting (understandably) to go for the second dive.

Boo. :-(

The second dive was from the boat. Yeah, you have all seen it, the backward-roll thing into the sea! Jacques Cousteau PAH!. I've done it!!!

Yoshi and I then descended once more THIRTY FEET BELOW..... you get it. This time we were amongst giant fields of cabbage shaped coral that would have been enough to behold if it were not for a school of (curse alert!) fucking thousands and thousands and thousands of beautiful Yellow-Striped Whiptails (Sea Bream family) that swam around us for ages.

Completely uninterested in making contact with us and explaining the secret of life, the universe and everything, You can tell they all smuggly know the answer to that question but they won't share it the smug little things.

These happy fish perfectly swished through the ether whilst I looked like a complete drunkard in a gravity fee environment, struggling to turn right-side-up to reach that pint of Boddingtons. Oh god, why did I just mention a real beer.

We spent an hour down there, Yoshi and I, like two very big, black, ugly-looking fish with monstrous deformities on our backs instead of elegant fins and - of course - spouting turbulent fractal blooms of molten glass, powering away from us up to the surface, THIRTY FEET... sorry.

Yoshi would occasionally wave his big metal rod at me (please- children might be reading this so keep the "that's what she said" comment to yourselves boys) and would point out various wonders of nature. He also had one of those kiddy's magnet-drawing, sketch-pad thingies and would let me know what fish was what and which thing was male or female.

Barracuda, crocodile needle fish chasing schools of neons for lunch, Red and White Snapper, Angel Fish and Parrot Fish galore. Stupid really. I will scoff at any aquarium for the rest of my life.

Little flowering polyps I could touch that would violently shoot back into crevices and holes in the enormous coral structures and then gingerly creep back out.

Damn! It is so amazing.

We surfaced and checked on poor nuttter. Stuck on a small boat not even comfortable enough to snorkel where we were anchored. So sad.

Then we motored back to town through a torrential tropical rainstorm that has not let up since!!!

We changed, Nutter improved a bit more and we most had to swim back to town through the rain for dinner. Pizza of all things. Welcomingly good as it turned out and then a native acoustic guitarist and his odd American electric guitar soloist companion got up and started serenading one and all.


Nuttter as we round the corner from our secluded beach hut to El Nido Bay.

After three tunes I sucked up some Dutch courage and went up there and banged away at the random percussion with them! Yay! I think the Dutch courage came from Jockam and Sussana, two awesome Amsterdamians we met that were really helpful and fun, let us know the secrets of El Nido's restaurants and tours.

So I am still wired from it all and of course just want to dive again and again now that I have seen that brilliant world.

It is about midnight, the French family in the cottage next have discovered a cockroach or something and are yelling and jumping around. I daren't laugh at them. We have had a couple of big scary insect moments during the trip but thankfully my lightning-like Australian reflexes and my always handy flip-flops usually save the day- that is - when the 7-8 inch long geckos don't. Those beautiful but secretive lizards tend to keep a pretty good tab on the big nasty creepy things.

The really big geckos make an awesome sound, once or twice a night, I am trying to get some audio of it but it's tough, sometimes it seems right next our heads and realistically, we both don't quite feel at home without one these days!!

Apparently they are worth 500pesos each on the street! Hmmmmm.

The rain is expected to continue tomorrow so we may lay low, especially if Nuttter's ear is still even slightly dodgy.

Hoping to upload a few more pictures ASAP! And then we are just about done. Reality returns sharply in the form of 20 hous on a plane in a few days time.

I care not. This has been an event that has brightened my world view and released a lot of tension that came from stuff I don't think I could ever look at, or get so wound up about, the same way again.

Love!

permalink written by  Groovespook on July 30, 2010 from El Nido, Philippines
from the travel blog: Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
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UBER diving (it's snorkeling in heaven)

El Nido, Philippines


GROOVESPOOK:
again. I cannot help but flap on and on about where we are and what we are doing.

Time is not flying. Time too is on holiday. The cool breeze off the crystal sea cools our heels. Shaded by cleverly folded palm frons we sit on the silent porch of Pukka's. The staff quietly chat and laugh their simple laugh as I sip a cold beer and we read our books.

Beside me a wall of paper thin clam shells, strung together as a wind chime rattle in the breeze. Boats lay dormant and scattered across the bay of El Nido as the sun bakes off another layer of bright paint.  A random snorkeling tourist spouts past us. 

This place is a dream.  Electricity is only on from 2pm to 6am so any form of noise is virtually stilled. Only the occasional tricycle or motor from an outrigger interupts the lapping waves.

Somewhere behind me a girl is singing beautifully. Nothing could be better than this.

.…..............


I don't how this happened but VOOOM and it is the next day. We ho-hummed and did another snorkeling tour of some different islands around El Nido - the place I never ever want to leave - but just a half day tour, nothing too frantic.  

