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Author - graham

Late Traveller and facilitator looking forward to sharing my travel journey as I backpack around South East Asia and maybe the world.

Samal, Philippines

Just off the coast of Davao, the Capital city of Mindanao, the Southernmost island of the Philippines archipeligo lies a beautiful little island called Samal.

It was named after the first people to inhabit the island, the Sama-Bajau people, who are the dominant ethnic group on Tawi- Tawi an island province in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

Known as the Island Garden City of Samal, and you can see why.

Beautiful beaches and a lovely clear sea surround much of the island, you can find many beautiful places to swim, sunbathe and eat some of the delicious seafood on offer.

Amazingly friendly little fellows

I visited for a day with some friends, and what a lovely little island. Very relaxed and far away from the busy city of Davao.

Further inland, you have forests, lovely green lush vegetation and an array of fruit trees and plants. If you love nature, then it is definitely a place you should visit.

August 2022

This month back to The Philippines.

I loved Davao City and enjoyed the apartment I stayed in at Camella Northpoint, so I thought I would go back and experience the Kadayawan Festival, which will be the first time it has been in person since the pandemic. I think it has had two years of just being online only.

The 37th Kadayawa Festival in Davao

Great few days that allowed me to experience some fantastic food and music.

One of the beautiful beaches on the Island of Samal.

I also visited the Island Garden city off the coast, otherwise, known as Samal.

Arriving in downtown Managagoy.

After that, I visited two of the municipalities of the province of Surigao del Sur called Bislig and Linlig, where I visited a little town called Managagoy (Bislig) and a village called Mandus in Linlig, where I met some nice people who are the extended family of my girlfriend.

Finally arriving in Mandus

June 2022

New place, new beginnings

So finding a real gem in Kampot proved to be easier than first thought. This lovely little house was the 9th one we viewed, and both decided it was perfect for what we needed.

Space upstairs for Jason, my fellow nomad from Canada, to share the costs but still have our own space.

Downstairs for me because it means having a kitchen to practice my Asian cooking.

Having a few friends around and our first cooked meal

A Good Year?

The purpose of this year is to explore the authentic side of Cambodia and the Khmer lifestyle. Ultimately, I will know if it’s a place I can call home for the rest of my life. Learning more about the culture and daily life.

But, also how seasons impact having a home and garden here is important as well.

We have a long rainy season ahead of us, which is changing so much because of climate change. This year the dry season had long weeks of consistent rainy spells as well, which affected crops and livelihoods.

Moving here and deciding to live here means understanding the consequences of these changes and how they impact what I want to do.

I love Cambodia for lots of reasons, not least the people and the food. But the question is can I cope with the long rainy season where you are limited in what you can do?

Being used to rainy seasons in England, the added benefit here is the place has warmth, but equally, it can be spoiled by mosquitoes, insects, power outages etc. After all, It is still a developing country.

Coping with the dry season where you can reach 40 degrees and the high humidity is easier, and I have acclimatised myself to working in the heat. So, the question is whether or not I will cope with the rains daily.

We shall see in 12 months.

Airbnb

This time I tried renting an apartment through Airbnb.

It is useful to point out that having had two years of limited travel, with most Airbnb hosts having had no customers, expectations were not high.

There wasn’t a huge choice either.

So, perhaps a lot of hosts were being cautious.

After all, they would have to pay for extra cleaning after each rental and possibly have a gap between bookings due to whatever covid policy/restrictions were imposed in that country.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. Nice clean apartment with plenty of room.

The price I think, was fair, I may have been able to get it cheaper, but at the time of booking, the Philippines had only been open for ten days.

TIP OF THE POST

With Airbnb a lot of places give discount if you stay longer, make sure you benefit. I initially booked for 13 days and they only give you a weekly discount rate, so I lost out and only benefited by one week. Pays to plan well. 🙂

I stayed in an apartment hosted by Chen. https://abnb.me/zbyEcR4n6pb

Situated in Nottingham Building at Camella North Point ( quite apt as the last two years I have been living in Nottingham, England.)

For me, the beauty of this place was that it had a pool. Open most days from 7 am until 9 pm, it gave me somewhere to escape from the midday sun and exercise.

