South East Asian Adventures https://southeastasianadventures.com Boyfriend and girlfriend galavanting and munching our way across 10 countries in 7 months. Wed, 19 Feb 2020 03:52:16 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5 Kyoto – Ancient Capital of Japan https://southeastasianadventures.com/kyoto-ancient-capital-of-japan/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/kyoto-ancient-capital-of-japan/#respond Mon, 31 Aug 2015 07:14:00 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=2017 Kyoto used to be the capital city of Japan hundreds of years ago and so it hosts some of the best temples in the whole of the country as well as many festivals around the year, we were luck enough to be there during Gion Matsuri. Gion Matsuri During our time in Kyoto it rained pretty […]]]>

Kyoto used to be the capital city of Japan hundreds of years ago and so it hosts some of the best temples in the whole of the country as well as many festivals around the year, we were luck enough to be there during Gion Matsuri.

Gion Matsuri

During our time in Kyoto it rained pretty much every day.  There was some doubt about whether this festival was going to be on but they decided to go ahead with it anyway.  Pelting with rain we stood in shelter and watched the people outside move around huge shrines chanting rhythmically.  Eventually the progression moved down the road and away from the temple.

Nijo Castle

One of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites in Kyoto, Nijo Castle was founded by the famous Tokugawa.  It served as a the residence for the Tokugawa shogunate when they were in Kyoto as well as a show of strength for the other feudal lords around the area.  It has been painstakingly restored by the Japanese.

Within the Castle is the Palace where the shoguns actually lived and held court. Recently restored, you can walk around the palace and learn about the history of the Tokugawa shogunates.  It also has some very interesting, although in Japanese, information about how they restored the palace.

Nishiki Market

Along this old, and very long, road Nishiki Market has everything you want from an asian market.  Food, drinks and trinkets line the road, there’s plenty of samples to try.  If you want fresh fish, sweet things or fruit then you’ll find what you want.

Himeji Castle

I think Himeji Castle is my favourite place in the whole of the Kansai area.  It’s beautiful to look at and the more you learn about it’s intricacies the more wonderful it seems.  I visited it last year but it was still under reconstruction at that point and covered in a protective scaffolding, so I was very excited to come back and see it for a second time when it was fully on display.

Constructed over 700 years ago Himeji castle was built as show of strength and power.  Although never under siege it has wonderful techniques for protecting the castle, all explained wonderfully by our guide.

It’s also incredibly beautiful.

Next to the castle itself are some beautiful gardens which you can visit for only an extra 50 yen.

Himeji is the most impressive castle I’ve seen in Japan and I was so happy to go back there again for a second time.

Next stop

Next we’re heading all the way up Japan to the northern island of Hokkaido.  It’s my first time to this colder part of Japan.  It meant to be an untouched wilderness and I have big expectations.

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3 Days in Osaka https://southeastasianadventures.com/osaka-japans-foodie-capital/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/osaka-japans-foodie-capital/#respond Sat, 29 Aug 2015 14:49:45 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1975 This is my first time in Osaka but for Andrew it is his second time in this awesome city. There’s many things to do, see and of course eat. Osaka is the foodie capital of Japan and I don’t think  you can get a bad bowl of food. Before coming to Japan I knew there […]]]>

This is my first time in Osaka but for Andrew it is his second time in this awesome city. There’s many things to do, see and of course eat. Osaka is the foodie capital of Japan and I don’t think  you can get a bad bowl of food. Before coming to Japan I knew there was more to the cuisine than ramen noddles and sushi.

Food

There was okonomiyaki – a type of savoury pancake with toppings of your preference such as seafood or pork belly or vegetables. The choice is really yours and it is cooked fresh in front of you on a big hot plate. My first time eating at a sushi train restaurant and I ate everything I wanted to (the free green tea refill is the best) and it averages around £8 per person, which is inexpensive. Sushi is one of the cheapest foods in Japan! We also tried takoyaki  – a flour based doughball filled with octopus and topped with katsuobushi shavings – yum. There’s also countless shops selling ramen in a aromatic flavourless soup base.

