Archive | September, 2012

Bohol -not a hole

29 Sep

Maganda skanda from down under and I are currently sitting in plastic reclining deck chairs being serenaded by a three-piece guitar band playing the chicken dance… One of many great moments on what has already been a great trip.



What a reunion it was to see my best non-gal pal from back home! We picked him up from the airport in leggaz where he had made many a friend with porters and waiters and drivers and other airport personnel who, after finding out he was here to see his unmarried Filipino female friend, taught him how to say “maganda ka” (you’re beautiful) and “mahal ka na” (I love you). Oh skanda, was my response… They’ve assumed you’re a sex tourist here to visit your future wife you’ve met on What a start!



Onwards and upwards from there! Skanda laden with many a package of dive gear and a liter bottle of mr jäger (skanda: party times tomorrow night… Mr jäger says yes *makes the jäger bottle nod*) and myself with my more manageable 10kg backpack and this time only 1 extra backpack containing my sexy new iPad (thanks Dan xoxox) and my trusty old kindle got in everybody’s way on the jeepney to start the long commute to Bohol. After just a jeepney, a tricy, a flight, a cab ride, a night in Cebu, a dance walk out of resident evil 5, a shuttle bus, a ferry and a private ride van ride, we arrived at the floating restaurant on a Bohol river, to be awkboobsly played a sexy love song by a singer and even more awkboobsly dressing up in the “traditional” garb of a local river “tribe” and taught how to shoot arrows like Catniss Everdeen.


We visited the chocolate hills which some would say were amazeboobs. We learnt all about the reproductive habits of butterflies from a tour guide who succeeded every hilarious anecdote with a somehow even more hilarious anecdote about butterflies (“see this butterfly with uneven wings? It’s a ladyboy butterfly… You know, like lady gaga?). We cooed over the cutest part monkey part rat part frog part owl part bat animals, the tarsier and we headed to Bohol bee farm to spend the next 2 nights in the best hotel room I have ever seen in my entire life.



Skanda dived yesterday and when he came back to the resort, he asked me what I had done all day. “well!!!” I replied, “after you left I sat by the pool for an hour reading. Then I went to the restaurant and had a mango ginger shake. Wasn’t super hungry so I thought I’d get an hour massage. Then I had lunch overlooking the sea and read some more. After that I walked slowly around the resort to the jacuzzis where I sat for an hour, alternating between dipping in the water and reading in the sun. Then I felt tired and went up to the room for a nap, but I ended up watching half of dream girls then I rode with the driver to pick you up, eating an avocado ice cream in a cassava cone on the way”. “did you have fun?” he asked. Bah… Silly question. BEST. DAY. EVER.



published yo!

23 Sep

Yay! My favourite online yoga magazine has given me a red hot go and published an article I wrote for them! Here it is darling blog readers xoxoxo

It’s my party and I’ll get dengue fever if I want to!

18 Sep

But luckily, I didn’t want to. Instead, why don’t I just get a fever and all associated pains so bad enough that you can’t even participate in your own party? Hold on, I’ll take a step back…

So I woke up on my birthday and thought well I’m not busting a nut trying to squeeze in my mysore practice before getting to work at 8am on my birthday! So I didn’t and I woke leisurely at around 7.30am, did my practice. I desperately wanted to take myself out for breakfast but knowing that there would not be the vegan beans on toast with spinach and chutney I wanted, I settled for muesli and yoghurt and rolled into work around 10.30am. Initially, no fanfare, except a cute cat on my window.

birthday ming ming


So the tears began of course, missing home, missing cat birthday cards from Jen, missing carefully selected dirty cards from my grandma, cards saying “to karen, love from dad” from dad obviously and a card from mum telling me both what a pain in the ass and what a beacon of amazingness I am in her life…. It is a sad sad day when not only do you move into the next age box on beureaucratic forms, but you also don’t get the array of cards you’re used to.

