The lowdown on Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island, Philippines.
Every time I hear someone say the name, the song ‘I like to move it move it’ comes in to my head. Don’t you think it has a striking resemblance to Madagascar? 

Unfortunately this small island, North of Cebu, doesn’t have any talking lions but there are a lot of other things it has to offer.

Water activities (And they’re super cheap!)

Other than the obvious of swimming in the sea, the serene clear waters of Malapascua makes the island a divers paradise. 

Diving 

You can swim with white tip and thresher sharks (if your trips not cancelled that is..). 

There are diving shops all around the island as the area is famous for two main dives. 

In the early morning you can catch sight of the Thresher Sharks feeding. Alternatively, if your not so much of an early bird, you can take a day trip to Gato Island to swim with White Tip sharks and through an underwater cave. 

We opted for a place called Sea Slug Divers to go diving at Gato Island. It’s the cheapest we found at 1200php (under £20) per fun dive. That includes the equipment too.

Unfortunately they cancelled our trip last minute on the morning of our dive. Something about a broken boat and no dive shops heading to Gato that day? I’m still not certain of what the woman was actually trying to explain. Anyway, this was our last day on Malapascua so unfortunately there was no shark diving for us!

Snorkelling

Because of the beaches low tides there are lots of great snorkelling areas around the island.

We explored 3 different areas of Malapascua including the WWII shipwreck. 

 
Watch out for a post on our day of activities here. 

Food

Stay inland as much as you can and food tends to be cheaper. 

There are lots of ‘eateries’ a couple of roads back from the beach. 

Just behind Cocobana resort on the beach there’s a place called Ging Gings restaurant. They do poached eggs, yay! It’s super cheap here and the food is good so do try this place out.

If you head down to the beachfront, you can expect an expensive meal. Over a backpackers budget. In Ging Gings we got our breakfast and lunch for same price as one breakfast on the beach! 

If you really want to eat by the beach though, head to Oscars restaurant where you can eat while looking out at the sea for a reasonable price. Their chicken tomato and pesto in brown bread was amazing. 

My lunch and drink was less than £3 too, cheap on this island! 

Going out

Like most places in the Philippines, Malapascua has barely any nightlife. The south eastern side of the Bounty Beach has a couple more ‘bars’ if you would call them that. Generally it’s just very chilled restaurants with quiet music. Perfect for a group card game of Shithead! 

Other than all that you can lay on the beautiful white sands while sipping pins coladas without a worry in the world. It’s the perfect place for that. 

 Have you been to Malapascua Island?

Feel free to add your recommendations below 

LwL x 

Monday Blues: Travelling Reflection

Was it worth the money you spent? Was it worth quitting your job for? Was it worth having to start ‘all over again’?

It’s Monday, I’m home in London and I’m unemployed.
In the last four months I have watched beautiful sunsets over horizons and mountains. I’ve swam next to Whale Sharks and turtles and explored the inside of one of the biggest caves in the world.

I’ve selfie’d in front of beautiful viewpoints and took in sights that are postcard worthy. 

I exposed myself to the horror of a ping pong show and drank from coconuts and cups made of bamboo shoots.

I rode a bus through the borders of countries. I made new friends and missed old ones, sat listening in awe to some amazing stories, fascinated by the lives of people I barely know. 
I fell in love with the feeling of the warm sand between my toes and the lazy afternoons spent reading books and sleeping in hammocks. 
Ive woke up startled in the early hours to the alarms of rooster cries and have slept in shacks barely roofed, similar to the locals homes. 

I flushed toilets using buckets of water and slept in a bed too small to fit my feet in. Spent many a nights on cramped sleeper buses too, all part of the appreciation for what I have at home. 
I looked into the eyes of a Tarsier, one of the worlds most unique of creatures. Had my toes nibbled as I swam in a lake. Caught and ate a giant tuna and indulged on the flavour of barracuda steak. I enjoyed the absence of my phone, embracing the beauty of the world around me. 

My pasty skin has suffered hundreds of mosquito bites, attacks by mysterious insects, cuts, grazes and some serious sunburn. 

I found myself caught in a tropical thunderstorm and danced freely in the pouring rain. 

I experimented with worldly food, sometimes contracting bugs and sickness. I lost weight and gained weight. Starved myself for days to rid my body of food poisoning. Gorged for days on unhealthy carbs. 

I quad biked around white sand dunes, was taken downstream by the current of a river and have laughed so hard I almost wee’d myself. 

I have tasted the sweetness of raw sugar cane and have experimented with many different types of cheap Asian beer.

I hesitated to ride the roof of a jeepney, only for it to be one of my travel highlights in Asia. 

Ive experienced a strange Thai massage in Bangkok that I’ll remember for years to come. 

I slid from the top of rocks and jumped feet first through waterfalls. 

Walked through prisons where thousands of people were tortured and educated myself on shocking historical events. 

I shared food with kind locals on a ferry, climbed hills and dangerous pathways, trekked kilometres through stones and mud in only my flip flops and stumped my toe numerous times on bricks in the road. 

I revelled in the free time to reflect, without being interrupted by lack of time or chores for the day. I witnessed the most breathtaking of sceneries. 

