A Slight Detour To Panglao Island

Doug did Doug things, so I did me things…

I scoffed a pizza, back of the net! Then I watched some boxing on our posh cable TV that we had in our hotel room (Don’t hate, congratulate…) then I went off in search of Panglao Island.

It wasn’t as difficult as I’m making out; an Aussie mate of mine convinced me to download maps.me on my phone and it’s been an absolute lifesaver in the Philippines. So I acted all tech savvy and shit expanding and retracting my map, then I saw there was a jeepney station nearby that went from Tagbilarian straight to Panglao town, so off I went to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of…erm…Panglao…

Yeah…It wasn’t a jeepney ‘station’, it was more like a couple of jeepneys (old US army trucks that had been converted into mini-buses for mini-people. And I’m not a mini-person…) on the corner of the road with some dodgy looking dudes cramming us into the jeepneys until it was so tight that our eyes were popping out of our sockets like Bugs Bunny looking at Lola.

The Guy asked me where I wanted to go. “Panglao” I said.

75% of being a Filipino gangster: Where in Panglao?

Me: Panglao town.

75% of being a Filipino gangster: Where in Panglao?

Me: Panglao, the city, the general Panglao area.

75% of being a Filipino gangster: <Getting pissed off> Where do you want to go?

Me: <trying not to get angry with the scary man…> Panglao, as in Panglao. Actual Panglao

75% of being a Filipino gangster: Panglao town market?

Me: That’ll do

So we get crammed in this bad boy. Some 18 year old girl is squashed up into my legs. You would think being a gentleman who has a penis that I would enjoy the closeness of a beautiful lady being pushed up against me. It had the makings of being the world’s shittest love story I must admit but my legs were being crushed against each other. All I was getting was fifty shades of blue, as the circulation to my legs was being cut off.

But I saved serious cash on getting a taxi! And 10 kilometres later I had arrived in Panglao for the grand total of 20 pesos! Yay me!!!

Yay me! Turned into ‘fuck this shit’ in the space of 10.7 seconds. I truly was in the middle of nowhere. And because I was in the town there wasn’t much to look at. There were no white beaches anywhere that I could see and I made a quick ‘plan B’ heading to the north west point of the island called Doljo. It looked cool, well, on the map anyway, so off I popped…

I found a mini pier in Panglao and took a few pictures, and also saw an advertisement for ‘ISIS Bungalows’ (I can imagine the owners thinking to themselves “We’ve spent all this money on advertising, so why can’t we seem to get any customers?”) before heading northwards to Doljo.

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I walked, and walked some more, until I saw there was ocean to my left and to my right. I knew I was close to the point of no return. So I took a slight detour to the Doljo beach and basked in glory for a maximum of five minutes.

Back on track! I went to the point of no return and it was eerie. It was cool to see, beautiful in fact, but as I was one of a few people there looking at the reefs and the small beach of sorts looking at Bohol on my right and Cebu island to my left. I soaked in the tranquility as much as I could until I felt it was time to go back.

I took a motorbike back because I’m a lazy Laura. After that I began to feel tired and didn’t really want to do any more walking. Coupled with the fact I didn’t know when the jeepneys stopped running and it was 4:45, I decided to go back to Tagbilarian.

So it wasn’t as amazing as I was expecting but it was still worth seeing… Actually this is a blog and I can say whatever I want. Everything written on the internet is complete fact, right? So yeah, it was the best day of my life! My life is so amazing and I’m loving every minute of it! Can’t wait to come back here and express how great my life is again through weird photos of me in obscure yoga poses… <Fights back tears through disappointed eyes hoping you believe my bullshit…>

The Tarsier Conservation In Bohol, Philippines

What is a tarsier?  

It’s a mini-monkey. It’s one of the rarest primates that only live on the Island of Bohol in the Philippines  

A mini-monkey?  

Yep, it’s about 5-6 inches tall and has eyes like a furby. In fact it kinda looks like a colourless furby. In fact it probably is a furby placed in the trees. I didn’t exactly grab one and do a DNA test on one so it would be pretty funny if the Filipino’s decided to scam tourists by placing a load of furbys in the trees and saying that they are a rare animal that only lives in this part of the world…

Do you have any pictures?

