“Chapter 15”

These ranged from the luxurious to the downright basic nipa hut which he was informed, consisted of one room with a glassless window, a bed, small bamboo cupboard for clothing and nothing else. He settled for a middle range place, a solidly built bamboo offering consisting of three units. Pacific Pearl had seen better days but looked comfortable and came with a refrigerator, tiled bathroom, and clean sheets. For 200 pesos a night the smiling landlady Mrs Sando promised to change the bedding daily and provide fresh drinking water.

Conway looked around his home for the next week. It was no Taj Mahal but it was adequate and suited his purpose. He showered and changed into a pair of speedo swim trunks, under white shorts and light blue tee shirt and headed out for a look around. His accommodation was just a few yards from the beach which close up was as beautiful as it was from the air. The sand, white, soft and cool beneath his feet; how wonderful it felt after the hard, cracked and broken sidewalks of Manila.

The sun was high and shone down on a sea now turquoise, giving way inshore to a beautiful emerald. It reminded him of the Great Barrier Reef in his native Queensland. It looked so cool, clean and inviting he couldn’t resist the temptation. Shrugging off his tee shirt and shorts he raced across the sand and hit the water in a racing dive. The water temperature was perfect. Cool enough to be refreshing but not cold enough to take the breath away. It was surprisingly shallow so he had to swim for forty yards before there was any real depth. He duck-dived, swam and carried on like a big porpoise for nearly half an hour before returning to his bungalow for yet another shower.

He stepped out of the shower refreshed and exhilarated. This was the best he’d felt for weeks and his injuries seemed almost non-existent except for a slight twinge around his ribs. He was a quick healer but had a long memory. His thoughts turned to Groyne for a moment but quickly dismissed them. There was too much here to enjoy. The last thing he wanted was to spoil it with memories of that low-life. It was time for a look around. He stepped outside and wandered along a sandy track running parallel to the beach stopping to look at the various stalls with their colourful displays of beachwear, sunglasses, handicrafts, totem bags, advertisements for diving trips, snorkelling and various other water sports on offer. There were a few small restaurants serving Filipino food and a number offering Western fare, the usual hamburgers, pizzas and pasta.

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