All posts by Ayan Villafuerte

figuring out life since 1984.

I dreamed of Phi Phi

Burn. Baby. Burn
its the day i started to feel burnout.

i was passed my 10-plus-days on the road- of sleeping in some randomn bunk or train or bus terminal, endless walks and bikes, cheese burger-free diet, loss of my wallet, leaving new-found buddies, flu, all these stressors are , finally, taking its toll in my head and body( specially the burger thing).

moreover, i guess its the daily constraints of having to be on guard whether with yourself(health) or your valuables particularly money and travel documents. the value of these possessions multiply ten folds when you are in a foreign land. the need to be mindful of these belongings  at all times, most specially, when you’re drunk, or sleeping, heck, even when you’re going in the toilet; 24/7 of this is, ohmy, exhausting.

oh the deprivations of solo backpacking!

yeah, certainly, i was in my “Judy Ann+Gloria Arroyo” element that day. drama much. effects of growing up in a country where soap-operas are dinner staples.
***

Birth of the Dream

Phi Phi is the reason why i wanted to check out Andaman coast,
reason why i desired to go to Thailand,
actually, its the whole point of pursuing this dream backpacking trip.

i am a big fan of Alex Garland’s novel and so is the film adaptation crafted by Danny Boyle- THE BEACH.

after watching the flick, which starred DiCaprio, i instantly knew back then that one day i will visit the setting of  the film, Phi Phi, Maya Bay no matter what.

my curiosity for backpacking and the world was enkidled.

***

Going for the Dream

after leaving my good dutch buddy in Krabi, i continued my travel to “The Dream Destination: Phi Phi” with low spirits and dismal expectations.

while in the ferry, the scene was like watching  american-pie-high-school-kids line up for the party in the cool kid’s house. jampacked. not that im complaining, ey bikinis!

but the unspoilt and virgin piece of floating land showcased in the film a decade ago and the scene of the partyphiles just does not seem to add up.

my, then, 5-day-old torned pants felt out-of-placed in the boat. plus, the fact that i was flashing that 1-week-no-bathe-look i perceived the cool way to go as sported by Leonardo and those backpackers in the film did not help either. jeez. lol. (siguro magwwork pa kung kamukha ka ni Leo… pero kung kamukha ng Capre… tsk)

low spirits. low expectations. now, low self esteem, kidding. coudn’t care less.

i sat on the floor, with my dark-tint-sunglasses on, in a corner with a premium view of those passing bums. heck, i needed to lift my spirits up, you know( and i think it wasnt the only thing that got lifted up. lol)

as the ferry boat docked on Phi Phi Don’s shore, i noticed that the whole plain of land at the foot of the towering cliffs are already dotted with concrete structures.

it was hard to navigate around since buildings  pretty much occupy the better chunk of the area. there were no organized  streets, only shallow alleys.

it was difficult to find available accomodation despite the hundreds of inns and hotels. it was December . most are fully booked. thats how crowded and commercialized it has become. i found one at the foot of the hill zillion miles away from the pier after walking around for a good 45mins.

i  got tired from the walk, and travel, in general, with all the stresses in the past days. i opted for a room. a much-needed personal space even for a night might just bring back the excitement of backpacking that was then, lowly and diminishing. it was a costly splurge at 700bahts.

never did i shed an amount higher than 180bahts for accomodation per night in the length of this trip. yeah, i am that cheap. hehe.

quickly i crashed into the room and left my backpack. i explored the THE ISLAND immediately. this was, after all, the dream.

***
Dream reignited?

well, honestly, to my surprise, the best thing about these famed islands… is not the beach. its those sexy-caucasian-bikini-clad-bodies on the beach. hey, thats, just my 2 cents (or 2 bahts… whatever).

to soothe my backpacking-battered soul,  i secured a spot on the beach. front and center. infront of all those bikini-cladded creatures. the only time i was grateful for the commercialization of this used-to-be virgin island. lol.

ice-cold,mega-sized Chang beer on my right hand and pizza on my left and of course a CHEESEBURGER in tow!

what budget-backpacking? a tourist for once.haha

the Phi Phi viewpoint 3(or 2)is definitely one of the best views i have ever seen.

i enjoyed the rest of my stay in Phi Phi. though, it was not as grand as i first saw(movie)/imagined it to be. it is, nonetheless, a lovely place to experience.

one important lesson i learned is that the only way to know, is to try… first hand.
learning from books/websites will not suffice, not even through a trusted friend.
its something personal. travel is always personal.
so, just go.