Sukiyaki chain
Sukiyaki chain
Seafood Okonomiyaki
Seafood Okonomiyaki
Dried Strawberries with Honey
Dried Strawberries with Honey
Takoyaki
Takoyaki

Not just Osaka but Japan really does have restaurants that cater for everyone’s pocket. However if you are on a budget it’s worthwhile to check a few places out before committing as prices can vary drastically.

Kansai Airpot
From Kansai airport we got our JR rail pass sorted, we bought our Osaka Amazing Pass for 2 days, and we got ourselves the username and passwords to enable us to use the Wifi around the city. If you do this at the airport it will save you time later when you have to queue up at the busy railway/subway stations.
From Kansai airport there are many options to getting into Osaka city. You can get the bus (cheapest) or get the trains (fast and slow).  This guide will help you out. Prices will differ but it is relatively inexpensive. We found that if you stayed within one city then using the subway and walking was sufficient enough. The average subway fare was¥200
Wifi
Wifi is brilliant in Japan. It’s super fast and there is wifi in most of the subways and train stations. They may be offered by different companies but the majority will require you to enter an email address and accept the T&C’s. Some like Starbucks will require you to register first on their website before you can use Starbucks Wifi. Signup here before you go.
Sights
We only stayed here 3 days, which was not really enough time to see everything. Our schedule was chaotic but we had a few lazy days in Manila before we came to Japan. We immediately got the Osaka 2 Day Amazing Pass, which allowed us free entry to lots of museums, the zoo, temples, boat rides and even onsens!! You can check out how the 2-Day Amazing Pass will save you money.
We visited the history museum, zoo, temples (we chose to visit some that weren’t free), saw and watched the sunset over Osaka city. We also had unlimited access on the Osaka subway, which saved us even more money.
View of Osaka City
View of Osaka City
Shitenoji Temple
Shitenoji Temple
Shitenoji Temple
Shitenoji Temple
Shitennoji
Shitennoji
Osaka city
Osaka city
Instant Noodle Museum
Instant Noodle Museum
Hozen-ji Temple
Hozen-ji Temple
HEP Five Ferris Wheel
HEP Five Ferris Wheel
Petting an Alpaca
Petting an Alpaca
Petting dogs
Petting dogs
2 day Amazing Pass
2 day Amazing Pass
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Osaka is a great city with lots to see and do. You won’t get bored and Kyoto is just an hour away.
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Save money with the 2-Day Osaka Amazing Pass https://southeastasianadventures.com/save-money-with-the-2-day-osaka-amazing-pass/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/save-money-with-the-2-day-osaka-amazing-pass/#respond Sat, 29 Aug 2015 14:34:37 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1940 The Osaka 2 day Amazing Pass is a steal if you are planning to visit Osaka’s attractions because it allows you: unlimited rides on all the trains and buses within Osaka city . You can obtain the boundary information by asking when you buy the pass access to 28 sights, where you will get free entry […]]]>

The Osaka 2 day Amazing Pass is a steal if you are planning to visit Osaka’s attractions because it allows you:

  • unlimited rides on all the trains and buses within Osaka city . You can obtain the boundary information by asking when you buy the pass
  • access to 28 sights, where you will get free entry (boat trips, sightseeing and onsens are included)
  • access to some other sights, which you can get discount entry to
  • discount on some certain restaurants and shops with your tokens that come in the brochure when you purchase the pass

There is the 1 day pass, which costs 2,300 Yen however it is much more worthwhile to get the 2 day pass, which costs 3,000 Yen and you will have more more to visit the attractions.

Even if you only visit a few attractions the pass pays for itself and in addition you won’t have to pay additional on the subways to get around Osaka. Osaka is a big place and yes cycling around the city is an option because it is flat and very safe to cycle around but this depends on how much time you have and what you want to see. I would first go to the information place at Kansai airport of any of the JR stations to see if it is worth you getting a pass. It certainly did for us.

