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TravelPosted by Jean Dar Wed, June 06, 2018 18:07:05 Santo Domingo - Bayahibe Dominicus - Bavaró/Punta Cana
Santo Domingo, also called "La Capital", is the capital of the Dominican Republic, with its collage of cultures and neighborhoods. This is where
the sounds of life, domino pieces slapped on tables, backfiring
mufflers and horns from chaotic traffic, merengue and bachata music blasting from corner stores are most intense. At the heart of the city
is the Zona Colonial, declared world heritage by UNESCO, where you'll find one of the oldest churches and
the oldest surviving European fortress, among other New World firsts.
I shot the photo above on 23 February 2018, picturing the first cathedral in the Americas and the statue of Christopher Colombus in front of it. Santo Domingo is an intensely urban city, home not only to
colonial architecture dating back to the days of Christopher Colombus, but also to hot clubs, vibrant cultural
institutions and elegant restaurants. Santo Domingo somehow manages to
embody the contradictions central to the Dominican experience: a living
museum, a metropolis crossed with a seaside resort, and a business,
political and media center with a laid-back, affable spirit.
My photo above from 25 February 2018, pictures El Rey and La Reina (King & Queen) of the carnival in Santo Domingo. Two days later another parade took place here celebrating the Independence Day of the Dominican Republic. While carnival events take place around the entire country,
Santo Domingo's festivals along the Malecón are the most large-scale and
take place every weekend in February. Visitors can expect spectacular
parades, costumed performers, dancing, rum drinking, and street food.
The masks worn by the 30,000 participants in the parade symbolize good
Where ever you go in the Dominican Republic, the beautiful scenery is never far away. My photo above, also from 25 February, shows the views to the south from Malecón across the sea during the Carnival festivities. The Dominican Republic is a poor country and theft and robbery are more or less common place here, should you not take some precausions. As always in poorer countries, don't flash your wealth in any way, cameras and phones may be carried around in a small backpack or discretly consealed on your body, and after being used put back into the backpack. The Colonial Zone is however fairly safe during daytime.
The Atlantic Princess is a popular dive in Bayahibe, see my photo
above with me inside of it on 3 March 2018. This wreck is also a superb
easy freedive in good conditions.
This wreck is also a superb easy freedive in normally good
conditions. Another well-known dive is the St. Georges Wreck andwas originally known as the M.V Norbrae but was
George after it was hit by Hurricane George in 1998. It was built in
Scotland in 1962 and was a 240 feet long cargo ship that was used to
transport barley and wheat between Norway and the Americas. While diving
in the wreck you will see a spectacular display of marine life.
Isla Saona is a tropical island located on the southeastern tip of the Dominican Republic. It is a government protected nature reserve and is part of Parque Nacional del Este, a popular destination for tourists from all over the Dominican
Republic, who arrive in fleets of catamarans and small motorboats on
organized excursions every day. The island is known for its beaches, on which I managed to capture a Portuguese Man-o-war on 2 March 2018, see my photo above. It is also known as "floating terror" and its venomous long tentacles deliver a painful sting, which on extremely rare occasions has been fatal to humans.
My last photo is from 6 March 2018, picturing the popular beaches at Bavaró and Punta Cana. I only stayed here for two night and basically had my hotel on the beach! This part of the Dominican Republic is highly touristic and a bit too much so in my taste, but with my home-ward bound flight departing from the Punta Cana airport, I had no other option than to realax here on my last day on my "7 weeks in Latin America" project. With plenty of all-inclusive resorts and hords of tourist, this gave me the impression it could as well have been in southern Europe and not necessary in the Caribbean.
- I currently working on the Carnaval de Barranquilla video for my YouTube channel.
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Wed, April 04, 2018 23:00:13 El Fin del Mundo - The End of the World
Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del
Atlántico Sur Province in Argentina and is commonly regarded as the
southern most city in the world. It was founded on 12 October 1884 by
Augosto Lasserre and is located on the shores of the Beagle Channel
surrounded by the mountain range of the Martial Glacier in the Bay of
Ushuaia. Its motto is: "Ushuaia, end of the world, beginning of
The footage in my YouTube video is from 30 January - 1 February 2018.
