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Published: February 27th 2007
Does it get better than this?
Hard to believe, but this Island marked the last stop before Hong Kong, and the end of the 13 country journey. It was to be vacation. Not to delve too deep into semantics, but i do not consider the rest of the trip a vacation. The journey was at many times difficult, its goal was not 'pleasure' or relaxation but rather life experiences, personal growth and my inner need to see the world. this last aspect has only been reinforced and confirmed throughout the trip. There is something inside me that goes far beyond personal desire for travel. It is simply how I relate to the world. And consequently is the truest way for me to grow as a person. The last 2 1/2 months have been nothing short of incredible, but they have also been exhausting. Thus, i scheduled this time on a tropical Island as a preliminary R+R reflection time. I would have over a week in Hong Kong to rest up from the journey before flying back to the states, but this was my time to relax, enjoy the sun, and feel free from any sightseeing 'obligations'. I as looking for a hammock on a beach and some
"please leave this house standing"
Not knowing when the army will come back must be hard
sand between my toes. This I found ON Malapascua. 4 1/2 hours from Cebu City on a bus plus half an hour by boat, this tiny island of 4 thousand people is well enough known to tourism to the extent that it offers several good cheap restaurants but has been completely missed by mass commercialized packages. This, as I s to find out, has both its pluses and minuses.
I met up with Ole from Denmark between the bus and the boat. The poor guy had attracted much attention to himself when his bag bounced out of the open door on the highway, necessitating an emergency stop and the recovery of said bag. Having looked at the guidebook and note that accommodation prices are based on double occupancy, I was more than happy to use this minor event as a pretext for striking up a conversation, and was justly reworded to find that he was also a budget minded traveler and was keen on sharing a cabin. Upon arrival @ the Island, we were greeted by members of the 'sunshine brigade', a group of volunteers who guide new arrivals to whatever accommodation is desired in exchange for first rights
to pitch their diving and snorkel trips, a fair trade if you ask me. The guesthouse of choice in my book was the 'White Sands Bungalows', and as luck would have it, they had 1 left. turns out the owner is also from Denmark, and we settled into a beach front unit for the slightly discounted price of $ 7 ea.
I stayed on the island for a week, doing a whole lot of nothing, reading, resting in the hammock, and going for long walks along the beach. Yes, I did enjoy it here. However, 3 things will, most likely, keep me away should my travels bring me to the area again. 1. unlike larger resort areas, this Island has no garbage service, which translates into several beaches serving as dumps. This is due to fisherman dumping bags when they go out. So, with the tide, it ends up on the beaches. 2. In keeping with the corrupt nature of the country, a new law has been passed that creates a 20m wide building free zone from the beach inland. Any structure that is within this zone must be demolished. The army has already come though for phase 1
Not the best of the trip, but it was viewable from an ocean beach, which is always a plus
of the demo, and the people here have no idea when phase 2 will be. an interesting item of note is that the mayor and Governor, and several of their friends own resorts that are between 21 & 22m from the beach, hence exempt from the new zoning. and, one of their friends who owns a resort within the zone has been exempted because it lies on "a significant concrete foundation". So, people like Kurt who own places that are small are left out in the cold, whereas those who have large concrete monstrosities get to stay. Kurt used to have 10 bungalows, but he lost 3 when the army came though last time. The other tragic side to it is that many locals are having their homes demolished as well. 3. The mayor has seen fit to give out disco permits to a few operators close to all the guesthouses on the south side of the island. This allows them to blast music out on the beach from 6 pm to 3am on the weekends. this is nothing short of retarded. Thus, even though I had an amazing time, I was ready to leave by the day of my
flight, and not sure that I would ever come back. Kurt is selling his business on the Island, and I doubt I want to support anyone who has done what they need to do stay.
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