Getting closer, tying up the odds and ends

6/12-Time to start “herding the cats” and get some of my baggage in order.  I’ve acquired a shipping box and the first things will go in soon.   Probably mask, snorkel, and flippers.  I looked at coffee this weekend and discovered the expiration date was mid January.  If I’m gonna ship coffee, I want it fresh.  I’ll wait and buy it in July.  The box will need to be shipped no later than mid August.

The “to do” list.

  1. Still working on the visa thing.  (Got it, see below.)
  2. Travel clinic and/or family doctor.  I’ll visit them in October (I looked through my immunizations and changed my mind.  Everything is current)
  3. Purchase flights from Cebu to Tacloban (done on 7/9/13.  Praxy’s fare on 11/5 is $46.31.  Mine is a little more.  11/15, which is a Friday, is $59.67.  Quite affordable.  My flight leaves earlier than hers, I arrive in Tacloban at about 12:30pm.  I will not spend a night in Tacloban.)
  4. Remember the sonic “dog quieter” (It’s in)
  5. Gifts for friends and family  (working on it)(done)
  6. Learn some Tagalog

Last minute

  1. Authorize all credit cards for the Philippines and Korea
  2. Boarding passes
  3. Weigh luggage
  4. Contact a friend for airport pickup in Cebu for both of us
  5. Check weather reports
  6. Pay house insurance

So, you think I might be a little anal with checklists and preparations?  No problem.  I am.  Because I want my vacation to be a true vacation.  I’ll do the worry, prep, and thinking and get it all out of the way and behind me before I leave my house.  Time after time, I run into people that are vacationing by the seat of their pants.  It catches up with you.  If you travel, you’ve seen them.  One or more of the following…Late for the flight.  Overweight luggage.  Forgot something important.  Got lost in the airport.   Missed an interesting destination.  Got robbed or lost something.  Run out of money.  Couldn’t find the motel.  It’s not to say I won’t, didn’t, or couldn’t make any one or all of these errors.  I’m saying I might get lucky and avoid them.  Read on.

6/28-Still working on the visa.  I haven’t heard anything yet, but I will pursue this to the end.  Brings back a memory of a friend that had trouble in Philippine customs.  This doesn’t apply to my situation, but it will give a reader something to think about.

My friend is a native born Filipina, but her husband is from Sri Lanka.  She assumed that she could bring him to the Philippines on the balikbayan visa without any problems.  (Literally balik “back” bayan “country”, this term regarding an temporary immigration visa means a native born person may visit the Philippines with their immediate family from another country.  The entire family has six free months with an option to get six more free months.)   They flew in for a pleasant two week vacation.

Wrong!  People coming from or born in countries with serious problems from violent Muslim or religious extremists cannot enter the Philippines on any type of normal visa; student, tourist, or business.  They must be cleared before they leave the country of origin, whether it be their own country or another country, no exceptions.  Even though her husband lives in the US and has a green card  (he is a pro and teaches tennis) he was refused admittance and deported on the next outbound flight, which left 90 minutes later to Hong Kong.  Nothing could be done.

She was devastated.

Wow.  How would a person, even a native, know that unless they were “anal”?

8/1  Got an answer on the visa.  I have a friend that knows someone at both the Cebu airport customs and in the consulate in Cebu.  I will contact them when the time gets closer and we will work it out.  I  really don’t care if I am on the 59 tourist visa or the balikbayan visa.  Just as long as I’m legal.  The balikbayan visa is free, though.  Free is better than pay.  But I’m not going to haggle over a mere $30.  I’m on vacation, and that includes a vacation from hassles!

8/31-I contacted Asiana about a seat upgrade.  I would like to be towards the front of the aircraft.  Couldn’t be done from reservations, but I’ll try again.  However, Asiana didn’t seem to have any record of the reservation I’d made for Praxy.  So…back to the travel agent to find out why.  She was a little perturbed that I contact Asiana about something rather than her.  You know what?  I don’t care if a travel agent is perturbed.  I’m paying the money for the trip.  I’ll check whatever I want whenever I want.  Anyway, the agent had to straiten out my wife’s ticket.  Good.  Praxy isn’t very good at hassling with unexpected problems.  I WILL check again before we leave to make sure her stuff is OK.  I will be fine even if there is a problem.  I think quicker and I also know the airline/travel agent game.  After all, I been been both an airline agent and a travel agent.

