Category Archives: Philippines

A 360° Bike Ride Around the World’s “Most Perfect” Volcano – Mount Mayon, Philippines

Locals proclaim Mt. Mayon to be the worlds most perfect volcano.

At first sight, Mayon to all intents and purposes is the stereotypical, archetypal volcano. If you were to draw up a list of qualities or attributes you’d look for in the perfect volcano, I imagine Mayon would tick all the boxes.

Mayon is like Cesc Fabregas, the Spanish football player who plays for Barcelona. Good looking, dangerous, more than capable of competing with the big boys on his day, pretty much the perfect / complete football player. But ultimately, he’s not quite as well known as some of his contemporaries. In place of Messi, Xavi and Iniesta, see Fuji, Vesuvius and Krakatoa.

Mayon quite literally casts a shadow over the city of Legazpi, the closest town, which sits at the base of the mountain looking out to the ocean.

The volcano is inescapable as you walk through the town. It towers over the place, visible from every corner, like some kind of eccentric dictator.

mayonlegazpi mayontoweringoverlegazpihiddenmountmayon

On one hand, it has made the town a tourist destination, given locals fertile land for agriculture, and a spectacular view every time they leave their house or look out their window.

On the other hand, the mountain can be dangerous, unpredictable, and has at times, brought misery to locals over the centuries.

As we viewed Mayon from Legazpi, there was a burning desire running through both of us. “We want to be on you”, echoed through our thoughts as we gazed longingly up at the mountain in front of us. We wanted to climb it, all 2,463 metres of the beauty.

We asked around the town for a guide to take us up. Tragically, we learned that last May, five hikers were killed on their ascent to the summit, after the volcano unexpectedly erupted. Consequently we learned, somewhat to our disappointment, that it was now strictly prohibited for anyone to try to reach the summit.

What were we to do if we couldn’t climb the volcano? Why had we come all this way…?

And then the answer sprung upon us.

Let’s go for a bike ride.

It’ll be perfect, we thought.

The roads are new and paved, there’s very little traffic outside the city, and there’s a road that circle’s the entire base of the mountain. It’s about 87km all the way round, and it’s known locally as the Mayon 360.

However, the tourist information in Legazpi was a shambles. It felt like no foreigners had ever done the Mayon 360 before – I don’t know, have they?

Trying to find a bike rental place was a nightmare, and the tourist information people were next to useless when it came to providing information / even finding out where the office was. But then we stumbled across Motoragon Cycle Center, a local bike shop run by the charismatic and extremely likeable Cesar. Straight away he gave us bikes, at a very reasonable price, offering lots of helpful advice and tips, before sending us on our way.

So off we went. We cycled out-of-town, through some other towns, and then all the way around Mayon. Apart from the first few kilometres, and the last twenty, there was almost no traffic, and even then, the driving was sensible (compared to China) and the roads allowed ample space for cyclists.

There were lots of little villages and small towns dotted along the route where you could stock up on refreshments such as water and Coca Cola, and it was almost impossible to get lost, as you pretty much had to follow the road.

There was a gruelling uphill slog for a couple of hours in the afternoon sun, which exhausted both of us, but we were later rewarded with one of the greatest downhill rides, pretty much, ever.

For the first time all day, the clouds had subsided to reveal Mayon’s peak, and the late tropical afternoon sun shone down brightly as we sped past row upon row of lush green rice paddies, set against the most gorgeous backdrop. It was quite a sight, quite a thrill and quite a ride.

Aching, hungry and tired, we eventually arrived back to Legazpi some seven hours after we started, where we returned our bikes to Cesar. We talked to him and his wife for quite a while, they seemed impressed we’d cycled the 360, we were surprised more people don’t do it!

To any tourists who are visiting Legazpi, like a challenge and keep themselves relatively fit – I strongly recommend you find Motoragon Cycle Center on Rizal Street, talk to Cesar, and hire one of his bikes. The Mayon 360 is a great ride. Just make sure you’ve packed enough suncream and food!

