Arriving in the Philippines

So, from one extreme to the other, we have arrived in the Philippines.

The plane from Dubai was a lot less chic, although still Emirates, and I have never heard so many people coughing. We luckily got a window seat so we both snoozed for the majority of the plane journey. As we woke with crooked necks we touched down in Manila. We needed to get a taxi to a friend’s house in a smart part of town and were immediately offered one for 2100 Peso’s. With a suitcase in one hand, a bag in the other I scrambled for my phone and converted the amount. £30 – Are you kidding me Mr Taxi Man? I pay less for an Uber from Paddington to Fulham. I explained in my most refined Filipino voice, ‘No,no too expensive’ and got him down to 1200 Peso’s which we worked out in the car was still a total rip off.

Lesson one: Ask your host what you should expect to pay for a cab before arriving. The journey should have been 350 pesos maximum. At least we had been charitable and this guy can celebrate our stupidity by providing his family with a feast… or perhaps just getting some beers in… I think that’s more likely.

Our hosts were old friends of Max’s who he met some time ago playing Rugby. They live in a gated community full of the most luxurious houses in Manila. Their house was no different. Although some of the houses in this area were modern, this house was something special and had an antique feel to it. Beautiful shades of red and terracotta adorned the furniture fabrics and the rooms were vast with high ceilings. There was a large Buddha in the green jungle like garden and a long narrow swimming pool lying still, looks so appealing. This felt more like a yoga retreat than a house in Makati, Manila. After lots of travelling and being in different time zones, this is just we needed.

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I wrote a blog from this spot whilst sipping on coconut water.

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The France Vs Ireland World Cup game kicked off late at night in the Philippines so we met others for a BBQ and headed into Manila to watch the game. Now that is when I felt totally out of my comfort zone. The smell, the noise, the electricity wires everywhere, rough bars, run down joints, monkeys in cages, ladyboys and prostitutes on every corner…Not my thing at all. Max enjoys the ‘buzz’ of Manila, but I didn’t get that this time round I’m afraid.  Maybe we were in the wrong part of town. No pics, just use your imagination.

We only stayed one night, but got the whole day to relax in the house before we took an evening flight to Kalibo, which would bring us that much closer to Boracay. We ate fresh fish and salad, took long showers and Sleeping Beauty (as per previous post), took a nap.

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We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to find Air Asia had designed a queue especially for me. Who doesn’t love a queue jump?

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Our flight from Manila was delayed by 2 hours, so we had 5 hours with these awesome shops to explore.

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Okay, there was a couple more, but they didn’t make the cut. Thank god for good wi-fi.

We met a nice guy on the plane. Max and Jim chatted the whole way. Jim is a retired American, living out his retirement travelling the world, mainly to areas with excellent diving. On the plane with him was his Filipino girlfriend and her whole family. We therefore decided to all share a big mini bus from Kalibo to the jetty. It was just 300 peso in total for Max and I. That’s about £4.20 for the hour long journey, making the previous days 15 minute journey for 1200 peso’s sound even worse! Whoops.

We boarded a small boat for the short crossing to Boracay.

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Once we arrived, we realised again that we had no idea what we should be paying for our tricycle from the jetty on Boracay to Diniwid beach, where our apartment is. Whoops again. The air was incredibly muggy and as it was late, I was desperate to just get to the flat. After a lot of travelling whilst lugging around big heavy bags, I was devastated to find there would be no air-con for the first night. Oh and this was after carrying the 53kgs of luggage up 150 steps to the apartment.

So, the apartment. Well. It’s…. basic, but fine. I momentarily sulked, but that was probably due to the lack of air con, the travelling, tiredness and the 150 steps through jungle like terrain that triggered this emotion. If you fancy taking a peek at our apartment, you can look at it here. The pictures on the advert are certainly flattering but the important thing is we got the flat for a good deal as its such a long stay. We have paid under £1100 for the 10 weeks between us.

We went to sleep hot and bothered and I woke up bothered too. My lips had swollen up and I had a rash. The heat had really irritated me in the night. After diving into my medicine bag, I tried to snap out of it and we headed down the stairs to check out the surrounding area and the beach.

Well, this beach is just 2 minutes from the flat. Heaven on earth. All my air-con related negative vibes disappeared in a flash.

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We drunk fresh icy juices and ate amazing fish for lunch. The sea is around 29 degrees, and the white sand is just glorious.

We explored the local area a little and in daylight we realised that we are really living amongst the islanders in our flat. On our little lane there are no flashy hotels, no snazzy restaurants, it’s just the islander families and their shacks, quite literally. The people around us have the absolute basics, if that; now I feel we have absolute luxury in comparison.

We continued our day by walking to the dive shop where I will learn to dive and Max will become a Dive Master.

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We watched the sunset and walked home along the beach to our palace in the jungle… now with air-con. We felt truly spoilt.

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