4/20/13. A month ago, Praxy surprised me a good one. Out of a clear blue sky, she wistfully wished she could visit her homeland this winter. I was a little shocked, while we were in the Philippines two winters ago, she commented she had no desire to return for 7 years! [4/21-We are still talking about it and had a long discussion at the breakfast table.] [4/29 This entry is going up soon. I'm giving us a 90% chance that we will be taking this trip.]
But, I’m up to it. I must admit, I have a little trepidation, though. I remember just how rigorous that last trip was for me. But…I now know the lay of the land and we are not really planning to visit any new areas. Uh, that isn’t entirely true…I just requested information about snorkeling with whale sharks in Donsol. That would be about a 5 hour ride from Tacloban, so why not? Two nights accommodations, two breakfasts, two snorkeling trips, and gear for about $300.
The real reason I started this entry was to track flight prices from Lewiston, Idaho to Cebu, Philippines. We would have to leave the US on about the 4th of November and return sometime after the new year, so far it looks like January 10th. Checking prices…$1264 each 4/20. Not bad, but I’m going to hold out a bit. I think the price should get into the $1100ds and we have 6 months to go. Last time, I scored $1240 something and paid in July. That works for me. Korean Air had a fare from Spokane to Cebu for around $1120.
I am visualizing our trip running something like this. Leave Lewiston on 11/4, arrive Cebu 11/5. Fly to Tacloban on 11/7 or 11/8, preferably 11/7 on Cebu-Pacific Airline. The two days in Cebu are for dealing with jet lag. Plus, I can visit some old friends. Martin is getting up in years, his wife, Dione, passed away during our last trip. They are lovely people; their daughter Desire, nephew Vavan, Linden and Jean, who are son and daughter-in-law I just checked the fare: for us and two luggages each is… Cebu-Pacific has a promotional fare from Cebu to Tacloban for, get this, $7 each with no luggage plus taxes and fees. Everything included comes to $102 with our luggage. It is a thirty minute flight on a comfortable Airbus 320. To do it another way…Fast Catamaran from Cebu to Ormoc, Leyte. Nice boat, but a three hour trip. Van Van’s micro-bus to Tacloban, crowded. About 6 hours, a slightly lower price, and a hassle with the luggage. Which one are we going to do? Duuuuhhhh, the flight? I will pay in advance from the US if we do this. Paying in advance for ferries or flights in the Philippines saves you huge bucks.
Her college has a class reunion on Saturday November 9 near Salcedo. I’m looking forward to that, the reunions have been fun and I am always more than welcome. Let’s see, the 11th would be time to inspect the house and start purchasing materials. I know we need…
1 A complete roof. I don’t know if we will go with Nipa (palm, it doesn’t last long but it is cheap) or metal (lasts longer, more expensive, rusts in a year or so). Other possibilities are a plastic composite and tiles.
2 A door where the tin is nailed and propped facing the ocean. That door was totally shot. Plus the other door isn’t the greatest either.
3 Above the door on the seaward side, there are some decorative bricks that have corroded in the salt air. They will need to be replaced or filled. I’m thinking replaced because of ventilation.
4 Some sort of hand railing will need to be put in eventually.
5 Inside, everything needs to be replaced if I’m going to stay there for any length of time. Electrics, plumbing, furniture, cupboards, etc.
6 I think we should paint the outside for protection. I’m not sure of this, though. My experience with seaside homes is very very limited. That might make a mess. [4/21, Nope, the paint won't last. Marine paint has to be shipped from the US and will only last a few years anyway.]
With that many repairs, we think we will stay in Salcedo, with occasional nights in Asgad. We have some relatives with a very nice vacant house in Salcedo. Probably 2-3 weeks. I enjoyed staying in Asgad last trip, but I always feel like I’m imposing. Everyone always gives the Americano the best bed, that means someone else is on the floor or couch. I’ll probably pack my air mattress again.
