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South-East Asia (2019) Thailand

A bash in Bangkok

A capital over-flooding with traffic that peak hours cause overwhelming traffic jams bringing the whole city to a hold with taxi rates inflating. Smog is now the air you breathe. Popular streets are crawling with people. Stands and stalls and drivers and vendors everywhere, actively selling you stuff that you most likely do not need. Food at the ready wherever you go. With the slightest downfall, streets are filled with a lingering river of rainwater. Music bounces through the thick, humid air amassing the tourists as a single dancing crowd. Bangkok, A city where sex sells and alcohol flows.

Whether this sounds like your worst nightmare or a paradise of debauchery, if you have been to Bangkok and thought it to be dull, you haven’t truly experienced it. Often, I am the advocate of quiet towns, breaking free of the crowd and being away from the noise. But these nights, we jumped right into it. We found ourselves wandering around in the AM with a glass too tall and too many munching away on what seemed to be a fried cricket and maggot before hopping onto separate reckless Grab motorbikes. We flew over the near empty roads as our chauffeurs did all but obey the laws, flying over bumps and shooting through the lights illuminating the road in red. We cackled in the wind and blessed the drivers for their speedy drop-off before ambling back to our hidden hostel. The day before, we danced in the rain, flopping our slippers through the stream of rainwater and shuffled with the crowd. Laughed at the wristbands and shirts with lewd words on them and sipped the cheap cocktails – seemingly more sweet than alcoholic. These streets were filled with smiles and joy and it was a blessing to for a day be part of it.

On days of sobriety, we scuttled to the many temples and did all the tourists are meant to do in Thailand (apart from anything elephant related). We even got a Thai massage from a parlor hidden away, thus we knew, with the lacking of an active salesperson, to be getting the real deal – no surprises. We cruised wet markets and food markets and the exclaimed largest market there was. Admittedly and without loss of face the Baht flew as fast out of our wallets as it came sliding from the ATM. A cutesie souvenir here, a new accessory there and double the lunches.

Then we changed residency and moved to a cosier accommodation shockingly bargained. Heck, our surroundings were of fancy restaurants and apartments with hefty price tags filled with businessmen. And in between we sat, at an incredibly comfortable room bearing a price budget-traveller-friendly. We loved it, though it meant long walks to get in range of the affordable diners. When the evening came, we ambled the pink streets with bare women tipping about and signs luring you in with a witty, slight offensive joke. The ordeal was a bewitching, short alley for the businessmen as they came in packs feasting like ants on a syrupy picnic. We, however, knew to leave with a pace as the flirty ladies were touchy and the men in the back had stares of dollar signs.

In short; Bangkok had it all and within the downward of a week we had, we attempted to experience as much of it as we could would want to. Bangkok was fun. Not simply for the visit and a picture or the sights, but the full package. Bangkok brings the true experience.

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Malaysia South-East Asia (2019)

A journey of Malaysia

Initially, I welcomed my girlfriend at Penang’s airport with Grab at dial. This was after roughly 2 months apart, which, for us, is a relative short period. Bearing smiles we had tread into our apartment and embraced our new, temporary home to give that ‘living together’, something we hardly got due to distance, a solid try. For weeks, we did our things together within the same confined space and took care of the daily necessities. We weren’t on an exotic island nor in a bubbly city, but a simple, regular town. Some eateries near, a supermarket a walk away and a mall within few arms length away. But that was it. We weren’t together under the guise of explosive passion and riveting experiences that peaked our adrenaline possibly clouding over what is a love existing purely because of the adventures. It is scary to think of, but it’s a possibility undeniable. However, living a regular life, though no day with this Filipina seems to be regular, has left me with nothing more but a longing. A longing of more dull evenings spent planning the coming day’s groceries or munching the local snacks during a binge-session. There is something about a soulmate that simply beats the wandering life in all possible ways – though it doesn’t mean the end of its spirit.

