Thursday, December 06, 2012

Philippines 2012

Until now, my overseas holidays have been to 'comfortable' countries. Australia, England and Scotland, Germany, and the Cook Islands. Places where people speak English (or Scottish) and life is predictable and well organised. Last week, I travelled to the Philippines to attend my brother's wedding to a Filipino lady. The trip was definitely out of my 'comfort zone', and all the more enjoyable for that.

Butterflies at Changi Airport

The trip from Australia took nearly three days. I stayed overnight in Singapore Airport's Ambassador Hotel - which I can recommend - and another in Manila - which I can't - before flying south to Tacloban, on the island of Leyte. Tacloban's a nice town, much smaller than Manila but still with the mad traffic that characterises the Philippines.

Sunset at Raphael's Farm

The wedding was held at a function centre called Raphael's Farm, just north of Tacloban. The day after, we headed over the San Juanico Bridge to a resort on Samar.

The resort was surrounded by small basalt islands, and had black basalt beach sand. Beautiful!

The day after I flew out, Typhoon Bopha hit Mindanao and killed over 300 people. While Tacloban had a lot of middle class homes, the town and surrounding countryside were also dotted with small clusters of houses, called Barangays. Built on any available flat land from river mudflats to the sides of the road, many of the homes are built of bamboo, thatch and recycled corrugated iron. Small wonder that in a Typhoon, they get swept away. It's only because the authorities moved thousands of people to higher ground that more weren't killed.

Roadside houses and food stalls.

 But, my lasting memories of the Philippines will be of amazingly friendly and cheerful people, copious yummy seafood, and a beautiful warm, green, vibrant country. Mabuhay!


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