Shanghai,, China, 09.02. 2009
Intro: This time you don't need to wait a year to see an update, although the previous update for the year 2008 caused some responses, which I didn't expect. Actually most people thought, I do travels just for pleasure, but in fact, I did most trips for business. I just luckily sometimes could get a few hours off during stopovers to visit cities like Hong Kong, Beijing, etc. Although I have been to Hong Kong 3 times last year, I just spent in total roughly 48 hours on this great place. In Macao I just stayed some 5 hours to renew the visa before returning to work. But even if the times are short, I am grateful to see those magnificent places. Only the sailing trip in Greece and the short trips to Paris and Berlin where for pure pleasure.
Chinese New Year, Shanghai
Saying goodbye to the year of the mouse and to welcome the year of the cow, the chinese celebrated in a way that could have been interpreted to be the World War III. (Un)fortunately I cant give you an impression about the sound, but the pictures should give an idea about the situation, that we had here in Shanghai.
Yes, also lucky to have some holidays this year, we traveled to the Philippines. Whenever you travel, the choice of transport is quite important, so here is a selection of the vehicles of our choice:
Tricycles and Motorbikes: The most common vehicle in the Philippines is the Tricycle. They can carry 2-15 passengers (One time I counted 14 kids plus driver on one tricycle!!!) and while sitting on the back, it is even comfortable to shoot pictures. Here you see one Tricycle with Lisa inside and my Backpack with my guitar on the back.
Jeepney: Most popular for short to middle distance travels. They operate almost everywhere in the Philippines and they bring you to the next bakery or to the town, which is 5 hours away. One of the less comfortable, but cheapest ways to travel. Passengers: 1 (Special ride)-25 inside, plus 4 outside plus Chicken between the legs, picking our feet! Unfortunately it is almost impossible to look outside because of their small windows. Or you have to stand outside or to sit on the roof.
Boats: Bumboats of all styles are most often used in the Philippines: Well, let's put it this way: No two trips are the same. At one boat, the crew always had to open the hood for a manual startup with 3 people on the starting rope counting 1,2,3, PULL! Even refilling the fuel while riding on big waves seems to be normal and a manual pump sucks the water out of the engine room.
Horses: They operate, where none else could go, like on the Taal volcano. Comfort: hmm,.. they even tried to shit on my leg!
Airplanes: Somehow, traveling by airplane in the Philippines is different to other countries. Well, they fly and once you are in the air, most things are OK, but the airports, schedules, reliability, etc is incomparable. Seems, Murphy (Murphy's Law) does a good business here. The first domestic flight already was bad. The travel agency could confirm, that seats the next day are available, but they couldn't book the flight less than 24 hours in advance, but they advised us to go to the airline counter at the airport the next day. So we arrived at the airport 3 hours before departure, but the Lady, who served us, seemed to be a little overcharged by the work, so after more than hour she finally failed in booking the flight, because we had less then 2 hours before departure. So she booked us for a flight, which was scheduled 3 hours later, but this airplane broke down and we where rescheduled for another flight to even another airport, but the transfer was somehow organized. So for a 35 minutes domestic flight, we spent more than 8 hours at the Manila International Airport.
The return flight from Caticlan to Manila was not less amazing. According to the Lady, which booked our flight, she had to consider a 5 hours(!!!) transfer time in Manila, if we had connection flights. So our scheduled return flight was at 7am, which means: leaving the accommodation at 4am, take the ferry to Caticlan at 4.30am, just to recognize, that our flight and the following flight was cancelled. First they wanted to bring us to the other airport again (2 hours bus ride) to take a later plane (which we later heard was also cancelled) back to Manila, but that way we for sure would have missed our connection flight. But as I said, we got another flight, which was not scheduled and in Manila we had to check out, take our luggage, take a bus and run again and to check in our luggage again to get our connection flight to Hong Kong. But it would be too easy, wouldn't it? The way from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 takes some 20 minutes by bus and we just had 40 minutes for transfer. But on departure from Manila you have to pay 750 Pesos (ca. 12 Euros) as an airport fee, but you have to pay this after check in and after the first controls, x-ray, etc.. Lacking of money, just 5 minutes before boarding, I was running for money. The ATM in the departure hall just accepted VISA, but downstairs in the Entrance hall was another ATM, which accepted my bank card on arrival. So: RUN to the exit of the departures, check out, run down to the departure hall, body check, run to the ATM, grab money, Check out of the arrival hall, run up to the departure hall, body check, passport check, X-ray, flight ticket check, pay cash, body check, x-ray again, departure check, run to the gates and enter the airplane as the last two people before we took off. Well, doing Sports sometimes helps a lot in such situations!
Views from the Airplane:
Tagaytay: The first stop in the Philippines for us was Tagaytay at the Lake Taal, which hosts the smallest active volcano on earth. Our accommodation was really nice and the volcano was smelly, but interesting, but after 2 nights we moved on to Puerto Galera for some diving.
Lake Taal with the Taal Volcano
Boracay: A surely beautiful Island. A long white beach, not too many people, but still many bars and restaurants, spas, shake stores, etc. Yet sometimes strangers where asking; DVD? Boat ride? Sunset sailing?
Puerto Galera (Small La Laguna/Sabang Beach)
Returning home, whith a view over Hong Kong and Lisa.
Further Plans? Well, now I am in China and I got some new tasks to my schedule. There is one job in Morocco this summer, one left in Korea, some tasks in China and I also need to get back to Germany soon again.
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