Bittersweet tears

I had sat down at my desk and thought oh well I may as well start working when my dear friends called me into the Mayor’s office, presumably to make sure I wasn’t doing any work on my birthday and the real tears began. Gorgeous Rosalie had sympathetic tears for me, to the great fun of Aileen and Yanie. But the feeling sorry for myself tears soon turned into omg I love you guys and couldn’t be happier tears when in rolled a cake saying “Happy Birthday Karen! We love you! Meow meow meow”. The gals know me so well.

meow meow meow

In the spirit of not busting a nut on my birthday, I cooked up some mi goreng noodles and went back to work to get some productivity in before meeting the amazing Kezza in Sorsogon. Now Kezza knows how to celebrate a birthday! She joined me and my work girls for a beautiful birthday dinner at the usual place and we sat under the stars and chatted until Tania arrived on the Raymond bus from 10.30, still my birthday and the 2 girls knowing what it meant to have company on my day was the greatest present of all.

Love these guys

But no no, the best present was yet to come! As I finally got to eat my vegan breakfast, I felt that aching hair follicles and sensitive skin thing only associated with the flu… NO!!! I said to myself. We have Carabaos to milk and ride! Yes, later that day we rode carabaos, but skipped the milking and definitely the rectal palpablahblah… whatever it was it was gross. But when in Philippines!

Birthday flute solo for the patient?

By the time the Legazpi girls arrived, I was feeling proper sick, but made it through a hectic game of sunday flip. The tone was set for the game when the first card read “dildo”…. As I climbed into bed, excited for the next day, when we would be attending a tourism event with surfing, snorkelling and me teaching yoga, I asked the girls “is it cold in here?”. “not at all” they replied. Hmmmmm…. so my temperature was taken and I fell into a restless sleep knowing I had a temperature of 39.8c.

“I will teach yoga!” said I the next morning, dragging myself out of bed with a temperature of 38.7. “No!!” said my body, forcing me back into bed, leaving my friends at the beach for a day of surfing and sunburn. “I will see the band play tonight” says I and so I did get dressed for at least a birthday hour watching my favourite Sorsogeno band playing. “NO!!” says my stomach and then I became dear friends with the gutter outside the resort.

Well hot dang, I did get an exciting birthday present! Dengue! And in bed I stayed until today, when I went to get some blood tests which revealed no Karen, you do not have dengue, you just have a terrible flu that makes you feverish, achy, sensitive, makes your hair hurt, your stomach crawl, give you a terrible taste in your mouth, a red face, sore eyeballs, eye sockets and general eye area. Oh well, just as good as dengue  really, just without the label, like a good designer knockoff from Koh Samui.

Happy birthday me!

By the time you read this I will be 26

12 Sep

… Or maybe not, depending on your timezone and what time you happened to log onto this page… anyway you get the point. Tomorrow, Thursday September 13, it’s my birthday and I will be 26 years old.

I was born in the Philippines, so actually in 4 hours when it’s my birthday in Philippines it will be my actual birthday. But I am so Melbourne, I will feel like it’s my birthday in 2 hours times when it will be 13 Sept down under. My birthday wish for myself is that I spend the year continuing to learn and give love and share everything I can and see everything with fresh eyes. Hmm, I hope it comes true even though I just told you my wish….

As you may have guessed, birthdays are a big thing for me. Because I am away from you all, tomorrow I will be thinking so much about you and I am sure I will be friggin missing the hell out of you, like I have been the last week or so thinking about all the good birthday times I’ve had, not just on mine, but celebrating other’s too.

My bloody amazing AYAD friends are coming down tomorrow. Kerry will take 2 flights, a minivan and a jeepney to get here, while Tania will hitch a ride on a bus coming from Manila. Alex my rock in Legazpi is on her way on Friday and I can’t even express how grateful I am that they are coming to make sure I am not alone on what is (maybe a bit immaturely but I don’t care) my favourite day of the year.

Massive weekend planned, but I will save it for some visuals…. For now, here’s a walk down memory lane, as far as I can remember birthday venues.

25th bday at the usual place 

24th bday – Eurotrash

23rd bday – Eating meat!!! at Copacabana

22nd birthday/going away to Europe – At Eurotrash again wearing a PLEATHER dress 

And finally my 21st, the birthday I killed myself preparing for… with Sally, the best Meg Griffin ever

And hopefully not me tomorrow… poor kitty, they got him the wrong cake even though he told them several times what he wanted


A wandering minstrel, I (we)

11 Sep

I recently switched back to a morning yoga practice to make time in the evenings to study for my online course which is apparently a 15 hour per week workload which i thought i’d be anle to squeeze in to work hours but it seems the next 3 months will be nothing like the blogging, 9gag-ing, facebooking and just randomly trolling the internet i did in the first 3 months. Also, i did it in preparation for what will soon be a 3 hour time difference between Australia and Philippines. So yes, can still he week night Skype dates for anybody interested… Anyone? Anyone?