Central to most things, local shopping malls are within a walk or taxi ride. I found a great laundry place opposite the entrance and plenty of convenience stores within walking distance.

Finding a friendly, reliable taxi driver is one thing I try to do in every place I stay. Look after them and engage with them, and it’s worth it.

They will show you places you might not find and the places you must be careful visiting.

Also, as I like to return to places, it’s nice to have a person you can call.

Trust me, taxi or tuk-tuk drivers know where the best places are to eat.

Did You Know?

Airbedandbreakfast was formed in 2008 by roommates who decided to put an air bed on their apartment floor and open a bed and breakfast. I guess to earn money. Shortened to Airbnb, it does not own any property but makes a commission on every transaction.

May 2022

So back in Cambodia and looking to experience the real Cambodia.

I already found a good scooter that saved me from hiring one, and I have worked out that it would have paid for itself after 6 months.

Now to look for a house to rent. I have agreed to share a place with a fellow volunteer/traveller from Canada, who actually stayed in Cambodia during covid and my plan is to stay for at least a year more.

I started by spending time at the farm, where I spent much of my 2019 working and helping Bo Tree become a beacon for Kampot Pepper. When I left we had on average 4 volunteers helping the 3 full-time local staff welcome, serve food and explain about the famous pepper to approximately 30-40 visitors per day.

Then Covid 19 came along and practically destroyed tourism. No visitors meant the volunteer program closed for 2 years and the staff had to find other work.

I promised to return and help get the program going again and once it has become successful again I can move on to other things.

My Asian Travel:20 items on my bucket list

During Covid and my time spent stranded from traveling, I watched the news like most people. In fact, the news became a constant reminder of what we had lost and the strength and depth of people.

The world got closer

There was a caring side that we suddenly found and the need to make sure everyone was ok.

I found it refreshing in the UK and I hope it will continue.

However, as always there was the other side to the coin.

In order for this to happen, we had to lose people. In fact many millions.

Lots of genuinely nice people who although may have been ill would still be here, if not for Covid-19

I guess this makes us think! How long do we have left?

I lost two people I cared about and although old enough to have lived a longish life, both, had so much more to give and live for.

Bucket Lists

So, the subject of bucket lists came up.

Now, this is something I have always determinedly veered away from.

People that know me, understand I don’t follow trends or popular things. ( I still haven’t seen Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad yet!)

But, as I like to travel a Bucket list seemed more relevant now. Especially when I knew some of the things one of my friends wanted to do and now sadly will no longer get the chance.

So below are the 20 things I have in mind to do whilst in Asia. Some are continuous and will apply to all countries I visit (therefore cannot be crossed off until all are accomplished and some are dedicated to certain places.

Hope you like and comment with your own lists.

  1. Attend or be invited to a wedding in each country I travel to. ( not mine:))
  2. Sail a boat in and around Indonesia, Japan, and the Philippines.
  3. Stay in a monastery in Tibet or Myanmar
  4. Get a traditional tattoo from a Borneo tribe and a Thai Monk
  5. Climb a mountain in each country I visit
  6. Ride a horse in Mongolia
  7. Ride a scooter in Asia
  8. Motorbike down the whole of Vietnam
  9. Fish with fishermen in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Japan.
  10. Learn and cook at least one traditional dish from each country
  11. Live like a local
  12. Hot air balloon over Bagan, Myanmar
  13. Read the history of each country whilst you live there.
  14. Experience and learn a skill or traditional craft in each place.
  15. Learn a Martial Art
  16. Re-learn the guitar
  17. Sing a song live for prosperity with?
  18. Play one song on the guitar live
  19. Watch a movie from the country you are in.
  20. Master Yoga

Accomplishments

Whilst currently I can only attest to accomplishing one. The scooter in Asia, I now own my own little Honda Air Blade.

So far I have had Invites to weddings in both Thailand (1) and Cambodia (4 ).

I have climbed the highest mountain in Vietnam and soon the one in the Philippines

At a cinema in Bangkok, I watched a Thai movie with no subtitles, and where the whole audience rose for the king before the start of the movie.

I know how to cook a dish from Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

I guess the rest will follow.