Last Tuesday morning I landed at Heathrow Airport at 5.00 am on a wet, cold and blustery English winter day. I had just returned from 10 days holidaying in the Philippines with Kino, who has been living and working in Manila for six months.
The Philippines is a developing country, not particularly focused on international tourism, composed of hundreds of islands in the Philippine Sea, and close to the Equator in the southern hemisphere. I travelled from London to Singapore and then onto Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, where Kino was living.
Her house was an oasis of calm and green behind a gate in a noisy, hot and dirty street.
My first trip was to a restaurant called Laya in Antipolo, where we had a sensational, six-course lunch of the most superb Asian fusion cuisine in a location overlooking Manila itself and the green suburbs surrounding it.
Afterwards we visited the local cathedral.
It was 31st October, Hallowe'en for us, which is not much celebrated in the Philippines, as All Saints and All Souls are more important festivals. However, in a cafe just along the street from Kino's house, the staff had made some striking and rather gruesome Hallowe'en figures!
After three days in Manila, Kino and I flew Philippine Airlines to the island of Bohol, about an hour away by air. This is me at the airport, I didn't straighten my hair while I was away because of the heat and humidity, so it's wild and curly.
Our first stop was Alumbung Tropical Living, where we stayed in a delightful native style hut in a peaceful garden.
We were a short walk from the beautiful Alona Beach where we spent a pleasant afternoon.
The next day we took a tour of local paces of interest.
A cathedral made of coral
The Chocolate Hills
The Hanging Bridge
The Loboc River
A Tarsier in the Tarsier sanctuary.
These little creatures, the smallest primates in the world, are endangered and the sanctuary is dedicated to saving and supporting them. We walked around the sanctuary where a number of them live in their natural environment but protected from molestation, and were able to take photographs. The Tarsiers are really tiny, no bigger than the size of your clenched fist.
That evening we took photos of the sunset over the beach.
The next day we spent at the pool of a local restaurant
before moving on to our final destination on Bohol, IslaHayaHay.
Here we relaxed by the sea as the resort is right on the shore.
More lovely sunsets
A day spent island hopping took us to a tiny sand spit in the middle of the ocean, from where we watched a storm pass across the mainland
The food was lovely, and we ate at a table outside overlooking the beach.
Three days flew past and soon I was flying back to Manila where I said goodbye to Kino for a few more weeks and caught my flight to Singapore and on to London and home.
The Philippines is an exotic and different country, whose people are friendly and hospitable, and mostly speak excellent English. There is much breathtaking scenery and lots to do and see. It's not a destination that is yet widely known to European tourists, and so much of it is still unspoilt and authentic. I shall not forget my visit in a hurry!