For those reasons, when the final days came peeking around the corner, I felt a bit empty and sad to bid farewell to our apartment – though I’d be back for few lonesome nights later on – as we headed towards Kuala Lumpur for a weekend trip afore her flight. She was heading back to the archipelago for a wedding and we turned it into a fun trip. We got to burn our palette on spicy Indian before pushing through the humid heat to find our tiny hotel located in the corresponding part of town consisting of Indians. Now, as we were camped at the planned-to-detail perfect spot in town, for both getting around and an early exit to the airport, I had the perfect chance to make up for my last trip. On this side of Malaysia, the peninsula, I can confidently say that I have explored most of it. However it was the capital with its thick air and loud engines where I wasted little time and today we’d make amends. So, with an eye on the time, we rode the bus to the batu caves following the footsteps off all preceding tourists. We ambled up the stairs and back down to head into town as a darkened sky became the black blanket over us. Indubitably, as it was my love’s first visit, I guided her to admire the Petronas twin towers and take a swift shot whilst passing all the salesmen wielding lenses. Against the night sky’s black palette, the two towers stood magnificent and bright and precisely as I remembered.

That night, we squeezed one another extra tight. Because come morning, we rushed to the airport where we kissed goodbye once more. However, this time around it was a kiss less morose and leaning towards excitement. A wedding attendance for her would soon follow by a rejoice in Bangkok. But first, it was a man’s night out and the perfect town for it was miraculous Malacca. And what makes Malacca such a wonderful town is the same reason Malaysia gets all my appraisals; the ambience and the people. For they are the opposite of Butterworth – no offence. The moment I wandered back in the familiar streets amidst many a tourist and local all I faced were genuine and affectionate smiles and waves and greetings. Sitting at a diner for lunch, a local Chinese couple joins my table and soon we converse away before they paid for my meal. Waiters and waitresses carried broad smiles without the intention of a possible tip nor to come across professional. People here were loving and warm. Genuine. Transforming this historic town into a place where everyone can feel at home.

Though my return here was not for this reason. It was a cold brewski with an old friend of mine that called my name. And though I had been sorrowful that my preferred bar had changed owners and no longer carried the same homey feel with a push of interaction with others, for the short time it lasted it felt delightful to sip the same beer in the same old chair where my buttocks had left a print over a year aforetime. This with a guy responsible of a friendship that led me to Pakistan and a mind full of riveting tales on the island of Langkawi. A guy I gladly call a friend and if any, one of a lifetime long. I hope by now, at the time of writing, my fellow LDR-er has had the chance to go abroad just like I did.

Overall, my second time in Malaysia had been completely different. I stayed somewhere unknown and mainly visited the known. Introducing Kath to places I had been, people I had befriended and generally what I loved about the country. New places had been explored, however it wasn’t done in a traveller’s attitude, but one that resembles a weekend trip to the next town or a drive to the park. It felt more comfortable. Thank you Malaysia for allowing me diverse experiences.

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Malaysia South-East Asia (2019)

Our home away

Passing the friendly guards, you’d head to the right to curve around the main building and into the second with the big letter ‘B’. An elevator ride later and you find yourself on the fifteenth floor, from which you can see the distant wavy water bouncing towards the island. Coinciding, that same wind causing the mesmerising waves whooshes through the wide gaps of the building singing its song. During storms and huge downfalls it becomes an event more daunting, bringing the whole place to a shake. Heretofore, the monsoons had turned the hallways into a river resulting in the flooding and destruction of the elevators. Due to poor management, this could last months, but fortunately, we hardly felt affected by the weather or the indolent management. At least not to such extreme extent.

At the fifth door going left, you’d pause, enter a code and then step into the humble abode. On your immediate left is a kitchen, straight is an incredibly spacious living room and to the right is the bathroom connected to the bedroom – which then again leads back to the living room. At the opposite end of the entrance is the glass slide door keeping out the humid heat. As you exit through the slide, standing on the balcony, you could lean over and watch the other inhabitants of the complex do their laps of swimming or you’d gaze further and watch a group of young children outside of the premises indulge in a game of football. Perhaps you can take a peak of the top floor of the ‘A’ building, reachable by going to the fifth floor where the swimming pool is stationed and crossing to the other side where another set of elevators awaits you. Flying up, you find a small gym. Personally, I do not partake in going to the gym – too many people. I have purchased my own minuscule set-up which, obviously, remained in the Netherlands. With that, I felt in luck with this, compared to mine, luxurious yet relative idle gym that was also within close enough vicinity. I even managed to make friends during the time span of my sessions. The only downside was the dress-code I at home wouldn’t abide by – shoes and shirt. That, and the downstairs neighbour stealing the machine’s pins turning it into a ‘Bring your own make-shift pin’-gym.

