Logistical Luck in the Philippines

Monday, January 1, 2018

I woke up feeling far less hungover than I had expected. 2018 is looking up already. It was another rainy day on Boracay, so we spent most of it lazing away on the beach, alternating between tiny bursts of sun and rain. At this point we’re immune to the cloud bursts and just wait them out under the relative safely of our lounge chairs. We continued to run into translation issues with the “yes ma’am, no” answers we received from everyone at the hotel. Marissa also made the mistake of requesting two things at once (towels and a drink menu). Multitasking is not the business here in the Philippines. Whatever you do, only ask for one item at a time. Or one question at a time. It’s like when you send an email at work with three questions in it, and the prick you emailed responds answering only one of the questions, at which point you are forced to send another bitchy “per my earlier email….” message. At lease the Filipinos can use a language barrier as their excuse. Martha in Human Resources has no excuse.

Around 3 pm we decided to get off our asses and take a walk down the beach to the Spider House Resort, which is known for good sunset views – if you actually have some sun. We headed down the beach, around a little cliff, past another beach and found quirky Spider House built into the rocks. We snagged a table with a view and settled in for some drinks. Kristie and Marissa took more pictures of the dogs who lived at the restaurant than the sunset. We headed back before high tide made the walking route too treacherous and continued down the beach in search of more drinks.

It was our last night on Boracay and we were determined to stop at Nigi Nigi. Mainly just because we liked the name of it and we have been calling each other “Nigi Nigi” as pet names the entire trip. It wasn’t until day 2 that we realized the way we were pronouncing it could definitely be misconstrued as racist. So we changed it to more of a “neegi neegi” pronunciation just to be safe. We had an interesting few minutes explaining to the waitress and then the bartender what a vodka soda is. They take more of a deconstructed approach to vodka sodas here and bring you a class of ice, a shot of vodka and a can of soda water. However, if you want a “sex on the beach” or a “slippery nipple”, those can be done quite easily. I think this speaks to the type of tourists that you find drinking on Boracay.

We headed back home, but not before stopping at our favorite restaurant, Kasbah, to pick up some chicken wings to go. God damn those chicken wings are good. We ate them as we packed and watched the Kardashians. The Swedish boys wanted to play, but two nights out on the town in a row will generally put me in a coma for a week, so it was early to bed for the trio.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

We left for our next island, Bohol, bright and early at 7 am. Here is the plan: private resort van to ferry terminal, private resort speedboat to airport ferry terminal, private resort van to airport. At this point, we integrate back into normal society with the non 5-star tourists (woof!), catch a flight to Cebu, taxi to another ferry, ferry to Bohol, taxi to our hotel. Welcome to travel in the Philippines. A logistical chess match. We’re going to do our best to remain calm and Bobby Fischer the shit out of the transportation in this country. If all goes according to plan, this should be a solid eight hour travel day at the very least. But when you plan, the Philippines just laughs. So we’re gonna play this one fast and loose. Let the games begin.

All went according to plan until we arrived at the airport and were informed that our flight may be cancelled due to weather. We looked through the terminal windows to see a fucking torrential downpour and airport staff fighting their way through it will inside-out umbrellas. By the way, I’m using the word “terminal” very liberally here. It was a holding pen with a Starbucks. You board from the terminal onto buses which then drive you down the runway to your plane. Oh, and the entire terminal was out of bottled water. I was already envisioning my fate – trapped in this airport in storm with no water – when they called our bus/flight to board. Once we were on the plane and ready to go, we were informed that the plane was grounded due to weather. Of fucking course. They get me into an even smaller enclosed space before screwing me over. And then, like magic, ten minutes later they just said “prepare for takeoff”. Sure, they toyed with my emotions, but we got the hell out of there before they started canceling flights, so I’m a happy camper.

We landed in Cebu international airport and quickly picked-up our bags. Too quickly. Suspiciously quickly. After our Manila airport experience I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. We walked outside to find a ridiculously long taxi line wrapped around half the damn airport. I knew we’d hit a snag! Here is it, this is where it all goes to shit. Wrong. A guy with a clipboard (probably searching for white people) said he could get us to the ferry terminal for about $15, so out of the taxi line we went and into a delightful air conditioned SUV. Remember people, it’s not a real problem if you can throw a little cash at it. Our fabulous driver even insisted on dropping me off to buy the ferry tickets and waiting so he could then drive us the half a block to the actual ferry terminal to avoid us having to carry our bags. Oh, and he promised to call his buddy on Bohol to pick us up after the ferry. Sure, buddy. We’ll hold our breath for that. Thanks for the ride.

So here we are at the ferry terminal. There are only a few more legs of transportation left on this journey for the Philippines to logistically fuck us. The cluster fuck must be coming! It must! Yet after a thirty minute delay, sure enough, our ferry actually leaves. Two hours later we dock in the city of Tagbilaran on Bohol island. The luggage claim was a complete fucking fiasco at the end of a dock – because people bum rushing rolling suitcases surrounded by water on three sides is an excellent idea – but once we finally got out of that alive guess what we found? I’ll be damned if a man wasn’t standing there with a sign with my name on it. Apparently our driver from Cebu called his friend, who sent one of his drivers to get us. Twenty minutes later we were checking in to our hotel, South Palms Resort, on Panglao island. And to add insult to injury, we found out that I had apparently booked half board without even knowing it. Ok, Philippines, if you are trying to make up for the complete cluster fuck of an airport in Manila, you are coming pretty damn close.

We celebrated our great logistical fortune by toasting to the travel gods over a few drinks at the beach bar at our hotel. We then headed into town to grab dinner, because the buffet, albeit free, did not impress. Shit is cheap here. You can forgo a free meal and pay for one instead without feeling guilty, which is nice. Before we ate we had grand plans of finding a fun bar to get drinks after dinner. However we ate ourselves into comas and went straight to bed. We have our favorite friendly island driver sending a guy to pick us up tomorrow at 8 am for a countryside tour anyway. Spoiler alert: the words “breakdown” and “drunk” will be used. And no, I’m not talking about my typical Saturday night.

Should I take this as a lesson that I need to be more optimistic? Lets not be hasty. It’s a new year, but its the same Rory. Besides, if you don’t expect shit to go wrong, you miss out on the fun of being fucking thrilled when it goes right.  Plus, if you think I’m pessimistic, Kristie thinks that this blog is going to jinx us for the rest of the trip.

Side bar: There is a wedding going on at our hotel right now as I sit on my beach-front patio writing this. A destination wedding. The Canadian best man is crashing and burning with his speech. It’s fucking awesome. He just said he views the bride as “an older sister”. Quit while you’re behind, bro. Oh wait, it’s because she saved him from a drunken run in with a lady-boy on a previous trip to the Philippines. Shit, he’s growing on me.

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