Terry's 73rd Birthday Adventure (13 April - 10 May 2009) Back to Valhalla's Adventures
Terry tries to do something different each year on his birthday. This year is no exception.
The adventure began with the purchase of some transportation ... in this case a 2009 Ford Ranger Trekker pickup bought from Ford Cebu in mid-March. The 1,000KM checkup fit nicely into our plans so on 13 April we traveled to Cebu from Port Bonbonon via road and LST ferry crossing between Negros and Cebu islands.
16 Aprill. From Cebu we shipped the truck and ourselves (including many of Rose's family that live on Cebu) to Tubigon, Bohol
We checked into the Talibon Watergate Hotel (didn't see Nixon or his cronies) then joined the family for a big dinner at Rose's mother's house in Mandawa.
Terry introduced Jill and Trixie to the logic game of Sudoku.
17 April. Family touring day. With a hired van and our truck, 20 of us began an all day tour of Bohol. We enjoyed Sagbayan Peak, Chocolate Hills, lunch on the floating restaurant on the Loboc river, a 250 kg python, Hinagdanan cave, and ended the day at Panglao Island for snacks and swimming.
18 April. Terry and Rose checked into the Terra Azul resort at Panglao ... not recommended!
19 April Drove to Tubigon and shipped the truck and ourselves back to Cebu.
21 April. Boarded the Superferry 12 for an overnight journey, with the truck, to Manila. The previous day's drama was to discover that we had a booking to ship the truck but not ourselves, and the ferry was FULLY BOOKED!. Thanks to the intervention of the freight shipping lady, we snagged the last suite on the ferry, which made it a very comfortable passage. If you have the time this is a very good and reasonable way to travel. We may come back to Cebu the same way!
22 April. Collecting the truck by mid-morning our first stop was the American Embassy, 10 minutes from the ferry pier. Terry put his passport in to have extra pages added then discovered it wouldn't be ready until the afternoon. Decided to leave it there and deal with it later. We then negotiated the horrible Manila traffic to journey to Talisay on the shore of Lake Taal. Stayed at Gloria de Santos Resort as recommended by the Lonely Planet.
23 April. In company with a Dutch gal, Sandra, staying at the resort, we took a fast banca (Toyota automobile engine powered) to the island within the lake. We rode horses 5KM up the island to see the island within the green lake within the island within the lake within the island of Luzon.
We drove up the mountain to the city of Tagatay on the rim of the volcano.
We stopped at the unfinished mansion of former President Ferdinand Marcos, which has been converted and renamed the People's Park in the Sky
and had a terrific lunch at Leslie's ... HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
24 April. A long day of traveling over very congested and poor roads to the city of Naga ... to find most places fully booked. Stayed at Villa Cerebes, a new place and a bit expensive at PHP3500 ... USD 72 by local standards. At least it had Wi-Fi in the restaurant.
25 April. Drove to Donsul with a stop 9 KM up the side of Mt Mayon at the Mayon Planetarium.
Unfortunately not much of a view thanks to the cloudy weather.
We were a day ahead of scheduled reservations in Donsul but found a 'homestay' ... small 1BR local house with a yard full of chickens that didn't stop cackling and crowing all night!
26 April. Checked into the Vitton Resort next to the Visitor's Center which is the focal point for whale shark tours.
27 April. Day 1 of swimming with the whale sharks.
Whale sharks (Rhincondon typus) are the largest fish on the planet, growing up to over 12 meters and weighing up to 15 tons. They feed on plankton, krill and small fish. Here in the Bicol region they are locally called butanding.
Sorry ... that's just an illustration on the left! But it's a size comparison with a human.
Though it was our first exciting closeup
it was a little disappointing with only
two cooperating fish that day.
That evening we hosted Terry's birthday party with the five other 'swimmers' from our boat and a family from Manila that we had just met.
28 April Day 2. Our departure for the whale shark experience was delayed this day for the 'Fluvial Parade' of 64 bancas as part of the Buntanding Festival which began this day.
And this was a FIVE whale shark day! For a video of the day go HERE. Use your browser's 'Back' button to return here.
29 April An approaching storm system thwarted our plans to explore Masbate and Catanduanes islands.
We began our journey back to Manila and had this view at the Cagsawa Ruins.
On February 1, 1814 Mayon Volcano erupted and sent lava flows cascading down directly to the area. Recorded as the worst eruption of Mayon volcano, which killed 1,200 Albayanos (local residents) and caused Cagsawa church to be submerged with lava flows. The church bell tower remains today.
And who can resist showing you this one?
Ummmm ... just where are we anyhow?
Our road trip this day was in rain, mostly heavy, which further impeded progress through the multitude of jeepneys and tricycles that claim and clog the National Highway. After 465KM we found an oasis ... the Rockpoint Hotel and Spa at San Pablo City, Laguna.
30 April Arriving in Manila at 0900 we got completely lost several times attempting to pass from the South Luzon Expressway to the North Luzon Expressway. After 3 hours (in pouring rain) we hired a taxi driver to go with us and show the way. This only took one hour when we were able to continue on to Subic Bay on high speed expressways ... and the rain even cleared as we left the Manila area.
This part of the adventure comes to a pause as we enjoy time visiting with friends in the Subic Bay Freeport area.
10 May We had plans to do a driving loop around North Luzon which got delayed by typhoon Chan-hom passing to the north of Subic and over the Lingayan Gulf. So we had a departure party and traveled back to the boat today. The North Luzon tour will await our arrival in Subic Bay later.
Terry's birthday present from the blackbirds was not appreciated! In addition to the mess we had three nests, seven uncracked eggs and one chick.
Our new name for this bay is now 'PORT BIRD-SHIT-ON' !!!!