I spent by the end of May 5 days in Hong Kong and I would reckon it is enough for exploring Hong Kong. After Hong Kong I traveled to the Philippines and had fantastic time on their islands.
‘The Pearl of the Orient’ is getting more and more expensive and I enjoyed spending time in Hong Kong, but is not an imaginable place of living for me. I couldn’t afford going to Disneyland, one of the main reasons why tourists are traveling to Hong Kong.
But I climbed Victoria Peak with an elevation of 552 m (1,811 ft), which is the highest mountain on the island. From there you have an amazing view over Victoria Harbour and the surrounding islands.
I was much interested in the food of Hong Kong and the busy life of its people, in short: I enjoyed more to lose myself in this megacity characterised by hustle and bustle.
I loved spending time with my very close friend Harold and his friends. They took me to many vegetarian restaurants and I could try lots weird stuff. We did quantities of activities together, but mainly food tourism. I even made a cute friend in Hong Kong, see the photo below.
If Harold wouldn’t live there, I probably have no consideration to come back. But I still do appreciate the time in HK.
For me it was a very great pleasure to visit the next country, Philippines.
Started with Manila, I was overwhelmed by the heat, humidity and the stifling air. I was lucky, I lived in one of the best areas: Makati in the Jazz Residences with camera surveillance system and guards 24/7.
I stayed with my friend Paul, who is such a sweet, lovely, generous and intelligent person. We are at the same age and his dreams are big, but I am sure he can achieve them. Like I described, if you are living in such a luxury building and in Makati, you don’t get really the ambiguous atmosphere in Manila until you step out of Makati.
Slums, horrible traffic jams, jeepneys replete with people and stuffy air make it hard to get along. So far maybe only Jakarta can beat the horrible traffic jam in Manila. Once you get out of Makati, calms of the gap between rich and poor occurs. We live in this residence which included a shopping mall in the ground floor and a huge swimming pool in one of the floors with a fitness studio. Paul and me spent time watching ‘Into The Wild’ and cooking delicous food together.
Later my American friend Maddy joined us in our short-term living community. After 5 days I left Manila with Maddy to go to Banaue and Batad.
The bus tickets had to book in advance on the internet and was crazily cold.
Why do the busses in Asia only know hard core air-conditioning or no air-conditioning at all. It is always a loose-loose situation once I am traveling with South East Asian buses. Sometimes with moronic departure time and arrival time.
On our way to Batad we found our third travel partner: Val, a French guy.
So we decided to hike through the rice terraces of Banaue.
Banaue’s and Batad’s mild weather suited me fine after Manila.
Maddy would study one semester in Chiang Mai, therefore she took a heavy backpack with her, which was way too difficult to hike with.
Val took hers and she took his backpack. Unfortunately 10 minutes later she fell into the mud while we balanced on a small path through the paddies with his backpack.
Not enough, five minutes later I imitated her and surrendered myself to the mud of the rice paddies, nice…
Just when you are thinking things are as bad as can be, we got lost somewhere because we took an off the beaten path. But we found a beautiful waterfall to refresh ourselves. Finally we got out and took a tuk-tuk to come back to our starting point to meet Hülya, a Turkish girl we met on the bus but she decided not to go trekking with us.
I thought Banaue’s Rice Terraces were already beautiful, but got fooled by myself! Thanks Val for convincing me to go ;)!
We took in the rain a jeepney to Batad and the first views on the top of this old American vehicle relic (very bad for the environment) were stunningly beautiful. Those moments are moments when you start to set new priorities in your life again. Money for that is totally worth it, I myself don’t need a car or a new phone.
I want experiences which last until I pass away, experiences I can share in the future with my family and experiences to inspire other people to dare more in life.
Hülya was sitting in the jeepney, she didn’t wait for us when we arrived and just walked away :D.
Funny fact: At the end Maddy started to have the assumption that she didn’t like us, in particular Maddy. Everytime Hülya ran into us she would take another direction. But lucky Maddy!; we bump against each other again and again, even though we left Banaue we saw her again.
The last time on a scooter of a Filipino guy while filming herself, the surroundings and laughing. At least she waved at us, Maddy hahaha.
I got some situation during traveling that you have the great pleasure to see a person more than once even though you don’t want to.
Starting to ask yourself at a certain point if the person is following you or why do you have to see this person for the third time from all the 7 billions people living on this planet!?
Enough, traveling with Maddy and Val was great. Val is one of the best organized travelers I know, later he confirmed his skills when we traveled together to Camiguin Island. He guided us through the Rice Terraces of Batad and to the Waterfalls. You can spend easily 3 days in the surroundings of Banaue and Batad. The best thing: Sagada is close by, GO there, believe me you won’t see hanging coffins everyday in your life.
I made some lovely friends in Hillside Inn of Batad: Among them Thomas and his colleagues, who are working in an NGO.
I came back to Manila to catch my flight to the next Island:
Bohol, Tagbilaran. You might find some difficulties traveling around the Philippines, it is very time consuming and exhausting. So plan in advance where you want to go and what you want to do.
