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Pimped Up in Penang

2:50am.

Balcony

sitting on a couch waiting for sleep to take over. the Killers playing on the background, blasted from a nice sound system.

on my last can of beer. the king of beers as written on the tin can- Budweiser.

of course, its not only the beer thats breathing the air of royalty this moment. i am currently crashing my indian’s flat for three days. my bed is the couch in the living room of this 3-bedroom corner unit condo, pompously perched on a hill. premier real estate sh*t. the living room extends to a balcony that dons a sweeping 180 degree view of Penang, an unobstructed, commanding view of the island.

so, yeah, i am enjoying this splendid, grandiose treat- savoring every bit of it.

and yes, i still am on a backpacking trip- tail end. day 78. writing down those numbers gave me good shake and a sober grasp on how long it has been since i started to hit the road. its been a while, a long while- no i am not complaining, just stating a fact. =)

i arrived the other night unfresh from the border crossing from Thailand which happens to be the most nerve-wracking, mind boggling, stickiest situation i have gotten myself into on this trip, heck, or even in my life in general. mind-boggling is an understatement. i was a hairline-thin away from snapping out, losing my sanity, succumbing to the call of a mental rehab. it was bad. (writing this in a separate story)

so arriving here was absolutely a welcome/much needed treat. i was greeted with shots of rhum and tonic. my indian boys-Sree & Karthik apparently know what hospitality is all about.

i thouroughly enjoyed the alcohol, and the conversation with Karthik– hmmm… i will be perpetually puzzled by these educated indian friends in Penang. they are like Stepford wives meet Jeopardy.
intellectual.
disciplined.
future-oriented.

it seemed like they pretty much figured out what to do with the rest of their lives. it left me a feeling of stupidness, since i don’t even know what to do, say, 3 days from now, heck, i dont even know what to do after breakfast tomorrow- ah yeah, maybe il nurse this hangover and sleep til noon. lol.

my mind lagged apprehending what smart-ass Karthik was saying. for crying out loud, i was backpacking in the last 70 days so i was mostly stuck in buses and dorms with backpackers. my intellect- has also been on the road… only that its on some other road. or beach. my brain’s current comprehension status is low. underwater low. lol

i am not saying that being with backpackers tend to dull your intelligence since you will not be using much of it when around them. or even if now i remember how often most backpackers always say they want simple life and i am not assuming they only stick with simple things because they can’t comprehend complex things like math, appreciating wine, keeping a 9 to 5 job, or retaining a healty relationship with a girlfriend( yeah, sexual relationship is only a PART of it). just saying.

good thing, i was drunk and was clever enough to made it appeal to him like i was getting what he was saying, and that learning-all-the-skills-involve-in-your-career-while-you’re-in-your-20’s is the most interesting realization to us, twenty-something zombies.

we ran out alcohol. we abandoned the conversation and the cricket match, Indian Premier League, in the boob tube and stormed out. Karthik called it a night.

Sree drived the Pogo Pegot  Pugot Pugote ahhhh…the sedan, the brand new shiny black car to 7-11; Peugeot. we grabbed some Tiger beers and drove to this clubhouse on a cliff. it is a private property and at 3am they are closed.

we drank our beers in the parking lot over some conversations. ordinary babbles my backpacking-brain can easily comprehend and actually, without trying much, enjoy. lol.

it was nice catching up with Sree who’s about to go to India for his wedding next week. he has been uber-stressed out lately with tons of adult-things like marriage, career and visa stuff. you know, matured-people stuff.

he got so drunk he passed out on his wedding oops birthday suit. haha. good grief.

earlier today i took the bike for a leisurely stroll on the confusing/maze-like streets of Penang. it was an easy ride until i started getting lost and biking the way back which was a long gradual uphill. sweated profusely while huffing and puffing like some 70 yr old white man.

we had a sumptous indian dinner in an elegant restaurant ornated with carved and painted ceiling illuminated with fancy lamps somewhere in Little India. good food. real good food. Chicken tikka Massala. Roti. just zesty.

Sree
dinner

*its 5:03 and sleep is slowly creeping in. this ass will lay now on his couch leaving the giant sliding doors wide open. i should have this stunning Penang night skyline as my headboard tonight. awyeah. high-rolling shit.

night skyline

**felt so good watching my pee fell from the balcony to 6 floors below. haha

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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.

ONE fukcin rocking year of trains and airplanes

my backpack trip
*last part of 2011
backpakcin trip

**********
all trips this year

january- cebu(sinulog),siquijor,dumaguete,davao,general santos,saranggani,south cotabato

february-aklan(boracay,borongawan),iloilo,clark(balloon fest)

march-batangas,puerto princesa,el nido,coron,borawan(quezon)

may-lucban(pahiyas fest),catanduanes

june-laguna(enchanted)

july-hongkong,macau

august-puerto princesa,el nido

october-qatar

qatar,bahrain,malaysia,laos,thailand
*********
if i was asked days before 2011 about my travels for that year… chances are, i couldnt have mentioned any of these trips. none of these were planned.

i think i missed out on some my of trips. NOT because there are so many of them, but because i am just stupid to recollect events, that took place further than a couple of days, most of the times. (alcohol effects?)

it was the best year to date. of travels and life in general.

now, looking back, though i have the faintest idea on how did it all happen, i am ecstatic… and this ass did have a fukcin rockin year…
people met, dreams realized, places seen

big thanks to THE ONE up there… yes you =)

*demmit i should document more… lazy ass