Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Getting to the Philippines (it's harder than you'd think)

Profound quote goes here

As you know if you read these updates, you know Vicky and I just got back from the Philippines.  This was one of those trips with a lot of "thank you Lord" moments and a few "why God why" moments.  Fortunately the former outweighed the latter.

The trip began before it even began with a conundrum.  We wanted to travel light.  Backpacks only.  Checking bags is expensive, annoying and a waste of time if avoidable.  Plus we had to walk all around Manila and a few other places with all our stuff.  The less the better.  The problem was this: the temperature was below freezing in Korea while it was in the 80s in Manila.  And packing a huge, bulky winter coat is not conducive to traveling light.

The solution? Layers!  Lots of layers.  I mean 4 shirts, 3 pants, 3 socks worth of layers.  This turned out to be enough for us to enjoy a great Mexican food lunch in Seoul before our 7pm connection to Manila.  We reached the Philippines capital around 11pm and promptly got completely lost.

The airport has 4 terminals with no obvious connection between them.  We finally found a bus that went between them, only to discover en route that it had a 20 peso fee per person (about $0.50).  No problem except we hadn't visited an ATM and had 0 pesos.  After much embarrassment and attempts to pay in Korean Won (the looks we got were none too happy), a kind woman paid for our tickets.  We thanked her profusely.

She also saved us from another serious scare immediately after this.  We were going to terminal 3 and after Terminal 2 we arrived at a building that i'll generously term a rats nest.  To quote a movie I love, "I think i need a tetanus shot just looking at it.  The only things holding it together, are the bird droppings."  As we contemplated a series of unattractive options (getting a hotel room, sleeping in a McDonalds, burning the building down as a public service, etc) the same woman told us, this is terminal 4.  Terminal 3 was the brand new, modern building we came to next.  Thank you Lord moments = 1.

Philippine Tricycle Taxis

We then spent the next 7 hours trying to sleep in a noisy, bright, uncomfortable environment.  I actually slept a little but it was rough on Vicky.  Sleep deprivation plus jet lag isn't fun.  Why God why moments = 1.

We flew out around 7 and arrived in a town that was a 1 hour ferry ride from our island of Siquijor.  We were tired but excited.  We caught a tricycle (pictured above) from the airport to the pier and arrived just in time to catch a ferry at 9am.  I will say this slowly and clearly.  I.  WISH.  WE.  HADN'T!

I have a bad feeling about this

The ferry was easily the worst part of the trip for me.  We were sitting below the water level, with water leaking in the windows, in some very rough seas.  We found out later that there used to be 3 of these type of ferry boats but 2 sank in the last 6 months.  At the time I almost wished the 3rd one would sink with us on it.  I've never been seasick before (or even close to it) but I spent the entire hour (or in my personal time, 37 year) trip right on the edge of throwing up.  About half the boat actually did (repeatedly) but I was able to stay in the hot-flashes, cold sweat, shaking-limbs almost throwing up sweet spot.  I've never been so happy to get off a boat in my life.  Why God why moments = 2.

As you can guess, a combination of sleep deprivation and seasickness left Vicky and I in rough shape.  We caught another tricycle to take us to the Coral Cay Resort where we were staying.  We were just looking forward to getting there so we could relax and hopefully feel better by that evening.  Those plans went out the window when we arrived and were greeted by this sight.

Suddenly all our sickness, exhaustion, worries and cares lifted away.  We were filled with a deep sense of happiness, joy and relaxation.  And we KNEW this was going to be a great vacation.  Thank you Lord moments = 2.

In the next update, I'll explain how the people, the resort and the island itself worked together to pile up the "Thank you Lord" moments and produce a fantastic voyage.

PS.  Bonus points if you can name the movie I quoted/paraphrased in this post.

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