16 February 2017

Leave Hong Kong to Bohol, Philippines

Sorry to leave our nice hotel. It's early in the morning we got to catch a 07:50 flight and the fabulous Airport Express is not running early enough. So we need a taxi and get a brand new electric Tesla. Beautiful, quiet and of course not polluting the Hong Kong air, which is often on the brink of health limits. In part this is because of factories on the Chinese side, but traffic, air-conditioning and so much more energy consumption in Hong Kong itself play a part.

As we drive past the Kowloon station I notice a lot of roadwork, and I ask our driver. He says they are building a new high speed train station that will connect with the Shenzhen station just on the other side of the border and offer seamless superfast connection with Beijing. One more way that Hong Kong is becoming more and more integrated with the mainland.

To fly to the Philippines you need to check-in at terminal 2, but there are no gates there. After check-in, you can walk to terminal 1, about ten minutes, or take a shuttle which takes virtually no time.

The Hong Kong airport is my favorite in the world. Bright, spacious, beautiful, full of great shopping and food, efficient. Of course, free and fast wifi everywhere.

After an uneventful flight to Manila we have to wait a few hours for our connection to Bohol. Manila airport is a bit chaotic but we find a nice bench outside, it's a sunny day and wifi is free. Time goes by relatively fast before we are called in to board a Philippines Air flight. It's OK, nothing to write home about.

When we arrive in Bohol it's raining, not a good start. But it's warm and our driver has a comfy car with cool water and A/C, so the two-hour ride to our resort is bearable. Before setting off we stop at a large shopping mall near the airport to get some cash from an ATM, it would be our last chance here.

Seafood soup
By about 7:00pm we reach our resort, Amun Ini, in Anda, on the eastern side of Bohol. We are tired and hungry. After leaving our stuff in the room we head to the restaurant, a beautiful terrace overlooking the resort's garden and pool. Food is plentiful land varied, and
it will be for the rest of our stay.

12 February 2017

Massage and electric treatment

Today Ouyang takes us to his favorite Spa for a session of massage and hot tub bath. To get there, I ride on his motorbike while my wife rents a moto-taxi. None of us has any helmet, in keeping with local practice. I am not sure if I am more scared of hurting my head or making my cold worse. In the end everything goes smoothly.

It is a great couple of hours. He knows this town very well, he says he does not like to travel and spends some time every day taking care of his body at various salons. He is in his mid-forties and looks a good ten years younger. He has a membership card with many and the staff clearly know him very well as a regular.

Two minute Chinese ladies perform a powerful and very professional massage in a dimly lit room. Massage sessions alternate with dips in a very hot tub filled with water and herbs. A thin sheet of plastic is laid on the tub's surface before it is filled up with steaming water, ensuring proper hygiene. We get nice slippers and disposable undies, as well as soft towels. Quite a break compared to the chilly weather outside. At the end, we are served herbal tea in the waiting room, and Ouyang joins us for a chat with the owner, a lady she knows well for being a regular. Our two masseuses stand by. I can only speak to them with the help of translation, but I want to make sure they know I really enjoyed their treatment and look forward to coming back soon.

Electric practitioner diplomas and Chairman Mao

Traditional Chinese herbs
We then go to a practitioner who Ouyang says can treat my cold. Upon arrival I am offered a potion of tea and herbs to drink. He then performs a kind of electric treatment by gently rubbing my back with his hands while electricity flows through his body. He can adjust power with a pedal. It is a bit uncomfortable at first but then I get used to it.

My muscles contract when he revs up the current. All of this lasts about 45 minutes. More herbal tea is served at the end.



As we leave the practice, I feel a bit shaken up by the electricity, but overall I do feel better. My cold is still there, we'll see the results later.

Street vendor of fruits and veggies
Just outside a lady with balancing baskets on her shoulders approaches. We buy some from her, she is quite friendly and the prices are good, so says my wife. It is a pleasure to find these sellers in a day and age where supermarkets (which I think do have a role to play, so convenient!) seem about to take over even in smaller Chinese towns like this.


04 February 2017

Arrival in Hong Kong

Every time I arrive at the Hong Kong international airport I am amazed. By the beauty the spacious check-in area wrapped the high concave ceiling, by the brightness of it all by the free superfast internet connection that does not require complicated login procedures.

And by the MTR train. The Mass Transit Rail that takes you to Hong Kong in a little over 20 minutes. At each station, luggage carts are ready for travelers, perfectly lined up in sets of three in front of each door of the train: solid, clean, smart-looking and free. I think back to Rome Fiumicino, where it costs 2 Euro to rent one and they are usually rickety and dirty. Never mind...

Meet and greet from our hotel. A very thin man, in his early sixties, come to help with our carts full of cases and diving equipment. he said he has been working for our hotel for 24 years. He leps us buy a ticket for the Airport Express, takes our trolleys to the platform, puts them in the luggage racks of the train car for us, tells us on which side of the train the door will open at our stop, and leaves after refusing a tip which I was handing him in gratitude.