I'd stay home if I could
... but I can't

  • Goodbye and good luck

      • kaestel.dk
      • Manila, Ninoy Aquino International Airport

    One foot out the door, making a mental note to remember the bliss of the hammock and homemade french toast in the morning, far from any concern about typhoons and religious submission.

    Thank you Filipinos, for you smiles, your kindness and your humility - other nations might learn a thing or two.

    I was never hungry, but I can't praise your cooking skills. You might learn a thing or two from ... well, yeah, even the Swedish Chef.

    I am off to pursue the next and final chapter of my journey. Vietnam, I hear you have structure and great food ...

  • The long and winding road

      • kaestel.dk
      • Mactan Cebu International Airport

    After the crossing we still had a 4 hour bus ride to Cebu City, where the main parade of the Sinolog festival is expected to attract several million people. Our trouble were only half done with, but we made it just in time for Gaili's boarding. She is now off to Palawan, as I am awaiting boarding for my Manila flight in Mactan Cebu International Airport.

    It has been some stressful final days, momentarily tainting the Philippine experience.

    But I am safe and I have a whole bucket full of crispy new best friends.

  • Blow me, Amang

      • kaestel.dk
      • Tañon Strait, Philippines

    We checked into a Resort near the port late yesterday afternoon, to be able to keep an eye on any ferries arriving. Though it is about five levels down from the Sunday Flower, it was either that or camping out in the no-walled, already crowded ferry terminal. An arriving ferry is the only way to know the ferries are en route again.

    Night turned to really early morning and there were still no sight of any ferry. The ocean had turned relatively calm when I did my first, and ridiculously optimistic, 30 meters scout run to the beach at 04.15. Still no sight of any ferries. I repeated the pattern with 15 minutes intervals until around 6, when I saw the first fishermen preparing the "big" fishing boats. I spotted the taxi-rider and he spotted me, and after a short reflection period, including carefully paying attention to facial expressions of resort clerk when telling him we would cross in fisher boat, we agreed. If boatman says yes, then it is safe.

    The crossing is about 16 km and I'll admit, it was a little scary to get into the boat not knowing what to expect out there. But in retrospect, it was a fun ride. Really nothing to worry about. Boatman said yes, remember :)

    Until next time, Bantayan

    Image: Meljun

  • Ferries and cyclones

      • kaestel.dk
      • Beach Placid Resort, Santa Fe

    I was quite convinced I would leave Bantayan today - underlined by the hotel booking in Cebu tonight and from there, the flight leaving for Manila and onwards to Ho Chi Minh tomorrow. But ... I am still here. Not on purpose, mind you, but the tropical cyclone, Amang, won't let me leave. All ferries off and to the island has been cancelled for now - and who knows about tomorrow. I simply must applaud the ferry company for a new low in information. It goes like this: If the office is open, the ferry sails. It's not open. Such are the conditions of living with tropical cyclones.

    The only other way off the island now is by small plane or the small local fisher boats - but only in theory, cause they are staying indoors too. We were offered a sail across by the bike taxi rider, in his uncles fisher boat. Big boat, big boat, room for two ... Haha, if I really wanted to die, I'd just go and jump off the pier right now, and anyway the uncle said no as well (yes, we did go to check it out).

    So we are stuck her without further notice.

    With any luck there is a boat leaving early in the morning, like round 5AM, they say - if and only if the storm quiets down.

    Ironically the Pope is also having some trouble out here these days. He came to visit the survivors of grandmaster typhoon Yolanda from 2013, and was chased away by another typhoon. Not impressive for the CEO of God, Inc, especially as his visit to the Philippines coincides with the Sinolog festival in Cebu - a celebration to commemorates the Filipino acceptance of Roman Catholicism, and their rejection of former beliefs. Perhaps it is time to reconsider?

  • Bantayan Island

      • kaestel.dk
      • Sunday Flower Hotel, Santa Fe, Bantayan

    Arrived to Bantayan late yesterday and picked the first accommodation offers on the pier upon leaving the ferry. Curiously I have never experienced anyone quite as persistent as this guy during my stay on the Philippines - they are actually very modest and normally very quickly accepts a "no". Not this guy - and well, we needed a place to stay. Obviously it wasn't paradise hotel, though set directly on the beach. Staying at Islanders Paradise clearly makes one a little picky.

    As we woke up we ventured up the beach to find a replacement for the remaining days here. After a couple of misses, we found the Sunday Flower Hotel - and who can resist a name like that. Second floor room with ocean-side balcony for 1100 pesos (~20 EUR) a night.

    The plan is to stay here until Saturday and then head back to Cebu City.

    I have changed my travel plans a bit, and I'll go from Cebu to Ho Chi Minh on Sunday instead of Tuesday next week. Looking at this beach it kinda sucks, but it seems overly likely that I'll have to work with the Vietnam team most of next week and it makes sense to move closer to them just in case. It is also going to give me a bit more time to explore the Vietnamese way, which is the final leg of this journey.

    For now, I am plugged in on Bantayan, Filipino style.

    Image: The neighbor

    Image: The beach