During our last 2 hours it bucketed rain but suprisingly, under the warmer sea water, you just shrug and continue to irritate Nemo with your flipper, stare in wonder at the blue and black striped Napolean snake eel (yet stay safely five meters above them!!!!), marvel at the friggin longspine lionfish (I SAW IT I SAW IT I SAW IT!!!!) etc,.

really, we are now (recouperating) sitting in a cafe overlooking a view that is really beyond description and I have borrowed the restaurants copy of "bullshitly beautiful tropical fish you just saw but can't believe or, more importantly, name" and am rudely crying out "I saw that... I saw that" with reckless abandon.

So yeah, we are doing more of the same tomorrow and the tomorrow after tomorrow.

So boring.

Sorry.

permalink written by  Groovespook on July 29, 2010 from El Nido, Philippines
from the travel blog: Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
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El Neato!!!

El Nido, Philippines


GROOVESPOOK:
It is Monday, I think- hee hee - we are
waiting for the minivan to overfill in Puerto Princessa for the 6 hour trip to El Nido, the sweet spot of Palawan.
  
Nuttter has run off to see if there are indeed any cheaper options and I sit here, tapping away on the iTouch and keeping a third eye on our backpacks.  

We had an awesome vegetarian extravaganza last night and Nuttter is still in heaven.  The staff were so suprized to see us they took pictures and made us fill in a guest book. Too funny.

Speaking of food, I decided to splash out yesterday in Dumaguete and get a filet mignon. 

NOTE:
Never ever ever order a steak in a country with no cows.  

Not only was my filet mignon simply an eighth of an inch slab of frozen london broil, but it tasted not completely dissimilar to cardboard AND it was the equivelent of three of any of our total dinner bills so far.

So, degected, I left Nuttter in the hotel in search of a whisky. Yeah, good luck with that!!! Honestly, you would have thought that the Speyside region of the Scottish highlands had never been invented.  

I eventually found some Chivas Regal in a dodgy bar, so, sitting next to some 300 pound Swiss giant of a man, downed it and then went to (I know) McDonalds for 2 burgers! To nullify my crying stomach that was still coming to terms with the "thought" of filet mignon and the "reality" that it was forced to digest- or "let ferment" might be a closer analogy.

AAAAARGH I AM SO SICK OF ALL THESE COCKS!!!!

Every single place we go to seems to have a cockeral tethered to it somewhere, mostly underneath where we are sitting and I tell you now that I would not hesitate to cut the head off of every single one of them given a machette and two minutes.  

Let me explain why in one numeral and two letters. 4AM. from 4am until noon these friggin creatures cock-a-doodle-dooing is enough for the most patient man - or in lieu of him, me - to lose his marbles.

Right now for instance I can hear at least 7 of them and one is four feet away from me.  My death stares only seem to make him louder. 

So our eleven oclock departure time comes. And then goes. Not until 11:40 do we finally all cram into a Nissan Urvan built for fourteen people, revurbished for many more "Asian statured" peeps and housing - today for this eledged five hour trip - seventeen. This includes Nuttter, Groovespook and Adriane, a six foot Romanian stuck in the back!

The first five hours of our five hour bus trip were pretty sweet really. The driver tore through north Palawan as if the Philipino Police were chasing us whilst firing their M16's.

Then, during our last stop, the driver - a wisoned old man with a disconcerting perma-smile - let out air from all the tires. Hmmm I thought. Curious. Until we hit the dirt road. Then I realised why he let the air out. Never in all my born days have I been so glued to the "road" ahead. This guy - and he would make a brilliant rally car driver - continued the  "being chased by cops with guns" theme on roads NOT SUITABLE BY A LONG STRETCH!!!!!!

Needless to say I left finger nails in the seat in front of me.  What sucked about this the most was the view we all just ccould not look at.  We have all seen pictures of massive islands of rock surrounded by turqouise seas but has anyone been forced to ignore said views for fear of flying off the road? 

Anyone on the private van from Puerto Princessa to El Nido has I will bet.

We got to El Nido and wandred around searching for accomodation. Finally found a sweet cabin 10 minutes out of town, got settled and trundled into the first beachside restaurant we could find and ordered a whole grilled Red Snapper. GORGEOUS!!

I then made the mistake of attempting to get a martini. Ugh. First try they gave me a glass of vermouth. Second try was half a glass of vermouth with a splash of vodka, which is where I left it.

Amd so to Tuesday. Feeling refreshed and vibrant from walking out the door and seeing a view that puts most postcards to shame, we took a tour on a small outrigger to a number of the small islands around the locale of El Nido for some snorkeling.

To describe what we saw today, picture the most amazing aquarium you have ever seen, make it the size of Manhattan and dive in. Every tropical fish you have seen in schools of ten to over a hundred, oblivious to us ungainly white snorkelers peering into their pristine world.

Those awesome little Neons that everyone thinks are so cute? Pests compared to the schools of Angel fish beneath them and the Parot fish below them. 

