1. Yoga at Yoga Barn Panglao
My impression of yoga has changed over the last few years, to be honest I originally had no clue of what was involved in the practice nor the benefits it gives. For me it has grown from my personal impression that it’s just a lot of heavy breathing and sweating in a room with spandex clad pale skinned folk all facing a guru, who looks like he or she is sleeping whilst sitting up.
Thankfully this mental image has not only changed, but has been squashed and replaced with a practice that has become an enjoyable part of my life. After a week with Ocean Sound’s owner/instructor Cynthia who came to Indonesia to teach a retreat at Living Colours Diving Resort. I wanted more, in fact our choice of Panglao was heavily influenced by Yoga Barn Panglao’s ability to provide twice daily yoga practices and therefore making me a more flexible and healthier version of myself. The practices start at 9am and 4:30 pm with the options for private classes, which for me is perfect, like many others I find the idea of excercise appealing and fun, but without the motivation of class timings I could very easily put it off for “tomorrow”. As a beginner I was a little concerned about looking like a beetle stuck on its back with legs flying around until exhausted, but thankfully I wasn’t going to be alone and after a few minutes into my first session I relaxed. I even smiled (maybe it was a grimace) as I held the poses.
Progress has been fast, when I arrived I was suffering from back pain and a little out of shape, yes I know that walking with my ass pointing out has been a Thursby trait for many years and runs in my family! After a few weeks of being told to tuck my tail bone in and straighten up my posture as we repositioned into varius poses (that I have renamed) such as “hungry dog”, “smell my feet”, or even “crazy baby”, eventually I was even able to position myself into “waterboarding headstand” – a position I renamed due to the fact it stops me breathing. When holding this pose my substantial “beer enhanced” midsection restricts the space my lungs usually use to provide the oxygen I’ve gotten quite used to from birth. I started to feel and see the difference within a relatively short time, and was joined in the sessions by friends and of course making new ones all the time.
There are many options along the beach such as a Greek place perched on the second floor giving you a commanding view of the beach as you dine. Pyramid restaurant that although nicely decorated cannot quite grasp guacamole, though beers are always cold. Other options are Chinese, Mexican, Asian fusion, pizza advertised as the “best on the beach?”. But for quality, freshness, and organic dining the Buzz Cafe have their eye on the ball. Home grown vegetables and herbs impressed me, but not as much as the 100% vegan coconut milk ice-cream with over 10 flavours to choose, due to this I don’t see many people walking the beach eating cornet’s or choc ices. Another stunning location for a sundowner beer and dinner is the viewpoint at Amorella resort which offers a perfect and spectacular elevated view of the beach or ocean. Though the inflated price of the food and drinks does reflect the location.
And if your having a craving for some good old pizza and pasta with a nice wine, then a short trip away from the beach will find you in Giuseppe Italian restaurant which lives up to its reputation on the island. I never trust a skinny chef and Giuseppe is no exception to the rule, proud of his food and his reputation in Panglao, you can find him eating and doing the rounds in his restaurant always ready to say hi and chat.
For fine dining there seems to be one place that stands above the others, “Personal Chef Services” is located quite far from Alona, about a 15 minute ride, but is worth the trip to this quiet dinning location. We have eaten our best food in Panglao island, fresh and exciting menu combined with a chef who truly does provide the personal service you’d expect from a restaurant of its caliber in Europe. Whether vegetarian, vegan, or carnivore you can expect a pleasant assault on your tastebuds.
3. Diving Alona and other sites
Although reported to have been heavily damaged during typhoons of recent years Alona’s house reef has an abundance of critters and rapidly recovering corals that will make divers from around the globe flock to the reef. Coral reef planting and restoring projects are in place as well as mother nature showing that in this area coral does grow remarkably fast. Neighbouring islands of Balicasag and Pamilacan have reefs that are home to huge schools of jacks, mackerel, and also huge green turtles that reside on the slopes. Balicasag island has a daily maximum number of divers and a marine park fee too, but are to me undoubtably some of the best sites in the Philippines I have seen so far.
Along the beach around 30 dive centres stand poised to take you from beginners in diving, to changing your life forever and learning everything including Instructor Development courses. With the reef so close it’s ideal to have a test dive to see if your gonna enjoy first, then continue with your open water course in 3 days. Do you want to try diving or do your PADI course with us? Contact us and start your new hobby or even career.
4. Tours and trips
Evenings that are not spent lazing in a beach bar or restaurant, or converting your body into bends and shapes that defy gravity, you can also head out on a trip to Bohol for some stand up paddle boarding. We traveled by motorcycle ourselves, but also cars can easily be arranged from Alona main road, arriving around 4pm well before the scheduled 6:30pm night SUP paddle boarding began. A short lesson in how to stay on the board is given by your local guide and after sunset you and your group head down the river for around 2 to 3 hours of slow paddling. The reason you should do this at night are the amazing fireflies that light up about a dozen “mother trees” along the river making them gain the appearance of christmas lights blinking and flashing on the trees.
5. And of course the rum
It’s the Philippines, so there is always gonna be rum and its gonna be cheap. Alunar bar on Alona beach offers fermented fruit rum shots which though don’t taste super strong, they have in my expertiencce the ability to alter time and space causing you to loose hours of your life sat in the bar. Other side effects may include money loss, headache, vomiting, nausea, inability to drive, and denial. I don’t think these symptoms apply to me.
There it is, my favourite things… so far. Thanks for reading