I have been meaning to share this experience with my little band of readers and because this past week was the eighth anniversary of my son Jonathan and his wife Joy’s nuptials in the Philppines ,this seems like a good time. It honors their committment and also it is the last trip Alex and I made together. There were a few folks who thought it was too much for Alex, or maybe too much for me. I am thankful we made the effort, the more of this world I can see the better, the best part being all the wonderful people we met.
I never expected to get to Hong Kong and contrary to the title of an earlier blog named “ The Joy of not Planning” this was a time to plan carefully. After weeks of planning, booking hotels and connecting flights, printing hard copies of flight confirmations, with the hope, they would be honored when we arrived on the other side of the world, we zipped our bags and Tim put them in the van for us.
The flight took us north over Alaska and Russia with dazzling sunshine and endless mountain ranges. Were we fleeing the night or flying into sunshine? Alex seemed to be energized while he read Measure of a Man by
We arrived in Hong Kong and what a large well run airport. With his cane, Alex managed the long line up for customs and finally we made our way to catch our shuttle bus to the Holiday Inn Express. ( I took no chances on a bargain place to stay). We fell into a deep sleep.
I ventured out into the streets, but Alex was just too tired from the long flight. The little I saw of Hong Kong was a real mixture of modern and traditional. The Mall across the street, Times Square, was perhaps the most “high end ” mall I have ever seen. The market was more timeless
After we recovered, we flew onto Manila, where we met Jon and his friend Kel from Vancouver, in another Holiday Inn (which by the way was half the price of the Hong Kong one) Yes my flight and hotel confirmations were all accepted.
Finally, we arrived at Baguio City to find pine trees, and moderate temperatures. The hotel I booked from home was so pleasant, with open beamed pine logs, it reminded us of British Columbia or Jasper Alberta.
I will always recall the roosters crowing in the yard below us, and the chickens running about, and the fresh eggs served in the dinning room. Now came the amazing hospitality of all Joys relatives, taking us out to one restaurant after another lunch and dinner. All our travel was in taxis, who had wonderful music playing and always help for Alex to get in and out cabs.
Finally, the wedding day arrives, and we travel downtown to the Episcopal cathedral for the western ceremony.
The next day there is the traditonal wedding from Joy’s tribe. It was held on her parents’ property and there were probably 1,000 (yes) in attendance. Pigs were slaughtered in the back yard (this was a shocker for Kel, who is from West Van, as it would be for so many of us). Rice was cooked in great quanities, as well. Joy wasn’t necessarily aquainted with everyone, but it is a tradition to show up at all the weddings of your tribe and bring some pesos, to start the young couple off in life. I believe Jon and Joy gave the pesos to her parents.
I was fascinated to see the similarities of their dancing and the Inuit drum dancing. What generous and hospitable people, whether in the stores, or taxis, or wherever we were, I agree with a travel writer I read once. “The Phillipines are a nation of gracious people” I know there are always exceptions , but I can whole heartedly agree with that statement.
As you can imagine, we were nearly worn out from all the festivities, and I still regret that Alex was not stable enough on his feet to get to the traditional wedding.
It might have been the next day, we flew on a small plane back to Manila and now I was smart enough to get a wheelchair for Alex. They put us into a taxi to get to the other part of the airport, and there were literally lanes full of taxis, lined up. When we pulled up outside the terminal where we were to get our flight to Hong Kong, I was so concentrating on getting Alex into another wheelchair, and gathering our luggage, I missed a small carry on bag in the back seat. As I struggled to get Alex into a lineup outside the terminal the realization struck me, that I didn’t have my tickets. Looking over the sea of taxis, I wondered how this was going to turn out. I remember being conscious of having wanted to tip the driver, and was out of pesos, now I left Alex in the line up and went to look for help. I found a small police station and told them my plight. Miraculously,I had the receipt from the taxi, and that made it so they could contact the cab company, and ask that driver to return. RELIEF !! I think by the time he returned I found a cash machine and got his tip, which he certainly deserved. I have so often been the recipient of mercy.
It is not a clear memory now, but we made it back to Hong Kong, and by now I was clued into the convenience of sleeping in the airport hotel, which is a great boon to anyone handicapped. So that way, someone pushed him from arrivals right to our hotel door, and in the morning took us to departures.
All went smoothly, and the flight home travelling over Japan straight to Vancouver was much quicker.
Sadly, Joy and Jon barely got back to Toronto and they got word that Joys father passed. He had looked well at the wedding. We were privileged to meet him and I will post a picture of him to him memory. He and Joys Mom were gracious hosts.