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I don't stop...
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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!
Hey, blog readers! I notice when I get this blog in my email it only seems to show single pics. Some of the sections of most posts have a slideshow imbedded. Please let me know if you are seeing the slide shows. If you are not, try viewing the blog in your browser. This is easy to do by clicking on the title of the blog in your email.
You can always visit our website- www.sailgirldesign.com and check out the last page of the site which is the blog.
Thanks!! Just wanted to make sure you were seeing all the fun pics.
Peggy and Corey
So, I do keep a fairly regular blog on this site. It's primary purpose is to keep family and friends up to date on our wanderings. As a somewhat regular "tweeter" I ran across a contest for amateur photographers and figure, why not?
The mission is to create a blog with photos that fall under these categories...
Let's see what Black's thinks of my examples of Wild, Fast, Panoramic, and Epic:
This was taken from a beach in the Similan Islands, Thailand. We were on a live aboard dive boat over Christmas.
A gorgeous place, where even mermaids may be spotted...
Songkran is Thailand’s lunar new year’s celebration and has been going on for centuries. It is celebrated across the country, from small villages to the alleys of Bangkok and there are two main themes- water and powder!
"The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder. Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100 °F or 40 °C on some days). This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.
Although many people are focused on dousing each other with water, there is another way of marking someone and blessing them, by putting powder on their face.
Songkran is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbors, and monks.
Thais often travel back to where they grew up for family reunions and especially to visit and pay respect to their elderly. A visit to the temple is always important to ensure the upcoming year is blessed and bountiful." (Wikipedia)
This year’s Songkran found Corey and I in Phuket. Corey had been lucky enough to experience Songkran once before but it was my first. Hopefully it will not be my last. We packed a supposedly-waterproof bag, dressed in clothes that we hoped may dry at some point, and jumped on our scooter. I have to mention here that we both were wearing flowery shirts as this is another symbol of Songkran.
As we rode carefully into Patong from Kathu, armed with super soaker water guns, Corey kept a steady hand and navigated past a few “wet” spots. Families and neighbors, including kids come down to where their side street meets a main road and set up soaking stations. Many put ice in their water. The first ice water splash definitely got my attention! On the way to town we stopped by our last apartment. The kids we had befriended were standing on the side of the road, they recognized Corey and started yelling "Mac, Mac!" They truly enjoyed soaking us as we feebly attempted to give them a bit of a watering down.
The town of Patong is a crazy frenetic place at the best of times, at Songkran it is absolutely nuts. We again carefully made our way past multiple soaking stations to the WE Hotel, our hangout for the night. The WE is on Bangla Road, but the calmer section. It was a perfect place to play from, and use as our home base. We had a rooftop pool and our rooms looked out over Bangla Road. We were only on the second floor so we sprayed people from our window.
After getting settled at the WE, we took our first stroll up Bangla towards the beach. Throughout the day it just got crazier. You can see the pics, which although fun, don’t really do it justice! You really have to experience Songkran at least once yourself.
After we wore ourselves out playing in the waterfight in front of the WE and cruising Bangla, we made our way to the clubs, ending up at the TaiPan. Since we were also celebrating Mon’s birthday, we had champagne and not sure what else. Long story short, I ended up being invited up on stage with the performers. Luckily there are NO pictures of this…
Enjoy the photos. This is one festival that has to be experiences in person. Preferably on Bangla Road!
As you all have figured out by now, I travel, a lot! Mom spent her last week in Singapore with Corey and I. We did as much as we could cram into those few days including the Cable Car that flies from Sentosa to Mt. Faber and a fun day trip over to Pulau Ubin. I would bet you haven't heard of Pulau Ubin unless you've spent more than a few days in Singapore. More on that in a bit.
Corey helped Mom get on her plane home as I had to leave for work in Australia prior to her flight.
I hated to see Mom go but knew she had to get home to enjoy spring in the Tri-Cities. I am sure she has memories to carry her a ways! I hope you all have enjoyed her adventures written here!
If anyone fancies a trip to SE Asia, let us know so we can figure out what country we will be in so you can find us!
As I mentioned, Corey, Mom and I crammed quite a bit into her last week. The cable car that runs between Mt. Faber and Sentosa is fun way to see some of the island. We took the subway to Harbourfront station and from there we flew up to Mt. Faber. After having a snack at the top over the top of a couple of cruise ships, and landed in Sentosa. Sentosa is an island off the southern tip of Singapore that has been turned into a destination. It has hotels, a casino, Universal Studios, beaches, and more. It's a fun place to go for the day. Mom and I spent a day at the beach there a few weeks earlier. See below for that adventure. Here are some pics of our cable car ride and more.
