Heaven on Earth

By Tom Kwok Kam Hei

Blog HomestayMy Homestay Family are marvelous. Their friendliness is beyond my imagination, which will be fully illustrated as follows.

My Homestay Family are marvelous. Their friendliness is beyond my imagination, which will be fully illustrated as follows.
Addiction towards Basketball The family I was staying located near the basketball court and it happened to be those who live in Jagna possess a level of love towards basketball is more or less equals or even exceeds mine. I discovered this the moment I set foot on the ground of the basketball court in day 1. The son of my host family, EJ, has become something more than just a friend of mine, he is a brother, after all these days. I met him on my first day back to my host family, he talks a lot, just like I do, we talked about nearly everything, girls, our studies, what we love, how it is like to live in HK and Jagna respectively. He gives the feeling of home and his attitude can literally be a textbook solution of being a homestay family. He is a great player in basketball. Before I played a game with them, I used to think that I can excel and win all the games with ease. Nonetheless, EJ taught me a lesson of being humble. They may be wearing slippers, they may be half naked, yet they can still be great players. I am grateful that we happened to be a perfect match in basketball. When playing with EJ, lots of his friends join us which enables me to immerse fully into the Jagna teenage society. We built our friendship in games.
Gathering Basketball games just set foundation of our friendships but what allows it to sublime to brotherhood is the gathering. They don’t treat me as a foreigner but a family. EJ and his friends have a regular gathering at night, it turns out that there were one on the basketball day. Some of them ride a motorcycle to the sea and buy squids. This buying squid process lasts for 1 hour as they need to wait for the fisherman to come back. When they were backed, our gathering started. First, they handpicked some banana leaves and put it on the table. Afterward, they cooked the squids in the Filipino way.  They also knew that I may feel weird about the way they eat as they eat with their hands, so they just leave a portion of rice and the squids aside for me. But actually, I do not mind at all. We chatted, we took pictures, we had a lot of fun.
Beach I had a greater time than my fellow classmates when it comes to homestay. On the second day of my trip, they brought me to the beach. When everyone from the same trip are busy thinking about what to do in their free time, I already have EJ and his friends who planned to have fun with me all the time. We went on a boat trip, to the sea and other nameless beaches, they showed me various fun stuff, like climbing up the hill and jump into the water, carol reefs, etc. They caught me some starfish, which I have never seen one up close, let alone touching it and letting it to stick to my skin. They even caught me those sea urchins and we ate it fresh. I felt so sorry when one of our friends, Johnny, got stink by the sea urchin at the finger. But we had a great time. I don’t think if I travel as a tourist for 5 to 6 days, I will be able to have such marvelous experience. They even brought me up the hill to have a look at the whole city. I just wonder will that be even possible for me to realize there exist a spot like that.
Demonstration of Friendship In Hong Kong, when we washed our clothes, basically we throw all of them in the washing machine. But here in Bohol, the use of washing machine is basically just soak our clothes into detergent, afterward, we will need to put it in the water to wash away the detergent. I have completely no idea how to do it. But when EJ tell his friends that I have to wash my clothes, all of them come and help. What else can I ask for except our friendship? I feel so touched by their willingness to help. They keep helping me which reduces the amount of time from 1 hour to less than 15 minutes. I am so grateful to have known them all.  When I need to go to consult the business, I have no idea how to go to the place. That’s why I asked EJ. However, what EJ’s response is that he will ride me to the place. Nonetheless, as my working time is 8am in the morning, I need to wake up at 6am. He said no problem without a second of hesitation. What else can I ask for when there is someone who have my back no matter what.
Full Demonstration of Skills being more important than Equipment This is my first time to go fishing during a boat trip and also to go on a boat trip at night. The sea is so calm, at that moment, I even have an idea that the sea is a female. As for                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             one moment, the sea is very serene, nonetheless, it may change so much, with big tides and waves. However, such experience is so exciting. First of all, we went to get the bait to caught fish and guess what that is, it is the hermit crab but only the soft part of the crab. But those hermit crab is hard to get it out of the shell. So, the kids taught me a special way, use the stones to smashed the shell and break it and then tear the soft part of the crab. Truly, we killed a lot of hermit crab to get enough fishing bait but we also attracted lots of different kind of sea creatures, such as the vigorously moving creepy looking starfish.  When everything is prepared, we drove a boat to the sea. I have never seen a person who can catch a fish that fast. A kid called Anthony just sank a hook into the sea for a few minutes and he just said he got one. Within 10 seconds, he pulled out a fish from the water. Fion and I are so excited but what is even more exciting is that in the next 30 minutes, he caught 5 fish in total. He is so skillful and it is already so much fun to look at him catching fish.
Conquering one’s greatest fear The hiking experience that I am going to talk about is so far the most marvelous experience in Philippines. Originally, we were planning to go to a waterfall with the whole group, however, due to several incidents, Fion and I cannot go there with the group. When EJ and his brother, Best, noticed it, they suggested bringing us to the mountains. At first, Fion and I were like, where are The Mountains, is it the tallest mountains in the areas, just like The Rocky Mountains in the Canada.  Before we depart to the mountains, there are actually a lot of preparation to be done, which includes picking coconuts, buying condensed milk, getting the coconut flesh as well as the coconut water, mixing them up to create a big bowl of coconut salad. Yes, it is called salad even though it is in fully liquid form. I can never get my mind off the image of those kids carrying such big bucket of salad and climb up the mountains with ease. Yes, you are right, the coconut salad is for us when we are on the mountain! To our surprise, the mountains are really just the mountains but it is also the place where the nature lies. Within the place our vision can reach, it is all greeneries. There are hummingbirds, beetles, fruits, coconut trees, trees and plants with name unknown. We spent 5 hours to climb 13 mountains and reaching the top of each. Actually, we didn’t climb up 13 different mountains but 7. The reason of climbing up 13 mountains eventually is due to the fact that we travel the same route back home.  Such experience is so unforgettable as I am so afraid of height.  The last mountain we climb is the tallest among all within our sights. Basically it feels like climbing up a cliff, there does not exist a road, a handrail, nor is there safety measure of any type. We based our lives on the hands of the locals and this is where I feel the most brotherhood. Going up hills are simple, they hold our hands and pull us up. Going down hills is harsh. As I was wearing basketball shoes, I cannot stand or walk without getting slipped. Actually I slipped 3 times throughout the whole day. They actually tried the ground first before they lead me to step on that part of the land. Such act is both dangerous and touching, as it means they put my life before theirs.
Personal Feeling During all these days, they are like my family. We talked about everything, like their ex and my girlfriend, our dreams, what we love, etc. They are so generous that they tried to share everything with me, tried to show me the whole city, tried to spend as much time with me as possible. There was one time that they asked if I want to drink coconut. I thought they were kidding and I just said yes. Within 10 seconds, they just climbed up the tree and grab me one. There was another time that I was asked if I want to eat mango. I thought they bought it and I just yeah sure. But it turns out they climb up a tree which is over 10m and get me one mango. They never stop offering me help and telling me interesting stories. I know it is hard to express my gratefulness in words but I doubt if there exist any words in this world which can express one in a thousand of my gratefulness. I will be back, without a single bit of doubt.

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