Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Siquijor, Island Paradise, Visayas, Philippines

I realise it's been a bit quiet in this bloggy corner recently but for good reason. We managed to notch up another country (Philippines) on our quest to conquer the world.
It was a bit of a roll of the dice since it's typhoon season in these parts and Northern Philippines just got hammered hard by 2 typhoons in the last 2 weeks.

I am happy to report that the South was hot and sunny and spectacular. Getting to our destination (the island of Siquijor) was not exactly a walk in the park, but when you want to escape the crowds, you usually have to put in a little extra effort or in this case A LOT OF EFFORT!We took a 12:40am flight from Hong Kong on Friday morning which arrived in Cebu, Philippines at 3:30am and jumped in a taxi for 40 minute ride to the port where we waited to buy tickets and then board a 6am ferry to the Visayas region.We eventually reached our island paradise of Siquijor 3 separate boat trips later at 1:30pm so needless to say we were beyond exhausted, but it is a pretty amazing place and the weather behaved impeccably.I could now go off on a tangent about white sand beaches and turquoise water , excellent snorkelling and diving and ultra friendly people and great food and beautiful landscapes but I will resist that in order to bring the following NEWSFLASH!Cost of Living/Vacation Index:

Bottle of San Miguel beer (5% alcohol) in a uppity beach resort = 35 Philippine pesos = u$d0.75

Bottle of San Miguel special brew 'Red Horse' beer (6.9% alcohol - oh yeah!) in a uppity beach resort = 35 Philippine pesos = u$d0.75 - dats wot I'm talking 'bout!

1 Litre San Miguel from a street kiosk = 60 pesos Philippine = u$d1.25

Candle lit dinner by the beach with fantastic service - Main course of fish or imported steak (with chips/rice/veg) = u$d5.00

Accommodation = u$d50 per night for large plush exec beach villa A/C etc

Moto rental for a day + petrol = u$d8
The best part was we were greeted with such warmth and curiosity for most places we visted. It is way off the beaten tourist track at this time of the year at least for now.This is as yet an undiscovered 'unexploited' paradise so prices will no doubt sky rocket to 'Boracay' prices eventually where I've seen u$d600+ ridiculous prices. I can highly recommend this place (Coco Grove). Enjoy the photos!

Tags: .Siquijor, Island Paradise, Visayas, Philippines..
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Monday, 19 October 2009

Hiking Stage 2 of the Maclehose Trail - Tai Long Wan

Tai Long Wan, Sai Kung

Here are some pics from a recent 13.5km hike in Sai Kung. Strangely enough, this was a disaster and jinx free hike so no tales of woe to recount. Words cannot fully describe the beauty of this place, at least not my words, so I won't even bother trying - All this a stones throw away from one of the most congested cities in the world! - I love this place! - Enjoy!

p.s. I know I need to invest in a decent camera!

To get there: Take MTR to Choi Hung Exit C2 then Green minibis 1A to Sai Kung (last stop) then a taxi to Long Ke (the taxi drivers know it well) - Return to Sai Kung by bus 94 from Pak Tam Au (top of the hill) which is actaully the end of the trail stage

Tags: ..Hiking Stage 2 of the Maclehose Trail - Tai Long Wan..

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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

A Scarey HAIRY Tale

I have to confess I have much more body hair than I am comfortable with. I am part hairy ape or so it seems. It may come to pass, I become bald someday and I'll regret these anti-hair words, but right now in my 'prime' things are getting out of control.

As a teen, I foolishly decided to rid my myself of some newly formed but unwanted body hair. I shaved my arm pits and it was all grand until 3 days later when the stubble regrowth gave me such an itch and a rash that I was walking around for days with a bad ass body builder pose, so as not to have any friction on my tender arm pits.

With the on set of 'maturity', more and more hair has started to sprout from the most unusual places. I used to take the piss out of the 'old' peeps in the Irish countryside with tufts of hairs coming from their ears.

"Jaezuz - you could grow spuds in that jungle" - we'd say jokingly. Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your ear hair!

Lo and behold, I now have my very own ear tufts to trim on a regular basis. Add to that - nasal hair, requiring a tweezers to pluck the unsightly little devils out - ouch!.

I know some of you readers won't want to hear / read this but we shall now go where few men / women dare/care to go.

Let me lay it out, plain and simple.

- Amazonian butt crack fur hair
- Extra unwieldy foot long curly pubic hair

I don't know if it's the humidity, diet, global warming, or ALL the above but these bad boys are OUT OF CONTROL!

I used to trim the ol' butt crack hair every 2 months tops, but now it requires a JCB industrial hedge trimmers if I leave it that long.

I suffer the heat, especially in the nether regions so the less 'natural' insulation the better, but jeez - them bad ass pubes be spreading and growing like a wild fire yo!

Same story front of the house (know I'm sayin') - a monthly trim has turned into a obligatory weekly crew cut - short back n' sides pls!
I'm considering waxing or electrolysis but I know that will hurt like a BEEATCHHH! - any advice?

Tags: ..waxing, hairy, hair removal..

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Friday, 9 October 2009

F**K You for the Voodoo that You Do - Boo Hoo!

I seriously think I've been Hexed. It all started yesterday. I was supposed to go hiking with a friend, on a as yet unconquered picturesque trail and when I checked the weather the night before it was supposed to be clear and sunny.

I awoke to heavy rain beating against the window. The forecast had changed drastically to cloudy and showers (the weather changes in an instant in these parts). I was bummed, but we had to postpone the hike for another day. Everything went arse over tits downhill from then on.

So as not to write-off the day completely, I decided I had but 2 simple tasks to complete for the day.