Yes and no. My phone cost me £40, and the knock on effect of that is my camera isn’t exactly world class. The lighting is poor and the fake furbys are nocturnal animals, so its hard to get a good photo of them if you phone costs less than £50. Oh, first world problems…

What the Hellboy 2 are they called again?

Tarsier (Tar-see-uh)

Where did you see them?

In a tarsier conservation. It was in a place called Loboc just south of the chocolate hills.

<sigh>, I’m not a bloody local! What are the chocolate hills?

I’ll explain that in my next post (Ooh, suspense! If you want something to do whilst you are waiting you can buy one of my books. BOOM! I managed to put another plug in here! I reckon I’ve earned a drink…)

Anyway, the chocolate hills are bang in the middle of the island of Bohol. We were staying in the port town called Tagbilarian which is on the south west side of Bohol. The island is pretty much a circle so its easy to know where you are. From there we rented a motorbike and sang ‘Born to be wild’ whilst riding to the south of the island then cutting up to the middle. So it’s best to see the tarsiers first then go up to the chocolate hills.

Can I ask about the chocolate hills?

No.

Prick…

Blasphemy! I’m suing you…

OK I’ll change the subject; so tarsiers and shit, talk to me…

The conservation was pretty much what I expected; a mini jungle with signs everywhere telling you to be quiet as to not scare the tarsiers. Of course we had a group of loud Chinese tourists directly behind us scaring away any potential animals who wanted to jump on my shoulder and hum ‘You’ve got a friend in me’ whilst high fiving me. We did find some. I took photos but didn’t get any good ones. I saw them though. Honest! And they probably weren’t furbys…

How much was it?

60 Pesos to get in, which isn’t that bad.

I’m a little bit slow. Can you convert it for me please?

Certainly! As you asked so nicely…

$1.20 = 60 Pesos

£0.95 = 60 Pesos

2.4 Bulgarian Lev = 60 Pesos

32000 Vietnamese Dong = 60 Pesos

8 Croatian Kuna = 60 Pesos

OK, I get it…

Hold on! 1 more:

75 Macedonian Dinar = 60 Pesos

Was it worth it?

What? The joke or the conservation?

I guess both…

I hope the joke was worth it. It’s not for me to judge. If not feel free to shout abuse in the comments section and I’ll get the hint. I love a bit of banter…

And what about the tarsier conservation? Was it worth going to?

For the photos no, but to physically see them I’d say a definite yes. I’m not a big photo fan anyway. I just take photos so other people can see and enjoy where I’ve been, but I’d much rather store the memories in my head and think back in a few years time with a smile. Like when Doug said they may be teddy bears placed in the trees and one slowly moved its head like a battery operated toy, blinking slowly at the end.

Erm…are you sure they weren’t furbys?

I’m really not…

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Stop 37: Bohol, Philippines, The Chocolate Hills And All That…

So we lost Ana… Don’t worry she didn’t die, nor did she get future endeavoured from our group, she simply had to go off and see more places while me and Doug stayed in Siquijor to do very little. But now it was time to get on the ferry to Bohol.

Nice and easy; get on the ferry at 2 and get a direct ferry to Tagbilarian, which is the port town in Bohol. Only the ferry made a stop in Dumaguete (just over an hour in the opposite direction) before going back to Tagbilarian.

4 hours and 910 Pesos later we made it! Off the boat and heading in the general direction as to where the cheap hotels were. There were tricycle taxis offering to take us to the town for 300 Pesos, which was lowered to 10 when we got to the end of the pier, We walked for a kilometre and ended up in hotel central. After asking a few places (and being offered by a tricycle taxi for a lift literally 100 metres down the road for 10 Pesos…) Doug noticed a place above a bakery called Ellen’s. It was 850 a night and we had cable TV, a hot shower, (well, a drip that came out of the shower head), a desk and twin beds (I like Doug, but we aren’t at that stage of the relationship yet…)

The internet didn’t work, so I managed to somehow bag the wifi from a guy called Michael, which I assume was the hotel’s private wifi. Doug asked and they wouldn’t give him the password, insisting that their wifi was working. So I had internet at reception while Doug was left to bitterly spout death threats to anyone who gave him a dodgy look. He didn’t go as far as to shout, “BUILD THAT WALL!!!” But he was still pretty pissed…

