ponedeljek, 09. september 2013

From El Nido to Banaue

A long night bus ride again, from El Nido to Puerto Princesa and a whole day there to wait the evening flight. If you will happen to wander around the airport, don’t miss the Crossing Bridge bar, it’s located 10 meters from the airport exit, on your right. There you’ll have a chance to drink a more than decent coffee – true, you’ll pay almost the double (80 peso for a capucccino), but still less than at the airport. And let me tell you, seriously, it’s been years since I had the chance to enjoy such a good cup of coffee!
The flight was delayed, it’s a completely normal practice (if you have connecting flights you’re sure to miss it), so I arrived in Manila too late to go anywhere. So I stayed all the night at the airport, watching anime and sleeping on the floor, like many others. In the morning I wanted to move my ass to the bus terminal and looked for a taxi. First I asked for the fare and had a blast – the plane ticket from Puerto Princesa was less than 900 peso. The taxi was 1400 peso. And it was the prepaid ride, the official fare, not a maverick ripoff. No way. I went to the Tourist Information desk and told my story to the lady working there. She warned me that moving around Manila with public transport can be more than confusing, but she was willing to explain me the necessary steps of the urban trip.
It wasn’t exactly easy-peasy, but again not that complicated. At one point I choose to be stubborn and instead asking for directions I took a road that was just my guess. I lost few hours. If I didn’t, I would have been at the bus terminal faster than with a taxi! Not to mention how much cheaper: bus ride 20 peso, train ride 15 peso, jeepney ride 10 peso. The bad part of this trip was that I saw the other face of the Philippines. In some streets I was walking on human feces. Homeless families, living on the streets under a square foot of hanging vinyl sheet. And the smell... I guess I will never understand what drives people to the cities to lead a life like this. I mean, I saw poor people on Palawan (and later in Banaue), and I’m talking about really poor, but in the countryside they had more food and they were way way more clean!

I don’t want to see Manila ever again. When I come back to this country, I will just hop on another plane that will take me away from this city.
I was way too early at the bus terminal, since the first (and only) bus for Banaue was at 22.45. I slept a few hours at the terminal, then I slept more on the bus (freezing all the time, damn their air conditioned buses) and was in Banaue at 6.30. I was the only passenger on the bus and was greeted by a bunch of local young men, waiting to grab the tourist and bring him to the hotel they work for. I was afraid they will be annoying but I couldn’t be more wrong. While I was smoking we were just chatting, where I’m from, is it my first visit to the Philippines and so on. Then they asked if I have a reservation and I said no, I will go and search for the cheapest accomodation. And it was sorted – one of them said that he knows the place, for 200 peso for a dorm style with shared bathroom, the others went their way, I got a free ride on his bike to the People’s Lodge, here we found that there’s no bed available in the dorms so I got a single room for 250 peso. Still stupid cheap.
Banaue is a small town with not really much to do. Almost every house is an inn or a store and every man is trike transporter or a souvenir seller (but besides wooden carvings they also sell some illegal stuff for smoking). I was walking around all days, drank a few beers in the evening and went early to sleep. For various reasons: be it the above mentioned nothing to do, the frequent blackouts and the early noise – the lodge restaurant opens at 6 AM when tourists come with the night bus. So I eat breakfast at 7, take a bottle of water and hit the paths around the rice terraces.
Yes, rice terraces, the only interesting thing here. So interesting that they are UNESCO world heritage. 2000 years old, made by the Ifugao, a tribe of the Cordilleran Head Hunters.

On one of my walks I met a class on a field trip. Or, I should say, on a ricefield trip...

 Very enterprising kids. After greeting me, the boys wanted to sell me betel. Everybody is chewing betel, they have orange lips. I really don’t mind what other people do or use, but I have troubles with betel. Because betel chewers spit that orange spit just everywhere and streets are covered with orange stains. And a simple rain will not wash it away. But the old stains are OK, I find disgusting when a bunch of chewers is crouching on the street and there’s an orange pool in front of them.

Posting this from Incheon airport and I'm pissed off again like hell. Got a shock at Manila airport, just before boarding, after finding out that there and then I have to pay another airport tax or fee or whatever they call this legalized robbery. How I hate this Philippino way of doing - selling - things. You can never know how much it will cost at the end, it just keep adding all the time. Ah, don't get it wrong, I know very well that you always have to pay airport taxes - my point beeing that I already paid them when purchasing the ticket. So now I'm almost pennyless in Incheon, it's early in the morning, too early to call a friend and borrow some money to go home. Crap, what an ending for a nice vacation...

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