Anna Eldred

Anna Eldred

Wife of Andrew, mother of two (John and Lucy). Ex-hippy and ex-teacher. Enjoys gardening, golf and playing with flowers.

Heading home

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 2:03 am  Philippines  Comments Off on Heading home
Jan 142014

We are checked in waiting to board for our flight home. Only 24 hours travel – but looking forward to getting back.

We got the overnight bus back to Manila OK – as before the worst part was the air conditioning was on full cold! We arrived at 4am and went round to a hotel in the old walled part of Manilla (Intramuros). The good news was that they recognised my reservation made over the internet- even though I had had no acknowledgement myself – but the room was not available until 2pm so we wandered off around the walled town – as it is so warm it was amazing how many people were about at that time in the morning, especially the early morning joggers. We even found breakfast (OK- it was a McDonalds but I got rice not a bun!) – and then saw the dawn break in a large park near the old town. We found a nice secluded Japanese Garden and had a snooze for an hour or so before going to the Museum of the Philippine People (well presented in a magnificent old building).

Back for an afternoon nap (I’ve rather got used to that -it will be a hard habit to break) then a meal outside on the terrace with a solo singer all to ourselves (and two carafes of frozen margarita – well it had been her birthday).

Next day we conquered the overland Mass Transit System -pretty crowded initially but navigation was helped by there only being 3 lines which all run head-to-tail. We visited the built-up financial area- another world of big buildings and large Malls. I think Amy would have been very happy there. Back for a bit of a touristy Ocean World, a bit commercial but the sea-lions put on a good show. Then we called in at the Manila Hotel  for a signature cocktail. We felt a bit under-dressed but they did not blink an eye and we were served very courteously. Dinner with a 4 piece band in the evening.

Last day today we found the other end of Manila shopping life – the local markets. These were full of small stalls with people milling about and lots of colour and noise. Much better experience than the Malls. We got a tricycle to one Mall and it turned out to have recently been burnt down – but the surrounding area was still a thriving market with a veritable warren of hidden shops.

Collected our rucksacks and got a taxi to the airport – so now it’s over. Many wonderful memories which I am looking forward to boring you silly with in the near future.

Cheers. Andrew and Anna.

Happy Birthday To Me!!!!!

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 1:49 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Happy Birthday To Me!!!!!
Jan 102014

In Banaue, just had breakfast, scrambled egg, bacon & toast. A card, small cadburys bar of chocolate & a lucky bamboo sun for my morning present. Today we hit the markets, museums in Banaue, followed by an afternoon manicure, pedicure & maybe a massage before catching the overnight bus to Manila- the last stretch of our journey. The rice terraces were magnificent on Thursday we took a tricycle the first 12km up to the saddle at times both Andrew & the Guide needed to get out & push it over the rocks- I rode like a Queen. From the saddle we walked down steep steps & rocks to the village of Batad very basic accommodation, but views over miles of terraces climbing up the mountain side slopes. At the moment they are preparing the terraces for planting, water buffalo churning the mud (there are only 3 for the whole area, they hire them out) clearing weed & laying the grain in lines to produce the first seedlings which need to be transplanted in 6 weeks time. Here in the mountains they can only produce one crop annually, while in the lowlands it is possible for 2 or even 3 harvests. The older women are permanently bent double like hairpins due to the constant bending of work in the terraces. From our lodgings our guide Regina (female) took us on a 5 hour trek trough the terraces (which requires good balance or you are likely to drop into a metre of mud) meandering downhill to Tappiya waterfall 70m drop with a swirling current, we both swam the current was to strong for me to get under the waterfall, but Andrew managed to get quite close. It was refreshing, much needed as it was a very long trek back to our lodgings. The legs did well – a little shaky at the end but had hired a trusty staff for 10pesos (15p) with a metal point, without it I would have spent a lot of time in the terraces rather than viewing from the top. A reasonable meal, but made no use of the basic washing facilities, not up to your standard Amy!! Lots of mosquitos bites today but the secret is not to scratch. Fairly cold so needed to sleep with all clothes on. A beautiful trek out along the terraces to the next valley in the higher regions, different crops were grown sweet potatoes, beans, chillies etc. Wild orchids & in Sagada Calla lillies growing wild.  A 3 hour trek to the nearest dirt road where we were meant to meet our tricycle, however because they are continually building roads which involves dynamiting the rocks, then removing the rubble before laying concrete, it could not reach us. An hours walk past the rubble clearing area we met up with the tricycle & a 15km ride back to our hotel. It was now raining very heavily & continued all night, heavy mist & no views – we were very lucky with our trek. Great to have a hot shower (more a dribble) & the last of the clean clothes, some get recycled- the most disgusting being passed onto the guide- she seemed very pleased. Andrew found it very hard to give up his Karrimor 2000 sweater- memories of times with Lucy. Signing off now- looking forward to seeing you all- Andrew has to be extra patient today being my birthday- so flaffing about is permitted. Love Anna

Anna who survived caving!!!!