If you want to see Tierra del Fuego's most beautiful landscapes, flora and fauna and historical museums, Ushuaia really is the where it all begins. With an airport, all sorts of accomodations available, plenty of restaurants and tour operators willing to take you to various parts of this region and with a wide range of activities offered, Ushuaia is without a doubt the best location in Tierra del Fuego for a memorable vacation.
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Sun, March 25, 2018 20:52:52 Patagonias most famous glacier
My video contains footage from 28 January 2018, picturing what probably is world's
most well-known glacier: the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. This
glacier starts actually in Chile (the mountains on the far end in this video), and continues across the border into Argentina. Tours with bigger or smaller buses are arranged
from El Calafate and usually takes less than 1,5 hours one way.
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of a few glaciers in the world that are
actually growing and a visit will easily be fitted into almost any itinerary with one full day in El Calafate. I was positively surprised how well organised the whole area around the glacier was, with a large restaurant at the end of the boardwalk and smaller fastfood suppliers at the start. I recommend a day trip to the Perito Moreno Glacier if you visit El Calafate. It is a sight to see!
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Sun, March 04, 2018 18:05:02 Carnaval de Barranquilla - Cali - Medellín
Colombia, Latin Americas oldest democracy and the third most populated country, is as diverse as one can imagine, spanning from the Caribbean to the Amazon forest, and from the Pacific Ocean to the summits of the Andes mountain range over 5,000 meters. The history and cultural heritage of Colombia matches the diversity of its nature and regions.
In a sence El Carnaval de Barranquilla puts the folkloric traditions and heritage of this big country together in one huge carnival spanning over four days. Several separate events in Barranquilla during the previous weeks and months culminates in the Carnaval de Barranquilla, world's second largest carnival, only surpassed by Rio de Janeiro in Brazil!
On 9 February 2018 I shot the photo above at Plaza de la Paz in Barranquilla, picturing the XXIV version of the Gran Noche de Tambó on the very eve of the carnival. This year it was in honor of Aníbal Velásquez, a barranquillero artist who has always been associated with the accordion and the Caribbean rhythm song such as Cumbia. A rhythm that undoubtedly puts him among the immortals of Colombian popular music. This was a night with some 15,000 dancing people gathered at Plaza de la Paz, and what a night it was!
The Carnaval de Barranquilla 2018 spanned between 10-13 February and included a number of different Reyes and Reinas (Kings and Queens), but La Reina de Carnaval this year was Valeria Abuchaibe Rosales, and it wasn't easy to take a good photo of her in the parade at Via 40, which is the main venue of the carnaval. But at least I got a good one of her passing by swiftly on 11 February 2018 during the Gran Parada de Tradición, see above. El Carnaval de Barranquilla was included in this trip from the very start.
Cali in Colombia is the Salsa capital of the world, and was my next stop after the Carnaval de Barranquilla. I did of course take dance lessons here at the SalsaPura dance school, which was basically round the corner from my hotel. I did know some basic moves in Salsa Cubana previously but the Caleña style is so much more, with a freedom of movement and variations that I found being so interesting and fun! On 18 February 2018 I had my last lesson, see my photo above. I'll return to Cali for more salsa caleña dancing in the future!
Cali is somewhat overlooked by many tourist in Colombia, but there are a lot of things worth seeing here. Museo Arqueológico La Merced is one of them, displaying many items belonging to the most important pre-Columbian cultures in the Cauca region, the Calima, Quimbaya, Tumaco and Tolima and more, see my photo above from 17 February 2018. The museo is next to the Iglesia de la Meced, also worth having a look at. And one museum you simply can't miss out on is the Museo La Tertulia, the city's impressive modern art museum.
The capital of Antioquia is Medellín, Colombia's second largest city, that is modern and vibrant and has renewed itself from the drug trade brand it had in the 1980's and early 1990's. Medellín is today a very popular city for both tourists and Colombians. The metro system is the easiest way to get around the city and there are plentyful of museums and sights to visit. One of them is Pueblito Paisa, located at the top of Cerro Nutibara with great views of Medellín both day and night, see my photo above from 20 February 2018.
My last photo is also from Medellín, showing me at the Escobar Gaviria family grave on 21 February 2018. The final resting place of "El Patron" Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria is just next to me on this photo with flowers on it. I managed to get in touch with someone who's family used to be invovled in the drug trade and also behind the scenes in the first season of the series Narcos. He showed me the roof top where Pablo Escobar was killed, or commited suicide, some of the buildings built by "El Patron", and we also entered Barrio Pablo Escobar, the only barrio built for the poor by "El Patron" that has his name.
