Posts Tagged With: fishing

Jotunheimen to Oslo – from the mountains to the sea

Having been to Nigardsbreen Glacier, the most northerly point of our Norway tour, we aim for Jotunheimen National Park.

On the way we pick up some very delicious raspberries of a farmer for 30NOK. A rip off unfortunately, as we discover them in the supermarket for 20NOK about 30min later.
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Arriving in Lom, we stop at a Stave Church and the tourist information centre where Logan picks up a 2013 calendar with pictures of Norway.

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We drive over a pass, overlooking Norway’s highest mountains of up to 2469m. There is even plenty of snow up here still and many glaciers make their way down.
Gjende lake is described in the travel book as Norway’s most beautiful lake. Unfortunately we arrive there when the sky is dark grey and rain is just starting to fall. We are very low on diesel and feel a little too nervous to stay, so instead just drive on, hoping to finally find a petrol station.
The mountain scenery is incredible and distracts us from our worries for at least a little while.
Finally in Beitostølen, we discover a petrol station – thankfully!
After filling up diesel, we backtrack a few kilometers and then turn right in a private toll road called Jotunheimsvegen. The entry fee is 80NOK (11€/$13), pretty expensive I think at first but considering that this is privately owned and supposedly the most beautiful mountain road in all of Norway, we are happy to pay.
Along the road we pass a few small huts and houses and many lakes. Some cows block the way and even though we almost hit them with our van, they only move out of the way veeeery slowly.
We make camp here on Jotunheimsvegen for the night. Logan is off fishing again, comes back soaking wet but as (almost) always: without any fish.

Oh we’re not the only ones from Australia! This campervan parked next to us at the Stave Church in Lom. The raging river is also in Lom, while the other three pictures were taken on Jotunheimsvegen:
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In the morning the road takes us to Skåbu and then onto Lillehammer. The scenery changes drastically from a treeless mountain landscape to green fields, forests and blue lakes.
Lillehammer was host to the winter Olympics in 1994, so we are driving up to the well maintained ski jump and athletics track. Logan even does three 800m rounds on the track and I time him. Next time I’ll bring my “cheerleader pompoms”!

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Eventually we drive on to Oslo and the find-a-carpark game starts all over again. We are driving back and forth, doing u-turns, searching, looking.. THERE! What’s this? I can’t read the sign and get out to translate it. Within 5 seconds a bus arrives and angrily beeps the horn at us. I run back to the van and the game continues.
We decide to leave the city centre and drive west. There actually seem to be streets in which no parking tickets are required. Since the sun is still out, we get the bicycles and ride back into town.

Oslo has a beautiful mix of architecture but I mostly prefer the older style buildings:

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Flowers are to be found everywhere throughout the city which I personally enjoy looking at very much. The colourfulness of the city continues along the harbour. A very colourful Indian bus is displayed at the front, along with a young boy playing the drums, a guitarist, fairy tale figures and green elephants (which I think are part of a music festival).

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The port also has a small beach and grassy area to relax or enjoy the day with the children.
I noticed a lot of young women have children here, probably because Norway is said to be the most child friendly country in the world.

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The best surprise of the evening are the swing dancers who probably belong to a dance club. We keep watching them for quite a while and I keep laughing and smiling at this genius dance style. Some people even wear old fashioned clothes.
I really want to join a dance class now!

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More on the fantastic Oslo Museums in the next post!

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Preikestolen, Norway

After the long and difficult trek to the Kjerag Bolten, we have had two lay days to recover and regain strength for our next adventure: The Preikestolen!

During those two days we have been enjoying beautiful views at the Lysefjord and tried some more fishing. Since I’m never lucky fishing, Logan of course caught four(!) Mackerels during the first 30 minutes, when I wasn’t there yet. The next hour of fishing with me present is unsuccessful – I’m not surprised anymore. Instead we catch a jellyfish and I upset some kind of marten when reeling in the fishing line and accidentally smacking him with the bait. Oops. He’s hissing at us a few times and then tries to charge us up the rock but then disappears.

Four Mackerels should really be enough for the two of us anyway, so we get the fire going and prepare the fish to be cooked.

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Oh and we are not professionals in preparing fish, so we just cut it apart and take out the bones once it’s cooked. That works well enough for us.

