Negros and Cebu Islands, Philippines

Our next few stops in the Philippines were near the south of the country and we did our best to fit in a lot of relaxing and beach time. We spent quite a bit of time kicking back, meeting locals, eating tons of delicious food, experiencing the local transportation options and much more.

Negros Island
We left Boracay on a plane headed for Dumaguete, which is a town on Negros island. After collecting out bags and doing our best haggling, we took a trike to our hostel where we could be staying for the next 3 nights, called Flying Fish Eco Hostel. The rooms were quaint and the showers and toilets were outdoors, and aside from the fact that there was no insulation in the dorms whatsoever, we liked this hostel. It had charm and the staff were very helpful when it came to giving us guidance and direction on how to get to other islands. We really didn’t see much of actual Dumaguete city during our stay here, since the purpose of coming here was to have easier access to much smaller, beautiful islands.

Apo Island
We had heard great things about how stunning Apo Island was, so we knew we wanted to see it for ourselves. On our first morning in Dumaguete, we hopped on a trike, that took us about 40 minutes to a port, where we couldn’t get on a boat unless the boat was full… and we did our best to once again haggle and get a good price for the ride over to Apo. We met a group of Filipinos who were also here on holiday and split the cost of the return (round trip) boat ride with them.

Safety first on the boat!

We arrived about 45 minutes later on Apo Island, paid the tourist fee, and made our way over to a private beach in front of a resort (the only one on this island), where we paid about 2 USD each in order to enjoy the beach for the next few hours. We worked on our tans, but it was blazing hot, so we spent a lot of the morning and early afternoon beached in the water’s edge. We did a little bit of snorkeling and reading and just soaked in the stunning views that Apo Island is known for. IMG-20170611-WA0020IMG_20170611_141004

Apparently we were the only ones who didn’t get the memo to bring your own lunch or else have food arranged on the island, because there was no place to eat besides the resort, who told us all they had available was “fish”… no explanations involved. So, we tried to ignore our hunger pains and started planning on where we would eat dinner as soon as we got back to the main island. Use that word loosely, because this dinner would be taking place around 4:30pm! We met back up with our boat buddies and posed for some photos with the Apo Island sign, then boarded the boat to start the journey back to Dumaguete. 

We shared transportation with our new friends all the way back to the main part of the city, where we were dropped off at an Italian restaurant and we feasted on some delightful food and smoothies and then went home to our hostel to relax for the evening.

Siquijor Island
We had heard good things about Siquijor Island from our buddy Ludo, so we decided to do another day trip the following morning. We took a trike to the harbor, then set off on a ferry bound for a new island! One can say that we have become quite the Island Hoppers! We had read about a beach on Siquijor that not a lot of people went to, and even then, it’s typically just locals. We decided to take a trike to this beach, called Paliton Beach. We hung out here for the day, and there were very few tourists, but actually a decent amount of locals. Turns out, the Monday we went was Independence Day for the Philippines, and kids were out of school. This made for some hilarious encounters every time one of us would go into the water to cool off. The kids would flock in our direction and smother us in the water! They clearly were not exposed to many Americans and were very interested in us. It made for some great laughs between the 2 of us. Once again we were amazed with the beauty that surrounded us, the ability to see multiple islands nearby, and the crystal clear water was just stunning! 

Eventually we made the journey back to our hostel, enjoyed a dinner along the way, then relaxed for the evening after a long couple of days of traveling around the islands. We would be heading out the next morning for Cebu Island.

Cebu Island
Around 9 am, we left our hostel for a journey to Cebu that would consist of a trike ride, a ferry ride, another trike ride, a 2.5 hour public bus ride (that lucky for us was air conditioned and had wifi! – score!), and one more trike ride…all with zero plans or tickets booked… completely winging it, which is what you have to do here on this island.
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Moalboal
We were bound for the town of Moalboal, and arrived at our Airbnb around 1:30pm after a completely smooth-sailing morning of travel. We got settled in and immediately went to the pool area, which overlooks the ocean. We scored bigtime with this booking!

Jenny was back on more antibiotics from the ear infection that just would not quit, so we decided to hang out and snorkel, tan, relax and also get up to some adventures until Jenny had the all clear to dive again! The next couple of days we ate amazing breakfast overlooking the ocean, relaxed by the pool, went snorkeling straight from our Airbnb for hours each day, shared amazing early dinners and watched incredible sunsets from lounge chairs by our pool with a beer in hand. It was glorious!