[4/21 We will have the use of a new house while we stay in Salcedo. Praxy's niece has just completed it. We may have to buy a bed, table, chairs, etc. as the place is totally new but that will be no problem. Call it rent! Praxy has some household supplies stored in Asgad. We are going to rebuild our house as a beach house or vacation house. Praxy has no plans to live there permanently. It will be for family use while visiting on holiday]
Back to Tacloban and a 3-4 week stay. This is going to be a test for both of us but especially me to see if I can handle the extended time just “hanging around” during retirement. We will rent a furnished house, maybe I can find something before we leave the US. While in Tacloban, I’m going to sneak off to Donsol for the sharks. We will look into house prices and locations to pass the time. I’ll also try to meet some of the local American expats for advice. Praxy had a couple of different people approach us during our last visit trying to sell us their houses. Prices were very reasonable, around $30,000 USD. We’ll see.
Why Tacloban? Several reasons. It’s a larger city with amenities; good medical, American supplies, American expats, good airport, protection from typhoons, good restaurants, plenty of hardware stores, close to Salcedo and Asgad, etc. I don’t know if we want to be right in town, but a few miles out would be great. [5/4 We are going to spend some extra time in Salcedo and check it out. There are many expats in Guian, which is about 15 miles away. We'll check out supplies, medical, accessibility, and ambiance while we are there. Although is area is almost "frontier" in the Philippines, it is now starting to develop.]
Back to Salcedo and Asgad for Christmas and New Years with Praxy’s family. I’m going to load them up with fireworks if possible on New Year’s Eve. And try not to be sick with Chief Lapu Lapu’s Revenge. For old times sake, I want to whack the buoy with a stick at midnight. It used to be a ritual on December 31.
See our house peeking around the buoy? Let’s say you are heading east. After crossing the beach there is lots of ocean. If you didn’t bump into one of the Marshall islands, the next solid land is in Nicaragua. Our area is one of the farthest east in the Philippines. Some of Mindanao is further east, but I will probably never see it. Too many radical Muslims on that island. If/when Randy and Celia are home, we may go visit them in Bhutan.
After New Years, maybe a visit to Sequijor, or Dumaguete. Fly out around the 10th of January. [4/21 Praxy mentioned that she would like to spend three days in Seoul on the return. I loved Seoul on our last trip, a stopover would be nice. I'm going to look into the increase of airfare prices.] [4/27 Called Genesis Travel in Lynnwood, Washington. The stopover in Seoul would amount to about $120 each. It's a go! A side note, I called Asiana for a quote. That price was $1,700 more for the stopover. It sure pays to shop around!]
That should cover my urge to write for the day. I’m going to post this later. I don’t want to post this early and then see us change our plans.
[4-29 There will be another entry or two before we leave. One will be for people that have never flown a trans-Pacific flight or may never get the chance. This also will be of great help to a first time flyer. Another of my "visit a place you may never get to see" type of posts. There will be sections devoted to...what to take with you to make the trip more comfortable, facts about the aircraft and route, a real time flight tracking map so you can follow our flight, and what to wear and why. While on board, a video of the takeoff (hopefully), pictures of the interior, how to combat boredom and fatigue, meals, movies, sleeping, etc. I will also describe the Seoul transfer in detail and the continuing flight to Cebu.]
[5/4 Here is a youtube link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VBJe_CL20E&feature=youtu.be to our take off from Seattle in 2009. The rain was absolutely pouring, water was streaming from the fuselage and making video difficult. I sat and pondered, how many hundreds or thousands of pounds on water collect on an aircraft this size? Of course it was mostly blown off (which takes energy, time, and fuel) before we lifted off.
I'm about sure we are going to go, so this first blog is going on my page as well. ]
4/27 $1263.30 Adding the 4 night stop in Seoul makes the total right around 1,380 each
4/29 $2358.50 in the AM, $1263.30 in the PM
5/4 $1263.30 Seems to be in a holding pattern. I’m sure there will be a sale some day soon!