This was closer to the water than beachfront. Obviously Maldives-inspired, Stilts Calatagan Beach Resort boasted of eight cottages perched on stilts out in the sea. Why should we bother with a beach when we could just jump out of bed to the crystal waters of the West Philippine Sea?
China showed some cracks. And we could see a continent half a world away through them.
Back in the era of steamers, when Westerners sailed into Shanghai through the Huangpu River, they were greeted not by ancient pagodas, but by a far more familiar sight – the decidedly European skyline of Old World buildings at the city’s iconic waterfront, the Bund (Waitan in Chinese).
The country had kept foreign influence at bay for centuries until the 1800s when the British furtively gained foothold under the cloak of opium smoke. Westerners divvied up swathes of Shanghai and turned them into exclusive enclaves outside the control of the Chinese, which ran counter to China’s propensity to lay claim on lands beyond its borders. These international settlements were called concessions, and more than a century later, they remained as gaping reminders of China’s less than impervious wall.