So we got a Pizza Hut, for internet and… Pizza. I was acting goofy with the waitresses and Doug was holding his head in his left hand as if to say ‘you’re making a scene!’ like a guy who had lost his sense of humour somewhere between aisle 7 and the meat section…

Bizarrely after our meal we were given a clipboard where we had to write our name, our phone number and our ‘comment’ on the meal. There were the generic awkward ‘meal was very good’ comments, so naturally I wrote my real name and commented “One of my arms is slightly longer than the other…” Left the clipboard on the table, said thank you to the staff and walked out. Girls if you are reading this and want to go on a date with me, I wouldn’t recommend it…

The next day was Chocolate Hill day. Here’s a link to the wikipedia page explaining why they are called the chocolate hills. I could easily write it myself but I’d be only copying from this page anyway…

Where was I…? Oh yeah, rambling on about chocolate hills. We got a motorbike at 9 in the morning and headed off counter clockwise around the island to Loay, then turned left and kept going straight from then onwards until we got to the Tarsier conservation. After that we had a little lunch at a local internet shop (Yep…) for 80 Pesos (£1.20) for the two of us (More writing in brackets because I know it’s pissing you off!) then we kept going north until we stumbled upon the chocolate hills

As you can see they are very unique. I took as many pictures as I could without random tourists crossing my path and then stared into the distance deep in thought overlooking the hills. It’s nice to actually absorb where you are sometimes rather than do things just to tick them off the listSo we stayed there for a bit learning about the history behind it, which has something to do about corals (You read the wikipedia page, it probably explains it better than I ever could…) and then went home.

Actually that’s a lie; we took a detour down a side street towards Albuquerque. Not the American town, but a Filipino one in the south of Bohol. This turned out to be what Will Smith would describe as ‘South Central…Bohol’ and was ever so slightly dodgy. Of course being the oblivious bastard that I am I asked Doug to get off so I could stretch my legs, waving like Borat at everyone and taking photos.

We didn’t get robbed at knifepoint, gunpoint or pinpoint, and successfully made our way back. We did see some random bamboo bridge as well. Here’s pictures to distract you from actually doing work:

Our final day in Bohol involved alcohol, watching MMA on the TV, McDonalds ice creams and chatting on the balcony. We even tried the ‘Superior Tanduay’ because we are rich, and that was pretty much it really. I would recommend listening to some Eminem until I get the next blog post up. If you are looking for a recommendation I would suggest ‘Soldier – G-Unit remix’…

Stop 36: Siquijor, Islanders Paradise Resort

Waking up in a hammock outside what was essentially a two bedroom hut less than five metres away from the beach, I wasn’t used to this lifestyle. I’ve always been the kind of person who struggles to relax as my mind is constantly racing, but I could get used to this kind of lifestyle. I did destroy all my sudokus though…

Me and Doug left Dumaguete to catch the ferry at midday to Siquijor island, and as we got on we sat down and were instantly distracted like bugs to lights as a girl walked past. Doug struck up a conversation with her and we followed her to the back of the ferry and chatted away as you do while you travel.

The girl’s name was Ana, and she said she had a place booked on the other side of the island if we wanted to go to the same area. Me and Doug hadn’t booked anything (this situation is a prime example as to why; it’s so much better meeting someone you click with on the bus/train/ferry and then travelling with them indefinitely rather than having separate places booked and saying “…Erm, OK then, goodbye forever!”) so we decided to get a jeepney (Filipino minibus) and a tricycle to the derelict area Ana was booked into.

We finally got to Sandugan, on the north east side of the island, and unfortunately Ana’s place was fully booked, which turned out to be fucking handy as it was a shithole. Me and Doug went to the beach and found a room at a resort nearby for 850 Pesos (about £13) and it was Ana’s turn to follow us. We went into the beach and Ana was doing her best Bond girl impression in her bikini looking into the distance slowly running her hands through her hair. She passed the test and seemed like an acceptable friend to have, so the three of us agreed to get a big ass hut by the beach the next day and explore the island on motorbikes the next day.

