Author Archive Alfred V.

ByAlfred V.

House hunting, part II.

Today i met my real estate agent in the morning to get a quick look at a presumably nice location, a complex of about 800 housing units near the eastern shore of Mactan island, called Bayswater (official site: http://bayswater.ph/). Though here houses are only purchesable, she found me a a duplex “town house” for rent – but as house is not finished yet, i have no photos of it, but only of the rest of the complex.

ByAlfred V.

Typhoon Bopha (worst this year) vs Alfred V.

typphoon-bopha

Typhoon Bopha coming my way; (map from Weather Underground)

4th, 11 am I hardly got here and im alredy hit by the typhoon called Bopha (meaning “flower” or girls name)! It is forcasted to be the strongest this year and its center will pass right over Central Visayas where i am. I was adviced not to go out, though today rain is light and winds are moderate, but tomorrow the eye of the cyclon will be right above us.

Today we already had a blackout in the morning and internet connection is falling out all the time. Worst is predicted for tomorrow, even floods, though winds should not exceede 100 km/h. Will keep you informed of the outcomes … hopefuly 🙂

4th, 6:30 pm We are out from another blackout. All is quiet now and the rain has stopped – the calm before the storm. The big one is about to hit us in one hour.

4th, 9 pm Heavy rain struck us at about 7 pm, and ended at about 9 pm. Here at MB’s is always a party while typhoon is raging – so calamities are good for business in Phillies. In fact local westerners were comming here for entire day as if there would be a big soccer match on TV. Lots of food and especialy drinks were served and spirits were high … too high in case of some people – Mike sure helped to it with numerous “rounds on the house” :). In accordance to local laws party ended at midnight and storm enraged again (the later not being decreed by the law).

5th, 2 am Loud noices woke me up; but it was not the storm – two ladies (maybe the term is not used correctly for the case) were quarreling at the volume surpassing by far any of the storm, for the reason unknown to me. Some say it was the effect of the storm and others would argue that it was caused by the booze. This calamity persisted for more then an hour and then all was quiet.

5th, 7 am Bopha was over. Thy sky was overcats but rain and strong winds were over.

Afthermath

bopha-typhoon

Bopha – my first typhoon.

5th Though typhoon Bopha cause 40.000 people to fleed in the evacuation shelters in Southern Philippines and also claimed at least 43 unfortunate souls it came easily down on us on Cebu and Mactan – we had many harsher storms in Slovenia, EU this year. But – one of the major reasons for me to come to Cebu is its position, shielded from all sides by other islands, protecting us from most weather disasters. So it was an easy win – Typhoon 0 : Alfred V. 1.

Afther morning clouds day was sunny and very clean – rain cleansed the air and also washed dust from the roads, so todays walk to the mall was much less dustfull. Also the temperatures were lover.

7th Death toll rose to more than 400 with several hundred still missing! Flash floods and landslides destroyed entire emergency shelters and even a military camp.

ByAlfred V.

Trip to the Beach

church-marigondon

Marigondon Church, Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan

It was my first free Sunday and i decided to take a trip to the sea. As i came out of dense urban area, traffic was light and there was almost no dust in the air. But it was hot as hell. There was a large open church (Marigondon Church) next to the street and service was taking place – on loud loudspeakers, so it could be heard even with the traffic raging. Next I stopped at the coconut stall and tried a local refreshing beverage – coconut meat, water and milk with cane sugar and ice. For my taste it was too sweet, but really refreshing. Price: P10 (€0,2 / $0,25).

beach-mactan

Public beach, Mactan island

In about and hour i came to the public beach, only to get disillusioned about my tropical paradise – this was still urban area and place was far from alluring. For someone used to Adriatic or Mediterranean sea, this place was too hot, not shaded and the water was far from clear, so i left.

coconut-stall

Philippines are worlds largest exporter of coconuts, but in comparison to other fruits it is hard to get them here.

On my way back i stopped again at the coconut stall and bought a coconut – stall boy chose a good one by knocking on it and then macheted it. It yielded about one litter of delicious coconut water (much better than any from the coconuts i bought at home) and about100 gram of coconut meat. Price: P25 (€0,5 / $0,65). Then i went inside the church (the service was over now). I was amazed by its simplicity yet solemnity.

If it wasnt that hot, and there would be a tracking trail it would be a great Sunday trip / exercise, but this way it was 2 hours of sweating – i drank 2,5 liters of liquids on the 12 km long way and would need another liter to sooth my thirst completely.


