Caticlan was a much better experience. As we got off the plane the girls and I got greeted by our transport service representative. He was very nice and explained everything that was about to happen in detail.
We would get on a bus from the airport the ride will last about 1h45 then we would get on a boat that will last about 20minutes and lastly a cab that will last about 30 minutes.
After a long day of traveling and panic.. the girls and I just looked at each other, sighed, and braced ourselves for another adventure on our way to our hotel.
The Bus Ride
The bus ride was smooth. Everyone pretty much fall asleep or was at least dozing off… until we stopped in the middle of nowhere. Apparently another bus from the company had broken down and we picked up their passengers.. most of us went from having no one next to us, to having another person- I lust pretended to a be asleep until everyone found their seats..therefore, unable to move my backpack from the sit someone could of occupied… selfish i know, but it had been a long day.
The Boat Ride:
The boat ride was interesting… it was like being on a roller coaster for 20minutes. Good thing I don’t get seasick… however, that wasn’t case for Malena who was desperately trying to keep the snacks of the day down.
The taxi was open and we got to see a lot of the scenery.. well what we could see, as it was night time.
What i noticed is Boracay, Philippines is very poor. Men and women were on the streets many were by small hut out of which they would sell snacks. many people lived in huts.. if you can call them that.. they were 4 poles with a roof and “furniture” separated the sections of the living space.
there were stray dogs EVERYWHERE! most had rabbis so we had to be very careful; however, they did not seem to be harmful..so i thought until I got barked at and ran after by 2 of them.. thankfully i was on a motor bike taxi so they couldn’t catch up.
We arrived at our hotel at about midnight. We checked in and got a load of worry off of our shoulders..finally we made it! Next problem FOOD. after a whole day of travel and no food except for a few oreos here and there we were starving. The hotel had already closed their kitchen but saw our desperation and allowed us to order some food. after ordering we made it to our room.
The room was decent there was a toilet separate from a big shower a TV with American channels and 8 single beds. Everyone ran for the “good” beds. I got one:] There werent bad bed they were all quite comfortable; the “good” bed were just higher above the ground and longer.
After settling we went back to the reception..we tried to go back on our own with out having to call the reception to come pick us up as we didn’t want to cause trouble; however, we got lost in the middle of the woods.
We made a right down a path and just started to walk in the middle of woods.. I’m sure people could hear us and they were just like urgh tourist…”guys its the wrong way…where are we?….Its so dark anyone have a flash light?.. I have one on my phone!”
We continued to walk down the path with nothing as light but the flash light on my phone until we saw a hut with men from wheat we thought was our hotel..Nope the hotel next door. and they wouldn’t give us a ride unless we paid 300 pesos, so back up the dark road we went, until we stumbled on our hotel and just asked for a van to come get us from the reception.
After a GREAT meal we got back up to our hotel for some much needed sleep and preparation for the next day…
After some hunting for the best travel deals on flight hotel and activities, the girls and I finally found the GREAT rates.. but great rates come with a little adventure..maybe a little more than we bargained for.
.. my first save was by taking the bus instead of a taxi to the airport. I payed nothing for the bus as I forgot my octopus card, and the driver was nice enough to let me ride Pro Bono. Along with me were Marlene an Rynea who each payed 13HKD, a steal compared to the 80HKD our co-travelers paid for a taxi… no trouble there, we got to the airport at the same time as the rest of our group.
After customs and a little breakfast, we all headed to our gate for the first flight on our way to our destination… the flight was an easy one, but it took forever to get off the ground.. we didn’t depart until an hour after we were supposed to.
First destination: Manila; however, wrong airport! The airport we needed for our connecting flight was the Manila airport we were at Clark.. about 2 hours away….. After some confusion at immigration we were finally out of the airport to be pretty much attacked by some taxi men… which come to think of it I don’t think were real taxi men…more like men with cars offing a ride. They bombarded us; “where are you going? well give you a great deal.!. manila airport? 4400 pesos.. okay 4000…” we didn’t have room to think or enough room to go to anywhere; they followed us to the ATM and talked at us as we were trying to make a decision. In the confusion we decided that we could not take the public bus as we could not make it to the airport on time..so the sketchy taxi men it was.. We all entered a van and off to the manila airport we went… kind of.