backpacking.Mindanao

the story started with a free ticket, a fake ID, and one poor, adventure”ful” ass. yes, thats mine me.

i never intended to visit this side of Mindanao. eastern side.

plainly because its the favorite setting of news men when reporting on kidnappings and bombings. and as much as i would want to appear on tv or newspaper, well, certainly,  not on these circumstances.

but, during one stormy afternoon. Nic of www.pinoyontheroad.com gave away his round-trip ticket to Zamboanga. and being the happy-go-lucky cheapskate, adventure”ful” ass that i am. i said yes, even before my brain comprehended what it entailed. you know, like, actually, going to this side of Mindanao and be, physically, in those backdrops  i only see on Tv Patrol.

since i am not fully knowledgeable about the geography of  this part of the country, i googled some maps and to my surprise horror, Zamboanga city is apparently 1 centimeter away from Basilan, an inch away from Jolo etc etc.

scared? terrified.

i kept this trip a secret since i do not want anyone to worry about my travel stupidity. you know, incase, there are, actually, people who feel that way.

all i said at home was i’m going out for a shoot and hike in Bicol. and that i’l be gone for a few days.

the day before the travel, my stupidity, apparently, started to kick in(mala “Liu Kang’s flying kick). and it did scare the hell out of me.

after all, it is the first time i am travelling with a different name and a fake ID to a place i had only seen glimpses of during 2-minute-Newsflashes or excerpts from TV Patrol or sometimes on a front page of a newspaper. not very enticing, right?

but i knew that if i let this opportunity pass by, i will never be able to get myself there, ever.

and since i love giving myself a good scare, at times. i single-handedly braved this trip.

i had two options Zamboanga-Basilan-Tawi tawi and Basilan-Zamboanga-north-west-south Mindanao. i followed the latter.

so how did it go, you say? well, i am back in Manila and still alive, obviously, so thats good news… right? oh yeah, of course it is. =)

few highlights:

-the airport scene that played in my head prior to my flight wherein some suspicious men with shades and sahal would follow me and my every move until finally cornering me outside the airport in Zamboanga didnt actually happened. buang.

-was able to fly with a different name and a fake ID. i dont advise this though =)

-zamboanga is the sh*t. i would walk in the streets back to my hostel past midnight, drunk, its safe.

-even my new-found friends in Zamboanga got scared to go with me in Malamawi in Basilan.

-Merloquet falls is charming. Malamawi is the best beach in the south( but thats just me). Tinuy-an Falls looks better in photos(opinion ko lang din yan). Had a good swim in Hinatuan enchanted river. failed to get awed by Glan… for the second time.

-dont camp by the beach when a storm is brewing.

-Greenwindows dormitel in Davao is the best backpack accomodation in the PI( wasnt paid to say that, but if you guys are reading this, i wouldnt mind a free sleep next time.) affordable at 188. its clean. safe. airconditioned. =)

-buses in western Mindanao are better than those on the eastern side.

-10,000pesos is enough to circumnavigate the main island of Mindanao( ala true blue explorer.lol)

-satti is delicious. and so is knickerbucker.

-slept in a bus for several nights to save on accomodation. sayang. pangBeer din yon. lol

-things will not always go smoothly. there will always be that one stranger who will fukc things up.

-if you want friends, first, be a friend.

-i dream of time when people would go to Mindanao without hesitance, just pure excitement.

Best.Kept.Secret.

the neglected twin of Batanes =)

after tossing every lousy situation(first part) at our way, this heck of an island was finally convinced that i am gatecrashing its party, no matter what, and that it will be useless to throw in more mishaps as my will can never be fazed. well, at least, not by dogs( all 10,000 of them), majinbo, or a 7-hour-life jacketless-sail.

tables had turn.

Babuyan is the bomb.

the hippest of locals,
sexiest seascapes,
rockin rock formations,
the sumptousEST of seafoods,
and badass beaches.
this island is, indeed, packed with a punch-a powerful Pacman punch.

5 years from now, Calayan island-part of  Babuyan group of islands- will grace magazine covers and calendars. even those that are currently reigned by Sam Pinto or this blueberry panna cotta.
Sabang beach- it is that sexy, its sizzles.

