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Guest at Anaconda in the Philippines

Bring Line around the Philippine Islands as a guest aboard the boat Anaconda. It became an absolutely unforgettable journey.
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Guest at Anaconda in the Philippines is written by Line Hansen

Malaysia - Kuala Lumpur - City - Travel

The chaotic arrival in the Philippines

The trip from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia to Puerto Galera in Phillipines becomes one of the slightly long ones with many shifts along the way. Two trains, a plane, three buses, a ferry and finally the last few hundred meters in an inflatable boat out to the sailing ship Anaconda, where I was to be a guest, and which is at anchor off the small charming town of Puerto Galera.

Although after arrival in the capital Manila is a bit shaken after my night flight, it's simply wonderful to end up in such a chaos as Manila once is. A push and the boat, the donkey and the hustle and bustle and people everywhere. The contrast to the polished skyscrapers, suit-clad business people and streamlined shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur is striking.

Good morning, and then the day is shown in motion. I love it - that is, the contrasts. Not understood as one is better than the other, but the contrast between how countries now work.

It is fascinating, alluring and provides eternal nourishment to experience new worlds. Likewise, that feeling of dumping into what to outsiders sees chaos, noise and disorder. When you have recovered a little, taken a few breaths and thrown yourself into it, then it is that the chaos in a strange way makes sense. Organized chaos.

The traffic is crazy, but it works. At high speed, everything spins with wheels on each other in anxiety-provoking maneuvers. It had never gone to Copenhagen - it would end in a huge disaster.

We have a common set of rules at home, and we comply with it more or less. It works for us. Over here, there are no common ground rules, and people adapt to it, and therefore it works. I think. Or maybe I just did not cheat the system - it is also very conceivable.

It's wild that the world can be so different after just a few hours of flying. However, there is no doubt about where I am best. The mood does not diminish after I board bus number two in Manila, where I barely manage to throw my luggage and body into the small-wheeled bus.

And what meets me there in the bus at seven in the morning? The tones of Michael Learns To Rock blaring from the bus' semi-karaoke system. Even though I'm away, I still feel at home. Because I can actually sing, ha! Unlike the rest of the bus passengers…

And no no, it's not just pleasant buzzing background music; has been completely fired up to a level that would make the Green Concert in Valbyparken pale: “I'm not an actor, I'm not a star, and I do not even have my own car ”...

The deafening tones of the music allow me to sing as loud as I want, without anyone on a factual basis being able to assess how far from the tones I hit and thus tune myself out of the bus. To the tunes of my teenage idols, I watch Manilla's morning throngs out the window as the bus lulls south. Excited about how the next month's time will go when I arrive in Puerto Galera and board the Anaconda as a guest.

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The wandering multi-tool

I'm ready for life as a guest on the small mooring in Puerto Galera when I see Jan, or the “Captain” coming sailing towards me in the dinghy. The bare belly, the tattoos that cover the upper body, the gold ring in the ear and the coral necklace complete the captain look.

Jan has been sailing around the world for more than 12 years with his 48-foot self-built sailboat. A proper ship with plenty of space. Or that is, it was once there. All conceivable holes and air spaces have been utilized for storage space.

But it is clear that with a boat as its home, all gaps are well filled. Imagine that the workshop, wine cellar, library, storage room, freezer, living room, kitchen, attic, etc. must be fitted into a boat. With new storage spaces constantly popping up, we are confident that somewhere on Anaconda we can find a forgotten guest.

Likewise, there must be everything on the boat for every conceivable situation if something needs to be fixed. And it almost always has to be there. At least I have not at any time seen Jan, where he is not just in the process of fixing something, and most often fixing several things at once. Yes, that should be it when served sundowners, but otherwise not…

Fixing things spans a very wide range on Anaconda. It can be anything from disassembling an engine and reassembling it, welding, sewing, lubricating and cleaning to simply giving something that does not work a slap with a wrench, which, however, also seems to be plan A in connection with problem solving. After sailing on Anaconda, I have learned that it actually most often works. The self-controller in particular responds well to slaps.

When you, like Jan, live on your boat, you have to know everything. And he can. Although I have no sense of boats, it does not take much ingenuity to see through that Jan is the man who knows EVERYTHING about boats and on that basis can fix everything on the boat. He is a sailor, yes certainly, but also a wandering multi-tool with eternally oil-stained fingers.

