So many islands, so much to explore. Philippines is an island hoppers paradise. I love the fact that I have no clue where I am going. I just follow where the wind takes me. After my stint in Manila playing rehab and recovery for my foot injury, I was feeling itchy to get out and do something. My toe is getting better. Don’t get me wrong, you probably won’t see me jogging anytime soon but I am no longer walking with a hobble and excruciating pain. It feels good to be getting better. I will still be rehabbing it for a bit. So as I sat in Manila wondering where to go to next, my friends who I met in hostel in Manila sent me a message….”Jeff we are in Siquijor! Come meet us!” “Yes, I’m on my way….” “Oh wait, where is that?” “How do I get there?” This is something that travel has taught me…how to get from point A to B. It is a learned skill of being your own logistical travel agent. So after a taxi ride, plane ride, motorcycle taxi ride, ferry ride, my friends met me at the port in Siquijor. I hopped on the back of my friend’s scooter and we were off….about a 20 minute or so ride to the the hostel where we were staying at.
The smell of the ocean sea breeze, the sunset view, the feeling of that this wasn’t the normal tourist path, and my toe feeling better, I couldn’t help to feel anything other than exceptionally happy. We immediately cracked open a San Miguel beer and toasted with a big hearty cheers!. The reunion of travel friends always feels great! Like I said before, you feel unusually close with travel friends!! There is a openness and a brotherly fraternal feeling of being in a foreign country with friends! So as we shared a few laughs….I thought, I am going to try my flipflops on. Is it too soon with the injury to wear them? Oh god, please let me be able to wear flip-flops again. That would be so great!! I immediately went to my backpack, dug for them…dusted off the bad boys, and slipped them on. Oh my…”Is this happening????” “Am I wearing flip-flops?” It has been months since I could wear flip flips! I immediately went outside and yelled “HEY LOOK AT ME, I’M WEARING FLIP-FLOPS!!!!” No more being the cool guy wearing hiking boots on the beach. For me this was a really exciting moment!!!!! I practically cried with joy! I am a flip-flop guy…so my identity is back….FLIP-FLOP JEFF BAAAAACCKKKK!
Hanging in Siquijor was fantastic. Siquijor is an island off the coast coast of Negros near Dumaguete. There’s waterfalls, mountains, beaches, caves, and folklore. It was so great being reunited with friends, renting scooters, and blasting around exploring. The freedom of the motorcycle, scooter, moped, or anything on two wheels is exhilarating. As we all rented scooters which mine was called “purple dragon”…..why is it called purple dragon you say. Well I didn’t pick the name, he did. First of all he’s purple and second of all he’s angry like a dragon that breathes fire. Of course I had to ride this 115 cc beast to explore every inch of the island. I had a couple of instances while riding the motorbike where kids pointed at me and started laughing. I couldn’t help but to wonder what was so funny but I quickly joined them in laughing too. I don’t mind being the butt of some joke and I thought it was hilarious I was entertaining them. haha “Glad I amuse you kids.” “Thank you! Thank you! I will be here all week.” Guess I looked silly or was doing something funny. Maybe it was the fact that I was wearing a helmet. Nobody on the island wears a helmet. Surely they weren’t laughing at the angry purple dragon. He doesn’t have the same kind of sense of humor as me. He would have been very very angry.
The ubiquitous Filipino basketball goal. They are everywhere. “Wanna play one on one with a cow?” Here you go. “Moooo over cow, I’m gunna dunk on ya.”
There are just as many churches as basketball goals here. One moment, we passed a church on our scooters…saw an open door and walked in. As we were playing tourist and inside gaping at the inside of a Filipino church, a truck pulled up with a casket. Suddenly people unloaded out of the truck and started carrying the casket in as we were in there. In a very awkward moment as people started coming in……”ohhhh, sorry people!!! we meant no disrespect.” We made our best attempt to walk in the opposite direction of the herding people with our embarrassed and sorry face.
400 Year old Enchanted Tree…Siquijor is home of mythical creatures, potions and folklore.
When I told someone I was going to Siquijor, they responded, “oh that’s where witchcraft and the aswang are.” “What?????? What’s that…oh please do tell!” So I love these stories…and get very excited. You mean I am going to Transylvania of the Philippines? Do I need silver bullets or a a wooden stake? …so I prodded my friend for details. She was like, “if a witch asks to do something to you, do let them…you will owe them and you don’t know what you will owe them.” Well this sounds interesting….So I got a lesson on vampire-like creatures and horse head creatures with a human body. I wondering if I would get a chance to I capture one of these creatures on camera? At first I wasn’t scared because the Aswang feed only on babies and fetuses so I’m safe. Or so I thought…..then I thought,”Oh wait!!! What about my food baby belly, “Phillip?” Will I be attacked because of my food baby?” Maybe I wasn’t safe after all. So how does the Aswang attack people? Well, the Aswang, lands on the roof when you are sleeping, the slips its long tongue through the cracks of the roof down to your belly….then eats the baby fetus right out of the stomach!” “YIKES!!!!!! That sounds terrible!” How will I be able to sleep now? I quickly started doing situps right then…to get rid of Phillip… Warning: ….if you see that I don’t ever post a blog post again…you will know what happened to me.
Rubber tree plantation. As we were exploring on the scooters, we passed through this beautiful canopy of rubber trees and simultaneously pulled over!. We all couldn’t help but to pull over say “wow, this is beautiful.” I think this is one of the things I love about travel. These moments that you just appreciate your surroundings and the beauty that encompasses it. You become soberly aware and you look for these moments that make you really understand that the best things in life are free.
People often ask, “Jeff, what is your secret?” And I respond, “I have no secret.” Well I am tired of lying and now must come clean. I do have a secret….here it is.
Looking at a mountain and then a map, “I wonder what the view is like up there.” There we go, we have a journey…a mission…Here’s the pot of gold from that mission. Oh yes, so beautiful! We actually hit some caves too. I was a bit concerned about hiking around the cave. Cave had a sign “Must have a guide to enter.” So we drove to the next town and found a guide. “Is it climbing over things, and hard?” I asked as my concern was about my injured toe. “Oh no…no climbing, straight walk…easy,” she said. I was on the edge of passing on the spelunking adventure but if it was easy walk then…I’ll try. I was excited to be exploring. I have been in a lot of caves on this trip and they are all very different. Some have boats, some have boarded walkways, some have stairs, and some have swimming, and some treacherous climbing is involved. My friend also inquired,”is it crawling, or closed in spots?” “Oh no…it is wide open.” One thing about traveling…often times people need this business so bad that they will say anything to get your business. As we signed up for the easy spelunking adventure…we walked about 15 minutes before getting to the cave. They gave us helmet and lights. We walked down a rocky entrance…then our guide said, “you will have to crawl in backwards to fit in.” “huh…I think this was a easy walkable cave.” Oh no, as it turns out, we were climbing in tiny spots, on boulders, slippery mud, and climbing up waterfalls the whole time. If you were claustrophobic, you would probably have had a heart attack right there! We walked through the water crouched over…as she said in english, “walk like a duck,” and even then we were bumping heads. There were times I had to suck in my Filipino belly with all my might to squeeze through the crevices. She would then instruct, “You see that slippery rock that has room for only half of your foot, put your foot there. It is very slippery, be careful” “Okay okay….I thought you said…..” I was thinking and I did my best to protect my injury. Thankfully it turned out okay! We walked probably an hour inside the cave to the end and thirty minutes back. It turns out our guide does maybe one or two guides a week. She desperately needed the money…so I understand why she wasn’t 100% honest…she was a sweet lady and gave her a tip afterwards.
This is how you carry your cow around in Siquijor.