For our Turkey itinerary we decided to go to the coast before the interior because we wanted to chase summer and catch some beach time before it was too late in the season. Our journey from Istanbul to the Mediterranean started with an overnight bus. The 12 hour bus that took 16, brought us to Fetihye, where a waterfront area is surrounded by yachts, that you can stare at and imagine rich retirees that sail the Mediterranean through the summer and end their journey in Turkey.
The day before we were departing for Italy, I woke up with a stiff back, barely able to move. We decided that we would simply go to the walk in clinic and get some muscle relaxers, which would surely be the answer to my pain. As I waited for Nick to get ready, I suddenly felt very weak. I called my paramedic boyfriend down to see what was wrong and with a few checks of my seriously low blood pressure, and a worried look after not being able to find my radial pulse, he decided to call an ambulance. 9 hours later, we left the emergency room with some painkillers (see picture) and heart monitor sticker marks that I still can’t get off. It turns out I got positive results on all the tests I took, and with that in mind I told Nick we were definitely still leaving the next day.
Everything happened so fast the next morning. I was up at 6am, shoved some toast and peanut butter down my throat while Minous and Kassar, my second porter, loaded up our food and other supplies. A short becak ride (bike with a box in the front for sitting) and we began hopping on and off bemos until we got to Kurima, the starting point of our walk.
The first thing I noticed upon leaving the Yangon airport was an intense blast of heat which seemed to stick with my entire time in the country as my body struggled to find a way to acclimatise.
Once I arrived at the very popular motherland guesthouse and gobbled down a large breakfast of toast,eggs,coffee, and cake, yes cake for breakfast, I was due for a nap. After all, it was just too damn hot to do anything. When I woke and had a refreshing cold shower, I headed over to Shwedagon Pagoda, the epicenter of relgious belief in Myanmar. Having traveled Bhutan, India and Tibet I am more than a little jaded when it comes to my opinions of great temples, but dare I say it, Shwedagon might be the grandest I have come across yet!
After my trekking in Kalinga I had to back track to Bontoc to catch the next bus to Sagada. Sagada is definitely “on the tourist trail” but sees far fewer visitors than Banaue or Batad. Actually, when I first arrived I had to ask myself if this was the right place because barely anyone was around.
Guidebooks may be useful but for some accurate advice but I have always found it better to speak to a traveler who has recently come from the area. So when we were given the advice to call ahead and book somewhere in El Nido, Palawan, we didn’t want to waste time. We were due to fly out the following day and arrive in El Nido a few days later but after phoning the handful of hotels recommended to us, we had not bettered our situation. Some searching online came up with a large list of just about every accommodation option in El Nido and a frustrating full day spent calling each one was in vain as none had any rooms. We were faced with a tough decision, cancel our flights and reroute, or risk arriving with no where to go. Chinese New Year really seems to bring in the hordes of tourists to the Philippines and since El Nido is a place we required accommodation for over a week, we knew our chances weren’t good and regrettably had to cancel our flights.
With Cebu City’s grime and chaos getting to us we needed not to linger and decided to head out to a peaceful place to rethink our plans. 4 ½ hours on a bus and an hour long bangka ride brought us to Malapascua Island which had been recommended to us by some friends we met in Sri Lanka.
Having left Sri Lanka earlier that day it was a slight culture shock stepping into the modern frenzy of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital city. With Air Asia offering dirt cheap rates around the region Kuala Lumpur, or simply KL, is a stop on just about all itineraries through south east asia and was our home for two nights while we waited to board another Air Asia flight to Manilla, Philippines.
Another short bus trip further east along the Sri Lanka’s South coast brought us to Tangalla. With no accommodations booked our first attempt at finding a room failed but with a new recommendation we were checked into Panaroma hotel not long after. Bags thrown to the ground and it was time to hit the beach.