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 6:57 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Anna who survived caving!!!!
Jan 072014

One of the highlights was the caving at Sagada Andrew assured me they always hyped up the dangerous situation & it would be fine. He lied!!! Must add that he had been up most of the night with the runs & was very poorly, but one must never give up. A gentle walk in to view the hanging coffins- then a hole the size of a hoola hoop  with jagged edges holding a knotted rope through which we dropped with one oil lamp and a feeble head torch. For 3 hours we slid on our bottoms, waded trough rivers, bats screeching around, sometimes with sandals at other times bare feet. The worst section was climbing up an overhang using a knotted rope stretching left then right foot across to footholds- unfortunately the old metal hip just wouldn`t bend that far (I don`t know left from right). After 3 attempts & standing on the guides shoulder I made it- felt quite drained. I thought to myself I should be at home in front of a coal fire sipping a sherry.  Wonderful stallic tights/mights & column formations. A great experience & I got a thumbs up from Andrew, so must have done OK.  He mentioned our ~take away chicken~ the invite by the guide, purchased chicken from the coop, feet strapped together, head stuck through a plastic bag, carried home but beaten with a stick first, believed to improve tenderness, then killed, feathers burnt off & scraped with a knife. I will not want to eat chicken, pork or rice for at least a month. Temperature much cooler up here particularly at night. Looking forward to seeing you all & coming home- but living & enjoying every new experience, never knowing what is coming next. Thanks for your e-mail Anne.     Love Anna

Wednesday 8th January 2014

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 6:32 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Wednesday 8th January 2014
Jan 072014

We feel we are heading home now. We have just arrived in Banaue up in the mountains which has many famous rice-terraces all around. We have booked our (overnight) bus back to Manila for Saturday and have booked a guide for a two day trip amongst the terraces for the next two days. Two jeepneys to get here and the views were superb (it is like Hardknott – just as steep and winding but on a concrete road 3 times as wide, most of the time).

Sagada was fascinating. Day 1 was a local walk which took in the local church then to Echo valley to see the “hanging coffins” – literally suspended on the side of vertical cliffs, some very high up) then on to a waterfall with a lovely deep natural pool to swim in under the waterfall. Having had a guide for that (it would be very difficult to do it on your own, the maps are mere sketches and the footpaths indistinct with no signpost at all) we agreed to use him again for a cave trip the next day. In the evening we went to a restaurant which took Philippino laid-backness to extremes. We joined a Canadian who was eating his dessert because he had already waited one hour for his main course to arrive! You cannot rush things here.

The cave trip was exciting – limestone caves with some large formations in the lower levels. The start was not auspicious – we passed bones and a skull but these were from the contents of a hanging coffin displaced in a severe earthquake several years ago (we were told). The description said there were ropes in place but it was still a bit more basic than even I expected. We had two guides for the two of us and started with some very small holes to drop through amongst some pretty big boulders. The worst section was a large rock step with a knotted rope to help you up. The guide knew where all the footholds and handholds were but this move needed quite a large foot movement. Now we all know that Mrs Eldred is not the best a left and right – I’m sure at one point she was trying to put her right foot up by her left ear, however after a couple of attempts and some pulling and pushing she managed to climb up (still smiling). The limestone could be slippy when wet but later on we were on a stone that was almost like sandstone and we walked over that in bare feet. It was quite a challenge and we both felt very pleased to survive and see daylight again.

We must have behaved ourselves as the guide (whose name was Jolly – we had been calling him Johnny all the time) invited us to meet his family and have supper with them. He suggested we buy the chicken which we agreed to. We met at 4 and walked down the street to buy the chicken – live – weighed and put in a plastic bag still alive. Then to his home where the chicken was killed, the feathers burnt off (with a blow torch, it used to be an open fire) then the husband cooked the meal which was ready after a couple of hours. The children were very shy but the soon got over that and were very friendly. Jolly had to show us the way back to the main road in the dark where we said goodbye. All we have met have been very friendly.

Looking forward to getting home. Hope you’re all well.


