Highway stories and more

Stoffel was supposed to write a post about the time we decided to go for a relaxed Sunday drive to Duka Bay and back. The post was supposed to be about how it wasn’t relaxed and we almost didn’t make it back.

Driving on the highway in the Philippines is definitely not the same as what we are used to. Only one lane. Houses and little sari- sari stores all along the highway. (Sari- sari means variety in Tagalog.) You feel like you can’t blink or you might hit something. By something I mean: The oncoming bus- IN YOUR LANE, the truck, the motorella going at 20km/h, the dog, the crazy driver in front of you, the motorbikes, a person or a chicken…

So this time around, having to travel the same road again, we took the bus. (…We HAD to take the bus. We don’t have a car. We had the “bakkie” for a weekend only and after testing the “relaxed-sunday-drive-idea”, I think we don’t mind not having a car…)

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I wish I could show you all the mental pictures I took while staring out the window of our yellow bus. (Avoiding the window curtain like a snake…bus window curtains for some reason gross me out…) The stories that play out while we’re passing are truly picturesque.  You wish you can stop and hear everyone’s background and life story. We just flew by them, taking in a moment of each person (or animal) as we drove by. Children buying sweets at a sari- sari store. Two siblings picking up their umbrellas in a synchronized fashion, while their mother works in the field. Chickens sitting on poles…(why are they sitting on poles?). Old men, lazy on benches smoking cigarettes. Hundreds (thousands?) of coconut trees. Broken down Filipino style houses and the hustle and bustle of the little towns we pass through.

After almost nine hours of taking mental pictures (okay, maybe three, I slept for six…), we arrived in Surigao, from where we would take a ferry the next morning. We bought our tickets, entertained the locals by just being foreign, and had sushi.

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We sat on the hard wooden benches of the LQP ferry by 5am, all wrapped up in our favorite color…Two and a half hours later arrived on Siargao Island…and …we …fell in love…

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We were welcomed by the usual craziness of arriving somewhere. The moment the taxi/habal- habal/motorella drivers spot you, they try to convince you to take their ride. We picked our guy – Marlin – and he took us to our accommodation.

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Emerald House was pure bliss with the Swiss touch to the Filipino cottage we stayed in. We unpacked, made coffee and relaxed in the hammock on our “stoep”. After that, the exploring began. The island has so much character. It reminds me of something between a small west coast town and our beloved Jeffreys Bay. People here are much more use to foreigners, and we are definitely not the first and only tourists to fall in love with this island. There are many foreigner-owned accommodations and restaurants.

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Our first stop was the beach, of course, and then Hippies Surf shop to rent our boards and ask when high tide is. Got the boards, swimsuits on, and awaaaaay we go! Surfed for two hours straight and experienced one of those zoom-out moments when I turned around and faced the shore, while the sun set in perfect island style with the coconut trees doing their thing.

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We hired a motorbike and bought some food at the local market to cook in our cottage kitchen. Love watching the locals at places like these.

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We drove (in circles, we found out later) the bike until we had a flat tyre…AGAIN! After fixing it we went for some more exploring and experienced “Salvacion” beach, which is a beautiful stretch of white sand and blue blue water. Met an old guy who started a one sided conversation with us in Cebuano/Visayan, telling us (we think!) about the cottages they are planning to build in that beautiful area. We nodded and smiled and pretended to understand and walked away wondering how he felt about the planned development… On our way back we met some kids, got lost in translation again, and turned around to capture this little guy on the water buffalo…

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We watched the rugby at a local (aussie owned…) bar, and watched the Jbay Open final at that same bar while witnessing the crazy shark attack in our home town.

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Our best morning was spent on a boat, heading towards different surf spots along the coast, and finding a break in the middle of nowhere. Surfed it for two hours and had those waves all to ourselves while our boatmen caught a nap in the shade. Was a pretty cool experience.  We have the sunburn to prove it…

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Had a very expensive pizza on our last night and woke up again at 4am to catch a ferry back to Surigao. Ate McDonalds for breakfast (desperate times…)Took the long bus trip back, passed more stories and pictures along the highway, and arrived safely back in CDO. We were met by a fowl smell coming from the fridge as we entered our flat. What a welcome. Luckily we managed to find the culprit and we are now able to breath again.

Stoffel still checks windguru to see how the waves are in Siargao…we miss it already:) Hopefully soon we’ll be able to surf some more and lavish in the beauty of that island.

Peace out.

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