Except I didn’t bloody wake up. We were supposed to leave at nine. At ten o clock Doug came in to the room seeing me sprawled across the bed and said the two of them were leaving for the day, so I moved the stuff into the nice hut and considered that a job well done. I’m not a beach person by any means but I was loving doing less than nothing. I barely left the resort! The only time I left was to try and find an Italian restaurant nearby. I found it but also found a wild cow nearby that kept mooing at me as if to say it was about to trample me to death like they did to Kenny on South Park. I took the hint and went back to the safety of my hammock, smashing another couple of sudokus. Sexual charisma fucking oozing through my veins!!!

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I must have fell asleep in the hammock (I told you, pure sexual charisma…) And was woken up by the Bond girl who was back from their bike trip around the island.

“Alright princess?” Ana said mockingly.

“How are you doing honeybun?” I said on autopilot. causing her to giggle.

Then Bond girl sat down by my hammock telling me about her day. As she does so the fucker randomly starts stretching away doing yoga in her short shorts and expects me to not snap my own neck violently turning away in pure panic trying not to stare!

She then told me she was going to head off to Bohol the next day. I said to her she should stay one more night because me and Doug were but she was adamant she wanted to leave the next day as she had lots of places to tick off her list. So after having a final dinner together and drinking a small bottle of Tanduay Ana went to bed, and me and Doug stayed up until the early hours of the morning drinking by the beach and swapping stories.

The next day was more of the same; McChilling all day being mega lazy, which of course led to casual day drinking, swimming in the sea and relaxing in the hammock, which I had slept in the night before (Doug didn’t mind, as he had the double bed to himself…). I’m not normally a fan of hammocks but this one was so comfortable.

Soon it was time to leave. I could have easily stayed for a week and spent a lot of money but we had our own trip to do and Bohol was calling us, so I left the resort with a tear in my eye and went to the pier in Siquijor’s main town.

So this is where we kinda have to say thank you to Ana, because if it wasn’t for her and her long yoga legs we would have stayed in the port town which wasn’t anything special. Instead we ended up at a really relaxing resort on a beautiful part of the island, and instead of thinking “It was aa-ight!” I felt I could easily come back here one day when I’m in a lot better position financially. That’s pretty much it. I leave you with some resort pictures because…you know… Social media and shit. We have to try and out do each other and I have to make out my life is better than yours online whilst crying behind my computer eating a big tub full of ice cream wondering why someone hasn’t come up to me and said “You’ve done well this year, here’s a suitcase full of money and a pornstar to keep you company…”

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You Try And Do Something Nice…

I’m sure everyone that has met me has their own opinion of me, I’d like to think that one thing that everyone can agree on is that I try to be a nice person and treat people how I’d like to be treated. In general people are very good to me which of course rubs off on me and I try and make a point of doing at least one nice thing for others a day.

I’m in the Philippines at the moment. A country although filled with honest, genuinely nice people and beautiful scenery, is ravished by poverty. You don’t have to look far to see how desperately poor some people are. It’s heartbreaking, but what can you do?

Yesterday I was walking back to my hotel and saw some more examples of poverty; a little boy about 5 or 6 years old lying on top of a chest of drawers left outside a small local restaurant. This kid clearly hadn’t washed himself or his clothes in weeks, and looked in discomfort in the 30 degree weather and scorching heat.

I thought that’s what I could do; nothing massive to attract attention to myself, but something to show I wasn’t completely heartless. I went to a local Filipino shop (One of those shops built into a person’s shack where they live to give them some form of income) and bought a bottle of water from them. Two birds with one stone I thought; I’m indirectly giving them money by giving them some business paying a bit more than I should for a bottle of water, then by giving the kid the water I’m showing him some compassion that somebody cares…

I bought the bottle of water, said thank you and walked over to the kid who was barely conscious at this point. I placed the ice cold bottle next to him and gave him a thumbs up as I walked off signifying that I was deliberately leaving the bottle there for him, and walked around the corner feeling that I’d done something nice for the day.

Well, that’s what I thought; 10 metres down the road the kid ran after me, pulling on my trousers asking for change. He didn’t even have the bottle of water in his hand so he must have left it there, assumed I was a soft touch and was trying his luck to see how much he could get out of me. He clearly wasn’t as disadvantaged as his appearance suggested. Not only that, the kid wouldn’t leave me alone, following me for 50 metres pulling on my trousers asking for money talking over me when I was firmly saying no.