- I'm now spending my last day in Bayahibe Dominicus, Republica Dominicana.
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Mon, February 12, 2018 18:57:29 Ushuaia - Bariloche - Buenos Aires
In Argentinean Patagonia you have got a few popular tourist hubs where
its really easy to arrange tours, day tours or longer ones, in order to
take in landscapes, flora and fauna or adventure sports, such as white
whiter rafting, kayaking, horse riding, hiking, mountaineering etc.
I would say that I
took in all four of the most well-known ones in Argentina: El Calafate, El Chaltén,
Ushuaia och Bariloche during my two and a half weeks in Patagonia, I also
entered Chile twice in the process. A few days in the Argentinean capital city of Buenos Aires was a good ending to my Argentinean/Patagonian leg of "7 weeks in Latin America".
My photo above is from a day tour I had arranged from Ushuaia on 31 January 2018. I stepped on a catamaran at "the end of the world" and casted
off. Beagle Channel, the watery border between Argentina and Chile, and penguins, cormorants, albatrosses and seals where all spotted during this day, as the
mountainous feature of the Chilean Tierra del Fuego loomed to the south. Its also possible to spot whales but further out from Ushuaia than I went.
My photo above is from 31 January 2018. Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del
Atlántico Sur Province in Argentina and is commonly regarded as the
southern most city in the world. It was founded on 12 October 1884 by
Augosto Lasserre and is located on the shores of the Beagle Channel
surrounded by the mountain range of the Martial Glacier in the Bay of
Ushuaia. Its motto is: "Ushuaia, end of the world, beginning of
My photo above is from 4 February 2018. It was a crazy day going to the Nahuel Huapi National Park from Bariloche in
Argentina and white water rafting the Manso River all the way into
Chile! In this photo only the skipper is still in the raft and the full
team of seven, including me, are moving fast closer to the Chilean
border among the class 3 and 4 rapids. White water rafting in Bariloche was one of first things I included in this trip and it turned out to be the best single day so far!
I took the photo above on 3 February 2018, while having an excursion from Bariloche to the Lake District. No matter where in Patagonia you end up, in the south, central or north, the scenery is just lovely. I found out that even scuba diving is available both in Ushuaia and Bariloche during the summer time, as basically as adventure sports are. Wintertime makes Bariloche a prime Argentinean ski resort. The summer in Bariloche is hot but the other locations in the south are more cooler and windy.
My photo above is from 8 February 2018, picturing the Obelisco, a prominent feature of Buenos Aires located at Avenida 9 Mayo, in the very heart of the city centre. By that time I was more than half-way through my "7 weeks in Latin
America" trip, and Buenos Aires was a hot, sweaty location with plenty of museums and attractions to see, of which I saw the most part of. Unfortunatly the Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada where closed during my visit due to renovations.
- I'm now taking part in the famous Carnaval de Barranquilla, Colombia.
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Wed, February 07, 2018 13:08:58 A weekend in Santos, São Paulo
The first weekend of my "7 weeks in Latin America" started in the largest country in Latin America, and in the largest city in the southern hemisphere - São Paulo, Brazil. I didn't stay there for long as I had made plans for the weekend in Santos, some two hours taxi drive to the coast from São Paulo.
Coming from the dark, snowy and icy Swedish winter to the tropical heat of Brazil was of course a nice thing. My hotel was just across the street from the Gonzaga Beach of Santos and with all the restaurants and shops very close by. All in all, I had 63 hours in Santos and this is my YouTube video of my stay there.
I arrived in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, yesterday and am writing this post from my hotel here. My hotel is located at the huge Avenida 9 de Julio in the very heart ofthe city, and with the Obelisco more or less outside the entrance door.
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Mon, January 15, 2018 22:37:10 El Carnaval de Barranquilla, Salsa Caleña y Medellín
Leaving Buenos Aires and Argentina, my first stop in Colombia, Latin America's oldest democracy, will be the famous four day long Carnaval de Barranquilla, worlds second largest carnival and only surpassed by Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This carnival is Colombia's most important folkloric celebration and was proclaimed a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003. El Carnaval de Barranquilla and Patagonia were the two first things I fitted into this "7 weeks in Latin America" project.