Canyoning
Jenny had heard from so many other travelers that canyoning was the thing to do in Moalboal, so she signed up with a highly rated (Trip Advisor) company to go on Thursday. Kerry opted to keep it low key and hang by the pool for the day to soak up the sun. Jenny showed up to the Cyan Adventures shop that morning, and was immediately ushered to the other location where they kept all the gear, via a motorbike. Once she got all set with loads of gear, she learned that she was the only person signed up for that day to go, so it became a private guided tour (with a personal GoPro photographer since this service is offered by the company in the price)! She met her guide, Mark, who is a local guy the age of 25. It was an hour long ride to Kawasan Falls, where the adventure took place. Jenny and Mark got to know each other and chatted about the Philippines and what it is like for him to live here. She knew it would be a great day! It all started with a hike up the mountain to get to the top of the first set of falls where the canyoning starts. Then it was time for the first jump, a “short” 5 meters plunge into the water. It was an immediate adrenaline rush and the rest of the day just got better and better. It was about 3 hours of climbing, swimming and jumping off of cliffs into the waterfalls anywhere from 5 meters to the final jump of 12.5 meters!!! The excursion ended with lunch by the ocean, sharing a beer with Mark and cheersing over a relaxed, yet adrenaline pumping adventure with a great guide and student! 

Scuba Diving
On Saturday, Jenny was once again cleared to dive, so we made it to our dive shop, Cebu Dive Center and met Cameron, the owner, and Bro, our local divemaster who would be guiding us on our 6 dives over the next 2 days! We loved the laid back atmosphere of the dive shop, yet you knew it was run professionally and with our safety in mind. We can not recommend this dive shop enough.

Us with Cameron, the owner of the shop

We went mostly on wall dives, looking for fish and nudibranch, and were successful every time! We also saw loads of turtles on many of the dives! The one thing that Moalboal diving is known for are the sardines. Millions and millions of them swimming in schools right off shore, so one dive, we literally walked out from the dive shop and went straight into the water for a shore dive to see this spectacular sight. It was so cool!
After spending a week in Moalboal, winding down our tour of Southeast Asia, we were sad and depressed on our final day, knowing we had to leave this amazing country and part of the world the next day. We headed to Cebu City via public buses and chilled out at our hostel for the night before boarding an early morning flight to our next and final destination in Asia… Tokyo, Japan.

We have thoroughly enjoyed every single day here and will be back in the Philippines, without a doubt. There are so many more islands to explore and dive sites to see!

Cheers!
~ Jenny & Kerry

Island hopping near Ao Nang, Thailand

Our second stop in Thailand was the Krabi region. It’s an area known for it’s beaches and breathtaking islands off the coast, so of course it was on our list to visit. We opted to stay in Ao Nang as we had read it was a great launching point for visiting many islands in the Andaman Sea and it also had the best selection of hostels and food.wp-1490444663701.jpg

This stop also included going back to dorm life which was a fairly easy adjustment. Lately we had been spoiled with hotel rooms or private rooms, so we took it easy and booked a 4 bed mixed dorm at a cute hostel called iDeal Beds. Reviews told us that it was close to the beach yet away from the party area and quite peaceful.

We took a ferry from Phuket to Ao Nang and hopped in a tuk tuk to take us to our home for the next few days. The scenery took our breath away and we hadn’t even gotten to the best parts yet!

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Gili Islands, Indonesia

After learning about the Gili Islands from our handy Lonely Planet guidebook, we knew we had to take a trip there. It was just a short (fast) boat ride away from Bali and sounded like it was well worth the visit. Turns out it was so impressive, we extended our stay!

Since arriving in Indonesia, we have learned to “fly by the seat of our pants” and not plan out every future stop in advance. We arrived in Bali with a hotel booked until March 8th and that was it. We knew we wanted to go to Gili Islands after that, so we spent some time researching fast boats to take us that direction. The day before leaving Bali, we booked our round trip (aka return) tickets with Gili Getaways. They would take us to Gili Trawangan, or more widely known as Gili T  (the largest of the Gili Islands, and also the furthest west) and drop us there. We just had to find a place to stay.

