It’s more fun in the Philippines

A few months ago, I found myself pondering upon a few Facebook status updates. I got myself thinking, “Man, I wish I could travel like these guys” and it came across to me as quick as thunder, “you can!”. A long weekend was near the horizon, flights were on sale. Circumstances was on my side.

Like always, I wanted to keep it a secret and like always, I’m too excited to contain it. A few friends decided to tag along this time. Why not coconut ?

We arrived at dawn, red eyed. We had work the day before and didn’t get the chance to catch quality sleep before the midnight flight. But heck I have my friends with me, the “bachelor party” had just started. Off from the airport and straight into the oldest part of Manila, the Intramuros.

My jaw dropped. This wasn’t the Manila I imagined. You can read about Intramuros yourself but the quickest way to learn about it is to visit it yourself. We did the bambike tour, which is a cycling tour on a bamboo bike. My favourite part about the tour is probably towards the end, at the fort. It was Jose Rizal last place before his execution. I’m not usually a fan of heroic figures but the story of Jose Rizal is as inspiring as it is sad.

We spent the rest of our first day sleeping as we have an early start the next day. How earlier could we start our day right ? not much, just at 2am.

There we were, standing. Did I shower ? I couldn’t remember but I remembered that my bag was wet from a hole in my camelpack. I ran towards the nearest 7eleven and when I got back, I had the worst seat in the van. Great! 3 hours ride without a headrest. I made myself comfortable in the most awkward position possible. When we arrived , it was in a small village with folks trying to sell us makeshifts walking stick. I didn’t need it, as i found out during my Everest trip, it was more troublesome than useful for short hikes like this. Unless you have a bad knee, which in that case, it’s a must.

From there we needed to ride a Jeep to navigate the moonscape plains towards the base camp. My blood was already pumping, I wasn’t sleepy anymore. On the ride I find myself smiling the whole time. This is my place, the time when I feel most at home, the time when I am the happiest. The view was amazing and the company made it even greater. I glanced at my friend, he was in awe. It was probably his first time seeing such amazing view. He understood now why I did these crazy things.

Then we arrived to this place that seems like it’s a mining site. Uninteresting valley that gradually reaches a higher altitude. A 600m ascent if I’m not wrong. Weather was cool but warm enough for just t-shirts. Halfway there we met the locals. Didn’t get the chance to communicate but it is from this hike that they get their income, just like the Sherpas. They didn’t ask for anything but shouted “picture!” so I took this photo of them. We continued our hike.

Surprisingly, it was getting lush. It’s the opposite of all the other mountains I’ve been to (as if I’ve been to a lot) There was more plantation near the crater than they had on the basecamp. As we reached the top, ego sets in. I was slightly behind but I decided to sprint up, I was the organiser so I wanted to be the first to see the crater. I was right, it’s always better than the photos. Much more. And the guys didn’t expected the view.

We stood on the rim for a while before rushing downhill towards the lake. I wanted to jump so bad but the government had banned swimming because of an incident a few months back. So I sat there for hours while waiting for the other groups to gradually arrive. We had lunch, my friends along with our new companies.

Our descent didn’t matter that much, we slept most stretch on our way back to Manila. We had dinner and then straight to the haystack.

Woke up late the next morning. We got our ticket value back. Spent BND$300/USD$230 on this trip, all included. So we were too lazy on our 3rd and final day. I decided to dedicate the whole day to spend with a Couchsurfer that I met in Brunei. We spent the day eating and visiting malls (we weren’t shopping). After thinking a lot about it, we decided to try Balut. Now we can argue all day whether it’s ethical or halal but hey, when in Manila right ? It tasted okay though I didn’t like the texture. Once, that’s enough I guess.

It was work day the next day and we found ourself chilling in a high end cafe which is also the spot for to be frank, high end prostitutes. Which is according to the local, sometimes more pinoy than pinay. wink2. My manager texted me “go home now”, it was 9pm. For some reason, it felt good.

Woke up late the next day but made it just in time for work. “How’s you weekend?”, I imagined someone asking. It was an awesome weekend.