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Busuanga Bay Lodge – Part 3 – South Cay

January 13th, 2016 No comments
South Cay Island

South Cay Island

South Cay is Busuanga Bay Lodge’s own private island!  Located about 20 minutes by fast boat or jetski or 40 minutes by the more traditional Banca, the island houses a bar with the most sophisticated toilet I have ever seen on an island!

Busuanga Bay Lodge runs a regular shuttle service to and from the island for resort guests and at Ph 3,000 per person including all you can eat and drink its a really great service!  Particularly when the bar (manned ably by Dante and his assistants) provides a never ending stream of fresh fruit cocktails (the mangos are amazing – Mango Daquiri is a must), beer, wine and spirits.

The Bar at South Cay

The Bar at South Cay

Lunch is typically a BBQ with fresh fish, meat and shellfish such as the local lobsters – eat as much as you can.

Activities included kayaking, snorkelling (fantastic clear waters on a coral reef), jetskiing, sailing (Hobie Cat), volleyball and generally hanging around and having a good time!

We were fortunate to be able to spend boxing day evening on the island where the resort laid on an amazing party including fire dancing, a massive bonfire, and music to wile the night away. The party developed somewhat into the later hours – not sure that was on the agenda!

The Bar at South Cay

The Bar at South Cay

Beach Volleyball

Beach Volleyball

Boxing night bonfire

Boxing night bonfire

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Busuanga Bay Lodge – Part 2 – Diving with D Divers

January 7th, 2016 No comments

D’Divers is run by the amazing Gunter with his equally amazing assistant Maria.  I only did 3 dives, but all were memorable and it was great to dive again.  The dives are very organised with all equipment supplied at a very reasonable price.

The bay of Coron is home to 15 wrecks thanks to the US Airforce taking out the Japanese supply ships towards the end of the second world war. A full account of the military action can be read here.

Pearl Bay Hotel

Pearl Bay Hotel

The first dive we did was on the Okkinawe which lies quite close to Busuanga Bay Lodge.  The wreck lies with the top deck in about 20m of water.  We dived along the deck and then down at the severed bow which was broken off in the bombing.  The wreck is covered in a variety of coral with plentiful fish life all over it.

Our second dive was Kyokuzan Maru – a wreck on its side with easily accesible penetration through the open cargo holds – also in about 20m of water.

By far my favourite dive was the Gunboat at Luzon – a very shallow wreck (the one end comes above surface at low tide) which makes it a popular snorkelling spot.  Diving at 10m we were able to avoid the tourists and witness an amazing variety of fish life and coral, with some penetration into the hull where I saw my first stonefish (dont stand on these – they cause serious damage!!!).

Nearby Hotel

Nearby Hotel

D’Divers operates out of a small resort near Busuanga Bay Lodge called Pearl Bay – we island hopped to the bar for a drink one evening.

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Busuanga Bay Lodge – Part 1 – The Lodge

January 3rd, 2016 No comments
Busuanga Bay Lodge from the water

Busuanga Bay Lodge from the water

Sunset over the pool

Sunset over the pool

This is the first in a multi-part series about my experience in the Phillipines at the magical Busuanga Bay Lodge resort.  I was fortunate to be able to spend an amazing 10 days exploring the resort and surrounds and have to say that it ranks as one of the most memorable holidays in my life.

The Phillipines is an island nation – many small islands often with uninhabited or only housing only a few fishermen.  It is lush and green with small sandy beaches and normally very clear waters although on our stay it was the peak of the full moon so the tidal currents caused the water to be less clear than normal. Still, in comparison to places like the med the water was clean and clear and an amazing temperature (bearing in mind that we are in mid winter!).  Busuanga Bay is on the island of Palawan voted best island in the world based on over 76,000 votes in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2014.

Our trip started with a seaplane ride from the cultural center in Manila. While one can take the less expensive trip via commercial airline to Coron and then courtesy bus or taxi to the resort I would shell out the extra (about Ph15,500) for the seaplane – not only is the scenery way better lower down but its really cool to rock up and climb aboard with no wait and then climb out at the resort dock!  And where else would a 5 year old get to drive the plane?

