Getting Away   |  In Metro Manila   |   Mactan Island   |   Boracay Island   |   Singapore Sojourn

A Preamble
I didn't intend constructing a vacation website newsletter this time around. In fact I was under a near prohibition from "she who must be obeyed". But when half a dozen or so of our friends indicated that they were expecting the newsletter and asked me to make sure they were still on the recipients list, I decided I had better do a little "no frills" website to keep everybody happy. Besides, it does force us to record the highlights of a trip whilst they're still fresh in our minds. This allows Lynn and I to vicariously re-live our adventures in later years. It's amazing what one forgets otherwise.

Anyhow, it's 2.30am right now on Mactan Island in the Philippines and I can't sleep so here goes....

Getting Away from Oz
Our good friends John and Margaret Tait kindly agreed to transport us to Coffs Harbour Airport on15th Feb 2012. It seemed a good idea to leave Nambucca early and have some brunch at the Shearwater Restaurant beside Coffs Creek..... so we did. It was very enjoyable but time passed very quickly and it was very soon time to head to the airport for check-in.

We thanked John and Margaret as they dropped us at the airport concourse and we made our way to the Virgin counter. It's an hour before flight time so for a change this time there's no stress or rush to make it in time. "Sorry Mr and Mrs Tonkin, your flight has been cancelled. We can get you on a flight late this afternoon or rather than wait so long you may care to return home now and we'll put you on the first flight tomorrow". So there, it seems we have to choose between a shitty option or a really shitty option. Anyhow, tomorrow's flight wouldn't get us to Sydney in time for our Manila flight so really we have no option but to prepare for a four hour wait in Coffs Airport. So we did. As many readers will know, Coffs Airport is not the most amusing place to be holed up for four long hours!

In due course we arrived in Sydney smack bang in the rush hour and risked life and limb as an apparently drug crazed Lebanese kamikaze taxi driver drove us to our overnight apartment in Danke Street Waterloo. What a relief to be here at last. Your shell shocked tourists walked up to the desk and were relieved to find that our one bedroom apartment was definitely ready and waiting.

We had originally intended to buy some some dinner provisions from a nearby Coles Supermarket but this no longer seemed a good option to your weary travellers. After an hour of recovery we set off to find ourselves a suitable cafe. I don't know about you but in my mind Waterloo had always been bracketed with Mascot and Alexandria, meaning a dirty, heavy industrial factory type of environment. We were therefore surprised to find ourselves in leafy tree lined streets of relatively recently built wall to wall apartment complexes. Obviously a total makeover has been going on behind my back over the last couple of decades. There were lots of cafes and coffee shops as well, giving the whole area a rather modern down town city village atmosphere. We walked into a Japanese cafe and had a very reasonably priced prawn and vegetable tempura before heading back to the apartment and crashing into bed.

The new Waterloo streetscape

Cake perving in Waterloo Sydney

Next morning I awoke just as early as usual and took a long walk around the nearby streets whilst Lynn slept on dead to the world. Last evening's initial impressions were confirmed. If you don't mind high density living and want to be close to everything a big city has to offer, this wouldn't be a bad place to live.

I stopped into a Coles Supermarket to buy some juice and other breakfast provisions when it opened at 7.00am. There were lots of well dressed men and women in the 25 to 35 age bracket grabbing a quick and easy breakfast before heading for the office. It was all very cosmopolitan but I suddenly felt myself feeling like an irrelevant, over-age, overweight, country hick. What has become of that energetic and dynamic young man who used to be a minor Sydney mover and shaker? Gone, gone, gone forever, I'm afraid.

In due course course we arrived at the Qantas International check-in and were soon on our way to the lounge. There were two items high on my agenda.... change some money and get to a toilet. I should have attended to these chores in reverse order because in my desperation to quickly change the money I ended up with only 37 Pesos for each of my dollars, less commission. If I hadn't been in such of a hurry to find a loo I would have done a proper job of checking the rate and then waited until Manila where money changers were offering 42 and 43 Pesos to the dollar without commission!! Even our Manila hotel was offering 41 to the dollar. Travelex you guys are gouging rip-off merchants. Anyhow, it just goes to show that even seasoned travellers can come a big cropper if they get over confident and let their guards down.

Spending our Qantas Points
We determined to do this whole spur of the moment holiday using Frequent Flyer Points. We've been saving them up for 11 years and had them effectively devalued several times by cunning little Qantas tricks. So here goes.... we're now splurging our points on Business class seats, top notch resort hotels with buffet breakfasts included wherever possible. Eleven years of playing the points system has now been invested in what will hopefully be a pretty fancy, romantic and immensely satisfying holiday. So lets hang onto our seats and hope for an incident free three weeks of restful bliss and decadent indulgence. Welcome aboard the Philippinnes website express. With a bit of luck there will be scope for many more photos in future instalments.

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