Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Delayed in Dumaguete (by Juli)

We would end up with plenty of time to love ALL of Dumaguete
After almost a full day of traveling with our very wet and stinky hiking clothes, we made it to our surprisingly nice hotel in Dumaguete in time to drop off our laundry and book a scuba trip for the following day to Apo Island.  We walked around Dumaguete, the largest city on our itinerary, and were happy to note that there was a city festival going on.  The festival was called Sandurot and consisted of nightly musical performances, boxing, motorcycle races, and a food and wares market.

Festival time in Duamguete!
After checking out the festival we had a nice dinner of kinilaw (ceviche in coconut milk) and chicken harang harang at Hayahay.   We then called it a night to get ready for our early morning trip to Apo Island.

In between dives at Apo Island
The reefs of Apo Island were the reason why we chose to stop in Dumaguete for 3 nights, so we were really excited that we were headed to the island on our first full day in Dumaguete.  The Islands lived up to the hype and we really enjoyed the three dives.  The visibility was amazing, especially considering that the surface was a bit windy and choppy.  Unfortunately, the company we chose to go with didn't have the best equipment and we had a handful of small mishaps (my BCD got stuck in the 'inflate' position a couple of times, luckily always near the surface!).   We met a bunch of other travelers on the trip and agreed to meet the next day to visit a number of the local sites by motorbike.

One of the Twin Lakes from a lookout point
The next morning, we met up with our travel companions and after an hour of trying to find enough motorcycles, we headed off north for a place called Twin Lakes.  We had to ride about 30 miles to reach the lakes.  The first half of the ride had a lot of traffic which was intimidating when trying to navigate on a motorcycle that I was not familiar.  Sadly, we came upon an accident, where by the look of the two vehicles, it would be surprising if the drivers survived.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize that was the easy part of the ride, the next section consisted of a mix of windy roads that alternated between paved and unpaved.  I almost wiped out on the way up, which scared the crap out of me.
Juli navigating the mixed terrain on the way to the Twin Lakes
We enjoyed our snacks and views from of the first lake and then jumped in a small boat to visit a waterfall and see the second lake.
Our moto gang relaxing in the Olayan waterfall
Personally, I was already dreading the motorcycle ride back.  I got a jump on the group so I could go as slow as possible without holding everyone up.  When I took a brief second to look up from the road, the views were amazing.
Views from the road, heading downhill from the Twin Lakes
We grabbed a drink at a lookout spot on the way back and then headed back to town.  OH wait, I forgot, I did actually wipeout at the construction spot on the way down and broke a piece of the motorcycle that we subsequently had to pay for :(  No more motorcycles for me on this trip!  That night, we watched a couple of live boxing matches (part of the festival) and had dinner at San Rival Cafe, home to the best dessert - silvanas (buttercream cookies).  Todd had at least two every day we were in Dumaguete.

The best dessert! Snack! Lunch!
The next day we got up early to hit Casaroro falls before our motorbike rental ended and before our afternoon ferry departure.  Since I was done driving the motorcycle, Todd "offered" to drive with me on the back.  The falls were amazing and we were the only people there.  The hike to the falls used to be on a raised paved walkway, but a typhoon wiped out the walkway.  It looked like an image from Planet of the Apes. The waterfall was amazing, supposedly the tallest in the Philippines.

Crumbled walkway leading to Casaroro Falls

Todd at the bottom of Casaroro Falls

Casaroro selfie
On the way back, we visited a WWII "museum".  Museum is in quotes, because it was really a guys garage.  The collection was pretty interesting and almost all was found in the local hills from the Japanese occupation.   The proprietor had found numerous (30+) human remains of which most had been given back to the Japanese over the years.

Juli checking out some ordnance at the Cata-al WWII Museum
After lunch, we headed to the ferry terminal only to be turned away because the ferry was CANCELLED due to a tropical storm.  Ugh.  We had already paid 50% of that nights hotel in the swanky Alona Beach (was to be the nicest hotel of our trip).  So, we found a hotel room and busied ourself that afternoon with shopping and a movie.  Hunger Games was the only thing playing, which was disappointing for Todd but fine for me.  The next day the weather was worse and the ferry was cancelled again.  We killed some time hitting up the small anthropology museum at the local university and walking around the town, but ended up spending much of the day in the hotel room watching movies (thank goodness the hotel had a good cable package!).  That night was Thanksgiving so we found the one place serving a traditional turkey dinner and had a nice, but expensive thanksgiving dinner (about 7x the normal dinner price).

Thanksgiving dinner in Dumaguete!
Later, we were walking by a karaoke place and decided to pop in.  Similar to Japan, the establishment consisted of small rooms that were rented by the hour.  Todd and I decided to have a go and spent 2 hours singing popular duets plus a number of Todd's favorites (safety dance, joker, etc.).  I generally refuse to do karaoke since I'm tone deaf, but this was surprisingly a lot of fun.  Just don't ask Todd about my singing abilities and I hope there wasn't any kind of secret recording going on.

Finally, the next day we were told the ferry was running and we were two happy campers.  We only had 2 nights left of vacation, but we were going to make the most of it in Alona Beach!

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