First stop is Cuyo, a major kitesurfing destination of the Philippines and a small island in the open ocean halfway to my first detination of exploration – the Visayas.
After renting a motorbike and exploring the island of Cuyo, I head off to Iloilo City, the largest on the first of the major islands of Visayas, and find three days of rest at an airbnb joint I found online. The mosquitos, dogs and roosters were somewhat of an annoyance, especially the neighbour’s rooster who would venture too often into my open patio space and leave droppings on the beds, but soon enough I found a reasonable place which I could rent for $120 a month.
Unfortunately, it had no windows and felt like a depressing jail, so after the first month I found a nice shack on a beach nearby. I like to explore new territory on foot, the best way, and after a long Sunday stroll, one elderly genteleman called out a friendly hello to me as I passed by his little resort. I decided to rest there for a bit when I noticed a lone hut. One of the very few right on the beach in the entire city. I inquired into its availability and soon enough he threw out all his sons to leave room for me, at the same price as the last place I was staying at.
Much nicer this one, with its own patio, where I could work during the daytime amid pleasant breeze by seaside. He even played ukulele and we soon played together almost every evening. It was a great way to polish up and practice my viola playing skills.
I also found a few places I could play at around town, and it was nice to get back into a routine of comfort, off the island, where I could shower easily every day, walk down the street for an easy meal, or go out to any number of numerous venues to socialise for an evening.
I was so excited to get back into shape I signed up for boxing three nights a week and karate four. However, after a month, it quickly became apparent that it was an entirely exhausting venture which I could barely utilise for my one month membership. I decided to settle for a local weight room gym where I could go six days a week, for about half an hour a day and use their showers, which were better than the new beach hut I was staying at, which used an old hand pump out of the ground without any privacy.
The owner of the new place I was staying at, Edward, has a lot of contacts and we begin to explore them as I start to formulate how I will expand my business in other parts of the country. I soon decided that this will require a motorcycle with sidecar, so I spent the next six months saving up and customising that, while accumulating more toys to bring with me.
Overall, like many cities or towns in the Philippines, I found Iloilo rather boring to live in, even though it was supposedly ranked by Forbes magazine as the fifth most liveable city in the world. A complete farce, as it lacked practically any park and is the same jumble of cars parked on sidewalks, streetshops and cheesy karaoke bars as any other city in the country.
Out of boredom I ventured to try out the local couchsurfing events, as I was invited by my sole couchsurfing friend to a pancake party organised by a Dutchman who traveled around the world, this being his estimated 500th such organised party.
I asked him why he would organise such an event, he seemed to be offended by the question, I don’t eat pancakes, and the venue didn’t even sell beer. So I went to the local shop on the ground floor and brought up a few brewskies to accompany some more palatable dishes, which I ordered separately.
Next to me sat one girl who inquired into the possibility of borrowing one of my beers, promising to run downstairs to replace it later on. I’ve heard enough tall stories from Filipinos not to readily lend new people anything. Besides, I hardly noticed her as I was more preocuppied staring at another girl across the table.
Eventually I managed to save up enough for my motorbike with sidecar and all the other bare necessities I felt I needed to make a pleasant tour around the country, and announced a second couchsurfing event at my hut in the form of a potluck whereby I would make my usual famous marinated steak to be fired up on the grill. The same girl responded that she was sad to see me go and that she happens to be up for a beer that evening, complaining that all her friends feel like staying in. Since I had not noticed her the first time we met at the pancake party, I could not remember who she was, but after perusing her profile pictures on couchsurfing I decided, why not? She took a couple of jeepney rides all the way down to my place from the other side of town and we decided to start off the evening at the local kiosk where I occasionally like to hang out, as I can sit outside amongst lots of traffic, the people are friendly to me, and lots of locals passing to and fro buying their various kiosk needs.
Marinated meat for my potluck party.
She instantly hit it off well with them, and although she had a bit of a belly, I grew to quickly like her, the sound of her voice and her overall mannerisms. We went to another bar later and she eventually slept over at my place, and within a very short time she became my first official girlfriend since I have set off on my world travels from Prague some 12 years prior.
