Backpacking the Philippines
So I ended up getting kicked out of Manila Airport in the Philippines around 4 AM and instead of taking an un-metered taxi to god knows where I decided to just walk. Manila is one of the most dangerous parts of the Philippines. Much crime takes place and the city itself is a filthy, polluted mess. I ended up getting followed by this guy who called himself a “Travel Agent” and went by the name of Eric. But at 4 AM I found it odd this guy wanted to follow me around and help me out. We walked to a church where I learned most Filipino’s practice Christianity or Catholicism. Even at 4 AM a lot of people sat in the sanctuary worshiping God. This church stood near Metro Park. After that we checked out the Asean Mall and I noticed a pyrotechnic musical was being held on the 14th of March. He then took me to the deep sea by the coast, which we ended up walking for a few hours and chilled by the pathway that followed the coast until sunrise. At this point I just wanted to sleep, but I did not trust this guy at all. He would not leave me alone. We walked to breakfast and I ate a simple rice dish from a street vendor. Within a few minutes both of us finished our platters and when it came time to pay I put down the money on the table. The ATM only spits out 500 peso bills so I needed change. He offered to take it up and acted like she didn’t have change so he walked over to the nearest jeepney. I looked down to pick up my pack and the guy ran between the cracks, gone. He robbed me of 500 pesos and I needed to pay another 120 pesos for breakfast. So, needless to say, my first night in Manila was not the best. It didn’t really get much better from there.
I spent the rest of the day walking and trying to hitch out of Manila. I ended up walking about 25 KM. I saw a bus crash into a telephone pole and ended up on the news. I bumped into Paul Raymond Acosta who hooked me up with some lunch, clothes and directions to the best on-ramp for hitchhiking out of Manila to start backpacking the Philippines. I took a jeepney to Monumento and then a jeepney to Balintawak. I walked down the on-ramp and held my sign there near the NLEX on-ramp, “BAGUIO!” No one picked me up over the course of 4 hours. Apparently there is too much crime in Manila. People kept coming up to me trying to guide me to the bus stop, which I already knew existed.
I ended up giving in as I tried hitch hiking previously near a gas station and just tramping down the road didn’t work either. So I stood on the sidewalk where the Genesis bus stops for Baguio passenger pickup. Three buses later (Some Victory Liner buses as well) and no luck I almost gave up hope. By this time it was 6 PM and the sun just set. The people helping me out had left and I almost took a jeepney back to the Chill Hotel to crash for the night. It was then I met Welbur Lacdao. He was taking a bus to Nueva Vizcaya Solano. We talked for quite a bit and after a while I told him I’d go on whatever bus came first, Baguio or Vizcaya. The Baguio bus was full and his bus ended up stopping a few minutes after. We got on for a long 8-hour ride, most of which, in the darkness. I noticed a lot of scenery in the Philippines is covered in a variety of rice paddi’s and mountains.
The next few days I spent time in Nueva Vizcaya Solano with Welbur and his family. His daughter just turned four years old so we celebrated her birthday and the whole neighborhood and family came by for the gathering. We ate a lot of Filipino food, shanghai, dried fish, rice with pork, okra, one-day old, etc. and at night time all the adults sat around a table drinking brandy and signing to KTV. In the morning I hitched a ride with Welbur to the UV Express Service Van station and took a 3-hour ride through the mountains to Baguio. The scenery along the whole ride is winding turns going up steep 6 to 10% grades through undeveloped mountains full of green vegetables, terraces and a mix of brown shrubbery along with vibrant, lime green rice paddies sitting between the valley’s of gray granite rocks where a small river runs through it.
The first day I arrived in Baguio I randomly walked through the city and stumbled upon Aguinaldo Park and Museum across from the University of Baguio. I ended up chilling with some punks and drinking the cheapest, nastiest gin while we watched a modeling shoot go on around us. A Saudi Arabian/Brazilian model posed with his shirt off smoking cheap Fortune cigarettes, blowing plumes of smoke into the air while a petite, Korean girl stood in front of a yellow blossomed vine, topless, posing for the camera. I caught a side boob lol. I ended up drinking until the wee hours of the morning with all of the anarchist punks of Baguio. I woke up in the morning on the couch of Shark’s house with the worst hangover of my life. None of us moved until 4 PM. The night prior we hung out at two parks around town just drinking and bullshitting for hours and I ended up getting my phone stolen.
LA gave me a souvenir to remember them from the Philippines, a La Krshna necklace, and invited me to the temple Sunday where the “Vegetarians” meet up (freegans).
We hung out at Aguinaldo park again smoking cigarettes and just chilling. Zea introduced me to his skater friends and after a few hours of talking and watching them bust out kick flips and variel’s I noticed the punks left. They told me if I wanted to squat in Aguinaldo Park that Lolo, the caretaker, did not mind.
So I ended up parting ways from the skater’s, hopped the fence, and found a nice place to camp by the sewer in the bushes.
The next day I took a jeepney to Mines View Park and ended up checking out The Mansion, Wright Park, and Baguio Botanical garden. I walked for hours aimlessly with no map and no plan scoping out the area for places to sleep and hit up an Internet Cafe where I got in touch with Welbur who told me to come back to Vizcaya as he just went on sabbatical.
I walked and walked until I hit Kennon Road and took some pictures of the viewpoint. I then wandered through the city as the darkness loomed in and asked for directions to Mines View Park by jeepney. I ended up at Baguio Plaza where the jeepney dropped me off at the Mansion. Someone started following me around Wright Park so I decided to walk down the road and squat near the Mansion property. I hopped the stone fence and camped right in front of the “NO TRESPASSING GOVT PROPERTY” sign.
In the morning, I literally woke up, hopped the fence, waved down the first jeepney I saw and headed straight to Baguio Plaza where the driver showed me the location of the UV Express Service Van headed to Vizcaya Solano. I walked over and ended up being the last person to fill the slot in the van. I endured 3-hours of head-bobbling and felt extremely tired and sick from something I ate the night before, not to mention, getting bit by a spider while fiddling around with my sleeping bag.