After riding a while the taxi man informed us that we should make it by 3pm- it was 1pm.. okay no problem with that… after some more driving.. the price of 4000 changed to 4400.. the original price.. when we tried to explain that his boss had given us a deal of 4000.. the taxi men went into ” i don’t understand English well ..” mode.. “called” his boss and “confirmed” that the price was 4400 the extra cost was for the tolls….which i noticed were only 198..so i didn’t understand..
Nevertheless, we just ignored it and decided that we would pay what we were told 4000…we just didn’t tell him that.
At this time, K whispers how unsafe she feels because we had been on the road for about an hour and a half and had seen NO signs saying that an airport was in the direction that the man was taking us…I had the same thought right before but dismissed it trying not to worry myself…as traffic was clear the taxi man informed us that we could get to the airport by 3; unfortunately, just as soon as he said that we hit traffic and the time changed to 430…which resulted in some loud bickering from all of us because we were promised an on time arrival at the airport and our flight was at 5:15 with gates closing 45 minutes prior.
All of us were now really starting to wonder if he knew where he was headed because after a 2.5 hours still not signs; however, we passed many signs that said manila… when we asked he stated that the airport was called manila airport but was not located in the city of manila..
Irlva reasoned with this, saying that it was the same in Norway…so, we started to calm down
After trying to calm us down further… the driver rolled down his window to ask for directions.. at which point i was just over the top annoyed and so was everyone else.. he then called his boss for further directions, missed the bridge he was to take for the way to the airport-still no signs by the way- and took us 45 minutes out of the way, only to turn around and turn on a street that we had already passed… after some driving….FINALLY AN AIRPORT SIGN! you could hear the sighs of relief from us, but the relief didn’t last long. Not a minute later, we get stopped by police…The taxi man asks the policeman for direction trying to distract him and at this point Anna, who is sitting in the front sit with the taxi man, tries all of the little Spanish she knows to explain to the police officer that we had 15 minutes before we would miss our flight…too bad the language is a mix of Spanish and something else, so she gets a smile and a “hello. tourists?”…at which she responds “yes” while still trying to explain our current situation through gestures. The taxi driver tries to get her to stop and talks to the police officer, who lets us go after getting a pay off.
The looks on our faces after that were priceless, ans the only word that broke the silence was “corrupted” whispered by Rynea.
5 minutes later…
We get to the airport and each pay our part..500 pesos. The taxi driver didn’t agree and chose to hold Anna hostage because that only added up to 4000..after some arguing we explain that since the explanation behind the 400 extra was for the toll and the toll was only 200, we will pay only 200… he was reluctant and tried to throw the police bribe into the price but agreed and we ran off into the airport for our flight..2 minutes before the gate was to close.
We rushed to get our tickets and to the gate only to be stopped mid way for not paying a gate fee of 100 pesos.. which we knew nothing about; nevertheless, we payed it and got to our gate only to find out that our flight has been delayed and the gate check in extended until after the storm, that came out of no where.
45 minutes later, under some light rain, we entered the flight to destination 2; Caticlan.
This night started rocky ANYWAYS because i was kind of in my bag. At my university when the international office takes you on an excursion they provide a way for you to get to the location AND a way back… not here. At HKIED they just provide a way to get there after that you are on your own… The first time i found this out i was offended and a bit upset..how can they just leave me two islands from where i started and expect me to get home NOT knowing Cantonese?!.. this being the second time I knew my way around HK’s railway system and I understood that the reason they do this is because not everyone wants to go home right after.. we are a group new to Hong Kong and we want to explore… so I’ll give them that one.. but I still don’t like it 100 percent..maybe 90..anyways…
We were taken to the harbor to take a tour of HK on a boat and afterwards the group decided to stay to watch the light show at Victoria’s harbor. After the light show… DRINKS…
We were told that there is an ally with nothing but bars where we could have drinks over conversations not too far from the harbor, so we set out to look for it..