Mere a minute’s walk away awaits a haven of basic stalls seemingly coated with health code violations, however, upon close inspection, you find yourself in a wander in a heaven of foods. Uncostly meals ready in a whiff, once again served with the sweetest of smiles and with a taste uncanny bearing resemblance to the most lavish meal consumed. Except for the part where the pricey meal in the fancy restaurant with a table clothed and chairs comfortable was nothing but a disappointment and disgrace and the second the feared barrier of comfort was crossed, Utopia was found. Sitting on the wobbly, plastic chair, time after time they manage to wow you. Every food court is the same with every plate being the very picture of the previous ones, yet all tasted completely different. Finding the ones to cherish, you are in a state of absolute bliss, but the Chinese and Malay courts are not the only ones where the Nirvana of food rests, as a couple of minutes further up the road is a 24/7 Indian restaurant that spits out constant ravishing and extraterrestrial delights that had me and my missus gorging away as if our lives depended on it. I can type and type but the love I bear for half the feasts indulged in during my accumulated months on the peninsula remains indescribable and unending.

When not capable of beating the heat or simply aiming for a place further, the taxi-company Grab, the Uber of Asia, would at a bargain drive us anywhere we desired. Taking us to the nearby harbour for some sad pennies to cross for a day or hang out at the air-conditioned mall where we’d watch a movie. Go to a recommended restaurant some kilometres away or to further-away attractions, you name it, Grab is at your service.

All with all, this was perfect. The time spent there can’t be taken away. The morning toast with eggs as remembrance to my European roots, though the bread was an incompetent version, followed by daily eat-outs. All the while, we combined enjoying life and love together, going to the gym and for her working online whilst I did my courses. We both concurred that Malaysia would make a wonderful home.

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Pakistan Personal Favourites South-East Asia (2017-2018)

A caffeinated drive down

The ending of the story

Returning from the top, my slumber had passed and in a drowsy state I let my stubbornness fade and at last agreed to seek medical help. Waqas had swiftly deviated his mocking jesting into genuine concern and was on the fence whether to continue his banter. He had persuaded me to go to the doctor, despite part of me still believing it would pass. Since not even Ahmed, the fastest driver of Pakistan’s North was capable of getting to the capital within the coming and passing of the night, a small town in the mountains had to suffice. After some hours of adequate driving pass, we entered said town and through the noisy and crowded streets we zigzagged to our motel of the night. According to our driver, from here, it ought to be possible to return to the home of Waqas if driving from dawn til dusk, given that breaks are kept to a minimum and he drove his foot into the pedal. We unloaded the car before heading to the chilling and bare hospital. The moment I set foot into the grim building had been when I felt a slight terror overcome me.

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Pakistan South-East Asia (2017-2018)

Pakistan at an altitude

Continuing the story

Though as aforementioned frightening, the road to the North was one of beauty. Over the course of two days, we ascended to a town named Karimabad, located in the Hunza valley. The car had become a nauseating and dull cage after these endless hours and it felt freeing to have time in abundance as we arrived mid-day. Cruising through the meandering streets of the peaceful town, I had long noticed the fort that loomed over all other houses. Another fort was situated on the opposite end and stood far less high. A strong guess had been that we would soon wander over the edges and be admiring its stunning views. Call me clairvoyant, because as soon as our backpacks had been unloaded and we had gorged on lunch, we set foot for these medieval buildings. Entering the forts Altit and Baltit, we leapt back into the past and barged into the heretofore home of the hereditary rulers of Hunza. Bringing us back to the era of Huns, our guide summarised the past 1100 years inclusive of heirs, war and religion. Originally spirit worshippers and followers of Hinduism and Buddhism, Islam introduced in the 15th century became the main for the town around 1830. The forts, though crumbling, still remained most of its past and make a fascinating addition to the town with astonishing viewpoints. Being that the tour was in clear English and with a guide of knowledge, I was pleased to have my hunger for a bit of history silenced.