On the second lay day we stop in Forsand to go shopping for some basic groceries before driving on to Preikestolen.
Our plan is to camp nearby so we can start the walk early in the morning. Unfortunately there seem to be so many tourists coming here, that wild camping is not allowed nearby, so we have to drive back to the main road and stay there.

Hiking to Preikestolen

Even though the weather forecast has been predicting sun, we wake up to a thick layer of grey clouds.

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That’s demotivating as obviously you need to have good weather for the best views from the Preikestolen or “Preacher’s stool”. We don’t want to waste any more time though and make our way back up to the car park: 100NOK. Wow! This is not even the main car park near the restaurant, since that one is full, they opened another car park another couple of km down the road. To still ask for 100NOK is a bit much. We turn around and park up a little further down the road and get the bicycles out – cheeky I know.
We ride down to the restaurant and main car park and lock up our bicycles here.

There is a sign describing the walk, the length, difficulty and what you shouldn’t wear: sandals or high heels. When proper shoes are recommended in Norway, you better follow that guideline as they mean it! (I still saw a couple with sandals and even a woman with pumps!! She must have broken her foot soon after that or I would be very surprised!)
The trek immediately starts off with a rocky path, turning into boulders and holding on to trees or rocks with hands is necessary in parts. We cross several streams, grasslands and steep walls on the way.

While the trek to Preikestolen is still a lot easier than the one to Kjerag Bolten, it’s not an afternoon stroll and takes about 2 hours up and a little less back down. (This is if you don’t stop too many times)
I’m surprised to see a lot of children on this track, partly climbing themselves and partly sitting in a backpack on daddy’s back. A lot of people also take their dogs and it amazes me how they manage the steep climbs and balancing on boulders.

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After about two hours of hiking the skies have turned into a crystal blue and we finally arrive at the Preikestolen – I haven’t seen so many tourists in one spot in a while! Wow! Logan and I look at each other with big eyes and have the same thought: would the Preikestolen break off under the weight of all these tourists?? There’s already a large crack through it, especially visible from above.

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We first try to take in the incredible views over the fjord and at the Preikestolen before actually making our way through the people chaos on the platform. We get a few shots and have lunch, sitting on the edge, overlooking the Lysefjord.

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Then we climb up even higher, so we can see the Preikestolen and the Lysefjord from above. It’s such an amazing view!

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Then it’s time to make our way back. 1.5 hours of walking downhill and jumping from rock to rock are ahead of us before finally reaching the car park. I brought shampoo and fresh clothes and clean myself in the bathrooms while Logan is getting the Globetrotter van to pick me up. He then also has a clean and we make our way north. At the Preikestolen bus stop we see a young couple holding their thumbs out. “Where do you guys need to go?” I ask. “To Tau. Our ferry leaves from there!” she says. Turns out there hasn’t been any buses coming in a while and they were already a bit late. We give them a lift to Tau and then make our way towards Hjelmeland, spending the night at a nice spot on the side of the road. There are stone tables and chairs here, so we enjoy beautiful views over the valley while having dinner and then playing a game of chess.

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Stavanger and Eikelivatnet lake, Norway

Arriving in Stavanger, we find ourselves a car park and go for a walk through the city. Surrounded by Norwegian style houses, we find a large lake with a fountain right in the city centre. Nearby we discover a Gothic church and on the other side a wedding.

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We then follow our way down towards the water. There is a market with stalls selling Norwegian style pullovers, warm winter shoes, flags and much more. Pubs with music and outdoor seating areas are located along the port.
I then discover a sign saying “Old Town” pointing left.

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That sounds interesting I think and we follow it up some steps and past some houses. All of a sudden we find ourselves in a lovely old suburb of cute white wooden houses, decorated with flowers everywhere. The cobblestone street leads us past the “Can museum” and two girls selling waffles out their kitchen windows. What a lovely idea to earn some pocket money, so we decide to buy some. So do the tourists who watched us buying them in the first place.

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When returning to our mobile home, I pay for the parking ticket and we drive through the open boom gate, wenn all of a sudden we hear a loud noise of plastic dropping. “What the?!?!??” Jumping out of the van, we discover the boom gate lying on the floor. Now what? Run? Laugh? Call someone? First I check if there are any scratches to be seen on our Camper but the gate was only made from a light plastic. I quickly manage to take a shot, before we then just leave. No time for drama, we want to go fishing.