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Volcanoes – More Fun in the Philippines – Part II – Mount Isarog

Naga City was where we decided we should no longer ask Filipino’s for directions, for we realised none of them it seemed, had any sense of direction, or any idea how to get anywhere, without “riding a tricycle.” Unfortunately, nobody had actually forewarned us about this prior to our trip. Instead, everybody we asked gave us directions willingly and often gleefully, usually with great confidence and self assurance, but without fail, they were usually wrong!

When a local person tells you with absolute clarity that the SM Mall is, “That way”, you generally trust them, right?

Well don’t. Certainly not in Naga City at least.

After 45 minutes of traipsing around town, including two trips back on ourselves after receiving conflicting directions from four different people, we finally gave up on trying to find the SM Mall, pretty much the biggest landmark in the entire city (town) by ourselves, and got a tricycle driver to take us. The tricycle journey took us two minutes.

To anybody in Naga City who may read this, if in future a foreigner asks you for directions and you don’t know, please just say so. It’s okay, we really don’t mind. It is far more preferable to being given the wrong directions!

Apart from that, Naga was brilliantly unspectacular. Once we finally found the SM Mall, we went to the cinema, ate pizza, and then ate some ice-cream before retiring to our hotel room and watching Rush Hour. I’m pretty sure that’s your average Saturday for most middle-class Filipino’s nowadays, so we were trying to embrace the local way of life a bit..

Our primary reason for coming to Naga was perhaps surprisingly, not actually to watch Hollywood movies, and stuff our faces with pizza and ice-cream on the cheap (although admittedly, they were added, more than welcome bonuses). No, our motivations were far more adventurous, daring and exciting than that. We were going to be visiting #2 on our hit list of volcanoes for the trip, Mount Isarog National Park.

Mount Isarog National Park

So on day two, we went out to explore. We took a jeepney out to a village at the foot of the volcano, to begin our trek to some well-known local waterfalls that can be found within the park. The walk to the park entrance was peaceful, green and scenic, a welcome relief from the fumes and noise of downtown Naga. Arriving at the entrance, we were blown away. We’ve seen some grand entrances to some spectacular National Parks in the last few years in Asia, but this topped the lot.

mount isarag national park entrance

Once we had waited for the queues (lol) to die down, we hiked down to the waterfalls. To be fair, it was quite a little beauty spot. The supposed great view of the volcano was completely obscured by the thoroughly miserable rain that was teeming down by now. It wasn’t all bad though, my spirits, at least, were lifted by the birds eye view I was able to enjoy of a large group of female university students frolicking in the pool, in all their wet white T-shirt glory. Needless to say I deservedly got a good slap from Amelia, and no doubt will again when she reads this.

After a couple of hours, we decided to explore some more. Rumour has it that Mt. Isarog contains some of the last virgin rainforest in the Philippines. Having walked back to the entrance, we discovered there was another trail that went up the mountain. We decided to go for a stroll.

Barely twenty metres into our walk, Amelia calmly told me I had something on my leg. I looked down to find, to my sheer, absolute, like I’m staring death in the face horror, that a leech had managed to attach itself to my calf. So what did I do, I hear you ask?

Well naturally I did what any self-respecting 25 year old alpha-male would do…

I screamed, shrieked and jumped around like a little girl, frantically trying to brush it off. Luckily, it obviously hadn’t been there long, and did come off, much to my relief. And then I cried. Well not quite, I made that last bit up, but there’s no telling how badly I’ve reacted had it not come off straight away.

I hate bugs, absolutely hate them.

After my tarantulas in the toilet experience in Cambodia, this was possibly the second scariest moment of my life.

At this point, we debated our options. Continue trekking through virgin jungle for a couple of hours, in the rain, running the risk of being eaten alive by leeches, or; go home, take a shower, and check out that exceptionally nice looking Italian restaurant we found the night before…

It was a no-brainer.