This carnival really makes Barranquilla come alive during these four days and room rates at hotels rises dramatically and pre-payments on rooms are necessary, as most hotels expect to get fully booked. This year El Carnaval de Barranquilla is held between 9 - 13 February, with something going on basically every hour non-stop. Trying to get out of the city before the rest of the bunch, I'll be leaving in the afternoon of February 13 for Cali, missing out on the Grand Finale. The video below is from last year's carnival.
Cali, or actually Santiago de Cali, is as well-known for its Salsa Caleña, as Buenos Aires is for its Tango. So no wonder I'll be taking private dance lessons here for a week then, hopefully two per day and continuing with locals in the nights at the different salsa venues through out the city! Its going to be interesting to see how much the Caleña style differs from the Cubana style that is more common. Cali is also called "the Salsa Capital of the World", and has the most salsa schools and salsa teams in the world.
My last destination in Colombia will be the city of Medellín in the Paisa region of the country. Medellin is known as the "City of Eternal Spring" due to its
perfect spring-like weather year round. The combination of warm days and
cool nights helps to make this, the second largest of Colombia's
cities, a top destination in Colombia for Colombians, international
tourists and business people. Long gone are the days of Pablo Escobar's narcotics empire that smuggled all that cocaine into the USA during the 1980's...
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Mon, January 08, 2018 21:34:47 The City of Buenos Aires
The Argentinean capital city of Buenos Aires is one of Latin America's top tourist destinations so I just had to include it in my itinerary for my forthcoming "7 weeks in Latin America" project. I will spend half a week here after my Patagonian leg of my project and the Brazilian stop-over, mainly to take in the famed museums, culture, art and history of this city. And I'm sure I'll be sipping down some Argentinean wine too..
The city is highly influenced by the Europeans who started to arrive to Buenos Aires some 150 years ago and is today synonymous with Tango, which has influences from European, Native American and also African cultures. The dance is included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2009 after a joint proposal by Argentina and Uruguay. And if you haven't got a clue what Tango music sound like, just listen to the music in this video.
I have made hotel reservations really close to the Obelisque and am hoping to get some beautiful nighttime timelapses of it with my new mirrorless Sony a6000 camera from the room of my hotel there. And with the addition of a Haida Neutral Density 3.0, 1000x filter to my camera, I should be able to get at least some sensationally good photos. This filter is suited for very long exposure times and could boost my creativity.
When coming up with this project I initially also had Santiago, the capital city of Chile in it, but with the timeframe available between Patagonia and the Carnival of Barranquilla in Colombia, that starts on February 10, I had to settle for only Buenos Aires. I'm pretty sure I'll have another project that will include Santiago in the future, so only Buenos Aires will have my full attention for half a week in early February this time.
After the Gorra Blanca and Patagonian Icefield expedition that will start and end in El Chaltén, I will also spend time in El Calafate, Ushuaia and Bariloche, taking in the natural beauty of the Patagonian region and its history and culture. All these locations are found in the informative video below along with plenty more stunning places from both the Argentinean and Chilean part of this region.
The Argentinean city of El Calafate got its name from a little bush with yellow flowers and dark blue berries that is very common in Patagonia. The city is the natural destination if you want to see the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier, but also a convenient stopover before/after further exploits to the north, including El Chaltén, the FitzRoy mountain, famous hiking routes, river rafting and canoeing, or a Gorra Blanca expedition.
A couple of days in Ushuaia will follow my visit to El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier. Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southmost city in the world and found in Tierra del Fuego, on the very tip of the South American continent. The highlights here are the breathtaking landscapes, the history of Ushuaia and also the wildlife including Penguins, Whales and Sea lions along with activities like hiking and canoeing.
Far to the north in Patagonia lies San Carlos de Bariloche, known as only Bariloche, a major tourist and adventure hub in this part of Patagonia. The big attractions here, as in much of Patagonia, are the stunning landscapes including mountains and volcanoes, waterfalls and beautiful lakes. The obvious activities here are hiking, mountaineering, canoeing and skiing, but Bariloche is also well-known for its good cafés and restaurants.
