Saturday, 20 April 2013

Goodbye to Philippines

Yesterday we arrived in Kudat, Malaysia. We chose to do the last passage overnight so that we could arrive Friday lunch time, in time to clear into the country before the weekend. I don't thing that actually mattered, this seems to be the easiest and most relaxed country to check into we have experienced so far. And even better, it was free. However, it does seems you have to clear in and out of each (major) port, so we might change our mind later on.

Back to Philippines though. Overall we have had a pleasant trip down the west coast of Palawan. It's been pretty placid and light, sure with some roll, it really never goes away, but overall not bad at all. Pretty much each afternoon squally clouds would develop over the land and move out over the sea, but it was only in patches, and most importantly didn't bring much wind, but neither much rain.Our last passage to Malaysia was extra pleasant, just a light wind closed hauled and a pretty flat sea. If only all passages was like that :-)
Land travel without Sophia is the blue line
Above is a map of our route through the Philippines. We spent 2 1/2 months in Philippines, the longest we have been in any country so far. This is mostly because it's also the biggest country which is also evident from the fact that the majority of the time we only spent one night at each anchorage, and were day passaging a lot. I think overall we probably even spent less time at each anchorage on average in Philippines than anywhere else.
We have had a great time and have really enjoyed seeing so much of the country and experience a totally new culture (compared to the other countries we have visited). Total cliche, but the people really are super friendly and very casual and chilled. It's a very nice cruising destination yet there really aren't many cruisers there. Sure, there are a bunch of yacht based in Philippines, but they are mostly only in a couple of 'hot-spots' not moving anywhere and it's mostly older men with young Philipina wifes. Most seems to pass through like we did from Palau and that really isn't many either. Wild guess, but it's maybe only 20 each season, maximum. Why is this? We think it's a bunch of reasons, again mostly just guessing, but probably the typhoon and the security issues (piracy in Sulu archipelago and civil unrest in Mindanao. Another big reason is that Philippines simply isn't on the regular milk run around the world (it goes through Bali/Indonesia instead).
Philipinos LOVE dried fish, they eat it for breakfast and all the time! So, no Philipino summary without a little dried fish collage!
The typhoon risk of course isn't nice, but December to June are considered safer months, and thankfully we haven't experienced any either. Even if you are caught out and a typhoon is approaching the country, there are quite a few typhoon holes spread around the country. Regarding the security issues, nobody is cruising the Sulu archipelago (a shame though, because it looks like beautiful cruising ground) and because of this, there simply haven't been any incidents in many years now. It's also easy enough to find our which places on Mindanao (mostly the south) to avoid.

But, now we're in Malaysia and that's very exciting too. The feeling of arriving in a new country is quite special, there are many things to learn and explore and where do you find bread, will people smile back at your (usually always) and what's the currency. There's a half year old marina here in Kudat with no owners, so it's free! Who knows how long it will stay like that, apparently it was build by some Malaysian government people, but it's all pretty unclear. Yesterday we went into town to checked in and got some food, super delicious roti for me (yeah, have been really looking forward to that) and KFC for Phil, much less exciting, in my opinion, but that was his choice. We're going to stay here a few days before moving on.

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