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A few weeks ago I had a business trip planned for Manila and since Corey had yet to make it to this lovely country, he flew over from Phuket and met me for the weekend. We traveled together by taxi, then ferry to Puerto Galera, a renowned SCUBA destination, in the Philippines. The journey took us about 4 hours total and was well worth the efforts as the diving was just as reported- Superb!
We had limited time but did two full days of diving from Angelyn's Resort, located right in the heart of PG. If you are looking for a good shop, reasonable lodging, with good food as well, it's a great choice. It is not fancy, but clean and right on the beach. Corey and I were very spoiled as we dove every dive with Bernard, one of the shop's dive masters our own boat for every dive. That alone made the trip almost perfect. Bernard listened to what we wanted to do and made it happen! http://www.angelynsdiveresort.coa
We saw healthy corals, a huge variety of colorful nudi's, schools of beautiful fish, and more. I even saw an octopus in the afternoon that I followed for quite some time until it got tired and hid under a rock.
The last day, Bernard promised me a turtle. Corey was quite worried, as a dive master himself, he felt it was crazy for Bernard to do this. It took us some searching in a grassy area not far from the shore, but we found a HUGE beautiful turtle, just hanging out and having her lunch. I was stoked!!!
The best part about diving from PG is that the dive sites are all less than 10 mins by quick outrigger boat. I was surprised that the water was so clear and clean, and the coral so health, considering it's not all that far from Manila, but it really was amazing! The small town of PG is a bit rough, and the locals are trying anything they can to make a buck including quite a bit of touting. One of the better tricks is to pay a guy to carry our heavy bags from the resort (worth the pesos) but then to get them on the boat, you either pay another guy or do it yourself. Pretty much typical of a poorer country with key tourist destinations. Here are a few pics from our walk around town which from one end to the other takes about 15 minutes.
On a final note, we left PG and the Philippines as a small cyclone was hitting the region. We luckily were not delayed but this time of year is a bit sketchy, thus the low numbers of tourists and uncrowded diving.
We hope to get around to some of the other areas well outside Manila. The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 islands and if they others are as good as this, I'm diving in!
We made it out alive! Klang Cave in Krabi Province, Thailand
I'm behind again on blogs, as usual, so here we go! Don't forget, if you receive these by email, click the link, as there are slide shows embedded that don't show up unless you are on the blog site! You can also visit www.sailgirldesign.com and take a trip down memory lane with us. I do this occasionally. It's one reason I'm sharing our fun, so I can remember it later. Thanks for following our shenanigans! If you are having fun, please share our website and comment.
A few weeks ago I had some time in Thailand. Corey and I rented a car for the weekend and ventured over to the seaside town of Krabi. We really had a ball in Khao Lak (see previous blog) and the motorbike ride was definitely part of that adventure, but Krabi is a bit too far for a motorbike, especially in rainy season. It took us around 3 hours to drive to the beach side of Krabi as we stopped along the way to check out what ever tickled our fancy. One amazing detour took us into Klang Cave.
Klang Cave is a significant cavern with a small river and huge stalactites and stalagmites. The mountains in the Phang Nga and Krabi areas are limestone so there are quite a few caves. We think we found the best one! Happening upon a sign, we turned off and drove down a small dirt road surrounded by jungle and coconut palms. There was a little welcome center, with no one there. Actually a bit spooky. It has to be manned sometimes as there was a flashlight sitting on a bench and the batteries were ready to go. Corey borrowed it and I used my phone flashlight app-- off we went. The pictures below are some from Klang Cave. Don't miss the ghost globes and the captions.
We also explored a very beautiful temple on the way to Krabi. It was actually between Phuket and Phang Nga. An older lady selling temple goods told us that the monk the temple was dedicated to had a "good mouth and was very wise." In other words he spoke good things! The temple had multiple buildings and everything was perfectly maintained. A beautiful place!
Another discovery on the trip was a temple near Krabi called the Tiger Cave Temple -Wat Tham Sua. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Cave_Temple
It's actually a complex of temples plus a hike up 1237 stairs to the top of a cliff overlooking the region. The view was well worth the climb!
The story behind the name Tiger Cave Temple in summary is that many years ago a local priest was meditating in the area and would see a tigers living in, and around the cave. There are no longer tigers in this part of SE Asia but the cave was named for them. It is one of the most sacred areas in the Krabi province.
