Now, finally in a hostel with people around me, I hit my stride in the Philippines. The first night I met an Irish couple, Darren and Sarah, that are currently living in Australia, and Diane from France. I knew I had some great friends when midway through the night, Sarah started calling me swear words only an Australian could say (in the US those words would get you into a fight). They also anointed me as their travel Dad.
The next day, slightly hungover, Darren, Sarah and I did a canyoneering tour. We dove into and floated in pools of cool, turquoise water and hiked in water shoes as we made our way down a rocky canyon that was accentuated with tropical forest all around. Swings and jumps ranging from 10 to 30 feet kept it interesting and it culminated with a wade around and dive through a waterfall.
On the tour we met five others; English Lucy, Dutch Timo and German Sonja (Olga) from our hostel, and Shane and Jamie from Australia, and decided to all go to dinner that night. As these things go, three additional people from our hostel; Diane as well as English Tom and an American Dan, also joined. Besides dinner and bar hopping we rented a karaoke room (a very popular activity here) for our group. After several more beers I finally had enough liquid courage and proceeded to butcher my way through a rendition of Rocky Mountain High. It was far from good, but I got great support from my new friends.
Moalboal is famous for its sardines. Not to eat but to swim with. Just 100 yards off shore a swarm of sardines, thousands of silvery fish around 6 inches long, linger and swim tightly packed together, moving constantly in unison. When they get spooked, they shoot off in different directions in smaller groups to avoid the threat, but then very quickly join back together. The next day I went scuba diving to experience this phenomenon from below and get into the swarm. When underneath, the sheer quantity of fish blocks all light from above, creating a very spooky feel.
That night our group added another member, Katja from Switzerland, and met back up for New Years festivities. A group dinner, followed by drinks and beer pong back at our hostel, led to fireworks on the beach. Filipinos light off fireworks at New Years to scare off evil spirits and our group, with a couple purchased from street vendors, did the same. The fun part came when one’s fuse burned a lot quicker than expected and Shane and Darren were jumping and ducking away as the combustion began. That scared something but it wasn’t evil spirits.
The next day, besides a long brunch and recovery, we went snorkeling off shore to again view the sardines. We had a final dinner and drinks that night since many of us were leaving the next day. It was also when they hijacked my phone to sign me up on Bumble to find me a wife.
My time in Moalboal was fairly simple, but the backpackers I met there made it a very memorable experience. We had a large group from a number of different countries, but all somehow bonded very quickly. Sometimes travel is not just about meeting and experiencing what is local, it’s creating true friendships with other travelers from around the world, and I am so appreciative whenever that happens (as it has previously on this trip and trips past).
Since we left Moalboal, we’ve all been in constant contact, providing information on where we’re going, what we’re doing, and planning our next adventures together.
Life is good.