I love travelling and over the years I have visited many countries. Yet I had never considered the Philippines. So when the pandemic hit and my son was caught there unable to leave for over two years, his life changed. Now we travel to and fro between Australia and the Philippines to Magnetic Apartment.
When I wrote the first draft of this blog, I was sitting at my desk in one of the units staring out to sea as shoreline waves edged their way towards the few rocks planted in the volcanic sand.
This was the island life and It wasn’t difficult getting there from Brisbane. I used a travel agent plus checked on recommended vaccinations. It made life easy. I had an overnight layover in Manila before flying to Dumaguete.
Destination San Miguel on the coastal Municipality of Bacong, in the province of Negros Oriental, Philippines, is one of 82 provinces. Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes flight south from Manila to Dumaguete. Then a half-hour taxi ride for 800 pesos ($22AUD) or a 45-minute trike ride for half the price. The final leg of my journey was a 500-metre ride down a narrow bumpy side street that runs perpendicular to the main highway. In the end, I breathed a sigh of relief. The blue sea is at your doorstep and where family and friends were waiting to greet me. I have left the bustling world behind and reached my seaside hideaway.
A quick change into my togs, a walk no more than 30 metres to the water and I feel alive. The WiFi connections can wait. Sliding windows wide open, the refreshing breeze fanned my face. I could see the small ocean waves crawl gently to shore while the coconut palm fronds fluttered. The air smelt sweet my soul soothed.
Relaxed from my first swim that morning, my salted body rinsed from the freshwater shower attached to a coconut palm on the beachfront. I stood dripping arms outstretched, eyes closed until the sparkly sun did its job. On the table of the private cottage next to the shower sat my towel, laptop and water bottle. I was ready to write.
The perfect place for a writer, or those seeking solace and isolation with tranquil views. It is an inexpensive way to travel and live. The Wi-Fi works well. A few longer-term tenants work remotely from their units. Magnetic Apartments have basic modern facilities and fresh running water. They all have separate private balconies with outdoor settings and a sea view so close you hear the waves.
Tiled throughout, each unit has a slightly different layout, all spacious, clean and comfortable. Included is a dining setting, new full-sized fridges, electrical cooking facilities, cutlery and dishes, pedestal fan, air conditioning, instantaneous hot water, double bed with quality mattresses, roll-out convertible couch beds in the lounge with wall-mounted Smart TV’s and separate bathroom facilities. I won’t drink the local water but the owners have dispensers to hold 15 L water bottles to purchase for a few pesos. I also boiled my water and kept a full jug in the fridge for the extra hot days.
A few metres around the corner there is a restaurant and further along the beach, at weekends, the small bar is open.
There is a new bike shed to the side of the apartments. Bikes can be hired (check travel insurance). Otherwise the short walk up to the main road to flag down a motorized trike or catch the jeepney. It pays to have local pesos on hand. Management can also book a taxi.
I was thrilled when I discovered that massages, pedicures and manicures can be organised at the apartments on request. Such a treat. The owner/managers will assist you with any needs and may even organise a local evening BBQ under the solar-lit cottage.
If someone had commented years ago I may have laughed and dismissed the concept. Yet here I was living a life many dream about in a country I may have overlooked.
For solo travellers, it is an easy safe trip and inexpensive for retirees. Holidaying in the provinces is a fabulous place to stay for those wishing to escape from the complexities of life. These are the times when living a simple life is all one needs to allow the inner self to let go of social demands while retaining the comfort of mod cons.
Magnetic Apartment has undergone an amazing renovation and there is more to come. It is a work in progress. Right now some of the apartments are leased long-term with two or three kept for the short term. Bookings directly or through booking.com, agoda.com and Air BnB.
After two weeks, my daughter commented on one of our FaceTime chats, “Mum I cannot remember when I have seen you so relaxed and chilled”. Luckily I had another week to go.