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And with fishing, another drama unfolds once again! The new fishing line we bought, seems to be too thick for my fishing rod and keeps tangling up badly. Logan then let’s me use his fishing rod for a little while and soon after I loose the rather expensive fish bait to the sea grass at the bottom. His fishing line is thinner and tears when I try to pull the bait out. How frustrating. Logan isn’t happy either, but hey, he lost two yesterday already! I give up for today and leave the fishing to Logan. After another hour or so, he throws out the line, gets somehow tangled and the bait goes flying into the lake! Another one gone. Disappointed we pack our stuff together and retreat to the campervan.
Thanks for the fish Norway.

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Norway Fishing Dramas

It’s so warm! Half asleep I throw down my blanket and turn around one more time, but it is so warm up here in the campervan bed. Then I open my eyes and see sun rays peaking through the small openings of the windows. Sun!!! Finally after days we have sunshine!
We pull out chairs and table and have breakfast outside, overlooking the Listafjord.
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After passing through Flekkefjord, the street gets narrow, sometimes only 3m wide, and very curvy. Going past deep chasms, cliffs, fjords and up to 400m-high and grey weather-beaten mountain scenery.
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I also tried to capture the beautiful and very unique architecture: from houses hidden below an overhanging rock wall (picture above), wooden churches or the typical idyllic Norwegian-style houses surrounded by large bolders, lakes and grazing sheep.
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Arriving in Egersund, we stop at a
sports store to buy some bait that may attract Norwegian fish better than our little neon yellow fish-bait. Logan also suggests we should buy more fishing line, as ours isn’t long enough. We go for the cheapest one which is still about 20€ and some stingsilda 28g bait for 10€. I read that one does the trick here in Norway.

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The landscape after Egersund is less mountainous, but instead a beautiful sandy beach borders onto hilly fields and forests.
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From Sandnes, near Stavanger, we drive east along the fjord, which I believe is still part of the Hillefjord and at the very end of the street we find a small village called Dale. We are basically across the fjord from Stavanger. Here we discover a small grassy spot right at the fjord to park on. As soon as the engine stops, we excitedly jump in the back and unpack the fishing accessories. Logan is first in and within 10 seconds he has a fish on the hook!!! (This is no exaggeration!) I couldn’t believe it! He throws it in a second time and within another 30 seconds he’s got another one but this time the fish is putting up a fight and … The fishing line tears!!!
I already had a feeling that the line was too thin when we reeled it onto the rod. Now this really is a problem. We lost one of the good bait and we don’t really want to loose the second one. Nor do we want the poor fish swimming around with hooks in their mouths.
How very frustrating!
The second problem is, that even the front part of the fishing rod itself broke off too!

Back at the Intersport store in Sandnes, we buy not just fishing line (this time the second strongest they have!) and more bait, we also buy (what we think are) floaties and even a new fishing rod. Over a hundred euros poorer we quickly get back to the same place… We better make up for this now by fishing every day and actually catching some too!

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Back at Dale with two rods, a stronger line and more bait, we keep fishing for an hour but pull nothing out but seagrass.
Also the floaties dont seem to stay afloat and sink with the bait.
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I wonder whether we’ll ever have any luck fishing???
We change location one last time to a spot only just south of Dale and try fishing from a jetty this time.
No fish.. An hour later, still no fish! My fishing rod keeps getting tangled and knotted up. During my last attempt I can’t seem to reel it in anymore as there are knots everywhere. I patiently de-knot what I can, while the hook with the bait is dangling at the bottom of the sea.
Finally I seem to be able to pull it out, obviously with a lot of seaweed on it as it is quite heavy.
I can’t believe my eyes what I then see emerging out of the water while I’m reeling it in: a crab! The first “fish” I ever caught is a CRAB?!?! I’m not all that happy about it, more so shocked! But Logan yells at me: “Pull it out!!!!!!”
Eeeew so we’re having crab for dinner, are we??

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Logan puts up a little fight with the crab, he’s a strong little creature! Then we take him up and throw him in boiling water. Poor thing, threw off one of his claws in stress.
Logan seemingly enjoys his crab dinner, while I only have a few small bites of his fish he caught earlier.

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Funny enough he hooked himself later that evening crying out for help, hahaha!

