I rarely get sick, and so far, we have not gotten sick once on this trip! Visiting new places and getting sick is just part of the travel game, so the fact that we haven’t gotten anything so far is a miracle. Maybe my overprotective sense of risk calculation of drinking/eating H2O containing products in new places is actually working!? Obviously, you brush your teeth with bottled water (not tap water!), order drinks without ice cubes, stay away from salad and milk products the first two days (coffee is my only exception), and of course, keep your trusty anti bac close to your heart. I may be overdoing it, but hey, better safe than sorry? However, despite my well thought through precautions that bloody food poisoning got me. No, it was not from any of our more dodgy looking street food consumptions… It was not from the cheap corner shop, where you have to guess what you are actually eating… It came from one of Manilla’s nicest restaurants! Of all places, this is where I get food poisoned. I know why, I let my guard down. And out it came, out it really came. Toby did of course escape the devilish bug, while I was gagging like a dog over whatever I had in front of me. The thing is, I’m too stubborn for my own best. We had planned this amazing horseback riding up the Taal Volcano… Haha! So while I’m hanging over the toilet and at the same time successfully persuading Toby that I’m fine, we eventually get started on the ride from hell.
The poor taxi driver must have thought I was an arrogant bitch who was too stuck up to answer any of his polite gestures. I knew that if I opened my mouth or moved a millimetre he would for sure have a less pleasant gesture in the back of his car.
“STOP, stooop, STOOOOP!!!”, I must have punched Toby out of the car as I threw myself out the door. With a beautiful mountain scenery I sang my drowning gagging in tune with the cows. The taxi driver asked carefully when I was done, “was my driving that bad?”, I couldn’t do anything else than laugh.
After some more ‘cow singing’ we finally got there. The horses was definitely a lot skinnier than the recommended global horse BMI, but the strength of these anorexic supermodels was impressive. A tad too impressive for my sensitive stomach. The bumpy ride turned into a fight between my pride and unstoppable forces within one’s body. My pride lost so hard that I’m not sure the horse will ever be able to look into a human’s eyes again. Toby was laughing his ass off, that bastard! The volcano hike became short and sweet (or should I say load and acidic?), but I did it.
When we finally got back my pride was still not beaten enough according to this sick bug. We were going to meet up with some lovely colleagues of Toby at this fancy bar. So while our bags were being sniffed up by this cute police Labrador, I was standing with my head inside of a plastic bag behind one of their snobby sculptures. Classy, Renate, very classy.
My food poisoning, or whatever it was, lasted a whole week. I think I now have a permanently green tint to my face after that traumatising experience. Again, my stubbornness has always been the cause of my suffering. So paddling, swimming, snorkelling, and beach wanders in Palawan become part of my slow rehab. I’ll let the photos take over the talking for now:
I’ll end this blog post, and also my delicious food poisoning talk, with an out of this world experience. After Palawan we got to Oslob (just a quick bus trip, 3 hours, away from Cebu). There is only one reason why you would go here; the whale sharks! What an amazing creature!!! It is with good reason why you will feel small beside this stunning giant. The gentle mammal is as big as a bus, and I don’t know if it’s mouth would know the difference between you and a shrimp. Under water, they look like cuddly teddybears, and over the surface they look more like enormous rubbish incinerators. As we were snorkelling with a safe distance from the beauties, watching them eat their daily ton of shrimp cream tea, something rather unexpected happened. One of them swam off, so Toby and I decided to just snorkel a bit around. Suddenly, out from nowhere, I could hear Toby’s underwater scream! I turned quickly around, and a whale shark was staring into my eyes. If I reached my tongue out I bet I could touch it. Both Toby and I were pushed apart by its powerful water movement. Words can’t describe the rush of admiration I felt.
When you are this close to something that should be literally a big ocean secret you can’t help feel honoured. However, there is something not right about this whole setting… This is not natural. Whale sharks do not normally get this close to land on a regular basis, and unfortunately this scepticism was confirmed by the locals. Because of the money these stunners bring in from the tourism, people keep feeding the whale sharks, which stops them from looking for food elsewhere. Even when the typhoons hit, they still come close to land. This is the main reason for so many whale sharks’ deaths, as they get stranded on the beach. Some ocean secrets are meant to stay in the ocean. If we want to see these lovely mammals in the future maybe it is about time that we visit them and not the other way around. I am as guilty as any other tourist; I paid the ticket to go and watch the feeding, and thereby I am indirectly supporting the business of this unnatural setting, which again is the cause of so many whale shark deaths. It is too easy to say “I didn’t know”, but I wonder if people were more aware of the reality whether they would actually support this business. Would people stop coming? I think the answer is no. As long as the whale sharks meet up the tourists will meet up, and as long as the tourists meet up the feeders will meet up. It’s an evil circle…
Quote Of The Day:
“I’m not stubborn. My way is just better.”
― Maya Banks