 Posted by Anna Eldred at 9:37 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Photographs
Jan 042014

Anna in Sagada

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 8:46 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Anna in Sagada
Jan 042014

Andrew just dashed up to our room it is an x convent we are in St. Thomas` room, so must say our prayers tonight. He has gone to get his credit card as the Hotel we hope to spend our last 2 nights in Manila is almost fully booked, so must do it now- especially being my birthday treat, sadly only the deluxe rooms left the standard have gone. On the actual 11th we will be all night on a bus travelling 10hours from the rice terraces to Manila. It is Alpine temperature here in Sagada jumper wearing in the evenings, beautiful views of the mountains but a pretty scary bus ride to get here in places. Thank you for the texts and e-mails we have received- we can`t get to our e-mails at the moment due to the terrible storms you are having in the UK. Must fly credit card has arrived & I am looking forward to 2 nights in The White Knight Manila. Love Anna

Sunday 5th January 2014

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 8:32 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Sunday 5th January 2014
Jan 042014

Well we hope you all had a good New Year. We were a bit disappointed initially – the afternoon had been frantic in town, the market heaving, fireworks being sold in large quantities from open buckets (with a notice: No Smoking; No Testing (!)) and everyone gearing up for the evening. However they all were celebrating at home (they are a very family-oriented population) – so by 8.30 all the restaurants were closing and the streets were deserted. We retired to our room thinking that was that. However at 11.30 there was a knock on the door – the owners asked us to go down to the courtyard and join them in (another) celebration meal! Wine, a whole piglet, fresh fruit (pineapple was especially good) and many more dishes. At midnight there was the usual good wishes all round and then the fireworks came out. All handheld and freely waved about. Some of the staff carried out a large parcel (like a small uninflated liferaft) and set it off. There were apparently 40,000 bangers in this device. The sound was horrendous, it went on for about 20 minutes and scattered flames all over the place (this in the middle of a UN Heritage site consisting mainly of frail wooden buildings). We were told that you were not allowed to set fireworks off in the street but the authorities fail to stop people doing that and put firemen on duty throughout the town instead!

Next morning was especially fine for me – the previous evening I had mentioned to Anna that I had foind Vigan City Tennis Club and the welcomed visitors. The owner said he was a member and played every morning so a 6.30 am I was playing tennis in lovely warm conditions. Two sets, first to 8 games, doubles. Lost one, won one so not too embarrassing. The sum just hit the court and it got hot as we finished. The rest of the day was cultural. Hand weaving on Heath-Robinson type machines that nevertheless produce some lovely materials, a garden centre with (to us) many exotic plants and an ancient wood fired kiln using heat induced airflow to draw the air over the pots.

Thursday was a museum day – the first City museum we were lucky enough to have a young student with good English to ourselves and we learnt a lot. A nice meal out in one of the central squares (have I said what a lovely temperature it is? Anna is reading the news headlines in the stall next door, it does not sound good for the UK) – the the light show again to finish the day.

Friday was another bus challenge day – this time you get a number but hand it in as you get on the bus and pay once you are on. Full bus – I was standing for the first hour then got a seat. The last hour of the 6 hour ride was uphill, climbing into the Cordilleros mountains and Bagueo city. Last few days of school hgolidays so it was a bit like Bournmouth. First two hotels were full but we got a very clean room at the YMCA. Saw the cathedral and the (busy) city market before walking through the park. Boating pond in the middle, hundreds of people on hired bikes and tricycles and street food available all over the place. Very colourful.

Saturday 4th started with the University museum which was very well laid out and informative. Then a taxi ride to a “woodcarving village” – I do like the wooden stuff they produce though the furniture is all far to large to get in the rucksack luckily. The to a modern “BenCab” museum built with lovely views and pleasant to visit. Back to the city and we treated ourselves to a full body massage and fruit facial. We started with a sauna where there were lime slices to rub over your face and strawberry conditioner to rub in your hair! In the shower  there was something rolled up – I thought it was a shower cap but it was disposable knickers. Good job I didn’t put them on my head. The massage was pretty firm – I felt bruised next day but definitely invigorated.

Today has been another travel adventure – bus to Sagada amongst the mountains. Very winding road and very steepdrops on either side. Another 6 hours but now we are here. Anna to follow.


 Posted by Anna Eldred at 3:54 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Photos
Dec 302013

We’ll try again.

Tuesday 31st December 2013

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 3:42 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Tuesday 31st December 2013
Dec 302013

As Anna said, we are now back on the same island as Manila – but to the North in a (World Heritage) city called Vigan.

Our last working day was spent finishing the painting (both the hut and a union jack on a bench top!).

Next day we were invited to a teachers house in the next settlement along the coast where they were having a festival. The spread was very colourful and there was a lot to eat. We saw some local teams playing basketball – they take it seriously. We said our goodbyes to the family as we had an early start next day.

Sunday was a day of travel. 5.30 get up with a very wet dawn. 20 minute tricycle ride to St Agustin to catch the jeepney (start of the journey so we had seats at the front and didn’t have to change around much. 2.5 hours South to the port  of Odiongan in a pretty rattly vehicle but maily on a concrete road. Rain stopped and it soon got warm.

The 11am ferry left at 1.30 (we did say that Philippine time is flexible – they are never on time, in fact it is rude to turn up at the time you were invited to something). There is certainly a level of patience needed for the travel.  7 hours on the ferry (with a bunk to lie on – but not much to see as the cloud was quite low. Lovely temperature, though, for sitting on the open ceck in the breeze. Once we landed we were into the unknown. We knew we wanted a but to Cubao (a part of Manila) – we were not sure where to find it but it was very straight forward. There was a whole line of buses with at least 6 well labelled “Cubao”. You just jump on and it goes when it is full. We pay on the bus. Arriving in Manilla in the dark was a revelation. We were obviously at the area where a lot of bus lines went from. Our information about the bus to Vigan was wrong. The line we tried did not go there. However we were told the correct line and a half kilometre walk and many requests for guidance later we found the correct depot. The streets were alive with travellers and stallholders selling snacks and supplies for the journey. Then came one of the more surreal experiences. We needed a ticket and the queue around the ticket office was enormous. We soon relised that you needed a Tesco type number which would be called when your time came. It was not obvious where this number came from until Anna saw a man handing them out – who kept wandering around and occasionally disappearing! Anyway, we had our number but the ticket office kept closing at regular intervals (before our number had been called). I did not catch on that they sold tickets until the next bus was full then they closed and opened again for the next bus. This created the situation that when my number was called I could not buy a ticket because the next bus was not going to Vigan! At 1 am in the morning it tests your patience – but I have to say that everyone does want to help you and even the locals had difficulty in understanding the system. The buses seem to run all through the night (if not all day) so the next bus was for Vigan, we got our tickets and found a seat. Tickets are still hand punched for date, cost and destination – not computerised yet. So a 2am departure for a 10 hour bus trip – with air conditioning I’m glad to say. Two comfort stops and we were here by midday. Our first choice of hotel was available for 4 nights so we are well set up.

Vigan is a World Heritage Site with many Spanish influenced buildings and a bustling city. The central square has fountains that put on a coordinated water, light and music show which we expect to see again tonight. I expect it will be noisy tonight a New Year is welcomed using very noisy trumpets which are being sold on the streets.

I expect we will be in 2014 8 hours before most of the people reading this so we wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.

Anna in Vigan New Years Eve 2013

 Posted by Anna Eldred at 3:04 pm  Philippines  Comments Off on Anna in Vigan New Years Eve 2013
Dec 302013

We finished our volunteer work on Friday 28 the final touch was the painting of the Union Jack on one of the concrete benches we had to travel into San Augustin to get the red paint, but it was worth it. There are benches with flags of various countries that volunteers have come from, the union jack was looking very sad- but not now. We have worked hard and on reaching the end have had tremendous satisfaction, Andrew built a whole window frame & put in with a saw, blunt chisel & army knife- The principal  was very impressed, I probably enjoyed painting the bamboo hut more than the teaching- however the kids are always very welcoming, because i was marked out as an expertise in Special Needs I had groups of fairly lively children who were failing- they kept me on my toes & I used up evry teaching trick i knew. John Kirby a name I will remember used to call for me at the house to take me to school & various odd foods to sample. The system is Americanised every child in a Grade going from 1 to 6 , however you have to pass the grade to move onto the next, for example there was Van Mark in Grade1 who was 16years old in a class the average age 5years, he could not get his knees under the desk. So the children i worked with had various needs from slow learners, AHD (John Kirby), speech defects- and a large amount of boredom. For future teaching volunteers- the children speak English but a lot is learnt phrases without understanding- `what is your name`- `where are you going -` how old are you`- etc. The classrooms are very small, all learning is by rote & copied notes from the blackboard (you have to buy your own chalk). The children have only pencils & loose A5 paper with lines. There are wax crayons but little other materials of any kind- even a rubber is considered exciting to use. I took CDs but no CD player, no music, drama, PE or Art & craft facilities. All science is taken from the board. I had not taken into account the muggy heat  & during the day outside activities would have been unbearable. Hand Puppets would have been useful, songs & if you are musical a definite bonus, songs with rhymes -okey kokey, s imon says, etc. You do not have to worry about health &  safety, if the kids get bored they just wander off- if a teacher does not turn up the children go home. The children get on well together  & at the end of the day have very inventive games with their flip flops.  Times are very relaxed in the philippines give or take an hour.  The day starts at 7am children garden clean classrooms, pick up litter etc beautiful plants all around the schhol, vegetables, itt`s own rice terrace. 7.45 free rice for the hungry children who bring their own bowls  & spoons this is cooked by Mam Tess & carried to the school the money donated by a previous volunteer. 8am.- lessons. Cantten break where you can buy rice cakes- ice-pops, sweets etc all homemade 10am -1130 am lessons. Home for lunch 11.30-1.30pm includes a siesta. afternoon lessons 1.30-4.00. then playtime unsupervised in the school until 4.45pm. bell rings & everyone home. It gets dark very quickly at 5.30pm. Happy New Year to you all.  Anna


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