My time with All Hands Volunteers was up and I had to leave the place that I had come to know as home, but not before one last helping of Monday morning pancakes! I set off a little later than planned, which is no surprise really as this seems to be the story of my life, especially when it involves free pancakes! I walked the twenty minutes or so to the jeepney stop with my backpack in the sweltering heat, even though it was only 7am in the morning. Riding the jeepney to Tacloban airport was no problem. I jumped on, passed my 15 pesos along to the driver and banged on the roof to indicate when I wanted to stop.
Tacloban airport is one of the strangest airports I’ve ever been to. The impact of Yolanda meant it had no walls and most of the security was done by hand. This also meant it was an absolute breeze to get through and I was sat on a plastic chair waiting for my flight over an hour before it was due to leave. It was here I decided to do a check through of my bag to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. It was sod’s law that my iPhone was missing so I had to sneak past security to get out of the airport and hopefully make it to base and back within the hour, before my flight was about to leave. It was only when I was sat in the jeepney that I realised I had left my phone on the side of the road when I was rummaging around in my bag earlier that morning to make sure I had my passport. My worst fears were confirmed when I ran back to where I had left my phone, as it lay smashed to smithereens. Nothing a bit of Sellotape won’t fix I thought!
I had 30 minutes to get back to the airport which was pushing it beyond belief. When I arrived a member of staff ran up to me to tell me my plane was waiting for me and ushered me to the runway. I felt so embarrassed having everyone wait for me, but after sitting 20 minutes on the runway I didn’t feel too bad after all. The next 26 hours was spent travelling, due to the fact that I had failed to consult the world map before booking flights. Why on earth I decided to fly from Tacloban to Manila, up to Bangkok and on to Densapar (Bali) when I could have taken a direct flight to Bali I will never know.
This did mean I experienced what it was like to spend a night in an airport, which quite frankly was the most uncomfortable sleep of my life. It didn’t help that half way through the night I had to get the last free shuttle bus from BBK to Bangkok’s Don Muang airport as my flight left from there and then I had to check in at 4am. Countless snacks from 711 kept me alive but having been up since 5am the day before I was tired beyond belief. I decided to stay at BBK as long as possible as it is open 24 hours and it has a good selection of shops and restaurants, plus free wifi whereas Bangkok’s Don Muang airport has absolutely zilch.
The only thing keeping me going was the thought of seeing my friends KK and Swills after nearly six months apart. After a fierce haggle with the taxi driver, I arrived at their hotel in Kuta, Bali to find them laying by the pool looking like death (sorry girls!) with a hangover from hell. Their (self inflicted) lurgy must have rubbed off on me as the next moment I came over all funny and spent the next two days in bed suffering from an infection of some kind. Surely this wasn’t to be a repeat of the incident in Australia during my first backpacking trip in 2009, which involved my mother having to jump onto the first fight out and a month’s stint in hospital?
Top tip: If you need to transfer between terminals at Manila’s notorious airport, there is a free shuttle service if you ask. Make sure you leave enough time as you may have to wait around for 45 minutes or so.
Living life, loving travel,