2nd of 2parts
1st part here

Calayan Island
Babuyan group of Islands
Province of Cagayan

*there are so many nice landscape photos taken but i posted a lot already and if i dont get a hold of myself, this page will take forever to load =)

backpacking Palawan

the last frontier was the last on my list of local destinations. and my first trip with the woodies( my crew, anlakas maka-astig lang.lol)  did i save the best for last?
=)

it was never intended to wind up all other destinations on my list first before doing this. truth is i had been itching to explore Palawan since 2009 but some sort of hindrance would always come my way like typhoon Basyang, or my supervisor( who happens to look a lot like Lola Basyang), who giddily disapproved my bi-monthly filing of sick leaves (i admit i WAS once a hard-to-the-core slacker at work; WAS ONCE).

well, this time, my will to come face to face with the final frontier was so strong it cannot be fazed by a typhoon, or  supervisor, or the thought of missing an episode of ,ehem, face-to-face; kasawsawan!

finally, to seal the deal, i sneaked out from my sister and used her credit card for getting the plane tickets. i was lucky to get discounted fares; less than a thousand for my round-trip. i just had to do it, then think about the consequences afterwards. i know my trip will never push through not until i have those tickets at hand.

since i was travelling with the Ken and Moy, i know plans or itinerary was the last thing we would actually need. not because we are spontaneous, but simply because we are all too stupid for rules or guides.

i remember the last time we were drunk and jaded, with jerry, we mistook the words “keep away” to “play” fire extinguisher which ended up in inches of white powder all over unit 1901… which later on followed by messy dialogues with anal Kingswood condominium officers and the kapitan of barangay Tejeros, Makati.

with plane tickets at hand, and  a meager budget around 5k(saved from feasting on okra, tuyo, and more okra for weeks, and from crawling going home instead of riding taxis on weekends i got wasted on cheap alcohol) we were ready to hit Palawan.

we were all, coincidentally, either kicked out or laid off from work. in other words,  no commitment thus no one bossing us for a haste return.

armed with board shorts, shirts and malong, a sleeping bag and an oversupply of adrenaline and excitement; we braved Palawan- long awaited, much anticipated.

i boarded the first trip of Zest air at 8am, while the fat one on AirPhils at 8:30am. ken was already in Puerto Princesa, living in their provincial home since december. our flights were on time. ken waited for us giddily. he texted “san na u” every five mins.

ken was fat, kakagulat, he’s the size of Palawan.lol

we left our bags in Kens house and headed out. Honday Bay that noon, honestly, it is  only Luli island that we enjoyed. and its not included in the tour. Honda Bay tour didnt live up to its hype, but, thats just me) owner of the island happens to be a family friend of ken’s. we spent five days in Puerto Princesa and it was a lot of fun. kinabuch, katabom, sabang, chao long. and its actually those moments lazing and fooling around, doing stupid/fun things that made it a blast.

honeslty, the thought that ken was a gracious host despite him being an ass in real person, was the kicker. my budget was scarcely spent. Puerto Princesa blog here.

after 5 days of probing Puerto, we continued to travel up north, El Nido.

we took the ordinary bus bound for El Nido, instead of airconditioned vans, to get that authentic feel since thats how locals do it, and we toploaded. it was a 6-thrilling-hour-ride for 280pesos.

it startles me, up to now, how this oh-so-splendid place manage to keep its simple, suburban vibe despite the heavy popularity with foreign tourist.

this place have been gracing calendars and magazine covers since the 90s but up now it is still under-develop, in a very very good way- electricity ration consequently gets interrupted by 6am, absence of ATMs etc.

theres an alluring remoteness feel to it.

it was the town fiesta when we arrived, talk about perfect timing. banderitas and merriment filled the streets. there was even a bikini open on our first night. El Nido, now thats what i call a warm hot welcome.

our time in El Nido, together with new found adventurer friends, came to an end after 4 short days of swimming, running, exploring.

meeting and learning stories from these free-spirited romantics, i think, was what inspired me to take on that mini-southeast-asian backpacking trip later on.

we thoroughly enjoyed striking vistas overland and underwater. traversing islands and islets were just pure pleasure.

El Nido was everything i dreamt of and more…  a lot more. complete El Nido experience here.

together with tada and maria, i( left moy who travelled back to Puerto to catch his flight back to Manila), continued to travel up north across the Calamianes group of islands, destination Coron.

the 7-hour cruise was a treat, moving past islands north of El Nido and islands south of Busuanga. fares at 2,100( but haggle cleverly and you might get it at a much cheaper price. got mine for 1,400)

we island hopped the next day-lagoons,lakes,reefs,beaches. all peachy and dandy. it was my last day on the island.

since my return flight to Manila departed at Puerto Princesa some 4 days prior, backpacking all the way to Coron was clearly not on the plan-i had to get a new ticket.

backpacking Palawan, in contrary with common knowledge being an expensive destination, is actually budget friendly.  you know- if riding in an ordinary bus(we toploaded), or feasting on can goods, or getting drunk on cheap alcohol- is your thing. then its going to be easy as 1-2-3.

-probed Puerto via Ken’s orange wrangler,
-got stung  by  sea urchins then peed on it- as per boatman’s advice- which clearly didnt help, at all,
-rode on top of a BUS that sped up on hairpin turns at breakneck speed. yes, the bus overheated.
-met fellow romantics, enjoyed their stories of wanderlust. and lusted over them in return.lol
-a visit to some of the finest spots in the country for a little over 5 thousand

as clear as an expensive Evian water, i could say i did save the best for last.

Nacpan.Narratives


El Nido swept me off my feet the first time i set foot on it. Nacpan made me fall.

Pinas has more than 7 thousand islands, so chances of coming across a beach is likely, uhm, say,  around 7 thousand. fairly easy eh? just like running into a cunning cab driver when in Manila. easy.

an island hopping in Taiputan strait was scheduled that day but due to bad weather conditions, boats were shut out from sailing.

since getting stuck in our cottage was not an option, we rented a motorbike(heres the complete bike adventure), braved the rough roads despite the looming dark clouds on the horizon.

Nacpan should be less than 30kms away from El Nido town. a little over 30mins by bike depending on weather and rough road conditions. rough roads could get rougher during rainy seasons.

it was a muddy, bumpy ride nevertheless scenic as we passed by green and budding rice paddies.

oftentimes we stepped down from our humble bike for extra push and pull just to get through the muddy road. after 38mins and 39 mud slips and slides(with-bike included), we reached the beach. barefoot-with our slippers tucked onto our wrists(parang bata lang).

then, there we were, standing under a coconut tree(laglag brip) pleasantly surprised. all smiles.  all covered with mud.

we knew there is a beach on that place, but we did not know it was that… nice.

its kilometers of powdery sands(its like Boracay minus the thrash and thriving blocks of concrete), clean waters, gradual slope of the beach, 3 islands in the backdrop, all serene and secluded. it actually is… more than nice =)

in the long stretch of the beach, there was nothing aside from a single bungalow.

Nacpan beach is 4kms of unspoilt natural beauty. need i say more

*unfortunately, Nacpan is not very photogenic at all( either that or i just suck at photography)
*this is definitely on my list of favorite beaches

*meeting of two beaches

*some islands fronting Nacpan

*west end of the beach

*more islands in the horizon

*playing around with the kids

fin~

Braving.Babuyan


one photo
was all it needed to send me backpacking in one of the more neglected(tourism-wise) island in the country.

*thanks to eazy traveler for showing
***
Of Angels and Baboys

i was coming from Kalinga and my friend Angelika( haha, Lek) from Manila, we decided to meet up in the coastal town of Claveria(our jump-off to Calayan Island, Babuyan) around 5am the next day. btw, online data about the island are scarce and inaccurate( parang yon kampo lang ni Claudine Baretto sa latest NAIA mishap).

plan was to catch the last trip of vans from Tabuk(Kalinga) to Tuguegarao, Cagayan 5:30pm. but, then, i missed it by a few minutes( very typical of me,lol). i had no choice but to rush to the next terminal and hope that one passenger is tumatae pa just so i could catch the trip. called my dad, hopped in his motorcycle, then we speeded up to the van terminal in the next (mini)town.

the adrenaline of backpacking, the excitement of being on the road, ooohlala, was ignited again. felt my backpacking mojo was back alive and kicking. sweeet.

reached Tuguegarao after 45mins.  then i took the last bus trip that passes by Claveria, 7:30pm J&Wbus,  and and just hoped that there are 24/7 burger joints or eateries in Claveria where i could wait til morning for Lek and the boat.

