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January 4th 2014

I must have slept very well in our basic little cottage as I’m up with the roosters and the locals enjoying the mellow tropical morning light over the beach. I really like this place. Madam is still in the land of nod and will be no doubt until I give her a gentle kick.

We are moving on today to Puerto Princesa the capital of Palawan to spend one night before a flight to Cebu City the next day where intend to go straight to the pier and take a fast ferry to Bohol and Alona beach.

Wind forward two diary entries and Chris is alive so we head of for breakfast at the Bamboo. With an hour or two to kill before our rendezvous with the river of mud that serves as a road we head up the beach in search of fresh brewed coffee.

Good coffee is quite rare in the Philippines. You are most likely to be served a cup of hot water with small sachets of powdered Nescafé, coffeemate and sugar. It’s like going back to the seventies.

Greenviews is a lodge and restaurant owned by a British guy and his animal mad Filipina wife and they serve good coffee. First however you have to make friends with Babe the piglet who thinks she’s a dog and the tale of the orphaned otter pup that Mrs. Greenviews rescued by making one of her dogs believe that it was one of her pups. All this supported by photos on an iPad.You can’t avoid it, she’s blocking the stairs.

Richard is a Geordie expat who sold everything he had in the UK fifteen years ago for a new life working in construction in Manila. He met and married his Filipina wife and they now jointly own the Barton Bistro on Port Barton beach along with a flat in Manila and a house in Batangas. It is with he, his three teenage children and the maid that we are sharing a van with on the way to Puerto Princesa.

The van is a 4 wheel drive Toyota eight seater and it makes short work of the ruts and holes that so troubled our jeepney and the the PP Barton bus. Three hours of genial conversation later we pull into Viet Village a restaurant that represents the final vestige of a once sizeable Vietnamese community just outside Puerto Princesa. Quite weird really chowing down on good Pho Ba being serenaded by a Vietnamese cat call band in a large atap hut over a small lake in Palawan.

The previous evening we booked a room for a thousand Pesos at Casa Linda’s close to the airport and it is here that we say farewell to Richard and family.

We still have the little matter of changing money so wander down the main Street of PP in the vague hope of finding a money changer and find nothing.

Philippine cities resemble each-other with concrete box building construction draped in power and telecommunication lines, uneven or non existent pavements, paucity of green spaces and the ever present fog of pollution from thousands of vehicles. The only difference is one of scale.

PP has a thriving restaurant scene with the best food in Palawan which is a great shame as our bellies are still full of Vietnamese so we head for Kinabuchs Bar and grill for a beer where it seems that the whole of PP have turned out for a saturday night carouse. On the way we pass a lechon stall with a whole roast pig patiently waiting to be carved up for the masses.

We are off tomorrow to Alona beach, Panglao island, Bohol where 9 years ago my journey in the Philippines started. We read that Alona has got busy and as it is peak season I book a room via Agoda before bedtime.

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