Paperwork

I’m now back in Siargao to hopefully get a little bit less sucky at surfing. But I tell you, it’s a hard task when you’ve have ten-yearolds handing you your ass back after you’ve completely wiped out AGAIN… And we’ve not even started talking about the teenagers and older, it truly is a humbling sensation. But it’s doing nothing at all to darken my intense passion for this silly pastime.

Sitting just outside of the point where the waves start breaking, looking out over the sea for the next wave that will either carry you gracefully, albeit with a silly grin on your face, all the way to the shore, or plant said face under the surface of the water and roll it around like the deathroll of a giant croc. One of those two things. In my case, mostly the latter. But the count is swinging, ever so slowly, but swinging it is.

Today I caught my ever first proper wave, not just riding in the whitewater after the wave has broken but actually on the top of the wave, even doing small turns back and forth!

Anyway, the topic for today isn’t really supposed to be about surfing at all, instead we’ll be talking about my journey to get here. For some odd reason I decided to bring my motorbike with me which meant that I would travel by ferry instead of flying. The journey itself was not really that tricky; ride the bike to Cebu City, catch a ferry to Surigao del Norte and then another ferry to Siargao Island. No biggie.

To start with I’m not really that keen on riding the motorbike longer stretches in ‘high’ speed, I’m very much aware that I’m wearing WAY less protection than needed and also very much aware that the added surprise factor caused by chickens/dogs/goats/pigs/children running across the roads in this country is not a great combination with low protection. Mother, just to confirm, top speed around here is around 60-70km/h due to bad roads and your son being very sensible. Pretty much never higher than 80. Ok, maybe 90 sometimes but it’s very rare! Still, fall off the bike at 60 and you almost certainly wont die, you probably wont break anything, but you will for sure lose a remarkable portion of skin since you’re only wearing shorts and flip-flops. Which is why I was wearing hiking shoes. For that extra 2% protection.

Anyway! The ride was actually quite pleasant, it had been raining a lot just before my planned departure, a typhoon named Jolina was passing by in the vicinity, and in the morning of my actual departure it was literally tipping it down but an hour or so before I left the rain stopped! Luckily the chickens/dogs/goats/pigs/children were not convinced about the drought and mostly stayed indoors. Fine with me.

I had been in touch with the resort where I’m now staying, Ocean 101, and they had given me all the ferry info I needed and it was now time to get my tickets for the first crossing. I knew the name of the company and a rough timetable; leaving 7pm and arriving around 5am next morning. Off I went to their main offices and it turns out to be a proper shipping company, not really a ferry dealio at all. So I had to stand in line to have the all the paperwork for the motorbike to be shipped and during the continued almost comical conversation the staff behind the counter took pity on my non-knowledge about these matters and also sorted my personal ticket for me so I didn’t have to stand in line for that as well.

And now we start with the real topic; paper. I left that office with one ticket in four copies for the motorbike, and one ticket in 3 copies for me. And receipts and gate-passes and taxes and whatnot for each set of tickets.

Then I went to the actual port and had to go to two different windows to pay several odd port-related fees, I have no clue what they were, maybe rope-wear-and-tear… or water-displacement tax… and received two or three receipts and copies from each window. I think one of them also kept back one of the ticket copies but all this was already getting quite complicated…

Now on to get the motorbike and myself onto the actual ship, where several bits of paper were passed back and forth and I think they kept a few pieces again and I was given a confirmation about said transfer.

Ok, do you all remember I mentioned a typhoon a bit earlier? Scroll up to the section about the actual departure and you’ll find it, don’t worry, I’ll be right here until you’re back. Well, as I was getting on the ship I texted my mate Lee to say that this ship was pretty crazy and he quickly managed to slip in that he’d checked the weather and something about me being a braver man… Denial is not only a river in Egypt, it’s also a very strong feature in my personality.

The crossing was no problems at all, I did wake up a few times in my impressively small bunk and at first not really remembering where I was and what the hell I was doing there, but I guess the several beers had something to do with that. A trick my dear brother taught me to make flying that much more enjoyable; get pissed before take-off. Also works for rough ferry-crossings.

Upon arrival in Surigao I knew I’d have a good few hours to slay before the next ferry took off so I was in no hurry at all but I still managed to get quite fed up with the incredibly lazy people working in that port! First they neglected to tell me that I had to go and pay some bogus fee, then they informed me that I had to actually pay two separate bogus fees in two separate windows that just happened to be quite far between. Many many bits of paper ensued. After finally managing to convince the porters to release my motorbike the guard at the exit of the port almost managed to make me upset when he said that the very first window I’d been to pay the first bogus fee had completely forgotten to let me pay a third bogus fee that would let me leave the premises! After I had a minor explosion the guard realised that I was actually just leaving to go buy a new ticket to leave just a few hours and let me get out without paying. Nice man. Saved him from being assaulted.

More tickets, more receipts, more bogus fees and then I was on the ferry to Siargao, a four hour crossing. All in all I must have held on to at least 30 pieces of paper for this journey, most of which I’ve handed back to different officials, I only have two or three left! The total cost for this one way travel is just under the return fare for the flight. A flight that takes about 50 minutes compared to a total of about 22 hours of rough seas and uncompromising handlers of small bits of paper.

At least I’m sure a whole bunch of unlucky office-workers will have to sort through all these bits of paper and have to arrange them and then re-arrange them, staple them together, remove staples and arrange again to finally be filed in a folder somewhere. A good few days work all in all! So I’ve been helping the economy along the way! Or maybe they just burn the lot and really couldn’t care less…

Next time I’m flying, damn it.

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