Shower and pasta it was.

With hindsight, we can categorically say that we made the correct decision.

The first two of our three volcanoes hadn’t quite captured the imagination, but number three surely would…

 

Volcanoes – More Fun in the Philippines – Part 1 – Taal

Ever since I first saw Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak and Tommy Lee Jones in Volcano, back in the 90’s, I’ve always had a thing for volcanoes. There’s something incredibly badass about them…

With ten days back in the Philippines over Chinese New Year, we decided to live one of my schoolboy fantasies, and visit a volcano (Completely normal by the way, what kind of self respecting former geography student doesn’t think that volcanoes are pretty much the coolest thing ever?!). It soon dawned on us that in ten days we could visit not one, but three, yes THREE volcanoes. I was going to volcano heaven.

First off on our list was Taal volcano, 60km south of Manila. Taal was the warm up for the bigger and better stuff that would come later. A pre-season friendly of sorts.

taalvolcano-tagaytay

Apparently one of the deadliest volcanoes of the 20th century, Taal was a disappointment. It was really, really, like, pathetically small, and a tad underwhelming. I found it hard to believe this wee baby has killed hundreds, possibly thousands over the last century. Quite clearly mankind isn’t the only ‘thing’ (I use ‘thing’ because frankly, I have no idea how else to compare man and volcano in the same sentence) to be afflicted by ‘Little Man Syndrome’.

For me, Taal was like a volcanic Michael Owen. Short and physically unimposing, but incredibly potent on its day. Sadly, we weren’t seeing Michael Owen at his best, we were seeing Michael Owen at the tail end of his career, during his Manchester United days; expensive, over-rated and living off his past glories. That was Taal all over for me. Having said that, it’s probably for the best, for if Taal was Michael Owen at his best when we’d visited, we probably wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near it!

Amelia described our day at Taal as “Our s*ittest tourist experience”. It wasn’t a reflection on Taal, it was more of a condemnation of the way in which our Taal experience had been tarnished by the ‘naffness’ of the commercialisation on the island.

Karl Pilkington would have had a field day at Taal. We got on a boat, walked up a small hill, saw a lake, and got soaked on the boat ride back. The saving grace was the plastic sheet we hid behind to protect ourselves from the onslaught of the waves. We haven’t even mentioned the mass of Korean and Chinese tour groups on horseback, stampeding up and down, and the ensuing dust storm each group created. Now don’t get us wrong, we like Korean and Chinese people very much, but our hearts sink without fail whenever we come across groups of them on holiday elsewhere in Asia.

So that was Taal. Over-priced, over-rated, and just not that great. But we kind of knew that anyway…

Hopefully the next two volcanoes will be better!

asiantourists-taalvolcano

Paradise in Palawan

They call it the Philippines’ last frontier, a secret tropical paradise few have ever heard of, and even fewer have ever visited. An exotic tropical south-east Asian island that continues to be relatively untouched by the modern world.

Sadly, I think the secret got out a long time ago. For there were a lot of people like Amelia and I here, all hoping to “discover” a place in paradise.

ameliachin-danielplummer-selfie-elnidopalawan-philippines

Palawan is no hidden, unknown paradise anymore. But what it is?

It’s still extremely undeveloped. Which is actually a little annoying, for a lot of people do in fact visit, every day. We were certainly no Robinson Crusoe!

We don’t mind going back to basics if we’re pretty much the only foreigners in a small little fishing village, but if you’re in a major tourist town – in which the local economy is entirely dependent on tourism, and has been for a number of years – you’d like to think local authorities could at least have sorted out twenty-four hour electricity, a safe water supply (a ridiculous number of people were getting sick, including me), and finished off the one main road that traverses up and down the island. But no, they haven’t, yet. And yes, I was told it was pretty much due to the incompetence and corruption of the local government officials.

