Manchester to Malapascua


After a lovely Christmas at home I headed to the airport on 4th January for my 32 hour flight to the Philippines. After a teary walk to departures, I pulled myself together and found my check in desk. Once at the counter the guy asked me if I had a flight out of the Philippines booked. I didn't because I didn't really know when I would be leaving and from where but it was a condition of flying that I had to have an outbound flight. I stepped out of the queue and sat on the floor quickly trying to book something. After the 1 hour flight to Amsterdam I had a 5 hour wait in the airport. I got some noodle soup and Japanese green tea and sat reading my book. Then for the 10 hour flight to Xiamen. The view from the plane when landing was of the city covered in a blanket of mist, skyscrapers just peeking through and small islands scattered around.

Once off the plane people that had a transfer were taken to one side and then helped through arrivals. We were told there was a transit lounge with reclining chairs, cards, free tea and coffee. We also got a food voucher as the lay over was about 10 hours. Once I had my passport stamped I set off to find the lounge. I followed the directions given but couldn't see where I was meant to go. I spotted 2 people from the queue and followed them. They couldn't find it either. We ended up picking up more people until there were around 12 of us looking for the lounge! We got the lift up to the second floor, crammed in with too many people and really depressing elevator music playing. I couldn't help but start laughing. Asking around on the second floor, noone seemed to know where the lounge was. Back in the elevator and down. A good 2 hours later we did find the room! I really wanted some good noodley food but we all ended up going to KFC. When it was time to catch the flight there was a family at the front of the check-in desk. They must have had too much luggage because the wife was screaming at the check-in clerk and the guy was slamming his hand on the counter. This went on for about 45 minutes and it was only about 5 minutes left before out flight closed. It all got sorted and I was soon on the flight.

Once on the flight the Chinese man next to me was motioning that he wanted me to fill in his immigration form for him and his daughter. Confused I declined. I realised after a while the form was in English which he couldn't read. I felt a tad guilty. I don't know why but I think it's considered acceptable to get rid of phlegm in public. The guy kept bringing it up and spitting it into a tissue. I was nearly sick. I hung over the edge of my chair into the aisle, as far away as possible. He continued. Then it was time for food. It was some kind of stew, which he slurped then smacked his lips together for about 30 seconds. Slurp, smack, smack, smack, hocccckkk, slurp, slurp, smack...

I arrived at Manila airport at 10.30pm and caught the free terminal bus to where I was catching my flight to Cebu. We were all crammed in, luggage and all. Some power ballad was playing on the radio really loud. The guy next to me started humming along, then singing. I joined in. The whole bus joined in. Loaded with chocolate from Christmas, I plonked my bag down and waited for my 3.30am flight.

In Cebu I caught a taxi to the bus terminal. One thing I hate is taxi drivers talking to me. I know, I'm miserable, but I just can't be bothered and less so when I've been traveling for 3 days and had no sleep. I got to the bus terminal at 5.15am and it was so dark I couldn't really see where I was going. I got herded towards a mini van where they squeezed my bag into the boot and me into one of the seats. The van was full of packages, boxes, bags, a tyre wrapped in newspaper. It was just missing the token chicken. I sat in the seat that had no cushioning left and just about had a back in it for about an hour, watching the sun come up and getting grumpier. Then I noticed a big yellow coach and remembered reading that was the official bus. It was plush, leather seats, wifi, air conditioning. And cheaper than the one I'd been ushered into! Typical.

3 hairy hours later the mini van pulled into Maya and I waited for the boat, the token chicken had raised it's head by now and was parceled up next to my feet. Another half an hour later and I was taken to the end of the pier and shoved down some rocky stepping stones to a tiny boat. It was a miracle I didn't fall. I clambered into the boat and sat on the tiny wedge of wood that was the seat. A few minutes later we pulled up to a bigger boat and I had to get myself and my backpack up on to that. It was a really bumpy ride and I ended up soaked. Once at Malapascua I had to change to a smaller boat again, which I now know is to do with the tide so we can get closer to the beach. People practically picked me and my bag up and placed me in the boat. The same at the beach. I had arrived! I checked into my beach hut and had planned to have a wander and some food. I got to the room, put my bag down and was out like a light at 1pm.

I woke up about 11pm and it took about 30-40 seconds to realise where I was! I put on some mosquito repellant and went back to bed. Zzzzzzz.



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