Monday, 28 January 2019

Monday Mural - Between the Lines

Still in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Manila, this mural entitled "Between the Lines" is located on the corner of 26th Street and 7th Avenue (Icon Plaza).

Another gigantic mural painted in May 2015, by Cyrcle, a two man collective made up of American artist David Leavitt and David Torres.

It was a bit difficult to photograph properly close by due to the food market tents in front of it.

If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; 
Just follow the Linky steps below.   Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow mural bloggers.  Looking forward to your mural finds this week. Thanks, Sami. 

Sunday, 27 January 2019

My Australia Day

I met up with Grace and husband P at Perth Underground Station and they showed me around the new Yagan Square area. I haven't been in the city for a few months and hadn't yet been there.
After lunch in one of Yagan Square's eateries we walked to the Northbridge area where some of Perth's Fringe Festival venues.

You might have seen the Perth sign in Grace's blog post on the 25th  Me pointing to the Portuguese flag
Yagan Square
Fringe Festival venues

At 4pm we were back at Underground Station to welcome Iris and husband Ingo who arrived from Germany yesterday. They consider Perth their second home and love to holiday here but had never been for Australia Day before.
After coffee in the Forrest Chase area, Grace and P left, and Iris, Ingo and I walked towards the river to try and get a good seat for the fireworks. We arrived around 5,30 and managed to get a front row spot 😉.

People sitting by the Swan River awaiting for the fireworks. Two "kangaroos" jumping around

Fireworks would be starting at 8pm, and at 7,30 pm two young ladies managed to squeeze through when we were busy standing and chatting and just sat right in front of me.
I wasn't happy, and told them we had been sitting there for a while and they had just blocked my view, so they just moved slightly to the left. Not perfect, but better as I at least was able to see the fireworks.
But before we watched the stunning sunset behind the suburb of South Perth on the other side of the city.
Two helicopters fly the Australian flag over the Swan River. Me sitting with our picnic

Sunset in South Perth

It was a fabulous 30 minutes of fireworks, 43000 fireworks were used, and it was considered the best ever in Perth with 300 thousand people attending the event.

On the way to the Perth train Station, it took a while to get through the crowds, but after 10 minutes I managed to enter the station and get onto a waiting train.
Luckily when there are events in Perth, Transperth puts a lot more trains and they also have free train access to they can evacuate the station quickly.

Photo of Elizabeth Quay and the city buildings behind
My video of the last couple of minutes of fireworks:

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Philippines - Diving with Whale Sharks in Oslob

Tuesday, 18th December -
At 5,45Am we were ready and the 3 tricycles ordered at the Reception were awaiting to take us into the village centre. Those trips always cost 
Even though it was the Dry Season, it had rained during the night and we hoped the sun would come out.
Karina walking to the Reception

The 3 Tricycles awaiting us 

At the offices of Valeroso Travel & Tours, the German owner directed people to different vans according to where they were going to. Karina had booked online through
Apekoptravel for the tour from Bohol to Oslob on Cebu island.

When our van was full we were driven to Momo beach, on the other side of the island.
Together with a group of others waiting at the beach, we walked a couple of meters knee deep on the water to board a small vessel which took us to a big outrigger canoe further out at sea. Slowly the boat got fuller and we departed at 7,00am.

The ferry (left and right) and the small boat behind the ferry

The trip took about 1,30h and it went very well, and I even managed to take a nap.
On arrival at Quartel Beach at 8,30am, we were helped by the crew to disembark from the ferry and climb a small boat.

Boat coming to get us from the ferry

Once the boat was full, it would get pulled with ropes by two young men until it got close to the beach. When we got off we waded through the water until the beach. 

At the beach another crew member collected an extra php 20 (aud 0,50) landing fee from each person to pay the beach staff who pulled the boats, we were told.
I hope that money really went to them, as they work very hard.

