Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Getting dumped while on Leyte Island with no clothes.

It had to happen eventually. Zi Ting has dumped me. I wanted to go back to Taiwan and see her in August but she said 'no'. I am gutted. Really gutted. However, I can see her point. I am not exactly the most stable of boyfriends, always on the move. She was upset that I don't contact her enough when I'm away! A feeling she shares with my Mother! I admit to being hopeless at keeping in touch - just like my Fatha!

We chatted recently on MSN and Don was impressed we were conversing in Chinese! I have forgotten quite a bit after only 5 weeks away. She looked so beautiful on the little camera. I miss her so much. I wish I could let her know my true feelings as I'm sure she doesn't believe me. Don is sick of me talking about her!

Anyway, to cheer myself up I have booked an online flight with from Clark airbase near Manila to Kuala Lumpur on the 5th August when my 59 day Philippine visa expires. Clark airbase is next to Angeles City - the infamous sex-tourist destination. Although I've never been there, I believe it will be similar in style to Pattaya in Thailand. Should be an interesting few days.

In Malaysia I want to visit the Cameron Highlands for some cool air and walks. Then off to Taman Negara jungle national park. I want to ride the jungle express train to NE peninsular Malaysia where I can catch a boat to the Perenthian Islands for some paradise chilling. Then off into Thailand for a month before hitting either India or Indonesia. After this I will return to Don's in the Philippines before embarking on our epic luxury ship voyage from Florida to Australia in January.

The last few weeks have been spent trying to quit smoking, drinking tuba and Red Horse, sleeping on a bamboo chair in the 24hr pub and walking along the beach to the mangrove trees at sunset. I am a little bored with the Philippines so I am glad I have my ticket out in 3 weeks time. I am looking forward to seeing a different country after almost 1 year in only Taiwan/Philippines.

Don seems happy enough in domestic bliss. He even got engaged to Eva!

We're all a bit skint at present as the local ATMs have been unserviceable for a while. Roll on Friday when we are told they will work again. However, this being the Philippines I doubt it. Everything runs on Philippines time here which is different to Western time. I bought a ticket for the 1600 from Batangas to Puerto Galera. We sat on the boat for 2 hrs before leaving at 1800. What is the point of printing a time? Everything is like this here and you bizarrely start getting used to it. You learn to expect nothing to work and are genuinely surprised if something does work out. For example it took Don 1 hour of queuing to pay his electricity bill!  The simple task of handing over money takes 1hr!  Haha.

So I am still in Leyte with most of my possessions on Mindoro. Don is going back this weekend to retrieve them. I then want to escape Leyte via Cebu, Iloilo on Negros Island and then onto Manila to have a peek at Angeles before leaving for Malaysia.

Most days I walk from our barangay (village) going by the name Ga'as to Baybay. It's about 5km and I walk it in the intense afternoon heat. Locals think I am mad as they would never do it! I sometimes stop to drink a coke or eat some fried bananas.  I speak crap Tagalog when the locals shout 'Hey Joe'. Yesterday I went for a walk along the perimeter of some rice fields. I went against local advice. They warned me of the presence of snakes - especially in the afternoon. Needless to say I still went. I got lost in a section of jungle and had a bit of an adventure finally finding the house. I nearly stepped on a water buffalo inconspicuously submerged in mud! That gave me quite a fright. Luckily, I didn't see any snakes as they happen to be poisonous in these parts! The knowledge they are out there adds a certain amount of excitement to a simple stroll!

I had to laugh yesterday as a young 10yr old boy climbed a massive coconut tree. It was impressive enough watching him scale the huge trunk like a monkey but the fact he had a cigarette hanging from his lips added a cartoonish slant to the spectacle! Man, these kids are brave. I probably don't have the strength or guts to climb one of these trees. If you slip and fall you are dead - no question. He came back down and we shared the milk - hehe.

Today I have read more bad news from my savings bank so I have transferred some of my savings to another one. I hope I am doing the right thing!

I am off for a beer while I watch the sunset over the Camotes Islands - lush - paradise.

Walang Tubig - no water

Tumboi - lesbian

susu - milk or tits

Fantalan - the BBQ/Karaoke/drinking place on the pier at Baybay.

