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Saturday 18 Feb 2023
Siargao, Philippines

Stranded on a remote island but it's both a curse and a blessing!

Finally getting a chance to update the blog. I'll do my best as the internet connection here is really dire plus it's affected by the weather.

For the past week I've been on the island of Siargao on the East of Philippines. My main reason for being here was to take some wingfoiling lessons at the start of my holiday. According to lonely planet the best time to visit the Philippines is February but little did I know that February is actually the tail end of the rain season in Siargao. My reason for choosing Siargao for wingfoiling lessons was that the school had a nice approach using a calm lagoon rather than the choppy waters that I experienced when I did a lesson in Tarifa. My lesson in Tarifa just ended up with me not being able to even get on the board in the first place due to the choppy waves.

So the plan was to have a nice calm warm lesson environment.

Whoa boy was I in for a shock!

I'll back up a bit. I flew from Istanbul to Cebu Philippines and then after 6 hours I was redirected to Siargao. Due to jet lag I had ended up arriving there pretty much with 30 hours of no or little sleep due to all the mess ups on the Turkish airline side. Still though I decided to power through so even when I arrived at 9:00 a.m. I decided to stay awake until midnight that night so it was probably 3 days I had with no sleep LOL!!

Before leaving Cebu airport I had to take out as much as I could from an ATM although it was a challenge to find an ATM that was willing to accept my debit card and I had a panic attack when I thought that I wasn't gonna be able to take any money out! I had read that there were hardly any ATMs on Siargao but then after arriving there I discovered that there are hundreds! Doh! Still though it was nice to have the security of having cash ready to go.

I checked into a really nice resort in Siargao to help me get over the jet lag and also to mark the beginning of my holidays.  It was called Bravo Resort and was run by Spanish owners though the staff and managers there were actually just local Filipinos who were lovely and polite all the time which is something I found amongst all the Filipinos. In reality I only actually met Filipinos once I got off the plane in Siargao and was greeted with a balmy 28c temperature air.

Of course the first thing I noticed was rain but I assumed that was just temporary and bad luck on my part and it would actually resolve and the sun would come out for the next week that I was going to be there. Nor did I pay any attention to the driver who was telling me about typhoon Odette that destroyed the island 13 months earlier and actually ripped down about 60% of the islands trees not to mention countless lives lost. Little did I know the time but this was actually quite significant since it was becoming the norm on the island due to global warming.

But over the following few days the rain continued and more crucially there was hardly any wind which is obviously one of the requirements for wingfoiling lessons to take place!

I'd already committed to staying for 5 days so there was no getting out of that and deciding to go elsewhere so I had to learn to make the most of it and I actually discovered there was a lot to see and do than i had planned.

The first port of call for a visitor to the island is to rent a scooter so that you can get around. The rental rate is outrageously cheap at 6 euros per day not to mention you could fill a tank with 2 euro of petrol!

Riding around the island is an experience in itself as you explore remote hidden lagoons and beautiful beaches passing through mountainous green scenery with rice paddy fields, and making certain you don't collide with one of the hundreds of wild dogs that run around the roads with gleeful abandon. I've never seen happier dogs than the ones that are here!!

Went to an amazing waterfall too!

Of course it was a bit of a shock when I discovered so many other scooters ride at night without lights which is suicidal!

The people here are also really cool and it was a shock to me how different they are to other people in South East Asia. They have the same sort of subtle humour that we have in Ireland and places like that and they get the jokes and it's all very familiar. Still though they are fantastically generous and very funny while also being very courteous and when I did something stupid like leaving the key in the bike overnight it was waiting for me untouched the following morning in the main car park!!! Have been Ireland the bike would have been nicked!!! I also garnered local friends who would join me for a few meals whereas otherwise I would have been sitting on my own!

In the end I managed to get one wing foiling lesson in when the wind finally returned, the problem being that the wind was actually far stronger than normal and it ended up being just as hard as it was in Tarifa!! DOH!

Still though it wasn't a complete waste and I did learn a lot which I can continue teaching myself back home.

The real Adventure on the island was everything else that took place when I was traveling around and discovering hidden waterfalls and trying to avoid slipping off the bike in extreme tropical rainstorms.

By the 18th of February I was supposed to be flying to Palawan in the west of Philippines and I was looking forward to a complete change because the weather over there is sunny and bright. But alas the weather stepped in and the flights were canceled even though I had gotten up at an outrageous 4:00 a.m. hour to grab the morning flight. Due to packing I had gone to sleep around 2:00 a.m. so really only had 2 hours of sleep!!!

I managed to get the flights to Palawan moved 2 Days Later but that gives me 2 days now to just relax as I'd done pretty much everything I had wanted to do here. The rain still persists though and I am looking forward to finally getting a proper suntan although I have gotten burnt a few times from the few minutes of no rain due to the high UV here!!!

Given that I've now lost 2 days more from the itinerary I'm going to have to limit what I can do in Palawan and also I've had to exclude a few things that I really had wanted to do originally. With the Turkish Airlines cancellations and the cancellations in Philippines flights I've actually probably lost around a week out of the three-week holiday! Ouch but these delays are ironically caused by global weather changes so this could be the new normal with our new world. Food for thought.

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Philippines 2023

Travel blog by peterforan

Getting saturated in tropical rain on scooter

Getting saturated in tropical rain on scooter

Philippines has been on my must-do list for a while now, particularly as everyone was gushing about it while I was in Indonesia. This trip was supposed to have been done around 2018, but delays and then Covid hampered things a tad!

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    Bangka traditional boat
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    Nice beach in front of resort
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    Getting saturated in tropical rain on scooter