About pickle in the Philippines

dsc05589I have taken a keen interest in exploring the islands of Indonesia and the Philippines.

While waiting for an Indonesian visa in East Timor, I had the chance to do some trail riding and scuba diving and became very fond of this country and it’s people.

Along the way I met a lot of really cool people and decided to write some of this stuff down so others can get a feel for what it’s like.

Anyone is free to add any information by using the forum.

If there are questions I will try to help out with my limited knowledge or steer you to someone that knows more about the subject than me.


My interest in East Timor

postcards_003East Timor is often overlooked by travelers because of it’s remoteness and unstable political situation.

It is also a rather expensive destination for backpackers and budget travelers.

I tried to put together some information that might be of use to the odd traveler that seeks out of the way but really fascinating places like East Timor.

Oecussi gets so few travelers that it is not even included in most guide books. To get into the outback you will have to bring your own motorcycle but you will have an amazing adventure.

You just have to be very flexible and be able to put up with unexpected difficulties.

There are also endless dive sites to check out including a visit to Atauro Island. Say hello to Barry of Nema’s lodge.

Wayne of Freeflow Diving is another good contact.

Henry and Rita of the Backpackers Guesthouse in Dili are local fixtures and will be a great help during your visit.

oct24_028.jpgIf you want to get off the beaten path there is some real nice country on the south side of the island. These people are ultra friendly but also super poor so bring along anything that you might need.

Who knows, you might even decide to stay.


My interest in the Philippines

gen-san-045.jpgMindanao and Palawan are my favorite islands in the Philippines. The Mountain Province in Northern Luzon and the Chico River Canyon are also a place that I keep getting drawn back to.

Swimming in the cold rushing waters of that Chico River really can’t be beat.

caves_089.jpgHiking the mountains around Tinglayan with Francis is really a trip too. The rice terraces around Banaue and Batad are more touristed but well worth the effort it takes to get there.

Sagada is a whole new experience for those that want to explore some of the caves in that area. It is a cool town up in the hills where you can relax and rest up eating food from the markets of in any of the restaurants that line the streets. This place gets packed with Philippine tourists on the weekends so it is best to arrive midweek.

mindanao-131.jpgIf you are on your way south to Sabah or Suluwasi, Mindanao is a must see. They get fewer visitors than some of the other areas and get a lot of bad press but in general it is a great place to travel and the people very friendly.

Visa requirements are very easy in the Philippines and extensions and not difficult to get. Many people speak English in addition to Tagalog and thear local language.

gen-san-025.jpgDomestic flights within the country are fairly inexpensive and can save a lot of discomfort traveling by bus or boat. (I do enjoy travel by boat enormously, however.)

Scuba divers have a variety of sites to choose from. Subic Bay and Coron have the wrecks.

bigcave_459.jpgPuerto Galara and Sabang have the dive factory and discos but have stellar diving regardless. Nearby Verde Island has some sweet diving to offer as well.

Apo Reef and Apo Island both have their devotes with the reef being a more remote dive site. The Island is just a short hop from Dumaguette on Negros and there are good dive sites on Negros as well.

bigcave_522.jpgSouthern Leyte has at least 3 major dive operators that I know of and whale sharks pass through quite often. Donsol is famous for it’s snorkeling and heaps of whalesharks or butanding.

This could go on and on but you might want to just go and have a look for yourself.

For me the Philippines are quite a bit more expensive than Indonesia but cheaper than East Timor.

The food is not usually rated very highly but there are a few surprises such as kinilaw. There tends to be an overabundance of fast food restaurants and way too much sugar in the recipies.

I find the lodging often to be a poor value in many cases too. Cable tv and air conditioning are things that mean a lot to the Filipino traveler but having a window and a fresh breeze mean more to me.

Feel free to post on the comment section if you have anything to add.


My interest in Indonesia

nikiniki_023.jpgIndonesia is so incredibly diverse and you are so free as a traveler that it is my favorite place to be. The biggest drawback is the visa hassles and government regulations set up to annoy the foreigner.

The big cities have all the goodies of any major city in the West but that is not my interest. I like to get to the end of the road and then hop on a boat and get further off the beaten path.

k27.jpgWhere else can you go where the lizards are so big that they can eat you?

I started a separate section for Bali because even though it is part of Indonesia it seemed that it needed a space of its own.

There is so much that I have not seen yet and do not pretend to be an authority on anything that I write about but it just amazes me so that I feel it must be shared with anyone that might have a mutual interest. Everyone is also free to add anything they want in the comment section.

Java has the volcanos, temples, puppets, the Sunda Kelapa. There is so much to see that I hope to spend more time there in the future. At this time I have not yet been to Sumatera but that is a whole new frontier to me.

lombok1.jpgIn previous years I did not take pictures but have amazing memories of Suluwasi, Papua Barat, Ambon and all sorts of other little islands.

Lately I have been fascinated with Flores and Alor and spend a bit of time in West Timor. Kupang is a little oasis in that part of the world. I am also rather fond of Kalabahi and the surrounding area.

sumbawamanta1_191.jpgThe scuba diving in Indonesia is so varied and amazing that it would not be difficult to spend a lifetime dedicated just to that.

Anyone with ideas or info they want to add on Indonesia feel free to add it to the struggling forum which lacks luster at the moment.

I am most appreciative of any information especially dealing with remote areas, but welcome all ideas and info about this great country.


holycow_032.jpgThis bustling mix of cultures, tourists, locals and religions is almost a mirage. How can these guys just shut down a bust street to burn incense because it is a certain date?

You can pass a 5 star hotel with luxury pools for an evening drive through the rice fields and there will be people bathing in the canal alongside the road while you try to be dignified and look the other way while still keeping your eyes on the road ahead.

surfergirl_009.jpgIt is just so weird. Scores of drunken football fans can be stumbling down the street past a temple on Legian street where priests are calmly clanking away at their bamboo instruments.

There is enormous tolerance for obnoxious tourists just being themselves. And to the tourists credit, there is enormous tolerance for obnoxious local vendors just being themselves as well.

A short distance from Kuta some find that they are in another world of harmony and local Hindu lifestyle. It is just so strange. Educated people could think of a word for it but I don’t have it right now.

The bizzare thing is that that same short distance can bring you to a safari where tourists are experiencing true Balinese culture and riding around in circles on the back of some bored elephant.

It is so ridiculous that you just have to take a moment to collect your composure. You ask yourself “Can this really be happening?” And it’s so cool because just this morning you were bungee jumping at Buddy Hackets place.

You just got to love Bali even if you are only just there to rest up, eat good food, and use the internet.

For those that like to scuba dive there is Padang Bai with its lagoon and 3 beaches just a short hop from Ubud and Kuta. There is some really sweet diving there with the occasional mola mola passing through.

The Wallace divide passes right between Bali and Lombok and there are scores of really cool fish there.

If you can handle Ubud there are many art and cultural oriented hipsters hanging about this really interesting little town.

Every time you go there it gets more and more complex as you begin to learn more about the sub societies that make up the place.

ubud-monkeyforest_023.jpgKetut tells me that it is amazing they get anything done at all because they are always having ceremonies, but he does point out that Bali is protected on all sides by temples instead of missiles.

I could go on and on but really don’t know what I am talking about anyway. Check it out for yourself some day.









peace, happiness, and good karma be with you…