Connect with us

Thai Life

Island hopping in The Philippines

The Thaiger & The Nation

Published

on

Island hopping in The Philippines | The Thaiger

I’m never at my best at 5 o’clock in the morning. But here I am, bumping along the streets of Dumaguete in the Philippines, clinging to the seat of an open-sided bus as the sun tries to poke up over the houses and shops flashing by. Why? I’ve been promised leaping dolphins and a community on stilts in the sea.

Keri Jones

From Phuket, there are direct flights to The Philippines or short connections in Bangkok or KL.

Island hopping in The Philippines | News by The Thaiger

Island hopping in The Philippines | News by The Thaiger

These ‘Jeepnees’ look familiar.

Island hopping in The Philippines | News by The Thaiger.

But The Philippines are a long way to come from Europe. But if you’re prepared to travel the fourteen hours from London to Manila and then take an additional hour-long internal flight, you will find that your money also travels much further here on Negros Island in the central south of the country. When you switch pounds for pesos, you can enjoy luxury living – a good restaurant meal costs around £6. It’s the low cost of living here that has attracted so many European and American relocators.

Island hopping in The Philippines | News by The Thaiger

Gordon Mckissock is one of those. He moved from Canada to start a successful tour company, PhilCan Tours. Gordon told there are 4,000 expats in Dumaguete, a city of 120,0000. I don’t think the foreigners have changed the city much. Dumaguete still offers a taste of the real Philippines – cluttered, chaotic and colourful. Look up and you’ll see the jumble of electric and phone wires – hundreds of black cables twisted together and sagging between poles. I thought it was tough untangling my Christmas lights!

Island hopping in The Philippines | News by The Thaiger

You’ll have to ride in a ‘trike.’ They’re part of the Philippines experience. It’s a covered motorbike with a sort of welded-on sidecar in which you and up to two other passengers can sit. It can be a cosy ride for those with, lets say, a fuller figure so make sure you’re travelling with a loved one or at least a close friend. They’re darting around everywhere – thousands of them. In the centre of town there’s even a ‘trike’ fire engine on display. The fire service roll call would have been shorter than Trumpton’s – they’d reach Pugh and Pugh but be lucky to squeeze on Barney McGrew…

Trikes reach about 30mph, which is fine in a city where vendors meander between the motors to make sales before the traffic moves on. Owners personalise them in bold colours. Most proudly state the name of the operator’s wife or girlfriend. There are lots of good catholic names scrawled or painted on the bodywork – Maria, Rosa, Theresa. Some also contain the names of saints. The Philippines is a devout Catholic nation and all around Dumaguete you’ll see billboards quoting bible verse. “It is 95% Christian although there are some Muslim areas too,” Gordon told me. “There is a lot of value placed on the church but it’s all respectful. Families are large and stick together here.”

Dumaguete’s number one attraction has a religious connection too. A city centre tower was built in 1811 to house bells to warn of invading pirates. The name Dumaguete comes from Daguit, which means ‘to snatch.’ You can climb the landmark, which stands on the skyline like a 30m high grey, coralstone lighthouse. Underneath there’s a grotto with some religious statues. Women sell incense and candles outside.

But Gordon says there’s a lot see away from the frenetic activity of the town. “A big draw is Po Island,” said Gordon. “It’s a world-class wildlife sanctuary and it’s popular for diving and snorkelling. You can also swim with whale sharks in Oslob, at nearby Cebu Island, go on a tour to see waterfalls and bathe in hot springs.”

I boarded one of Gordon’s open-sided minibuses, a ‘jeepny,’ for the 28-mile ride to the port of Bais. The journey took us through a succession of small towns straddling the coastal highway. Men were carrying large bottles of water home on their shoulders for the morning washing and cooking. And the distinctive and pleasant smell of wood smoke filled the air.

An hour later we were in the countryside and driving alongside paddy fields, providing another unique aroma. I’d never smelt rice ‘in the field’ before but for a few minutes, the scent in the air took me back to school dinner days. The jeepny filled with the sweet, familiar smell of rice pudding!

We passed mangrove swamps and sugar plantations and 90 minutes later, we were on the long concrete wharf at Bais. I removed my shoes and socks and waded into the water, to board the wooden trimaran. The small eight-seater was fashioned out of bamboo poles bound together with plastic ties and with a plywood deck. A yellow canopy strung across the top provided shade.

Tour guide Jong’s assistant pushed off using a huge bamboo pole, like a Philippine gondolier, and the engine started up. We headed out into the bay and 45-minutes later there was an excited scream!

There was a dolphin. Then lots of them. Maybe half a dozen were teasing us by offering just a brief view of their dorsal fins. Then, just what everyone wanted, the group leapt a few feet from the water into the air. There were another four sightseeing boats on the sea near us and they soon latched on to our dolphin discovery, speeding over to get a closer look. Whether this disturbs the dolphins or provides them with some ‘hide and seek’ fun, I don’t know. But the dolphins soon vanished. Minutes later, they were back, 200 yards over on the starboard side. The show resumed.

