Arriving in the Philippines and Canyoneering Kawasan Falls
Why the Philippines
After changing our plans drastically whilst in the Perhentian Islands it was time for us to head to the Philippines. We had two reasons for choosing the Philippines, firstly better weather than Malaysia, secondly everyone said how beautiful and unspoilt it was. We had to find out for ourselves.
Malaysian Dry Airports
We left the Perhentian Islands, via Kuala Besut (with some cool street art around) and headed to the airport. Greg was absolutely dismayed to find that the airport was dry. He went around asking everyone if there was any beer in this small airport, but no such luck. Flying just on valium this time dear! We discovered that that is was quite normal for Malaysian domestic terminals, so don’t say that you weren’t warned. (nb Greg; this was still the first airport in many years of flying with no booze available. I tried everywhere!)
Next up, back to KL for a quick over night before the morning flight to the Philippines.
On arrival at the airport we discovered that we were only allowed a 30-day visa, we’d been planning 6 weeks. Oops. We hope to still fit in seeing Cherry (see our Antarctica blog) who lives north of Manila.
We flew from KL to Cebu city and jumped in a cab to our guesthouse, Eagle House. It was quite a random experience. Eagle House is owned by a nice Chinese lady with Chinese architecture and everywhere was spotlessly clean. She has three dogs as pets so Greg and I spent hours playing with them. The randomness is the location, which is off the main road in a large gated complex.
We jumped on a trike to get to a cash point and assume not many westerners come here as there was much staring. That night we ate in Bistro 1956, which was nice enough. Filipino food isn’t world renowned so we were pleasantly surprised.
I think that Eagle House is a great stopover in or out of Cebu but I’m not sure why you would want to linger here.
The Philippines has all the usual methods of transport together with a couple of unique ones. Firstly, you have the trike, this is a motorbike or bicycle with a side car attached. The most people we saw on these was 12 people plus the driver! Brilliant. Also, you have jeepneys, which started off as converted US Army jeeps made into vans but now they seem more purpose built on Cebu Island.
Rain, Rain and Typhoons
We planned to go to Malapascua, to dive with thresher sharks, but woke to a typhoon. You could not believe how much rain Greg and I drag around the world with us. So, we couldn’t get a ferry across to the island. Unfortunately, Malapascua Budget Inn would not refund our costs so we are in a budget pickle!
After much deliberation, we decided that we didn’t want to stay in Cebu waiting for the weather to clear so headed to Moalboal (pronounced Moi Boi, French style), home of the infamous Sardine Run.
Getting from Cebu to Moalboal
Our departure from Eagle House was via a taxi. The dogs were clearly gutted that we were leaving as we played and fed them all night! The cab took us across the city to the main bus station.
Here we happened across the public bus to Moalboal. Heavens knows how as it was chaotic and we didn’t have a clue what was going on.
The Bus Journey
The bus journey was around 3 ½ hours long, with many stops, people getting on to sell food and drink, with a ticket price of a couple of pounds. It was really entertaining. I was told by a man to watch my stuff whilst in Cebu and we saw people jumping up at the glassless windows to grab things out of people’s hands or off their laps.
Observations of the Philippines
On the journey, we encountered a lot of stray dogs, which continues to upset me. I don’t understand why there can’t be a neutering process in place here and in South America. Any vets out there that want to do some charity work, whilst seeing the world should do this. There are too many dogs (and cats) and too many bitches having multiple, multiple litters.
I hadn’t realised that cockfighting was a big thing in the Philippines but it is. Not appealing to my vegetarian, animal loving sensibilities.
So, we arrived at Moalboal taking a trike from the bus stop to our hotel, Pescadores Sea View Suites. This absolutely sounds posher than it was!
The people were lovely though and the room was ok. We have discovered another couple of anomalies about the Philippines:
- Your room doesn’t get cleaned unless you ask for it to be;
- Before every checkout someone will inspect your room before allowing you to leave. This seems a little offensive but happened everywhere. We were never entirely sure why they were checking for, but we cn sure all those hostel/hotel owners the we never intended on stealing their A/C remotes or blankets which were pretty much the only things of ANY value in any of the rooms that we stayed in)
We headed into the centre, eating at the Pleasuredome. An ok restaurant with a weird name owned by an English guy. There are a lot of old Western guys with young Filipina girls around Moalboal, so maybe it’s a Pleasuredome kind of place!
