coron day 1 : miracles and massages / by mmkeyes

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Written 4/26/2015

Guys, yesterday was a day of miracles. Honestly. We made our flight in Taipei, even though we got in 40 minutes late. However, my hopes of making our next extremely tight connection faded quickly, as we took 40 minutes to taxi before even taking off for Busuanga Airport. 40 minutes. Which cut our layover down to an hour and 10 minutes. Just for reference, later on in our trip, our 5 hour layover was barely sufficient to make our connection. There was no way in hades we were going to make the next flight, given how crazy the Manila airport is. Realizing things were out of my control, I tried to just accept that we were gonna shell out a couple hundred bucks to rebook a flight and to hope there was space for us to do so.

The Manila airport is a zoo, my friends. Their four terminals are miles apart, and we had to go between the two furthest (6 km between them). Miraculously, there was nearly no line for immigration. We ran to baggage claim and, miraculously again, our checked bags were in the first ten on the carrousel. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. Traffic in Manila is the 9th worst in the world, and if I hadn't already had near-death experiences in Thai taxis, I would have been scared for my life. Luckily we had an awesome driver, Rey, who realized our rush and wove through traffic like a ninja warrior. However, we got to the terminal two minutes before check in closed for our flight. Still possible, right?

Not when we saw the 40 minute line just to enter the terminal building. That wasn't even our check-in line.

All was lost.

Probably largely due to my friend Jessica's look of sheer panic, a couple of fellows (whose job title I've wondered about ever since) squeezed us through the front of the terminal line and then through the check in line as well. The woman at the check in counter told us our flight's check in was already closed, but the trusty fellows helping us exchanged meaningful glances with her and made sure she still let us through. And yeah, it took some under-the-table money. So worth it.

It's all a big blur, but we made our flight.

I said many a prayer of gratitude on that one hour flight to Busuanga. The arrival was beautiful--lovely blue water, sandy beaches, and large green hills. The airport is minuscule with the babiest control tower I've ever seen.

Just arrived at Busuanga Airport
Just arrived at Busuanga Airport

Hot and humid. That's been the story here on Busuanga Island. We took a van to our guesthouse in Coron town. We are literally over the water here at Patrick & Tezz Guesthouse. This place is on stilts. In fact, the shower quite literally empties straight into the ocean. I tried not to think about what else was emptying into the water.

We got settled a bit and spoke with Ely, the sweet caretaker who gave us some tips and information on ATMs, restaurants, and stores. We walked through the town--it was unbearably hot and humid--and got some water and some cash out of the ATM. Then we got some mango and banana smoothies at a place in town. They were so so good and so so cheap!

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Next we headed to dinner at a place called Trattoria Altrove--a Slovenian pizza place. It was delicious, and the view was beautiful!

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After dinner, we headed up to hike Mt. Tapyas--the viewpoint for the island.

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We lingered a little too long over dinner, which meant we didn't make it to the top in time for the beautiful sunset. Even apart from the time issue, walking up the 700 steps in the crazy heat and humidity about killed us. We made it halfway before the sun started doing cool things like this:

After the hike, we took a quick shower and headed to get massages. It was $11 for an hour-long full body massage. Believe it or not, that's more than I've ever paid for a massage. They're half that in Thailand. When we got to Australia, they were $60 an hour. Never going to happen.

Those lovely massages (except for Brandon's masseuse, who was apparently trying to massage one-handed while texting with her other hand) were a lovely end to multiple days of travel. All we wanted to do after that was sleep. We had our first big day ahead of us!