Stranded in the Philippines
Both Anne-Fleur and I were so excited of finally having our beach days in Boracay when our classes at HKU came to an end. We left on Wednesday from Hong Kong – we wanted to leave earlier, but we still had a class on Tuesday. The trip started with lots of adventures from the first day: we went to the wrong Terminal at the HK International airport, so we had to walk to the other terminal for the check-in counter but then the flight was departing from the Terminal where we initially went to – logic much? The funny part was that the gate was so far away that we even had to take the bus – and while in the bus, it decided not to work anymore so we had to move in a second bus. Then, we were stuck for more than 4 hours in Manila Airport as our flight got cancelled. The Manila Airport experience was incredibly funny. It was so old and vintage that a person was standing with a camera at the passport control to film the passengers coming into the airport. While waiting in line at the passport control we made friends with a guy on a business trip from Los Angeles. Interestingly enough, his mom was born in Romania and then we started talking about Ceausescu…The transit procedure was quite dodgy as we had to pick up our suitcases to afterwards hand them in to some people to put them back on the baggage belt. We were quite worried not being sure whether our luggage will make it to the final destination. We then went to another desk where people were casually having lunch and we were asked to take a sit to take a shuttle bus to another terminal. After quite a long bus ride through the airport we made the check-in for the next flight – for a different time than the one we booked the flight for. At the departure area, there were no screens with the flight information; there were some announcements that one could hardly understand. The boarding flights were announced by some signs that employees had to change manually. Our flight was cancelled and they gave us free lunch, but other than that their customer service was completely useless and barely existent. We were re-directed to Kalibo airport (even though initially we were scheduled to land in Caticlan). The plane didn’t look safe at all and Kalibo airport was merely a room without a rooftop and everything was extremely manual – I think we could have even help the staff to get the suitcases from the plane!! We felt so relieved when our guide from MyBoracayGuide was waiting for us there and then took a free bus to Caticlan Jetty Port. The trip took about 2 hours and it was pouring rain – so not promising. People were already talking about the coming Typhoon Hagupit, locally known as Ruby. We felt a bit scared and doomed – only in Boracay for three days with bad weather didn’t sound too promising. Quite funny though, we were not thinking that there is a freaking typhoon hitting Philippines, we only cared about our well-deserved sunny beach days…From Caticlan we took a boat, which was quite scary as the waters were already getting a bit rough – but we made it to land safely. In Asia it’s not common to tip – but here people who were “nicely and friendly” helping you out with suitcases would expect you to tip them for their services. And they even pointed at us “tip, m’am”. Seriously? We then took a kind of ARO car – something quite famous back in Romania and 15 minutes later we were at our resort. This was probably the best part of the day as the resort was incredibly nice and people there were very helpful. Ok, the “m’am” part was getting me on my nerves as I was too tired to deal with this overly-annoying word – for the record, they use “m’am” at the end of every sentence they are saying. Oh and by the way, our room was such a breath of fresh air after having lived in a dorm room for 4 months and slept mainly in hostels while travelling around Asia.
The next day we were lucky to have an incredibly good weather so we enjoyed a full day at the beach. I’ve never seen such beautiful clear water in my entire life. Anne-Fleur made some funny videos of me while enjoying the water. We did paddle boarding – more lying on the board than paddling but it was fun – and even had a massage. In the afternoon, we took a long stroll along the white beach to get to Diniwid Beach in order to see the sunset at SpiderHouse. During our walk there, I over-heard some Romanians – and as I would have never expected to hear Romanian in this place that seems to be at the end of the world, I casually started talking to them. At SpiderHouse, we had a drink and some snacks and witnessed probably one the most beautiful sunsets I guess life’s too good to be true sometimes. We then went for a drink at a live music bar and then headed back to the resort.
On Friday, the weather started to worsen, but we could still go to the beach and for a swim. However, in the evening we realized shit got real the moment when our resort closed all the WiFi connection in the resort due to safety reasons because of the coming typhoon. This made me really dramatic as I still had to upload my take-home exam for Journalism and I caused quite a scene for the people at the reception desk. Well, at least I got my internet access and I was able to upload my assignment and let know the people at University that we might be stuck for a couple more days in here. In the evening we went to the Pub Crawl which was a lot of fun – we did the pub crawl in Hong Kong as well and to be honest I didn’t really like it. This one was more social and fun, except for the horrible hang over the next day…
Thus, Saturday we were a bit slow-motion, while people around the resort were preparing for the Typhoon. We had to book an extra night as no boats were going to Caticlan anymore and flights got cancelled. We had a swim at the pool and had a drink at the bar – right from the pool. Then we went again to the beach and had a nice walk – as the weather was not yet bad. However, on Sunday morning it was already raining and windy and we were forced to get another night. We contacted the airline and they informed us that the first flight we could book is on Tuesday – I was desperately hoping the flights would go on Tuesday as we were having an exam on Wednesday. I had already contacted the Exam Board and the professor to inform them about our situation but the procedure was looking kind of vague. Actually, when I woke up Monday on the news the weather conditions in Manila (where our connecting flight to Hong Kong was) appeared to worsen, so I was almost sure we will never get back to Hong Kong in time. As there was nothing better to do, and the weather in Boracay was improving we went for a walk along the beach. There were lots of waves and people were doing wind-surfing. In the evening we went for dinner with some people we met during the Pub Crawl at a very nice restaurant. I really love how along all these trips – especially Vietnam and now Philippines we met so many new people. I guess this is one of the biggest advantages when you don’t travel with too many people. We ended up not sleeping and then we had to leave the resort at 4.30 to the airport. We were going back to Hong Kong!!! I must admit this was the first trip I wasn’t entirely excited to go back to Hong Kong as Philippines was so much fun.
After another 13 hours of travelling, we made it to the halls – and after having stayed in a nice hotel with a proper bathroom it felt really depressing to be back in our tiny old room. We had to say good-bye to one of our friends as he was already leaving and this woke me up to reality.
It’s all coming to an end now…