He did eventually relent, but I was left with a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m normally the first person to say that you can’t save the world and as horrible as it sounds, there are times when you have to ignore the suffering that is going on around you, but at the same time you can’t be completely disconnected. You being there as a tourist does pump a tiny amount of money into the economy which has a slight positive knock on effect in poor countries, but that doesn’t help the poorest people there.

I’d like to think as the money disappears into the economy the money gets spent amongst Filipinos leading to supporting lower class income families (like the place I bought the bottle of water from), but sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes you feel guilty seeing how much better off you are and having so many more opportunities just by being born in a different country. The fact that I can afford to leave my country and fly to the other side of the world just for pleasure is incomprehensible for a lot of these people…

Which is why I did what I did, but I doubt I’ll be doing it again any time soon. I want to help, but unfortunately you never know who is truly in need of help. You want to help, but you simply can’t. As brutal as it sounds some people have to help themselves. Especially in a country where there the culture is so different you may be actually doing them a disservice by doing what you think is helping them.

So maybe the solution here (If there is one on this random tangent I seem to be going off on…) is that charity should begin at home. There are plenty of people in need back in England that I can help when I eventually go back. I’ve always wanted to do something to help homeless people so maybe that’s where life will lead me when I do one day settle in England. Until then though I won’t be doing random acts of kindness like I did for that kid for the rest of my trip in case it ends up doing more harm than good…

Balkan Hostel Reviews: Part 3

Timisoara, Romania – Hostel Costel

Price: 45 Romanian Leu (Pronounced ‘lay’) or £9

How To Get There: Despite being a 45 minute walk it’s not that difficult to find. Turn left out the train station and keep going straight until the road bends. Go straight into the town centre (leaving the road) and turn left when you see the McDonalds. Now keep walking for about 2 minutes until you see the tram lines then turn right, and walk beside the tram lines – just keep following them – until you’ve crossed the bridge and turn left directly after the bridge. Now follow the road along the river and it’s either the second or third turning on the right. You’ll see the ‘Hostel Costel’ sign as you look down the road so if you can’t see it you know it’s the next road.

About The Hostel: It’s an old Romanian house converted into a hostel. It looks quality from the outside and is quite far from the town centre, but the centre is easy to get to. There’s also a supermarket nearby if you fancy grabbing something cheap and cooking at the hostel, but to the honest the kebabs are outstanding here and cheap. Chicken is exceptionally cheap in Romania as well, so don’t feel guilty about gorging on KFC for next to nothing here…

Also there’s a dog!!! (Not to eat, but to pet…) Not for everybody I’m sure but I was sold as soon as I saw the dog.

Selling point: The owner. There seems to be a pattern with hostels that didn’t happen at the start of my trip, but the owner was a real cool guy. We ended up drinking the first night I was there but after having issues with the punch to the face in Serbia I stopped drinking and took things very easy until I recovered. The chill out room with all the bean bags was a nice touch as well. There was an X-Box here with some games, one of them was a Pro-Evo game from 10 years ago that had Roberto Carlos and Paolo Maldini playing. I would say to invest in a new Fifa or a GTA game but it was actually fun to play a game that old.

Oh, and unlimited hot water in the showers

Overall Rating: 7/10

It was good, but not great. Part of that may have been because there was hardly any guests there after the first day. I got the distinct feeling that this hostel is far better during the high season with a lot of energy going on and multiple rooms to chill out/talk/play games/mix with people.

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Bucharest, Romania – Friends Hostel

Price: 30 Leu a night, 35 on Fridays and Saturdays

How To Get There: Turn right out of the train station and keep going straight until you can’t go straight any more, then turn left at the end of the road and take the first left. The hostel will be on your left. It’s about a 5 minute walk…cor, I love it when it’s nice and easy to explain!