But then no-where’s perfect…

And Palawan was pretty flippin’ gorgeous.

What did we do here?

Not a lot.

We ate, we hired a motorbike, we ate some more, we read our books, then we ate some more, we went on a boat trip, then we ate, then I got sick, then we read our books, and then I ate again. And that was pretty much the story of our trip to Palawan.

Note – I didn’t wear my red England shirt for the whole two weeks, honest!

We actually felt a little bit guilty, for we have never spent two weeks on a beach doing pretty much nothing.

We stayed in San Vicente – a small, remote town, with a virgin 14km sand beach. It wasn’t bad at all. Just watch out for the sand flies.

Then we stayed in El Nido. Much busier, but still very nice. Magnificent scenery, and a great place to do, well, not a lot. And snorkeling and scuba diving, if you’re into that kind of thing.

We did a minimal amount of snorkeling. As a land mammal, I like looking out to sea, but I have to say, I don’t like being on the sea all that much. The way I see it, humans are not amphibious, so leave the sea to crocodiles, penguins and what-ever, just leave me to admire the views safely from dry land.

So generally speaking, we did. We sat in a hammock, read to our hearts content, and chatted away, in some pretty nice surroundings. And that was exciting as it got.

A week in the Philippine Cordilleras – Part II

Moving on from Maligcong, we headed to Banaue, via a jeepney from Bontoc.

The rice terraces of Banaue are among the most famous in the Philippines, and probably the world. Arriving in Banaue, we were struck by how undeveloped it felt, considering it’s one of the top tourist destinations in the whole Philippines. There were no big flash hotels, just a few guesthouses and budget hotels / restaurants for the few dozen (almost universally, European) travellers who had made the journey.

Coming from China, where anywhere of note is now grossly over-developed and commercialised, to the point of ruin, it was a most welcome change.

For us, Banaue was the gateway to the real wonder, Batad.

Until recently Batad had no electricity, and there is no road that accesses the village. The only way in is on foot. We took a tricycle to Batad junction, and then walked up and over the “Batad Saddle” to arrive in the village some two hours later. It was a lovely, serenely quiet walk.

We both gasped in awe at the sight that unfolded before us as we entered the village. The Rice Terraces of Batad were truly awe-inspiring. Vast, picturesque, and a couple of thousand years old, we now understood why locals refer to them as the 8th wonder of the world.

batadvillage-firstview-philippines

The above picture is pretty much the view we had from our hotel room, (Simon’s Guesthouse) for about £3 a night. Not bad, hey?

Unfortunately for us, the weather took a bad turn shortly after our arrival. Rain was both torrential and relentless, so we didn’t leave our guesthouse. Fortunately it had a cheap, well-stocked restaurant, with spell binding views. So we ate, drank hot chocolate and read our Kindles to our hearts content for the afternoon. An enjoyable evening was spent exchanging travel stories with some French backpackers, and then it was off to bed.

Next morning, the rain was still unrelenting. By mid-day we were getting restless. We went for a walk, and these are some of the scenes that greeted us. It even stopped raining at last!

Our last day in Batad involved a long walk through small villages, across rivers, rice terraces and over a mountain back to the main road, to get a tricycle back to Banaue, and then a bus onwards to Manila.

We had a fantastic week in North Luzon. Beautiful scenery, friendly people, cheap and easy travelling (everyone speaks English) and no tour buses whatsoever. Not to mention (at the risk of sounding old and pretentious), none of the “gap year crowd” you’re likely to find elsewhere in SE Asia. It was almost perfect, except for the weather.

It was without doubt, one of the best places we have been.

To anyone that enjoys hiking, fresh air, great scenery, friendly people and a super chilled pace of life – GO!

Related – A week in the Philippine Cordilleras – Part I

A week in the Philippine Cordilleras – Part I

Over the last few years Amelia and I have discovered we really like a good hike in the mountains. So much so, we now investigate the hiking opportunities / mountain scenery first, before almost anything else when planning a trip to a new place. We love our mountains, although I do unfortunately have an innate fear of heights – which isn’t ideal, if you love being in the mountains.

