Thursday, 30 November 2017

The Island of Bantayan - updated with photos

I'm writing this around mid-day on Thursday, the last day of November. I'm on the terrace of our room and I'm looking out over the kind of beach that one sees in the travel brochures. A coral reef which ends about 100m from the shore depending on the tide. The idea of tides is a strange concept for one who lives close to the Mediterranean but back in the UK, sometimes the beach would be so flat that the sea would be a distant shimmer.
This morning after breakfast I swam out to the edge of the reef. I found part of the beach which was clear of coral "rocks" so I was able to walk out to a perfect stretch of water for swimming. I remember snorkeling off Jeddah on the Red Sea and the sudden drop into the depths at the edge of the reef was spectacular.
Yesterday, I spent a large part of the day organising money. The owner of Grass Residences had sent a 9000 peso refund by Western Union and I thought it would be a simple matter to present the reference number and my passport and collect my money because I have often sent money by Western Union. But it was a huge performance and I still don't have the money 24 hours later. The local agent said the was a problem and could I phone Western Union but there was no reply from the number. The ATM across the road was not working either and I needed cash to pay the resort. I had to reassure them that their money was guaranteed by when we arrived on Tuesday. So we had to take the hotel trike to Bantayan town where I could draw the cash - a 20 minute journey. And I put a photo of that on the previous post. The Western Union office in Bantayan town said they couldn't process the transaction because it was already initiated with the agent in Sta Fe, the town where we are  staying. So I got rather frustrated with the Western Union agent. But at least I could go back and pay the resort in cash.

This afternoon we went back to the Western Union agent but again it was shambolic. Finally, I got through to Western Union and after a little while, handed my phone to the young woman, the agent. She spoke seemingly for ages but finally it seemed there was a breakthrough. I got my money. Then she photocopied my passport and I kept on saying to myself, "Don't forget to get passport back". But I think I was so taken aback at her request for 2 pesos for the photocopy, that I forgot to ask for my passport back. And it was only when I was writing about this that I remembered that she did not give it back to me. Big pause in writing blog to go back and retrieve passport from photocopier! Here are some more photos! As you can see, it is low tide and the reef is almost uncovered. The group is taking a boat trip and the boat is waiting at the edge of the reef. Later I sat on the beach drinking some tea and painted a boat as the tide came in. I used a chair from the hotel. Then, as dusk fell, I went swimming again.

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