I made the mistake to plan my trip when I found myself already in Manila.
Maddy and me said sadly goodbye to each other, but I saw her shortly in Bali again when she came to visit me. She went to Palawan, the heaven on earth as people say. I haven’t been there yet, so there is no chance that I am not coming back to the Philippines one day.
Also I couldn’t have the chance to surf the beachbreaks in Siargao, either way, the Philippines have to expect me coming back.
Back to Bohol, my lovely and sweet friend Jayson is living in Bohol, so I could stay with him while exploring the country. Seriously, I love this country and its people, but the nature beats everything, it is just superb!
I want to write my true opinion: I don’t like the food of the Philippines,
I am sorry for everyone who will read this and is from there. But for me no country is perfect and I want to share my real experiences; the Philippine cuisine is not my favourite one.
I think I was so spoiled by the diverse cuisine other Asian countries have.
I felt the American influence was not only traced by the Jeepneys, but also the pancakes I got served in every hostel I have stayed.
But Lumpia (Philippine spring rolls) was good and I think Halo-Halo (shaved ice, milk and various fruits), too.
You can get in Bohol at a tourist information center a free map and navigate yourself around the island. Believe me it is not difficult, once you rent the scooter for a cheap price
(I think I paid 600 Philippine Pesos/ 12$ for a day, you can bargain for a discount if rented more than 5 days) and start to explore this beautiful Island. The first sight I drove to and why I came to Bohol after all, was the Chocolate Hills. There are more than 1200 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres (20 sq mi). Covered in green grass, but turns brown during the dry season like chocolate, hence the name.
On the way you can visit a butterfly farm, but google maps led me and another tourist group somewhere right out in the sticks.
The good thing, I made friends with this group and we ate a delicious lunch together at the butterfly farm.
Please be cautious of the tarsiers when you will visit the Tarsier Conservation Area. They are primates, who inhabits southern and eastern parts of Asia. Being nocturnal and arboreal, they have excellent eyesight and sense of hearing. You can read some interesting facts about them once you enter the conservation. BUT They commit suicide when stressed.
Loboc Man-Made Forest:
Loboc River is beautifully greenish and perfect to take a cuise on the river, while singing along with the music played on the Loboc River Cruise
(some cheesy songs included).
Alona Beach and Panglao Beach is the hot-spot for tourist, I spent there my time at night and ate yummy food at one of the beach restaurants.
Driving all day long around the island I came too late to visit the Hinagdanan Cave. So I climbed over the small fence open the trap door to the cave and went inside and ran outside again after 5 minutes walking in the dark and bats attacking me. If you come by daytime and not like stupid me at nightfall, there is a pool inside of the cave to swim.
Here is the bad result of my photography skills in the darkness of the cave:
In Danao Adventure Park I did the Zip-line.
The other day, I visited the Busay Falls and Baclayon Church, a Roman Catholic Church.
Christianity is the dominant faith in the Philippines.
A very high percentage of the population professed Catholicism.
Many people I have met identify themselves as very religious.
From Bohol Island you can take the boat to Pamilacan Island,
it is famous for the whale shark and dolphin watching activities, white sand beaches and renowned for its snorkelling and dive sites.
From Jagna Val and me took the ferry to Camiguin Island, my favourite Island in the Philippines so far. Even though it is small of size and has a national road with only a total length of about 64 kilometres (40 mi), there are plenty of activities to do:
- Visiting churches like the Santo Rosario Church or Old Catarman Church Ruins
- Volcanoes: The island is of volcanic origin compiled by four stratovolcanoes. Mount Hibok- Hibok erupted in 1953.
- Hot springs : Ardent Hot Spring, Niño Cold Springs, Bura Natural Soda Water Swimming Pool in Catarman, Tangub Hot Spring
- White Island can be reached by boat from Agoho, good to take a break from everyday life
- Mantigue Island: Diving site
- Katibawasan Falls
- Tuasan Falls
- Giant Clams Sanctuary
- Sunken Cemetery: Some areas in the town Bonbon subsided, during the volcanic emergence of Mt. Vulcan and sinking the cemetery of the town to below sea level. A huge cross marks the Sunken Cemetery.You can do a round with the scooter in 1-2 hours.
I stayed in Yvonne’s Cottage, run by a German and his Filipina wife.
It was a paradise in a paradise.
The best thing is: Places aren’t crowded, for example we had the Katibawasan Falls all for ourselves.
Sadly I had to leave Camiguin and came to Cebu City for 2 days, but didn’t want to go to Oslob like everyone else to swim with the whale sharks.
Instead of it I stayed back in Cebu City to take a good rest and digesting the beauty sensory overload I experienced during my stay on the different islands.
Additionally Cebu City wasn’t welcoming to me as I went out for lunch on my first day and within 40 minutes sitting somewhere in a restaurant, I got 48!! (yes, I counted them) mosquito bites spread all over my two legs.
The rest of the day and the next day I would take a rest in the super comfy hostel.
Philippines belong to my favourite countries from all the countries I have been to. And I am happy I did not to go straight to Palawan or Boracay, where most travelers fare. But next time!