Speaking of true hunger, with the passing of hours it had grown weaker. And in hindsight honesty, my body had felt off for the larger part of the day. I pushed through the rest of town with my head pounding as if it were an ancient clock and a tiny guy kept slamming his hammer on the bell. A constant shiver rested on my skin and my mind had become foggy. It had felt as if I was faded into the background and my body and brain went on auto-pilot. Luckily enough, I functioned well enough to attempt ignoring the oncoming symptoms and with a smile trotted up and down the streets with Waqas. I do not enjoy the being of sick, therefore I try not to accept it. If anything, as per usual during my travels, I had an inferno-raging crave for an alcoholic beverage. With my mind shifted to that, it had become a hunt to have a gulp of the local hard stuff. A task which proves significantly hard in a Muslim town, or for that matter country. Instead, we settled for the indulgence in a cup of Chai tea alongside of a set of boardgames. The tea does get extraordinarily delicious, though it is sweeter than my usual cup tends to be. Seated in the tiny yet cosy restaurant with a vanishing appetite I savoured the hot cup before we returned.

The day that followed was the day we were headed for the Chinese border at a peak altitude. On this day, it had become harder to deny my ill-being as symptoms worsened. Cursed with the family’s trait of stubbornness, I remained in denial and had convinced myself to be fit and healthy as we drove onward. Half delirious, I sat in the car attempting to keep sight with tired eyes and sight fading. Half of the ride has vanished from my memories as I kept dozing of. Not long in, we got to exit the suffocating cage for exhilarating fresh air at our first stop; the hanging bridge. Facing the long-stretching bridge, I had noticed there was a fierce and icy wind, however it hadn’t bothered me. Even the absence of my comfort and clear-thinking had not been a burden. It was a relief to be walking and have a scary bridge as distraction. With now watery eyes, I shuffled from plank to plank. The bridge had gaps wide enough for an obese midget to fall in – and thus this skinny Pete. Others had been frightened by it and our guide, despite trotting ahead, was not a big fan either. Though surely intimidating, after the disappointment of a bridge in the Philippines, it was an exciting experience to have an attraction live up to its expectations. Heck, exceed it even.

Would I have called myself sick and quit the journey ahead, I would have damned myself for missing this. Though the altitude had far from helped, I see no fault in pushing to the top and letting the illness run its course after all is finished. Then again, I am no doctor. But the snowy border was close and to-be magnificent. Few turns away, I had in bewildered state signalled the driver and rushed out of the vehicle to regurgitate my insides. Admiring my barf, chunks and pieces spattered all over the once bright snow, I wondered how many got to say they chundered their breakfast here. Then I realised, with the altitude, most likely many stood in the same scenario of kicking snow over there half digested food. Moments after the spew, we arrived. My mind had been in such a haze, however I clearly remember the breathtaking fields of snow surrounded by peaks continuing to break through the sky. Wanting to not waste this moment, I had glanced in every direction with eyes wide as they could, considering the icy wind. I’d pet myself on the shoulder for remembering to shoot a dozen pictures, however upon viewing them all I could see was my fat thumb in a thick, winter’s glove. After this miserable attempt, I took in one final view before rushing back to the car where I fell into a deep sleep.

I do not recommend anyone to push through when these symptoms appear, especially not at these altitudes. It can be highly dangerous if it is altitude sickness, especially at its extreme. Stubborn me got lucky, but it could have ended a whole lot worse. Don’t be like me and get treated instantly when suspecting to have altitude sickness and when losing a lot of liquids.

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South-East Asia (2017-2018)

The Pearl; Cresta de Gallo

Cresta de Gallo, a name alone so charming it propelled the idea of the entire trip. Upon further investigation of the tiny, captivating island, my love and I were enticed by its beauty. Having set our plan in motion, it also came as last due to its location. But finally, having hopped from island to island and so on, touring with a tight time-schedule, we had arrived on an early morning at the shore of departure. Going from the nearest land Sibuyan, we headed to the dot in a minuscule boat. A boat that remarkably took us there unscathed through the boisterous waves. I had not figured it would take us out that far, as it is the smaller version of a bangka, which might explain why the way there took unexpectedly long.

Neither of us minded the long haul however, since we had come from far to visit this pearl. When we arrived, I had been surprised, near shocked, when I found that it was only us. Us, the two guys manning the boat and the care taker of the island – plus his moonstruck cousin. We had been told stories before by the locals of previous islands and from what we had heard, there used to be a couple on the island. They had lived there and been granted the island by the government. Yes, they actually owned the island, though it was under the condition that they would not sell it. Now that they had grown old, they had moved and their family would upkeep the place. After a welcome, we began to wander around. The entire island was vacated, the most breathtaking combination of beach and sea I had ever seen and we had it all to ourselves for as long as we wished it to be.

