I wanted to be in nature. Desperately needed to be surrounded by fields, forests, jungle, mountains. My soul knew I needed that connection, so I finally listened to it and headed to Cebu looking for the green stuff. Since getting to Bali I had this yearning to be immersed in the countryside, to be seeing nothing but greenery and wildlife. But I never managed to get it there (mainly due to lack of driving ability). Then Palawan was all about that beach beach. And I still wasn’t content. I still couldn’t relax. My mind wouldn’t shut down. Something wasn’t right. I needed to give in, listen to my instincts and follow what I seemed to be shouting from the inside. GO TO THE FRIGGIN JUNGLE.
I arrived in Cebu city and hopped on a no fan local bus that proceeded to drive a little crazy and breakdown on the way to Moalboal, after half an hour of chaos and a lovely local giving me running commentary on what was going on, all the men jumped out and gave the thing a push start. It worked. And shortly after I arrived in my first little piece of emerald heaven. I stayed at Archery Asia. I was enclosed by tree’s, noisy birds and geckos and my new home consisted of a basic hut and a hammock. I finally felt at peace. My three nights stay was pretty great, I actually liked the little town of Moalboal. This was more my kind of little town, not sparse like Port Barton was, small but bustly. I got a ride into town and for the first time since being in the Philippines I had a tasty meal. Thank frack for that. I was beginning to think no one knew who to cook here… SO glad I made the decision to come here. To leave the west side and venture somewhere new. Change of scenery.
So when I arrived I was told I must do canyoning, I froze. God no. I don’t want to. But what if I was missing out on something amazing? But the thought of it.. no. Don’t think of it. I managed to face my fears. Again. Fear can be a ridiculous thing. And I nearly let it stop me having an amazing experience in this magical place. The thought of canyoning freaked the hell out of me. I’m not good with heights.. What if it was too high, or unsafe, or i couldn’t climb and got stuck?! All just pointless worries.. I decided to face my fear and just do it. I would deal with anything when it came up. Don’t think just do. It always works out. You are always stronger than you thought. And surprise surprise I had an awesome day. Some scary, adrenaline filled moments but all amazing. Did some jumps I would never of done a few years ago. And some jumps I was happy to miss and watch others do, and I didn’t beat myself up for not doing them. Now that’s beautiful progress. Progress I can really enjoy. And obviously I was so glad I went.. The whole day was filled with the most incredible landscape. Kawasan Falls is a bloody dream.
I was also told one of the things to do round here was swim with sardines. You what now? However, swimming with the ancestors was actually very cool. Hundreds all swimming in harmony with each other, all knowing when to turn and in what direction, so in tune with each other. I got it, why people would want to swim along side them, it was fascinating. Then there’s that moment you have a wall of sardines circling you (top to bottom) and they suddenly swim off to reveal a turtle 😍 And then you spot a massive jellyfish so frack off out that water faster than flashgordon..
Next stop was Siquijor. I had heard about this island as being a place of magic. A side I didn’t see but definitely felt. I fell in love with this stunning island as soon as I arrived. It was only small but filled with so much diversity and beauty. And that’s without me coming across any shamans, sorcerers or witches. I only had a couple of days and I know I will be back again. I went to one of the highest points and had an amazing 360 view of the island. I sat up here with a friend for such a long time. Just listening and watching all the different birds and creatures playing. Contemplating the peace and freedom of it all. I could have stayed there all day and night. I felt elated. Thank you. Thank you fast boat to Coron for being full up, thank you for my impatience, thank you for making me come here instead of staying in Palwan. I know this probably seems a bit OTT, but I can’t explain how much my heart opened up here. We drove around the island, swimming in waterfalls and visiting old churches complete with dreaded Rasta Jesus. We drove through the forest in search of secret beaches, and watched the most beautiful sunset be painted on the sky.
I didn’t want to leave, but I had less than a week till I had to be in Manila and still wanted to visit Bohol, a much bigger island. One bus, two boats and a few tricycles later I was picked up in by my new jungle paradise host. I had decided to give myself a bit of luxury for my birthday and stay in a treehut away from it all. I booked in 3 nights, but after only a few hours of being there had already extended it to 6. I was in paradise. I was exactly where I wanted and needed to be.
It’s weird how my last few birthdays were not what I expected. My 30th was spent in Dharamsala, India having some drinks with a few new friends I was to never see again, and about to embark on a 10 day silent Buddhist retreat. This year I had decided I wanted to celebrate it by being immersed in nature, on my own. I was sat by the river reflecting (not literally) on my past year and how things had changed. A year ago to the day I was celebrating my birthday having dinner with my dad in Dubai. I had run out of money, had to cut my travels short, and miss a couple of countries on my list which I was gutted about. I was heading back to the UK to go back to a job I really didn’t want to be at, and do the whole settling down and get on the property ladder thang. Something I also didn’t really want to do but thought I had to.. One year later and I’ve now visited two of those countries I missed out on. I’m sat in a river in the jungle on an island in the Philippines, and in a weeks time about to move to Manila and start an internship for an animal rights organisation. It’s funny how life pans out. Just goes to show you can do anything you want to. Nothing is out of your grasp. Even when you cant work out how it will happen. Believe that it can. Focus on being in that space, not how you get there. The world is an incredible place and you can achieve everything. I was living in a beautiful friggin treehouse for god sake.
After the my third day of seclusion I forced myself to go out, and actually see some of this island. I had a driver for the day and we realised a shared love for Linkin Park so spent the day screeching along to their albums. I love easy exploring days. More of the same but its still always different. Waterfalls, rice fields, old churches, jungle, amazingly weird chocolate hills, and amazingly weird twisty tree’s. We went out the next day again as I loved the mountains and he pointed to a huge Virgin Mary and said we could go there to see Bohol from above. It was fantastic. I just love being away from it all, but being absorbed in it all at the same time. Taking a step back, only just to take it all in.
I felt revitalised and energised, like all my pieces has been put back together. It was a reminder how important nature is, and how I really should listen to those nagging voices in me. It’s essential that we stay connected to it. Without nature where on earth would we be? Without tree’s, we are literally nothing. A lot of us shut ourselves off from nature, albeit not on purpose. We live in concrete jungles, work in plantless offices, don’t take the time to visit the countryside or even a park. We’re loosing that connection to our life force. It made sense that as soon as I was in a field surrounded by the buzzing of insects, or up in the mountains with the breeze all up in my face, that I felt at home. It was as if my mind could finally rest, take in what it needed. If you’re not already, we should all try reconnect with nature more. Go take a book to the park and sit under a tree or ride your bike in the countryside. Or if you’re lucky enough, go meditate in the jungle or sit on top of a hill or mountain. Just stay there and take it all in. Thank this magnificent planet for being so god damn awesome.