We opted to stay at Le Pirate, a cute hotel on the northwest coast of Gili T. The photos and Tripadvisor reviews won us over. We would have our own little “beach box” on the property, complete with outdoor bathroom. We decided to stay 4 nights and see what this island was all about.

Researching Gili T in more detail taught us that the island had great snorkeling, amazing beaches, a big party scene and fantastic food… all at a very reasonable rate. While we are not (late night) party people, the rest certainly appealed to us. Luckily, Le Pirate was on the quiet side of the island and would be an ideal fit for our early-ish bedtimes.

Gili Getaways provided us with a fantastic trip between Bali and Gili T (with a few small sunburns on Kerry) and safely dropped us off a the main part of the island. We grabbed lunch, some cash and also snorkels. We already owned masks for scuba diving, but decided to invest in our own snorkels so we could swim out from the shore anytime we wanted. Little did we know, this was a great investment and they would come in very handy.

Crashing Jenny’s nap

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We flagged down a cidomo (aka horse and cart) and hopped on for a ride to our hotel. It was a bumpy, friendly experience where we laughed, waved to locals, wondered if our bags would get horse poop on them and also held on tight. It was quite the experience and yet probably one of the safest transportation methods that we would see for a while, knowing where all we are headed to in the coming months!

Cidomo selfie gone wrong

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The staff at Le Pirate greeted us with smiling faces and showed us to our room, complete with AC and an oscillating fan. Jackpot! We settled in, snapped some photos of the adorable room and then started to scope out the property. The grounds of this place are super cute and brightly colored, with a great restaurant on site and even better beach. We were so beat from the long boat ride in the heat that we took a long nap before dinner, then made big plans for the next morning!

Outside our Beach Box

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Sweaty Jenny after one of our morning workouts

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Small room but we didn’t need much!

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Outdoor bathroom

The next few days were spent with the following routine:

  • Sleep in (until around 7am)
  • Work out (thanks to a quick routine we downloaded a couple of years ago)
  • Free breakfast
  • Sunscreen application
  • 2-3 hour self-guided (aka FREE) snorkeling trip
  • More sunscreen
  • Beach time
  • Lunch on the beach
  • Nap/quiet/research time
  • Bintangs & sunset
  • Dinner
  • Shower
  • Bed!

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It didn’t take us long to realize we needed to extend our stay. Gili Getaways easily changed our return trip to Bali and Le Pirate happily moved us to another room so we could stay longer. A 4 night stay on Gili T was successfully extended to 6 nights! We would like to give a huge shout out to Le Pirate Beach Club for being an incredible home for us on this adorable island. We may be partial, but we think the location, staff, accommodation and proximity to incredible free snorkeling (a quick 100 meter swim out to the reef), makes this place a no-brainer when deciding where to stay on Gili Trawangan.

Jenny waiting for the sunset and enjoying a Bintang

Our evening routine on Gili T

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We have to take a moment to try to explain how incredible the snorkeling is on Gili T. We originally hoped to snorkel (because we had researched that it was great here and we knew we could do it for free right near our hotel), but also had thought about scuba diving here if the snorkeling wasn’t allowing us to see incredible sea life.

Our very first snorkel outing had us pinching ourselves and coming up out of the water every few minutes with sheer excitement on our faces and talking to each other about how this was without a doubt the coolest snorkeling either of us had ever done! We would then stick our heads back in the water and see more amazing sights. We have seen more fish than we even thought possible, and every single kind imaginable. Every color of fish under the sun, small fish, GIGANTIC fish (like, we seriously saw the largest fish that we had ever seen…easily larger than one of us for sure!!), long skinny fish with beaks, Nemo fish, clownfish, the list goes on and on.

We were also blessed to be able to see lots of sea turtles! We had heard that the spot just north of the Le Pirate beach was good for seeing turtles, and it did NOT disappoint. We saw a turtle or 2 or 3 pretty much every time we went out. They also seemed to (for the most part) like the attention we were giving them. If we spotted them on the bottom of the sea floor (sometimes 10-15 meters depth), we would just follow along in the direction they were swimming and they would eventually come up and surface right near us. We were able to get some incredible shots with the GoPro when this happened. We coined the term #turtlestalking after our first turtle and never turned back. We apparently are great at stalking because nearly every snorkeling trip was successful!