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Norway, Viking Roadside Assistance (ADAC) and Norwegian Customs asking for drugs

As we still need to wait a few hours for the ferry to take us from Hirtshals in Danmark to Kristiansand in Norway, we both decide to go for a run – individually though, as I could never keep up with Logan’s speed and distance. While Logan is running towards the town of Hirtshals, I’m running along the beach in the other direction. The weather is cool, windy and sometimes rainy; probably quite good for a run! Soon I’m forced to turn around as there is a small river (or creek) separating the beach. It is too wide to jump, so I’m turning around, running back towards the van. Just as I arrive, Logan also returns from his run and decides to go for a refreshing swim in the Baltic Sea. A few people stare, it is probably rather uncommon for a person to go swimming in this kind of weather.

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It is then soon time to drive over to the ferry terminal. We are one of the first to arrive and one of the last to go on the ferry – of course. Once on the Fjordline Express ferry we get comfortable in the “comfort seats” in the top level and soon daze into a shallow sleep as it’s already past 11:30pm.

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The ferry ride only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. There were two children on board who would also cry for those two hours and 15 minutes – non-stop!! How very exhausting for everyone on board, also for the toddler himself to cry for over two hours without a break, wow!
I’m glad once we get back to the van and am looking forward to falling asleep very soon… But of course the appearance of our flower-decorated van, the peace sign hanging from the mirror and Logan’s deadlocks lead to the customs officers stopping us to get our van sniffed through by a dog! I was already highly amused about how the cliché of someone with dreadlocks got us into this situation but the creme dela creme was the the question of the officer: You smoke? Marijuana? Cannabis? Logan laughed and responded: Don’t let the hair fool you, I’m not even smoking cigarettes! The disbelief in the officer’s face expression was priceless!

Finally we are able to pull up in one of Kristiansand’s side streets and get some rest.

In the morning we have our first experience with grocery shopping in Norway. All we need is some water but a 5liter bottle of water is over 7€!!! All we end up buying are 4 bottles of bubbly water and instead of still water in a bottle we use the next opportunity at a shell station to top up water and also refill all our water bottles from a tap/hose supplied.

And there is our next problem: When we want to refill diesel, the petrol cap won’t open! No matter how hard we try, it won’t open but instead just makes a clicking noise. We have to call the German road ride assistance (ADAC) who then send us the Norwegian road side assistance “Viking”. It really pays to be a member! After the nice assistant doesn’t seem to have any luck with our petrol cap either, we are being taken to a mechanic who then breaks the lock in the cap. This service didn’t cost us a cent. The only little problem now is that we can’t lock the cap anymore and it isn’t as tight as it should be, so hopefully there won’t be any dirt or sand falling inside the tank until I can replace the cap.

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Finally, by 2pm we are on the road westwards. It has been raining all day today but our first impression of Norway is still a very good one. There are a lot of lakes and fjords everywhere along the south! First we stop at the south cape and take a few snapshots of the lighthouse, before moving on.

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We make it to a place before Flekkefjord where we try our luck fishing again.
We haven’t caught a single fish during all of our Europe trip, I wonder whether that is going to change today! While we are sitting patienly for 3 hours, trying all sorts of bait like fake fish, bread and sausage, “our fish” like to nibble but never bite; while the guy next to us is pulling one fish out after the other. Within 30min he’s got 4 fish and leaves. We keep on trying for a long time but eventually give up as the rain and especially mosquitos become unbearable. Soup for dinner tonight and we’re still smiling of course. But maybe we should consult a fishing expert before our next fishing adventure!

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The Veneto, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 (by Francy)

Oh hey, while people still work on the bathrooms we are at least allowed to use the toilets and showers today. What first stands out to me again, is the loosy goosy way labourers work in Italy. Cement is splashed all over the shower walls and it just doesn’t look done properly. The toilets are also built too closely to the door that you can only sit down with your body straight up and the flush is the coming out like a fountain! The water is splashing all over the toilet bowl and onto the floor. I find that somewhat disgusting and amusing at the same time. Welcome to Italy, or should I say Mediterranean countries, as similar things have happened to me before in France and Spain as well.

We empty our grey water again, fill up clean water and this time also empty the toilet box. “Eww!” You would think. That’s what we expected too but it’s not actually smelly or disgusting at all. All that comes out is blue “water” and you wouldn’t even see it, if I wasn’t so curious to bend down and look in the waste shute. It’s all blue from a chemical we put into the toilet that breaks down whatever goes into it; even toilet paper. While I get rid of all the rubbish Logan walks to reception to pay.