TravelPosted by Jean Dar Wed, November 29, 2017 20:55:17 First stop - São Paulo and Santos in Brazil
My next travel project "7 weeks in Latin America" is less than two months away and as its name indicates, its a 7 week long arrangement that still is only half complete, regarding reservations for flights and hotels. In total some fifteen separate flights will be included and a multitute of locations in five countries, starting in São Paulo and Santos in Brazil.
This Brazilian leg of the trip was originally not included in my blue print for the trip, and now making up the first ½ week of the itinerary. It was added as a short stopover for some fun in the sun before heading towards Patagonia and the Gorra Blanca ascent. The video below is from earlier this year showing drone footage of the city of Santos, São Paulo.
Santos is probably not the first Brazilian city that comes to mind as a tourist, being close to the megacity of São Paulo, the largest city in the southern hemisphere. But it is a historical city as it was founded by the Portuguese nobleman Brás Cubas in 1546. Some of the attractions in Santos are the Coffee Museum, where the coffee prices were once negotiated, the city's beachfront garden that is the largest in the world, and of course the museum of the great Brazilian footballer Pelé.
Santos has the biggest seaport in Latin America which handle a large portion of the world's coffee exports, as well as a number of other Brazilian exports including steel, oil, cars, oranges, bananas and cotton. I will however not see much of this, as I have made hotel reservations quite close to the main beaches on the south side of Santos, and will be soaking in the sun preparing for the coldness of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Campo de Hielo Sur in Spanish.
- More info will be posted of my "7 weeks in Latin America" project.
Ad Astra - Jean Dar is the full name of my new YouTube channel, where everyone will be able to see them videos from my travel projects. The first video posted on Ad Astra - Jean D is the 10:25 minutes long one found below, covering my Philippines & Micronesia travel project 11 December 2016 - 20 January 2017.
Further videos will show awesome wreck diving footage from Chuuk Lagoon (Truk Lagoon), diving in Palau and Yap, and of course the South African Dive Bonanza project in June - July this year. And a lot more. If you want to be the first to watch my new videos, subscribe to the channel: Ad Astra - Jean Dar
My forthcoming grand "Living La Vida Loca Project" is still being organised with only a few flights and accomodations completed at the moment. The first few days will be spent in Sao Paulo and Santos in Brazil, followed by the Patagonian leg consisting of two and a half weeks that will include a climbing comeback for me on the less technichal peak of Gorra Blanca in Chile.
It will be a five day expedition on the Patagonian icefield, starting in Argentina and with the climb itself in Chile. This will show whether my shoulder (and the rest of me) could be up for some heavier mountaineering objectives in the future.
- More updates on my forthcoming "Living La Vida Loca Project" will follow!
Guam is one of the Mariana Islands and is the
largest island in Micronesia. Its an immensely popular tourist destination
for Japanese, Chinese and Koreans. In fact, you have far more Asian restaurants
and tourists than Chamorrans or Westerners. With the historical ties to
Micronesia and other parts on the western Pacific, the Japanese and Korean
interest is understandable. The down side is of course the negative environmental impact
in terms of pollution and inexperienced diver damaging corals.
above from 4 January 2017 is from the pool area at my hotel. The contrast
between Yap and Guam couldn't have been greater. Travelling from the sleepy and
low key Yap to Guam, the hub of travelling and economy in Micronesia, is close
to unreal. Guam receives a million or more Japanese visitors per year, as Yap
gets some four thousand visitors in total per year. Guam is a part of the USA
and all that comes with it: cars, restaurants, bars, shooting ranges, high-rise
hotels, fashion and generally a higher living standard than average in
photo from 6 January is from the commercial centre of Guam, Tumon, where the
shopping gallerias, restaurants and tourists are found. Having so many visitors
from Japan, there are quite a few really good Japanese restaurants but also
plenty of Korean and Chinese ones for their tourists. If Colonia in Yap is at
best a sleepy village, a quick glance at my photo above lets you know what to
expect of Guam and its capital Hagåtña. While being a part of the US, it felt
more like being in an asian city due to all the asian restaurants, brochures
and businesses in asian languages.
historical Japanese connection with Guam is evident as they invaded the
island during World War II, and traces of the war is found all over the Guam.