As planned, I soon embarked on my travels, driving up along the coast, exploring some places along the way, checking out one place near the famous Carles as I had arranged through Airbnb some months beforehand. Alvin, the owner of a particular resort, said he knows of a possible place for me since I inquired into the possibility of staying at least one month with a preference of paying what I had been in Iloilo – $120 a month.
My new hut in Estancia, near Carles.
I arrived and was quite happy with the hut, a significant upgrade from my stay in Iloilo. My new girlfriend, Mel, would take the bus up on her days off and together we’d explore the area as part of my plan to add content to my website to increase business – and she liked exploring with me.
Over time I discovered we had very similar interests and were highly compatible, enjoying hiking in nature and discovering new areas. She has a particular fondness for waterfalls and it occurred to me to start a new tag/category “lover’s waterfalls”. Which I am sure would be appreciated by some couples on a romantic vacation and who also like to hike in nature.
Soon enough I started to drop hints that we are perfect for each other and would talk to her about her views on raising children and other matters. She loves traveling and does not shy away from the thought of traveling together with children. A real trooper who is not afraid of asking a guy on a date, not the prissy princess who is afraid of adventure and just wants to stay safe at home watching endless television.
The problem is that she is a nurse and her big dream of travels is to move to the UK to earn big money as a nurse, and she already had a job offer lined up and was planning to move there later in the year. But not before agreeing to first travel a few months with me around the Philippines. I set out in all earnest to lather her with all the charm I could muster during this period in hopes of convincing her to stay with me.
I explained that it is very expensive living in London and that she cannot expect to save much to send back to her family, and that the UK countryside is not that exciting. At best she might hope to check out some other towns or beaches during her days off, or perhaps a long weekend to Paris, but I had already visited all that and tried to convince her she could travel much more with me, and possibly even save more, since I could find some work for her on the computer and would be paying for all her costs (it does not cost extra for accommodation if two people share a hut or bed).
In spite of all my efforts, her mind was firmly set on her UK plans, until one day I thought I could up the stakes with a bribe of sorts – an all-expense paid, six month road trip from Alaska to Antartica. It was a short sales pitch, she casually agreed, and now we are busy with our wedding plans and starting a family. By the end of this month her employment at the local hospital will come to an end, she will move in with me, and the wedding is planned for the 20th of the following month, after which the plan is to embark on our travels around the Philippines until the start of the rainy season sometime in June, after which we would travel somewhere in the world for the next six months before continuing our travels in the Philippines during the dry season from June until the end of November.
I already bought her a laptop and we have decided she should become the social marketing expert. Whenever I post something on Facebook I might get a trickle of responses, but she loves taking and posting pictures, is great at it, and this is a task I don’t really enjoy. I am convinced we will make a great team, and she can make extra income beyond the hourly rate I offer in the form of commission on sales. Or running my other businesses, or starting her own. The world is literally our oyster and we look forward to swallowing it.
By marrying, after three years I will be able to apply for permanent residence here, which would be a welcome convenience, and I would work to getting her a Canadian passport, as it can be quite difficult for a Filipino to travel around the world, often required to pay $60 in advance to apply at an embassy in Manila, a city I detest to stay in for whatever short period of time.
For a long time I had been yearning to start a family. Although it has been a great adventure traveling around the world for the past 12 years, continuing down this road until the grave seemed increasingly lackluster. I yearned to start a new chapter in my life and end it on a deathbed surrounded by a big, loving family with lots of grandchildren. I love how my beautiful trooper is fine with traveling around the world with children and with me homeschooling them. After all, with AI just around the corner, some 90% of jobs will become redundant, and the present institutional educational system will become more obsolete than it already is. Not to mention I want to raise warriors of light, not the average, conditioned being who is not taught to think out of the box but brainwashed to submit to the system, not questioning anything but to become an obedient, good little robot.
This henceforth marks the last chapter of my single years and I look forward to an amazing new chapter in the latter years of my life.