Prominent in the Philippines

The day before we had seen a colossal turtle while snorkelling. My head dipped under the water with the rest of my body and the tube guiding air to my mouth gallantly wavering on the surface of the beautifully clear, blue water. I glanced up at her, smiling. However, she urged me to quit waving my hand like an idiot and to focus my attention down below. A massively big turtle was calmly passing by, blithely deviating from his track as to cozen its pursuers. I jutted my arms out straight, as if I was near enough to pet it. Fervently, I followed the turtle with eyes gleaming. I was amazed by its size, something unexpected. When we had abandoned the stunning beach after a delicious meal, they had briefed us that we would search for this water dweller. However, I imagined the size of the slow-pokes swimming in a pond, similar to when my phone had chosen for a dip. Mistaken that I was, I was now staring at this, with my comparison, giant turtle. Amusingly, it hadn’t been the highlight of the day for everyone. It was the royal blue tang, well-known as “Dory” to most, that shook my beloved to excitement and had her let out a giggle. Enamoured of her adorable cackle, I could not help but chuckle myself. It had been a long day of snorkelling and hopping islands. Two baked buns, one more than the other, had little choice left but to crash into a deep sleep after a mojito or two.

 

As dawn had come, shimmering its light through the curtains leaving sun ripples on our blanket, after that deep night’s rest with praise to the generous bar-lady pouring rum as if she was overstocked that evening, we had set plans to hike in search of cascades. Once we overpowered the strong gravity on the blankets, and our bags were hike ready, we commenced. Given a short route description in Tagalog, we headed out with a boiling sun heating our necks. A lovely dog, named Doug by the enamoured couple, left his tiny paw prints along the track following and guiding us with pride and joy in his eyes. In reality, a second dog had been there, yet we do not speak of him. When approached by a threesome of puppers, the double-sized dog had frantically chosen the direction we had come from, nearly flying until it had gone passed a turn and not to be seen again. Not Doug. Our dear Doug, when exposed to a threat, whether the tiny Cerberus or a giant buffalo, filled with fear he stood his ground and made no sound.

The first cascade on the list had been the small one, as I had gathered from the Tagalog explanation. The water had a delightful cool touch, which had been gratefully welcomed on this hot winter day in the Philippines. Having viewed a many National Geographic shows, I had anxiously hopped over the tiny, brownish puddles worrisome to be struck by that nasty parasite to in a string of time be aired on an episode and have a new disease named after me. My brother got the Danniasis after his travels in Asia. Whilst hopping, I had made the decision to climb higher up for a more picturesque view. Watching the dog follow me, with ease both getting up and down, he seemed the perfect Assassin’s pet. Perhaps with their next release, which is bound to come. The four-legged stray pet seemed to be comfortable amongst humans. A blissful smile resting on the carefree canine. The beach-life truly does bring joy to all, it seems.

Upon reaching the main cascade, after having bought snacks off a young girl keeping a shop all by herself, we signed a log book. Guiding Doug to pass the creek, having small fears that our new, temporarily adopted dog may slip, we cross and prepare for the dip we had been waiting all day for. “It is cold”, are the words I mumble, as I dip my toes into the encroaching ripples. The water that engirdled my pale toes was clear, yet its descendants further in grew darker and darker, until it was pitch black. Imagining the grotesque creatures inhabiting the deeper, darker water, near the dead log, created for a complete different ambience. As the words had left my parched lips, she had already been deep in, ice cold water surrounding her gorgeous waist. With a playful smile, she splashed water upon me and jested me to grow some and enter. A lady known to take her showers cold out of preference did not shy away from diving into the freezing water that only had grip of my tiny toes. Doug was waddling with waggling tail behind me, as well dubious of whether to proceed to enter said frigid water. Yet, bearing the cells for the next kin, it came with the duty to be – or come across as, which I am most certain I am far too late for – manly and thus I did. I followed the lady with the beautiful smile Step after step I advanced. Until I stood beside her, writhing of cold, as well as basking in the release that had come from cooling my body on one of the many searing hot days that make for the Philippines.

 

Watching her feed the staunch dog that seemed bound to us, having followed us, now guiding us back, I could not help but smile. I reminisced back at the day I finally had gotten to see her in person. Shied away behind her father, she had shown to be smaller than I had expected. Lips arched into that gorgeous smile. Her hair curved around her head, the frame to the perfect picture. That very moment, I had not been anxious. All fears, nervosity and anxiety had disappeared like stars come dawn. Not a single trace left. It felt normal, yet special. The way it was supposed to be. For so long I had yearned to see her in person. Bound to be, but distanced, we fought each and every barrier to be there to hold one another. It hadn’t always been easy. Struggles, fights and aching. But now, at last, I was here. Holding her hand, watching her feed a stray dog that may or may not be dying by the hand of the leech on his ear and everything felt perfect. That, is how love is supposed to be. Perfect through its imperfections and difficulties. The woman who agitates the hell out of me, yet is the balance amid the chaos. The sunshine on the darkest of days merely by being present. She is a present indeed. Worth every single effort. She gave me a loving smile – mesmerising really, magical, capable of bringing joy on the gloomiest days – as she handed me the chips to give Doug a handful. Hungry that he must have been, politely he awaited without snarling or wheezing. He did not bite upon receiving the snack either. A stray canine with manners topping most pets. May Doug have won the fight against the leech.


