Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Let me tell you a story that is designed to make you feel better about your travel planning skills.

I decided a month ago to surprise my boyfriend with a nice island trip in the Philippines. (His birthday...and I also wanted to go see the white sand beaches!)

Me being me, I didn't want to go to Boracay - which is probably the most touristy island (as far as I know) in the Philippines. I've been to Bali and Phuket, and I really hated it. It's just too over-commercialized, way too touristy.

(This is how I ended up on a very obscure island in Malaysia once that even my fellow Malaysians didn't know of, because I was so determined to go somewhere secluded! But that's a story for another day.)

So I decided I wanted to go to Coron. I heard it was pretty and quiet, which are my two favourite things when it comes to a holiday.

Now begins the story of my spectacular fuck up.

First of all, I booked a hotel in Busuanga. Someone told me later than Busuanga and Coron were two separate places, so I decided to cancel the hotel because I really wanted to go to Coron. I was doing it when I was feeling very rushed and stressy, so when a popup came up saying 'You agree to pay a cancellation fee of USD270', I clicked OK.

Actually, it was in pesos, which is why it didn't sink in at first. Then it sank in. Shit. Shit. SHIT! What have I done?

So then I decided I am going to stay here because I sure as heck don't want to pay this stupid cancellation fee. I emailed and called Booking and the hotel, and spent my day fretting and glaring at my credit card. At the end of the day, the hotel called me and said ok, I could book it, no problem.

(Later, I found out that Busuanga is IN Coron. It's not two separate places. This will also teach me to fucking open a map before I decide to be very smart and book a holiday.)

I asked a Filipino guy I know where I should land. He told me Puerto Princessa, so I quickly went and bought tickets to Puerto Princessa.

Then..the hotel emailed me and told me I should land in Coron, and not Puerto Princessa. I was horrified. I was now at the wrong airport. Plus, I had to fly from Singapore to Manila (4 hours), layover for about 2 hours, and then another 1 hour to Puerto Princessa.

I tried to change my flight online, but that change alone would cost me about 1K USD. I nearly died. I'm freaking South East Asian. When the hell did things get so expensive??!!?!?

Called the airline. Spent 40 minutes of my life explaining the mistake. In the end, the operator told me it would be cheaper if I just forfeited the layover flight from Manila to Puerto Princessa, and bought a new ticket.

Which I did.

Ok, money is one thing. It's annoying, but it's okay that I accidentally spent a lot more than I now intended to, because at least t was all settled, right?

Wrong. As my luck would have it, the first flight out to Coron was full.
My new itinerary now looked like this :

SG to Manila - 12am to 4am
Manila to Coron - 12pm to 130pm

Yes. You read it right. I am going to be in the airport for 8 hours. At 4am. For 8 hours. At 4am.

At this point I was very ready to kill myself. I should just visited my boyfriend in Europe with the amount of money and time that is being spent on this trip.

No matter, I thought. It's all settled and done. But while initially I had plan to only tell him one day earlier that 'Surprise!! We're off to the Philippines!" I decided I needed to pre-empt our 8 hour layover.

"So...we have an adventure! But in order for us to get to our adventure, we need to be very uncomfortable for approximately 8 hours," I told him over Skype.

He was a bit perplexed by me.

I started telling him the story - but I thought I was being very clever.
"I intended to go to Place A, but turns out we're going to place B, so we'll be stuck in place C."
(I also learned it's very difficult to explain a situation to a person when you are using alphabets as places and there's no context given. But, I really didn't want to ruin the surprise!)

Because I was still quite pissed at being told to go to the wrong airport (I'm very willing to admit it could be an honest mistake, and I should have researched it myself and not just simply went and believed a local, but that's not the point), I started telling him how annoyed I was with the whole mistake, and what had happened :
"This guy was telling me to go to Place B, but this Filipino girl told me I should actually be in Place C!"
He stared at me.
"Filipino girl? We're going to the Philippines?"

So, there you have it. How to fuck up and botch up every aspect of a surprise possible in the most expensive way.

And really. Google is a friend. I have no idea why I did this in such a haphazard way and was so rushed and didn't do any research at all. It sure as heck is a very expensive lesson to learn, but I'm definitely remembering it (this is how I learnt that one should not take a lot of excess baggage when coming back from Japan). I always seem to get monetary lessons, somehow, sigh.

So, it's not a surprise. There's an 8 hour layover despite us being relatively near and in the same continent. Fuck. I just realized I could go to Australia and reach faster. The good thing is - well, I hope I'm not jinxing it, but everything possible has already gone wrong, so hopefully I've used my quota of shit happening for this trip.

Fingers crossed. Peace out!

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