Accompanied by a dozen starving dogs, we could not help but have mixed feelings about the gorgeous place. No matter how bewitching it is, there is little crueller than to keep dogs on an island that bears little to nothing and to then treat them poorly. As a small consolation, we fed them most of our snacks before venturing around the island. One dog of the bunch had decided he wanted more of the peanut-butter crackers and had separated himself from the pack to join us. We wanted to experience as much as we could, as well as bring home a picture captivating enough to draw envy from those back home. Thus, with a little canine sauntering behind us, we filmed and photographed the beauty spots, meandered the perfect white sand, soaked up the sun fierce-fully blazing us on this blessed day and went for a dip into the refreshingly cool and blue water.

Hours had passed and it felt like an endless experience no one could take from us. Though these hours could fill many pages of enticing reasons what makes this islands a paradise, as the evening grows late, I will keep it short and simply let the pictures tell my tale. When enough time had spent burning to a crisp, we had decided to unhurried return to land and say bye to the paradise and the adorable puppers on it. We left bewitched and in amour. Would we ever return, it would be bearing dog treats and a tent.

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Personal Favourites South-East Asia (2017-2018)

Chasing Waterfalls in the Philippines

A truly young girl, barely in her teens had shyly approached us. Lorraine was the name. She was to bring us there. Last time we had a guide take us, I had objections. This time was different though, as, despite the misleading age of the girl, it was quite a hike away. It wasn’t the fact that it was far, but that where we were headed, Cataja Falls, was hidden away. So well hidden, that with clear descriptions we’d not be able to find it. On my shabby slippers I followed the young lady trotting away over the rocks. It wasn’t really a path, but it was obvious this wasn’t the first time someone tread over here. We had to pass through a few bushy trees whereafter we entered into the open. From here, we could already see the waterfall crashing down, though it was far in the distance. Truly massive. Water at large quantity ceaseless chugged down the mountain. It left a perpetual trail of cascading water trickling to the river we walked along. We had been told that we could reach way up, though it would require adding some hours on top of the initial agreed hike. My love and I agreed that a total of three hours – back and forth – would suffice.

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South-East Asia (2017-2018)

A MARBLE-OUS ISLAND

Romblon, known as the capital of marble, is home to a mesmerising marine life, picturesque beaches, a historic fort and over 38,000 people that are all but rude. It being one of the few islands with an actual tourist office, standing lonesome on the main square near the harbour, it is actually welcoming. Welcoming in the sense that a friendly – and chatty – woman awaits you with with advice on all surrounding islands, but also that wherever you venture off to, you are met with the smiles and waves of the friendly locals. Though the globetrotters come in scarce here, there are a plenty foreign, usually European entrepreneurs, having their business here. Therefore, even those that get overwhelmed by other cultures can find their peace here and enter a restaurant for a chewy German schnitzel or have a chat with the friendly Brit and Italian next door. If you wish to do a bit more than amble from diner to diner, worry not as this tiny island will surprise you with the beauties it beholds.

Now, aside from a presence in the cuisine, Europe has wiggled its roots in the history of many a island including Romblon, leaving various historical and heritage structures after Spain’s reign. The historic fort San Andres stands out the most as it looms over the city and sea, making it the absolute perfect spot for a sunset view. Since the climb there is on a set of tall, steep steps, the time the sun sheds its final lights is indeed best, as these steps paired with the Asian heat can be more than harsh. Expect to be met by the head of the organisation for reparation and maintenance, aka the guard and his friendly pup. This man, indubitably, will welcome you and if the place is not too hectic give you a free tour – but do tip. He will show and tell you all about the crumbling fortress that due to the massive and diligent restoration with the help of copious local as well as foreign volunteers remains to be a highlight of the petite island.

