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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

30 October 2018

All over the place

24-26 October 2018

So when we left Heathrow it was 16:45 in the UK on a nice sunny afternoon. A bit late leaving, apparently due to the nature of middle aged Middle Eastern women. They tend to come well dressed, extremely sedate and deliberately oblivious to other people. So each specimen would take her own good five minutes to arrange matters on the plane to her satisfaction, vis-a-vis luggage and seating arrangements, before letting anyone past down the aisle.

We arrived in Kuwait 7.5 hours later after a flight mainly consisting of films watched on a tiny screen; too early for sleeping. Then we had a couple of hours to loiter in a queue with innumerable Filipino housemaids before taking off at 02:00 Kuwait time, though still just midnight back home. How can I be so sure (about the maids)? Well, it was a very full flight, and a quick tally of the several hundred people in the queue gave an almost 4:1 ratio of female to male. That’s no coincidence!

8.5 hours later – with maybe 2-3 hours sleep among the films and two hot meals – we arrive in Manila at 16:35 their time, though 09:35 UK time. But we’re not finished, as we need to transfer to Terminal 4 for a domestic flight to Cebu. And blimey if it doesn’t genuinely take 3 hours to transfer! Mostly made up of immigration queuing, queuing for the shuttle bus, and then the shuttle bus queuing in traffic. 2kms in 30 minutes. Manila is traffic.

90's deluxe

90’s deluxe

The flight to Cebu is only 1.5 hours but we don’t arrive until 22:00 as it’s late starting. We don’t get any sleep on the plane but they do force another hot meal into us. So that’s four hot meals in… I’ve lost track of how many hours. Our hotel is a faded gem of the 90’s with a vague mildew scent, but we get a free upgrate to a deluxe suite! Which turns out to just be a larger square footage of faded 90’s. After getting done with various bits of admin and a baaaaaath we get to sleep around 01:00 which I think is 18:00 back home but I’m not sure which day?!

Next morning, up at 00:00… or rather, up at 07:00 to get a taxi to Cebu port for the ferry to Bohol. The heat outside the hotel at 07:30 is startling and oppressive; welcome to the tropics. The taxi ride is a solid 45 minutes through a riot of nonsensical traffic flowing like porridge through streets lined with shophouses, garish signage and dull concrete blocks. There are things being pulled down and new things being put up. The ferry line’s ticket office is a roadside shack among many. Everything feels impermanent.

We can’t sleep on the 2 hour ferry, we’re squished into small seats between Filipinos and Chinese tourists (will you put your bloody cameras down, FFS! What do you think you’re photographing?) although the breeze of the journey keeps us cool enough. Pick up our rental car at the port in Tagbilaran at 11:45 and get a taste of driving. Keep it slow, expect idiots, and assume pedestrians know what they’re doing. Someone appears to have built an entire church in the middle of what Google Maps believes to be a road. Take a couple of random left and right turns and we’re back on track.

Bamboo hut

Bamboo hut

Eventually we are on narrow roads through overgrown rural tropical greenness, occasional cottages and cleared ground amidst the lush foliage. Sometimes concrete road, sometimes dirt. Arrive at Marquis Resort around 13:00. Simple bamboo bungalow, insect life everywhere, basic bathroom, home for four nights. Lunch and then at 14:00 we fall asleep for four hours. Which makes sense because back home it’s 07:00… no, hang on, that’s not right. We should be waking up.

The sun is setting when we do wake up, and it’s nearly time for dinner. Jet laaaaaag.


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