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Captain - Puerto Galera, guest travel

Signing up as a guest at Anaconda

I embark on Anaconda, which is at anchor a few hundred meters out in the bay, get me installed in my cabin and also greet the ship dog Oskar - or just Okker, as we call him. It takes less energy to pronounce, and as a guest at Anaconda, we want to make life easy for ourselves. Energy economy we go up a lot.

This means that we make a virtue out of how we can consume the least possible energy on any task.

Simon has already sailed on Anaconda for three months, and it will thus be he who falls victim to our thousands of questions in a gentle stream the first few days. Fortunately, Simon is good as the day is long and answers patiently and helpfully when he explains for the seventeenth time how ice cubes are made, where the coffee filters are, where you turn on the gas and how the oven works, which none of us really learned even after one month on board.

It was something with a lime press that has to be squeezed at the same time as you press a certain place, get something to say click and then set fire to the gas in a secret place inside the oven, while balancing the pork roast or whatever, it now is, you have thrown yourself over by cooking project and of course take care not to burn yourself. Simply impossible.

It's an art, I think, and any guest signing up for Anaconda should receive a pdf file beforehand that addresses the topic of “Using the Oven at Anaconda”. Simon is such a person who has an infectious relaxing aura. A master at rest, nap and grandfather.

It is therefore also he who knows the almost 20 different places on the boat, where you can use different pillow and cushion formations to make yourself a good nap when you rest. Or as Simon claims; he 'thinks'.

Simon thinks a lot. Most of the day actually. That is, when he does not drink cold coffee, because "it is a shame to throw coffee out", as he says. Simon has a bunk out in the workshop, but since the workshop has more or less occupied the bunk, he sleeps on the deck in his much-loved hammock, which for every day that passes loses a string or two. It's only a matter of time before Simon ends up as a kamikaze guest.

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Fried pork and sunset - the sweet life as a guest

The first night after Puerto Galera, the captain from the 'pantry' excels. According to the sailing lexicon, the word 'pantry' is used about the kitchen when it is part of another room, while 'galley' is used when the kitchen is an enclosed space. Important just to get the concepts in place…

First, sundowners are on the menu in the form of Piña Coladas, while we enjoy the sight of the beautiful sunset over the bay. It soon becomes clear to us that sundowners are an important part of life here at Anaconda, which no one seems to have any objections to. 

Then it is on fried pork and parsley sauce, which ultimately takes the price of the most Danish meal I have eaten in the last seven months. It tastes great and I eat far more than good is. F *** it tastes GOOD!

The next few days as a guest are spent preparing Anaconda for the next three weeks of sailing, where we do not have the opportunity to stock up and get gas and water on the boat. The provisioning must prove to be an experience in itself.

Simon and I go to the market to shop for fruits and vegetables. There will be something of a project, and since we can impossibly drag more, we head towards the supermarket to meet the others. Simon installed with the fruit and vegetable sacks outside while I go hunting for the crew.

In the middle of the supermarket I see Jesper and Bob standing completely disoriented and looking confused down at the three carts that Jan is filling up. When Bob has fetched five liters of milk, Jan comes back with 15 extra.

When Jesper has picked up two packets of butter, Jan returns with six extra. A box of rum is supplemented with a lot of extra boxes, and we should be able to make sundowners now for most of it Phillipines.

But Jan has tried it a thousand times before, and knows if anyone how much to trade in for six people in three weeks. It's insanely much. So much so that Jesper, Bob and I do not contribute to so much other than standing and laughing over the absolutely hugely crammed carts, which are stacked in a way that would give any block major master cause for concern.

The receipt, which we receive after half an hour at the checkout, is about one and a half meters long and should have been stored in eternal memory. Departed at two tricycles with the provisions down towards our poor little one dingy, which is really put to the test. But it manages it, and so does the provisioning.

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First night on the boat

The first night since Puerto Galera. It's great to sleep on board. Falling asleep while quietly rocking to sleep to the sound of crashing waves crashing against the hull of the boat. The stars shining brightly and the moon shining in through the hatch in the top cabin.

It's hot, a little squeezed and a little damp, but it does not matter, because all in all it's amazing. From the upper berth, Bob struggles a little more to get the required amount of oxygen, and periodically worrying gasping sounds are heard from above.