 

2 day Amazing Pass
2 day Amazing Pass

A breakdown of what we had saved:

Attractions we visited:

Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden Observatory – 800 Yen saved

HEP Five Ferris Wheel – 500 Yen saved

Osaka Museum of History – 600 Yen saved

Shitennoji Temple – 300 Yen saved

Osaka Zoo – 500 Yen saved

Suminoe Spa Onsen – 650 Yen saved

Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel – 800 Yen saved

Total entry to all attractions above with no pass – 4,150 Yen

Cost of the Osaka 2 day Amazing Pass – 3,000 Yen

Money saved – 1,150 Yen and all transportation around the city for free.

Tips on using the pass:

  • you can only visit the attractions once and multiply reentries will not be allowed
  • use the pass as a normal train ticket and place it through the barriers when using the trains
  • check at the information desk what attractions are closed, open, opening hours because a lot close on Mondays, some close on Tuesdays and some were closed for maintenance. It was very confusing so ask or you will waste your time.

To see what attractions the pass entitles you to click here.

To find out more about the pass click here.

To find out where to buy the Osaka Amazing Pass click here.

Read what we got upto on our Osaka post here.

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El Nido – Island hopping with amazing views thrown in for free https://southeastasianadventures.com/el-nido-island-hopping-things-to-do/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/el-nido-island-hopping-things-to-do/#respond Sat, 29 Aug 2015 13:54:02 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1947 After visiting the main city on the island of Palawan, Puerto Princessa, we booked a ticket on a bus heading up to the top of the island bound for the tourist town of El Nido. El Nido is a tiny collection of buildings, almost exclusively aimed at servicing the needs of the tourists that visit.  You have the […]]]>

After visiting the main city on the island of Palawan, Puerto Princessa, we booked a ticket on a bus heading up to the top of the island bound for the tourist town of El Nido.

El Nido is a tiny collection of buildings, almost exclusively aimed at servicing the needs of the tourists that visit.  You have the usual collection of guesthouses, restaurants and tour operators that you see in any place like this.

We had heard about El Nido from other backpackers and blogs and wanted to explore the islands that are around the El Nido bay.  We quickly booked an island hopping tour that involved some snorkelling.

Target - White Flag

But before we went island hopping I read about the local cliff, Taraw.  There was a hidden path that went up the cliff and held amazing views from the top.  I also read that it wasn’t for novice climbers, you needed good footwear and stamina.  We found a guide and headed up…  After finishing it I kept thinking maybe I should have headed those warnings because we ended totally exhausted and I was shaking from the exertion, but we did it.  Here are some pictures from the climb.

Dangerous Karst Formations
Dangerous Karst Formations
Climbing Mt. Taraw
Climbing Mt. Taraw

 

And here is the view from the top, totally worth it.

View from Taraw Hill
View from Taraw Hill

Once we’d recovered (the next day) we went hopping around some local islands.  There are a few tours to choose from (A, B, C, D) but we chose the one with a few lagoons, tour B.

We were picked up and sailed about 40 minutes to Small Lagoon where we drifted slowly through the shallow, crystal clear waters.

Small Lagoon
Small Lagoon

Next we went to secret lagoon, a small lagoon only accessible by a cave entrance during low tide.  Nothing spectacular but interesting.

Secret Lagoon
Secret Lagoon

Our last stop before heading back was big lagoon, a long and shallow lagoon with a surprisingly deep end.  You can choose to snorkel or kayak down.

Big Lagoon
Big Lagoon

The tour cost 1300 pesos each and included a very nice buffet lunch.

A good day out for not so much money!