The hike up those stairs was brutal as they were very steep. Actually, it was worse coming down! My legs were jelly! I was lucky I've been exercising as we didn't stop there. We went up and down some more stairs and then around the back of the next hill. We followed a trail through a canyon with thick trees that took us by more caves, plus a Buddhist monk village. It was absolutely beautiful and felt like we'd gone back in time. Their rust colored robes were hanging out to dry on the clothes lines outside petite, well-kept shacks. This area was all arranged near the caves and a large outdoor worshipping area with a large Buddha statue. It seemed most people don't do this extra hike, so once again we were pretty much the only ones there taking in the wonderful sights. The air was thick with humidity but the rain stayed away.
Our final destination was the beaches of Krabi. We spent one night in the shopping, nightlife area on Ao Nang Beach, and the next night around the corner at Hat Noppharat Thara Beach. We both enjoyed Krabi. We imagined it is like Patong used to be. It is also slow season so it was particularly quiet.
We enjoyed the different scenery and some time at the beach. Including some great massages. If you visit on slow season expect cheaper prices but the water is rough and not a blue and clear.
Well, that's it for this week's update. Stay tuned for a write up about our jaunt over to Puerto Galera, Philippines for a weekend of diving! I seem to run about 3 weeks behind but I'll try to get to it shortly before I forget any cool details. Cheers!!!
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Peggy and Corey
As most of you know, Corey spends most of his time in Thailand and I spend much of my time traveling in SE Asia and living between Singapore and Thailand. On a recent weekend spent together we adventured out from our place in Phuket, north to Khao Lak. Two friends of ours, Paul and Mon, tagged along and together we had a grand time. Keep in mind that we are now into rainy season in this part of the world. In the tropics when it rains, it absolutely pours! At least for a few minutes or so at a time. That said, we took this jaunt on motor scooters. Not sure if we should be considered brave, or silly! Turns out either way- we were quite lucky!
This picture is of a beach we stopped at on the way to Khao Lak. It was part of a huge resort that seemed all but closed. It was absolutely gorgeous! Since we were on our motor scooter we took a lot of breaks. Any sign that we could read or any suggestion of something interesting took us on a side trip. This beach was a reward for following our whimsy that day. Khao Lak is about a 3 or 4 hour motorbike ride north of Phuket. It can be done much more quickly, and comfortably in a car, but hey, where's the adventure in that? Right?
Above are some pictures from our way up the coast towards Khao Lak. There were some beautiful beaches and we stopped at the Hot Springs Resort, looking for the hot springs. We didn't find the hot springs. As I mentioned the resort was all but closed. It is slow season, but really? I was so surprised as I would certainly recommend it if someone wants a gorgeous get away. The downside was that is was quite far from anything to do but relax... is that a problem?
Elephant rides are offered in many places in Thailand. I personally am not a fan of this attraction and don't plan to ever partake but the owner of the Full Moon Bar, whose beach we hung out on, said that the elephants used for this local attraction are free ranging at night. That made me feel a little better. They were a great photo opp.
We ultimately stayed at a resort called Brisas in Khao Lak. It was beautiful and since it is low season we got a killer deal. Corey, Paul, Mon and I went for a swim in some pretty significant surf, then relaxed in the pool with drinks before going out for a tasty Thai meal. Such a nice little get away!
Our visit to Khao Lak falls almost 10 years after the huge tsunami that wiped out much of this region and beyond. The SE Asian tsunami struck after a very large earthquake on December 26th, 2004. For Corey and I, it visiting the memorial was a sober reminder that you never know when your time on this earth may come to an end. Not only because of what happened where we now call home, but also because we were supposed to be in Phuket that day years ago. Some of our family and friends may remember hearing about the event from thousands of miles away and becoming very worried about us. Corey's work had taken us to China and we had plans which included a stop over during Christmas for a few days in Phuket. Phuket was hit very hard by the tsunami and no doubt we'd have been staying at the beach. Instead, Corey's project was delayed, and we made a detour to Hong Kong instead, but did not tell anyone about our last minute change. I don't know how many of you watched 'The Impossible'- a movie about a family staying at a beach resort in Khao Lak. While living in Australia I watched this movie alone. It was intense, and I knew it would be very hard to watch realizing we could easily have been there. I cried and thanked God for our timely detour and the chance to do more things on this earth to hopefully make it a better place.
On our way back from Khao Lak, we did hit some rain. We had little rain overcoats in the motor scooter that we put on, and took off... and put on. It was quite funny as it seemed that every time we put them on, the rain stopped. In Thailand, it is very humid even when it's not raining- and hot! The discomfort of sweating in a plastic cover was not appealing and the flapping sounds the jackets made was quite annoying. I'm happy to say our use of the jackets was quite minimal and overall we had a pretty dry trip! Following the "stop when we see something interesting" principle found us at a waterfall, a cute coffee shop, and a lovely temple. Such a great way to travel.
I'm back in Singapore now as this little jaunt was a few weeks ago. Stay tuned, I have one more little side trip to share!