About The Hostel: Cheap and cheerful! Like most capital cities in Easrern Europe the hostels are cheaper for some reason. There’s a sitting room upstairs that is probably packed in the high season but no one used it while I was there. They used the smaller one downstairs where the kitchen was

Selling point: The staff – which seemed to be every person that was staying there. Nearly every person I spoke to said they were volunteering there. So at least they had no excuse when it came to customer service! I needed to chill out and this was the perfect hostel for it, but to be honest it was very basic. I was happy with the place because of the price but if it was any more I would have been disappointed…

Overall Rating: 7/10

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Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria – Hostel Mostel

Price: 22 Lev (£10) or 24 Lev. I can’t remember, so let’s say 22…

How To Get There: The fuck if I know! Fortunately I got a bus and a local showed me the way, otherwise I would have never made it…

About The Hostel: A cool chill out vibe, which was more down to the guests. The owner was friendly enough but I felt much more of a connection with the group of Romanians, Germans and English that had grouped together and formed a super group McBusted would be nervous about…

Selling point: Hmm… This is a difficult one as I was only here for 1 night, but the sitting area was cool and spaced out in a way people could gather together and mix. Now I have developed anxiety, I get anxious sitting very close to new people and like my personal space, especially if it’s a girl in case they think I’m being creepy sitting mega close to them, but most people who travel would like this kind of layout, and so would I once I felt relaxed around everyone.

Overall Rating: 7/10 – Our room was nice and warm, but the other room was complaining that they were freezing all night. If I was there the rating would have been a LOT lower. Breakfast was good, but I think the 7/10 is a fair rating with everything in consideration.

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Istanbul, Turkey – Harmony Hostel

Price: 22 Turkish Lira or €5

How To Get There: Wow… Fuck off Istanbul! OK I don’t know exactly how to get there from the bus station, but if you can get to Mehmet Akif tram stop which is about a five minute walk in a direction I’m not particularly sure about, then take the tram until you get to Sultanahmed or Gulhane. Gulhane is pretty much by the hostel but the Sultanahmed stop is much easier to spot. From Sultanahmed follow the tram lines in the same direction, and when you see the Gulhane stop the road bends to the left. Follow the road along the tram lines and you’ll see the Harmony Hostel sign on your right.

About The Hostel: It’s above a shop, so you can use this if you need to buy some cheap souvenirs for family members and pretend you were thinking about them. It’s on multiple floors and has a terrace area at the top, which is nice, but I’m sure it’s much nicer in warmer weather.

Selling point: The owner is a genuinely nice person who you can’t help but like. At this hostel the owner also offers to cook Arab style cuisine for a small price, which is a quality idea as it keeps people in the hostel, gets them together and helps them to mix in a family style situation where they wouldn’t do so otherwise. Plus it generate a small extra profit for the hostel whilst creating an experience for travellers to try a different cuisine they may be too scared to try otherwise.

Overall Rating: 7/10

If you asked me 10 minutes after arriving here I would have said 2/10, and that was only because it was so cheap. (Find out why by clicking here) but once I was settled and found out more about the hostel the more it grew on me. This is not a perfect hostel by any means and it does need some TLC, but for the price you can’t fault it. I was debating whether to give a 7 or an 8 (Mainly because every review this time has been a 7 so far) but an 8 would be unfair on the others as It wasn’t that much better overall.

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Dubai, The UAE – The Emirates Hotel

Price: Free

How To Get There: Make sure you miss your connecting flight, then a shuttle bus takes you to the door from the airport.

About The Hostel: OK, it’s not a hostel, it’s a hotel with fricking sofas in the rooms. But they don’t do things by halves in the Middle East! There’s an all you can eat buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also it’s pretty much like a resort, like a swimming pool, multiple bars and restaurants and 24 hour service at reception for anything you need.

Selling point: Did I mention it is in Dubai…?

Overall Rating: 9/10

OK, you may be wondering why this place didn’t get a 10. This is only because my shower attachment didn’t work. It didn’t matter as I had a bath instead, but I let reception know when I left so I’m sure it’s been sorted out by now…

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In Hikers Hostel, Plovdiv. (See the Balkan Hostel Reviews part 1)

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<————–Click here to read the Balkan hostel reviews part 2

Stop 35: Dumaguete, Second Season Syndrome…

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I loved Dumaguete the first time I came here. I met a really cool girl beforehand and went to meet her family who were fantastic people. Because of this and a few other selling points about this place I ended up staying for much longer than intended and couldn’t wait to get back here.