We swam through thousands of neons, darting to avoid our flippers and all catching the sunlight at once as the swam around at lightning speed. Awesome.

Molusks and bright blue star-fish and space-like, spikey things creeping around along the sea floor amongst luminous yellow, blue and white corals.  Visability of at least thirty feet.  We spent the whole day in awe of the coral and the giant, magestic, molten rock mountains covered in forest. Protecting all this natural wonderment from the ravishes of the open sea. 

Coming up for a break from snorkeling, it's like looking at Tolkien's Mordor, 500 years after Frodo and after the sea has risen eighty feet and some serious climate change.

We just got back to the room, it's raining and the freshness is so nice. We are both a little burnt but still totally blissed out. Who knows, we may have to devour another hour old whole fish for dinner!

The tour today was so we may be doing something very similar tomorrow.


permalink written by  Groovespook on July 27, 2010 from El Nido, Philippines
from the travel blog: Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
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It's all too much

El Nido, Philippines


GROOVESPOOK:
Woke up wonderfully late this morning and wandered round the corner to Rosa's place for an awesome breakfast that included fresh fruit with meusli for Nuttter and an omelete with BREWED COFFEE for yours truly. 

We ate whilst finding it impossible to ignore the massive looming mountain jutting out of the turquoise sea not half a mile in front of us. The gentle sea lapping against the edge of the restaurant our soundtrack.

Doing nothing today but deciding on a snorkel tour for tomorrow. We might get a chance to upload some pictures tonight if all goes well!


permalink written by  Groovespook on July 27, 2010 from El Nido, Philippines
from the travel blog: Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
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Oh the pressure!

Dumaguete, Philippines


GROOVESPOOK:
sorry, still no photos, uploading is just not done but hopefully soon!!!

Well, once again access to the wide web world has been completely non-existent over the last few days. Really though, it is a blessing. Forcefully discomnected  from everything makes these days longer and that much more intense. 

From our ferry to Cebu we spent one night in a room the size of the average American kitchen pantry. Had a nice whole fish together in a pretty ugly, dirty city.  Got up and out as quickly as we could and took a twenty minute flight to Bacolod on Negros Island - another in the Visayas group. 

Anyone who has flown like us to Australia and England will know just how fantastic a twenty minute long flight is. Tee hee hee, it is like cheating. You get up in the air, the captain says you can unfasten your seat belts and then - I kid you not - he says "prepare for landing".

From Bacolod it was an awesomely beautiful ride on another local bus to Sippalay through mountains and rice fields. The locals forcing these huge black bullocks with enormous horns over carefully irrigated fields to churn the mud for the hand-placed shoots of rice.

From the bus on the main road we took a tricycle to the sea and the outlet of a small river. We walked to the river's edge as more and more school children gathered around us, asking lots of questions and laughing at our alien entities.

We hailed the small outrigger and a sinewy, shirtless, smoking, mute of a Filipinno paddled us across the river for 20p (40 cents) to a beach nestled between two small forested mountains of molten rock. The sea has eroded a rim around these mountains that makes them look as though they are floating five feet above the earth. 

We disembarked on the other side, walked through the gorge and beheld a pristine beach about half a mile or so long. Bordered on both ends by these awesome mountains and dotted with small boats. We wandered up the beach past a couple of small resorts to Driftwood Village.  We met Babe, the manager, she immediately introduced us to the staff and they all learnt our names. We checked into our cabin, ran down and had a swim in the warm sea and then spent 3 days totally relaxing. Well, when we were not taking part in volley ball games with the staff and other guests on the beach or being royally whipped playing pool tournaments at the beach bar, or just wandering and exploring the rocky bluff.

Driftwood Village really was the most fun we have had so far. It was hard to say goodbye.  What made it really hard to say goodbye was the promise of a whole day in transit and a MASSIVE HANGOVER.

So we couldnt get the bus we needed due to the high tide cutting off tricycles from the river so we walked in the hot sun with our packs on.

Waited for ages for a bus which only took us from Sippalay to Hinnoba-an where we had to wait two and a half hours for the next bus. During  that time we were serenaded by a hermit woman who could not really sing but had a fantastic impression of a homeless woman and we played a lot of cards.

The next bus dropped us at yet another terminal at Bayawan and a mad dash into another bus that we needed a shoe horn to get into. It then continued to pick up people until children hung from the open doors!

Unfortunately the next bus was not only a much longer trip but the bus driver was terrible! Then we got to the hotel and it was fully booked so we had to wander about and find another place to stay.

So we are finally here. If the weather suits we will take a day trip snorkelling to Apo island after the awesome Swiss couple from Driftwood told us it was the most amazing snorkelling in their nine months of travelling.  Then Sunday is off to Palawan Island for 7 days of more random huts on deserted beaches. Ho hum.

As always, we miss you all and are LOVING EVERY MINUTE!!

permalink written by  Groovespook on July 23, 2010 from Dumaguete, Philippines
from the travel blog: Nuttter and Groovespook go Philippine island hopping
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