Eventhough I find Saipan having a lot more easily accessible monuments and
remnants from the war, but that's material for my next post. My photo above
from 7 January pictures the Japanese World War II cannon found at Gun Beach. This historical site was only 15 minutes walk from my hotel. There is
also a memorial park where the US troops initially landed on the north side of
the Orote peninsula and Apra Harbor.
possible in Guam too, as in all of Micronesia. The water is warm and you don't
really need a wetsuit in most cases. My photo above is from my dive at a dive
location called the Shark Pit, less than an hour's boat ride from Apra Harbor.
No sharks were seen on this dive though, but I did get some good pictures of a
Moray Eel, as seen above. The photo is from 6 January 2017. There are quite a
few dive sites not too far from Apra Harbor, and dive companies will let
weather dictate locations sometimes, for safety reasons. Making dive
arrangements before arrival is recommended.
itself has got some interesting locations for diving too. My photo above is
from a dive sit called Gab Gab 2, where the visibility is somewhat less than at
the Shark Pit. However, the coral reef here in the middle of Apra Harbor, is an
excellent one with plenty of soft corals and fishes. My photo from 6 January
2017 pictures some Batfishes at Gab Gab 2. Another popular dive in the harbour is
where you can touch a wreck from both World War I and World War II at the same
time! The World War I wreck is the SMS Cormoran and the one from World War II
is Tokai Maru.
- I'm now in Chuuk, diving the famous Japanese World War II wrecks.
Cebu City is the oldest city is the Philippines and was founded by the Spaniards. Today there are churches, fortresses and other remains from these colonial days found in Cebu City and neighbouring Mactan Island, where the international airport is situated. But some modern attractions are also available here.All photos in this post are from 26 December 2016. First photo pictures me riding the world's first urban zipline. The ride is a short one, spanning from Tower 1 to Tower 2 on the Crown Regency Hotel, but the views are spectacular. A combo of the Zipline and the Edge Coaster costs 750 PHP. The Fuente Osmeña Circle is in the background, and during my three visits to Cebu City I had booked accommodation in walking distance to it.
The Crown Regency Hotel has a few other attractions to offer, besides the zipline. World's first Edge Coaster is pictured on the photo above, showing me giving it a thumbs-up. This coaster can tilt up to some 50 degrees and make you have a good look at the streets below. You start the ride tilted to the max and then you can control yourself if you want to continue that way or not. The entire ride round the building takes two minutes.
The sunset is beautiful from the top of the Crown Regency Hotel, with all of Cebu City and also Mactan island in full view. On my photo above one can see that the Edge Coaster really is on the very edge of the roof. There are two restaurants in the Crown Regency Hotel and Towers, but you also got plenty of eating options near the Fuente Osmeña Circle too. During the night, the Crown Regency Hotel is lit up with colourful lights on its facade.
I visited Cebu City three times during my first two weeks of the Philippines & Micronesia project. I stayed at different hotels each time, and eventhough the prices ranged from US$30 to 55, all hotels I stayed at in the city were good and well managed. They were also located max 5 minutes walk from the Fuente Osmeña Circle for practical reasons. If only staying in the city for catching a flight, I recommend some accomodation on Mactan Island, which is a lot closer to the international airport.
Second update from the Philippines & Micronesia project
Its been a week and a half since my last update on my Philippines & Micronesia project, and that depends mainly on poor Wi-Fi connection. Two typhoons have hit the Philippines during my stay, and they may also have affected Wi-Fi and internet connections.
Panglao Island lays just south of Bohol and is reached easily by a boat from Cebu City to Tagbilaran on the south side of Bohol. From there land transport will take you to Panglao Island across a bridge, and if you are going to the Alona Beach area, this ride will take approx half an hour. My photo above from 22 December 2016, pictures Alona Beach. Sadly there is not a single wastebasket on the beach, and a lot of plastic waste from lazy and careless tourists end up in the sea.
Balicasag Island is a popular diving spot south-west of Panglao, where sea turtles are frequently observed. Sea turtles are only one of the sea creatures that end up with plastic in their gut, disposed by humans into the oceans. My photo above from 23 December 2016, shows a sea turtle resting on some soft corals near Balicasag Island, a protected area that hopefully in the future will attract larger marine life. That is if human waste will not see a decline instead in those animals and corals there today.