Isabelle and Max at Quartel Beach

We then got into 3 tricycles at  each, and were dropped at the Whale Shark Reserve about 20 minutes later.
Karina and Thomas on the tricycle behind ours

At the Reserve under a covered room, dozens of people sat, others waited in line, and others were putting on life-jackets and masks.
Karina joined the queue to buy the tickets and hire the diving masks. She bought 4 for diving and 1 for watching only (me).
I'm no good under water, but wanted to see the whale-sharks (butandings) up close, so I volunteered to film and photograph. 
Isabelle didn't want to go and unfortunately Thomas couldn't dive as per Dr's orders, as he had his appendix out 3 week earlier.

A lady instructed the divers on how to behave near the butandings - no getting closer than 5 metres, no sunscreen, no flash photography....
It all looked chaotic but was actually very well organized.

Going out to sea
At the beach groups of 10 people were called to each non-motorized banca (outrigger canoes) paddled by two local fishermen.
They rowed further out to sea and then everybody climbed out. Soon I saw two whale-sharks circling the area going to the canoes where fishermen were feeding them krill.

Feeding the whale-shark. Jose in the blue t-shirt

You are only in the water for 30 min and then return to land and hand in your life-saving vest and diving mask.
After we returned to land I didn't see any other boats going out to sea, so I presume they only feed the sharks for a couple of hours each day.

Even though I didn't see them from below the water and only saw part of them from above, for all of us it was an amazing experience to see these gentle giants.

The whale shark encounters at Oslob are controversial because the animals aren't migrating as they should, as they have became dependent on these feeding sessions.

The whale sharks used to have a migratory path in this area for decades but were previously regarded as pests by local fishermen who would lure them away from their fishing nets, and in certain areas in the Philippines they would even be slaughtered, until the fishermen realized it would be more lucrative to keep the animals around to attract tourists.

Oslob formally a sleepy fishing village is now a famous tourist spot around the globe.

Back to the beach

We changed from our swimming costumes into dry clothes and got back into our waiting tricycles who drove us to Quartel Beach.

Unfortunately this tour left us no time to go around the island to see the old Spanish ruins or to go to Tumalog Falls or even to eat...

From there the same procedure, walk knee deep in water to a paddle boat being pulled by a rope until the ferry. It departed at 11,30am with expected arrival at Momo Beach at 1pm.

This time the ferry was totally full, and a lot of people made life difficult for others looking for seats as they just kept their backpacks on the seats or put their feet on the seats next to them, which I thought was rude as they could see people going up and down the ferry looking for seats.
Eventually one of the staff members came around and asked some people to move closer to make space.

About 15 minutes after departure I started to feel very hot and could feel that I wasn't well.
Jose, Thomas and Benoir were sitting outside at the back (the bow), Karina who had been sitting on the opposite side had disappeared. I told Max and Isabelle to look after my small backpack as I wasn't well and went outside. 
It obviously didn't help that I had been rocking back and forth on the banga while watching the whale sharks....I was already a bit nauseous then.

As soon as got out I saw that Karina was already there, also not feeling well.
It didn't take long for me to start feeling sick. The waves were swelling up and hitting us and soon we were both totally wet. Karina held well but I was sick twice more, so I was glad all I had eaten that morning was 1 dry biscuit.
Soon a few more people joined us on the side deck and just sat on the floor getting wet with each high wave that hit the boat.
I looked at my watch every 5 minutes it seems, and just willed time to go fast, but instead of the 1,30h that had taken us to go to Oslob it took us just over 2 hours to get to Panglao!

When we finally arrived we got our backpacks and waited our turn to be helped off the ferry onto the small boat taking us to the beach.
When I caught up with Jose he told me I looked very pale and I told him my ordeal. 
He apparently had a great time talking to the crew who even managed to cook a fish stew for lunch and they had offered him lunch, which he tasted and said was delicious...

The van from the agency was there to pick us up and take us to the shop.

We hadn't eaten yet, it was well past 2pm and the family decided they would stay in the village centre and eat. I couldn't face any food, was still wet (so was Karina but she decided to eat), so I got into a tricycle and went to the Resort.