My newly free evenings mean I get to wander the streets aimlessly at a speed of 2 kms per hour with my barkada crew after work. Oh what an especially lovely town Gubat is between 5-7pm when everybody is in the centro. We listened to the ramblings on a troubled love life from the 19 year old girl whose name we don’t know so we call Magayon who runs the lugaw (chicken soup) stall by the JVL line terminal. We went to a supermarket and argued over which pickles I should by for no reason except we had time to talk about pickles. We tasted delicious rambutan and another fruit whose name Aileen told me but I immediately forgot right in the market. And as is the way in a small town, as we walked along, we said hello to everybody we knew and got invited to a few videoke parties to boot.

I heart my little town



Near perfect conditions

8 Sep

The view from my doorway

So apparently it’s been nearly a month since I have blogged??!! This is turning into a terrible habit. Often I have an idea for a blog post, then I wait until the conditions are perfect – it’s quiet, or it’s raining outside or I have a whole hour window to focus or I am on a strong enough internet connection. As you can imagine, conditions are rarely perfect and if you want to be a writer then you should just write! So here I am writing. Just between you and me though… the conditions are pretty perfect. A storm is rolling in slowly according to the view from my deck chair in my doorway which means there’s nobody except the odd tricy and the polite pinoy street dog on the street. I have no plans for the weekend, so have more than an hour’s window to write and I am feeling inspired. But I promise, even when the conditions are not perfect, I will write.

The flooding in Antipolo, nowhere near as bad as Manila

So August was a big month for me. It started with the in-country orientation of the new volunteers. A lot of people think I am a social butterfly and love meeting new people and all that jazz, but in the last few years, I have consolidated close friendships and enjoy working on those more than I do meeting new people every week. So I went to ICO at a resort in the hills outside Manila ready to direct all my energy at making the new volunteers transition. Lo and behold, this was the least of my problems, for a typhoon north brought 4 days of non-stop rain to Manila and surrounds and subsequent flooding to many areas of the capital, leaving a wake of chaos in it’s path. There was little we could do in the hills – we were marooned. So with a combination of fear, cabin fever and reaching out to each other in the midst of all this uncertainty, new and old volunteers got pretty close over those few days whether we liked it or not.

Winning prizes at the nerd con

I was pretty happy to get back to Gubat after that week, but because of the way the Filipino information notification system works ie: not at all really, I found out at the last minute we had a 4 day weekend the following week, so after just 5 days in Gubat, a little bit of cooking, cleaning and laundry, I jumped on the overnight bus back to Manila for a readers convention (the NERD convention) and to meet my mum and sis, arriving a few days later.

Epic reunion

As sisters, we reunited like crazy, then fought like crazy, then made up several times, not so much crazy for the making up, more subtle and quiet, from Manila to Gubat to Legazpi City. All of this on the back drop of a chit chatty mother so used to doing things for us and used to constant iphone, laptop and tv stimulation, not sure what to do with herself but loving it! When they left, I felt sad and knew that I would miss them. but also knew that I would be fine because at this stage, 4, nearly 5 months into this adventure, I feel at peace.

I still miss Melbourne, especially all the people that I love, but after so much turbulence in Manila, with new people in our lives and reminders of home, it feels good to be sitting quietly in my apartment in Gubat which I call home now. I have a lot more travel and visitors and fun to have in the future, but the next 2 weeks and 3 weekends will be spent in Gubat, where I am making grounds on my volunteer assignment, doing an online course, practicing yoga, writing for magazines and touching base with loved ones back home. Constant movement in my life is good for me if only to make me grateful for these weekends of stillness in Gubat, which when I first arrived scared me almost to the point of sending me on a plane home. I’m meeting my best pal on 25 September, which inspires me to take it easy now in preparation for dance walking and directing traffic like a boss, but I am also enjoying taking it easy just for the sake of taking it easy, because in my Melbourne life, which seems so far away now, when do we ever really get to do that, without feeling guilt or pressure.