However, it must also be said that Bob has a general oxygen problem. Especially below the surface, where he likes to empty a tank in a quarter of an hour. The air and oxygen situation also results in us alternately farting on the deck to ventilate.

In return, it gives one a unique opportunity to sit in the dark in his own little bubble and be a little alone in the silence and just look at the stars and feel incredibly privileged over the day yesterday, the day today, the moment, the present and the day tomorrow , where it all unfolds again. Wow, I love this sailing life and being a guest.

It's cool that we're two girls on board. Then we can occasionally go on small excursions, girl fool, catch squid, cuddle on small baby turtles and go crazy with selfie moments when the testosterone level on the ship gets too high.

When my co-guest Savannah eats Nutella in the morning, she goes all in. In Savannah's optics, this means that in one place there must be no visible bread when the Nutella is spread. This also means that half of the Nutella ends up either on the fingers or in the head.

Once I have children, I want a daughter like Savannah - the world's most beautiful bouncer!

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Sailor show and rum and cola

The next few weeks are spent sailing from one beautiful bay to another, where we are anchored every night. Sometimes we can snorkel ashore, and elsewhere it is only rocks that surround us.

On one of the small islands gives the local creak us allowed to make bonfires on the beach - probably with the hope of a bottle of rum in return, which he of course gets. On the very small deserted islands, there are often a few rangers who keep an eye on the island and with a bottle of rum waiting.

We sail away in the dinghy with everything to use for the campfire event: Baked potatoes, fish in tinfoil, red wine, rum and cola and not least the hollandaise sauce, which is in the saucepan. No, no nothing is missing here.

With a machete, Jan prepares coconuts and then fills them with all sorts of good little strong things brought from the bar; very authentic and insanely cozy. We eat the fire-prepared gourmet fish and enjoy the red wine.

The small speaker and iPad set the mood with Kim Larsen and various sailor songs, but as rum and cola are poured down, no one notices that the tide has dropped dramatically. The first 100 meters towards the boat, the corals protrude up the water, and we must therefore go out through the sharp growths, which is easier said than done.

Our shoes are stuck in the corals, people are tumbling around and we can not see anything. It all gets a little chaotic, and the per mille does not exactly help the situation. Status next morning for all of us is various coral rips on legs and arms. In addition, a pair of lost shoes and a handful of sea urchin spikes that have settled in Simon's hand.

Okker was apparently the only one who came through the night rowing fairly unscathed. Ocher is a bit like Simon; good as the day is long and rests incredibly much. Ocher is just a little dumber and may find himself lying in the water for hours on end waiting for someone to open the hatch so he can get on the boat.

Not even a small bark, he can imagine, would solve the dog-over-board problem. Likewise, he frantically crashes around on the boat and stares into nothingness when asked if there are dolphins? He jumps on it EVERY time, and it makes it no less fun.

Ocher must have the best dog life in the world. He gets 'Laughing Cow Madder' in the morning, often a rye bread chopper with leftover cod roe for lunch, and in the evening there is always a steak or tenderloin left over for him. When the girls are alone, he gets spoiled with Oreos and sausages, but it's a secret between Savannah, Ocher and me.

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Morning dive with turtles - the sweet life as a guest

Turtles, reef sharks and exotic fish in every conceivable color surround me in the crystal clear water. Our captain Jan is in front of me, but I have to fight a little to keep up with the pace. Jan has 4-5000 dives behind him, and it is clear to see that the whole sea, both below and above, is his playground. It's 7 in the morning, and less than 15 minutes ago I was lying asleep in the bunk.

Now I am at a depth of 28 meters and in the process of the world's best imaginable morning bath. Several times we come very close to the large sea turtles, which with their large shield invite you to a trek through the water. After some deliberation, I take courage and grab each side of the turtle shield.

I feel the enormous force that the turtle moves with through the water using the mitts. Life underwater is like stepping into a completely different world. When a dive is just absolutely amazing and everything is playing, it can easily feel half-dreamy and adventurous. A world where some senses are put out of play while others are sharpened.

The colors are clearer than above the water. The eyes are insanely attentive and constantly searching. The weightless feeling when the corpus is effortlessly moved around in all sorts of positions, which can hardly be done over the water, is fantastic. There is a strangely addictive silence down there.

Only the rumbling sound of the regulator when the air is blown out through the mouth pulls the thoughts back to reality. It is very peaceful and in some cases can feel completely meditative. The feeling of being present arises all by itself.