Two years ago I was horse riding through the Mongolian wilderness. One year ago I was in Burma. Today I am in the Philippines contemplating a ferry ride to Cebu City tomorrow. There are only 3 boats per week form Baybay (Leyte) and they don't always leave when they say they will. I am thinking of returning to Malapascua Island for a few days before hitting Manila. Not too sure.

There is an awful lot of rain here at the moment. It has been constant heavy tropical rain for the last three days. It does give the vegetation a luxuriant green hue though. Last night as I lay in bed listening to the jungle chorus I could not believe the noise the frogs were making. The rain had stopped and the noise was deafening. I suppose the rain causes them to be noisier then normal. I remember how in Taiwan the frogs could sometimes turn the still night air into a riot when the rice paddies had had a few days of rain. The rain lashing down on our corrugated iron roof also causes quite a racket.

My current Leyte hovel is quite a laugh. After 1 month of filling jerry cans from a spring and carrying them back to the house, washing out of a bucket and handwashing my clothes, I am trying to remember what it's like to turn a tap for water. I sometimes try to imagine having a hot shower and not having to worry about where the water is coming from.

Don caught the bus to Manila at 0400 this morning to retrieve our baggage. I offered to accompany him but it would be a waste of cash. Why buy two tickets when we only need one? It is a killer journey and I'm a little pleased he volunteered. He is getting the ferry back to Cebu as it is more comfortable so I will meet him there. I can't wait to get my bag back. I have been wearing only 2 shirts and 2 pairs of shorts for 3 weeks now. That is all I bought to Leyte with me. I left my diary, camera, guidebook, clothes and paperwork all in Mindoro. I miss my little diary. I am 3 weeks out of date with it.

On Friday night I started drinking. Nothing wrong with that right? The problem is I didn't stop until Saturday night. I slept briefly in the pub again. How old am I? I felt like shite all day Sunday. Now it is Monday I am starting to finally regain some human feeling. I think I smoked 60 tabs over this weekend. I am glad Don has gone for a few days, it means I can try and get a grip on reality and have an alcoholiday.

I got a nice surprise last night. Zi Ting called me from Taiwan. Her phone company gave her 200NT free international calls - so she called! She told me she misses me. I don't think I will ever understand the female species!

I have some bank work and emails to write so 'Ba a lam' for now!

Bahoc - stinking

I am sitting in a Cebu City internet cafe writing this post. I boarded the ferry in Baybay at 1900 yesterday. I spoke to El Capitano for a while as he demonstrated the ferry's ancient technology. I tried to explain how Royal Navy Trident Submarines differ in terms of navigational ability but I don't think he had a clue what I was talking about. This didn't exactly comfort me as I tried to sleep through the voyage across pitch-black seas.

I paid top dollar for a 'bed' (read bench) on the upper deck (2.50gbp) and I settled down to sleep at about 1930. The boat was due to leave at 2000 but, obviously, we had the obligatory half hour of non-punctuality to contend with and we slipped at 2030. I just could not imagine a ship of any kind leaving late in the West. Timekeeping was drilled into us in the RN from day1! I was told we would arrive at Baybay at 0300 but we got in at 0400. I blame the perfectly calm weather for impeding our progress. Even though we docked at 0400, I continued sleeping until 0600 like most of the other passengers.

I walked from pier 3, through skanking downtown, to the nicer uptown area (about 4km) in the cool morning sun. I stayed downtown last time so it was another trip down memory lane. I forgot how dangerous everything feels there. It felt very strange to be in a bustling city after 1 month in the barrio. It felt like travelling from Laos to Thailand again! I have treated myself tonight. I paid 700piso for a room with TV/aircon/sink/mirror/western toilet and even a shower with hot water. I feel like a f*cking millionaire in there watching CNN and taking hot showers as and when I feel like. I intend to enjoy it because I will be moving down scale tomorrow - back where I belong.

I have just had a McDonalds (haven't seen one in 6 weeks) and browsed in a bookshop for 1hr. I love bookshops. I purchased a 'Learn Tagalog - beginner' book which is a little late since I leave in a fortnight but every little helps. It felt great to be eating McDs and browsing bookshops after 6 weeks of rice fields and no water.