A year passed, I still didn’t know when I’d be coming back…

Then whilst travelling through Europe I got offered a job back in Thailand. Instead of flying directly to Thailand I had an idea to go back to the Philippines, which I had fallen in love with on my last trip, and announced to my friend I was coming back. She seemed skeptical that I would, but ecstatic when I had physically booked the ticket. I had my plan to go to a few places in Visayas and not do anywhere near as much travelling as my last trip. One of the places on my radar to stay was Dumaguete. I liked the vibe of the place, plus seeing my friend. I planned on staying here at least a week, maybe two…

I got off the bus with a huge fucking grin on my face. I was back! I couldn’t wait to scout the place, even looking at the schools nearby for teaching opportunities in the future once I was done with teaching in Thailand. As soon as I got off the bus and was checked in I messaged my friend saying I was here and when did she want to meet up. Then I went to get some food and chilled in the hotel. A hotel that only had wi-fi in the lobby and bizarrely no plug sockets in the room. This was fine last time because the wi-fi just reached my room and I had I think one plug socket by the bed, it didn’t this time so it was a slight inconvenience.

Those inconveniences became more and more noticeable as the days went on; things that I was aware of before but didn’t really bother me last time because I was going out to the non-touristy areas with my friend’s family (things like beggars following you around and hassling you, people giving you false information so things would cost more, trying to jack up prices because you are a tourist, etc…), these things were beginning to weigh me down. I soon realised that the key draw to Dumaguete itself was my friend and her family, not the actual city. Don’t get me wrong there was nothing wrong with the city, but it wasn’t anything special either…

After two days I was ready to move on, only that I hadn’t heard from my friend yet. I was saved in a way by meeting a mate of mine called Doug who I travelled around India with around 7 years ago, so it was cool to catch up with him and swap stories. Eventually I heard back from Danica (My Filipino friend), she seemed distant and disinterested. It was odd, but she agreed to meet up the next day.

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Doug looking pretty content with our frozen Margaritas

 

So I abandoned Doug the next day and hopped on a bike with Danica and her brother (Doug didn’t mind, in fact, he ended up going to a proper Filipino cock fight), and the three of us went to her house. It was nice to see all her family again. (They all remembered me, it took a few seconds for me to remember all of them. Especially the kids who had all gotten older and taller) We had a few drinks, had some food and it was like old times. All except for Danica, who kept her distance and barely spoke to me, even when I made a point to go up to her and see how she was. I concluded she was just shy and continued to talk with the rest of her family, who continued to ply me with alcohol and asked questions to make us uncomfortable such as ‘when is the wedding?’ completely unprovoked. Danica looked at me apologetically. Then they all dropped me home and Danica agreed to spend some time with me the next day, so I said to Doug we would stay one more day in Dumaguete then head off to Siquijor, and I was happy to finally get to spend time with a girl I hadn’t seen for nearly two years.

She didn’t show up, and messaged me an hour later saying she just woke up. I asked if she wanted to meet later and she didn’t reply. She did eventually, but it was along the lines of she couldn’t come tonight because <insert generic excuse here>. It was strange, but this whole trip to Dumaguete this time around has been strange. I bigged it up so much to Doug and if anything I now feel embarrassed that I was so positive about this place. It was nothing like I remember it being, the only positive really being the family I hung out with, and for some reason – for reasons I still have no idea why – My friend was distant with me the entire time. So now for a place I was more than happy to come back every 1 or 2 years, I don’t know when I’m coming back, if ever. I’ve definitely got a ‘meh’ feeling about this place now and if I did it would be in the hope that the third time around catches me off guard and I really enjoy it here again.

So here’s to Siquijor being a lot better than Dumaguete has been to me this time around. Part of me hopes that in a few days time I’ll just realise that I had been feeling down for some reason and had over exaggerated how much Dumaguete has dropped down on my list of favourite places. Although I highly doubt it…

They say about some places they are much more different to see the second time around and I hope this second trip hasn’t ruined the fantasy as to how nice this place is. But to be frank right now the only thing bringing me back to this place would be to see my friend, but judging by the way she was with me while I was here it’s going to take a lot for me to come back and see her…