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Published: April 2nd 2007
We're at Tapei airport as this entry gets published...
We arrived in Taichung, Taiwan's second city, early on the morning of March 28th. Jen and I had travelled from Malapascua Island in the Philippines via ferry, hell-bus, taxi, plane, and finally taxi to get to Jean Christophe's and Tinna's house. The journey started at 10:30 on Tuesday morning and delivered us to our hosts at 2:30am on Wednesday. It was pretty smooth sailing, all told.
We had some good times in the Philippines. Really, we did. We had a very relaxing time of it at our last stop: five days on our very own sometimes-private beach. Seven thousand islands make up this archipelago, and most of them are difficult if not impossible to reach. Things are changing, as witnessed by the discrepency between our 1 year old guidebook and the present reality. More ferries and buses are taking tourists and locals more conveniently and ever farther from the regional centers.
One difference with our stay in the Philippines from our passage through every other country: we stuck to the beaches. Three months of beach vacation would have been unbearable as there is only so much nothing you
can sanely do. However, by the time we got out of Hong Kong we were Templed, Museumed, Cultural Heritaged, and Tourist Attracted out! The Philippines was about swimming and tanning and diving, and that's all we did, with a little eating thrown in.
The people of the Philippines are a joyous, easygoing bunch, as a rule. There are some notable exceptions, and we had a few occasions to witness tourists getting scammed, first hand. I got into a discussion with a ferry boat captain over the price of passage from Maya (at the northern tip of Cebu Island) to Malapascua Island. He had negotiated with four other tourists a price of 100piso ($2.50), and felt that that was the price which we should now have to pay. I pointed out that I had purchased official tickets at the ticket booth for the 40piso which is posted as the fare. But that would not be fair to the others from whom he'd squeezed an extra 60piso, he insisted. The other tourists listened in as I informed the captain in very diplomatic terms (no, really, I'm serious: I was diplomatic beyond what I thought possible) that just because he screwed 4
foreigners he didn't now have a liscense to screw two more, and that if he thought the fare unfair to him, then he should take up the matter with the ticket office. We boarded, sat down, and nothing more was said.
Now that we are in Taiwan, we are letting our friends show us around. Travel in Taiwan is safe and easy, thanks in large part to the Taiwanese attitude towards foreigners. If they can't help you, they'll find someone who can, and you'll get where you want to go, in the time promised (or sooner), and for the one and only price. Novel.
It's off to the airport to catch the first of three flights which will get us back to Calgary. It will make for a long day, but we'll be in business class the whole time, with full access to the lounges at Narita and LAX. Our layovers are four hours each, and our longest flight is on Singapore Air (THE Asian airline). Did I mention the noodle bar in the business class lounge at Narita? Do I sound excited?
This is my final entry for this trip. We'll see some of you later
Ours was the first cabin in the forground
this week, the rest we'll be sure to bore with our unpublished stories as we track you down over the next few months. Thank you all for you support; just knowing how many people viewed (perhaps even read) these pages has made us feel a little closer to home.
So, this is it...
3 months, 6 countries, countless kilometres, 30 hotels/guesthouses, too many bus/ferry/train rides and flights to try (or, in some cases, want) to remember. Now, it's back to the crisp (and ant free) cotton sheets stretched tight over a king sized mattress, familiar pets (as opposed to the string of geckos and roosters who seemed to accompany us everywhere), favourite foods prepared just so, private and public transport at an unambiguous price, anonymity amongst strangers and unguarded intimacy amongst family and friends long missed. We're coming home.
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