Would we really get to the island?
Written by Alex
When the alarm rang this morning, in our small matchbox room in Hong Kong, we knew we were facing one hell of a travel day. Expecting problems only when we arrived in the Philippines, we had no idea the trouble was about to begin.
Departure time: 6:00am
By subway – to Central for easy bag check-in*
By train – to Hong King International Airport
By plane – to Manila International Airport
By taxi – to Manila Domestic Airport**
By plane – to Caticlan
By tricycle – to the pier
By boat – Boracay Island
By tricycle – to Bolabong Beach
By foot – the 750m walk down the beach to the Aissatou Guesthouse
Arrival time: 6:00pm
* Problem 1: “I’m sorry she said, you don’t have an e-ticket. You are not listed on this flight and it is already overbooked.” These were the worst possible words we could have heard. Not again we thought. The woman at the Quantas office in Sydney had done a number on our tickets and now we were going to pay for it. And as the agent here kept digging, the situation only got worse – “Did you fly from Jakarta to Hong Kong? Since you did not you will need to pay the re-routing fee and have a whole new ticket issued.”
We tried to explain, she only became more agitated and passed us on to her ticketing agent. And in addition, reminded us that there would be a problem with our passports because of the lack of space for entry stamps. She insisted, we insisted back that we would deal with this problem later – right now, we needed to get on that plane and time was streaming away from us. And, we weren’t even at the airport.
As we watched the woman behind the counter, we too realized we needed to get to the airport. This problem was beyond her ability. She promised to forewarn them. We had a 26min train ride to think about what spending another night in HK would be like and if we would even get a seat. But somehow, I believed it would all resolve itself. And sure enough, we approached the ticket counter, the supervisor took a few looks and moments later he explained simply this “Somehow you are a Quantas ticket. Very strange. We found you. You don’t have to pay a fee. You need to hurry.” And moments later we were pushing our way ahead of a very long line at passport control.
Lesson learned: I should have listened to my gut instinct to go directly to the airport. There is only room for more error, the farther away you get from the source.
**Problem 2: We had to be at the ticketing counter of Air Philippines before 12:30pm or our tickets to Boracay would be cancelled. It was 11:55am when we arrived at baggage claim. There was no way. We were delayed, the bags seemed to be the last to appear and we had a 15 minute taxi ride to the domestic airport. But our bags arrived and we hopped into a cab, which took us to the other airport swiftly. We arrived around 12:27pm at the departure terminal and found the ticket office we were looking for. After passing through more security checks than we have ever seen, at 12:32pm Patrick was sitting in front of the agent and tickets to the island were being printed. We would make our flight and we would make it to Boracay.
Written by Alex
His determination is inspiring. I would have given up long ago. When I asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday, the immediate answer was kite-boarding. But there is this factor that one has no control over – the wind. So you wait and wait and wait some more, hoping for the right conditions to appear. One is even more at the mercy of the elements as a beginner. And our spot had another circumstance – at high tide, the beach almost completely disappears, leaving no room to set up the kite and prepare the gear. So at times, the wind was right and the beach was gone. But he waited. And pushed through imperfect conditions.
Our evening stroll to the other side for nourishment provided the requested pizza birthday dinner. We walked all the way down the south end of the beach and figured we’d keep walking instead of backtracking the way we had come. We snuck through small alley ways and private yards. The tourists disappeared as did the flickering of neon signs. The aroma of local spices and the sounds of local life filled the air. The lights faded and only darkness led the way. My body tensed as I feared the unexpected approach of dogs unfamiliar with our scent. The path led through the back of the village and up an unpaved road – no lights, no people, nothing. Patrick remarked that he would not have kept on this path, were we still in South America, but here it was different. We walked and somehow got to the main road again and were quite pleased to find a tricycle driver who would take us back home. This was certainly a side to White Beach that most never come across.
While we were on the beach, back home in San Francisco, our friends were welcoming...
april 21st at 6:26pm
henry walden reynolds
jennifer burk & jonathan reynolds
21. – 25. April
Waiting for the wind and a whole lot of nothing
Written by Alex
It was an intentional decision to do a whole lot of nothing. We needed a decompression before returning to life in San Francisco and 9 days on a beach in the Philippines sounded like the perfect spot. We figured we would start to meditate again, eat right, stretch and begin to outline what we had learned in these 10 months away. And though that happened, the lounge spot a few steps from the beach was all too distracting, as was the potential for wind.
We had reached all the kite-boarding spots at the tail end of peak season. That means still having access to renting equipment, but the energy is less and conditions are far from perfect. But it also means there are less people. Patrick just needed a few more solid days of perfect wind.
While we waited, there were plenty of other things to entertain ourselves with. A new puppy who we started to call “worm” was always worth a few moments of playtime. Bernadette, an Austrian woman, who was here to kite-board became a lovely person to chat with. Two girls from Germany, now living in Shanghai, entertained us with unbelievable stories of living in China. The construction sight next door provided constant distraction as we watched the daily supply boats arrive with concrete, cinder blocks and tiles – that were all unloaded by hand, over and over again. Interestingly, they never really caused much noise while building next door. The local kids who splashed in the waves, without a care in the world, let us into their world as well.
On a day with little wind, Patrick decided to interact with the local kids some more. As the tide was coming in, he grabbed a shovel from the hotel and started building a huge sand castle to battle against the incoming tide. The bet was on! Who would win, us or the sea? Within seconds Patrick had the attention of most of the kids around and despite minimal English language skills, they understood what the challenge was about and started helping out where they could. The kids jobs ranged from flattening and compacting the sand on the sea facing wall (after Patrick loaded new sand on it), to laying out in the sand in front of the castle to act as living wave breakers to collectors of coconuts shells that were used to fortify the sea facing side of the sand castle. As the wall grew the hole behind it became deeper and the kids loved the new natural pool. Eventually the mutual decision was made to turn the castle in to a pool by opening a channel at the side of the castle. Soon we had loads of water filling the hole and local kids squeaking in it. With time, the waves washed the big castle away leaving only a small dent in the beach. But the game was far from over and Patrick was recruited to throw the smaller kids around (in the water of course). Soon after he started the mayhem, he had a long line of 3-6 year olds pleading to be thrown around.
Lesson learned: Even if there isn't wind there are plenty of ways to expend your extra energy. To this day, Patrick still has the marks of the blisters ,that he got from shoveling that sand castle, as a memory of a fun day at the beach with the local children.