Island hopping in The Philippines | News by The Thaiger

Have you ever had the urge to seek solitude on holiday? There are different ways of achieving it, depending on your budget. If you dream of being stranded on your own desert island, watching the tides rise and fall and the sun set and rise in the knowledge that nobody will disturb you, I might have found the perfect place for you.

As part of the trip out of Bais, our trimaran took us to a sandbar in the bay. Standing 25ft above the water were four platforms, topped with single-storey wood and thatch cottages. The steel legs holding them up made them look like oilrigs. I got off the boat and waded through the thigh-high, warm water to the small concrete platform on the sand. We’d timed it well. The sandbar is completely dry twice a day in the low tide but the water also rises above head height.

Wooden steps led the way to the accommodation above. On entering the simple two-room unit I found an elderly man brushing the deck. Tour guide Jong had accompanied me up the stairs and he translated my questions for the caretaker, who couldn’t speak English. The unit had a viewing deck and bedroom. A bucket on a rope provided the ensuite facilities and although fish could be caught and prepared, there was no cooking facility. So self-catering guests would have sushi at sunset!

Whether you stay overnight or wade out onto the sandbar for an hour, standing upright in the middle of the ocean, seeing starfish on the sandy bottom and sea urchins darting between your legs is a special experience.

Our final boat stop was at Talabong Mangrove Forest and Bird Sanctuary. It’s the largest remaining mangrove forest on the island and a very long wooden boardwalk leads you from the small boat dock, over and above the swamps to the heart of the mangrove. After years of destruction, the locals are now realising how important these habitats are as nurseries for fish. My interest piqued when Jong told me that monkeys live in the reserve. Sadly we didn’t see any.

PhilCan Tours offer a variety of trips around Negros Island, including my dolphin watching tour, as well as diving with whale sharks, fishing and mountain biking experiences. You can book on their website at philtraveltours.com.

I stayed at the Santa Monica Beach Club. The resort is a bumpy twenty-minute ride from Dumaguete airport, down a long, pothole-filled lane. And it’s got one of the biggest outdoor pools I’ve seen. The hotel feels safe and there is on-site security with officials patrolling all night. The hotel also provides free insect repellent made the traditional way from lemongrass. It works – a nice touch.

Keri Jones

Great Destinations Radio Show can be heard on The Thaiger 102.75 FM Saturdays and Sundays at 9am.



Looking to jettison some items before jetsetting away or chartering a yacht? Look no further than Thaiger Classifieds where you can find and post items, work, property and more for free.

Thailand's fastest growing portal for news and information, in association with The Nation.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Bangkok

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb

The Thaiger

Published

on

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | The Thaiger

Thailand is a hub of creativity; a country filled with artisanal culinary gems and art galleries that boasts creativity and innovation allowing cultural tradition to sit comfortably alongside the embrace of new ideas. Thailand never tires, and Bangkok remains popular, with Airbnb seeing an influx of guests during festivals and events such as Bangkok Design Week, which returns for its second year from January 26 – February 3.

The creative economy is thriving worldwide and in Thailand Airbnb have seen a clear synergy between the creative and sharing economies with recent Airbnb data showing there are 2,000 passionate Airbnb Hosts in Thailand who work in the creative industry.

Airbnb’s global digital platform helps creative entrepreneurs to support themselves, fund their passions and in many cases, showcase their creative work, in turn promoting local culture and authentic travel experiences to international and domestic travellers alike.

Held in the Bang Rak district of Bangkok – known for its creativity and centering around Charoen Kung Road, Bangkok’s oldest road – the second edition of Bangkok Design Week is held under the theme “Fusing Forward” and looks to build on its first year of success.
With almost 10,000 Airbnb travellers expected in Bangkok each day of design week, and almost a quarter of all creative Airbnb hosts in Thailand being based in Bangkok, we share some unique Homes across the city, ideal for those looking to enjoy Bangkok’s creative vibe.Between waking up from the comforts of a creatively designed home to attending hosted talks, travellers and locals alike are finding inspiration in this ever evolving golden city. Airbnb has also recently launched Airbnb Plus, which are a selection of homes intended for guests looking for one-of-a-kind, thoughtfully designed, beautiful homes with exceptional hosts.

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | News by The Thaiger1) Anonymous Heritage Home

This rare and unique Thai house built at the turn of the 20th century, is made from golden teak wood and features antique objects, artworks, and high ceilings. Located in Silom area, the creative district is a short stroll away and the river boat for the old town and temples are minutes away.

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | News by The Thaiger

2) Bā hào

A renovated 40-year old shophouse in the vibrant China Town area of Bangkok, Bā hào offers  Thai-contemporary inspired accommodation on the third and fourth floors with a shared living space on the second and an eclectic Oriental-style bar on the first floor.