There’s something about them; the dramatic landscapes, the fresh air, the colours, the nature, the sense of being away from it all, the tranquility. Few things in life can top a good hike.

Arriving in the Philippines before Christmas, our first stop was the Ifugao Rice Terraces of the Cordillera Mountains in North Luzon. A nine-hour bus ride (minimum) from Manila, with UNESCO World Heritage status, these rice terraces are spread out over an entire mountain range, in an extremely remote region, with many dating back over 2,000 years.

After an eight hour bus to Baguio, where we stayed overnight, and a further six hour journey, spent gazing at the breathtaking scenery passing us by, we finally made it to the hard-to-reach, (very) small town of Sagada.

Sagada was a breath of fresh air for us, quite literally. The sky was blue, temperatures were warm, but not hot. It was a small, sleepy town built-in to the mountains. There were guesthouses and restaurants to cater for the trickle of backpackers that make it here every day, and there was no traffic on the town’s main street. Local children were out in force playing football and basketball, families went for late afternoon walks, and almost everybody it seemed was outside, enjoying the cool mountain air, scenery and relaxed pace of life.

We went for a walk to check out Sagada’s hanging coffins, located in a small valley just outside the town. Pleasant and interesting, if a little eerie. Apparently (don’t quote me on it) if you are wealthy enough, as a local person, and have particular animist beliefs, your coffin can protrude from a vertical cliff-face, instead of being buried in the ground like other mere mortals. I don’t know how long it’s been going on for, and if it still does, but it was certainly erm… different.

hangingcoffins-sagada-philippines

The next day we got up early for a walk to check out the sweeping, panoramic views from Mt. Kiltepan of the rice terraces below. Sadly, the weather wasn’t great.

We then took a jeepney down the mountain to Bontoc, a town which is everything that Sagada is not. It really wasn’t the best place we’ve ever been, and I’m being polite here. We took another jeepney up to another hill, to the village of Maligcong, a 45 minute journey which left my knees in excruciating discomfort, having had my legs wedged in place by three 20kg bags of cement which were being taken up the hill with us. Without doubt, one of the most uncomfortable 45 minutes of my life.

There is almost nothing in Maligcong, except for its spectacular rice terraces, and a small village whose inhabitants have laboured on the terraces for centuries. This was a remote place.

People said hello, made us feel welcome, told us which way to go, and left us to it. A local man named William soon approached us, and appointed himself as our guide, although we didn’t want or need one, and had told him so. He proved to be a likeable man, and he took us into his village. We met four schoolgirls walking across the terraces who requested we buy them some snacks from the local shop, in flawless English.

Chatting to the girls as they ate their snacks, William pointed out that I was standing on both his sisters, and fathers grave. Awkward. I thought I was standing on the concrete path, but evidently parts of the concrete path doubled up to be various graves of local people’s loved ones. They bury their relatives inside the village, often right outside their front door.

We made it back to the other side of the village as darkness descended, William pointed us in the direction of the guesthouse (there were no streetlights here) and we walked up. Except we couldn’t see anything, and were terrified of being savaged by guard dogs as we found our way. We had to retreat in fear for our lives, and backtracked until we eventually found a local person who could take us to the guesthouse. Business wasn’t booming around here, our guesthouse hadn’t had a visitor since October!

Maligcong was a beautiful place, well worth a visit.

Related – A week in the Philippine Cordilleras – Part II

Finally made it to the Philippines!

After three and a half years in Asia!

Back in 2010, the Philippines was the first place we planned to visit in South-East Asia. We had our flights booked, we were ready to go, and then one week before we were due to leave, this happened.