“14 Euros please!” “Excuse meee???” Yesterday he said 10 Euros! Now why is it 14? The guy at reception says: “I made a mistake yesterday, it’s not 10, it’s 14.” When Logan tells me that I’m furious. I guess it doesn’t help much to be angry now and I remind myself of the fact that we got away with washing a few clothes in the washing machine without paying.

We drive on towards Venice but don’t want to go there just yet. The weather isn’t quite perfect and we rather want a full day in Venice, so we just drive around to see if we can find a free parking spot for the night and have a look how we get into Venice.

After having lunch next to a small river, we drive on to Venice. A long bridge leads over to the islands. We find a car park on the island of Tronchetto: 21 Euros for 12 hours and an extra 16 Euros on top every 12 hours. We decide to drive back to that same spot at the river and come back in the morning to then have a max. of 12 hours in Venice.

The drive back was another interesting one with one Italian man suddenly swerving onto our lane, racing towards us and turning into his driveway only seconds before he would have hit us. Another person overtakes us where there is a double line indicating, “overtaking not allowed”. Road rules are just a suggestion in Italy!

The landscape has changed a lot since Slovenia. There are fields as far as the eye can see and big brick houses in the middle of them with a few bushes around. Long driveways lead to those houses that often look abandoned and in ruins.

We try and approach a few of these deserted houses however discovered that they were not abandoned but still in ruins with roofs, windows or walls missing.

We are trying the fishing thing again; and again without success. It must be the wrong bait, as so far we are only using little colourful rubber bait and they probably don’t help much in murky water. Once it gets dark we start to get a little worried that police might see us and give us a nice big fine. It’s Easter weekend so it’s more likely they check for illegal campers. We hear a group of people walking out of a nearby church, going in a circle and chanting before heading back in. We’re looking forward to see Venice tomorrow…

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Malapacao 23/11/11

“Happy birthday” says Logan. It’s still dark outside and a few minutes later Leeann is calling out for us. We told her yesterday we wanted to do an island hopping trip today. We paid for 5 nights, including two half day island hopping trips, so we thought we better do it soon before we need to leave the island due to hunger.

Logan and I were dearly hoping that the crazy woman wouldn’t come on the trip but for some reason, she decided to join us – in her see-through crochet bathing suit that rather looked like lingerie. We are making our way to the big lagoon. The way through to the lagoon is so shallow, we need to get off the boat and push it. The Philippino captain is maneuvering around big rocks, one of them skimming the outrigger of the banka. We drive in, turn around  and leave the lagoon already. Quick visit! The small lagoon is right next to the big one. This time we have to anchor the boat outside and swim through an entrance into the small lagoon. There is lots of coral and fish in there but unfortunately the water visibility is not the best today. It is still impressing with the steep limestone cliffs surrounding the lagoon and holding it like a treasure. We swim into two caves, one is very narrow and I’m trying my best not to hurt any coral. During our swim, Leeann collects some leaves off the cliff walls and Logan jokingly says: That’s our lunch. Unfortunately we knew it was the truth!!

We are swimming back to the banka but I feel there is a strange mood in the air. I’m asking Leeann where we are going next and she says: “Home!” Home? I thought this was supposed to be a half-day trip, not a 1hr trip? I’m totally disappointed and tell Logan that I want to leave the island today. I’m hungry, not happy and this is my birthday. All I have been thinking off the last two and a half days was normal food.

On the way back, we drop Logan off at Inabuyatan island, so he can swim back. It’s a 1.7km swim and takes about 45 minutes. (on the map you can find Malapacao and Inabuyatan in Tour B) While Logan is swimming, I’m washing some clothes in a bucket with soap, so they can dry before we are leaving.

Back at the hut, Logan and I discuss how we are going to tell Leeann about our decision to leave. We walk over to her hut and tell her that we decided to leave today as we would like to go exploring a bit more around El Nido. She asks where we’d like to go, so Logan says, we’d like to hire a motorbike and go for a ride. She responds: The roads are too bad, I hurt myself once falling off a bike. So I say: and we’d like to see the waterfalls. “The waterfalls are not good at all, they don’t carry water this time of the year.” She also says: “Is it the food? Do you want some rice?” I’m thinking, oh yes and I want a lot more than that. She says: “Well we can take you to El Nido and pick you up again!?” Logan and I don’t know what else to say. We really would just like to leave and not be impolite or make this a big drama. So Logan says: “We don’t really know where we will go, so we’ll leave this afternoon please.” She finally accepts. Thank god!