9/10-  Got the first thing packed, my sonic dog quieter.  It works fairly well, the dog has to be close and not real excited.  It’s funny watching the dog’s puzzled expression as it looks around for the whistle.  Praxy is finishing packing our boxes, they will go out next week.  It takes about 2 months for them to get to the Philippines, so they might show up shortly after we do.  No problem.  By then, we should be lined out on where we are staying.  Because…

Looks like the house we were planning to stay in is not going to be completed by the time we get there.  I already told Praxy that we aren’t going to stay in a construction project.  Besides the noise and dirt, there are people hanging around or working that I don’t know and we have a lot of things that are valuable.   Since she will be there a week sooner than me, she is going to look around and find us a place.  I’m not too worried.  There are three small barrios and a large city nearby, there should be something available somewhere.  We don’t need a lot.  I want something with some of the creature comforts of home.  It doesn’t have to be large.  Air conditioning in the bedroom would be a huge plus, and warm water showers are sure nice.  It’s amazing how drained a kano gets after several weeks of sleeping in the heat and humidity.

However, location of the house is important.  It would be nice to be on the Pacific ocean, maybe 100 yards from the beach.  Cool breezes all day during the winter.  Salcedo is off the ocean and a bit warmer.  It sits on the west side of the southern part of Eastern Samar with a high ridge between it and the Pacific.   We will pay extra for an ocean view.   There is a person Praxy knows that has a house near a swamp.  Tons of mosquitoes.  Don’t want to go there.

9/28- A niece that lives in Guiuan has been looking for a place for us to stay.  First thing she found was unfurnished.  The house was certainly nice enough, but we wanted a furnished house.  It doesn’t make sense to have to buy a couple hundred dollars worth of furniture (bed, table, chairs, refer, stove, etc.) and such to make the house livable for such a short period of time.  It would have certainly been OK if we were staying 6 months.  At $100USD per month, the price was beyond reasonable.   Catherine found another house that WAS furnished a few days later.  It sounded good, we were ready to go for it.  Then yesterday, she found a recently finished house owned by a foreigner that was leaving for a few months.  Rent will be $350 per month, includes electricity, water, and high speed internet.  We are jumping on this one.  Much cheaper than staying in a motel, and it should be very comfortable.  It is a longish walk to Guiuan, perfect.  We can walk in and catch a tricycle back to the house with groceries and such.  Plus, I can do my blogging any time I wish.  And watch Gonzaga Bulldog games (maybe) or at least listen to them online.  I am unsure how fast and reliable internet service will be this far away from Tacloban, the nearest city.  Last trip, streaming video from the US was iffy in Tacloban.

The only downside is that there is no air conditioning.   That shouldn’t be an issue, though.  This will be less than 3 miles the Pacific ocean and there should be a cool breeze most of the time.  A good fan will suffice.  If I simply MUST have AC, I suppose I can buy one.  However, on the last trip the weather was cool and rainy throughout Eastern Samar and I had no trouble sleeping as long as I had a fan.

It’s about a 1/2 hour drive from Guiuan to Asgad.  I’m still thinking about renting a motorcycle, perhaps from a dealership.   There is no transportation to/from Asgad except for 1 daily jeepney.  This jeepney is always full by reservation.  I suppose I could learn to ride on the roof…

We shipped three boxes out on September 26th to Guiuan.  They should beat us to the Philippines quite easily and I think they will be waiting for us in Guiuan.  The container ship leaves Seattle on October 6th and should be in Manila by mid month.   Inside there is toys, food items and coffee (for a homesick kano, good coffee is scarce outside the larger cities), air beds and tent (for use at our house in Asgad), candles, pots and pans, snorkeling gear, and other goodies.

There has been a long time between posts for this trip.  It was difficult for me to get excited about the trip.  Now, with the house lined out and the boxes being shipped, I’m getting wound up again.  Except for the last minute stuff and suitcase packing, I have just about finished preparations.  6 weeks to go.

10/14-  4 weeks to from today.  Getting excited about the trip now.  Time for this post to go up.  I’ve got a few things to add today.  Got all my prescriptions lined out.  Blood pressure and cholesterol are the two prescriptions that I need.  Plus, ciprofloxacin.  This will be for that unexpected stomach bug that can lay someone flat for days.  Sleeping meds for the flights.  And, my usual ear patches for nausea while one buses or ferries.  The suitcase is starting to fill up.

About Ken

I am a federal employee that loves to travel. I don't get any time off during the busy salmon tagging season, March through November. So, I save my leave and explore the warmer parts of the world during the winter.
This entry was posted in 2013, back to the Philppines. Bookmark the permalink.

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