So we put our Philippines trip on the back burner for a few years (try three), mainly to give myself time to calm down and overcome my rage with those two damned airlines. When we finally did arrive in Manila, almost three years later (in case I hadn’t already told you) I felt my blood burning and blood pressure rising again at the sight of Cebu Pacific and SEAIR office buildings.

Despite this miserable experience with the airlines, every traveller who had visited, every Filipino we met, told us we must go. Air links had improved in the mean time (thank you Air Asia) and it now appeared easier, and cheaper than ever to get to the Philippines. Oh, and this advertising campaign may have helped to gently persuade us. I challenge anyone to find me a cooler tourism campaign / TV commercial than this…

On a rainy day last May, we were thinking about what we could do for our three-week Christmas holiday. We saw return flights from Shanghai to Manila for £90, yes £90 RETURN, and booked it there and then, in the middle of our lunch hour.

Shortly after, we discovered we had another ten-day holiday for Chinese New Year, three and a half weeks after our Christmas holiday. With the Philippines being a big, developing country, spread out over more than 7,000 different tropical islands, it takes a while to go anywhere. We didn’t feel like three weeks would do the country justice, not that four and a half probably would either, but with the cheap flights, combined with the rubbish weather, pollution and mayhem of Chinese New Year in China, we figured another week and a half in the Philippines is considerably more preferable than another week and a half in Nanjing, twiddling our thumbs, wishing we were somewhere else!

So, I write this after our first visit to the Philippines. We will be returning again in two and a half weeks.

And yes, in case you were wondering, the Philippines is awesome.

I will be writing some more about our travels in the coming days and weeks…. watch out!

ItsMoreFUNinthePhilippines

Don’t fly with Filipino Airlines – Cebu Pacific and SEAIR are a total disgrace

This is pretty much a rant / warning to other people that may one day intend to visit the Philippines or are considering flying with Cebu Pacific or SEAIR (South East Asian Airlines). I’m hoping eventually this might pop up on internet search engines and inform prospective travellers of our horror story, which will in turn help prevent them from making the same mistake we have.

We were booked to fly from Manila to El Nido on Jan 23rd with SEAIR. Yesterday SEAIR e-mailed to inform us that our flight had been cancelled due to ‘airport situation’. I phoned them up and asked them what was meant by an ‘airport situation’. They were unable to answer, except for ‘airport not ready’. Total rubbish as I know that the airport has been open for years. I asked why the airport wasn’t ready, they couldn’t answer. Basically from doing some research on the internet they had cancelled the flight because they had not sold all the tickets. Unbelievable. I have never heard of a company doing this and being allowed to do so. It’s not like having a hair cut cancelled. They offered us a flight to our destination on February 6th, which is the day we are supposed to be arriving home as our holiday is all booked up. They tell us 2 weeks before that the flight has been cancelled for a totally unacceptable reason and could offer no reasonable explanation. They then informed us that we will be refunded in 15-30 BANKING DAYS despite us having paid by debit card directly to the airline. I was very angry, but it wasn’t the end of the world as we could fly into another city (Puerta Princesa via Cebu Pacific) but we’d have to endure an 8-9 hour bus journey to our destination. A huge inconvenience but we really wanted to visit Palawan so we booked to do this as an alternative last night.

Hate doesn't do my feelings justice!

THEN TODAY, Cebu Pacific cancelled our return flights to Seoul on February 5th-6th. The explanation – Due to Airport Situation. AGAIN. I couldn’t believe it. They offered us a return flight the next day, this seemed perfectly fine to them. This is too late for us though as we have return to work on the Monday and won’t make it back on time.

I probed further as to why they have cancelled and the weasel on the other line revealed ‘Now we have different appointment’. How the hell can an airline advertise flights for months and then cancel them 2 weeks before due to having a ‘different appointment’. I’ve never heard of anything like it. Defies belief. Again, they obviously haven’t sold out all the tickets so cancelled it instead. I’m pretty sure in Europe this would be illegal?