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Puerto Princesa – UNESCO Underground River and Island Hopping https://southeastasianadventures.com/puerto-princesa-unesco-underground-river-and-island-hopping/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/puerto-princesa-unesco-underground-river-and-island-hopping/#respond Wed, 29 Jul 2015 09:00:11 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1934 This was our first time in Palawan Island. It is a beautiful place and recently I saw it was one the most beautiful islands in the world. In brochures you will see the crystal blue waters, perfect white sandy beaches against the grey karst limestone backdrops. The island is long and narrow and there are […]]]>

This was our first time in Palawan Island. It is a beautiful place and recently I saw it was one the most beautiful islands in the world. In brochures you will see the crystal blue waters, perfect white sandy beaches against the grey karst limestone backdrops.

The island is long and narrow and there are also several smaller islands (hello! Philippines is made up of more than 7000+ islands!) consisting of Coron, Busuanga and several others that make up this province.

We took the Cebu plane from Cebu to Puerto Princesa, where we spent a few days here visiting the Underground River and doing some island hopping.

In Puerto Princesa we stayed at a hostel called the Sheebang Hostel which was a distance away from the airport and there was not much outside of the hostel. The main road was extremely noisy and busy and it was great this hostel was tucked away from the main street.

We both really wanted to go to the Underground River in Sabang (80km or 50 miles away from the city center). The Underground River is located in a National Park that was recently discovered back in 2010. The cave is one of the biggest ones in the world with the river running through it and eventually joining up to the West Philippine Sea. It has no been named of the great wonders of the world and given a UNESCO title and so many people come here to venture into the longest underground river in the world. Due to it being recently discovered, a lot of research is still being carried out hence why only a small proportion is open to the public. They do say that you have to obtain tickets prior to going there because only a certain number of people are allowed in on each day but we booked our through a tour company (thanks to our trike driver or dropped us outside the agent and we bagged a 10% discount) and they will usually have tickets reserved already.

The cost of the tour is normally 1500 Pesos but we did get a 10% discount.

To be honest I was a little disappointed because we only got 45 minutes in the cave. The journey takes 2 hours to drive to Sabang along the short and windy roads (with the joys of someone vomiting freeflow on the way). You then get there and have to wait due to the number of people waiting to get on the local boats to the island. You can spend 550 Pesos to do the zipline but we hadn’t brought that much cash with us so we waited and had the buffet lunch, which was nice. After that we headed out on a boat to the island and then queued up for another hour and a half before getting on a boat and heading into the cave. I have seen pictures of the river from a Filipino friend but I just think now with so many tourists flocking here it isn’t as beautiful anymore. The 45 minute tour is nice but not informative (no details about the discovery, research etc). There is some information but then you will be spending the last 30 minutes trying to spot the elephant, Buddha, snake etc!

Our boat
Our boat
Getting to the underground river
Getting to the underground river
Underground River
Underground River

We also decided to do some island hopping but we were both very excited about because we wanted to see the views that we had seen in the pictures elsewhere. The cost for 1 day was 1000 Pesos and then you had to rent the snorkel and mask. Shoes, which were recommended could also be rented but we decided to risk it and save 300 Pesos. Everything was kind of adding up and we weren’t used to paying for added extras. We were in a group of 8 and because there are multiple islands we had to choice which of the ones we wanted to go to. Island Pandan was apparently the most beautiful island but again we were told we had to pay extra to go there. We refused to pay but ended up going there anyways. We visited 3 islands in total – Starfish Island, Cowrie Island and Pandan Island.

Starfish Island was a total disappointment. I was angry because people were just picking up the starfish and taking selfies and then throwing them back into the water. No one was telling them not to do it and that there actions would have consequences for the sealife. Even the Fillipinos were joining in. The whole place was a tourist trap. It was not nice at all – the coral was dead and I didn’t see many starfish.

Starfish
Starfish

The next island was Cowrie island with its white sand and blue waters. We had our buffet lunch here too.

Beach
Beach
Island Hopping
Island Hopping

Island Pandan was also great but again, I just felt something lacking with the all of this island hopping. Yes sure it was nice scenery but I think people’s actions had put me off a little bit.