Gazing at the horizon, viewing Filipino ships in the the clear, blue sea, I had a gluck of my nth mojito and thanked myself for the choices I have made. The choice to be happy, rather than stuck in a college dorm surrounded by walls seeping depression into the room. The choice to enjoy life as I find my place into the world. Thereafter I thanked my family for supporting me with every step that I took. Too often I had to listen to the phrase “If I was your parent I would never let you do this.”, yet here I was, from a South-African tour, to a cycle and hitchhike in Europe to a love in Asia and never had I been doubted or restrained by my amazing family. Then I thanked her, Kath, the lady that brought and brings strength and happiness into my life. Grateful for the life I lead, I must move forward. Once finished with the Philippines, I shall, however, that must come after the mojito. What is next? We shall see. See, we shall.

A transit day in Oman

Hidden in the KFC with air conditioning blazing I type this. The afternoon wave hasn’t even hit and I have deserted, scattering off to the embassy of the obese. Afraid to admit, but here I am, in a fucking KFC in Oman. Hiding behind the ice-cold air getting blown in my direction. However, it feels damned good. I never figured I would miss the cold in half a day. My flight landed in Muscat early in the morning, after a solid six hours sided with an Indian man. The sun had long woken and was fierce, as it can be. A wall of humid heat pushed against my face. The immediate moment, a greased feel landed on my skin. A deep breath. It felt as if taking a literal bite from the air, so thick. “It’s barely morning”, someone mumbled. Leaving the airport, at every turn cabs honked at me. Bargaining myself into one, I enjoyed the views towards Matrah. Mountains with little to non vegetation all around. Temples along the way. The driver gladly gave me a short tour before I set off on foot.


Lost, I wandered up and down, feeling the heat hanging heavy from my shoulders. My mind had been set on trotting up and down, a young puppy exploring the world. My body disagreed. Under a small dome I laid, a bottle of water in each hand, melted on a bench. Wiping away the sweat, I gaze over upon the sea. Waves clashed against the walls while dragging the carcass of a cat drifting on a layer of dirt with it. A full-bodied scent swirled in the air made vigorously by the ruthless sun from above.  Broadly smiling, a young lad waves me over to his restaurant. “Inside is colder”, he says as he eagerly trots before me. A meal and a juice, served with a smile. A restaurant run by the family, was my guess. After having cooled down and given a slap by my hand of wanderlust, exhaustion crawled away and I bashed out of my refuge to wander the inner of the town.

The markets. Entering, strong smells of perfumes and scented candles filled my nose. An excessive amount of mixtures of fragrances in the air, tickling my nostrils. Omani people waved from both sides, flaunting their goodies. “No, the big bag of perfumes and the huge knife are no good for my backpack, nor the airport’s security”, I tried to explain. Another man dragged me inside his shop and before I could say “O, man”, I was dressed from top to ankle in traditional Omani clothing. Full of proud, he clothed me, not speaking a word English. I decided to buy a souvenir and a Forno before facing the demanding cabbies.


Is a sunburn and possible heatstroke all I gained? Definitely not. People all around were friendly. As the cab driver said; “Everyone here is my friend.” Plenty to see too, I bet. Oman, may we meet again on better terms. Now off to my next flight. Two chairs to myself, living the luxurious life. 

Oman transit day on 12-8-2017

Starting 2016 with a rant

Big news

I was actually supposed to stay in South-Africa a few weeks longer, but after I had gotten my tickets I was given a big announcement: my sister was going to get married!!  Of course I had to be there, I wanted to, being her little brother. However, this meant I had to change my return flight if I wanted to be back home on time. My tickets were bought through World Ticket Center, a random site we found on google search when finding tickets to Port Elizabeth. The problems had already begun at the beginning of my journey (My First Trip Alone), where I had been given 2½ hours in between flights in London cite when I found out that my plane would take off on a different airport than where I would land. Although the site should have clearly pointed out that these were two different airports, which most actual airways do, since almost no one would nor should expect them to be especially with the little time I had in between, I will admit I am also to blame for not noticing it.

Then when it was time to return and I wanted to get a new ticket, more issues came up. My father was the one that did most of the work, as the internet at Hanneke’s was acting up again due to more load shedding. When we, dad and I, first got the tickets, we decided to pay a small fee insuring us in case I wanted to rebook. This meant I didn’t have to pay anything extra. So logically we expected we could rebook without having to pay anything extra. The thing is though, the insurance we bought wasn’t just for any extra costs, it was for the extra costs of the SITE that you don’t pay. Honestly, I would have definitely been fine with that if they had clarified it clearly, instead of being vague making inexperienced – with flying – people think it is for costs overall. Then on top of that, they kept ignoring me when I sent them mails wherein I politely asked questions about this. Therefore WTC has been the most anger making experience of the entire trip.

