As sad as we were to be leaving Nusa Lembongan after almost five wonderful months it was time for the adventure to continue and we were excited to hang out with a good friend in Singapore for a few days before heading to the Philippines for my PADI Instructor development course. Singapore is always an expensive trip where we eat more than we usually do and stock up on over priced goodies and this trip was no different , maybe our most expensive visit to date 😉 It was all because we’d left Indonesia our heaviest yet and had to resort to using a temporary bag that was also full to the gills and were carrying a combined total of fifty seven kilos not including our bulging carry ons, ha!😂
Before we even reached Singapore we’d researched the next size up in Osprey Bags, our hardy travel bag of choice and found a retailer for the 130L Shuttle a gargantuan gear hauler of a bag which was available in fire engine red and capable of easily fitting all the dive gear I have been accumulating over the last year. So we ran around getting everything on our list and more than a few things that weren’t and ended our spending spree buying the new bag, which is so huge it has been christened the Red Dragon. We then packed up Samcro, J’s trusty and now tiny looking 80L Osprey Sojourn and shipped it back to the UK, which even sending it the cheapest slowest way possible was still a fair amount of moola. We ate, a lot, including some fabulous crab at Master Crab, Ghim Moh Hawker centre, one of our old favourites and some much needed New York super fudge chunk at Ben and Jerrys, drank some rather lovely rose and then a short sixty hours after we arrived we were packing up the red dragon and heading back to the airport for our Tiger Airlines flight to Cebu.
A slight rearranging of bags later, the red dragon weighed thirty five kilos ahahahaha we ended up checked in paying for fifty five of the sixty we had checked Thanks Tiger Air! but more importantly…WHAT IS WRONG WITH US! Well I will tell you, I buy full salon size shampoo, conditioner and body lotion before a new country which easily weigh six kilos between them. We both buy a lot of candy easily weighing 5 kilos because you never know if where you are going will have your favourite chewy werthers (they do in case you were wondering but we didn’t know that the supermarkets here were so good now did we) So we will see how much our bags weigh when we leave here, we’ve no plans to buy anything – famous last words – and will have eaten all our snacks and used a fair amount if not all of the toiletries by then, I think we’ll be at least fifteen kilos lighter, J says no way ten at most but we shall see.
We arrived in Cebu, two of only five westerners on the plane and sailed through customs, baggage collection and our ritual new sim and cash getting and were soon in an extremely dilapidated cab racing to Pier One where we hoped to catch the four twenty Oceanjet to Tagbilaran on Bohol, all while arguing with the driver to put on the meter while he pleaded about how hard times were. Oh the joy of being scammed as soon as you land in a country, we haven’t experience it for so long I’d almost forgotten what a warm wonderful welcome it was. Thankfully the dive school had told me how much it should cost in a cab and when we arrived we paid him only slightly more than that.
The pier was great, first at the outside office peering through the tiny window to the teller trying to change our reservation, then in the crowded terminal where we checked in, we’d reserved business class, the extra 200 php (about £3.60) seemed worth it and sailed through…without paying anyone. I had tried to pay at the outside booth and then again when we checked in so I am not sure quite what happened but no one seemed to want to take our money. The ferry arrived and we all piled on, Jason and I the only ones shepherded upstairs where we had business class all to ourselves. Honestly economy looked fine but our padded comfy reclining seats were bloody fantastic while we watched Pacific Rim in Filipino 😉 even had we paid, for a thousand php it was an absolute bargain!
Two smooth hours later we arrived at Tagbilaran in the pitch black, greeted by our driver and were soon on our way to Bohol Sunside on Panglao Island. We’ve had a good run of accommodation so I suppose we were due a duff one, and a duff one it most certainly was. One light bulb had blown and the floor was so slippery we kept our shoes on for fear we’d slip and break a leg in bare feet. The fridge, TV and A/C were all unplugged even though they knew we were checking in and the cheap sheets were fantastically clashing, a threadbare navy bottom sheet being brought to life by the two day glow yellow single sheets neatly folded next to a shammy looking thin yellow blanket. the wardrobe bare plywood inside. But the piece de resistance was the unshuttered/ uncurtained/ unfrosted bathroom window, at the perfect height to be a peeping toms delight. In all my years in all my travels I have never had an uncovered or uncoverable clear bathroom window and I hope not to have one ever again. The foam mattress and cheap sheets made for a fitful night’s sleep, the curtain that didn’t quite cover the window only adding to the ambiance and I won’t even mention the neighbours drinking outside until the wee hours.
It’s a hotel room, not the end of the world I know and the next morning we were out of there like a bat out of hell. Having posted on a number of expat forums I’d been messaging a few people in search of an apartment for the next six weeks. The first was not so promising, nothing awful but nothing spectacular either and even the reports of a nightly visit from a flying fox weren’t enough to sway me in its favour so we moved on. We’ve been travelling for a while now and are coming to the end of our funds but as a final hooray before we start looking for work we are stretching our already tight budget to be able to afford somewhere with a pool and our first stay in somewhere with a kitchen for almost a year, so it needs to be lovely. The next place we visited was no longer available but at the second about ten minutes from Alona Beach we hit pay dirt. A clean and sparkly, nicely furnished one bedroom apartment in a new complex with a huge lovely pool. It’s a little outside of town which is ideal for us and no sooner had we seen it than we were checking out of the crapola sunside and visiting the massive and very nicely stocked supermarket some thirty minutes away.
Laden with bags, shopping, fried chicken and doughnuts we headed to our new home and began settling in, until Jason’s panicked ‘Baby there’s a snake in the bedroom’ that is. Ooh I do like a snake and she was a beauty, about four foot long, black with an olive underbelly. Very very sadly having asked for help getting her out neither of us understood that help would come in the form of someone bashing her with a metal pole. Next time I’ll get it out myself, I am pretty sure she was a rat snake but whatever she was I have no plans on getting close enough to the sharp end for a snake to bite me anyway.
We’ve a day of pottering and pooling planned for tomorrow before our first Philippines dives at the stunning Balicasag marine reserve on Thursday, can’t wait! Xx
That all sounds so familiar. It’s like I never left. I’m sure you will LOVE Balicasag.