Pandan Island
Pandan Island
Juvenile Starfish
Juvenile Starfish

 

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Review: Guesthouse Asahikawa, Hokkaido. Japan https://southeastasianadventures.com/review-guesthouse-asahikawa-hokkaido-japan/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/review-guesthouse-asahikawa-hokkaido-japan/#respond Wed, 29 Jul 2015 08:13:39 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1912 This is a small, cosy guesthouse located 15 minutes walk from the JR Asahikawa train station.  Location It is easy to find the guesthouse. As you get off the train at JR Asahikawa head towards the west exit. When you walk out the Aeon mall will be on your left hand side. Keep walking for […]]]>

This is a small, cosy guesthouse located 15 minutes walk from the JR Asahikawa train station. 

Front of Guesthouse
Front of Guesthouse
Location
It is easy to find the guesthouse. As you get off the train at JR Asahikawa head towards the west exit. When you walk out the Aeon mall will be on your left hand side. Keep walking for 15 minutes until you see a laundry place and it is on the left hand side of the block. The doorway is next to the vending machine.
Dorm room
There is a mixture of females only and mixed dorm. In the mixed dorm there were 8 beds in total, each with a bright light and a power socket. There is a hook outside your bunk to hand your towel etc and if you can find a clothes hanger lying around. It’s quite cosy, but there is enough space to place you backpack into your living space. If you want more space go for the beds near the back, but these beds are also warmer. There is no aircon inside the beds, but a fan located outside the room.
Tatami style bed
Tatami style bed
Bathroom 
– Despite (I think) there being only 3 dorm rooms, there was only 1 bathroom for the entire guesthouse. Sometimes they put up a sign to say you should shower early to avoid the queue. There is also one toilet for females and one toilet for males. 2 sinks are located outside the toilets so you have to brush your teeth and wash your face in front of everyone. They also have no hot water besides the hot water in the shower. A hairdryer is also in the bathroom. Besides that everything is kept clean despite the numerous number of people using the facilities.
Female Toilet
Female Toilet
Other facilities:
– A self service kitchen with everything you need to cook up a meal – cups, plates, frying pan, microwave, sink and cutlery.
– Green tea and coffee – it is polite to leave a tip
– Fast wifi – had a little problem but they have 2 wifi connections
– Luggage storage – free and they will look after it
– Information guides and road maps. The owner has information about car rental for £20 a day too.
Kitchen
Kitchen
Common Room
Common Room
Sinks
Sinks
Overall it’s a good hostel with a good atmosphere and mix of people. It’s also close to the JR station and there are lots of shops, restaurants and bars nearby (ask the owners about the secret base). However a bit pricey but this is Japan, prepare to cough up more money. 3000yen per night.

There details are below:

Website: http://www.guesthouseasahikawa.jp/dish.html

Address:

〒070-0036
北海道旭川市6条通7丁目
31-10
日昇ビル2F

Email Address: yukari@guesthouseasahikawa.jp

Telephone: 0166 73 8269

 

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How to Get a JR Pass in the Phillipines as a Backpacker https://southeastasianadventures.com/how-to-get-a-jr-pass-in-the-phillipines-as-a-backpacker/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/how-to-get-a-jr-pass-in-the-phillipines-as-a-backpacker/#respond Wed, 29 Jul 2015 07:54:01 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1900 Our next stop in our trip was Japan (my first time and I actually didn’t sleep the next before I was so excited!) and we needed to get the JR (Japan Rail) pass somewhere in Manila. We decided to do it whilst we were travelling and not back in England because we had changed our plans a little bit. So we wanted to zoom all the way up to the most northern point in Japan, visit a really nice island there, and do a few stops in Hokkaido (where it reminded us of home) and come all the way back down to Tokyo.

The JR website has some good information regarding outlets where you can purchase the JR pass. As we were in Manila, we went to a travel agents to get ours (there are a few places to obtain a pass). The link is here and you can also see there are outlets in Cebu too.

I emailed a few and I worked on the basis that I needed the pass past and whoever got back to me first would get my business.