My simple mission, should I choose to accept it would be:

1. Buy maps of the hiking trails in Hong Kong so I wouldn't be getting lost AGAIN!

2. Buy a new wireless router so 'herself' won't be hogging my laptop

Estimated completion time: 90 minutes
Time of departure: 11:30am

Mission accepted!

I 'memorised' the address of the map shop and nearby there was a computer mall where I could buy a router.

I hopped on a bus to the centre, where it should have been a 10 minute walk to the map shop.

Construction everywhere so I detour thru a local sidewalk food court. Oh Oh! - dead end or walk thru the kitchen where people are brandishing meat cleavers...hmmm.. me thinks not - U-Turn back the way I came - Sigh!

20 minutes later, I arrived at my intended destination, '25 Shanghai St' only to find it's not a map store but a butchers with guessed it..people brandishing meat cleavers. Well this is all going to plan - NOT! (I later discover I should have been looking for '250 Shanghai St' - PILLOCK!

I try to Google the address on my iPhone but can't find it and eventually decide I'll just try a book store. I end up in another construction zone dead end - U-Turn back the way I came - Sigh! - GOBSHITE!

The book store doesn't have the maps I want so wasted trip - Feck! I eventually find the website and it says most post offices sell the maps, so I walk another 20 minutes and get to the counter only to be told they don't sell them anymore, BUT he tells me I can buy them at the map store at 250 Shanghai Street - ARGH! - TOSSER!!!!!

I decide to buy the wireless router on the way which in the end takes an hour and then hop a bus back to '250 Shanghai Street' to buy the maps - but miss my stop and end up 10 minutes the wrong side of where I want to be. - MUPPET!

I FINALLY get to the store and order the maps which were pricier than I thought and I don't have enough cash and they don't take credit cards so I have to leave, find an ATM and return and EVENTUALLY purchase the maps. - HALLELUJAH!!!

Actual task completion time: 5 hours
Time of completion: 16:30pm

I then did what any self respecting Irishman would do in this situation. It was time to try to flush the demons out with Holy Stout. So I met a friend in Delaney's Irish Pub for several doses of vitamin 'G' to rid myself of the devils curse.


It seemed to work. I had no more mishaps, had a good time and got home safely, BUT.....

....Today I spent 6 hours configuring the blasted new frikkin' wireless router. I then remembered it's exactly one year to the day since this similar wireless router incident happened (click here) - How f***ed up is that?! Cure for a hex anyone?

Tags: ..Voodoo..

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Saturday, 3 October 2009

Hiking Stage 4 and 5 of the Maclehose Trail

I love hiking. I get the equivalent to 'joggers high' when I'm out on my rambles. It's difficult to explain just how happy it makes me. It must surely be bad for you, as it has the same effect on me as drugs or alcohol. It's addictive and if I don't get my regular hiking fix, I have severe withdrawal symptoms including bouts of crankiness and flatulence.

I am not, however, the most organised or prepared hiker. I don't have maps or books or a compass to guide me, as I prefer to just stumble on places and explore. If I go astray as I often do, I depend on my trusty iPhone which has Google Maps and if need be GPS to bring me back on track.
This can lead to some problems as it did on Friday when it took me nearly 3 hours just to arrive at and find the start of ANY hiking trail in Sai Kung. I did Google some info which turned out to be completely wrong and had me going in circles but finally I arrived at a trail.
The majority of my hiking to date has been confined to Hong Kong Island but more recently I've started to explore Kowloon and the New Territories.
Most of the hiking trails are broken into stages e.g. I found and eventually started 'Stage 4 of the Maclehose Trail' which had a notice board with a map of the route and a description as follows:

"Starting Point: Kei Ling Ha
Finishing Point: Tate's Cairn
Length: 12.7 kilometres
Time: 5.0 hours
Difficulty: Very Difficult"

Being the disorganised git that I am, I hadn't had breakfast and had no provisions other than 1.5 Litres of water (which was a fortunate last minute afterthought). It was a beautiful sunny day, but very hot and humid.

About an hour into the hike I realised it was THE most spectacularly scenic hike I'd done since I arrived in Hong Kong. My iPhone video and photos below don't do it justice but it is gob smackingly beautiful. It's unusual to have access to a hiking paradise like this so close to such a densely populated congested city.
My 'Hikers High' kept me going despite my empty stomach but it was a pretty strenuous hike. I was out of water well before I approached the end of the hike and my high spirits were now somewhat deflated and I was dehydrated, but all I had to do now was find public transport to get me back home...or so I thought!

A little bit more research would have told me that in fact, there is no public transport at the end of 'Stage 4'. Actually it's completely isolated and remote and I would now need to complete 'Stage 5' just to get anywhere near civilisation.

"Wooop-deee-FUCKING Doooo!" I muttered to myself as I read the following trail description.

"Starting Point: Tate's Cairn
Finishing Point: Tai Po Road
Length: 10.6 kilometres
Time: 3.0 hours
Difficulty: Fairy Difficult"

Completely exhausted, dehydrated, hungry as HELL, I had to dig deep just to get to the end of this stage of the trail. I was not a happy camper. I eventually ended up at a little kiosk where I think I might have been a contender for the Guinness Book of World Records for finishing a can of Sprite in 0.25 seconds. I then had to contend with rush hour commuters on my way back home - It's amazing how much space you get on the subway when you've worked up a good 8 hours of foul body odour. I didn't get a seat however so no sweaty arse imprint this time!

In retrospect, not researching the route or eating before hand or bringing enough water was pretty dumb-ass but it still ranks as the BEST hike I've done in Hong Kong by far. No pain, No gain! - Enjoy the pics & vid.

Tags: ..Stage 4 and Stage 5 of the Maclehose Trail Hong Kong..

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