Jamie's Travels Through the Archipelago of Life travel blog

Dumaguete

our food being grilled

Harold and Jamie at Hayahay

hanging out with our new friends on Apo Island

hawksbill turtle at Apo Island


February 16 - 19

From Tagbilaran, we took a ferry to Dumaguete, on the island of Negros. Dumaguete is a seaside college town, fairly hip by Philippine standards, and full of young locals, expats, and backpackers.

We found a wonderful place to stay called Harold's Mansion - the first real hostel we've found with a true backpacker vibe. We met some very cool people from all over the world - a few fellow Americans, as well as Danish, French, Spanish, British, Slovenian, Australian. (I'm sure I'm leaving some out...sorry!) We also met a bunch of the Filipinos who work at Harold's.

When we arrived, we discovered that Harold puts on a weekly grill-out up on the roof of the hostel. You buy your own meat/veggies, prepare them however you like, and a couple of the guys who work there play grillmaster and cook it all up. We also discovered that if we wanted, we could hitch a ride into the town marketplace to buy our food. We didn't really know what we were doing, so just kinda followed the crowd and pretended to have a clue! We all piled into the back of Harold's truck, and he drove us to the market, which was definitely a different experience for us! I mean, I'm hesitant to cook any meat besides chicken breasts and hamburger meat, so walking up and down aisles filled with entire pigs, freshly-plucked chickens hanging from the ceilings and buckets full of crustaceans waiting to be killed was a bit overwhelming! I've been to marketplaces like that many times before, just never with the purpose of buying my own supper. (The really fun thing was that the next week, when we were passing back through Dumaguete and staying at Harold's again, we got in on the roof-top grill out for a second time and felt like old pros. We knew exactly where to go, what to buy, and were explaining all the ins and outs to the newbies.) We ended up buying a pork chop, a small bunch of bok choy, and peppers and onions to make skewers with, and everything was delicious!

The roof-top party itself was fantastic... one of the 'social' highlights of the trip so far. Someone set up speakers so we had music, we created a make-shift dance floor, and of course there was plenty of San Miguel and Tanduay Rhum to go around. When the roof-top party started to wind down, we all piled into a tricycle (nine of us in total... the tricycles are bigger down south but still, that's got to be some sort of record!) to go to a reggae bar called Hayahay, where we continued drinking and dancing with our new friends until WAY too late. (Or early!)

One of the highlights of staying in Dumaguete is taking a day trip to Apo Island to go scuba diving. Unfortunately, my on-going cold picked this stop to really bloom into something nasty, and it seemed to be moving into my ears as well, so I opted out of the diving. I went along on the boat ride however, and while Charles dove, a bunch of our new friends from Harold's Mansion and I hung out and explored the island.

I was disappointed not to dive, obviously, but we did go snorkelling. The corals and fish were not as vibrant as I expected (the Lonely Planet, stating that snorkelling over Apo's 'riotously coloured reefs' is a highlight of the region, leads us astray again...) but it was still pretty excellent. (And Charles LOVED the diving. He actually says it's his favorite spot so far, so maybe you just need to get a little further off shore to see the riotous colours!) The highlight for me was seeing several hawksbill sea turtles up close and personal during our snorkel. Even for a Hawaii chick who has had LOTS of honu experiences, this one was pretty incredible. :-) The water was remnarkably clear, and as I'm not used to seeing hawksbills, it was pretty awesome!

We had a wonderful time at Harold's, but as always were anxious to move on to our next destination. We'd made a somewhat last-minute decision to go to Sugar Beach in Sipalay, just up the coast from Dumaguete. We'd heard mixed reviews about Sugar Beach, and were very excited to find out for ourselves what it was like! We said goodbye to some of our new friends, and see you later to some of the others, knowing we would be back at Harold's in less than a week.



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