Cambridge

As I write this in Cafe Nero, across from Cambridge Train Station, I feel a little melancholy. It may be the almost five days of (mostly) solitude that has passed or it may be that I am actually a little sad to be leaving. My trip here has been successful having passed the FME training course and having learned more than I hoped about the application. I also spent a lot of time in the early evening wandering Cambridge and taking photographs, primarily to see how the camera in the iPhone XS Max performs (admirably).

Cambridge is an interesting city, a combination of medieval buildings, colleges, modern science & business parks with everything in between. The River Cam which runs through the city was delightful to spend time at. I managed to get coffee in a cafe near the river bank and watch tourists on boats being punted along it and hearing a hundred different languages being spoken as people walked by. 

Some of the architecture blew me away. I have seen photographs of the buildings before but to actually see them in person is so much more. The buildings of Queens’ College and Kings’ College were amazing, I literally don’t have the adjectives to describe how impressed I was. I have never before seen such an amount of buildings that impressed me in such a small amount of geographical space.

I also visited the Wooden Bridge that joins two parts of Queens’ College, also known as the Mathematical Bridge. Nicknamed the mathematical bridge due to its arrangement of timbers arranged in a series of tangents, creating an arched bridge rom entirely straight timber. I will not try to explain it any further as my lack of engineering knowledge and maths would be all to evident. A popular myth around about the bridge is that Sir Isaac Newton designed and built the bridge without the use of nuts and bolts and that at ‘some time’ in the past students attempted to take the bridge apart and put it back together. They were unable to work out how to hold the structure together and had to use nuts and bolts to finish it. Of course, when it was first built, iron spikes were driven into it to hold it together and could not be seen from the inside which is why the bolts were thought to be an addition to the original. More to the point though, Newton died twenty two years before the bridge was constructed.

I have added a few photographs of my trip below, all taken on the iPhone Xs Max. I decided not to take my 5D purely out of the interest of saving weight and to push me into using the iPhone (the best camera you have is the one you have with you).

Sunday Wanderings

A few photographs from a Sunday wandering around Stirling and Bonnybridge. Accompanied by @alycoste who managed to lose her phone in a nettle bush, while the phone was on silent. Our trips are never dull. On our last trip she lost her gloves at Stirling castle, in the pitch black; the gloves were also black. To be fair at least both items were found again :-)

Chocolate Hills and furry creatures

One of the main attractions on the Island of Bohol is the Chocolate Hills. They are a group of unusually shaped hills located in the middle of the island and they are unique to Bohol. There are conflicting views on how many hills have been formed but the estimates are between 1250 - 1750. The highest hill reaches 120 meters in height but most are around 30-50 metres, scattered within a 50 square kilometer area.

Local legend says that long ago two giants fought for days, hurling earth and stones at one another, until they fell exhausted, leaving the mounds of earth and stones in place. The more romantic legend says that a handsome young giant, Arogo, fell in love with a mortal woman. When his love died, as all mortals must, the giant wept and his great teardrops fell to the earth and turned into the chocolate hills.

Of course, geologists came up with a theory; they are weathered formations of marine limestone lying on top of an impenetrable clay base. They get their name from the colour they turn at the end of the dry season as the grass turns from green to brown. I prefer the romantic legend, geology seems to take the fun out of them.

I literally couldn't wait to get there, up at 4am to get there for dawn.

We arrived at the chocolate hills just as dawn rose after spending a night at the Fox and the Firefly Cottages near Loboc River. I can't even begin to tell you how amazing this experience was. Not only were the cottages amazing to stay in with amazing views but the food and service was also outstanding! The last two photographs was the view from the chair in the first photograph.

At this point you are probably wondering about the furry creatures that is mentioned in the title. On the way back from the Chocolate Hills we visited the Bohol Tarsier reserve. They are the world's smallest primate. They measure 10 - 15cm and belong to the primitive sub-order Prosimii or Prosimian that dates back 45 million years. They are known locally as mawmag and is a species endemic to the Philippines. There is some good information on Bohol-Philippines website about them. I have added a few of my own pictures underneath.

