At the beginning of the year I had planned to exercise my “bragging rights” to look back and highlight my last year’s accomplishments. Then I lost my laptop in Tokyo, WordPress come out with a new update that made blogging harder instead of easier and Google killed Picasa making it nearly impossible for me to post images into my blog. That combination of “failure to blog” setbacks washed over me like a tropical storm. Although I have not yet fully recovered I am ready to start writing again.
To claim my bragging rights, however, I will re-post an article, called The Fly Boys, published by a men’s travel, adventure and lifestyle magazine called Grid. They did the “bragging” on my behalf and in a few paragraphs managed to explain one of the things I have accomplished in the past year.
PEOPLE WHO ARE CHANGING THE WAY WE TRAVEL
The way we travel is fundamentally changing in ways that we would’ve scarcely imagined just a few years ago. Grid put together a list of 11 people leading the way.
During a television interview about this article Grid Magazine Photographer Paco Guerrero was asked:
Why did you choose these people for your list? What is the significance of what they do?
His answer was Skills.
The people on this list give us skills and the means we can use to travel the country in more ways, in different ways, in arguable better ways.
Moreover, the people in this list have skills that enable unique business and travel opportunities for both locals and tourist to visit their country like never before. Tourism, more so than forestry, fishing or mining is sustainable and ecologically friendly. Where there are tourists the reef dynamiting and fish poisoning stops, the trees are protected and left intact, the oceans are kept clean and the reefs thrive. Palawan, for example, has had most of its natural forest cut down by greedy lumber barons, the reefs bombed and poisoned to catch the local fish and huge patches of hillsides devastated by uncontrolled mining practices that allow the tailings to run off into the sea.
But in areas with developed tourism this all stops and the easier it is for tourists and local alike to travel into the remote regions of Palawan the less likely it is that these unsustainable practices will continue.
The (Off The) Grid list includes tour expedition leaders, divers, restaurateurs, innkeepers, celebrity chefs, hoteliers, instagrammers, luxury resort developers and not last and not least the seaplane expert who has changed fundamentally how one can travel to visit all the others on the list spread out on the 7107 islands of the Philippine Archipelago.
THE FLY BOYS
Capt John Goulet, Director for Seaplane Operations for Air Juan.
Living in an archipelago also means having to deal with the challenges of interisland travel. Going off to any other region means having to take land, air, and sea transport — sometimes all three in one trip. In many ways, a seaplane provides the perfect transport solution for our kind of geography.
It’s more than just another luxury option for the well-heeled. By providing ready access to our more remote islands, seaplane transport might be the great equalizer that infrastructure-challenged regions might be waiting for.
As it stands getting to your chosen destination is so difficult that the remotely located resorts and hotels outside of Manila and Cebu have taken to out-and-out lying to get you to visit them. Resorts in Busuanga and Coron will tell you that it is only a quick and easy 45-minute flight from Manila to their airport where they will whisk you away to your beautiful resort on a scenic boat ride. What they don’t tell you is that you have to arrive at least 2 hours before your departure time at a crowded domestic airport and line up with backpackers and crying children to board a hot and cramped commuter airliner and then wait another 30-60 minutes before takeoff. Often the flights are cancelled or rescheduled with no explanation given and you have no choice but to wait.
Then, once airborne, the flight is a merciful 50 minutes, not 45, to the closest local airport. After getting through the terminal and waiting for the others to attend the toilet you will board a small bus or van to drive 45-60 minutes to the harbour where you will wait another 30 minutes for your boat to leave. The boat ride will take another 45-60 minutes across rough waters to finally reach your resort sometime after lunch on a good day but on most days at about 3 pm. The first day of your holiday is spent and so are you.
By seaplane, however, you arrive at the harbour 20 minutes before your departure and arrive directly to your resort 1:10 min later in time for an early breakfast. After check-in you can snorkel along the colorful corals off the beach and enjoy the cool blue-green waters of the sandy lagoon. Then spread out with a good book on a beach chair and enjoy the late morning sun. Later, after a seafood lunch on the deck while you contemplate retiring to your room for a mid-day nap, you might, on a good day, witness the domestic flight passengers arriving to the resort but often they won’t show up until late afternoon. They have lost an entire day of their holiday in hot crowded waiting rooms and commuter airliners while you have spent your entire first day relaxing. There is no comparison.
A beautiful Filipino lady, dressed in a poppy red-flowered dress and draped with jangling jewelry, told me, when she boarded our flight at Two Season’s Resort in Coron, that the best part of her holiday was the seaplane flight home. She used to dread the last day having to ride a boat across rough seas to Coron, ride for another hour on the winding road and wait hours in the cramped domestic terminal for airline delays after delays. She was more stressed after getting home than before she left several days before. Now she reads a book on the resort deck while waiting for the seaplane arrival and then leisurely strolls down to the seaplane jetty to board. Within minutes she is airborne to enjoy a smooth ride to Manila where she is in the car on the way home in less then one hour and 20 minutes after departing the resort. No more stress.
In the Maldives, before the seaplane, there were about 40 developed islands that were easily accessible by boat without torturing their guests on the rough seas. Now, after the seaplane, there are an extra 70+ resorts on remote islands that are easily reached via the seaplane being able to land on the nearby beautiful blue/green lagoons. The Philippines can develop in much the same way. In my travels have seen many uninhabited and stunning beautiful golden sand beach ringed islands that are too remote for boats but are within a perfect flight distance for the seaplane.
Recently I have had interesting meetings with developers who wish to buy an island, build a resort and fly their guests in exclusively by seaplane. These are the business entrepreneurs, like Six Senses in the Maldives and the AmanResorts in Indonesia, with the vision to see past the crowded airports toward a greener sustainable future. The resort lagoons of the Maldives host 100’s of sea landings a week and are as picture perfect as the day the resorts were built. No runways, no terminals, no reef dynamiting, no spear fishing and no oil spills. Just nature at it’s best.
So if you are looking for an island don’t waste time. The hunt is on.