The Philippines

1st January 2015

This first week in the Philippines has been a shit.

I arrived full of expectation, conscious that the first two days in Manila wouldn’t had been the best time of my life. I was impatient to go to the beach and lie under the sun. But which sun? The one that I haven’t seen yet?

I spent my second day in the capital wandering through the city to take some pictures, passing from the favelas to the city center, which hosts even more homeless.

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It was actually a nice day which I passed almost entirely at the Rizal Park and the nearby Intramuros, the old walled city.

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I ended the day at the Mall of Asia, the third biggest Mall in the Philippines, 10th in the whole world. Nothing special I must say, just very crowded, but the view is quite pleasant as you can see.

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The day after I travelled for 4 hours, taking a bus and a ferry to get to Puerto Galera, small town north of Midoro Island. It’s been the worse three days ever. I haven’t seen the sun since when I arrived, and I haven’t been to the beach yet, it’s constantly raining and all the paths are muddy. It’s so noisy, the screams of the goddam kids in the neighbourhood start at 5am and last ’till midnight, and the parents, well, are too busy doing nothing to take care of them. In moments like these I think that lack of instruction is closely related to lack of common sense. It’s like trying to deal with monkeys.

The positive thing so far is that, unlike Indonesia, you can take local transport and pay the same price as filipinos. They usually speak english, someone better someone worse, but always enough to help you finding the way. People in general is very nice, if I don’t count the monkey-neighbours.

The lack of sleep is causing a killer instinct rising. I just wanna sleep, specially after spending the whole New Year’s Eve in bed with fever and a sore throat so bad that made me cough like there’s no tomorrow. Can’t wait to leave this bloody place and visit other islands. It’s always raining, there’s nothing to do, everybody’s cranky, I can’t sleep. I hope to see the sun very soon ’cause I’m getting very nervous.

10th January 2015

Things have gone much better since the last time. For the last three days I’ve been roasting my boobies under the sun, but let’s start from where I left.

After an awful New Year’s Eve spent in bed I needed two more days to recover. My only activity was walking to the town to get some food. I was going crazy. Not only I hadn’t seen the sun for 6 days, but I didn’t even see a single square meter of sky. It was like living in a dark grey cloud.

On the attempt to shy away from getting nuts I ended up joining a german couple, Sophie and Dominik, and a korean girl, Jane, who were on their way to hike a volcano few hours north of Manila.

We all left on 3rd January early in the morning, when we jumped on some local’s motorbike that brought us to the pier where we get a boat to Batangas, after two hours of terror. Me and Jane were on the front of the boat, the worse place in case of waves, which was exactly the case that day. Few kids next to Jane vomited and she was trying to fight the need to puke as well. From Batangas, popular port south of Luzon Island, we took a bus and in about 3 hours we were breathing Manila’ smog. We then caught the Light Train that in 30 minutes brought us on the north border of the city, and after three hours on another bus we finally arrived at the destination, Capas.

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We walked a bit to find an accommodation, ending up in a nice hotel, all in the same room with two king size beds, a terrace, and en suite bathroom with hot water! Sounds weird that I get exited for hot water, does it? But I assure you that find hot water in the Philippines is like finding a diamond.

And all this for a price cheaper than the shit hole we stayed in Puerto Galera.

Awesome.

The following day we woke up at 5 and managed to take a tricycle to San Juliana were we hired a jeep to get closer to the crater of Mount Pinatubo. At some point we stopped and hiked for 2 hours under the hot sun, to arrive at the amazing lake formed in the crater since the last eruption in 1991.

The stunning view repaid the whole day of travelling across Luzon.

I sat on the shore, eating some sandwiches, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the emerald water. It was hypnotic.

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The return was less tiring being downhill, but once back to our room around 5pm, we all passed out.

The day after we separated. Jane went to a small town nearby while me Sophie and Dominik tried to go back to Manila. We weren’t aware that day was the end of a long public holiday. All the buses were super full and the drivers didn’t even stop. I started to worry a bit as I had to catch a flight in the afternoon. I managed to get back to the city with a shuttle and few hours later I was in Puerto Princesa, in Palawan which is considered one of the most beautiful island in the world, were I stayed only one night because I was too anxious to reach El Nido, a tiny little village up north.