The dock at Busuanga Bay Lodge

The dock at Busuanga Bay Lodge

We flew low over the resort and then landed in the sea close by, taxiing up to tie up at the resort dock.  Staff were on hand to sing us a welcome song, hand out drinks and take care of the bags.  We shared a waterfront twin room – I would take this again by choice – being able to sit outside in our own little garden and watch the evening creep on is a beautiful way to end the day.

Much of the resort activity (not surprisingly) revolves around the pool and the sea, with all the usual toys – jet skis, kayaks, paddle boards and boat trips on hand.  Busuanga bay and Coron Bay are also home to 15 wrecks courtesy of the US airforce taking out a Japanese supply convoy – all of which make for an array of amazing wreck dives from the shallow gunboat at to the much deeper dives where the adventurous can dive within the wreck, some at much more depth.

South Cay Exclusive Island

South Cay Exclusive Island

One can also venture inland to the local villages and via taxi or boat further afield to the main town of Coron. The resort runs regular trips too and from the South Cay island which is a private island owned by the resort – featuring a bar and lunchtime buffet, really nice beach and snorkelling and various other activities.

Our week started with a swim in the pool and sundowners while we got comfortable and got to know the staff. The staff deserve a special mention – from the manager Thomas, barmen Brian, Felix and Dante to the wait staff Cathy and her clan they were all amazingly friendly, greeting guests by name and making us feel at home.  I did prefer the “Sir” Adriaan to “Madame” Tricia (I think she felt it should be more “Lady” Tricia!).  And, incidentally, if you are wondering when you are there why you are called “Sir Adriaan Po” it is because Po is affixed to the end of a name as a sign of respect.

Cathy singing with the band

Cathy singing with the band

We watched the sun go down over the horizon from the pool level and ended the first magical day in this rare, unspoilt, paradise.

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Internet World 1995

May 14th, 1995 1 comment

This show is running here in London from Tuesday, so of course I’m going to be there along with my chums here at Micro Media (the London Mall’s publisher).

IT HAS NOTHING TO DO with the free cases of London Pride beer which Fullers have been so kind in donating to our stand. Visit us (we’re sharing a stand alongside Silicon Graphics) and you might get some.

As part of the stand’s web-presence, I’ll be sending hourly reports from the show, updating pages for our viewing public live. Come along and get your photo taken and put onto our special show-pages, and you’ll be able to tell friends/colleagues/people in the pub that you’re published on the cutting edge of a new medium.

(The Internet I mean, not this column)

If you can’t make the show, come back to this page on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday and you can read the reports; so vivid it’ll be just like being there.

Can’t do anything about the beer, though.

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Victory in Europe Day

May 8th, 1995 No comments

Today is Monday 8 May. Its a public holday in Europe to celebrate VE Day. Hyde Park has reverberated with the sounds of The People young and old celebrating the end of Hitler’s regime of terror in Europe. There can be little argument that VE was a good thing. War is a terrible waste. The end of a war is something that should be remembered with two emotions – joy that its over and sadness that it ever happened in the first place.

Unfortunately the lessons of 1939-45 have yet to be learned in many corners of the world. There are probably more people suffering through war today than there were in 1945. Not all war is conspicuous. There are today many regimes as terribly unjust as that which Adolf attempted to inflict on Europe. Let us ponder on them as we remember the past.

I refer of course to the tragedy brought about through differences of opinion with regard to religion in the Middle East, tribal cultures in Africa and downright oppression of free thought in the East.

Freedom is the unalienable right of all citizens. This notion is central to modern society. While there exist places in this world where this fundamental tenet is not upheld, war cannot be considered to be over. Let us observe the two minutes silence tonight in memory of those who fell in the War in Europe, and reserve for the future a constant thought for those who continue to fall through tyranny and denial of rights around the world today.