Prikaži večji zemljevid

ByAlfred V.

First time eating local

(this is what was rescued of this post by the autosave at the blackout – now i got my comp back from repairs, and i bought me an UPS and a surge protection sockets :)).

street-food

Street food here is worthy of its name – bananas being cooked in brown shugar 3 meters from a high traffic road.

In my area of Lapu-Lapu City there are no regular local restaurants. We are located near an international airport, so restaurants here are also international … and expensive. The other option are roadside street food vendors, but all they sell are meat based foods (me being a vegetarian) – besides all their food is open to the dust and smog from the road – and there is a lot of both here.

kitchen-local

The kitchen

Yesterday as i went out of the city, i asked my driver to take me to some nice local restaurant. We took a dirt road and apx 300 meters from the main road came to the large open tavern near the mangrove fishery. There was no sign of any kind (not on the main road exit, nor at the tavern), or at least i saw none. It makes me wander how they get costumers.

fish-preparation

Fish being prepared

Fish was in iceboxes, looking fresh and tasted good – grilled with rice (i forgot to take a picture as it looked so good i just digged in right as it was served :). Here they dip everyting in sauce made of tamari (soy sauce), vinegarlime juice and spiced with chilly that i didnt like too much – but also back home i didnt like much seasoning to the fish – fish has a mild flavour that is lost to strong spice. Rice was plain and without particular taste, but fish was delicious and perfectly grilled. Price: apx 200 PHP (€4 / $5).

Added 1. decmber 2012
Today i had the same fish in the fancy mall restaurant in Lapu-Lapu. At first i was surprised that the price was the same – but as i got the dish, the weight of the fish was about three times less and no rice was added … but it was nicely decorated :P.

ByAlfred V.

Blackout

Today we had blackout … that caused the unfortunate loss of the post on food … newer to be regained ;). I suppose this is what happened last time as my computer broke. 15 minutes and power was back.

Anyway, my computer is fixed now and i pick it up tomorrow.

ByAlfred V.

House hunting on Cebu and Mactan islands

Yesterday i went looking for a house in the area near Cebu City. I also got my first direct experience of the traffic here, having a local motor bike driver. Chaos of the traffic here actually looks manageable, but i will write about it some other time.

Like in any country rents fall quick with the distance from the city. Still Cebu being the capital of the Visayas (central part of Philippines; besides Luzon in the North and Mindanao in the South), keeps the prices high in entire area. See the approximate trip on the map (map is interactive, you can move and zoom it).


Prikaži večji zemljevid

See some photos of three best dwellings i found (from seven i checked), gallery is below descriptions.

Beach house (first 3 photos) few kilometers further from Compostela – 20 meters from the sea, entrance to the beach is 30 meters away. Starting rent: 25.000 PHP (500 EUR / 650 USD).

Mini villa (photos 4-10) between Liloan and Compostela. In fully protected area of about 200 mini villas, with 2 security guards at the entrance, checking any unknown person or vehicle. Inside is pool and recreational area. Starting rent: 30.000 PHP (600 EUR / 750 USD). For comparison small and barely equipped duplex house complex in Lapu-Lapu City rent started at 17.000 PHP.

Mini villa (last 5 photos) in Lapu-Lapu City. Fine house, but in poor area. Starting rent: 30.000 PHP (600 EUR / 750 USD).

I will add some smaller/cheaper locations as i scout them in the next days.

ByAlfred V.

Land of PHP

Philippines are a dream land for any IT person – here PHP is hard currency 😛 PHP – Philippine Peso.

Today 1 EUR is 52 PHP; but to understand how this country is progressing think about this – 1 EUR used to be 86 PHP (ok, euro is also dropping, but this country is growing – no global crisis here).

Since division by 50 is hard i help me with a simple math trick – first i multiply price by 2 and then i divide by 100 – it is a cheap trick, but i figured out many westerners i spoke with here didnt think of it even if they stay here for a longer period – im so cool, right 😉

Philippine Pesos

Philippine Pesos

Some prices – for your comparison – i will post more at some later time as i get a better grasp of it:

  • tank of 6 liters of distilled spring water 65 PHP (1,3 EUR / 1,6 USD)
  • apx 10 km of taxi ride 150 PHP (3 EUR / 3,7 USD)
  • decent beer 40 PHP (0,8 EUR / 1,1 USD)
ByAlfred V.