The two companies that got back to me were:

Attic Tours Phils. Inc. (I decided not to go with them because they charged an extra 5% if you pay by credit card)

Unit 203 Coko Bldg. 1

Patio Madrigal Compound

2550 Roxas Blvd. Pasay City,

Manila.

Telephone: 556 6301 to 05 Loc. 201

Mobile: +63 922 8900654

Universal Holidays Inc.

Mezzaine Floor,

Dusit Thani Hotel

Ayala Center,

Makati City,

Manila.

Telephone: 032 859 3828

www. universalholidays.com

inquire@universalholidays.com

With Universal Holidays Inc we could:

  • you can purchase the 7, 14, 21 day pass (green car or ordinary car)
  • get the JR pass the same day. You have to wait for around 15 minutes (depending on how busy they are) for them to print of the receipt where you will exchange it for the pass in Japan.
  • pay by cash or credit card with no extra fees (there fees are already included in the overall purchase of the pass).
  • they also print off a useful leaflet detailing how to exchange, use the pass, restrictions which is very helpful.

The location of the office is very easy to get too. You get the LRT to Ayala Station and then ask someone for directions. It’s right outside a big shopping center inside the hotel itself.

Voila….15 minutes later and here is the pass (we had already exchanged the ticket in Japan!)

I would definitely recommend Universal Holidays as I was emailing them back and forth with a bunch of questions and they were always quick to email me back.

JR Pass Front
JR Pass Front
Japan Rail Pass
Japan Rail Pass

 

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‘I saw 10 turtles around Apo island’ https://southeastasianadventures.com/i-saw-10-turtles-around-apo-island/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/i-saw-10-turtles-around-apo-island/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2015 12:17:40 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1836 After travelling around the Philippines for a bit you soon realise that all the backpackers congregate at one hostel because there are only a limited handful in each city. Cheap accommodation is scarce and it makes me think that setting up a business in the Philippines is difficult? I am not sure but the availability compared to […]]]>

After travelling around the Philippines for a bit you soon realise that all the backpackers congregate at one hostel because there are only a limited handful in each city. Cheap accommodation is scarce and it makes me think that setting up a business in the Philippines is difficult? I am not sure but the availability compared to other Southeast asian countries is non existent. So as I was sitting around other backpackers you hear a lot of stories and one of them was this snorkelling trip, arranged through a hostel around an island called Apo Island. Everyone was raving about the number of turtles they saw and it had never occurred to me how abundant the wildlife was around the Philippines because everyone talked about Malaysia and Thailand and the diving around those countries.

So off we went to Dumaguete – a town famous with many colleges and universities. We took the bus from Boljoon to Lilo-An port, located in Santander. From there we got on a boat bound for Sibulan. There were boats every hour and the journey time was 45 minutes. When we arrived at the Sibulan port we got a jeepney and tricycle (total cost was 38 Pesos) to get us to Harold’s Mansion.

Harold’s Mansion is again the only hostel in Dumaguete and they have cheap dorms for once (250 Pesos). Men and women are separated. The aircon is cold and they serve good food for reasonable prices. The breakfast is okay and consists of bread, coffee and tea. The damp in the rooms is a problem but you can overlook that when they only charge 250 Pesos per night, almost half other hostels.

Attached to Harold’s Mansion is a dive shop but all we were interested in was the snorkelling trip they offered around Apo Island for 1000 Pesos, which was really cheap. It includes everything from transport, snorkelling gear and lunch – a full day out.

You can stay on Apo Island but prices were more than our budget but it is not a crowded place at all.

Apo Island
Apo Island

We saw 10 turtles in total (even at the start of the boat trip people were saying they could see turtles!) Some were so big and some were smaller. They were happy feeding on the seaweed whilst we floated on the surface watching them. From time to time they would come up to the surface for their next breath so it was amazing there is one swimming next to you. Most of the time we were quite close to the beach so there are lots of beautiful corals and fishes to look at.