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Last week in London …

April 30th, 1995 No comments

Today was my birthday. Quiet affair – few drinks with friends and the baby’s first day out. Wierd how he’s quite happy to ride around in the car, in fact it seems to placate him. I guess he hasn’t yet learned the concept of “accident”!

We are exhibiting at Internet World International ’95 – 16-18 May at Wembley arena. Come and have a giggle if nothing else! We are trying to persuade a few London breweries to donate a keg, in which case it may be possible to acquire a pint by mentioning your pent up desire to meet Arthur in the flesh…

Damon Hill won the San Morino Grand Prix today. Only managed to watch a few laps, so I will have to watch the rerun on Eurosport sometime. It appears that Michael Shumacker didn’t feature. David Coulthard has to be the one to watch this season. Unbelievably talented driver, he looks certain to give Damon a run for his money. Nigel Mansell managed to do very little, and of course the Ferraris seemed to find that extra 5% that they have lacked in most of the races recently in front of their home crowd. F1 is much more interesting this year than it has been for a while.

Snooker – Jimmy White is out, and it looks like Steven Hendry is going on to take the World Chamionship yet again. He plays like a machine! I dont know if you saw the perfect (147 point) break yesterday, but it blew my mind. Practise makes perfect?!? By now he has won the finals yet again.

Pubs to watch – for a typical british pub why not try The Copper on Tower Bridge road? The illustrious web writer Andres, our artist Neil (Line and Design) and I had a few too many and played snooker a good deal less proficiently than Stephen Hendry there on Saturday. Plotting things for the show and a new look for the Mall. Watch this space! Anyway, The Copper is a reasonably decent pub with a reasonably small pool table with reasonably large pockets (faster games make more money I guess). Earlier we were at The George which has been mentioned more than once in this column. Now there they have a game called Bar Billiards. Basically its a pool table which has some holes in the middle rather than around the outside, and different holes count for different scores. You’ll have to go and look yourselves – too tricky to describe here. Fiendishly good game to play.

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Arthur’s Neural Aerobics

April 23rd, 1995 No comments

This test is to measure your intelligence, your fluency with words and your creativity. In the three years since this test was developed there have been few people who could solve more than half the 26 questions at the first try.

Many however, reported getting answers long after the test had been set aside, particularly at unexpected moments when their minds were relaxed, and some reported answering questions over a period of days.

There’s no glitterig prize for solving this challenge, though a Solution Page with your name (and photo?) on it, with perhaps a mention in the next Arthur’s Column (hence gaining the eternal respect of your peers) would be suitable reward for the first set of correct answers.

SEND COMPLETED TESTS TO: [email protected]

Question: 16 = O in a P Answer: Ounces in a Pound

Now spend sleepless nights with these:

1.   26 = L of the A                        14.     3 = BM (SHTR)
2.    7 = D of the W                        15.     4 = Q in a G
3. 1001 = AN                                16.    24 = H in a D
4.   12 = S of the Z                        17.     1 = W on a U
5.   54 = C in a P of C                     18.     6 = D in a PC
6.    9 = P in the SS                       19.    57 = HV
7.   88 = PK on the KB                      20.    11 = P in a FT
8.   13 = S on the AF                       21.  1000 = W that a P is W
9.   32 = DF at which WF                    22.    29 = D in F in a LY
10.  18 = H on a GC                         23.    64 = S on a CB
11.  90 = D in a RA                         24.    40 = D and N of the GF
12.  20 = R in the TT                       25.    76 = T in a BP
13.   7 = S on a FPP                        26.    10 = GB on a W
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Last week in London …

April 16th, 1995 No comments

I thought I’d leave the baby picture up for a week or two – it proved so popular last week! 🙂

Firstly, congratulations to Michael Sharpe and Kalvinder Singh of James Cook University in far north Queensland Australia for the most complete answers submitted to the puzzle thus far. While I did not ask for answers to be submitted, it is amusing to see the variations on a theme that crop up!