Of course, one does not go to these parts of the Philippines to solely admire the remainders of European influence. Though we did not get to experience the outer islands or any water-based activities due to harsh weather, we did get to tour around the island. On this ride-around, we came upon what in my opinion is, after Cresta de Gallo, the allurement of these waters; Bon-bon beach and Bang-ug island. Depending on which way you go around the island, this is either the final or immediate stop being close to the main city Poblacion. After stalling the scooter we rented for the day, we arrived on a long stretch of glistening, white sand. Sauntering along the water, the two of us headed for the island. Since the stretch is a fair walk, a ton of sunscreen is necessary to leave unscathed. Because the sun shone bright, at times feeling like a scourging whip of heat, but adding to the picturesque view that was sand, sea and sky. As if it was not enough, a rocky island of greenery fills the view with a breathtaking walkway of sand leading you through the sea at the right tidal. To our surprise it had been us, and us alone to admire the piece of art and without a queue or wait we took some of my favourite pictures before continuing.

Though this visit will leave the stops to follow in the dust, it is worthy to follow the not-so descriptive map and try to navigate yourself around the island in the search for the competing beaches, a lighthouse, a waterfall and to pass by the quarries before making your way back to the city or your accommodation. Romblon, of the Romblon province is a challenge alone to get to, but aside from dismaying the mass, has got an arsenal of sights. And upon departure, there is a world of souvenirs to take with, as the islet brings a strong game in the marble universe with competitive quality and for a reasonable price. Time to stuff your bag with gifts for the family!

How much effort would you put in to getting somewhere lovely but hard to get to? Or are you one that would put in effort not to have to go there and rather relax at the beach of your hotel?

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South-East Asia (2017-2018)

A Roaring Ride on Romblon

As the boat docked, vendors as well as human mules awaited from shore, readily prepared to sell their goods or services. The air was thick and humid, and both of us longed for a long shower. We had just arrived at our third island of the journey. Waving away the thought of another plane, we had taken about every mode of transport there was in the Philippines commencing from Imus, Cavite to get via Mindoro into the Romblon waters. Today, we had embarked the ferry from Tablas to Romblon, the marble capital of the Philippines. Tablas had quadruple the size, yet none the appeal the tiny brother had. But since the sun had already gone down by the time we set foot on land, our fatigued heads had no means for exploration aside from tonight’s and tomorrow’s accommodation. Dashing the initial trike-drivers, avoiding the peak in charges, we wandered a bit before boarding a metal carriage that would take us around on this search. Neither of us being on the picky side, we had soon settled for a place and had taken that coveted wash.

On the next day, with no tours outgoing, afflicted by weather, the plan was to find our way around the island. As usual, the cheapest option being to rent a scooter. Due to the problem of our hotel requiring proof of license, -which both coincidentally forget to bring each and every trip -we had to rummage through the town on the hunt for the perfect, in tip-top condition bikes. At last, we had stumbled upon a hotel storing exactly what we sought for. My eyes widened in excitement, watching a powerful beast, but before I managed to make my pick, the lady on my side had shook her head. She questioned my driving capabilities and was reluctant to get on the back had I gone for flashy and swift. Agreeing in fairness, we had gone for safe. The only, minor kink being that none of the indicators worked. But, all those pointers distract too much anyways, who truly needs to know how much gas is inside or the current speed you are going at. So, with manual signals, we spurted off into the traffic

Tightly I gripped the handles, speeding off to our first stop. Once out of the town, we broke free from traffic and had, for part of the ride, a smooth ride for us alone. Roads that are steady and undisturbed in these parts was a rare sight. Most of the work on these islands, without a joke, goes to maintenance. Broken roads and torn houses due to poor infrastructure, mudslides and floodings is one of the main issues in these areas. At times, entire families leave us in the dead of the night as a mudslide crashes entire homes and everything that had belonged to them. Every island carries dozens of warnings and multiple safety centres for victims of the cruel acts of nature. Everyday, workers build along the roads in attempt to fight the nature and protect the people. Therefore it was rare to us to see a road hardly being worked on and relatively experiencing a tranquil ride, even if for a short period.

At least, it was an uneventful drive until few hours in, when steering became increasingly challenging. Already nearing the end of our day with most sights visited – which is a subject I will return to – the bike began acting up. It seemed that the defectiveness of the motorbike did not only lie in the indicators as the bike pushed us to a side for which I had to overcompensate. This had began to happen on the rougher, rockier roads and I, with my scooting experience had managed to safely manoeuvre our way until we rejoiced with the even road. There, with the help of a couple of intellectuals pointing out the source, we unravelled the mystery and discovered a flat, back tire. In quite the quandary, we understood that continuing further than we already had would not be wise. Let luck be on our side, when meters away was a mechanic that would fix this situation. Him and his assistant were in quite the laugh and shock when they pulled out a worn out and on numerous spots punctured tube. This tube had been mended a many times that I lost count after the 14th patched up hole. The silver-lining, as they replaced it with a new one, was that my reckless riding most definitely had not been the reason – and could thus continue as we finished up our tour.