On our second day, we were even blessed enough to get a glimpse of a shark!! It was a day with less visibility in the water and when we spotted the shark, it was about 30 meters away from us (or so) and we immediately squealed above the surface out of excitement! By the time we put our heads back down into the water to get another view, we had only a few more seconds to see it, as the shark had decided that it was time to get away from us crazy humans, and swam off into the depths of the ocean floor and faded out of view.

Another time, we were swimming along near a large group of snorkelers (that had paid for their outing) and noticed a turtle coming up from the bottom right after the slew of people. We had a laugh that the other snorkelers had no idea, as none of them were looking around as they swam, they just had their heads down and were following in a line. We swam along with the turtle for a while, when low and behold, the turtle led us right to a HUGE moray eel!! We saw a similar eel while scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef, but only the top half of that one was visible since it was in some coral. This one was swimming around on the bottom of the sea and it was gigantic and it was awesome!! We are totally grossed out by eels, yet SO excited and intrigued every time we luck into seeing one. And of course we like to compare them to Ursala’s eels from The Little Mermaid…one of our favorite Disney films of all time.

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Dinner company

We have had such a great time on this beautiful island. We have enjoyed spectacular sunsets, scenic snorkeling sessions, worked on our tans, and discovered some scrumptious food during our stay here on Gili T. We are sad to move on from here, but REALLY excited for this coming week…epic adventures await us!

~Kerry & Jenny

Bali, Indonesia 

We were so excited to finally reach our first destination in Southeast Asia! We flew into Bali and were greeted by humidity and heat, 2 things that we will need to get used to pronto, because there will be no relief from hot temps for a few months at least.

Awaiting our arrival at the airport was Michael, or Pak Jessi (he goes by both names). We had pre-arranged for him to be our driver because Jenny’s friends Ashley and Joe had met him while on vacation in Bali about 5 years ago and said he was fun and a great tour guide and personal driver. Jenny had messaged him on Facebook a couple of days before our arrival to hammer out the details of our flight into Denpasar. He even printed out a sign with our names on it so we could find him easily in the sea of drivers standing outside the airport terminal. We spotted him nearly immediately and were quickly on our way to an ATM to get cash in the local currency, Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), then onward to our hotel in Seminyak. We opted for a hotel here over a hostel because, well, they are pretty cheap. And we heard from multiple people in Perth (Australia) that the safer bet for Bali was a hotel….We trusted them because Bali is a very popular holiday location for people living in Perth due to the close location and easy 3 hour flight. We have deduced that Bali is to  Western Australians what Cancun is to Texans, an easy and fun party getaway town!

Enjoying some Bintangs with Michael

Here is a breakdown of what we did while in Bali:

Barong Dance
We were able to take in a traditional Balinese Barong Dance, which is essentially a play with 5 acts and live music. We learned that the Barong Play represents the eternal fight between good and evil spirits. The Barong (a mythological animal) is the good spirit and the Rangda (a mythological monster) is the evil one.


Uluwatu Temple
We heard that there were a few monkey temples in Bali to go to and Michael had suggested Uluwatu, which is a Balinese Temple on the coast with stunning views and lots of monkeys. He warned us not to wear our sunglasses inside and to clutch tightly to our belongings in the temple area, because while the monkeys are adorable, they are incredible thieves! We indeed watched people lose glasses, caps and even flip flops to the monkeys!! It was an extremely hot day, and we were required to wear satin sarongs to cover our legs which added to the sweltering heat. There were several sets of stairs leading to the temples (that tourists are not allowed in) and lookout points with views of the water crashing against the rock cliff…made it worth the heat!


Potato Head Beach Club
We had gotten a few recommendations from Aussies to hit up Potato Head for a day of relaxating by the pool and beach. We spent the day after Kerry’s birthday here as a birthday treat and it was quite luxurious and well worth the small splurge (mind you it was still much cheaper than any day at a beach club in the US would cost)! The service was impeccable and we got a bed right in front of the pool with the best views. We knew that we wanted to stay through sunset, as we heard that the views were killer from right on the beach, and to say it did not disappoint is an understatement. We took in one of the most gorgeous sunsets we have ever seen! We also had some great food and tried a new Balinese beer as well. We did not want to leave at the end of the day!