I would definitely recommend people to come to the Phillipines – the sea life, beaches will not disappoint you. Most of the areas are becoming quite touristy so if you want to see 10 turtles instead of one, Apo Island is the place to go. I don’t know when I can see so many turtles in one place again.

Harold's Mansion Boat
Harold’s Mansion Boat
Another Green Turtle
Another Green Turtle
Our Snorkelling Group
Our Snorkelling Group
Green Turtle
Green Turtle
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Swimming with Whale Sharks in Oslob – Cebu https://southeastasianadventures.com/swimming-with-whale-sharks-in-oslob-cebu/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/swimming-with-whale-sharks-in-oslob-cebu/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:28:47 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1838 After Manila we took a flight to Cebu city, which is an island south of Manila (£32 per person one way including 20kg of luggage). The airport is Mactan Cebu International Airport. The best way to get around the Philippines is either by boat if the weather and schedule permits. The other option is flying, which is […]]]>

After Manila we took a flight to Cebu city, which is an island south of Manila (£32 per person one way including 20kg of luggage). The airport is Mactan Cebu International Airport. The best way to get around the Philippines is either by boat if the weather and schedule permits. The other option is flying, which is a bit more expensive but incredibly quick so it all depends on your budget and time constraints. We took a mixture of boats and flights throughout our trip around Philippines.

The low cost carriers around the Philippines include:

They always have promotions now and again and sometimes the fare can be dirt cheap so it’s worth looking back at their websites from time to time. The Philippines Airlines isn’t specifically a low cost carrier but prices are sometimes the same as Cebu Air.

Another thing to note is everytime you leave an airport you need to pay a ‘departure tax’. This could be anywhere from 400 Pesos to 1300 Pesos. However if you book your flights online you will likely have already paid the fees as part of your overall airfare.

Cebu city was a stopover for us so we could explore the southern tip around Boljoon and Oslob (whale sharks!). You can sightsee around Cebu city but it was very crowded and busy. There are a few churches nearby.

We stayed at Le Village Guesthouse and from there we took a taxi (70 pesos + 10 pesos entrance fee into the bus terminal?! – yes very bizarre). There are lots of buses departing and different types of buses. Some have no aircon whilst others have aircon. As it is not a lot more expensive we opted for the aircon bus as the journey was at least 3 and a half hours dependant on traffic. It does make stops on the way to drop off and pick up passengers. The fare was 120 Pesos.

At Boljoon we stayed at Noordzee hostel on the main road. All the bus drivers know this place so you tell them you want to go there and they know when to drop you off. Boljoon is a really small town and we only stayed here for the hostel as there is only one in the area. It is a good location to go to see the whale sharks from here and less expensive than the hostel where the whale sharks are.
Boljoon Cebu
Boljoon Cebu
Clear Waters around Cebu
The clear waters around Cebu
Noordzee Hostel
Noordzee Hostel
Dorms began at 400 pesos each. Here is our review.
Here you can do the following activities:
Oslob town is famous for swimming with the whale sharks:
We arrived there early to avoid the crowds. We woke up at 5am and got the bus at 5:30am. There isn’t a bus timetable so you holla at a bus signposted for Oslob and tell them you are going to whale sharks. It takes around 30 minutes before you get off and head to one of the stands. For half an hour of snorkelling it is 1000 pesos which includes life jacket and snorkel equipment. There is also a 100 Pesos entrance fee. You then get on a boat to the briefing place where they tell you not to feed the  sharks, to maintain a 4m distance and not to wear sunscreen etc
Swimming with Whale Sharks
Swimming with Whale Sharks!
Then we headed out into the sea, which is not really that far. We swam with 3 of the whale sharks. Most of the time they were feeding as the fisherman would throw chunks of food for them. It was so surreal, there are huge around 12m long!! There’s nothing really to be scared about and we also hired a go pro, as mine had broken, for 500 Pesos which we shared amongst 3 of us. It’s amazing that this place has these gentle giants. When they open their mouths it feels like you might get sucked in!
Afterwards you can use the showers and the one and only toilet.
Lockers are also provided so bring a padlock to store your valuables before you head out as the all you will be taking is yourself and your waterproof camera and snorkel out with you.
We then decided to walk to the Tumalog Waterfalls, a 3 tiered waterfall that I had seen online and off we went. Just ask someone for the directions because it is not far. At first they may offer to give you a ride for a fee – 120 pesos  but we decided to do it the backpackers way and walk it. The first part is fine and very flat, but then the road got steeper and steeper. 3km took us almost an hour and sucked the life of of us. One of us nearly gave up but we just kept pushing and thinking about swimming afterwards in the waterfall and pool. It did not disappoint and the water was so cold! Everyone was having a blast! We got some really nice pictures.
Tumalog Falls
Tumalog Falls
Freezing cold water
Freezing cold water
Then headed back for hostel to nap zzzzzzzz. There are other activities you can do, which were provided for by our hostel. Read here for more information.
After swimming with whale sharks we heard about turtles on another nearby island so we headed out again for our next trip.
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Review: Le Village Guesthouse – Cebu City https://southeastasianadventures.com/le-village-guesthouse-review-cebu-city/ https://southeastasianadventures.com/le-village-guesthouse-review-cebu-city/#respond Wed, 22 Jul 2015 11:25:35 +0000 http://www.southeastasianadventures.com/?p=1876 As we wanted to head south of Cebu to swim with the whale sharks we spent a day here and there at Le Village Guesthouse as a stopover.