They then told us it will take 45-60 banking days for us to get our refund. Once again despite having paid direct to the airline by DEBIT card, not even credit card. The guy told me to ‘check my bank account every few months’.  I couldn’t have made it up. In the process of extracting this information from the incompetent imbeciles at the company it took me 5 separate phone calls, cost me over $20 and they hung up after putting me on hold on 4 separate occasions after I’d asked to speak to a supervisor or someone with any authority. They refused to tell me who I could complain to, all they could say was that my grievances will be passed onto their managers. AS IF.

I truly hope they go bust...

Regarding the flight I had booked with them last night (from Manila to Puerta Princesa), I asked if they could guarantee it will go ahead – all they would say was ‘We will inform you of any cancellations via e-mail if your flight is cancelled’. They were offering no guarantees. I remained very dignified and very diligently told them that I will be cancelling our booking. They told me it will take 45-60 Banking days for me to get a refund, and I will have to pay a cancellation fee. I told them where to go at this point and told them in no uncertain terms how much of a disgrace they were, and that this was an example of one of the many reasons as to why they remain a third world country. I couldn’t believe they had the cheek to say I would have to pay a cancellation fee after all this. Despite being unable to tell me if the flight would even go ahead.

I have phoned up Lloyds TSB and they are attempting to block the transaction I made last night from going through, despite me paying by debit card. After I explained the situation to them they were more than understanding and told me to phone back in a few hours to let me know if they had been successful or not.

We cannot fly to Palawan with anyone else now as all the flights are booked up, and we don’t even have a return flight home from SE Asia now. We are also about 600 pounds ($900 or so) out-of-pocket with no idea as to when / if we will ever receive this money. In addition to this wherever we go now instead will be more expensive and our return flight to Seoul will cost 2-3 times as much as it would have done had an actual flight been booked since October like it was. I have tried to have a look as to who I should complain to about this, but it seems there is no regulatory body that governs these appalling Philippine airlines.

One of the worst things is, we even researched both airlines before making our booking – apart from a few groans here and there about budget airlines the reviews weren’t too bad. It’s not even like we were even totally naive and stupid when making our bookings. It seems that our luck has been totally out.

Wish you were here - NOT ANYMORE!

We are due to fly to Hong Kong on Thursday morning, spending a couple of nights there before heading to Malaysian Borneo and we were then planning on spending 2 weeks in the Philippines. We certainly won’t be visiting the Philippines anymore, and I don’t think we will ever visit after this. We have been so excited for the last few months about going to Palawan. It’s a crying shame as it’s supposed to be such a beautiful place and was supposedly the inspiration for the novel ‘The Beach’.

We have no idea where we will go instead now, there are plenty of options but whatever we do will be a lot more expensive. It’s hugely disappointing and indescribably infuriating but it seems we are irrelevant and there is nothing we can do. We will have a great time wherever we end up going, probably either more of Malaysia or Indonesia. I’ll let you know. Either way, it’s not the news you want to hear less than a week before we are due to depart.

I’m sure we are not the only people to have suffered this, due to Cebu Pacific and SEAIR I’d be pretty certain that foreign tourists who would spend a lot of money in their country are now refusing to visit due to their incompetence and disgraceful service. So in the meantime the poverty-stricken locals miss out on valuable income due to the incomprehensible actions of a few ‘well-off’ airline executives. The whole situation just stinks.

On a more positive note – it could have been worse – they could have told us the day before. At least we have a few days to make alternative plans. It’s still far from ideal holiday preparation!

We’re just bitterly disappointed and I am absolutely livid. What can we do? Not a lot. Tomorrow is a new day, we’ll have a great holiday regardless I’m sure so from now on I’m going to try and be positive.

Finally, as if you hadn’t already got the message…

I STRONGLY ADVISE ANYONE WHO READS THIS TO NEVER, EVER BOOK A FLIGHT WITH CEBU PACIFIC OR SEAIR – THEY ARE A DISGRACE TO THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY