A Date with the Pilot, Balesin

5 AM and the driver drops me off to Alphaland’s private airport to get to Balesin. I’ve only heard of this island recently where you need an invite to get in. This membership only type country club where you must be invited to come.

6 AM Flight delayed. I’m from San Francisco. Flights delays don’t bother me. I estimate another 45 – an hour and a half. No sweat. Three hours later. Another flight delay… Then another 2 hours later… 1 hour later another one.. then another one… then cancelled.

The passengers are pissed. And here we go. Here comes my amusement. I hold in a laugh, pressing my lips together so a chuckle won’t escape, as families belonging to Manila’s top society screams. The entitlement comes out sharply. A plump little maybe 8 year old boy whines then throws a fit. The family has to calm him down. “I want to go to Balesin! I want to go to Balesin! They can’t do this, Dad!” After a while they drag him outside. Phone calls are made. Sharp voices keen on threats. Each phone call pushing the weight of the family name, the voices higher and higher so everyone can hear. It seems like half a bragging game. Someone is calling the owner of Alphaland. Someone else, so diva-ishly tired, demanding a refund. She then gets bored and waves that her family will take care of her refund and leaves. Someone else calls the group we are meeting on the island. Both parties are livid. The phone calls escalate for 15 minutes more.

Then the tone of the room becomes fun. The passengers laugh. They know they can get onto that island without Alphaland’s help. It will be fixed now.

Another driver comes. I’m taken to a port in Metro Manila, where Air Juan is docked. Its around 3PM and I was not expecting a sea plane. Twinkle and I are tired and groggy from being in a room seated all day. A sea plane?! How fun! I walk aimlessly to the pier. I stretch and lean looking over the water.

I can see my friend’s dad’s hotel, Solaire from here. “How are they affiliated with the hotel again?” I asked myself..”How are they in connection with the Razon’s…” I try to remember. I’ll have to refresh my memory when I get back to the states. The hotel looks good from the exterior. I make a mental note to ask when I get back. Like clockwork I’m screening hotels. I can’t seem to switch it off.

A beautiful old pirate ship catches my eye further down the dock. Eyes widen, I hold my breathe and begin to wander towards the vast antique. Twinkle touches my arm from behind before I can set foot away.

“That’s the old Intramuros ship I was telling you about. The tour to Binondo and Intramuros…” she said softly in a still voice. She had been telling me on the drive over about a Friday historic tour she knew I would be interested in. I don’t know what the ship had to do with it. I’m still learning much about the Philippines. All I knew was that gorgeous historic monument was special. I proceeded to walk over. 20180120_134052

“Excuse me, Ma’am. We’re about to board, can I take the rest of your bags?”

I turned around, still in a different world with the pirate ship fantasy. The co-pilot was looking at me, smiling politely. “Are they inside? I can grab them for you,” He said with an Australian accent, but he was speaking Tagalog.

Then excitement with my group. Let’s all get on the sea plane! And they pulled me away from my glimpse of the Neverland ship. They shooed me to the seat in front. So many gadgets in the sea plane drivers side. I questioned both drivers as we took off on the water, what does this do. What about this. Paul smiled the whole time. Halfway amused, probably the same amusement I had earlier this morning with the cancelled flight. I assumed I was there to entertain him too. He pointed out different areas of the islands when we were in flight.

“What’s that over there?”

“Quick. Most memorable flight you’ve ever done,”

“How many time have you’ve flown to Balesin?”

“Favorite island”

We ended up taking a longer way to Balesin so he could show us more of the outlines of the coasts. The group didn’t mind either. A spontaneous ride in a sea plane and a personal tour on a whim? Sure. Why not. That was my first time in a sea plane. it was capable of showing me stunning views of the islands I barely knew. Lush green forest hills and mountains decorated Topaz Blue Skies and Seas. Lost for words, I stared in awe as we dipped down for a closer look.  Soft white sand beaches, simple provinces.


Still too short of a flight, we landed on the 60 mile seafaring, private island.

“Do you want me to get your bags, Jacky? I’ll tell them to put it in your room.” An attendant came right then, to take them from the pilot. A synchronized welcome drink was offered to us. Our company seemed to have dispersed to meet with their friends and family. It was only us left.

We strolled onto this breathtaking Veranda on the Balesin Clubhouse and took a seat. Two pools and 20 steps away I would touch the sea. We talked about my trip so far, his trip, where I’m heading, where he was heading, what brought us here… etc while we waited just before sunset. He was on contract here, just for a few months. Leaving back to Melbourne, in two days. We laughed about life and shared stories and a suggestion or two.

Just-before-sunset came and the captain appeared for his partner. They waited for the assigned driver to take me to my villa. A light hug, we departed and wished each other well. “Thank you for the company,” I smiled genuinely.

“Thank you for the date,” he smiled and replied politely.

Then off they went. Back to their port. I saw the sea plane take off when I reached the door to my villa in Phuket Village. I smiled to myself and thought, “there are so many good people in the world, living the most interesting lives.” I opened the door to the villa, Twinkle already left for the reception. Different outfits played out on the bed.

Someone had come and laid my outfit out for me too. A few accent pieces to pick from. Bianca’s bag she let me borrow for Balesin was hanging ready to be used. Now… where was I…

Time to get ready. Time to get dressed for the wedding dinner in Balesin.