I had promised you the day out to Tambobo Bay and here it is.  A few of my friends had decided that we should all head up there one day and invited me to join them.  Big John and his girlfriend Jurri, Dave and his wife, Canadian Mike and myself all paraded fairly early in Mac's one gloriously sunny morning for the ride.  OK, this is not big bike stuff, the largest bike was 200cc and I was on the smallest, the wonderfully faithful Suzi at 125.  She was also the only road bike but I was confident in her ability to negotiate the off road I had been promised.  I had had her in a few rough places before and knew she would be sound.  Suzi has never let me down yet!

Suzi in the sunshine.
This was a picture taken earlier and I am not sure if I have previously posted it.  If so, I apologise but I really am rather attached to Suzi after all this time.

Anyway, off we took in convoy, nice and steady.  I know this is going to sound faintly ridiculous but there is something hugely satisfying about riding in a group, albeit on silly little bikes, with the wind in your hair in blazing sunshine.  Yes, I know a helmet is a good idea but it just doesn't happen here.  It took me back to my days as a much younger man when I used to ride with the long defunct Eagle MCC in Belfast.  At least the weather here is a damn sight better.

Baboy's Bad Boys MC.
After an uneventful and pleasant cruise along the National Highway, we took offroad a bit.  Here we are stopping to get bearings.  Interesting thing to note here is Dave's wife with the towel over her head, this is common practice here.  In the same way as tourists come here hell-bent on getting brown, Philippinos seem equally determined to stay out of the sun.  I have noticed this all over Asia.  For example in Burma people, especially women, apply a white paste to their exposed skin.  It is made form a tree bark and acts like about a factor 40 sunblock.  This is not all so daft as it sounds, like most things in Asia.

The logic runs thus.  If you are dark-skinned, it means you are always out in the sun, ergo a peasant and of percieved lower social standing because the chances are that you are poor and have to work in the fields.  You will regularly see Asians covering their head with a newspaper, magazine or whatever is to hand.  This is all well and good but when you see a scooter coming towards you at whatever speed it can muster (nobody drives slowly here) with the rider controlling the machine one-handed and using the other to cover their head with a handbag, book or whatever else, it is time to sound the alarm.  Another frequent practice is for the backrider to have an open umbrella covering both rider's heads.  A European traffic cop would have a field day here.  I swear I am not making this up, let's be honest, you couldn't.

Along we went and eventually got our first glimpse of Tambobo Bay which was every bit as beautiful as I had been led to believe.  There are a number of sailboats anchored in there and it provides one of very few anchoraqges in the region that offers decent protection from the regular typhoons.  It used to be a favourite haunt of pirates and it doesn't take too much imagination to see the odd plunder-laden galleon riding a storm out at anchor here.

Tambobo Bay, Negros Oriental.
We still had a little further to go, however, along a pretty treacherous road until we got to our destination, which does have a proper name (Tongo Sail Club if you want to Google it) but is locally known as Nigel's place.

Nigel's place, Tambobo Bay.
Nigel is an Australian, a boatbuilder by trade who has found himself somewhat washed ashore here with his Filipina wife and has started this place as well as his nearby boatyard.  Apart from the obvious natural attraction of the place, which has "tropical paradise" written all over it, it is a really quirky sort of an operation and the kind of place I could see myself hanging out.  If you can find a member of staff, and there are one or two about, they will serve you your first drink but after that it is an honour bar system and you just write your own bill and settle up at the end.  Here are the boys enjoying a beer.

The sadly demised Naiche.
Obviusly, we couldn't drink much, having to ride home, so we contented ourselves with the view and the weather.  The centrepiece, if you could call it that, is Naiche which is registered in Fremantle, Western Australia and which he sailed here.  It has seen much better days and frankly I wouldn't fancy it's chances in the Serpentine on a flat calm  August day now, it is rotted beyond redemption.  Shame really.

Should you fancy it, there is also a wonderful treehouse to chill out in.

Nigel's treehouse.
Go on admit it, I am making you jealous, aren't I?

I am not a great fan of sea aswimming but the lure of this place got the better of me and so, begging the ladies permission and lacking proper trunks, I just stripped off to my underwear and waded in.  It was beautifull and I sort of basked like some sort of very white sealion on the small breakwater that protects the beach here.  Quite utterly perfect.

Big John, Mike and Dave enjoying a beer.
Nigel's place hides a little secret, however.  Apart from being the idyllic place that it is, he is also putting something back and funds a local volunteer unit of the Coastguard.  In a nation comprising over 7,000 islands, the Coastguard is a hugely important organisation and has many volunteer stations.

Home of the 204th "A" Squadron.

Nigel's wife is actually the station commander.  I am not sure how many vessels they command, I certainly didn't see any, they may have been moored in the bay, but I have seen quite a few volunteer Coastguard in uniform around Dumaguete.

Big John checks the machines.
Eventually it was time to regretfully leave such a wonderful place as we didn't fancy the road back in the dark.  Canadian Mike had already left as he had things to attend to, being in the process of buildng a bamboo house and being completely dependent on local craftsmen who, whilst excellent at what they do, are not renowned for delivering on time.  Everything seems to be a problem and he got a call so he had to run. 

John and Dave both knew the route and I had made a point of remembering it.  It was a shame actually as we decided to go back the same way we had come and I had really looked forward to riding the delightfully named Old Spanish Road.  I just thought that was a terribly atmospheric name.  It is probably just a crappy unpaved Pinoy road but it sounded nice and was another thing to see.  Not to worry, I am going on the road again soon and will maybe run down it.  We had a quick pitstop at a lovely beach to stretch the legs and here is where we stopped.

We all made it back in good order and it was a great day out which I won't forget in a long time.  OK, proper bikers will laugh at this but leave us alone, will you?  We had a lovely day out on little runaround bikes in glorious weather at a place I think you will agree is beautiful and we all came home happy.   In fairness, the proper big bikers here are, as I have mentioned, a very generous bunch and would have appreciated the ride.  Hopefully we might all get it together again, I believe the sandbar near Bais City has been mentioned for a run.

Seems like an appropriate place to break here, so I will.

Stay tuned.

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