Once in the room I had a wonderful shower and went to sleep. I woke up at about 5pm when Jose opened the room's glass sliding door. I felt refreshed and myself again.

After everyone had a shower and change of clothes we met up at the Resort Bar for Happy Hour drinks. Afterwards we ordered 3 tricycles at Reception and went back to the village to have dinner at the Bohol Bee Farm Restaurant at Alona Beach.

Above the Bee Farm Ice-Cream shop, the restaurant was modern and well decorated, open front to the beach for a sea breeze, the staff were friendly and efficient.
They took Karina's Gluten free list to the Chef and came back with the 2 options Isabelle could eat. Food was delicious and in the end we were given a few scoops of their ice-cream to try. They are vegetarian we were told and the cone is made of cassava (tapioca) flour, which is gluten-free.

After dinner we walked back to the main road to get a tricycle to the resort and get a good night's rest after our exciting day.
Hope you enjoyed this very long post or at least enjoyed seeing the whale sharks 😊

Next week: The wedding!

This is one of my videos of the encounter with whale-sharks:

This article from 2012 has some beautiful photos of the whale-sharks and how the fishermen and the whales became friends.   from 2012

A day return ferry ticket costs from Panglao to Oslob - Php1000 ($26)
Local landing fee at Quartel Beach -Php20 (aud0,50)
Whale-shark reserve -30 min. Watching : Domestic visitors Php300 (Aud8), foreign visitors 
                                         Php500  (Aud13).
                                   - 30 min. Snorkeling: Domestic visitors Php500 (Aud13), foreign visitors 
                                      Php1000 (Aud26).
Tricycles - to Whale-Shark reserve - php150 (aud4.00)
                 - from Bohol centre to Bluewater resort - php100 (Aud2.60) 

Online booking :

Monday, 21 January 2019

Monday Mural - The Heart of God's Country

Another mural in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), Manila, on the W Fifth Building on the corner of 5th Ave and 32nd St.
This gigantic mural was painted by San Francisco based artist Andrew Schoultz.  
It depicts nature and regeneration and was painted in 2016 during the Art BGC festival.
If you like murals or have a mural you'd like to post, this meme is for you; 
Just follow the Linky steps below.   Be sure to link back to this blog and visit your fellow mural bloggers.  Looking forward to your mural finds this week.  Thanks, Sami. 

Friday, 18 January 2019

Philippines - Batangas to Panglao Island

Saturday, 15th December -  Batangas
After an afternoon refreshing dip in the pool at the compound where Karina and Thomas live we got ready to go into town for an early dinner at the Estasyon restaurant.

The always empty pool, Coconut trees surround the area and Jose on the diving board

Because we were 7 and instead of Thomas or Karina having to return home to get the others, Karina, Jose and Benoir took a tricycle into town. I went outside the gates to see them off and take a photo.

Jose sits behind the driver and Karina and Benoir on the sidecar

Lunch was tasty and good value. 
Because Thomas's Mom Isabelle is celiac she is always worried about the food she eats and Karina had an internet printout in Tagalog and English about what foods to avoid. Every time we would go out, the list would be handed to the waiter to give to the Chef. 
This time there was nothing that was safe to eat, so Karina asked if they could just prepare boiled vegetables or a salad and a couple of boiled eggs, and Isabelle was happy with that.

Karina had mentioned this restaurant had the best coconut pies, so everybody was eager to try them, but when dessert time came the young waitress said they only had 1 pie available as the others had been pre-booked for people coming later for dinner.

One pie was ordered, it was huge so it was cut in 4, with Isabelle not able to eat it and Karina and Thomas not eating either as they could have it any other time.
The pie really was special with slivers of real coconut in the cream, the crunch biscuits and perfect pastry case.

Estasyon Restaurant, Coconut pie
European looking houses across from the restaurant was an Hotel, the local Church and the SM Shopping mall

After the early dinner we walked about 10 or 15 minutes down the road to the Brewista Coffee & Hookah Lounge, where we had been the day before, so that the coffee drinkers could get their espresso adrenaline shot 😉.
Even though we were walking on the pavement once in a while a tricycle would climb on the pavement to overtake a car or jeepney, although they drove slowly we still glued ourselves to the other side so as not to get clipped by them.

