We’ve been in the Philippines for almost three weeks now, which for me is just enough time to start to get comfortable in a place. After a few weeks I’ve finally stop comparing our current destination to the one we just left. After a few weeks I have gotten past the shock and awe factor that always comes with exploring a new place and instead I let the everyday happenings inform my opinion about the country and its people. And so after three weeks what do I think of the Philippines?
Kate on anchor in Surigao City
There are 7107 islands that make up the Philippines, so even though we had 13 anchorages at 10 different islands so far we haven’t even scratched the surface of getting to know the country as a whole. That said everywhere we’ve been the people have been friendly. We are greeted with big smiles and enthusiastic waves and since we try not to frequent the tourist spots, so those smiles are genuine. We feel welcome. Continue reading
Within the first week of arriving in Palau a friend asked me how life was closer to land. I blurted out the phrase “Conveniently Inconvenient” and then wondered if I was making a snap judgement about the place.
I try and reserve my first impressions for at least a week when we arrive at a new destination. A week gives me time to kinda get to know the place, to work out what are it’s short comings and what are my own. And so we been here for close to close to 3 weeks now I haven’t said much about Palau other than “We are here.”
Truth is I wasn’t that impressed in the beginning. Continue reading
We have officially crossed back into tropical weather having crossed the 10*S line on the chart on the way up to the Solomon Islands. Things here are sticky and overwhelmingly hot, at least when you are walking around the city in the midday sun with bags full of groceries. But even while sailing we’ve been keeping the middle section of the bimini up so that we have a little shade to cower under while on watch. Not only is the sun hot but it is high overhead, it is all pop bright mornings and quick sunsets at 1800.
Sailing into Honiara at daybreak
I can’t say much about Honiara, we only spent four days here, but thankfully we had the opportunity to stop at a few other places before arriving. If this was my first impression of the Solomon’s it wouldn’t be a great one. The city is very dirty; the streets scattered with trash and every river clogged with plastic. The harbour stinks like a sewer and the water is so murky you can’t see bottom even right at the shoreline. We stopped landing the dinghy on the beach as we didn’t want to have to put our feet in the water and risk a small cut or bug bite get infected.
The other day, while standing on the side of the road outside town, I was picked up by an ex-pat. She had passed me by but then noticed in her review mirror that so had two taxis that were following her. She pulled a U-turn and asked me if I wanted a lift.
I hadn’t flagged down those taxis on purpose. It was Cruise Ship Day and they were actual marked cars, I shudder to think what they would have charged me. I was waiting for a minibus to drive by, that’s how I and the locals get around. They drive everywhere, no route, just where people want to go, and they usually cost a buck fifty. I was happy to wait, but I was happy for the free ride too.
I climbed into the cab to find a friendly 50 something Aussie lady. As we drove down the road she started asking questions; Where was I from? What was I doing in Vanuatu? How long had I been in town? I gave her the general rundown; I was Canadian, we’d just sailed here on our own yacht (boat, confusingly, seems to denote ship in Vanuatu, so although yacht sounds a little snooty, people understand I mean small, private sailing yacht) we’d be around for a couple months.
Then she turned to me and said “Oh, well, you don’t look like a yachtie.” I let the statement hang in the air between us, unsure what to say. My non-reaction seemed to make her uncomfortable. Continue reading
We had a quick but bumpy passage from New Caledonia, pushing headwinds the whole way, despite weather forecasts assuring us differently. Although Port Vila harbour has leads and lights that would have made navigating in after dark we did not know what would be the state of the harbour after Pam; would there wreckage and new hazards? Would buoys and markers be in place? We decided that Mele Bay, an anchorage just around the corner from town with just a fringing reef around a small island and it’s slowly shoaling shoreline would make for a safer place to throw the hook. There were a couple other boats in the bay when we arrived, making finding the anchorage a little easier as by the time we approached the bay it was past dark. Thankfully it was calm and after a thorough de-salting, a long shower and a hot meal we had was a well earned rest.
We motored around to Port Vila on Sunday and checked in with officials yesterday morning, having the rest of the day to walk around town and get organized. Our first impressions are great ones, and I am happy to report that the town is in much better condition following Pam than we expected. I am looking forward to sharing more first impressions when we get internet sorted later this week.