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The first seasickness

The last stretch as a guest with Anaconda will also be the longest. The stretch should bring us off Phillipines to Hong Kong, where we will be disembarking, and Anaconda will have intensive care for a month, where the new sails, which are ready in Hong Kong, will be put on.

In the days leading up to departure, the South China Sea is ravaged by a typhoon, which we have to patiently wait for to drift over, so we are spared the worst of the aftermath. The first day at sea, it's me who has the cooking job.

Since my seasickness has behaved extremely exemplary throughout the trip, therefore, it immediately gives no cause for concern. However, as darkness descends over the sea and I crawl into the pantry to finish the dinner, it does not take long before a strange sensation strikes me.

The large but soft waves that hit from the front challenge the balance, and all muscles work to correct and adapt the body to the balance challenges. From experience, you quickly learn that you do not just put a can or a glass away when the boat tilts like that.

Still, it happens all the time, and we usually have a couple of half-filled coffee cups flying through the cockpit, but never anything that in any way challenges the ultimately relaxed vibe that prevails on Anaconda.

With my head buried in pot and mados and a balance nerve that has gone on drinking, I must eventually jump up from the pantry to avoid an extremely inappropriate spice being added to the dish… Luckily I am surrounded by amazing co-guests who are always ready to take over and help in every conceivable case. For example, to pick me up in the kayak when I am in the middle of the water standing trapped in a coral hell in the dark, motionless, without shoes - they disappeared between the corals - and a little too full… Thank you!

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On guard in the dark night

The next few days quickly disappear in the routines that have already occurred, which inevitably occur on board when sailing several days in a row. We alternately have shifts of two hours also as a guest, which means that you can then relax for the following 8 hours before going on duty again. Ahh, a full 8 hours to rest in - great! It's a wild feeling to be on guard, especially at night.

Everyone on board is asleep, all the lights are off, and only the headlamp illuminates dimly when the course, oil pressure or engine temperature needs to be checked. Ocher usually lies and puts next to it. Once in a while he opens half an eye, we get a little cozy chat before he rumbles again.

Around us sail small fishing boats, large tankers, cargo ships, and the large squid boats light up like floating circuses to attract squid with their powerful spots. But often there is just completely black when looking out at the horizon.

Such really black. However, the stars and the moon light up the sky, and there is more time than ever to contemplate the luminous objects that are so infinitely far away. The feeling of being insignificantly small on this sea is at first overwhelming, but at the same time a bold feeling. It is ultimate freedom and independence.

A boat can come everywhere - never depending on a road, a track or others' considerations of where to go or at least to travel. I am slowly beginning to understand the possibilities a boat offers the traveler. The term "off-the-beaten-track", which is used extensively in Lonely Planet's guidebooks, is given a whole new and far more authentic dimension with the boat as a means of transport, and the possibilities for walking - or rather sailing - your own roads are limitless.

At 4 o'clock in the morning I am replaced by Ole, who is on board as a guest the last week to sail with us to Hong Kong. Course and a cup of coffee are handed over and I look forward to sleeping. Simon lies in one side of the 'doghouse', as the top of the cockpit is called, and I curl up under my sheet with the hood pulled up over my ears on the other side.

Ocher lays down under the sheet at the foot end, and even though the humidity here in the middle of the night reaches its highest and the cushion is hard to lie on, it is still the world's best bed. Not only does the time of day contribute to the overall relaxation I feel in every nook and cranny of my body, but in particular also the perfect combination of sensory stimuli. The sound of waves crashing, the smell of the boat's woodwork and the water, the boat's rocking movements and not least the sight of the stars filling the night sky, rises here in a higher unity. Casual… ahhh… sleep.

This utter relaxation, which I have only rarely experienced, fills me the last two days before we hit Hong Kong. It's a great feeling to be on board, but it obviously takes time to teach the body to completely relax, like "right inside the bones", which is an expression we are very happy about at Anaconda. Maybe it's bullshit - maybe someone knows what I mean.

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Have a good trip when you go on your own adventure as a guest - or otherwise - in Phillipines!

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About the travel writer

Line Hansen

Line started her travel life as a teenager by going on various charter holidays with her friends, which kick-started her desire to travel. Has always been driven by a great longing as well as urge to experience the world, and see what is hiding in other countries. After the teenage years, it has always been with a backpack around and preferably on a "low-budget".

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