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Finally to the Philippines
Bangkok (Thailand) to Pandan Island (Philippines), Nov-26-08 / Dec-12-08

The first couple of days after our arrival in Bangkok went very prosperous. Our new passports were ready, we managed to buy cheap airplane tickets to the Philippines and also the application for the Philippine visas went ok. But some days later, the prosperity was gone. Anti-government protestors decided to occupy the international airport of Bangkok, because they wanted the government to step down. The result was that thousands of travellers were stuck in Bangkok, including us. During the first days we still had some hope that the airport would be evacuated again before the day of our flight, but this was of course not the case. Because it didn’t look like the situation would change the coming days, we decided to leave the city and went to a quieter place. The place we decided to go was the Khao Yai National Park, the most famous national park of Thailand.

The quiet and beautiful beach of Aninuan, on Mindoro
The Khao Yai national park is a great place to go if you want to escape the hectic environment of Bangkok. We took in the morning a train to the small town of Pak Chong, three hours away from Bangkok. After we arrived in Pak Chong, we had to take a ‘songtheaw’ to the entrance of the national park. A songtheaw is some kind of a bus, but then in the form of a little truck. The back of truck is covered and by putting some benches in it, they made it the passenger’s cabin. There are several stop buttons assembled in the cabin, which you can use to give the driver the signal that he has to stop over because you want to get out of the truck. After you climbed out of the truck, you walk to the drivers’ door, where you have to pay the fee for the ride. It is not allowed for public transport to go into the park. For that reason, the songtheaw drops you at the entrance of the park. Here is also the checkpoint where you have to pay the entrance fee for the park. We asked the park rangers to help us finding a hitch into the park, and within 10 ten minutes we were in the back of a pick-up truck, for the astonishing ride to the park headquarters.

We decided not to make a reservation for accommodation in the park. If you want to stay in the park during the weekend, you have to make a reservation to be sure that you have a room. But we visited the park during the week, so finding accommodation was not a problem. We decided to take the simplest room available. It was a nice and clean room, with even a hot shower. We stayed three days in the park and did several day hikes into the forests. We saw several wild animals, like a Turtle, a Monitor Lizard, Barking Deer, Sambar Deer, an Indian Civit, Malayan Porcupines and a Snake that crossed the path just in front of us. We also saw some nice birds, like the Banded Kingfisher, the Red-headed Trogon, the Silver Pheasant, the Green Magpie and the Siberian Blue Robin. On one of the day hikes were very scared when we heard a huge growl in the thick forest, only twenty metres away from us. The growling was followed by a sneeze, which made us thought that it probably wasn’t a tiger. It would be too funny to meet a tiger face to face for the third time in a year, in parks where sightings of a tiger are extremely rare. What kind of animal it eventually was, is something we will never know. But it was big for sure!

Smiling kids in the harbour of Sablayan, Mindoro

On the day we left again for Bangkok, we decided to postpone our visit to the Philippines if the Bangkok International Airport was still closed. In that case we would travel to the southern part of Thailand and visit some places in the Malaysian Peninsular that we didn’t visit so far. But this scenario was fortunately not necessary, because we heard already from the driver that was giving us a hitch back to the city of Pak Chong, that the airport was open again. As soon as we arrived in Bangkok, we went to the sales office of Cebu Pacific Air to reschedule our flight. It was still possible to fly on the first available flight after the closure, which meant that we could fly on December 6th, exactly a week after the initially scheduled flight. We had one day left to prepare our visit to the Philippines. We exchanged for example some Thai Baht into Philippine Pesos because we knew that there is not ATM available on the airport of Clark, the Philippine city we are flying to. We were ready to go.

The flight to the Philippines went prosperous. Despite the fact that the airport of Bangkok had been closed for a week, most of the flights were on schedule again. Our flight, that we had already renamed to ‘sex flight’ (see also the equally name column), was also perfectly on time. We arrived at half past eight in the evening on Clark International Airport, 80 kilometres north of Manila. It took us more than an hour to pass immigration and custom formalities. Fortunately, there was still a bus going to the centre of Manila, which meant that we were not forced to spend the night in Clark, the hooker neighbourhood of the Philippines. The bus arrived at half past eleven in the evening in the Pasay area in Manila, a short taxi drive away from the area where we wanted to stay. We checked some hotel along Adriatico Avenue and eventually checked in, in the Adriatico Pensione Inn. One of the first things we noticed in the Philippines was that the prices are much higher than in, for example, Indonesia or Thailand. We paid around € 20.- for a simple room in the centre of Manila, while we only pay € 10.- in the centre of Bangkok. Also the drinking water is much more expensive. For a bottle of water (exact the same brand) that costs € 0.30 in Thailand, costs € 0.60 in the Philippines. After one full day in Manila, where we saw among other things a beautiful procession for the anniversary of the birthday of Holy Mary, we decided to go to the beaches. And that is remarkable for us as non-beach boys. But since we did our diving course in Indonesia, we like to visit the beached once in a while. After spending some days on Aninuan beach, near the town of Puerto Galera on the island of Mindoro, we travelled to the bounty island of Pandan. We stay at the Pandan Island Resort (www.pandan.com) and enjoy the peace and the beautiful underwater wild life. Our visit is already a big success because this morning we snorkelled a significant time with a huge wild sea turtle.


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