We arrived at Cebu Airport and then took a metered taxi from the entrance of the building. The total fare does vary because there are lots of traffic jams in Manila. We hadn’t really experience any in Manila but we were thinking how great it was to get a metered taxi and not having to barter with the fare and getting ripped off. However we were so wrong. The sat in a traffic jam all the way from the airport into the city. At one point it was 45 minute and all you can do is hope that the cars start moving. There was a lot of road works at the time but mainly because there were too many cars. The total fare amounted to 350 Pesos when actually it would have been a lot less as it was only 20 minutes away.

The hostel is nice with tables at the front to socialise and relax with. There is also a pool table and a free beer or soft drink for staying the night. There are a lot of dorm rooms here and we stayed in a what seemed to be a recently refurbished room. However the second time we stayed in the room next to the reception and it was terrible – noisy and smelly as it was attached next to the bathroom and you could smell the sewage. We did get use to the smell and it was only for one night so try to get the dorms away from the reception.

Reception
Reception

The dorm beds are nice, basic and clean. Not all of them have power sockets that were working. There was a big cabinet to store our belongings and also lockers near the bathroom to lock away valuables. Note that the lockers are very small. The aircon worked really well too. The bathroom was basically 3 showers and 3 toilets all lined up next to each other in a big room. Sinks are available on the other side. The one problem was the flushing situation as Cebu was experiencing a draught you could only flush the toilet using a bucket and pail, which was really annoying because a trickle of water would come out to refill the bucket and many people did not flush the toilet properly. I don’t think the staff cleaning the toilets would have been happy.

Dorm room
Dorm room
Bathroom
Bathroom
Seating area outside
Seating area outside
Pool table
Pool table

Other things to note:

  • The wifi is okay (although to be fair it is slow anywhere in the Philippines!). You can only access it in the reception or outside seating area.
  • There is 2 ATMs nearby – BDO, which charges a 200 Peso fee for a withdrawal and the Metrobank further down the road, which doesn’t charge.
  • Sometimes the electricity goes out (again, common throughout Philippines).
  • The lockers are small and they have a key provided already.
  • They do cooked food and cold drinks and a free water dispenser. You can use the kitchen area but it is self service only.
  • There are also food shops nearby and a fruit shop right outside.
  • Taxis cost roughly 70 Pesos to the bus terminal if you are catching a bus to Boljoon.
Small lockers
Small lockers
Kitchen
Kitchen

Overall for the price of 450 Pesos it was a good nights sleep and we learnt a lot of places and things to visit by talking to other people, who also stayed there.

 

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