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5 things: my favourite islands in the Philippines

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How lame am I? I bought a scratch map of the Philippines on a flight last year with Cebu Pacific Air (I also steal their inflight ‘Smile’ magazine because it’s actually quite good!). I couldn’t resist, mostly because I love maps. My husband even had a wall sized world map made for me when we lived in Nepal.

Anyway, I digress. The map. I started scratching off all the places I have been to in the Philippines, and counted that I’ve been to 30 islands. Now considering the Philippines has over 7,107 islands, this is a mere drop in the ocean (no pun intended), but to get you started here are my top 5 islands in the Philippines:

  1. Siargao – So I might be a bit biased here, considering Siargao is in the same Province as my mum’s home (Surigao del Norte), however you can’t go passed its surfy laid back vibe. It is still relatively untouched and I’ve got a blog post on it coming right up!
  2. Cabugao Island (Isla de Gigantes) – The natural and rugged beauty of this place, and its surrounding islands, made me feel all Robinson Crusoe-y. The lack of typical touristy facilities and difficulty of getting phone reception really added to the adventure. I have previously posted about it here and here.
  3. Palawan – despite our experience there, I have vowed to go back and conquer Palawan! That is, to go when it is not raining…
  4. Bohol – a special place because my grandmother and grandfather and their families were originally from here. Additionally, Bohol has so many things to do, that don’t just involve lounging on the beach.
  5. Boracay – you may be surprised that I included this, but like I said in my post about Boracay: despite the crowds, White Beach really is a beautiful beach.
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5 things: Tough food decisions in El Nido

Lunch with a view at El Nido Corner
Lunch with a view at El Nido Corner

Food is definitely not an issue in El Nido; your toughest decision will be where to eat and trying to plan it around all of your activities!

Continue reading “5 things: Tough food decisions in El Nido”

5 things: Travel Finds

untitled5.3 I don’t get the opportunity to go shopping here in the Philippines often due to my busy work schedule, but when I get the chance to go to Manila – a mall is always on the itinerary! Last weekend my husband and I went to Makati again to spend some time with my niece and eat some delicious food (more on that later!). Here are a few things I bought that I think would make great souvenirs or presents for your friends back home – wherever your home is:

  1. Acacia wooden bowls (Kultura Filipino, SM Makati)
  2. Traditional Filipino embroidered coin purse (Kultura Filipino, SM Makati)
  3. Soludos espadrilles (Shoe Salon, Glorietta 3, Ayala Centre, Makati)
  4. ‘How to be Parisian’ book (Powerbooks, Greenbelt 4, Ayala Centre, Makati)
  5. Pearl ring set ( H&M, SM Makati)

Happy shopping!

5 things: handbag essentials for the Philippines

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We haven’t really sat still since we’ve been here and I feel like I’m constantly packing and repacking my bags. We have traveled to some remote and not so remote places and I have noticed a pattern in the things that I need to carry with me.

So here are 5 things that I have learned to never take out of my bag for anyone traveling to the Philippines or South-East Asia for the first time:

1. Tissue Paper (especially if you are female): In Asia, the sewage system and pipe work is small and not as developed as in Western countries. Hence, why you will see signs to not throw any tissue paper or waste down the toilet; because if you do a nasty blockage could soon follow. I’m not sure if this is the reason most toilets (a.k.a ‘comfort room’ or ‘CR’ in the Philippines) don’t provide toilet paper or if it’s just an extra cost, but to maintain your comfort throughout the day make sure you BYO toilet paper or tissue paper.

2. Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer: for the similar reasons as above but also to ensure you don’t catch any nasty bugs. Unless you are in a mall or hotel, most bathrooms don’t have any soap, and sometimes you’d be lucky to have running water! I carry Thank You Hand Sanitiser and Organic Clean Natural Hand Sanitiser.

3. Sunglasses: the sun is bright and quite glarey (is that even a word?!) in the Philippines, so to make sure you’re not squinting all the time, pop a pair of sunglasses in your bag. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with Sunnies Studios (I won’t tell you how many pairs I have 🙂 ).

4. Sunscreen: as I mentioned above, the sun here is HOT. After just over two months here, I have a bunch of new freckles on my face. The SPF 15+ in my normal face moisturiser wasn’t cutting it, so now I put an extra layer of sunscreen on so I won’t look like a chocolate chip cookie when I get go back to Australia. I use local natural Filipino brand, Human Heart Nature Safeblock Sunscreen.

5. Snacks: not just because they are cheap and plentiful here 🙂 But after you have been gallivanting and exploring in the hot sun for a few hours you will feel hungry and by the time you find a restaurant and order some food, another hour or so will have passed (our experience, anyway).

Is there anything else that you always carry with you when you travel?