I choose to write about Romblon, because it is a place I love and felt welcomed. Mindoro, Tablas, they both are a must if you have time and are near! They too are absolutely wonderful islands with lots to do. If you happen to wander there as well, feel free to ask advice. Do’s and don’ts, the few details you won’t find online or simply for a more opinion-based advice.

Categories
Australia (2018) Life outside of travel

A Temporary Goodbye

Tears flooded over her precious cheeks. We had spoken of our time together, our “December” frequently, holding on to the tiny thread that held us sane, yet when it was finally within our grasp, the moment had just as soon passed. Begin of December, we finally intertwined with the longest of hugs. I then met her family, we travelled together, went on ventures normal couples go and made life heaven and hell during the two glorious months spent together. All the time that we had already known each other cramped into two measly months. Two bloody months of passionate love and happiness and then life takes it all back. Kicked out of the garden of Eden, my paradise. Back at the airport, with parents and daughter in tears. The hourglass’s sand had gone and there was no way to turn it back around. We already used up that trick on my 2nd one month’s visa. Time’s up, money’s up, get out of the Philippines. We both wished it to be easier, but we knew then and we know now that not all passports have equal privileges. So, morosely, I swung my bag over my shoulder and trudged my way to the security while she remained. Gloomily, but nonetheless a little excited for the land they call Down-Under I boarded my flight.

It won’t be the last time this gets mentioned, but the toughest part always lays in the first and the later stage of a long distance relationship. Upon the onset of being companion-less, it is the change that crashes upon you. Alone, there is now a constant silence. For many years, I had embraced that silence and been happier within that space. After finding my true love, that changed a fair bit. Because she is the only one with whom I don’t filter my personality. Then, getting used to being on your own again, you begin with accepting the temporary forsaken feeling. Not being able to communicate the random, silly thoughts that pop up or discuss the topical events of the day. It’s what makes the first days or weeks hard.

For every person it works different, but once you get there, to the accepting the distance and working with it, life is good for awhile. You do your thing, whilst often in contact with each other. Loving messages, late night calls. All the good stuff. But, slowly yet steadily, the later stage encroaches, when it has been months since you have been within miles reach of your lover. This, is when you go down the slope of insanity. At the brink of, you crave the touch and sight of your partner. The need to breathe the same air, share the same space. Honest to god, it doesn’t even matter what you do, all you want is to be in the same room, because where you are now is a lonesome pit that craves the feeling of being filled with love. Love that is at a distance had oft been worse than the life of a lone wolf I lead previously, as the latter would not feel the lacking of it. In lieu of, I knew what I could have and yearned for more. Friends and family could be all they are, but being months, a year, or more for some, away from the one you love so dearly, it would drive almost anyone mad. This, we experienced every time we had to say goodbye – and also explains some of the future decisions I made, but more on that later.

Luckily, still deeply embedding the happiness this trip had brought me after ages of waiting and bearing the excitement of a little kid in a candy-shop as I was headed for a work opportunity in Australia, it could have been worse. I felt more grateful for the life I had than the solemness of who I lacked. I am young, healthy, got an amazing girlfriend and have the opportunity to travel in this manner, so stop bitching, amirite? Australia would be exciting and could help with the funds for a return. Some weeks ago, I had contacted the owner of a backpacker’s motel and there was a promise of farming jobs. Eager as ever, I flew to Mildura with a stopover in Sydney and Melbourne. Forced to linger a night in Melbourne, as a flock of birds had flown into the engine, Qantas Air had provided me with the nearby upscale hotel. I paraded in my fancy room upon having graced my body with the bathrobe and ordered myself some late night costly dining on Qantas’s credit. Australia had welcomed me with a grin from ear to ear and delirious from lack of sleep I fell onto the soft mattress for a long due rest. The following day, full with good spirits and believing nothing could bring me down, I would arrive in the insignificant town 500 km North of Melbourne. There, the lady from the web would bring me to the wee village Wentworth and soon that smile turned to a frown.

What are similar unexpected surprises you got from an airline?