***
Of Dogs and Baboys

the bus dropped me off on the national hi-way in Claveria. the street was poorly lit and dark. and at 11pm, its empty. no people in plain sight. its a 10-minute walk to the town center. but those 10fukcin minutes were long and scary and doggy.lol. the minute i started walking, which i did as discreet as possible as not to attract any unwanted attention, the dogs on the first house started barking… or should i say howling. it was loud enough to awake all the ten thousand barking animals of the town. they swarmed the street. i walked with caution as those furry creatures were following and trailing behind close enough to bite my ass, if not only for my karate stance.

i arrived in the sleepy town center safely( karate stance was believable at least for the dogs).

things continued to go against my luck. all the town’s establishments were closed, not a single convenient store or burger joint.

i chanced upon the solely awake soul, the security guard of a pawnshop. last resort was to strike a conversation with manong guard and stretch it til dawn, so strike and stretch i did. i half listened to guards litanies about his boss whom he suspects has a thing on him( pero 9yrs na siya dun at la pa din nangyayari, labo lang).

after 11 times of him repeating the same story,( i had to be nice, and being nice takes a lot of effort on my case, i wasnt born nice i guess. lol)  he let go of the 12th time and offered his bench for a sit and nap. since its a small bench, even too small for him to lay down, i declined and used my old malong instead and laid down on the concrete tiled floor. malong was too thin for the cool ocean breeze and the cold cement floor. i curled up, cold and hungry, and hoped for time to tick fast. ahhh backpacking.

***
of Majinbo and Baboys

i, 10 pandesals & 2 ensaymadas went to the fish landing at 5am and by 6am leck arrived. we bonded with other 2 waiting passengers by sheer absence of other options. lol. there was the curvy mom with two kids and majinbo. majinbo was on the phone 7 of the 6hours we waited. she just cant take away the phone from her, then, red and swelled ear =) . she phoned gaudily her family( every single one of them: nico, alex, mama, papa, kuya boy, tita baby, ton ton, tan tan, tin tin, ten ten etc) and asked them every 30 mins if they had eaten. just by listening( she was loud and we had no choice) to her calls, we already mapped out her entire family tree up to their 11th generation. lol.

and as if sleeping outside of a bank on a cold night and listening to majinbo wasnt bad enough, things worsened. no boat was leaving for the island that day. wow.

***
Of Boats and Baboys

we returned to the fish landing the following morning. at 5:00am, the curvy mom and majinbo were already there, plus some new peeps including the two anorexic pretty nurses on the waiting line. every one was ready and eager for the cruise except for the boat’s motor whose paddle was missing.

after some 30mins and majinbo dashing to the convenient store on the last minute for pic-nic foods, we were ready to sail. Its a small boat that has 3 noticeable passenger seats. i asked the boatman if me and lek could still tag along since majinbo, curvy mom and one of curvy mom’s daughter already occupied the 3 apparent seats. he said yes.

then after some more minutes… on the humble boat, there we were all 14 adults, 2 children, 1 bicycle, 19 bags and 3 roosters; jam-packed. thats a lot for a small boat eh? obviously, theres no room for say… another 16 life-jackets( i heard Babuyan with his evil life at this time, ride at your own risk he chuckled)

backing out was never an option. there were many things i sacrificed and heading back home was just not acceptable.

16 unsecured souls, 1 humble boat and 1 vast Babuyan channel. wow. i know i am not the best tourist, as im a cheap backpacker, and no stash of money can Babuyan squeezed out of me( but, Babuyan, really? youre not being friendly, your acting like a pig. hmmmp)

in fairness to Babuyan, it was a warm welcome. i mean, on a boat, no vest, Babuyan channel, of course, i sweated profusely.

since i was life-jacketless, i made sure i had a firm grip on the stern the whole 7hours while our boat shuffled through the Babuyan Channel( supposedly 4hour ride, if not for one of the boats motor breaking down)

plus, the Cagayan sun was scorching that day( just like any other day really).  the sun was ruthless, and to make matters worst, our boat was roofless. we were like fishes getting all dried up. dang. danggit.

***
Of Baboys and Ooohs and Aaahs

we conquered Babuyan channel and reached Calayan island past 3pm.

then, tables turned, the island paid back all the horrors(kababuyan).  and left us gaping in awe for the rest of our days in the island. just look at this

Sibang Cove

and this…

Nagudungan Hill

*will post all the pictures and stories of our Babuyan trip next
fin~

***

Babuyan 101
its only Batanes thats being mentioned when people would speak of northern Luzon islands. i, myself, admit know next to nothing about it prior to my visit. well, actually that is aside from the assumption of the abundance of baboys(pig) in the island( i mean… uhm. right?)

