Hello and howdy from the Philippines! This is day 4 of 60 (non-travelling) days. Today in the big-Zoox house we are doing some classroom learning about different areas of marine conservation. This is really useful so we can know what is going on out there in the big blue world. Some areas really made my ears perk up, while some made me think ‘eek – glad I don’t work in that sector’!

But I’m skipping ahead. Things I have learnt about the Philippines in my meagre 4 days (it really feels like longer, so I will pretend to be an authority on the subject). I think I will start a bit of a list as I read one before I came out which was surprising useful (especially that they honk their horns to let each other know that they are there and not because they are angry). So…

1. The people here like karaoke – who knew, right?! The 24 hour hiring of a karaoke machine is not only done on purpose, but constitutes a cause for celebration. I have heard more English music here than at home in the UK. 2. They like to get up early to get a start on the day before it gets too hot. This possibly explains the stages of my morning wake-up that goes through the following sequence from 6 am: cockerel, dog barking, building of next door property with hammer and nails, English music featuring artist of choice for the day e.g. Shania Twain or Ronan Keating. If I reach the latter and I am still in bed I am in trouble! 3. Storms with mega lightning are a daily occurrence, not a novelty like at home. I like to stay up and watch lightning storms at home but if I did that here – no sleep for Weenie! 4. The main mode of transport is a glorified motorbike and sidecar which is the best thing ever. I have started a game to try and find one with the most number of people on and I think the winner had 11, but the panel is debating whether a child counts as one point or half a point. 5. List to be continued.

So far, outside of the classroom we have done seagrass and reef monitoring and completed a mission (!) to go into town and find places and people by asking around. My inner-introvert was appalled at the prospect but not only did Brian (my fellow volunteer) and I succeed, but we found out just how friendly the local people are. Not only do they help when they can but they will also introduce themselves and walk you to your destination to make sure you get to where you want to go. (They also speak very good English and I think Brian finds it easier to understand them than my ‘more-tea-vicar’ English accent.) So go team Br-eenie or W-ian – the jury is still out, both sounds freaky. Let’s celebrate with a banana shake.