I left the last post with the sobering thought from the night before because that was the last thought before I went off to sleepy town aka I went to sleep. With this still fresh in my mind, the next day had me ready to get to Bohol and get to work. Air Asia/Zest Air had arranged for us to be collected and brought to the airport for our flight, as per the agreement the day before. So I went downstairs to meet the others who were also put in the hotel. I also politely introduced myself to the sex tourists “lady friend” from the night before. She seemed a lot more pleasant than the Air Asia staff, who still seemed annoyed at the extra hassle we had caused them…….when they cancelled their flight. Filipino “customer service”, which I will cover in-depth at a later date. The details of the flight are simple and I wont waste space on it, but basically, the plane flew and I made it to Tagbilaran in Bohol. Celebrations all round.
We had information from All Hands about the pricing we should be paying for transport to get to the project site, which was about 18 km from the city/airport. I had also spoken to the blogger who was already there on what was her pricing, so I was prepared and full of Irish charm/bluntness. I knew there was 3 transports required, trike or moto to get to Abatan bridge, which had been destroyed, a banka(small boat) to cross the river and then another trike or moto to get to the site. The rough price for it all should be around 200-250 pesos depending on negotiating skills. Just to be sure, I asked the pleasant lady selling tours in the airport how much it should be, because she is an actual local. The first desk outside the airport offering cars said they would bring me all the way to the site for “only” 600 pesos(about 10 euro). Now, I already knew they couldn’t do this because the bridge was destroyed. The conversation went like this:
ME – But how can you take me all the way with the bridge destroyed? Can your car drive on water?
STAFF – No sir
ME – So what are you talking about?
STAFF – We can bring you to the bridge sir.
ME – So why are you quoting me a price for the whole way?
STAFF – emmmmmm, we can give you a discount. Special price for you sir.
ME – It’s not a discount if you can’t bring me the whole way, it’s just the real price.
STAFF – No sir, it is a discount.
ME – *sigh* Listen love, you already lied to me. Now i don’t trust you. I am not sure we can be friends. So make your next offer the most amazing offer of all time or I will walk my Irish arse to the bridge.
STAFF – *wide-eyed/looks around * 300 pesos sir.
ME – Bye *BIG SMILE*
So off I went to walk. In Philippines, as with anywhere in Asia, you will be accosted with offers of transport whenever you leave an airport, bus station, train station etc. Today was no different. The important thing to remember is, there is a lot more of them than there is of you so just name your price and then wait for one to break from the pack. So a 100 peso price was agreed and I was in the a trike to the bridge. This is where the pictures start, as I took a motorised boat a little further from the bridge so I could get better shots. 20 pesos for the trip. The boat trip was only a few minutes long but was initially nice and tranquil.
The first signs of the earthquake could be seen along the road, with some pieces of broken road, but the hills with the large piece collapsed, in the above picture, is the first large-scale sign of it. However, nothing will compare to the moment when we turned the corner on the river and saw the destroyed Abatan bridge.
As I got closer, the full-scale of the destruction become clear.
I stood back on the other side for a long time. I had never seen anything like this in my life and the visual still sticks with me today.
I did still have a bit more of my trip to get to the volunteer site so I had to quickly get back to negotiator mode. Once again there was no shortage of trikes and motos available so I grabbed a moto for 50 pesos and performed my latest moto based bag balancing act to get to the volunteer site. I could take photos while I was on the moto but the signs of the earthquake were everywhere. Destroyed homes was the image that greeted us as we drove further into the countryside. Over the next few posts I will post pictures taken along our commutes to work each day.
I arrived at the site when everyone was on lunch so I quickly went through orientation and got introduced to some of the others in the group, it was time to go out to the sites. I was going to start by working on “Shelter box” which is a really great organisation from England who All Hands work with to provide temporary housing, which are long-term tents. This was my first experience with what would become my favourite part of every day, sitting on the roof of the Jeepney on the way to work.
I am going to split this post into 2 because it is getting a bit long and i am aiming for each post to be 1000 word or less, for easier consumption.