Babuyan Islands is consist of five outlying islands namely Fuga, Dalupiri, Camiguin, Babuyan Claro and Calayan. Excluding Fuga, the four islands comprise the municipality of Calayan(Fuga is part of Aparri; a town in mainland Cagayan) and Calayan island serves as the capital.

van Tabuk(Kalinga)-Tuguegarao: 80pesos
bus Tuguegarao-Claveria: 210pesos
other jump-off points to Calayan, Babuyan Island: Sta. Ana, Aparri
Claveria takes the shortest boat-ride time at 4-5hrs, fare at 500
*there are no definite boat schedules. all depends on weather, the sea, passengers and gin blue
spend the night in Agri-Base in Claveria; 75/person/night. 150/person/night if room with tv.

Krabi.Kingdom

i am not going to try to describe this place anymore. i will let the pictures do just that.
after arriving past noon, i headed straight to the beaches =)

longtail
Krabi Port for Lanta tailboats
cruising Andaman
approaching East Railay
West Railay beach
northside of West Railay each

Andaman Coast
sunworshippers
long tails
northside of Ao Tonsai
low tide Ao Tonsai
southside Ao Tonsai
longtails
TonSai beach
Railay
car, errr, boat…wash
Noppharat Thara Beach
Klong Moung
AoNang West
along beach boulevard
AoNang

Krabi.Kick.Off


hey Malaysia, its not me… its you( and your freakin tricks… i mean the lost wallet, c’mon)… bye. lol.

clock ticked 4:30am and my taxi was waiting downstairs. off to Sungai Nibong terminal, 20rm, to catch the 5am van to cross the border to Hat Yai, the southernmost part of Thailand.

i purchased the 30rm ticket, Penang-Hat Yai, the previous day in the terminal.

i was quite surprised the trip was on time, 5am, more so i was the only passenger at that time. it was like i hired the whole van to accommodate my lone ass. sweet.

the van was fast and the driver was furious. jeeez we werent cruising the hiway, we were flying 123 fukcin knots. nuts! much to my liking though, really. who wants a 5hr trip when you can get it for 3. what safety. hehe

just before 6am, we arrived at the Malaysian border. got my passport stamped. next, Thailand border. stamped. good thing most southeast asian countries dont require filipinos for visa. it makes travelling SEA easy, breezy, fun. lol.

good thing i read from a blog about touts who frequent the terminal in Hat Yai. the van dropped me off right smack at it. and when i was checking the buses and vans someone approached and showed me their office. the van to Krabi(320baht) wasnt leaving not until some 40mins later. so i told the ticket seller i will walk around and grab some breakfast. indeed it was a travel agency.

instead, i went straight to the buses and vans parked in the terminal. i asked the drivers, and their prices were 100bahts cheaper. one bus was about leave, Hat Yai-Phuket, i asked the driver if he knew any buses also leaving at that same time which passes by Krabi. and he said “hop in” because they are going there. and the ticket was cheap at 170baht.

inside the bus, i met a couple of very friendly locals and Ate A( Thai’s version of the famed pinay actress Tiya Pusit =)), from Phuket, was a stand-out, a real character. a very curious woman with so many questions. her with curly hair, dark lipstick and not-so-perfect teeth while munching on peanuts. when she learned that my ticket was only bound to Krabi, she said i better skip Krabi and head straight to Phuket. which she clearly pointed out 998 reasons why Phuket is more beautiful and that i will just waste time and money in Krabi. she was selling Phuket like she owns it. enjoyed the conversation much.

as much as i was convinced that Phuket was the most beautiful place in Thailand, actually on earth, at that time… and that she owns it. =). but i just had to stop by in Krabi since its along the way. pursued the Krabi-PhiPhi-Phuket gameplan instead.

we had our brunch in Trang. around 10am in a small streetside eatery, just to my liking. and you know how i go about in times like this, its point-and-shoot and shoot a lot i did. lunch over some spicy pork dish, some spicy vegetable dish, etc plus rice and milk tea.

the eatery also sells local snack delicacies( parang yon mga bus stop sa Bulacan lang except may sili lang lahat lol)… the peanut brittle though is more like a jawbreaker. too tough to chew.

it was a spicy first meeting with Thailand. sweet.