I met a friend back in Dec '06 in Singapore. She was from Cebu and we have hooked up after keeping in touch all this time. It is her birthday tonight and I have just bought her a bottle of red wine. It is funny meeting old friends after so long! I am looking forward to her party tonight. Might take my mind off all things Taiwan for a while.

I don't think I have mentioned this before but every conceivable business here in the Philippines has at least one armed security guard. These smartly dressed security drones often look quite formidable. I remember being quite alarmed when I first saw this. Walking into McDonald's or a pub past an armed guard is a little perturbing to say the least. It reminds me of General Melchart: "Security is not a dirty word Blackadder" haha. From banks to pawnshops to supermarkets they are everywhere man.

There are millions of pawnshops here. I have never seen this many anywhere else. Mobile phones are another anomaly. Many people live in rat infested shanty towns here. Despite this you wanna see the general standard of people's mobile phones. I have yet to see a crappier one than mine. The mind boggles. People must think 'I will sleep in shite' but 'I will not have a crap mobile'. A UK lifestyle guru might call this something like a 'priority management issue'. Some things I just can't fathom. Perhaps a funky mobile is a form of comfort or some kind of status symbol. Me? I would rather sleep on a matress than have the ability to text inane bollicks.

Don has told me he won't be in Cebu until Monday. So that is 5 weeks with 2 shirts and 2 pairs of shorts, mmmmmmmmm? Nice.

Many Filipinos have had a limited education. This is highlighted by some of the crazy questions I have been asked. I met one lady who could not point to the Philippines (her own country) on a map of the World. Has she never seen a weather report? When asked where I have been in the Philippines, my answers often generate blank looks of confusion. Different Islands don't seem to matter here. A few insane questions I have been asked over the last few weeks:

"Do they speak English in England?"

"Is England in the USA?"

"Is Dracula from England? Is he real?"

"What is the UK?"

"Is Taiwan in Thailand?"

My favourite reply to the 'Where're you from?' question is to answer countries like Poland, Madagascar, Brazil or the Ukraine because I guarantee they will not know WTF you are talking about. They also find it impossible to believe that a white person may not be able to speak English! When they try and 'sell' (read force you to buy) newspapers I speak French/Chinese and they seem staggered I don't know English - hehe. Conversations about general knowledge? Forget it. This is not to say everyone is like this. You do meet some wonderful folk here. Although it may be worth mentioning I did not see one single person reading a book, newspaper or magazine on Leyte.

Tomorrow I am thinking Malapascua or Moalboal. If I get trashed tonight I will probably remain here.

Paradise rocks baby.

Mainit - hot

Saan ka nakatira? - where do you live?


  1. Hopeless romantic!

  2. steve, im back now in afghanistan..... wasnt able to notice that you have included in your mail your blogsites. Ive come to read some of it specially this dumped thing.

    Hope to see you when i come home next year... maybe december?!? i dont know yet if this is probable

    Anywayz, have a great trip ahead...

  3. Great blog Steve! Ran across it the other day and I think I've read all your posts - your stories are really entertaining! Sorry about Zi Ting, but sounds like you're recovering fine..If you can spare some time I'd appreciate if you could write me, would like some suggestions on travel in the Philippines. You always go there but never really say why (and you tend to complain a fair bit about the people).
    You seem to pick up languages really quick, admire your dedication!
    Keep up the blogging!

  4. Sorry to hear about your breakup mate.

    I hope your last few weeks before you travel again are good.

    Take care


  5. sheeda24 July 2008 at 08:45

    Mabuhay Steve Kamusta Ka na??

    this sheeda in dublin ... just been reading your blog ... jayzus man sorry to hear about zi breaking up with ya ... she probably thinks that you been fucking everything filippina this past year or more ... yo i see you are going to iloilo ... got friends there and stuff ... hotel recommendations are the fine rock hotel ... great rooms with tv, hot water and aircon for 700 ... the family pension house has rooms for 250php ... very basic ... and none of the above facilitys ... fuck mate seeing as you are half way through the archepilligo ... check out mindanao ... great hotels for 300 php in cagayan de oro ... Camiguin Island is fuckin unbelieveable ... bleedin paradise ... still boozin ... S


Please be nice.