Kumusta! Hello from the Philippines! I must apologise to my regular fans, because for the last six weeks my life has been in upheaval. I had much to do to prepare to come to the Philippines this year and it occupied nearly all of my time. As a result my regular blog posting and YouTube uploads were in temporary hiatus.
I actually left my home in France on the 29th of November, and, after a comedy of errors that will surely find its way into a memoir, made it to Paris Charles de Gaulle. Further comedic excellence followed, in which I was obliged to repack my bags beside the check-in desk and ended up carrying hand luggage that must have weighed 15 kilos.
The flight itself was via Saudia and I was happily surprised by the quality of the aircraft and the service of the cabin staff, who were extremely helpful and well-trained.
The first leg, some five hours, took me to Jeddah, which is remarkable only in the sheer size of the airport. We were collected from the plane and ferried to the terminal by bus, and the journey took over 15 minutes! I was not the only one to experience this and other travellers commented.
There followed more comedy in security, because of a photographic cable-release — originally packed in my checked luggage but swapped into my hand carry on the orders of the check-in girl at Paris. Apparently this looked like a bomb trigger, but after three unpackings of my bag, the security people were satisfied that without a bomb, a thing that looked like it might possibly be used to trigger one was in any case bleeding useless.
Jeddah was not impressive as a place to spend a layover and I shall draw a veil over that lovely experience. They need to spend some money on their infrastructure.
The next flight, from Jeddah to NAIA was comfortable, again and, despite being almost 10 hours long, passed quickly. This flight was much busier than the first but the seats were comfortable. The planes used for both legs were Boeings and I have to say that the seats were far better than those in the Airbus models used by many competitors. I have often carried a pillow to sit on, when I knew that I would be flying Airbus. In fact now, the type of plane used is one of the parameters I use to decide which flight to buy. I honestly don’t see why, when Boeing can fit comfortable seats, Airbus have to fit excruciating ones.
NAIA…well, what can I say. It’s like coming home now. The friendly smiling faces of the locals, the ambience of the Philippines, this place that I have come to love so much…It just all feels so natural and comfortable, like an old shoe.
In a rare splash of extravagance I took a taxi from NAIA to Angeles City, where I write now.
I took a hotel for a couple of nights and was quickly joined by my girlfriend, Sam. It was a nice if emotional meeting, of which more later. After a day recovering from a journey that had taken, in total, 32 hours, we moved into an apartment she had found, which is very nice and comfortable. It’s a little more expensive than I am used to but very agreeable, a brand new building and we are the first occupants. Over the first week we found the basic furnishings, and, oh joy of joys, cable internet. Sam is a TV lover so we have that as part of the package, all for the measly sum of 1299 pesos a month, or around $25 USD. The connection is fast and reliable too.
It’s really a major step forward, having a wired internet connection and it is a measure of my commitment to the Philippines. From now on I will be travelling between the UK and the Philippines, with France no longer in the picture. My house in France is for sale and I hope it sells quickly. It is a part of my life that I have lived and do not wish to return to. I remain resident in the UK and that will continue, but I want to travel, using the Philippines as my base. I’m pretty sure there will be at least one more book in the French Onion Soup! series, however.
There is not that much (other than Sam) in Angeles, so whether we
retain this property or move to another is a choice we can make in the future, mutually. For her, the attraction of Angeles is the friends she has here and the life she knows; I would like some sea and more palm trees but perhaps it will be enough to buy a car or a motorcycle and use that to explore. For me, other than personal reasons, Angeles is pretty much slap in the middle of Luzon with good communications to almost anywhere on the island.
Now that I am set up here I will be returning to my regular two blog posts a week and two YouTube videos at least. Indeed I’ll be increasing my YouTube presence by adding more travel-related pieces. Obviously, as anyone who knows me could predict, we shall be discussing the delights of southeast Asia: the food, the culture, the scenery and, of course, the ladyboys.
Also published on Medium.