Diver's Paradise, also Near to Apo Island
30 minutes of road hell going there!
A Jewel in Negros Oriental Province
I have already written my obligatory tip about the standard public market in Zamboanguita which is undoubtedly no surprise to anyone who has read any of my Asian pages. It is no secret that I adore markets on this Continent and frequently write tips about them There is, however, one market that I would thoroughly recommend as being completely different from the usual municipally built and quite sterile affair which seems to be the standard thing in Negros Oriental although it only happens one day a week, on Wednesday. It is the market in the barangay of Malatapay a couple of miles North of Zamboanguita and it is amazing.
I had visited this place on anther day of the week and thought it was some sort of ghost village but it was just all the stalls lying unused for six days a week. People come from miles around to patronise this place as the traffic congestion and general mayhem on the National Highway attests and you can literally buy anything here from a safety pin to a water buffalo, if that is what you need.
Whilst it looks fairly anarchic on first sight, it is actually very well ordered. The livestock section is in one place (to the left half way down from the highway), all the cutlers are in one place, all the clothes vendors lumped together etc. It vaguely reminded me of the old medieaval European system where this was practiced and now is commemorated in street names.
I did meet a few other Westerners but not many and you really do get a good flavour of local life here, it is such good fun. You do need to get there pretty early as it is winding down by about midday. I believe it starts around sunrise.
Beng Asia, you will never go hungry and there are numerous food stalls with everything under the sun available. The barbecued fish pictured was perhaps a little overdone for my taste but it seemed to be selling well.
If you are in this region, you really have to go there. If you don't have your own transport, there are frequent Ceres Liners buses and jeepneys plying the highway. You can get one from Dumaguete / Bacong / Dauin going to Zamboanguita (just ask for Malatapay, you will see the place as it is so busy) or a short hop from Zambo going the other way. I rode my bike there so I cannot help with fares but they will not be much. My Filipina friend reckons perhaps 25 pesos from Dumaguete to get there although she has not done it. It is great to have local information on tap like this!
Definitely make the effort to get here.
Many of the villages in Negros Oriental follow the same pattern. The are linear, extending along the National Highway and extending to the sea and a small way up the interior hills. They will have a Municipal building, market and park, and this tip deals with the park. It is pleasant, well-tended and completely unremarkable. There are the obligatory statues commemorating local and national heroes, as depicted, and I did have some fun interacting with the local kids who were their usual cheerful selves.
The only thing differentiating it from so many other such parks is the fountain which has obviously seen better days, possibly not recently. It is nicely executed, depicting various aspects of local life but a quick inspection suggests the last time it saw water was in the recent typhoon.
A pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by or read a book but it is hardly Hyde / central / Gorky Park.
I apologise in advance to regular readers of my pages but here is another town and another market tip.
For people who have come upon this tip randomly I should explain. I do not like shopping as a rule but I have a great liking for Asian markets as I find them to be endlessly interesting, not only for the exotic produce on offer but the way they afford a glimpse into how local people really live.
The market in Zamboanguita is neither particularly large, nor was it overly busy when I was there (it was perhaps a bit late) but it was interesting nonetheless. There is not a whole lot to do in Zamboanguita so if you happen to be there a walk round the market may be worth considering.
When in A Beach, What is more refreshing thing to do than to eat cold delights especially the Halo Halo (filipino version of Iced Dessert, consisting of Crushed ice and milk with white sugar, ube (purple yam), leche flan (filipino flan), garbonzo beans, monggo (red beans), Kaong (palm fruit), macapuno (coconut sport), sago (tapioca pearls), gulaman (seweed gel) and others!)) well here in Antulang Beach Bar, we did that and it was pure culinary bliss!
Favorite Dish: What else but the Halo Halo (Tagalog for mix mix) served inside a young coconut shell, it costs 130 pesos an order. Spring water costs 20 pesos an order.