Rogaska, we have a problem

For two days we had internet problems, but yesterday my computer suffered an electrical shock (electricity supply here is not that stable) and i had to take it to repair shop, so i still cant upload posts i was preparing in last days (offline). Anyway, i went to Cebu City on the other island (im on Mactan island), taxi fares costed 170/195 PHP (3,5 and 4 euros). I was sent to SM mall, only to get scared by the shear size of it – only electronic section (Cyberzone) is bigger than entire malls in Slovenia, and again shops are better equipped and stocked as at home.

Take a look here (Author: Mike Gonzalez (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)) – this is not some third world bazar

SM City Cebu, the biggest shopping mall in Cebu City

Expect posts from the trip soon (hopefully i didnt loose data on my comp) – but i will publish them back-dated to match the time line.

ByAlfred V.

MB’s Garden Inn

As mentioned in previous post Marlene, the owner, from MB’s picked me with one of their girls at the airport in Mactan. As we were driving down the main road i was astonished – houses and shops looked like in some older suburb of a German or Austrian city – only Philippino style decorated – meaning brightly and contrasty painted and signed. My general perception was: “almost European”. But just a turn to the local road and we came to the hut area – the cross section to the third world. Like the poppies in wheat villas rised above simplest of wood and metal homes, new ones being built all over and empty lots being advertised. I guess in ten to twenty years this place will be high property value district like in any European coastal town, and noone will even remember the huts.

MB’s Garden Inn was at the and of the road inside a decently (in local terms) housed area – a complex of buildings that looks like an organic form of some urban life form, taking shape as it develops around the central point – dining area and bar. But all is cossy and friendly looking in colours and plants used almost as a part of the building itself – a sort of “outdoors inside” – more then less just what the name promisses.
As i have no point of comparisson it is hard to say if my room and bathroom are above or below average, but both are big and clean, and the bed is firm as i like it.
The girls here are nice and friendly, always smiling and laughing, just as expected in this part of the world. Dinner here is almost too european – offering anyting from vienna schnitzel to gulasch – not surprsing though as Michael aka Mike – the owner – is German.

ByAlfred V.

12.000 kilometers above the Earth

I have no photos from the flight for it was overcast or night, and as it cleared over Philippines i couldn’t get my camera from the backpack and also i was in the inner line of the seats.

Ljubljana, Slovenia was fine – no trouble at the airport, at 7 am CET on 23rd November 2012 Adria Airways JP116 took off on time, air crew was very nice, especially a tall blonde attendant that made all my wishes come true … at least as far as newspaper of choice and a special tee for me alone were concerned. The skies were overcast so the last image of my home country were the peaks of the Alps above the soft white clouds that resembled snowy desert.

ljubljana-frankfurt-taipei-manila-mactan

Flight path (as i can remember); map by Google maps

I didn’t see much else all the way to the landing in Germany. In fact it must have been one of the cloudiest days on Earth as almost all the way – 12.000 kilometers – all i saw were clouds, only a glimpse of the Black sea and some Asia Minor, then nothing until India and a bits of Thailand and China and then Taiwan only as we descended towards the airfield. I guess Superman would have a pretty boring day and trouble with navigation 😛

Thrilla in Frankfurt

Anyway; we landed in Frankfurt, Germany on schedule. Frankfurt airport is one of the largest in the world – it is scary huge – almost at the size of a small city; there is a mini train airport shuttle with 3 stations connecting both of its terminals. It took us more than 10 minutes of bus shuttle drive only from the aircraft to the terminal. But that is where troubles started – I will tell this horror story in some other post – anyway somehow i got all my bones and hairs and all in between of me to the China Air flight CI062 on a 12 hour – 10.500 kilometers flight from Frankfurt to Taipei, Taiwan.

Sitting up there on 10 kilometers of nothing under my romp i guess it is easy to get poetic and philosophical about Life the Universe and everything … and all of the rest, but i guess nothing that wasn’t told a thousand times before came from under my pen, so i decided to stop being pathetic, regretted a bit that i haven’t been writing for such a long time – especially as i made 10 of best years of my life writing. I pulled down the window shade and started concepting a new game – and that was far more rewarding for me than contemplating on 10.000 words for clouds.

The shortest Day

As we were flying counter to the Earths rotation this was the shortest day and the shortest night in my life. Just to mention – as we flew over India and China i caught patches of the ground mostly dotted with the city lights that sometimes also penetrated the clouds showing light blobs of different sizes on darkened canvas. Damn – we made more lights on the ground than God made in the sky – isn’t this scary?

