I’ve just returned from two weeks in the Philippines where I was doing some research for my new book. Although when you see some of the photos below you might say it doesn’t really look like ‘research’ – more like a holiday in a tropical paradise. Which I suppose it was.
I travelled to the island of Bohol (an hour’s flight south of Manila) and took a bus almost almost three hours from the capital of Tagbilaren City to Anda on the south coast and finally a 40 minute walk inland to the village of Cassica. In this small and delightfully charming village I stayed with Elfrena and Judito Mapeso. I’d found out about the Mapeso’s homestay through Philippines Homestay Experience, which offers homestays all across the Philippines. For around $15 a night you get a bed in a home and, best of all, get to experience the daily life of a Filipino family and village. Plus your tourism dollars are going directly to the local communities. I stayed with two separate families in two quite different villages. Below are pics from my stay in Cassica…
The road from the town of Anda to Cassica takes you past a large lagoon, rice fields, tropical jungle and to the base of lush green hills.
The ‘Main Street’ of Cassica and, like many villages throughout the Phillipines, the central ’square’ is…
…a basketball court. The Filipinos LOVE basketball. I had a game with the locals and they NEVER miss!
My hosts Judito and Efrena in front of their house. Their 19 year old son is at Uni (doing accounting) in Manila, so I had his old bedroom.
The loungeroom. Judito and Efrena may have had no fridge, no shower and cooked outside on an open fire, but they did have…
…a full-blown, state-of-the-art Karaoke system with a booming PA system (in bottom left of shot), mixing desk, radio mics and over 5,000 songs in their playlist. One night I sang, and I’m not exaggerating, over 30 songs! Oh, and don’t you love the curtains.
This is Efrena’s open kitchen where she cooked up fried fish, chicken and some sort of beef log thing that tasted better than it looked.
This plate of fish was JUST for me one night for dinner. I also got a huge bowl of rice and stir-fried vegetables. A home-cooked meal costs just over 2 dollars on top of your accommodation.
This is where I ate my meals. That fridge doesn’t work by the way. it’s used for storage.
My bedroom. The bed was comfy and I did have a little fan to cool me down and, best of all, those damn mosquitos couldn’t get to me.
The village of Cassica (in the background behind the palms) is surrounded by rice fields. I asked Efrena if there was anywhere that I could hire a scooter and she rang her cousin who brought around her brand new bike and gave it to me for a few bucks for the day. And only 15 minutes ride away was this…
This is Anda beach. Or only part of Anda beach – it actually stretches about 10 kms around the coast. I walked for a couple of hours past untouched stunning beaches with only the odd local putting out their boats or picking out sea urchins from the shallows. Like these kids here…
And yes, how amazing is that water. I brought my own goggles and snorkel with me and just off shore were thousands of brightly-coloured fish and giant sea turtles amongst the coral. This beach (and all along the coast) would easily make it into my Best Beaches in the World list.
More locals. More stunning blue water. And more reasons why I wish i was back there right now.
And if you do feel like a glass of wine and a view there are a few resorts dotted along the caost. This one here (the Anda White beach Resort) was about an hour’s walk along the coast from Anda town. And yes, I had a lovely glass of italian win and bowl of giant prawns for under $10.