Time here moves a bit like cold syrup and it’s the most fantastic thing ever. And the perfect start to my sabbatical!
I’m currently on the island of Siargao in the Philippines, and it’s a tiny little thing that has two flights in a day! It took me four flights and three and a half days to get here, and it was worth every second. I went from Tampa to Toronto, spent the night in Toronto, Toronto to Hong Kong (fifteen hours on a plane), Hong Kong to Cebu, Philippines, spent the night in Cebu, then Cebu to Siargao. Then a 45 minute minibus ride to get to the main part of the island! Talk about planes, trains and automobiles to get here!
The time change is exactly 12 hours different from the East Coast – so for all my East Coast friends, if it’s 4:30am for you, it’s 4:30pm for me.
My flight arrived here at about 9, and then I was at the hostel before 10. So I got almost a full day here Wednesday. I spent it laying on the beach reading a book, then laying in a hammock reading my book, then a hammock nap, and then some time wandering around before dinner and bed. It’s crazy how early the sun rises here – sunrise is at about 5:15am, so sunset is also pretty early – around 6pm. It’s pitch black by 8pm.
Yesterday, I rented a boat with some new friends and spent the afternoon island hopping. We went to three small islands, and they were the most perfect islands I’ve ever seen. I always thought the Windows background with the giant starfish, ripples in the sand and then a small island with palm trees was fake… it’s not. That’s exactly what these islands looked like! And the water had the most giant starfish I’ve ever seen! Across, they were a bit longer than my foot. (Those pictures still to come.)
We ended the day island hopping with watching the sunset from Daku Island. It was one of the most incredible, breathtaking sunsets of my life.
On the way to and from the boat ride, I did something I’ve never done before – and that is ride a habal habal. A habal habal is a Filipino motorbike that can seat up to three people and tends to have some sort of rigged roof. I am now an expert habal habal rider; which is my first time on a motorbike! (No, Mom, I did not drive it.)
Today (Friday) I went and had a phenomenal acai bowl for breakfast (sadly, didn’t take pictures. Don’t worry… I’m going again tomorrow!), then wandered around Cloud 9. Cloud 9 is the big surfing break here and in the fall, there are world-class competitions there. Right now the waves are a bit smaller but perfect to learn on.
So I took my first surfing lesson! And I’m considering “Learn to Surf” crossed off the 30 before 30 list. I am so exhausted and my arms hurt SO bad. I wiped out on the first wave that I tried to surf, but then was able to ride the next six. And sadly, seven waves of paddling was all I had in me! I think I’ve realized surfers are so chill because they’re exhausted from all that paddling.
It’s funny with the exchange rate – surfing lessons here feel expensive because there’s constantly someone to pay. There’s the boatman who takes you out past the reef, there’s the rubber-soles booties you have to buy, the motorbike driver you have to pay, the surfboard rental and then the instructor! But then… after calculating for the exchange rate, my all-in cost for a two-hour private lesson was $37.78. I don’t think Hawaii can come anywhere close to that!