After a not so quick stop at H&M we find the ally with the help of some locals that where going the same way…
After some indecisiveness, we finally settle on a bar..
I forgot the name of the drink i ordered but it was pretty good… after the bartender remade it… the girls and I sat and talked, laughed, showed each other pictures of our boyfriends, all over drinks… soon it was time to go and obstacle number 1 arrived.
In Hong Kong, unlike in the states, they don’t ask you if the bill will be together of separate..most often they just put it together… its a culture thing.. my professor was talking about it in my intercultural communications class.. it is custom for individuals to fight to pay the bill after they have eaten, or had drinks with friends and/ or family.
Nevertheless, in some restaurants they cannot separate the bill (so they say) especially, if you tell them to do it after they have already put it together. Not knowing this, our bills were put together and it took us about an hour to get the waiter and staff to understand that we were all paying separate! Once that problem was solved, the girls wanted to go to the club… Now I’m am not a club person so i was ready to go home… thankfully I was not alone; Marlene and Rynea were ready to go as well.
Mind you by this time its already 2am.
We separate from the others and get on the way to find the railway station. On the way we stop and ask two guys which way to go.. one of whom was an Asian from London and was actually kind of cute and the accent just made it better…but anyhow…they informed us that the railway was closed!!
We low-key started to panic because to take a cab from where we were would of cost us about 50USD each! The guys told us we could take a bus that would get us to Thai Po Market and we could then take a cab to school which would cost us about 5USD each, if not less.. we thanked them and set on our way to the bus stop where we were all types of confused and tried to ask people around us…but no English… finally we READ and see the bus that would take us to the right place…
Waiting for the bus.. we see the two boys we stopped earlier..funny thing they are going to take the same bus…which is kind of a relief because this creepy old Chinese guy told us he would show us where to go to just get off when he does.. he might of had good intentions, although I don’t think he bathed in a bit..
BUT we got on one bus got off took another bus and finally took a cab back to the university.
Long story short ALWAYS check the bus and TRAIN running hours when in a foreign country especially before drinks!
Hong Kong is nothing but hills. Thus its no surprise that the school I attend here is on top of hills…
In an attempt to save some money, as Hong Kong does not have meal plans; you just pay every time you eat in the canteen (dining hall), Rynea and I ( the other student from NCAT) decide to go grocery shopping to save on eating out all the time. We’re thinking, just a couple of snacks some rice and chicken.. easy enough.
Mind you the supermarket closest to the school is up a huge hill.
After stopping several times to catch our out of shape breathes, and making smart remarks about the Hong Kong locals passing us like they are walking on leveled land, we finally make it up the hill to the “welcome” supermarket.
Once there we shop! we get fruit, snacks, rice, flour, seasonings, chicken, scallops and shrimp, water and oh we cant forget pots and pans all in two carts.. we arrive at the register and are immediately reminded that the shops here don’t work like the ones in the states. In order to carry your groceries home you need to bring your own grocery bags.. like an Aldi’s in the states..that doesn’t shock me too much as this is how it is in Europe and my mother and I sometimes shop in Aldi’s in the states. So we buy two big grocery bags and the cashier fills them with our groceries; unfortunately, we cant carry the bags because they are too big and way too heavy. So we have to rent two grocery carts.. yes I said rent.. we payed 200 HKD to borrow carts after spending 1300HKD on the food.. but the condition was that we got the 200 HKD back just as long as we brought the carts back..
So here we are with two carts full of food going down a steep hill with bad concrete… Rynea, tired of her cart’s wheels because they veer right lets the cart go, but then has to run after it before it crashes…ill can do is laugh and think of how ridiculous we look. Coming down the last piece of the hill my cart picks up speed and falls over in front of students waiting for the public bus at school some, international students we know just laugh and shake their heads.Two guys help me pick up my cart and I immediately check to make sure the eggs are safe while Rynea cracks up further up the street..