My photo above from 24 December 2016 pictures the Chocolate Hills, that are probably Bohol's most famous tourist attraction. Most people who first see pictures of this landscape can hardly believe that these hills are not a man-made artifact. The Chocolate Hills consist of more than 1,200 hills. They are very uniform in shape and mostly between 30-50 meters high. These Hills are covered with grass, which at the end of the dry season, turns chocolate brown in colour
A Tarsier from Bohol is shown on my photo above from 24 December 2016. The Tarsier of the Philippines are threatened by the destruction of their natural forest habitat. For many years both legal and illegal logging and slash-and-burn agriculture have greatly reduced the forests where Tarsiers live, and reduced the population to a dangerously small size. If no action is taken now, the Philippine Tarsier can soon be added to the list of extinct species.
My last photo is me on the Sui-Slide Zipline in Loboc Eco Adventure Park, on 24 December 2016. This zipline is the highest and one of the longest in the Philippines, spanning 520m on the first cable and 460m on the second one. The starting point is at a height of 120m and 100m at the end. It is a thrilling ride that takes less than 30 seconds each way and you cross the Loboc River, seen on this photo, on both cables. There are of course both weight and length requirements for this zipline.
- I have been to Cebu City and Palau after Christmas and am now in Yap, Micronesia.
First update from the Philippines & Micronesia project
My six week Philippines & Micronesia project started on 11 December, and so far I have visited Cagsawa, Legazpi, Cebu City and Malapascua Island, situated just north of the larger Cebu Island in the Viscayas. Here are five of my photos that I find showing the highlights of the trip so far. More of my photos will be posted as the trip unfolds, both here in the Philippines and in Micronesia.
My first photo pictures the Church Ruins of Cagsawa in front of Mount Mayon on 14 December. The baroque church of Cagsawa was built in 1587 and burned down by marauding Dutch in 1636, and reconstructed again in 1724. On 1 February 1814 the strongest eruption recorded to date of the Mayon volcano buried the town of Cagsawa and its surrounding areas, killing an estimated 2,000 people. Hundreds of inhabitants of the town of Cagsawa purportedly sought refuge in the church, but were also killed by the pyroclastic flows.
My second photo pictures the harbour of Legazpi with Mount Mayon in the background on 15 December. On some maps of Legazpi there will be a hill pointed out just south of the Embarcadero shopping mall, called Sleeping Lion Hill. Its from this hill I've taken the picture above. I first took a tricycle from Old Albay where my hotel was to the foot of Sleeping Lion Hill, then a girl offered to "guide" me up the hill, and I accepted since the path is muddy, slippery and not obvious, but also with safety in mind. She did of course get a tip for her troubles.
My third photo is from December 17, showing the beaches of Malapascua. I had a hard time getting there due to cancellation of my flight from Legazpi to Manila, where I would catch a second flight to Cebu City and from there make my way to Maya on the nothmost tip of Cebu Island, hop on a boat bound for Malapascua. My flight was cancelled due to bad weather, and in Legazpi the rain was pouring down all night and all day! Finally I managed to rebook my ticket to a rerouted flight to Cebu City, arriving there quite late, tired and hungry, after having spent all day sorting things out in Legazpi.
On the evening of December 18, I had a night dive west of the Lighthouse on Malapascua. On my first dive that day, I did see a smaller sea snake of the spieces Blue-lipped Sea Krait (Laticauda laticaudata). On my night dive, the second dive of the day, I saw a real big one, surely one meter long, indicating it must have been an adult Blue-Lipped Sea Krait. This is a venomous sea snake that I have great respect for even if they are known not to attack humans, if not provoked. This photo is actually from the film footage from that night dive.
Last but not least, my photo of a Thresher Shark from yesterday, December 19. This spieces of shark is an odd looking one, with large eyes and an extremely long tail fin. In fact, half of the shark's total length is made up by this long tail fin! The Thresher Shark is famous for special jumping techniques and behavior called "breaching" where they jump out of the water and into the air. One did exectly this when my dive boat had stopped and I was gearing up for the plunge. I would have loved to have that on photo or film..
- I'm going to Panglao Island and Bohol tomorrow, stay tuned!
I have a passion for travelling, having visited multiple countries on six continents for longer or shorter periods throughout the years. My interests include a wide array of areas, spanning from creativity to scientific matters and culinary delights to physiology and beyond.
I speak fluently English and Swedish, and at best I do fairly well in Spanish, and less well in French.