 

 

 

Behold Bohol

Bohol is  located in the Central Visayas region, consisting of the island itself and 75 minor surrounding islands. Its capital is the City of Tagbilaran and is the tenth largest island of the Philippines. The island is a popular tourist destination as it has many beaches and resorts. The Chocolate Hills are among one of the top attractions. Panglao Island, located southwest of Tagbilaran, is famous for its diving locations and is routinely listed as one of the top ten diving locations in the world. The Philippine tarsier, amongst the world's smallest primates, is indigenous to the island. 

After leaving Cebu I headed to Bohol and the City of Tagbilaran. It's difficult to know where to start when I think about Bohol. The hashtag that comes to mind is #itsmorefuninthephilippines, although the locals like to joke that #itsmorefunanddangerousinthephilippines. Driving of course was of course mad and appeared to have no rules but there was a touch of beauty about how it just worked for the most part. Being driven in a modified side car of a motor bike around the City of Tagbilaran was an entirely new experience. 

 

I found Tagbilaran easier going than Cebu, the people and the city felt calmer and although the weather was very warm a small breeze from the ocean took the edge off the heat. I enjoyed meeting people such as @gallardonoygonz and @nessagwapa and getting to chat after Yoga on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Driving down to Panglao at night and sitting outside with a cold drink watching the sunset was sublime and made me question why I would want to be anywhere else. I suspect the company I was keeping had a part to play in this too.

I will talk about more locations and attractions of Bohol in upcoming posts, but for now I wanted to share the first night I spent in Tagbilaran. All four photographs were taken at Kasagpan Resort on the western side of Tagbilaran City.

 

Cebu

Finally starting to write some posts from the notes that I took while visiting the Philippines. I'll start where I arrived, Cebu.

Cebu is a province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region and consists of a main island and 167 surrounding islands, its capital is Cebu City the oldest and first capital of the Philippines.

After a 24 hour journey a lot went through my mind on a delirious journey from Macyan-Cebu Airport to the hotel that I was staying. Mostly about NASCAR which seemed to be how the drivers got anywhere, mercy was not given or asked for on these roads. I figured that if I survived the journey to the hotel then I could walk everywhere else that I wanted to go. My travelling campanion informed me that if I was to do this I would likely meet an untimely death either from heat exhaustion or from being mugged. 

In all seriousness though, Cebu is a city of immense contrasts. The shopping malls are fillled with lots of big brand western stores where the rich shop but less than block from there is the poorest of people that wouldn’t be allowed in the mall. Much to my shock, to get into the malls you had to be screened by armed security. The signs outside the shopping malls politely reminded you that guns are not allowed inside. The temperature in the city reaches 30 degrees by 10:30am and when you walk outside the air conditioned hotel it literally feels like walking into an oven. This, I think is the hottest country that I have ever visited, although Australia might be hotter, I had the sense to go there when it was winter.

I experienced many tourist sites that I have photographs of (below) but also saw many places where there was abject poverty, it was hard not to be moved by some of the things I saw. I can't imagine how people get by on a daily basis and if there is any chance of escape from it. I am immensely grateful that I am not in that situation. 


Below are some photographs of the Cebu Taoist Temple. Built in 1972 by the prominent Cebuano Chinese community. The Cebu Taoist Temple stands 980 feet tall (above sea level) and is renowned for its elaborate multi-layered architecture. The colourful temple overlooks a portion of Cebu.

The Heritage of Cebu Monument is a tableau of sculptures made of concrete, bronze, brass and steel showing scenes about events and structures related to the history of Cebu. The construction of the monument began in July 1997 and it was finished in December 2000.

The Yap-Sandiego Ancestral House is located in the Parian District in Cebu, Philippines. It is just a few steps away from the Heritage of Cebu Monument and meters away from Colon Street, the oldest street in the Philippines. Considered to be one of the oldest residential houses in the Philippines, the house was built sometime between 1675 and 1700. It was originally owned by a Chinese merchant named Don Juan Yap and his wife, Doña Maria Florido.

The next few images are taken in and around Colon Street, mostly street shots of things I found interesting. The smell of the dried fish in the first photograph has yet to leave my clothes...after several washes ;-)