We get back to our hostel, put up our food, and start to think if those 200 HKD are really worth going back up that hill..after a unanimous decision that themoney is worth it, we make our way back up the hill this time with empty carts looking like homeless individuals..
After such an exhausting journey, we rest and meet later to cook; Unfortunately, the pots and pans we bought don’t work on the electric stove top the school provided…but that’s another episode.
After walking the mall endlessly with student buddies, local Hong Kong students, and other international students its finally time to eat! The place of choice is Pizza Hut…
I’m excited, after a week of trying nothing but local Asian food some American food sounds GREAT even if I am getting my food from a cramped rectangle at some corner of this mall… which is also a market by the way but, different story…anyways I was happily willing to wait on a dirty bench in a dim corner of a rectangular pizza shack for some American food….however, here is where it gets interesting…
Pizza Hut, unlike in the states, is a high in restaurant. You’re probably already like “what?!” ,but yeah FANCY FANCY.
Upon entering, I immediately felt like a bum in a fancy place.. I was in a rain jacket jeans and some sneakers in a Macaroni Grill fancy type place..but I was hungry so I swallowed my pride and endured the stares.
The menu looked great!! all the foods I knew Pizza Hut had and all the ones i didn’t know they had..I ordered a creamy rice with chicken and vegetables topped with a cheesy crust and a lemonade..
Again, here is where it gets interesting…
The lemonade: Water and lemons.. oh with melted sugar…I just started to laugh! the waitress looked at me like I was crazy… this is “cheap folks” lemonade, you know the lemonade you make yourself with FREE water, lemons, and packets of sugar in the US when you don’t want to pay 3/4 dollars for a drink or actual lemonade; and here I was paying those 3/4 dollars for it in Hong Kong.
The Meal: Usually in the US when you order something creamy.. its Alfredo.. not the case in Hong Kong! I don’t know what kind of cream it was but it had NO flavor.. NONE! No cheese nothing. Nevertheless, I ate it silently thinking of the fact that I just spend 100HKD on the meal. At least the vegetable soup that came with the meal was good!
Lessons Learned: American food in HK is just semi Americanized Asian food. Which I should of known, because from a business stand point it my be “American” but it still has to please the taste buds of Hong Kong people.. after all they are the main consumers of the food.. not Americans. BUTTT…McDs and Ruby Tuesdays still tastes the same as in America :] just with a few Hong kong options like seaweed seasoning on fries for a dollar more at McDs.. but that’s a different episode.
Hey guys! I haven’t written in ages! Nevertheless, i am starting again on the count of I’M GOING TO ASIA!!. & I am “starting” a natural hair journey…
I am on my way to Hong Kong, China for a whole semester. something tells me i should of went for the year but…. im giving my mother enough of a heart attack with the semester away soo… yep. My plans are to take in as much as the culture as possible and of course i will update your guys on my journey..must dos.. ELEPHANT TREKKING in Thailand. :] && GREAT WALL in Beijing.
2. NATURAL HAIR!
For those who know me I have been natural…[i transitioned and finally chopped all of the relaxed hair out of my head last summer] soo.. i dont know how the counting goes.. to some I’m at 1 year and to others and I am at 2 1/2 3 years in august… The thing about it is that.. I dont take care of my hair!! last summer i did really good but as my junior year started i got lazy and SUPPER busy so up in braids it went until I decided that it was a good idea to straighten it everyday… [NONO] now i am left with heat damaged hair. I miss my natural curls, so i decided that today marks the day [June 2, 2013] that I am going to starts loving my hair. I have a hair goal of adding 3inch to my hair by Sept. [ lets see how it goes].. my ultimate goal is to have bra strap hair length hair by next January… mind you my hair straighten is already at mid chest…but i want to be able to wear my hair curly all the time..in shoulder length Bantu-knot-out curls.. so I guess I am going on a hair growing journey..