Week 16: Surviving Christmas away from home

December 23, 2008 - Filed under Weekly Report

It’s strange spending Christmas in a tropical country, especially when it’s snowing like crazy back home. I’m not usually one to get homesick, but around the holidays I think even the most seasoned traveller gets a little nostalgic.

I remember my first Christmas away from home. I had been living in Amsterdam for almost a year, and couldn’t afford a plane ticket home for the holidays, so instead I was staying put.  I think I tried extra hard that year, to keep my self busy with all kinds of Christmasy things just so I wouldn’t have time to miss home. 

Week 16: Surviving Christmas away from home photo
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Posted by: Kelly

It takes a village…

December 16, 2008 - Filed under General

We live right next to a tiny fishing village. Every night, just before sunset all the people from the village gather to catch the evening fish. After weeks of watching from our patio, last night I decided to head down to the beach for a closer look.

It takes a village... photo
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Posted by: Kelly

Week 15: Tis’ the season

December 15, 2008 - Filed under Weekly Report

December 15th… Only 10 more days till Christmas, and it couldn’t feel less like the holidays. Despite the fact that this country is a little obsessive about decorations, and lights and especially carols, I’m still not really in the ‘holiday spirit’. Perhaps it’s partly because I’ve been hearing Christmas carols on the radio and in stores since we arrived, and that decorations started to pop up in early September. Yes that’s right…. September.

Week 15: Tis the season photo
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Posted by: Kelly

Broadband Internet availability in the Philippines (on the beach)

December 12, 2008 - Filed under General, Planning

Yup, we’re nerdy. We’re traveling with the condition of having internet connectivity wherever we are. And not just an internet cafe or dialup connection. If we’re spending any length of time in one place, we need broadband. For many people an internet cafe will suffice for checking email and logging into Facebook, but when we’re in work mode the volume and size of files we’re dealing with requires a fast connection. Before coming to the Philippines the availability and cost of broadband service was a huge concern of ours. Not wanting to live in a city, was it even possible to get fast internet on a beach?

We spent a lot of time looking for an ISP in the Philippines. There are plenty. Unfortunately, the majority of them are dialup service providers with the few offering broadband service located in major metropolitan areas like Manilla, Cebu, and Bacolod. Even then, service can be questionable depending on the quality of the telephone lines in your neighbourhood. A few service providers offer dedicated lines, but the urban location didn’t make this a viable option for us. We decided to just up and go. Maybe we’d have to resort to satellite internet service? Not out of the question, but expensive. Read More…

Posted by: Shim

Cebu Pacific announces new flights

December 11, 2008 - Filed under Travel

Cebu Pacific announces new flights photo
Good news for anyone thinking of visiting us, or traveling in the Philippines. Cebu Pacific, the Philippines largest domestic carrier, has just announced that as of January 2009 they are expanding their service.  As well as adding flights on some of their already existing routes they will be adding service to four new destinations:

  • Cebu to Legaspi
  • Cebu to Cotabato
  • Cebu to Siargao
  • Cebu to Dumaguete

The Cebu to Dumaguete flight is the one we are most interested in, as it opens up some easier options for getting around. Previously our only option was to fly to Manila. Just last week we went to Cebu by ferry, which takes 4.5 hours. The trip isn’t too bad, but given the choice we’d definitely opt for a 1 hour flight instead. 

Official Press Release
Cebu Pacific Route Map

Posted by: Kelly

Week 14: Diving, diving, and more diving

December 9, 2008 - Filed under Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Weekly Report

This week was all about the diving. We had a bit of a break from the work side of things and decided to take advantage of it while we could.  At the beginning of the week we did a couple of dives around Dauin. One at the Pier, which was a little bit busy for our liking, and then one by ourselves on the House Reef, which we’ve become quite fond of. There are a few schools of larger fish and a resident turtle who’s there pretty much every day.  Also a few weeks ago the boys from the dive shop relocated their old speedboat which sank a few years ago, to just inside the reef. It’s become home to a bunch of groupers and a few bat fish already. The added benefit of the house reef is that we can dive it whenever we want, since we don’t need a boat to take us there, which means we’re usually the only ones on it.

Week 14: Diving, diving, and more diving photo

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Posted by: Kelly

A post for the ladies: Tampons in the Philippines

December 9, 2008 - Filed under General

Before we moved to the Philippines, I hadn’t really considered not being able to find tampons. I’ve traveled in Asia before, as well as South & Central America, even in Egypt and never had a problem finding tampons. It wasn’t until I went looking for them here that I became aware of not only how rare they are, but also how controversial they are in this country.  Read More…

Posted by: Kelly

Getting Around in the Philippines

December 3, 2008 - Filed under Bikes, Trikes, and Automobiles, Planning, Travel

Transportation in the Philippines can seem a little daunting at first. Unlike many other South East Asian countries, there isn’t really an established “backpacker trail” and getting from place to place can take a bit of time. That being said, there is usually more than one option to get you where you want to go and depending on your budget there’s sure to be something to suit your needs. So whether you choose to travel by air, land, or sea, remember that getting there is sometimes half the fun.

Airlines

Domestic air travel in the Philippines is relatively affordable, and of course the quickest way to get around. The ferry from Manila to Puerto Princessa is a grueling 22 hours (if everything runs on time) where as the flight will take you a little over an hour. Read More…

Posted by: Shim

Week 12 : Not just a vacation anymore

November 24, 2008 - Filed under Scuba Diving, Stuff to do, Weekly Report

It’s starting to feel like we actually live here now, and not just like an extended vacation. We’re starting to get into a bit of a routine and things are feeling really comfortable. It’s also been almost a month since we’ve done anything really ‘touristy’.  So when Cita, the woman who owns our house, asked if we wanted to join her and some friends on a day trip to Bias, to go dolphin watching we jumped at the chance.

Dolphin watching in Bias has been on our list since we got to Dumaguete, but we hadn’t managed to make it up there yet.  We hadn’t figured out the best way to get to Bias and arrange the boat trip, and we also weren’t sure when was the best time to actually see dolphins. The ‘tourist trail’ in the Philippines is significantly under-developed compared to a lot of countries we’ve travelled to. It can be hard to find specific information on arranging travel and sorting out details, so when Cita invited us along, we were quite happy to let her do the organizing. Read More…

Posted by: Shim

We moved. To a beach front house in Dauin.

November 14, 2008 - Filed under General, Travel

Ah, paradise. This is what we were searching for. After 2 months in the Philippines, looking high and low for the ideal apartment, hut, beach house, or resort to call home… we’ve finally found it.

We moved. To a beach front house in Dauin. photo

Puerto Citas is just minutes down the beach from the El Dorado Beach Resort where we were previously staying. When we first arrived in Dumaguete, we scoured the Dauin area looking for places to stay because of the active diving scene in the area. Our first impression of Puerto Citas from the beach was, “That looks expensive.” Shame on us for not looking into it further! As Kelly mentioned in her last post, we ran into the previous occupants after they had decided to move out and they corrected our assumption. It’s actually a reasonable price considering the size of the place… and that’s what we’ve come to value in the last 2 months. For $400 a month we had rented a 1 room studio, which is a steal compared to rent in Vancouver… but after a month or two, that room became small and uncomfortable. With us living and working in the same space, it quickly became a challenge since there was just no area to relax or when necessary, be productive. So, we opted to double our rent and move out of the resort and into a larger space. Read More…

Posted by: Shim