Posted by: da76 | July 3, 2010

Whirlwind trip to the Philippines

Hi all. After record breaking arrangements by ABV we are in the Philippines. An overnight stop in Singapore then Manila and we landed in Tagbilaran (the main town of Bohol). Well what can we say about Bohol…….One word will do – BEAUTIFUL! For those who have travelled to Bali it is a bit like that but much less hectic. The people are wonderfully friendly and we have fallen in love with the place even though we have only been here five days! When we arrived at the airport we were met by Emmie, our client from PROCESS Bohol as well as a Bohol dignitary (who we think was an outgoing member of the Government).

Our first few days have been spent getting familiar with our project (Abatan River Tour) and getting our bearings. We have been mostly walking around but when necessary we get a three wheeled motorbike somewhat like a tuk tuk but called a tricycle. We’re also busy trying to find more permanent accommodation. We’re currently in a hotel (run by deaf people!) but need to find a cheaper apartment or house to fit out budget. There are no real estate agencies here so you have to ask everyone you can for recommendations and just walk around looking for “House to Rent” signs.

Our big news of the day is that we bought a motor bike! Brand new, a huge 125cc, made in China, for a grand sum of A$715. It was the same price as renting one for 3mths.  Like most Asian countries road rules don’t really apply so it’s been exciting getting used to driving on the right hand side of the road (mostly), dodging potholes, tricycles and miscellaneous dogs, cats etc.

One highlight of our stay so far was an impromptu invitation to the inauguration of the new Bohol government including the new governor and his cabinet. We arrived on time and not knowing where to go hung around the entrance. Our client was quite late but we didn’t know where to go as downstairs was an elaborately decorated function room with formal table and chairs but a number of people were heading upstairs to the balconies. Every now and then an usher would wander out and ask us to please take our seats at the foreigner dignitary table!

What to do! Upstairs or downstairs? Well in the end we headed in wondering any moment if we would be thrown out as gate crashers! As it turned out we were in the the right place and had a fascinating experience. The politics in the Philippines is an amalgam of American extravaganza and Asian idiosyncrasy.

The speeches made by the newly elected government made Australian politicians look like pre school kids. The speeches were wonderfully motivating and passionate.

I know you are all shouting “well what is the food like?” Well it has been hit and miss. It is certainly cheap. Most meals are 150p about $3.00 and the quality is fine. It is just that Philippino cuisine is a tad bland for our taste buds. You think of tropical Asian islands and you think of hot and spicy. Not so in Bohol.

We have found some stand outs such as Grill Restaurant – Aroma which has been lovely. We are looking forward to getting our own apartment so we can cook our own meals (the wet markets have a great array of produce and we can’t wait!). Everything else in Bohol is equally cheap. Nice accommodation can be had (if you can find it, we are still looking) from 15,000p to 30,000p per month A$380.00 – A$750.00. And most importantly a beer will set you back about 30p 77 cents!

Anyway enough for now! We will report further soon (ish)

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