We are impatiently awaiting the afternoon with a very hungry tummy. Finally back on the banka I feed relieved. We go straight back to the Sands Inn, throw our bags in the room and quickly walk to the Art Cafe. I order Spaghetti Carbonara and Logan has a large pizza. FINALLY! I’m happy and can enjoy my birthday.

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Malapacao 21/11/11

Attention everyone planning on going to Malapacao Health Retreat. Do NOT go. Read this before: http://restlessenergy.org/

To summarize in short: Leann Cruz was shut down by the government but is now operating under a fake name, a new business name but with the same poor sanitary conditions and unhealthy diet. You’ll find reports of people getting seriously ill from malnutrition and infections. People have been sexually harassed and there are bad disputes with the locals. Please read the link.

It is about 7 in the morning and I’m desperately trying to get Logan out of bed. He doesn’t quite remember the “smoker’s delight” he had last night, nor the Tequila shots or how many beers. He also hardly remembers he was making friends with a group of young Irish people playing card games and smoking shisha. Good I filmed it all.

Interesting was the smoker’s delight, something I haven’t seen before myself. The bar tender, who called himself Rocky Balboa and served Logan the shot, lit up the alcohol and swung it around so the flames would heat up the drink. Logan was then supposed to drink it and breathe in the vaporized alcohol through a straw. His face expression said it all. The expression in his face has hardly changed today, he still looks drunk and slightly in pain.

We are supposed to go to Malapacao today, which means “Big Foot”. It is an island in the beautiful Bacuit Archipelago. The northern side of the island is owned by a Lady called Leeann, who is a practitioner of Naturopathy and also follows a raw diet. A few days before our arrival we received an e-mail in that she asked us to please start eating raw food only, do a detoxification using wormwood and clover (?), to only wear 100% cotton, not to use nail polish or any other toxins and to please bring a pair of cotton socks, a pair of woolen socks and some crystals. I began to worry a little bit and am now particularly worried because Logan smells like a booze sponge.

I drag Logan to the Art Café since most of El Nido has no electricity in the mornings and we need to check our e-mails for a notification of when and where we will be picked up. 11am at Corong Corong! We are having breakfast at the Art Café. It’s not bad but my bread’s crust is stone hard. If I had known how much I would suffer from starvation the next few days, I would have never complained about a hard crust!!!

      

Back at the Sands Inn we are getting ready to leave, surprisingly the electricity is working. The toilets have no seats but at least they can be flushed. The shower isn’t really working though, there is a bucket and scoop supplied which are a lot more effective than the dripping shower. Cold water only of course! We are walking a few meters and are being picked up by a tricycle to take us to Corong Corong port. Actually, there is no port, only a long beach, so even the tricycle driver has no idea where to drop us off. We are driving up and down Corong Corong and I know he is charging us for this. We spot a few boats and tell him to just drop us off here; it can’t be anywhere else. 60 Pesos! I’m sure a local would only pay 10 Pesos for the ride but okay; we are the rich tourists so we are paying. It is still only about $1.37!

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It looks pretty deserted and lonely here and Logan starts to doubt that we are in the right place. I have a feeling we are and just sit down and wait. It’s a beautiful view out to the archipelago; massive islands and cliffs are sitting on top of the light blue sea. I see a white banka coming towards us, it is Dewata, the banka from Malapacao. It is very shallow, so we start walking towards the boat. Two Philippino guys are helping us to climb on board. Logan and I just look around, amazed by all the magical island formations. The warm wind is blowing around us and the crests of a few waves are splashing into our faces. It smells like sea. Malapacao!

I recognize the dramatic cliff wall and shape of the island; it blows me away. We are getting closer and the beauty is overwhelming: Cliffs on either side, a white beach, palm trees along the shore and a few wooden huts between them. Leeann is awaiting us on the beach with self-made flower necklaces and a huge coconut with a straw. We are in paradise!

