As I sit at home feeling cold, himself is enjoying his travels in the Phillipines. This is his latest update.
I’m writing while on a ferry between Coron on Busuanga Island, and El Nido on Palawan. It is truly a minor miracle that I am here.
My Philippine adventure didn’t start well. At home, we keep our passports in a small strongbox, including some expired ones, which might be a good idea because an expired passport can theoretically help you recover if you ever lose your current passport. But here is a fair warning: Cut off a piece of the cover of your expired passport or mark it some other way so you can easily identify it. I showed up at the airport, handed over an expired passport, which the baggage checker didn’t really check and was all the way to the gate when they noticed that I had grabbed the wrong passport.
Some frantic re-scheduling and re-booking and I was on my way again the next day. I had some travel insurance which I am not sure will cover the extra expense caused by such a dumb mistake.
My new flight itinerary included an overnight layover at Munich airport. I found the very pleasant and comfortable old style German gaste haus, Runa’s Hotel, in the town of Halbergmoos, not far from the airport.If you ever have to overnight at Munich airport, this is a good option. Good food, nice old-fashioned rooms, airport transfers and friendly staff.
Three flights later and I was in Coron, Palawan, Philippines, two days later than I had planned. Things were looking good.
Coron Town Proper is a pretty typical Philippine small town, except that it is surrounded by incredible natural beauty. People come from around the world to go on tours to beautiful islands and beaches surrounding the bay, and to scuba dive on Japanese wrecks that were sunk there by the US Navy in 1944.
The ships Akitsushima, Okikawa Maru, Irako, Kogyo Maru, Olympia Maru, Taiei Maru, Kyokuzan Maru, East Tangat Gunboat and Lusong Island Gunboat were sunk on September 24, 1944, by the third air fleet of US Task Force 38. /Wikipedia.
Unfortunately, my mishaps weren’t over. My time in Coron was too short to do much, but I decided to rent a moped to go to Maquinit Hot Springs. It is one of the few saltwater hot springs in the world, which is supposed to be very therapeutic. The road there from Coron Town Proper is dreadful. Rocks, mudholes, short broken concrete sections, steep ups and downs through the jungle.
When I got there and tried to pay the entry fee, I discovered that I didn’t have my wallet! It had somehow fallen out of my pocket while negotiating the bad road. It had cards for accessing cash and paying for the rest of the trip and the ticket for the ferry I am on right now. My trip was more or less over without it.
After some embarrassing cursing, I went back and forth on the last stretch of dirt road hoping to find it laying there. I remembered when I last knew it was in my pocket so it was a fairly short stretch to search, under a half kilometer of jungle road. But after four trips up and down the stretch, I finally gave up and went back to town to report my loss at the police station. And I prayed. To God and St Anthony the patron of lost things, offering to give 1000 pesos to charity.
I had just started filling in the police report when an elderly Filipino man arrived at the entrance to the station and announced that he found a wallet in the middle of the road near the hot springs! Wow! Miracles do happen!
All the police in the station erupted into big smiles. I thought the police report would be torn up, but instead, they completed it and took the name and ID of the man who brought it in as a case solved. Then they took pictures of him handing it to me so they could post it on the local police social media. So I now have a police report and I am featured in a social media post.
I was totally impressed by the honesty of that man. Wallet contents were intact. The police were quick to assure me that most Filipinos were like that. I had passed a few very poor shacks along that road and could tell from his appearance that the man was probably poor himself, so he got the 1000 pesos. And I must have angels watching over me.
Following all that, I got back on the moped, after carefully putting all my valuables under the seat instead of in my pockets, and went back to Maquinit Springs. I apologized to the man at the entrance for my cursing and enjoyed a wonderful soak in the seaside hot spring. I needed a stress reliever.
The next morning I had to be up at 5:30 am to catch the ferry and the nice people at the Argamosa Bayside Inn where I was staying had prepared a wonderful traditional Filipino breakfast for me of fried eggs, garlic rice, and tocino, a way of cooking pork belly that originated in Spain but the Philippines have made their own. I like bacon, but I think I like tocino more.
After a five hour hour trip, I have arrived in El Nido, where I am staying for almost 2 weeks. I’m looking forward to more adventures exploring this part of Palawan, but I hope to avoid any more mishaps. I think my ration of miracles may be running a little low.