Also one thing i have to mention: China air was trying hard to get us all fat 🙂 food (quite decent for air meals) was served constantly, even when most of us were sleeping – or were trying to sleep – suddenly the lights came on and there it was – FOOD … again. And as i finally managed to fall asleep from shear exhaustion, someone touched my hand and a gentle voice in soft Chinese-english asked me: “Siw, would you like youw snaick now?”

And not to forget – aircrew ladies were so exquisitely-orinentaly-almost-eathericly beautiful – and not in over-emphasizing or crudely sexual way … i just wanted to change my ticket for a China-bound one 😉

I know that flight attendants look above average in any country – especially on long distance flights – but these were above average amongst above average. And like the tall blond lady on Adria flight most were genuinely interested in our comfort – not just as a part of their job – and yes, i again managed to charm one to take special care for me … or maybe i looked so shocked from my Frankfurt part of the story she thought i was afraid to fly and took pity on me … anyway i got my special little wishes fulfilled again – and nothing else matters.

Also the pilot was a magician – he managed to land tons of metal and human flash so soft it was hard to feel the bump of the wheels touching the ground – as if he landed on foam instead of tarmac – much softer than any of his colleagues on the smaller birds i ever flew with. So – for a trip to the other side of the world with only a minimal delay and all the mentioned small pleasures i can only say: “China Aiw wocks” 😉

In Taipei, Taiwan all went smooth and i boarded China Air flight CI701 for Manila. At 7:35 local time (0:35 CET) we penetrated clouds for the last time as somewhere over the Luzon sea the sky cleared and there she was – the land of my destination was awaiting me dressed only in sunshine, displaying all her charms beneath me. And … food again – we got full meal for only an hour and a half of flight – i got me a spicy vegetarian Chinese dish – special, of course 😉

Heat Shock in Manila

I came from the cold European November of 4 °C in Frankfurt (yes, Frankfurt … again … bad Frankfurt, bad) – dressed for that occasion – to the hot south-east Asian November of 29 °C in Manila, Philippines. As i stepped from the air conditioned plane to the terminal corridor the heat had hit me like a bucket of water … still being in the bucket. But as i took a deep breath of it – it was the heat of the paradise … with all the airfield incenses mixed in 😀

As this was my country of destination i had to get a customs clearance – and like in every country they asked me same complete-waste-of-time questions like: “What is the purpose of your visit?” – as if anyone would ever declare they have bad intentions!?

And now, the end is near

I booked my flight from Manila to Cebu with a 5 hour safety window in case of delays or problems getting to the domestic airfield, but there i was more that 4,5 hours too early in the waiting room of the Manila Domestic. After two and a half days since my last decent sleep and lots of China air food i suddenly felt so sleepy i started to fall in quick almost instant doze-offs being afraid to fall asleep and miss my flight – i could set my phone alarm, but in this state i could easily just over-sleep it even if i heard it. So i got up and walked about the place with my 12 kilos backpack on my shoulder as i was too tired to just stand by it. In 2 hours i got to check-in but i still had 2 hours to wait for the flight as i started to fell the ground beneath me gently wavering. I drank a liter of water and cooled my face with it and suddenly i got fresh again … at least as fresh as 3 days old lettuce simmered in water for 5 minutes.

Suddenly, about one hour before estimated time of departure (ETD) the board started showing all flights have about one hour delays … all accept mine – being special again. But as it was 10 minutes before ETD our flight was still in check-in phase, i was at the end of my strength and it looked like my flight didn’t even get to the point where they announce it’s delay! Alas! suddenly they rushed us for boarding as if there was fire and at about 3pm local time (10 pm CET) i got on board of Zest Air Z2384 flight and fell asleep like a … no comparison here … for an hour of delay we waited in the aircraft until we took of and landed on Cebu Mactan Airfield at 5 pm local time (12 pm CET) – this time even without a free glass of water.

Saved by the girl with the sign

I got my baggage in 15 minutes and as i went through the doors i already saw a girl with a big smile from MB’s Garden Inn – my resort – waiting for me. The exodus was over!

By the way – thanks to China Air i didn’t feel any hunger for that day and the next day i only had an early lunch of fish and chips and a small mango from the local market for an early dinner and i went to bed at midnight with the first signs of my stomach getting a bit unsettled.