Next thing Leeann tells us, she is a nudist. Oh no! Do we really need to see an over 60 year old woman nude? I can sense Logan’s mind-set and feel we are talking in thoughts to each other without eye contact. Leeann takes us to our wooden hut, it is open to every side and the views are stunning! The bathroom is in the back; a few steps down and also quite open. She shows us how the water that we use in the sink, is actually flowing into a bucket and we need to use that water to flush the toilet. It is the same system with the shower. It is all very basic or ‘back to nature’; I like it.

Leeann leaves us to ourselves, so we can unpack and then come down for lunch. Logan and I laugh and share our thoughts about Leeann; she definitely is a bit special.

Back at the beach, Leeann walks out of the vegetation towards us: nude! I see Logan’s eyes catching a glimpse of her and turning away with an embarrassed smirk in his face. All I see is a very skinny person with massive boobs and an even bigger, probably bloated, belly. I feel embarrassed too but she comes right up to Logan, holds up a huge shell and asks him whether he would like to call out to the gods. Then she blows in the shell, making a noise like blowing a horn and hands it over to Logan. This is such a crazy situation and I have to try my best not to burst out laughing! Logan doesn’t really get it, so he hands it over to me and after a few tries, I manage to get the noise out as well. She tells me to lift up my left arm, to reach for the gods while calling outto them. Ahh, this is classic!

Foto

Leeann takes us over to the lunch table and sits down with us – nude! Fortunately her big boobs are hanging below the table, so we don’t really see too much of it but it’s still ruining my appetite. There’s also a Russian woman with her 8-year-old daughter. The poor child must be in such a shock. She doesn’t say a word and hardly moves. The plates are full of green leaves, yellow tomatoes, onions and herbs. I wouldn’t call it tasty but it’s eatable. Still! And when not hungry! When Leeann starts to dig her fingers into the food and then deep down her throat, Logan and I stop eating. It looks and sounds disgusting. After lunch, we decide to go and explore the island a little bit. This involves some extreme climbing up the sharp limestone cliffs on bare feet. The vistas are beautiful from up here but I wonder if the pain is really worth it. On the way down it is getting dark and even more dangerous. Back at our hut, I’m trying to pull out the prickles in my feet but they are too deep under my skin.

I’m getting hungry and am looking forward to dinner, just to be disappointed to find the same mix of leaves on the plate. I feel bloated but not full. In fact, I’m still very hungry. Hopefully breakfast will be better. Sleeping in the open is great. I wake up many times because the wind is very strong, almost like a storm but I really enjoy listening to nature.

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The banka ride to El Nido 20/11/11

 

“Warning! Don’t travel to El Nido by Banka” is what I read in other travel blogs. I have to say it doesn’t really put me at ease, that people report that their banka sunk and the drunk captain yelled out: “Rescue yourselves!” Other’s wrote, they had a rough and very wet journey for over 10 hours.

It was the easiest and cheapest choice to go by banka and for me also the most logical one as taking the plane would mean huge detours and criss-crossing the country. Obviously it was the unsafest option but Logan got excited about the potential of adventure.

After breakfast Logan and I make our way down to the Sea Dive dock and I have a critical look at the old banka. A normal civilized person would think they are playing a joke on you. This little fisher boat is supposed to take us out to the open sea for 7-10 hours? Alright then, I just hope the thunder and lightning from last night is really over!

Surprisingly the banka ride is awesome! We are so lucky to have great weather and a very calm and flat ocean. We are going past beautiful islands, beaches, and lagoons. Logan and I are sitting on a plank on the outside of the banka, our feet dangling down in the water, and enjoy the stunning vistas and the lunch served by the boat crew. We even manage to fall asleep on the 30cm wooden plank.

Not so pretty is the toilet. It’s a tiny cube, no toilet seat, no toilet paper and to flush, you need to scoop water out of a bucket into the toilet. Well, I can live with that and Logan even managed not to use it at all. The men’s bladder is a mystery to me!

Seeing El Nido in the distance is a great feeling. Behind the little town is a massive limestone wall and it’s surrounded by dozens of islands. Opposed to Coron it has got a beautiful beach and looks quite colourful. Since we got no idea of where to stay, we walk into El Nido Boutique and Art Cafe, a modern and clean island-style cafe with wireless internet to order a banana-chocolate milkshake and let the outside world know, that we survived.

