It's been a year since... I guess it's nice to have photos like these to keep. Those days when I could feel I can go anywhere with people who share the same drive and yearning for adventure as I do. And to meet fantastic people along the way which reminds me every time the world is vast and there's so much great things to see, feel, and know about. I hope I never lose this side of me.
Sometime during January of this year we decided to go to Pangasinan as part of our annual excursions to not so famous but admiringly beautiful places in our country. I picked Dasol because it was an interesting and fun idea to camp out in a place called snake island. An island so small you can circle it in just 15 minutes. I went with my usual group of friends.
My biggest mistake was that I overslept the night before and I missed the bus. My friends went on without me and I was feeling guilty that I planned everything but I was the one who could not make it. So I made a decision to follow them.. alone. I was an hour behind schedule but it didn't matter to me because I knew exactly how to get there. So I had to take a bus going to Alaminos. It is advisable to take the earliest bus going there as the trip would take around 4-5 hours but since I missed the first one, I had to take the second bus departing an hour later. From Alaminos, I had to take a jeepney going to Dasol. The scenery is breathtaking as I was greeted with warm fresh air and lush farmlands stretching for miles and miles.
I arrived at Dasol town proper just in time for lunch and met my friends there. They gave me judging looks but I just told them I was sorry for what happened. We ate lunch and proceeded to hire a tricycle which would take us the coastline. Now this is the fun part as based on what we've read online it was going to be a long tricycle ride on a not so well-paved road. We were a group of six and we had to hire two separate tricycles. We haven't traveled far yet and suddenly one of the tricycles broke down with a flat tire. We had to wait there in the middle of nowhere for another tricycle to pick us up. Luckily after about 10 minutes we caught one on the way to the same destination we were going. The tricycle ride was torturous as the road alternated between smooth and rough. The tricycle's shock absorbers couldn't help so much so our butts had to endure every bump on the road so much so that when we finally arrived at our destination we couldn't feel our butts anymore.
There was a hotel by the beach/jump-off point where we bought food and supplies which would last us two days as we were going to stay overnight in the Island. There are no inhabitants in the island save for a few snakes that visit every now and then and creep out unsuspecting campers. Nevertheless, we knew what we were getting into and pushed on. We brought a tent with us big enough to fit all of us.
We arrived at the island just a couple hours before sunset. We pitched our tent and settled there. We circled around the island for a good 30 minutes until the sun started retreating into the horizon. As usual the sunset did not fail to amaze us as it started to color the clouds and the sky with its beautiful afterglow. We stayed there by the big rocks and watched in awe as the sun showered its golden light upon us as it slowly went down.
At night there was nothing much to do except to lie down and watch the myriad of stars in the sky. From a distance we could still see several fishing boats floating in the sea noticeable only by the strong lights they carry with them as they try to attract schools of fish to sell the morning after. We put off the lights at half past ten so as not to attract any snakes as we were told the snakes are drawn to fires and lights. The winds were blowing strong that night but we were able to sleep peacefully.
We woke up early in the morning to catch the sunrise and again we were in awe as colors exploded in the sky. The cool morning breeze was refreshing enough to keep us all silent and in meditation. We just savored the moment as it felt priceless to be in it.
We went home just before lunch time. Took the same route as I described above...
Early this March my friends and I planned a short weekend trip to Bataan to finally visit our friend's beach house there. Bataan isn't exactly one of the most exciting places to go to relative to other places in the Philippines. It maybe because of its proximity to the capital which makes it one of the default places to visit just like Batangas. But as I would always like to believe, there's always something new to discover so I was partly thrilled nonetheless.
I read somewhere on the internet about the lighthouse in Sisiman Bay. I got even more excited when I saw stunning pictures of the lighthouse scattered all over the web. I knew I had to see it so I recommended that it be first on our itinerary. My friends are also suckers for lighthouses so they welcomed the idea of visiting the place even if it would take us to the very tip of the Bataan peninsula.
We drove for around 4 hours and got lost a few times until we reached Sisiman Bay where the fabled lighthouse is supposed to be located. Ideally we would have left earlier in order to witness the sunrise over the bay but we ended up arriving with the sun already high up.