Thais do know their chillies. and boy, they know well. my meals always ended up with a runny nose and a tear shed. gotta love those spicy shiznits.

we arrived in Krabi a little after lunch, around 1pm. one of the women in the bus had a motorcycle waiting for her and she was kind enough to dropped me off in Pak-Up hostel in Maung Krabi/Krabi Town. nice would be an understatemnt to describe Pak-Up. clean, spanking new, soft beds, neat toilets, wifi, bar on the rooftop… just over-all pakking charming =). best part is its only 180baht/bed/night.

since i still have half of the day, quickly threw down my bag into the locker and bolted out.
its time to brave the paradise that is KRABI.

amoy.durian


sarap ng bakasyon sa gensan. isang linggo na kami at di pa din naman kami tinataboy sa bahay ng barkada namin. at dahil pare-pareho kaming makakapal ang mukha, patigasan at walang gumagalaw pabalik sa manila. bakit nga naman hindi, libre ang chibog, libre ang libot, libre ang alak(Absolut at Domecq 1820..lol, gabi gabing lasing)… at unlimited na Balbacua(visayan bulalo) isang drum yta yon isinalang. at isinalang ng dalawang araw. sarap!(buong barkada e nagluluto) kaya ayos lagi ang kainan.

kaso lang, biglang nagkaroon sila  ng affair sa simbahan para sa tatlong araw, retreat daw, nun weekend na yon. at dahil kasali silang mag-asawa, at iba pa namin barkada,  pati kaming bisita . inubliga na din. boom.

bago pa nila ma-ispell ang R.E.T.R.E.A.T. nag-impake na ako agad sabay banat na kailangan ko ng bumalik ng davao at dun na lang sasakay pauwi ng manila. sinabi ko na lang may biglaang lakad din. nyahaha. lol

at dahil kasama ko pa ang isa pang magaling… at di pa din nman talaga psyched na bumalik ng Manila. desisyon na lang palipasin muna weekend sa davao at kumuha na lang ng flight ng lunes..fx papuntang Davao(around 200 yta)
pagdating sa davao, nangungulit yon mataba  na may nakita daw sya sa airport na ad na less than 200 per night accomodation dun na lang daw kami. magaling! kaso ni address at kahit pangalan e di man lang nakuha. ang naalala lang ni mokong e yon presyo. hayup. U ALREADY! haha

i dont know how exactly we got the hotel info but somehow we did. think we phoned airport and asked one of the officer about the certain ad. and gooodgod she was kind enough to walk through the arrival area to hunt for the wall ad. Greenwindows Dormitel, 188/night/pax.

we arrived in the building around noon and, damn, it didnt look somewhere you could get a 200-peso-overnight-accomodation at at all. free wi-fi, floor to ceiling windows, locker, pantry, at airconditioned pa oohlala. definitely, the best accomodation, for that amount, in all of my travels in Luzon,Visayas and Mindanao. its like one of those sleek backpacker dorms that abound in the backpacking state of Thailand only half the price and minus the westerners. haaangmura talaga!

i planned to travel the next day to Surigao to check-out  Tinuy-an falls and Hinatuan river. both very picturesque as shown in pictures.

as i was unpacking my stuff that night, getting ready to hit the sack early. one of our bunkmates asked us to go out for the night, it was a friday. and you know, my tolerance to alcohol invites is as strong as Cali shandy(lol, meron pa ba nun..hehe) so instead of hitting the bed, we hit the bars. its not Matina Town Center, but its also a complex of bars and clubs( forgot the name). night passed like a blur.

i woke up in my bunk around 10am next day with a bad, mean, hangover. i let go of the 6-hour bus ride to Surigao and spent the whole day nursing my hangover instead. ate in my favorite Penongs and pampered myself with a massage.

i planned to spend the next day in Canibad beach in Samal Island. its on the far side of the island opposite to Blue Jaz and Paradise. but that night, we got drunk again. same same. skipped the trip and spent the whole day walking around the city taking pictures instead. checked out Aldavinco and got myself one of those indian shirts(white&pink).

i was not in the mood to really explore the city on that trip anyway. since i was able to do that with my family on my last visit a couple of months back. plus, the weeklong  roadtrips around Saranggani, Gensan, South Cotabato and Davao had taken its toll on my body.

the impromptu Davao trip was a welcome surprise to capped off my January trip which started in Cebu on the first week of January(right in time for Sinulog), Siquijor, Dumaguete then the South Mindanao leg.

i miss travelling. could it be that the travel bug that has bitten me in the last couple of years had finally  lost its sting? my birthday just passed and it was my first time in 8 years to spend it here in Manila. supposed to go on a trip somewhere in Luzon(budget constraints) but nothing seemed to catch my fancy. hmmm

