My first week in the Philippines was a mixed bag of excitement; generous friends and a beautiful [free] hotel room in Cebu, an interesting start to my volunteer experience at Seaside, and an impending Typhoon. I guess they're right when they say "It's more fun in the Philippines", or if not fun at least it's always interesting. When I made my return to Seaside things had changed a bit, a third volunteer, Caroline, had joined the crowd and we quickly befriended each other. The first few nights of work at the bar were slow with a mix of new and old customers but then the workers (construction boys) started hanging out, friendships were made fast and loads of fun was had.
Nine times out of ten, when I tell someone how long I’ve been traveling their first response is, “Are you rich?” I can assure you that’s not the case, I’m not rich, my parents aren’t supporting me and I have no sugar daddy funding my trips. The secret is how I travel, there are no fancy hotels (well, only when I’m lucky), I opt for the long bus or train over flight, eat local, and avoid souvenirs but there are a few other tricks up my sleeve. The first of which is Couchsurfing, which has provided me with nothing but amazing opportunities and unique situations, as well as new friends. The second secret is in volunteering or working for your room and board. I joined HelpX last spring and utilized it only a few times during my travels through SE Asia, either the opportunities weren’t there or I just wasn’t in the mood for work. This time around however I’m trying to make that dollar stretch just a little bit further so my travels are being planned more around these volunteer opportunities than pretty beaches or big temples, or maybe an even balance of the two.
During my first night in Cebu, while at dinner with Jan and his friends Eric mentioned something about a “Super Typhoon” coming towards the Philippines. His delivery of said statement didn’t sound too serious and neither Jan or Tiffany sounded concerned so I brushed it off. Then, upon arriving at Seaside Resort talk of the coming typhoon once again surfaced, causing me to look into it a little bit. Only a few minutes of research showed me that this wasn’t exactly a laughing matter. The storm approaching the Philippines was a big one and it showed little sign of slowing down or disappearing, the question was what path would it take? There were different reports, one predicting the storm to head N/NW on path for the Philippines causing potentially catastrophic damage, while the second predicted it would take a turn North and head towards Japan. Clearly, my fingers were crossed hoping for the later option.
Over 7,500 islands of pure bliss. I've been twice, both times arriving with a "what am I doing here" hesitation, but weeks later resisting my departure. Forget about being on time, or eating lots of vegetables, but welcome beautiful sunsets, gorgeous beaches, and welcoming, friendly locals.