We parked in front of a burnt down structure of a house from which you would walk a couple hundred meters to gain a good vantage point of the lighthouse. Local children welcomed us as were anxious to see the lighthouse.
Unfortunately though we were informed that the lighthouse has already collapsed. The lighthouse was brought down by a strong typhoon. We could not believe this so we still pushed through walking through boulders to see even just the ruins of legendary structure. True enough there was nothing there to greet us; Just the foundation lying flat rising just a few meters from the water. Nothing there to serve as evidence that a lighthouse used to stand there.
We went back to the abandoned house instead to look around and take some pictures before leaving...
After a disappointing visit to the lighthouse, we pushed on and went to the Bataan war memorial. This is on top a mountain where US and PH forces made their last stand before being defeated by the Japanese during World War II. Here you will see the huge cross-shaped monument to signify the heroic efforts of those who died defending the country before being completely taken over by the Japanese. You can actually go inside the monument and take an elevator going up to the view deck where you will see a panoramic view of the Bataan Peninsula.
Then after we proceeded to my friend's house where we spent the rest of the day bumming and fooling around.
P.S. All pictures taken with Instagram APP :)
Before anything else, I must say it has been a while since I’ve written anything on this journal. I have been away for quite some time but I have to say that so far everything has been great for me as far as my life is concerned. Over the past year I’ve been to places I’ve never been in before and each one has proven to be such an unforgettable adventure for me. Add to that, I have someone else in my life I’ve been sharing a majority of my time with (read: girlfriend). Suffice it to say she’s been adding that extra awesome kick to my otherwise reclusive but unpredictable day to day mundane world. In short… I’m happy.
On to the topic at hand: well I know I have a half-a-year’s worth of backlog but allow me to start in reverse. Last week I went to Siem Reap, Cambodia as part of my month long plan of making March extra happy, fun and memorable. I went with my usual group of friends who never hesitate to hit that “book” button whenever a P1 seat sale appears on the Cebu Pacific website. I have to say I’m quite blessed to have them as officemates; they are an awesome bunch of people.
Siem Reap as I would describe it would be a city with an identity crisis. It’s a frozen time capsule with all the huge and vast temples scattered all over as if the city is one big exhibit of ancient civilization. Finding yourself exploring the temples is just sublime as you can’t quite grasp the enormity of the structures coupled with the intricacies of the design even to the very minute details.
Come night time, the streets light up on the stretch of Pub Street where all the tourists spend their post-temple escapades; They wind down with a massage (either by human hands or by fishes eating your dead skin) or satisfy their hunger and thirst with a healthy serving of tasty Khmer food with a few bottles of beer in the chic bars and restaurants lined up.
Suffice it to say the people are still coming to grips with the situation, at least from my point of view. The city relies heavily on tourism so much so that day to day life revolves around it. You would be surprised to know that most of the population can speak English with a very western accent. The most common English phrase uttered has something to do with selling souvenirs: “
for one dollah” followed by a barrage
of a well made spiel aimed to persuade the tourist to buy the stuff offered.
I’m pleased to announce though that the city is still pretty much provincial.
Common mode of transportation is the bicycle (I am in love with them I want to
visit every bicycle city in the world) and the tuktuk. Cruising your way on to
the temples you would notice the countryside with the alternating expanse of
rice paddies, forests, and small houses. The urbanization is concentrated in
the centre of the city.
If I there’s one thing I would come back for in Siem Reap (besides for the temples I wasn’t able to visit and the temples my camera battery died in haha), it would be the people. They were infinitely warm, accommodating and sometimes funny. I almost felt like they were all my friends. I could easily talk to them. They are worlds different from other Asians and European snobs who are rude. They never hesitate to smile when I pointed my camera at them. They were always ready to assist us and we never felt like we were being scammed (at least in our experience). Honestly, I felt like I had connection with these people. Despite their surroundings pushing them into the world of exploitative tourism they are still able to share the charm that is in temples which the city is famous for. And if anything, it is them I miss the most from this trip. It is nice to come across things/people which are very foreign to you but bring out a certain familiarity which connects to deepest recesses of your being.