As a fee for rebooking we would have to pay 180 euros fee on top of the price of a new ticket, is what I heard from my father. Now we both see that it would be more in our favour if we just buy a new ticket without wtc, this time making sure there wouldn’t be any problems. That’s what we did. The cheapest one possible, which of course leads to a less enjoyable trip back, but I was trying to not waste too much money on another ticket.

The journey back

My last day started early in the morning, heading back to Hanneke’s after a party. While I was getting the rest of my stuff, Glenn made me breakfast and tea for on the road. During this ride, I got to wake up with the sight of a beautiful sunrise enjoying my toast and tea. It was nice to know I got to see my family and dogs again, but it was still hard leaving South-Africa. It was near to an hour to the airport, where we got somewhat over 2 hours prior to the boarding time. I thought, that 2 hours should be enough time, which it was when going to SA, to check in, go through security and get to the departing area. Followed the signs of Emirates Airways and I got into the humongous line for check-in. It was not only extremely long, but the speed of the line was incredibly slow as well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only time I spent waiting in a queue, it was the same story with the security and passport control. Once I was finally free from queues I walked, no ran my way to the boarding hall, but my plane was already on its way. Together with a lady and her quite frankly annoying son, who were too late too, we were brought to a reception where they were going to help us adjust our flights. I did have to pay a fee, but thanks to the fact that I had 13 hours to kill in Dubai, my first stop, I could still make the second flight without having to pay anything for that. The lady couldn’t. Then when I had to check in again, where I had gotten precisely the time I was told to be there, the guy behind the counter sent me over to another desk. There were only two people in front of me, but it took forever! This lead to me almost getting too late again, where I was blamed for. At this point I was really annoyed, not even necessary because of the guy, but the stress and waiting gets got me pissed off. Then it doesn’t help when everyone around you is asking questions or telling you what to do. That’s while most of them were trying to be polite… 😳 Before I had gone through the passport control I could already hear my name being called out together with someone else’s through the speakers. When my passport was checked, some guy from the airport rushed us to the boarding area carrying our bags sprinting as fast as possible.The moment I got onboard  I felt a feeling of relieve, ready for my 8 hour flight to Dubai.

Once I arrived in Dubai, which was at night, things started to go more smoothly. The customs went very easy and quick, no problems with anything really. I still had seven hours left before my final flight of six hours to Dusseldorf. Dusseldorf is a German city, but it’s not much further away from Schiphol and it helped soften the price. These seven hours I mostly spent watching series on my laptop and reading. Along with my tickets I had received a voucher for a free meal due to the long waiting time, which I could really use after all the airplane food. For the rest, the check-in, security, passport control and boarding all went surprisingly easy and fast. Compared to the first part, I was really satisfied with the way things went in Dubai. I was actually happy when hearing Dutch – and German – on the plane knowing I was getting nearer to my own comfy bed. This time I spent six hours in the plane with more food that tastes way worse than it looks. Around the time I arrived in Dusseldorf, my father and sister were waiting at the airport. Since I wasn’t able to talk to them after the problems in Johannesburg, they had no idea whether I was going to be walking through one of the doors or not. So no surprise they too were really relieved to see me. Together we drove back, both of them excited asking questions. I told them all about South-Africa, the happy moments, the odd differences, that time my phone got stolen, which I got back, making lots of friends every where, my volunteering work in Johannesburg and Jeffrey’s Bay, my little trip to Soweto, lots of activities my visit to Kruger Park and much more. Instead of going straight home, we decided to go to my favourite local restaurant, Woody’s Steakhouse first. After a well enjoyed meal, I wanted to go home. I was exhausted and wanted to sleep, but mostly I wanted to see my two loyal ladies, Kiruna and Zafira again. The two German shepherds were just as happy to see me again after these two months. It was great to see my family and dogs again, but after the sleepless past 34 hours, I really wanted to get some good sleep.


 

Even though my flight back was far from great, as I look back at it, I mostly do it with a smile or a laugh. I realize a trip will never be completely perfect and that there will be moments like these, but this is actually what makes the rest of the trip even better. That’s also why I wanted to mention them, as they were part of the trip. These small issues should never discourage anyone to not go traveling as it is nothing compared to the rest of the trip. That doesn’t take away that ranting every now and then feels good too 😀

Happy new year everyone!

*Btw, there are some new photo’s, you can check out the slideshow if you want to*

 

South-Africa (4/5) Dumpster diving

(20 juli tot en met 23 augustus)

New place, different experiences

Once I arrived at the airport of Johannesburg, the sun had already set. Just a few percent battery left on my phone. Yet I still had to download the address which was in my mail. After quite a search for working WiFi, I for once had some luck when it comes to my phone. With literally 1% left, I was able to write it down on paper. Now just to get there.
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