Back to KK – where Online Transaction Cock Ups Awaited – Day 81 – Apr 9 AND The worst case scenario just got worse and the thriller in Manila – Day 82 – Apr 10

Time to leave Sepilok and the Orang Utans (and Sun Bears) behind and get back to Kota Kinabalu in order to make preparations to move on to another country – the Philippines. The bus ride was not a bad one in terms of time and had all the usual suspects turning out for viewing – more Palm Oil trees, more Mount Kinabalu and more cloud covering the mountain so that we could not actually see it! This time we even had some major rain when we passed the mighty mount.

We booked in – back once more to the Victoria Hotel and as their WIFI was not too bad, if a little unpredictable, we decided to get our travel arrangements resolved first. We had decided that we were going to spend two months in the Philippines so we would need to get an extension to our one month visa arranged and we also wanted to find out if we needed to have a ‘outbound’ ticket from the Philippines. It was quite difficult to find a single definitive answer on the latter and as we read the information we found online, the airlines say you must have one yet the Philippine authorities do not bother to check for it – great eh! First we booked the flight to the Philippines and at this point cock-up number one occurred because we (by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) went through to a screen which ‘looked’ legitimate until it suddenly started asking for more card information than I wanted to give out, unfortunately by this time I had already provided much of the card information. So, change of plan, I then had to cancel my card – argh! First I had to contact my bank then I tried to contact Air Asia to inform them that their systems may have been corrupted but both communications were like knitting fog. In the end, we had to book our flight to Manila using Liz’s card but, mistake number two, rather than book an onward flight from the Philippines to Hanoi – we had seen a reasonable flight through Cebu Pacific – we decided to hang fire until we got to the airport as the worst that could happen would be that we would have to book the flight over the net at the airport. Or at least that is what we thought the worst could be!

We now only needed to have a ‘Blackadder-style’ cunning plan to get a new card over to us whilst in the Philippines – as my card had no charges attached when used overseas. We decided we needed some brainfood and the only food to choose had to be the humble Roti. This time the restaurant owner ignored me completely and to be fair I did him too as some serious thinking was required. We would have to re-route the Philippines to come back to Manila earlier than I anticipated, so rather than go up to the North of Manila first we would have to do that last and if we were lucky it should not affect our chances of seeing a Whale Shark in Donsol too much as we would hit there just a bit early – it just would not be happening, as I had originally planned, on my birthday.

With respect to the country we were to be leaving for the second time during our trip – what can I say? Malaysia, both parts, are excellent places to visit, the people are friendly, the food a good mix of Indian and SE Asian styles is really some of the best on the trip thus far, there is loads to see and do too – remove the Palm Oil trees and this would be perfect but I am sure I am asking for just a little too much.

NEXT DAY:

First we were up and off to KK’s ‘International’ airport for our flight to Manila we had left a bit earlier than required in order to give us a bit of extra time at the airport should things be more difficult than we expected. We tried to book in at the Air Asia desk and no sooner had we handed over our passports then the lady from AA asked for our onward flight tickets – argh. We explained we had none because we were going to extend our visas so could not book a flight until we knew when we were going to leave the country. She said (my translation, not a transcript) ‘No Sir, even if you do not know when you shall be leaving you still must book a flight’ – I could not speak such was my exasperation. We skulked away from her desk and thought, okay onto plan B. We tried hooking up to the WIFI – this did not work so we asked an older Malaysian airport lady – and possible IT technician, if she could look into the matter quite urgently. She picked up her IT tools (consisting of a yard brush) and proceeded, after a couple of swipes and mishits, to turn off the router. We waited and waited then she directed another couple of hits at the poor machine before it groaned back into life. We tried to connect again and this time eureka! We pulled up the Cebu Pacific website but (oh deary me, I said) their website had gone into major meltdown. We swiftly moved onto plan C and went over to the Air Asia booking desk and tried to book a flight with them but this proved more difficult than expected because the lady there seemed reluctant to actually do it AND to add insult to injury, the only flight she had would fly to Ho Chi Minh City rather than Hanoi my initial destination of entry! I tried to explain to her that we were in this pickle because Air Asia, her company, needed an onward ticket from the Philippines. She finally relented and so we had two tickets to leave the Philippines on a date we did not want to go, to a place we did not want to fly into in Vietnam – PERFECT eh!Take note dear readers of this Lemony Snicker-Style Unfortunate Chain of Events!

The flight was a breeze and can you imagine my delight when upon reaching the Philippines when they did not even enquire as to whether or not I had an onward ticket – argh! I am really not sure who is taking the Mick out of who here but if anyone from the Philippine government is reading this (!) please make your rules clear, either you expect everyone to have an onward ticket and you will inspect this or you are not bothered and you do not inspect – do not let the airlines benefit from this and have people coming to your country annoyed with the way you deal with these things!

Manila Ninoy Aquino airport proved to be another source of frustration as we had been warned against using the white taxis due to unreasonable charging and to instead pick the yellow taxis. Now the queue seemed big for the yellow taxis but we had on our most determined faces and decided to stick it out, and stick it out, and … well you get the picture. Well it was at the point where our taxi wait time had actually surpassed our flight duration time when we finally neared the front of the queue. Manila, at last, here we come. Our host was known to us only as ‘Bob’ and had cheap accommodation. So leaving the driving to the taxi driver and trying to take in as little of the action of the cars on the exterior of the taxi trying to bounce off our carriage (well nearly), we were off.

‘Bob’ – real name Ariel, turned out to be a real cool guy and the room although not done up in the most decorous manner sure was big and had a dead cockroach nearby – what was not to like! Even better, Ariel said because it was a Friday night he usually cooked a BBQ and invited friends round and that if we fancied it we were welcome to join the throng. We slept first and then popped out for a beer and the beer in the Philippines is both big in size and as it is San Miguel, more than palatable.

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Me next to a Filipino beer and a pint glass next to us both … lol

Ariel then started cooking and one after another small groups of his friends started appearing at the door.

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One of Ariel’s mates reluctantly agreed to try my hat on – this guys could speak at least five languages – not including dialects. I was so impressed I would have taken my hat off to him .. but he had it on!

They were a really good crowd and asked about us and our plans as well as telling us all about themselves – all could speak English really well making the whole task so much easier for us but yet again reminding us just how fortunate we are to speak a language everyone else wants to know. We explained that we were going to extend our stay in their country by another month tomorrow at their Office of Immigration and they let us know how to get there – as it was quite close – and also gave us tips on the best places to go to in the Philippines.

As you can imagine the beer flowed, as beer does and the food was finally all eaten when (man after my own heart) Ariel suggested we all go to a bar he knew where there was live music and we could have a dance.

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The Band

The band at the bar were excellent playing a lot of soul tracks that me and Liz both knew well and so we got up and had a bit of a dance. One of the ladies in our group let us know she was turning lesbian but this was because she had just recently been let down and that truth known she only really liked women’s breasts!

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Taken just before the lady in the picture turned Lesbian! – I am sure the two events are NOT linked … lol

This gives a you a flavour of the intellectual level of conversation we were having folks – what next, would we be discussing Socrates, Plato? The band completed their stint and the singer came over and asked if I liked Northern Soul – which I do – as he recognised my dance moves were on that kind of vein. He let me know that they would be playing classic Northern Soul the following week but I explained we would be away by then – boohoo. All in all it had been a great night and as we all went back to the digs before going our separate ways. We said Goodbye to each and every one of them and thanked them for welcoming us so well into their country. As they each went their separate ways to the odd cry of ‘I AM turning lesbian’, I thought to myself that I was going to like this country.

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