This week has been a long haul changing nappies and doing such other mundane things that fatherhood (for the new age man?!?) seems to demand. Babies are incredibly demanding creatures – give me a kitten any day! End result is that I have visited exactly 0 pubs this week! TRAGEDY. So I will tell you about one that I went to last week just before the baby was born. Didn’t write it up last week as I was a tad busy with the birth etc…

The Trout is in Oxfordshire. Actually it is really close to Oxford. If you want to find the place whatever you do don’t phone and ask for directions – one sure way to get lost. I tried this and concluded that the bar staff live on the premises from birth, and commute by canal boat! Basically you go round the Oxford ring road north towards the airport and go down past the Forte Moat House hotel at the second roundabout (assuming you’re coming from London). We went there on Good Friday for lunch. Idyllic surroundings on the Thames river bank, just below a weir. There is a lock off to the one side for the narrow boats that frequent this part of the Thames, and the weir is in place to maintain the relative flatness of the Thames for these boats.

The lunch was quite ordinary, but the scenery more than made up for it. It is great to get out of London on a weekend. Unfortunately most Londoners agree with this sentiment, with the result that traffic jams and tailbacks are inevitable. To give you an indication of the frustration of travelling in this part of the world I will describe my route to The Trout.

We started by joining the A40 at Holland Park, intending to simply head out to Oxford (the A40 goes directly to Oxford). Within 1 mile we were going about 5 miles per hour in a traffic jam. I spoke to a friend who we were meeting at the pub and I knew was ahead of us by mobile, and he told me that the traffic jam stretched past the M25(London’s outer ring road). This would make the next 5 miles take about 1 hour, so I ducked south through Hammersmith to the M4 (the road to Heathrow). This was relatively clear and we had a great run as far as Slough. The M4 runs sort of parrallel to the A40 to the south, and there is a fast link between the two at Henley which we intended to take. Things started to back up at the first off ramp to Slough, so we headed off the M4 on to the old A4 road. This was still quite quick for the next 4 miles. Then we reached a point where there was an off-ramp from the M4, and hit a massive tailback. At this stage we decided to chance the motorway again (on the basis that most of the cars seemed to have left at this junction). Sure enough, traffic was moving at about 50mph, so we were able to move fairly fast to the link road via Henley and Maidenhead. From here it was up to the M40, on to the A40, and on to Oxford. The excercise took 3 hours, compared to just over 1 1/2 hours returning.

Other than that, not much to report from the last week. Still quite cold and miserable at the moment, but maybe it will improve? It is supposed to be summer you know!

Until next week I bid you adieu.

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A baby boy!

April 16th, 1995 No comments

Just a quick note this week. Sunday was a special day for me – my wife gave birth to a 7lb 4oz boy! Hence my late writing of this column, and its brevity.

Anton is born!

Anton is born!

3.00AM on Sunday morning and off we went to the famous Guy’s hospital. We only got to bed after a dinner party at 2.00AM, so I wasn’t all that keen to go anywhere. Anyway the staff at the Guy’s labour ward were very professional, and after only 8 hours young Anton was born. Not without a few worrying moments, cord round neck and other such fun! It is an amazing experience to watch the birth happen, and I would strongly advise any budding fathers out there to go and watch at the birth.

Then its off to the maternity ward (floor above) where for only GBP50 you can hire your own personal room. Having duly done this we ignored the signs and got the mobile to work letting the rellies know. “Anton is a very pretty baby” (of course!). Wifey was hungry (dinner was given back to yours truly in the early stages of labour) and do you think we could get a bite to eat? Not a sausage. Had to go to McDonalds and invest in some junk food. Have to ask what all the taxes that go to NHS are spent on. Certainly not the facilities at Guy’s.

Then again, Guy’s is one of the hospitals that is scheduled to be closed down by Virginia Bottomley (our illustrious Health Minister). Something to do with efficiency and redundant beds?!? Didn’t see too many redundant beds when I was there! Crazy stuff is happening with the British health service. Great pity – it seems to me that the system is just progresively being destroyed.

