This past April, I embarked on another journey. Given the circumstances at office (which I’ll explain later), I decided to go somewhere ‘interesting’. This time, a country which upon researching last year, I realized offered so much more than I thought. I’ll go into the details as to why I took the plunge to go as far as Philippines when I begin this series 2 months from now, but until then, here a few of the 5000-plus photos I took from this 2 & 1/2 week long trip.
Flew over the South China sea for the first time -- very pretty (Taken on my cellphone)
First day of sight-seeing: The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
Where 17,202 soldiers, Filipino and American, are buried
A rainbow caused by the sprinkler and sunlight
Met my reader (& now friend) Aimee who helped me a LOT in Manila
Arrive in Banaue the next day
Go on a tour by trike through a region quite prone to landslides
Embark on what became the toughest trek I ever did
Seeing these villagers carry livestock and kilos of grain for nearly a 1km through terrain that I found *incredibly* tiring even with hiking boots on, made me want to never complain about corporate life ever again. Listening to pigs squeal (& the resulting echo in the valley) for more than half-an-hour also made me not want to have pork... (that day)
After nearly 1 1/2 of trekking, the view I get in Batad. A village with no access via road and one that only got electricity recently.
And since these children don't see new faces often (least of all an Indian), played with them for a bit as well
After a break, trek all the way back through tracks destroyed by landslides... but this time, with a local I hired to carry my bags. My body just couldn't take the load a second time.
End the day with a view of the grand daddy of them all, the Banaue Rice Terraces
The sheer size of the Banaue rice terraces are a bit hard to capture on photograph
The next day, take two jeepneys to get to the small town of Sagada
A small, but beautiful town!
Sagada is also famed for its limestone caves
Which was an amazing 'first' experience for me
Sagada is also famous for this, Echo Valley. People laid to rest for years on the side of a cliff.
Leave the next day and drive through beautiful terrains to get to Baguio
Then, on Good Friday, arrive in the town of San Fernando in Pampanga district for the main reason I chose to fly to Philippines at this time of the year.
Warning: The next few photos are going to be graphic in nature.
I don't have to time explain what the rituals are about and why they celebrate it this way, but you can read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Pedro_Cutud_Lenten_Rites
Mind you, it was scorching hot that day
"You want photo? One bottle!"
The famed annual re-enactment ceremony of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ
People volunteer to be actually nailed to the cross
And in case you don't believe me...
Taken on my cellphone because of number of people jostling to get a close up view
(Also taken on my cellphone)
Street child: "Hey! One photo mister!" (grabs baby sister) (I start to click) Street child: (Oh, he's *actually* taking my photo?) ~shy~
The night mass with beautiful floats of... erm, Christian characters from the bible(?)
Arrive back in Manila for a guided tour by Aimee. The Manila Chinatown was nothing special, but their fire engines were!
Manila Cathedral in Intramuros
I get everything... except the 'chicken' part. As seen in Robinson's mall in Manila.
Arrived in Cebu to kick off the second leg of my journey. This was the ceiling at the oldest church in Cebu.
Take a ferry to Bohol, hire a trike and drive one hour to see this: the Chocolate Hills
1,776 hills that make for a phenomenal geographical formation
See Bohol's Tarsiers. An animal I think, became the inspiration for Dobby's appearance (from the Harry Potter films)
Arrive in Sambang in Palawan island to visit the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park
The underground river is a 8.2 kilometers long but tourists are only allowed 1.6kms in. The place is in contention for the 'New 7 Wonders of the World' contest.
Another interesting and never-done-before experience for me! Also, quite a challenge holding the light *AND* clicking photos
Trust me, there's a LOT more photos from inside the cave but no time for me to work on all of them now.
Once out, had lunch on Sambang beach.
Wake up early the next day, take the local bus to the Northern most town of El Nido
Have sandwich bun ice cream for breakfast (Rs. 15)
Arrive at my guesthouse in El Nido beach. Sit out, stare into what's right in front of me...and do little else. (Taken on my cellphone)
Go on an island-hopping tour the next day. Snorkel in a lagoon wearing a life jacket...
..and attempt kayaking for the first time. It was a lot easier than I thought! (Unfortunately no photos of me doing all this because I was afraid to get my valuable camera equipment wet. I've had previous bad experiences with salt water screwing up my equipment)
Stop on an island for lunch
Which was barbecued fish and pork
Kids on this island must be sick of drinking coconut water
Watch the sunset on Las Cabanas beach
Have a 'home-cooked' dinner of lobster soup, grilled lobsters, fried tuna and rice, all for Rs.250
Leave El Nido the next morning
... and leave the island of Palawan at sunset, thereby concluding my sightseeing around Philippines.
Needless to say, I have many more photos to share and plenty of experiences. This was without a doubt, the
best trip I ever made in my life (so far)!
Read the entire series here:
Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time
Philippines 2011: Day 1 — Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio
Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village
Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc
Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley
Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)
Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites
Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia
Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town
Philippines 2011: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple