Midges and mountains and Scotland’s Skye

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“I am being eaten alive!” cried Pippin. “Midgewater! There are more midges than water!”

“What do they live on when they can’t get hobbit?” asked Sam, scratching his neck.


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Well, Master Gamgee, they live on me, for one — at least that day we went traipsing ’round Skye on a wet, windless, beautifully gloomy day. Multiple websites warned me of midges, but like many other bad stuff, you don’t really think midges will happen to you until they do. And besides it isn’t really fun going on a tour of Skye dressed like this:

And by "this" I mean the two sensible people coming up in full anti-midge protective gear.

And by “this” I mean the two sensible people coming up in full anti-midge protective gear, not the one in red. Though my sister paused less often for pictures so she didn’t get bitten as much.

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Not that a swarm of midges covering your face is too fun, either, but…you know…when you think of going to see the Fairy Pools, you don’t really think: Oooh! I’m going to the Fairy Pools! I’m going to wear protective clothing and put a net over my face like a keeper of radioactive bees! (Though if you have thought that, I can tell you you’ve got your priorities straight and that I wish to emulate your sensibility in future. Or at least I will bring bug spray.)

According to Donald Nicolson, our guide, midges tend to congregate near bodies of water and they’re most active when there’s no wind. They don’t bother you when you’re walking but when you stop — to take photos, for instance — they instantly descend upon every exposed part of your body. I thought midges would be like mosquitoes — which we have a lot of in the Philippines, that’s why I thought I could handle midges easily — but they look more like flies and they bite more like fleas. And it wasn’t even the midge bites that bothered me so much; it was that they were all over my face and I nearly inhaled a few of them a couple of times! Inhaling midges = so not fun.

Still, all those midge bites and near inhalations were worth it. I’d gladly play midge meal again if it meant going back to views such as these:

The Cuillins of Sligachan

The Cuillins of Sligachan

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Sligachan bridge

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Mountains in Scotland that are over 3,000 feet are called Munros. There are 282 Munros and some people make it a mission to climb all of them — these people are called Munro baggers (a term that rolls off the tongue so satisfyingly, probably because it reminds me of Bungo Baggins). Anyway, I could be mistaken but I believe that ragged tooth-like structure in the last photo above is the Inaccessible Pinnacle (referred to fondly as the In-Pin or In Pinn) which is notorious among Munro baggers as the only Munro that needs to be ascended by rock climbing.

Sligachan, above, was our first stop (and my first encounter with midges). I’ll post in greater detail about some of the other stops later, but here’s a quick look.

The Fairy Pools

Fairy Pools

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The Fairy Glen

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The Quiraing

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Kilt Rock

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Lealt Falls

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And the Old Man of Storr

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Sigh. Scotland. So worth a few midge bites.

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O flower of Scotland / When will we see / Your like again

Continue reading

Bukid

Balamban, Cebu

Balamban, Cebu

There’s something so promising about those stairs going down to an as yet undetermined destination.

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Bukid” is the Cebuano term for mountain. Cebu is well known for its beaches (and mangoes…and dried fish…and guitars…and, seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried our lechon) but we also have mountains.

Our two most famous mountains are probably Mt. Manunggal and Osmeña Peak. The former is the site of the 1957 plane crash that killed one of the most beloved presidents in our history, Ramon Magsaysay. The latter is the highest point in our island and it is ridiculously gorgeous (Google it). I cannot think of a single acceptable reason for never having climbed Osmeña Peak, especially as I’ve camped around the Mantalongon, Dalaguete area at least 3 times, but I’m hoping to finally cross that off my bucket list this December, or next summer at the latest.

Since I haven’t yet got photos of Middle Earth-ly outcroppings, here instead are some photos from a mountain resort in the Balamban area and its surrounding flora.

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Bukid” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

1,000 Words: Batanes, Philippines

Mount Iraya Batanes

Mahiyain” (shy) was how Kuya Romy, our tour guide, described the summit of Mt. Iraya, Batanes’ highest peak, which is almost always shrouded in clouds even on hot sunny days such as this one. (Kuya Romy also guides treks to Mount Iraya. You can get in touch with him by sending an email to romydaroca.batanestourguide@gmail.com.)

© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.