I had no idea what I’d find in Baler. I just knew I wanted to see the sea. After months in Plaridel, which, while nice, is neither favoured with mountains nor sea. I needed it. People like me, who grew up by the sea, pine away if we are too far from it. I’ll do another post about it later in the week, but for now I just want to say it is an unspoiled paradise. Beautiful.
Baler is on the Pacific coast of Luzon. The Pacific is magical and I was awestruck by the fact that I was literally standing on the edge of the Earth — or at least, the edge of the Sunda plate, which is advancing inexorably towards the distant and unseen America, subducting (lovely word) the Philippines Sea plate as it goes.
Anyway, this a wee taster. We’ll be going back to Baler and I’ll write more about it. Meantime thanks to our new friends Rich and Fely Cleaver, who run the Saltwater Lodge on Sabang Beach. Economical, comfortable, clean and good company, just like staying at home!
On the 25th of February, we went to Malolos, the capital of Bulacan, to see a ladyboy parade; but it never appeared. Ladyboy levels of disorganisation are, of course, legendary, in addition to which, they were probably working on Filipino time, which makes ‘manana’ sound urgent. Still, a couple of nice cold Red Horses and some good pictures. Continue reading Malolos: Street photography and ladyboys→
Arbroath January 1972 . I was living in the house at 9 East Grimsby. My Dad had died the previous year and I was still struggling with it. But I had a few things going for me: music, a camera and my books. It wasn’t a lot but it helped.
Russ Black, the art teacher at school encouraged me to use its darkroom. I had lost my own a couple of years before when we moved house. This is one of the earliest rolls I still have from then.
The camera was a Leica Model III fitted with a Ross Xtralux 50mm f2, an excellent lens. I used the name ‘Xtralux’ for a band some years later, in Exeter. Film was Ilford FP3. Continue reading Arbroath January 1972→
Last week we had the first wedding in Molinot for five years. The Bride and groom have been together for years and decided to make it all official. It was a lovely event, very redolent of a rural France that is fast disappearing. Yes folks, la France Profonde is contracting. Soon it won’t be there at all.
Meantime it was nice to see an event like this, with all the colour, hilarity and distinctly earthy humour. This is the Arriere-Cote.
I don’t know when we’ll see the next wedding in Molinot, so better enjoy this one.
The Philippines has become very important to me over the last four years. It’s now the focus of much of my life and I want to spend more time there. The winters in France are just too cold for me now.
When you visit a country for longer periods, months at a time, as I do, you can’t do quite what the holiday tourist does. It’s partly to do with budgets but also with burnout. You have to learn to chill and take it easy.
Flying out to the Philippines
Before the start is always the bit that has me in a fankle. I get travel stress a week before The Flight. No matter how long I give myself for preparation the last few days are a nightmare — and I always forget something. (This time it was the sandwiches for the train — but I had time to go back.)
Because I live in rural France, just getting to the airport is a journey. I take the train from Chagny to Charles de Gaulle airport. You can either go direct to Paris Gare de Lyon and then get the RER across to Roissy, or take a direct train. I do the latter. And after nearly missing the flight on a previous trip to the Philippines — because of a train delay — I always leave a lot of time now.
When I find myself on the platform at Chagny, it’s OK. The pressure goes away. I’m in the pipe now, and at the other end of it is the Philippines. All I have to do is get on the right trains and planes and I’ll get there.
Chagny station — the beginning
Flying over China
Some serious badlands down there
This is Shanghai from the air. Huge.
And this is the airport there. Much nicer than Beijing.