Pulua Ubin lies a short boat ride off the NE corner of Singapore. It's truly a step back in time. Instead of traffic noise, there are crickets. The pace is as fast as you choose to pedal your own bicycle. It's a welcome escape from the city.
The picture to the left is Mom and Corey riding the bumboat over to our island adventure. Getting to this little ferry was a trek in itself, as it was a long bus ride from our apartment. The ferry doesn't have a schedule. It leaves when enough people show up. Luckily, we weren't the only ones looking for a ride. The primitive wooden boats hold about 12-20 people and most are brightly painted. They sputter smoke as they carry you across the small expanse of water between the islands. We were one of a couple groups of tourists joined by some shoppers that had obviously gone over to Singapore to grab some things that likely just aren't obtainable on their small island.
Upon arrival to the island, we rented bicycles and took our time riding along shady roads. It felt a bit like riding in a sauna but the pace was leisurely. We ended our day at one of the seafood restaurants near the wharf where we caught a return ferry back to the mainland after a tasty lunch.
Well, Corey has been in Thailand pretty much full time for over a year. I have finally caught up with him and even remain employed by CareFusion! My new title is Clinical Application Manager- Asia. Basically, I'm doing pretty much the same things as I did in Asia before I relocated but now I'm officially- here. I will be based in Singapore but traveling back and forth to Phuket, Thailand (to hang out with Corey) pretty much weekly, as well as working all over Asia. So, we are now officially transferred out of Australia and living quite near the equator. Pretty exciting stuff! If you are looking for a hot, humid vacation come visit!
This picture is from our recent live aboard dive trip. We spent the 4 nights over Christmas on a boat in the Similan Islands of Thailand. It was a fabulous trip! Kath, our tour leader and the entire crew were amazing! Plus, we had a great group of divers aboard. A few photos are below. The trip started in Chalong, Phuket Island and as we motored out of the harbor the crew set off firecrackers to frighten away any bad spirits or bad luck that may affect our trip. There was also a wonderful banquet and flowers presented on the bow to ask for safe travel and blessings. It must have worked as we had great weather, smooth sailing and beautiful diving. Corey took more of the underwater photos this trip and we were having some equipment challenges. At least I got some fun topside pics. The topography in the Similans is quite unique. Lots of big boulders both above and below the multi-hued water. Our fireworks must have also spooked the whale sharks that had been sighted recently. No worries, Kath took us to her favorite spots and I now can't wait to go back for more.
Before I jump too far ahead to Asia, I have to talk about leaving Australia and it was downright hard to do! I have made friends for life in both Australia and New Zealand. I absolutely will miss everyone and I hope that we meet again, sooner rather than later.
After returning from America, I was basically "homeless." This was a non-issue as many people offered me a place to stay. I house sat for Maree for almost 2 months which was quite an opportunity. Her cute little house was just down the road from where I was living before, so it made getting around easy- I just continued to ride my bike! Then after Maree returned, I bunked at Stephen and Louise Devine's. Living at the Devine's was DEVINE! Louise is a great cook, they love good wine, and have a nice warm pool... what else could anyone ask for. Oh, did I mention they are a lot of fun! Part of the time I was there, it became a bit of a hostel as I roomed with Josie. So much fun and many, many laughs. Thanks for everything Louise and Stephen.
Oh, and just before leaving Australia we took a quick trip to Byron Bay. I LOVE that place! The friends I went with made it extra special. In addition to a lovely trip to Byron, I had party after party to attend. Christmas parties and going away parties. Also squeezed in a couple big dance nights at the Mon Komo and as much yoga as I could... I'm so missing my yoga on the beach and particularly my yogi friends!
I really can't say enough about everyone I love in Australia. The people truly made it feel like home because it is a long way from where I'm from. I miss you already but know I will see you soon! That is why I really couldn't say goodbye, I stuck with "See Ya Latah." Hopefully done in my best Aussie accent.
Corey has become the first person to ever jump a tandem skydive over Phuket. He also was part of another air show and did a solo skydive, landing on Patong Beach, one of the main tourist beaches in Phuket- See below. Stay tuned, Skydiving in Phuket in slowly becoming a reality. In the meantime have a very happy New Year's Celebration where ever you may be. Here's to a happy and healthy 2014- Cheers!
p.s. I have more pictures to load but am out of patience tonight. Keep checking back for more!