 

***Greenwindows dormitel is minutes away by foot from Peoples park
Penongs is beside Peoples park.
surprised to know that most of the restaurants dont allow customers to eat Durian inside restaurant premises
indian shirt at P180

 

 

Food. Paradise. Penang


after a few bottles of Tiger, i bade goodbye to M.Y. girls jm and bel.. and bob marley who had been plastered smiling at us through out our drinking session in Reggae bar in chinatown that night.

it was still an hour before my trip when i arrived in the terminal. i must say its really neat for a bus terminal complete with mirrored walls and comfy couches. Plus liner; 30 RM( Malaysian Ringgit; 13Rm=1US$),Penang bound, 11:59pm. a quick 3-hour-plus ride since freeway is pretty much free during this dead hours of the night.

hopped into the bus. intently eager to leave Kuala Lumpur and all that unfortune done deal with the hindu.

now, a couple of bucks less on my budget;
holds no more ids aside from my passport;
and no more safety net as all my cards were now lost and  left in kuala lumpur( somewhere there) together with my sanity and security. just some of the things that bugged my mind during transit.

onward i braved my backpacking trip carrying a lighter pocket and a heavy heart( damn i did really lost that fukcin wallet.) phew.

i arrived in Sungai Nibong bus terminal past 3am. taxis fixed rate at 20fukcinRM. haggled with the driverSS. i told my story me-then-walletless but damn they just coudnt be shaken. i gave up and let go of the ringgits. the cab dropped me off in Bukit Jambul, the couch i was crashing for that leg of my trip is sree’s- my fukced up indian boy.
my broken hearted indian boy do keep a decent stash of liqours and cigs. a couple of shots of vodka before i hit the sack.

first on my itinerary was to hit the beach. Batu Ferringghi is one of the better beaches on this side of Malaysia; Georgetown. from B.Jambul i took a bus to Komtar( georgetown central terminal) then hopped on a bus 102, 2rms, to B.Ferringghi. bus charges normally range from 1rm to 3m. its cheap to move around.

its a nice beach but not spectacular. fine sands but not pristine. the beach caters more for water sports than lounging around. i suspected watersports cost cheaper here( just a hunch since there are lots of people doing it… and its not that those people didnt appeal to me as affluent or something, just saying =)

since its a muslim country, its very conservative as evident on the beach sans babes in bikinis. what?.  yes, its missing the best accessories/ornaments to beaches.

a beach without babes in bikinis, i mean, is no beach at all. lol

George Town is beautiful with its well-preserved colonial buildings turned to shophouses and cafes. the town is very laid-back and charming. no one will suspect it as the second largest Malaysian city. theres no city vibe at all( i mean it in a good way.)

i would spend afternoon walks along old streets adorned with century-old trees. no smog, just fresh provincial air.

and the best part of George Town or Pulau Pinang in general is, unmistakably, the food. i think there are more number of restaurants than people here. i wonder. lol

restaurants and hawker stalls abound every street corners. choose your poison: malaysia’s nasi campurs, chinese dimsum houses, indian curry houses… thais, what-have-you’s. name it, its here. all available and convenient.

eating your way around Penang is cheap in general. a lauriat can cost less than 5rms for 4 dishes.

i spent more days in Penang more than what i planned for and i didnt even notice not until after a couple of days after i checked on my calendar which showed i was way behind my itinerary( i had no itinerary really, haha… it just sounded nice since i was  travelling. and travellers usually have itineraries, right?)

i left Penang one early morning. sree arranged a cab that picked me up in Bukit Jambul Complex at 4am which trasported me to  Sungay Nibong(20rm) where i took the van(35rm) to cross the border to Hatyai in Thailand. Krabi-bound. i intended to reach Krabi before night time, thus the early travel.

my fukced up indian boy did hosted me very graciously. ballerina graceful. lol. sree is an ex of my oh-so-sexy-ex-officemate JM( siya na ang maganda; tirador ng mga malay na walang kamalay malay.. lol… i mean it in a good way. lol) who also hosted me in KL. lucky to have these peeps. a saving grace for all the misfortunes this muslim country had thrown at me.

All in all, Penang is like your typical Filipina barrio lass. Charming. Laidback. Affordable( abot kaya este abot kamay pala haha.)
and above all she is SIMPLE. but if handled well, she could be fun and exciting and definitely will leave you begging for a second round.

I want a second round. NOW =)