First Impressions; Philippines

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?

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Kate on anchor in Surigao City

It’s amazing.

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

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Markets: Food for the Soul

Amidst the unfamiliar countries and uneasiness of travel the markets are where I find a connection to the people, to the landscape. Although I have a deep and passionate relationship with food this is not why I seek out these places. It is the everyday-ness of the market that I crave.

Disconnected from family, country, home and all that is familiar the markets are a constant in our travels. The world over people grow food and make goods and sell them in a common space. The produce sold, the faces smiling back at me and the colour of the money changes but the routine is always the same. People coming together to sell food, buy supplies and socialize. Unlike the tourist I am not looking for the exotic, I am searching for the familiar.

On the remote island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia I would wake at 5am, before the dawn, and dinghy across the harbour to go to the Wednesday morning market. You had to get up that early, at 9 degrees south business is done before the wilting heat of the sun brings island life to a halt. After weeks of long passages and limited fresh vegetables I was excited by what might be there to buy.

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Strange Drums and the Banks Band in Port Vila

I have always been attracted to the beat of a drum.

In the sixth grade when we all had to pick an instrument to study at school I choose the drums. For the next seven years I played in the school band.  I was never particularly interested in the drum set, no teenage dreams of being the spunky drummer chick in the next hot indie rock band (it was the early 90’s). No, I preferred the boom of the kettle drums during a classical concerto or the complex driving rhythm of the solitary snare drum that anchored a traditional marching tune. I went on to explore the variety the percussion section had to offer; equally enjoying the musical complexity of the marimba and the staccato simplicity of the claves.

Throughout the South Pacific we’ve encountered music, most of it played on a beat up guitar, often strung with fishing line, or tapped out on a local drum. The designs of drums have varied; tall stand up drums with still furry goat skin stretched across them, plastic buckets inverted and sat upon, whole logs hollowed out through a long, narrow slit.

My ear has been tuned to the sounds percussion section.I have even been known to follow the beat of a distant drum across the anchorage and into a village in search of the instrument and it’s player. So imagine my surprise and excitement when I stumbled across a band visiting from the Banks Islands in town a few weeks ago.
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A Feast for the Eyes

I love going to the market.

I am not sure why I am drawn to these places wherever we go. Maybe it’s because fresh vegetables are scarce when we are at sea. Or because I love trying new foods. Maybe it’s because I like supporting local people. Maybe it’s because I can live without meat but not without crunchy fruit and vegetables. Or, maybe it’s because in the chaos of traveling, disconnected from family, friends and country a trip to the market always feels familiar.

Whatever the reason markets are a favourite spot of mine. They are a great place to people watch, to get a real glimpse of the place that I am visiting and, of course, the only place to get fresh fruit and vegetables. Continue reading