I don’t have a huge amount of inspiration for any chatter this week, so if you dont mind I’ll just sign off for now and resume my normal writing next week. Have a great week wherever you are, and remember, whatever time zone you’re in, the odds are I am awake! 🙂

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Arthur’s Column

April 9th, 1995 No comments

Pubs covered in this issue:

  • Messy Murphy’s (Fleet Street)
  • The Anchor Tap (SE1 Tower Bridge)
  • The Ship (Wandsworth)

Quiet week for a change. Lovely warm sunshine and dry conditions quite unlike what one expects from London weather.

Messy Murphy’s is a new pub in Fleet street which had a visit from the team this week. It (like Ryan’s) serves Guiness imported from Dublin. It’s quite small, and seems really popular. The decor has been well thought out. Well recommended for a visit.

Friday evening ther was time for a quick few (along with zillions of people) at The Blackfriar, then it was off to The Anchor Tap for a beer while I waited for wifey to join me for dinner. The Anchor Tap is on Butler’s Wharf, and is situated where a brewery use to stand. Alas, they don’t brew there any more. The pub is OK, but the beer wasn’t to my liking.

Dinner with Wifey at Conran’s The Butler’s Wharf Chophouse restaraunt. Quite expensive and not quite fantastic food. I would rate the Chophouse below the other restaurants in the group. I should explain that there are 3 other restaurants in the Conran group located on Butler’s Wharf. Starting with The Chophouse (from west to east) we have Pont de la Tour (most expensive and very nice), La Cantina (very good) and The Blueprint Cafe. The Blueprint is by far my favourite.

Had liquid lunch today at The Ship in Wandsworth. Very crowded (sunny day on the river etc.), and the food ran out. Its a good spot to go if you want to meet between Putney and the City. Many flashy cars and bikes parked in front while the beautiful people sunned themselves. Minor altercation as a red car of indiscriminate breeding made contact with a brand new Audi open top. All adds to the day’s entertainment!

I walked to work a number of times this week. The reason I mention this is because my route takes me past many famous London tourist sites. I thought I might take you on an abbreviated virtual walk in this week’s column.

Lets start where I live. It’s a converted warehouse on an inlet that goes south off the Thames called St Saviour’s Dock. The roof is held up by huge wooden beams, and one can easily imagine the days when it was a warehouse. In fact, in the bathroom there are marks on the one side of the beam that are of the sort that would be made if a worker was playing darts with a knife. At high tide I have a view of the water (eye to eye with a duck). At low tide I can see the mud and refuse that constitute the river bed (about 15 feet below the window).

From St Saviour’s dock I walk west through Butler’s wharf. This is where the apartment scene in “A Fish called Wanda” was filmed (John Cleese hanging out of the window). Again, lots of warehouses, most of them converted into reasonably expensive accomodation. This brings me to Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge was one of the great engineering feats of the last century. Built in 1894 it was at its time very advanced, with a fascinating mechanism to raise and lower the central leaves. Huge “accumulators” (essentially heavy weights) are raised about 50 feet by water which is pumped by a large steam engine powered pump. Then, when the bridge is to open, this stored potential energy is transferred (again by water through pipes) to rotary engines which act on cogs and raise the counter-weighted leaves.

From Tower Bridge I have the choice of walking along the south or the north of the Thames. This week I favoured the South bank. The walk takes me past the HMS Belfast – a World War Warship which is permanently moored for tourists to tramp all over. The it’s under London Bridge, past the Kathleen May and the Old Clink Prison. Many really interesting sites. I would recommend this walk if you have some time in London – it gives a great feel for how the city developed.

Further on the walk takes me past the new Globe Theatre. This replica of the original shakesperean theatre is nearing completion. No doubt it will be ready for summer performances. It will be interesting to watch Shakespeare in its original setting.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for all the supportive emails. Those of you who have already emailed me will be notified by email about the London Mall bash. As for the rest of you… watch this spot! 😉

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