Edit Blog Post
Published: October 21st 2007
White Beach, Boracay
From Station 2 looking North towards Station 1
It's Sunday, October 21st, and I've returned to Thailand. I wanted to give a little update on my last few days in the Philippines, and the latest news since my return to Bangkok.
Ok, the Philippines. Thankfully, the good weather held in Boracay until my departure on Tuesday, October 16.
I really enjoyed my time on the island. I connected with a group of Germans (4 university students) when I returned to Dave’s Straw Hat Inn for my last 3 days on Boracay. They were on vacation from their internship in Malaysia, and also staying at Dave’s Straw Hat. Rolf, Jens, Ina, and Tobin were an interesting bunch. Tobin was the guy who regularly disappeared late at night, and showed up the next morning (or afternoon). Where he went will remain a mystery. I spent most of my time with Jens and Rolf. For my last night on the island (Monday), I stayed up late with all of them for food and drinks near the happening part of the beach (Station 2).
On Tuesday, October 16, I checked out of Dave's Straw Hat Inn (love that place!), and took the boat to Caticlan for my 12:45 flight to
Hanging out with Jens and Rolf on my last night on Boracay.
Manila. The airport in Caticlan is small and serviced only by Asian Spirit and SeaAir. I took Asian Spirit for 3231 pesos (approx $75). It's more expensive than Kalibo but doesn't require an extra 2 hour bus ride (and fees associated with it). I arrived in Manila, and took a taxi to Makati (the modern business/shopping area of Manila). This area is a definite improvement over Malate (my previous location while in Manila) in my opinion. There are many hip stores and restaurants (Ayala Center and Greenbelts). I really liked the restaurant area of Greenbelt 3. I ate at Cascada, a trendy restaurant with wi-fi (handy with my laptop for an IM conversation with Saai!). This was the most expensive meal of my vacation ($20) and included an appetizer, entree, and dessert. Greenbelt 5 is being built at the moment (Greenbelts 1, 2, 3 & 4 are up and running).
I only had one night in Manila before my day of travel. Wednesday, October 17 was that travel day. I was up at 5:30 a.m. to get a taxi to the Philtranco bus stop at the SM MegaMall. There I would find a bus that would take me to
Makati - the newer business/shopping center of Manila.
Clark International Airport for my Air Asia flight at 11:45 a.m. The bus stop is behind Building A of the SM MegaMall. The mall is easy to find; the bus stop isn't. We found it though. Air Asia's web site indicated there were bus departures at 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. (later buses starting at 11:00 a.m.). I got there by 6:30 but the bus arrived around 7:00. Not sure what happened to that first bus. I'll never know. Maybe that was the first bus? I wasn't in a hurry. The 2 hour bus ride (300 pesos - around $7) got me to Clark Airport (Diosdado Macapagal International Airport) almost 3 hours before departure. The airport wasn't even open. However, it wasn't long before I got into the terminal, and checked in at Air Asia's counter. For those venturing this way, there is a 600 pesos (around $9) terminal fee for international flights; less for domestic. This next part is a bit surreal, but as I entered the departure area, an Air Asia employee who I had never met (Gail?) recognized me and said she had been reading my blogs. Sometimes it's a small world.
Once in K.L., I
Saai & Dave
at dinner in Bangkok (Kupa Kupa Barong).
went through immigration, and began the process all over again with flying from K.L. to Bangkok. By the way, the K.L. LCC terminal has free wi-fi access which helped with getting a quick e-mail off to Saai.
Saai met me at the airport in Bangkok that night (Wednesday, October 17). She had returned to Bangkok earlier in the day from visiting her family in southern Thailand (Trang). As a teacher, she was in the middle of her semester break (1 week off), and had visited family for a few days.
Fast forward to Friday...Friday was a big day for us. It was Saai’s interview for her U.S. travel visa. Saai and I have been planning on visiting my family in Denver, Colorado for Christmas. Saai has not yet met my family. As an American, I often take for granted my ability to travel almost anywhere in the world with few restrictions. It isn’t the same for citizens of many other countries. Saai had to assemble a fair amount of documentation in an attempt to gain access to the U.S. Her parents and I provided letters of support, and bank statements showing our ability to pay for her travels.
My parents provided a letter of invitation (where she would stay during her trip). Her employer provided a letter approving her vacation and noting her salary and length of employment. We also had application forms, pictures, and misc other things. We felt prepared. Would it be enough?
The challenge is Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Applicants must prove they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant. What supports this? It really comes down to the judgment of the consular officer during the interview.
Hmmm. Did we have enough?
Unfortunately, no. Saai’s visa request was rejected. Although we knew this was always a possibility, we both felt Saai would get the visa. It was very discouraging to have gone threw the whole process, and then not be rewarded with a visa. We do recognize it is only a vacation, but it still was disappointing.
Now that I have returned to Bangkok, I am once again renewing my efforts to find a job. It's really not all that hard...I'm just picky. There are
Dave's Straw Hat Inn Crew
Some of the crew working at Dave's Straw Hat Inn
plenty of jobs out there, but I'm looking for something near me that fits certain criteria. Hopefully that all comes together within the next 2 weeks. I think I can get it done. That's all for now...Look! There goes Dave!
Tot: 2.434s; Tpl: 0.016s; cc: 12; qc: 31; dbt: 0.022s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb