Friday, June 20, 2008

Long Haul (2)

I was about half way through my journey, sitting on the toilet (don’t worry, that’s all the detail you’re gonna get), when it occurred to me that this was probably one of the worst journeys I have made.

Leaving the Philippines was the tough part: I had assumed my ride to the Port would be late and factored that in; I was prepared for some consternation at Caticlan Airport regarding the amount of luggage I was carrying and had bought extra pesos and a bright smile in preparation. I travelled on an early flight to ensure I would have plenty of time to sort out potential problems at Manila... unfortunately I lost my head start due to the airport shuttle being so late. Incidentally, the airport shuttle was run by two, very cheerful, Black Sabbath fans. So my journey to Terminal 1 was accompanied by Paranoid at full volume, complete with singing along and air guitar (yes, from the driver), which was quite surreal.

The problems started at Manila check-in. They couldn’t check me in because I had too much luggage, no it wasn’t about money, and they might not be able to allow me on the flight. They had to check with the BA representative... who wasn’t here. This was not good.
"Come back later," they said. I hovered next to check-in looking anxious. Finally the BA Rep arrived; he said he would look in the Operations Manual. I suggested it would be quicker to ring Head Office in Hong Kong. He was quite rebuffed; he said he would find it in the Manual. The Manual looked suspiciously like a coffee table. I pointed out that it was already nearly 5pm and my flight left at 5.55. He looked hurt. 20 minutes passed.

"Is diving gear a sporting equipment?" he asked.
"It could be..." I replied warily,
"Because you can get extra 23kg allowance for a sporting equipment"
"Of course it’s sporting equipment!" I said "Great! So can I check in?"

Then, he wanted to call Head Office to confirm. I finally checked in at 5.10 and hurried through to join the queue at Customs. It was a long queue and when I got to the front I was missing one form. Curses. I was sent to join another queue. My paperwork was quickly sorted, but the Official wanted to reprimand me for forgetting the correct paperwork. I grovelled, she lectured... at 5.35 the man behind me in the queue leaned over,

"Excuse me," he said to the Customs Official "but they are calling her name, she has to go!"
"I do really have to go!" I said apologetically, "Do I have to queue again?"
"Yes" said the official, finally giving me passport and steely glare.
"No," said my new friend, he pointed to a small gap at the side of the barrier, "run through there" he said, "they won’t notice."

So I ran through a small gap in the barrier and no one stopped me. International terrorists take note. I reached the Gate at 5.45pm and the Airline staff also reprimanded me. I responded with a steely glare and requested a large Gin & Tonic, which helped.

When I arrived at the Transfer desk in Hong Kong and showed them my ticket, they laughed.
“Oh that flight isn’t going,” she said happily. But they put me up in a hotel (I’ve never stayed in a proper hotel before, it was quite exciting) so it wasn’t too bad. Needless to say, the housekeeping staff were falling over themselves to lock my mini bar - it seems they had me sussed. My stomach problems started that night, oh joy.

The last 12 hours to London actually weren’t as bad as they could have been! I had three seats to myself. That's practically Business Class!

Upon arrival in Blighty, I managed to stay awake until nightfall and woke up the following morning, confused and jet-lagged, to the strangest sound. What is that? I wondered as I slowly regained consciousness. It was loud and unusual, but strangely familiar... it was birdsong. The island, where I’ve been living, has no birds! It’s not something I’ve thought about in ages, and birdsong is something I’ve forgotten to miss. But here it is and it’s lovely.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful blog and you're a wonderful writer. Count me in as one of your fans. Please keep blogging.

outside-jane said...

Thank-you! I will do my best!

Anonymous said...

Count me in! Wonderful blog!

I hope you don't mind but I am going to take advantage of your expert advice on life in Boracay:DD

-I am thinking about doing my AOW,RESCUE,DM,IDC and IE in Boracay. How much should I expect to pay for all the course fees, PADI application fees and dive equipments in Boracay?

-What are the possibilities of landing a DM/Instructor job in Boracay?

-How much does it usually cost to live in Boracay? (I need this info to make sure I hv enough money to live on during the course of my training)

I know it's a lot of questions up there!(Sorry about that...)

Thanks in advance!

Keep blogging gUrLllll!

outside-jane said...

Blimey!

Ok, for Dive Courses, you're better contacting a dive shop obviously, but for all those... maybe $3,500-$4,000-ish! For Dive equipment (and yes, you will need all your own to work) it depends how much you want to spend... in Boracay $2,500+. But you can get cheaper (if you buy a lot secondhand) from ebay - maybe $1,500.

You should be able to get work as a newly qualified Instructor in Boracay (although, by the sound of things you don't have much dive experience), but you probably won't get work as a DM (there's actually more competition for DM'ing jobs).

Living costs in Boracay are very variable. I paid p12,000/month in rent; a meal is between p100-p500; a beer around p35-p60.

But I must be honest - all tis training and equipment is a big investment! You are only an OW diver - perhaps you should do some more diving and decide whether you really want to do this for a living?

You should be aware that diving is badly paid, there's usually no salary (only commission), no sick pay, no holiday pay and few days off (in the Philippines most people work 7 days/week) - you've got to really, really, really love diving to do this job. Do you? Are you sure?

Anonymous said...

First of all, I would really like to say a BIGGGGGG Thank You!

It's really a big investment and a big risk!(what if I don't get hired in the end!I would end up begging on the island!)

Very true I don't have much dive experience...ummm....but so far I have always enjoyed diving. I know leading dives is different from diving at leisure. Maybe I'll only find out if I am really into it when I do my DM training(what w/ all the unlimited dives!)

Just out of my own curiosity, did you have your DM in Bora?

Things aside, I just couldnt help but laugh out loud when I saw the word "Blimey". haha...with a revolving crown of stars over your head maybe?! XDDDDDD

have a nice day!

outside-jane said...

I didn't do my DM in Boracay. BUT make sure you do get unlimited diving, cos not all shops do that... the shop I worked for only gave 20 free dives! And only required DM's to lead 1 dive before they certified. This was not a good course, in my opinion. With that experience - no one will hire you. So make sure you know what you're getting before you hand over any cash.

Anonymous said...

From the bottom of my heart,

-Thank you!

really...you've been of great help!

BTW, I am from Hong Kong. Maybe next time when you feel like visiting HK, drop me a line or something, and I will show you around.

Take care!