I partied in the middle of a jungle and spent Christmas dancing on a beach covered in glow paint. I drank buckets until I could no longer stand and have felt the buzz of pure red bull. I’ve lived high on life.

I’ve felt lucky and thankful everyday for what I was born into. I’ve witnessed people live in poverty yet still find the strength to smile and appreciate life.

I walked through sand that glitters, cut my feet on the ridges of coral and shuffled on my bum through the Cu Chi tunnels. 

I washed frequently in freezing water and experienced adrenaline on the back of a motorbike. I’ve roamed freely with no plan of action, visited world heritage sites, dined in the dark and zip lined from a lighthouse. Swam in waters so clear that I could see starfish at the bottom.Sunbathed on the most blissful of beaches. 

I felt unsafe in the heart of a city and played chicken on the craziest of roads. Touched my hand over the carvings of temples hundreds of years old and climbed up giant statues.

I came face to face with tigers, fed and bathed a baby elephant, floated in a pool of mud in a dark cave and bamboo rafted down a flowing river.

I hustled and bustled through street markets and haggled until blue in the face. Purchased clothing on stalls for under a pound, learnt the basics of a few languages and interacted with those from all walks of life. 

I have soaked in the culture of 7 different countries and share some of my best memories with people that I only know the names of. I have learnt a great deal about life and a greater deal about myself. 

In answer to the questions above I say yes 100%. 
Why travel you ask?

Because travel is the only thing you buy that’s makes you richer’. 

LwL x 

Gili Islands: Swimming with Turtles

Did you know that Indonesia is one of the only countries in the world that inhabits all 7 species of turtle? Pretty cool huh?

Liam and I took full advantage of this and booked ourself on a tour to snorkel around all three of the Gili islands yesterday.
  We went on a mission to spot as many turtles as we could. 

We set off from the harbour in a small boat at 10am with Cha Cha tours. A mere 100k each paid for our whole trip that included the rental of a snorkel, mask and fins. 

We swam in 2 spots in the morning. The tour guide leads you around and luckily for us we found a turtle swimming near the surface as soon as we jumped in. 

 He/she was so calm, swimming gracefully through the water, not at all startled by us humans. I’m pretty sure they’re used to sharing the sands of the Gilis with us tourists by now to be fair. 

  After we had worked up an appetite in our first two sessions, we headed for lunch overlooking the beautiful beach at Sasak Cafe on Gili Meno. We had already seen 5 turtles by this point! 

    
At our last two swimming spots, not only did we see 2 more turtles, we saw a wide range of beautiful corals of all colours and lots of wonderful fish!

    
 
  We also found a very interesting display of bicycles and racks under water? We took full advantage of this unique and weird experience..

   
  How cool is that?!

We  finished up around 2pm and headed back just as it started to rain. How’s that for timing? 

We spotted a total of 7 different turtles throughout the day, some of them bigger than the torso of my body. Crazy stuff. I would say a very successful snorkelling trip wouldn’t you?

  
If your visiting the Gili Islands i’d advised you to do this tour. Such a bargain!
And don’t forget to visit the Turtle Conservations on Gili T or Gili Meno. You can see all of the newly hatched turtles that the locals protect and feed for their first year of life.

When they are big and strong enough to fend for themselves, they have a big festival and set them free into the ocean. 

Please try to make a donation too as its a non-profit organisation and all the money goes to feeding and providing for the turtles. We need to help these mammals as many species face extinction due to various causes! 

Exploring Kuala Lumpur in less than 24 hours

We jumped off the plane and headed straight for the train. After all, we only had 5 hours left of daylight to enjoy the capital of Malaysia.

  

From the airport we grabbed a fast train to KL central. It took 35 minutes and each. From there we headed to Bukit Bintang on the metro, using our magic coins..

  This was the station closest to V’la Heritage which was home for the night. 75 minutes later we’d arrived. 

Just under the station there’s a coffee shop. We grabbed a bite to eat here as we were starving. Doesn’t travelling make you hungry?! 

As soon as our bags were down at the hotel, we scrubbed ourselves up and headed out to explore.

The city reminds me of home in London. Lots of high office buildings, the city business like buzz. I love it. For the first time since leaving for travelling I actually missed London.

First stop, the Petronas Towers! If your in KL you have to have a picture at the Towers. 

  
Did you know that Catherine Zeta-Jones supposedly walked the line between these two buildings in the film Entrapment?

The towers are futuristically beautiful, and are the tallest twin towers in the world! Islamic influences are evident in the towers 5 tiers, representing the 5 pillars of Islam. 

 We took a walk on the inside, through the unbelievable shopping mall. There was everything from Chanel to Topshop! We just window shopped of course. Tom Ford doesn’t really come under a travellers budget.. 

   

 

Just by the towers is the huge greenery famously known as KLCC Park. There colours are vibrant and the culture is rich. We stopped at one of the restaurants for a refreshment overlooking Lake Symphony; the 10,000 metre man made lakes with fountains that features a daily water show.  

   

 We then explored the park, taking in all the scenic nature. This place would be perfect for a picnic!

  Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to head to the Batu Caves in the end which is a shame. 

In the evening we headed to the lively pub district: Changkat Bukit Bintang. A long strip of bars and restaurants and cheesy music awaited us. This was perfectly situated right behind our hotel.

   

 Kuala Lumpur isn’t the cheapest of places I have to say. I mean traveller wise of course. Tax is added on to ‘goods and services’ here so don’t calculate your bill in your head and expect the receipt to recall the same number. 

While drinks were expensive and tax were added in to each round, there were some good deals though. 

But one drink get 2 free cocktails. We took full advantage of this. Liam bought one overpriced Guinness and I got 2 cocktails free. The 3 drinks for the price of the one Guinness worked out about £5, so was almost acceptable for a round! 

We danced the night away. Well for a few hours or so.. We had a 5am wake up call the next day and headed to the Philippines.

Keep an eye out for our spending breakdown of KL

LwL X

Hectic Hanoi: Exploring day 1 and 2

Where the weather is shitty but the sights are quite pretty.. 

Ah, the political capital of Vietnam, a peaceful living yet crazy place with a population of 7 million people. 

You could easily lose yourself in this place for 3 days, just don’t forget to look, and look again when you run across the roads. Unfortunately Vietnam is very similar as Thailand in the sense that there are no rules on the road! (You think I’d be used to it by now) 

  
Hanoi as a city boasts lots of attractions that educates on the history of Vietnam. There’s the Hoa Lo Prison, the Museum of Literature, Ho Chi Minh museum and Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, not to mention the beauties of the Botanical Gardens and Ho Hoan Kiem Lake. Most of which we have visited over our time here. 

Here is a low down of our itinerary and the sites/attractions we saw in those days. I hope this helps if your wondering what to see/how much time you may need etc. 

Day 1

We arrived in Hanoi at 9am from Bangkok. As we had slept at the airport the night before; or not slept should I say, we went straight to our hotel and slept until about 3pm. Basically we wasted a whole morning where we could’ve seen more things but we sleep was more important at that time. 

Temple of Literature

We spent the afternoon at the temple of Literature. This was Vietnams first university. It is one of several temples in Vietnam which is dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars. 

   
 The area has a lovely garden, shrines and rock carvings of doctors and graduates and is only 30,000 VND to enter (just under £1).    

 Location:

  

Day 2

On our second day in Hanoi we went to Hoa Lo prison museum and took a walk around the area of the Botanical Gardens 

Hoa Lo Prison

What a fascinating museum! A prison built by the French that detained up to 2000 political prisoners and US pilots during the Vietnam War. 

Most of the prison was knocked down in 1997 to make way for the Hanoi towers. Don’t be disheartened though, architects preserved some of the old prison to create the museum. What lies in tact is a creepy enough atmosphere for you to experience.  

 There’s a horrifying array of instruments of torture and solitary confinement cells (of which you can enter) also on display is the sewage pipes in which  some prisoners escaped in August 1945. 

  Definitely worth a few hours of your time, and it’s only 30,000 VND to enjoy!  

Bach Thao Park/Hanoi Botanical gardens   This is a big beautiful park with a lake and home of many rare species of plant. It is one of the few green areas left in industrialised Hanoi. 

 
 In the 1890s, the French imported many exotic tropical plants from all over the world to make up a rainforest right at the heart of the city. Cool huh? 
  Lots of people come here to relax, socialise, admire, study and participate in Tai Chi exercise (yes I crept in for a few moves).

  
  

I presume this would be lovely to lunch in on a hot sunny day, unfortunately we didn’t have that luxury, being January and cold.

Entry fee is just 2000 VND (6p). 

  
There’s lots around the area of the garden, including the Presidential Palace, One Pillar Pagoda, the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and museum. All of which we passed for a photo op of course. 

   
One Pillar Pagoda

 
   

 

Ho Chi Minh Museum
  
Mausoleum  


The presidential palace is located right next to the gardens, which was completed in 1906 to house the Frend government-general of Indochina. You can do a tour here and see the palace for a 25k entrance fee but we chose not to, we was all info’d out for the day. 

So that’s our first 2 days, keep an eye out for day 3 and a Hanoi nightlife post! 

LwL x 

Kanchanaburi: Tiger Temples 

The Tiger temples were really cool, although it was completely different to what I expected. I literally thought it was a temple with some tigers in (yes feel free to laugh or point me out for my ignorance). The Tiger Temple more like a zoo of lots of different wild animals to see, not just tigers (and there isn’t any temples).  
There were monkeys, Buffaloes, birds and warthogs. There are even wild deer walking round that you can feed leaves and berries to. 

  
I had a few pictures with the Tigers but most of them were sleeping. It was very hot and they were out in the sun all day. I don’t know how I’d cope if humans had fur, I get hot enough as it is! 

   
   
To finish the day trip we went to a small waterfall close to Kitti Raft, the floating hut we stayed in for two nights. (I’m going to post about this place as I would highly recommend). 

  
Here are a few pictures of us at the waterfall..

   
 
Does anyone know the name of this waterfall in Kanchanburi? (It’s not the Erawani Waterfalls as we went there the next day) 
LwL x