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I’ve heard so many things about that place that I couldn’t wait to get there.

Even if popular between travellers and tourists, in El Nido you can breath the typical filipino vibe.

There’s not even an ATM, the closest one is in a village two hours from here.

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Once there I had a taste of how the paradise must look like.

These three days have been simply amazing. And this is just the beginning.

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19th January 2015

Well, well, nine days have passed since the last update. Seems to me it’s been forever.

I admit this is the most amazing place I’ve seen so far.

The days passed between long walks and drinking fresh coconut at the beach. And when I say fresh, I mean FRESH, just harvested from a local who climbed the palm tree.

I made a tour on my second day, because there are so many things to see that I couldn’t have done it by myself, and that was very pleasant. Lots of people around, but I had so much fun.

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Few days after that I opted for the wild option of an overnight stay in Nacpan beach, which is one of the most beautiful and less popular beaches I’ve ever seen. Only a bunch of hatched huts here and there were some locals live, golden powder sand, and that’s it.

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Unfortunately I couldn’t go there by myself due to the cost of the trip. Despite Nacpan is only 20 km from El Nido, the path is very rough and drivers ask, understandably, a lot of money.

I took one hour to get there with a tricycle. I swear the God we were 5 and we fit all in one. That was an insane drive, but totally worth it.

The other guys were aiming to have fun, while I was aiming to forget about human being, so I left them getting drunk with cheap tequila and I wandered along the beach by myself.

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At night I assisted to a wonderful spectacle, a sort of double side sky, cause above me a ceiling of stars lightened the dark night while the shore was a carpet of glowing plankton.

The wind was chill and I had to wear all my clothes and wrap myself in a bed sheet, and next to the bonfire I slept few minutes every now and then.

What a wonderful trip.

Another amazing panorama was a hidden beach which I don’t know the name of.

I discovered it walking for a couple of hours north of the town. Nobody goes north ’cause nobody knows about this beach. It doesn’t even have a name. Walking north from El Nido I passed through a narrow path and climbed rocks to get to a long stretch of wild and untouched beach. An old wooden pier, that’s all I saw that would confirm the presence of people over there.

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11 Feb 2015

No need to say that I didn’t want to leave, but life goes on. I left El Nido on 15th January at 8.30 pm, with a van that brought me to Puerto Princesa to a hostel where I slept for a couple of hours before heading to the airport and catch a flight to Manila. Once in Manila I took another plane to Bali where I stayed one night, and believe me, that was horrible. Everything looks horrible compare to the Philippines but take a look at the Indonesia post I wrote to see what I’m talking about…

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from Bali I flew to Sydney where I got stuck. I had an open ticket to fly to LA but the flight was always full and I slept two nights at the airport. I mean, I had few naps every now and then. Exhausted from 4 days of travelling and no-sleep, I bought another ticket with a 9 hours layover in Fiji. “Good” I thought, “ That’s plenty of time, I might have a walk around!”.

Fuck that flight.

Half the way to Nadi very strong turbulences made me fear for my life. I stopped shaking only when I put my feet on the ground in Fiji, but once there I spent the 9 hours layover fighting panic attack, and I miserably failed as I spent a good amount of time crying in the bathroom. I must have looked very miserable, because a woman approached me and gave me some pills to calm down, and 4 more to use during the flight. I had to spent other 11 hours flying above the ocean, and I couldn’t stop crying at the idea. I hadn’t sleep ’till the night of the 14th, and it was the 21st. 6 days without sleeping make your brain do funny things. I was tired, and terrified. I forced myself to get into that goddam plane and swallowed two pills, which didn’t knocked me out as I hoped, but still, helped. After 5 hours I took the remained pills and arrived safe and high in Los Angeles.

It’s winter here, and there’s 29° outside. Not bad.

I’m sick, I keep coughing like and old man, my runny nose doesn’t wanna give me a break.

But it’s ok. Better catch flu rather that a crushing plane, no?