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | News by The Thaiger

3) Retro Chic Retreat

Minimalist and zen-like, this townhouse is located in the heart of the city yet offers a laid back feel away from the hustle. With five bedrooms, it’s ideal for a group looking to explore the city’s creative nooks and crannies.

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | News by The Thaiger

4) Design house near Chatuchak Market and Ari

This architect-designed house is in a lovely neighborhood with many local street foods nearby, and easy access to Bangkok’s most popular creative hotspot Chatuchak Market, tourist spots and shopping malls.

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | News by The Thaiger

5) J. No 14

This family-owned, antique design B&B is located between the old city and the new, and offers a truly unique accommodation experience located just 300m from the nearest BTS station and 600m from the nearest Chao Phraya River pier.

Airbnb is also supporting a new wave of creative entrepreneurs, where we see more creatives becoming Airbnb hosts. Meet local artists and spend the afternoon with them through Airbnb Experiences.

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | News by The Thaiger

6) Lai Rod Num: Thai crafts gold workshop

Lai Rod Num is an ancient Thai craft using gold leaf and black lacquer painting which is often used in the decoration of temples or palaces pillars, window and door panels, ceremonial bowls, jewelry boxes, and much more. You will learn more about the craft and in the workshop using an adapted modern technique have the chance to create your own craft piece which you can take home.

Experience the creative vibe during Bangkok Design Week with Airbnb | News by The Thaiger

7) 1970’s photo shooting with blogger

Blogger and photographer Tommy will show three completely different faces of Bangkok, in three different neighborhoods, highlighting Bangkok’s diversity and the most beautiful points of the city. Guests will experience classic Bangkok architecture as well as the ‘hipster’ side of Bangkok with its hidden graffiti, street art and how local people live, and amazing Bangkok views.

Continue Reading

Bangkok

Bangkok Airways celebrates the arrival of its 40th aircraft

The Thaiger

Published

on

Bangkok Airways celebrates the arrival of its 40th aircraft | The Thaiger

Bangkok Airways has welcome the latest Airbus A319 as the local airline’s 40th aircraft when it arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

The event was led by Dechit Chareonwong, vice president of Flight Operations and joined by Nijjapat Piyapant, vice president of Ground Operations.

This aircraft type, the latest incarnation of the short-haul A320, consists of 144 economy class seats and will serve popular domestic and international routes such as Chiang Mai, Phuket, Samui, Krabi, Myanmar (Yangon, Mandalay), Cambodia (Siem Reap, Phnom Penh), India (Mumbai) and Vietnam (Danang).

The airline is adding Vietnaese city of Cam Ranh as a new route starting January 25.

Currently, Bangkok Airways’ fleet consists of 4 ATR 72-500s, 11 ATR 72-600s, 16 Airbus A319s and 9 Airbus A320s.

Bangkok Airways celebrates the arrival of its 40th aircraft | News by The Thaiger

Continue Reading

Entertainment

International Hip Hop sensation at Sugar Club Phuket

The Thaiger

Published

on

International Hip Hop sensation at Sugar Club Phuket | The Thaiger

Sugar Club Phuket is hyped to host the Thailand premier of US Hip Hop sensation Rae Sremmurd, live on Tuesday, January 22.

Ever since Rae Sremmurd exploded onto the scene with SremmLife bangers “No Flex Zone”, “Unlock the Swag” & “No Type”, Hip Hop parties just haven’t been the same. Brothers Swae Lee and Slim Jxmmi may be relative new-kids on the block, but they’ve already build massive success, notably since their Gucci Mane-featuring SremmLife 2 single “Black Beatles,” and the accompanying online Mannequin Challenge rocketed them onto the international circuit.

More recently, their viral fanbase was gifted a fist-full of freshness when the trio of LPs on SR3MM arrived last year. A stand-out album with guest features from the likes of The Weeknd, Travis Scott and Future was always expected. But the inclusion of a strong pair of solo albums from Swae (the smooth ride of ‘Swaecation’) and Jxmmi (the trappier ‘Jxmtro’ with a stunning rap from Zoë Kravitz) proved the duo’s star quality beyond question.

To quote Swae Lee: “We gonna be in one of the Hall of Fames; it doesn’t matter if it’s the hip-hop, the opera, or whatever, we’re going down in history for something. There’s gonna be statues of us. We gonna go hard while we’re here. We’re going to make classic, timeless music and make a mark on these motherfuckers.”

Witness the rise of a legend at Rae Sremmurd’s first show ever in Thailand, only at Sugar Club Phuket – live on Tuesday, January 22.

Facebook Event​ HERE

Email​: ​[email protected]

Phone​: +66 98 889 8590

International Hip Hop sensation at Sugar Club Phuket | News by The Thaiger International Hip Hop sensation at Sugar Club Phuket | News by The Thaiger

Continue Reading

The Thaiger Newsletter

Keep up with all the day’s news. Subscribe here.

The latest news and information from Thailand.

* indicates required

Trending