Well campers it’s been a glorious five days out on expedition with Tao expeditions.

Let’s see if I can remember the untied Nations of characters we had on board:

  • Trent tour operator from Australia living in Barcelona
  • Julian from Germany
  • Jen from Madrid on three month sabbatical from communications company
  • Sabine from Germany living in Cambodia
  • Selene and Grant, teachers from Melbourne on massive honeymoon
  • Thomas from Germany living in Dublin having done his PhD at Michigan tech
  • Shelia (American) and Martin (German) living our eldest crew mates living in Portland OR
  • Tilly (American tennis scholarship) and Phoebe from Australia
  • Clementine, Anaise, & Elizabeth from Paris
  • Fran and Freya nurses from Australia
  • Dan (English) and Bex (kiwi) living in London
  • Mike (American) from Brooklyn

And our intrepid guides, crew and new friends

  • Dong – expedition leader
  • Aying – assistant expedition leader
  • Sam – skipper
  • Jhon – mechanic
  • Bmahr – everyone’s favorite chef
  • Joey – assistant chef
  • Jam Jam – the barman
  • Romy – the expert
  • And a host of others I can’t remember right now

But WOW, what an experience.  Seeing the remotely inhabited villages where people still barter for everyday essentials and fish for life sustenance.

Let’s see over four nights the routine went something like…

  • Wake up
  • Eat
  • Snorkel
  • Eat
  • Drink
  • Snorkel
  • Drink
  • Eat
  • Drink
  • Sleep

Repeat…rough life I know

Now everything up to the sleep part was great.. But dang if the breeze didn’t go to bed when the sun went down leaving me in an idyllic landscape, on a beach over looking the ocean… And just stewing in my sweaty shorts.

Most nights I lay on a bench by the sea, staring up at the stars until I became tired enough to crawl into bed and pass out for a couple of hours before sunrise when all activity starts again.  Occasionally I got to bed sooner with the help of rum and coke zero and my favorite barman Jam Jam.

So we had episodes of water volleyball, basketball, and Yhatzee… We read books, took pictures and took long walks on the beach.. But most fun of all was meeting the local villagers.

They always had a smile and time to stop and talk even if we couldn’t both speak the same language.  I, of course, was especially enamored with the children who are so amazing here.  I have been to many a poor country and many times the children are beaten down so young into begging and stealing.  But here in the remote villages, they ALWAYS had a smile, a hug and curiosity you could just feel.  

This is not to say that in Manila I did not see beggars and poverty, just that these children hadn’t been defined by that.. And I hope that I don’t have to add “yet” to the end of that sentence!

The food on this boat trip was simply outstanding.  From fried rice, to seven course dinner at the Tao camp, there was never a bad meal.  Let’s see if I can recall some of the highlights.

  • Steamed fish with chili sauce
  • Banana fried with coriander
  • Seafood stir fry
  • Fresh caught off the back of the boat sashimi
  • Chicken adobo
  • Who can forget the bowls of Philippino power… Rice!
  • And of course the spit roasted, hand turned for three hours, juicy pig

I definitely spent a lot of time chatting with Bmhar ????

And of course my fellow shipmates on my trip I know I’ll try and keep in touch with over the years so I can find a friendly face and a cold beer wherever I go.

11 Replies to “Old Man In From The Sea”

  1. Fantastic description of fellow travelers, staff, food and residents you met on your journey. Sounds like you have been able to truly escape!

  2. I was born and raised in Manila, moved to Michigan as a teenager, have only been back to visit once in the last 30 years. I’m confident you’ve been to more local spots but I’ve really enjoyed seeing them from your lens. Thanks for sharing, it brings back so many wonderful childhood memories.

  3. Bill,

    Sounds like a great boat trip! Thanks for all of the pictures along with your narrative. Tao Expeditions… have to add that to the ol’ bucket list. Good to hear that you didn’t hit your head on anything.

    Have more fun!


  4. An UNBELIEVABLE experience for sure. What ship mates!!! I wonder if you had enough time to uncover all their stories. Visiting the islands and seeing that a life so different from ours still exists in this modern world is truly special. These people may not have all the modern necessities, but they also don’t have all the modern hang ups. I bet they don’t even worry about global warming, trans gender bathrooms, or even the Michigan lost to OSU! Thanks for sharing. Love the picture of the two little ones hugging. So cute!!!

  5. Really enjoying reading about your adventures, Bill. Keep it going…..So happy for you that you get to have such memorable experiences!

  6. What a wonderful and humbling experience and throw in the additional cultural experience from your fellow travelers and crew! Thanks for all of the sharing!

  7. Beautiful pictures of the beach! Also, nice form jumping into the water! At least you kept your shorts on….unlike Trent!!

  8. Memories of Ha Long Bay ….ahh ’tis a shame Bill that I missed this part of the adventure especially if we would’ve cannon balled into the water together. wonder what that wave would’ve done to the boat and all aboard her???LOL

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