On route, we popped into Quo Vadis Dive Centre and met with the lovely Cece. Two dives are booked for the day after tomorrow. Incidentally, we would recommend here to stay, it looked nicer than our place.
Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls
We have decided that tomorrow we are going to go to Kawasan Falls. In an adventurous mood, we booked a scooter and canyoneering. I don’t know what came over me. Greg wasn’t keen but I’ve forced him. I may regret that tomorrow.
Born to Be…..
The next morning, we headed out on the scooter. Greg is driving with me as his scared passenger. Greg hasn’t ridden a scooter before so a new experience. One I hope that we don’t regret doing. The journey to Kawasan Falls was around an hour. It was good fun, and Greg turns out not to be too bad a scooter driver. We took to singing “Born to Be Wild” and imagined ourselves to be much hipper than we actual are.
Canyoneering Kawasan Falls
We arrived at Kawasan Canyoneering, found courtesy of Where’s Mollie blog (thanks Mollie). James was to be our Kawasan Falls canyoneering guide. We were given life jackets and told to strip off to our swimsuits and waterproof shoes.
We then had to jump on the back of a motorbike and be driven for about 20 minutes – almost naked! Greg and I didn’t enjoy this too much. At the top of a dirt track, James had us walk for around 30 minutes. The aqua shoes didn’t have enough grip when combined with my natural clumsiness. This made for an arduous walk. I managed to save myself a couple of times and was relieved when we found ourselves at the water. This took us right to the top of the Kawasaki Falls complex.
Kawasan Falls: A Cold Start
The water was pretty cold, but we got used to it quickly. James was brilliant taking photos of us and generally making us laugh a lot. We had a few waterslides made by nature that James got me on first without telling me I was going to dive into the water. Greg managed to get stuck, being British instead of Filipino size. All in all, we laughed many times.
I managed to fall over on the rocks when posing for a photo, ending up with such a bruise. But I was a trooper and carried on. Plus my sister later told me that my nephews would be proud of me for my kamikaze bravery!
Kawasan Falls: The Jumps
Our first real jump was around 10 metres. As we arrived, the group in front of us was in meltdown. The girl was at the top of the rocks refusing to jump, with the guy trying to persuade her. He failed. Greg, James and I then climbed up. Greg jumped first. James counted me in, 1……2…….3……, I didn’t move. Greg’s face from below said it all, “she is going to bottle it”. Oh, no I’m not I thought. I asked James to count again, and in I jumped. I may have screamed a little.
I surfaced all giggly to be faced with the scared girl crying (no not Greg!). I surmise that she realised I was twice her age and was humiliated by my Lara Croft style. She then climbed up and jumped. No need to thank me for the motivation and inspiring leadership!
We then went through the water to a series of jumps getting higher and higher. Some jumps were off rocks, some off trees and some into waterfalls. The highest jump was 30 metres I think. It was so much fun. We really had the time of our lives.
Are You Ever Too Old?
It has drilled it home to us, what a great decision it was for us to take time out now in our 40s rather than wait any longer. We are not sure in 15 years’ time if we would have the guts to do it, or the physical capability. Of course, we hope so but who knows.
The end of the day was a waterfall massage. This took place by being on a log raft and assuming various positions under the waterfall. Man, it hurt! I had to hold my swimsuit on too as the water nearly took it off me. Not a good look when surrounded by lots of people.
We headed back for lunch and debrief. All in all, it has been a tremendous day, we’ve loved it and would highly recommend the canyoneering.
What to Take to Kawasan Falls
Whether canyoneering or just visiting the Kawasan Falls, here is a list of items that need to take:
- Towel like all good travellers, we’d recommend a quick drying microfibre like this one.
- Acqua shoes, these have been a must on most of our travels.
- A good swimsuit for the ladies, I personally like SeaFolly but another sports type brand like this one would work.
- Water, although there are shops to buy snacks and drinks along the way.
- Waterproof bag, for phones and money. We had this one, and it was great.
Time for a Nice Massage
More chilling that evening with a nice massage at Pescadores Sea View to soothe away my aches and pains from the day. Then a very average meal at Maya’s.
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