On our return home we packed our bags and made sure our possessions weren't left behind, as the next day we would be leaving.

Walking to the coffee shop after dinner

Sunday, 16th December - Panglao Island
We woke up very early as we would be picked up by the driver (that Karina and Thomas usually hire)  at 7am on the dot, and he would drive us to the Airport in Manila.
We had a quick coffee stop midway the 80kms to Manila and arrived at the Airport just after 9am.

Manila Airport, our Air Asia flight, taking off over a foggy Manila

We joined the throngs of people in one of the queues, but a few minutes later an Air Asia official redirected half the queue to the other end of the airport.
Don't know why they haven't figured out that it would be easier to have one queue and then have people go to whatever counter is free instead of having a dozen different queues and then have people come from left, right and center when someone from the counter calls 😡😡 and then people getting upset that someone has gone ahead of them! 
Filipinos are also famous queue jumpers, as I often noticed!

After about 1 hour we managed to dispatch the bags and went through Security, which was actually reasonably quick.
The Domestic airport looked old and obviously not big enough for the amount of people that travel through it. The waiting lounge for all flights was crowded, and the smell of typical Filipino food being sold from the shops behind us was nauseating so early in the morning...

Even though our tickets mentioned we were flying to Tagbilaran Airport in the Island of Bohol, we were told that that old airport had closed on the 27th November, and our new destination airport would be the newly opened Bohol-Panglao International Airport.
The new "green" airport will be able to handle 2 million passengers a year.

Almost there - flying over turquoise waters

NEW BOHOL AIRPORT. The Bohol-Panglao International Airport will be the sole commercial airport servicing the province starting November 28, 2018. Photo from Cebu Pacific
The new modern Bohol-Panglao Airport (photo from net)

We took off from Manila at 11,40 and arrived 1,30h later, retrieved our bags from the carousel, and outside the driver from the Bluewater Panglao Resort was waiting for us.
Bags loaded, passengers strapped in and 15 minutes later we arrived at the resort.
We were warmly greeted by the staff, filled in the paperwork and left our suitcases to be delivered to our rooms after the 3pm check in time.

Street sign for the resort

The resort reception hall with the main pool in the background

Next came an orientation tour and finally we were taken to the restaurant close to the beach so we could have lunch as we were all starving!

On the way to the restaurant arrangements were being finalised for a wedding renewal taking place later that afternoon - the ceremony under a tree canopy and a dinner table under twinkling lights was being set on the small private beach by the restaurant. 

On the way to the Eating hall - corridor of bamboo, bridge over pond

Wedding preparations at the resort
The Meals room open to the beach on one side and a pool on the other

After lunch Karina and Thomas had a meeting with Sunshine, the wedding planner, while the rest  of us went back to Reception.  The porters carried our luggage into our separate rooms, two on each side of the two level building.  Not sure why but two of the couples were given twin beds, and the other two got queen beds. Still, they were large enough for two people and the room was spacious. The beds hung on the wall, no legs...

View from our bedroom, the spacious bathroom with a shower under a skylight and the spacious bedroom
Views of the main pool with a little island in the middle
Infinity pool next to the Eating Cabana  and leading to the beach

After a rest I returned to the beach area to take photos of the sun set at 5,30pm.

Sunset at the Bluewater Panglao resort beach

The Christmas decorations in the gardens were lit when I returned from the beach

From 2 to 4 pm and from 6 to 8 pm the Resort Bar had Happy-Hour. That evening before going to dinner at the resort restaurant we got together at 7pm for a drink. My choice was a delicious Pina Colada 😄.

Happy Hour at the Resort bar and 2 Pina Coladas

Our first day in Panglao Island was over, and it was a very happy day 😉
Bohol Island (right) and Panglao Island (left). Our resort was next to Alona Beach (bottom left)

Manila to Bohol-Panglao islands