Walking down that same alleyway along the beach, we are being offered rooms for first 1400 Pesos and then 800 Pesos a night.
“Sir, Ma’am, looking for room?” “Yes! How much?” “500 a night Sir.” Great, that’s about 12 AUD for a double room right on the beach, including wireless internet. We are ridding ourselves of our bags and jump in the warm waters of El Nido. What a beautiful place. Walking along the beach, we are gazing at all the pretty bars and restaurants with their wooden island-style furniture and lights on.

Pina Colada!? Good idea! Little did I know an hour later Logan would order shots! We arrive back at our room at 1am, I’m sober but Logan.. Oh Oh.. In my imagination I can see the health woman detoxifying Logan tomorrow. Oh what fun!

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Diving Coron Shipwrecks 19/11/11

 

Signing one’s life away, first thing in the morning is a little strange. Logan and I are very excited though to go diving and see the shipwrecks today, for Logan it will be his first dive. Our dive instructor is Gerd, he is German and an absolutely dedicated diver and treasure hunter. He came to Busuanga 11 years ago because of the 20 shipwrecks and good diving. There are also two Brits, Peter and Jack, and Gerd’s wife and three kids on board.

We got about half an hour until our dive and Gerd asks us, whether we would like to know a bit more about our equipment and diving. We are all keen on learning, so he explains the diving regulator, weights, buoyancy control, the pressure gauge and much more. We are then allowed to attach the vest to the oxygen tank, open the valve and fit ourselves. It’s really not that hard but I cannot say that about keeping balance on the boat once I got about 10 kilos of equipment on me. I feel like an overweight whale on dry land! In the water it’s a lot easier to move around. Since Logan and Jack have never been diving before, we are doing the required exercises in shallow water of how to control buoyancy, take out the breathing apparatus and put it back in, share the emergency breathing apparatus with a buddy and clear out the mask in case water runs in. It also puts me at ease to repeat these exercises that I have last done 3 years ago.

Out of the dark blue appears the silhouette of a big sunken Japanese warship. It’s Tangat. We swim over and around it, there is lots of coral attached to the wreck and fish are going on with their everyday life. While they seem to fight over their territory, I’m fighting with my buoyancy level as I seem to keep floating upwards. I released all of the air in my vest and Logan has to help me stay down the bottom and drags me along with him. It annoys me a bit, I never had problems with that but maybe 4 kilo weights weren’t quite enough. For Logan the experience of diving is overwhelming. I watch him swim like a fish in its element, I knew he would love it and I think now he’s hooked.

After the dive, we enjoy the water for a little longer and then head off to Luzon, another shipwreck. I attach another kilo onto my belt and stumble towards the edge of the banka. It’s a deep water entry this time. I jump in and love the feeling of weightlessness! Logan, Gerd and I slowly release the air of our vests and it looks like I can enjoy my dive this time! I sink! Woohoo! The visibility around the wreck is a lot better, there is a lot more coral and so many more fish around! We love it! A big cuttlefish, that Logan and I mistook for an octopus at first, is trying to escape from us and nervously changes its colour. We swim through the shipwreck, it’s quite tight to fit through with the oxygen tank on the back but I try to stay calm and swim through very slowly and carefully. My emergency breathing apparatus is getting caught up at the wreck, lucky I’m so slow, avoiding any damage. At one point there is this huge 1 meter plus parrotfish overtaking us like we are on a highway. I can see Gerd’s excitement under water. Later he tells us, he’s never seen a parrot fish of this size before. 40 minutes pass like 10 minutes and at the bottom of the wreck Gerd discovers a crocodile fish and signals me to come closer to have a look. Oh oh! I see myself getting further away. Further and further and… splash, my head pops up at the surface. I just rose over 10 meters to the surface, totally out of my control. I have no idea how on earth this happened so suddenly after 40 minutes. I’m a little angry and decide I had enough. Logan and Gerd follow me 10 minutes later and we talk about the great experience. Gerd is absolutely amazed about how well we both dive but especially about Logan as it’s his first dive. He says, he has never seen anything like it in his career. “Logan swims like a fish! Better than many experienced divers.”

We get handed a beer and make our way back to Coron port. It’s about an hour journey and we enjoy the setting sun, beautiful island vistas and warm wind blowing around us. Back at the port, we catch a tricycle to Rocksteady Dive Centre to receive our dive certificate and say goodbye to everyone. Now we are looking forward to a good German meal at Kokosnuss Resort. Tomorrow we are off to El Nido…

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