Last but certainly not least, we celebrated Kerry’s 33rd birthday here in beautiful Bali. It was a day (or two if we consider that we also celebrated her U.S. birthday) full of authentic Balinese experiences and some tasty food and beverages. We sat at dinner the night of Kerry’s birthday and had some great conversations about friends and family over Bingtang beers and some pretty darn good “Mexican” food. Our waitress and the other servers even sang Happy Birthday and Kerry blew out some candles on her birthday ice cream dessert. It was an unforgettable birthday. It is certainly not lost on us how lucky we are to get to spend this time enriching our lives and gaining life experiences that can only come from travel.

All in all, we have had an incredible time in Bali. We enjoyed many authentic Indonesian meals and have added a couple of new beers to the growing list of delicious local brews we’ve tried on our journey. We’re at a stage now that we are rarely planning and trying to just go with the flow instead. It’s making our trip much more flexible and adding to our laid back approach.

Cheers!
~Jenny & Kerry

Fiji and the Coral Coast

Bula!

When we started making plans for the first 2 months of our RTW (round the world) trip, Fiji kept coming up. This is a place that we both have wanted to visit for a long time so it only made sense to take a tiny detour to spend some time in Fiji.

We opted to take a week long trip to Fiji to see what it was all about. Another decision we made was to stay on the main island instead of spending time traveling to some of the smaller islands. Jenny found an adorable place called Maui Palms, about an hour and a half away from the Nadi airport, so we booked it for 6 nights as a vacation from our year long vacation.

Virgin Australia took us from Sydney over to Nadi and we arrived with giant smiles on our faces. Unfortunately, that smile quickly faded once we waited on our baggage and only one of our bags arrived. Kerry spent a good 5 minutes making sad faces standing by the baggage claim going round and round without her bag on it. Luckily, the lovely folks at the Nadi airport were swift to move in and try to resolve the where-in-the-world-is-Kerry’s-entire-life-in-a-backpack problem. We were given a reference number and told that our hotel would be contacted when her backpack was found. (Good news: the bag was returned just a few days later. Whew!)

Maui Palms had helped to arrange a ride from the airport to the hotel, and luckily they were also kind enough to have a taxi driver wait around while we worked on the baggage ordeal. They were even more kind in that they had the taxi driver take us to town so that Kerry could buy some essentials to survive until her backpack arrived. After a few bikinis, some basic clothing, a toothbrush, contact case and solution and a razor were purchased, we headed to our island paradise. Luckily, Fiji is a great place to lose your bags as you don’t need much other than a bathing suit and a toothbrush!

We settled in to our amazing room… a king sized bed, our own private bathroom, free towels, clean sheets, a view looking straight out at the water… all things we had taken for granted before we started living in hostels! Maui Palms is a small resort with just a handful of rooms, so we got to know the staff very well and quickly. Our villa was the closest to the beach, just steps from the pool, the sand and the coral reef out front. We had all kinds of friendly critters from bats to hermit crabs, cows to dogs and even a bunch of bugs that insisted on eating Kerry alive at any given opportunity.

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A REAL BED! Not bunks!!

The week was spent doing a whole lot of nothing. Most of our time was spent eating some of the amazing food Maui Palms prepared for us, laying by the pool or the beach working on our tans, doing yoga (that was all Jenny), swimming laps in the pool, watching movies at night, practicing our cannonballs (mostly Kerry), snorkeling the reef that was steps away, playing cards when it rained and lounging in hammocks while we read.

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Cannonball practice

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Yoga practice

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Cards during a rainstorm

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Here’s a look at some of the amazing things we saw while snorkeling the reef right outside our resort:

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Ready to snorkel!

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Fish swarming Jenny as we headed out to snorkel

Also, we try to do plugs for our blog, Instagram and Twitter anytime we can. Since there was plenty of coral scattered along the beach each morning, we made the most of it. Clearly you have discovered our blog, but be sure to check out our Instagram account for more photos and our Twitter for random narratives.wp-1487754962171.jpgwp-1487755198240.jpg

Fiji was absolutely stunning and even more relaxing than we had expected. We are grateful that we had the accommodating and friendly folks at Maui Palms to make our trip even more amazing. We cannot wait to go back! Who wants to join?!

~Kerry & Jenny