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Sabang to Baguio- Kirsten

PHILIPPINES | Sunday, 22 June 2014 | Views [1532] | Comments [1]

Sabang sunrise

Sabang sunrise

We have left Puerto Galera area/Sabang and are now in Baguio in North Luzon, the Northern province in the Philippines. What a fabulous couple of days it has been, of course, as always. First, finishing in Sabang…

Second impression of Sabang: Still beautiful, although some of the faults become more visible after a couple of days there. There are many vendors there, selling their wares- sunglasses, necklaces, bracelets- along the beach on the strip of sidewalk that our little veranda rested on. For days 1 and 2 it was no issue at all, everyone was so friendly and if you said “No thank you!” in a friendly way, they smiled back and continued on. On day 3 in Sabang we woke up to suffocating heat and humidity, and possibly a hint of a hangover. As we read our dive books on the veranda, people seemed to be more persistent and would not take “No thank you” for an answer. We headed far down the beach for breakfast, sitting near the sidewalk again since it’s out in the fresh air, and encountered the same issue…the people who sold their things there were now getting comfortable with us and were getting very pushy, saying things like “You promised me!” when we definitely did not do anything like that. It’s hard to turn away and just ignore them- they’re people! It’s so rude to turn your back on someone, especially when you know they’re just trying to make a living, but it got to a point where we figured out that we needed to just say (with a smile, of course, in a genuinely nice way, despite how frustrating it was not to be able to go anywhere without harassment that morning) the “No thank you” a maximum of two times, and then if they kept pushing to not really respond. It was really hard for both of us, I think, because we DO understand that some of those vendors have a really hard time in low season, and that they need to make money to live just like any of us do. And it’s hard because not only do I not want to be a rude tourist, but I don’t want to be a rude person in general. It’s a tough balance sometimes, but you do need to set some kind of limits and boundaries I guess.

On top of this, the slightly seedy undercurrent of the sex trade in Sabang becomes MUCH more blatant on Friday night, when we watched dozens of grey Aussie and Japanese men, arms linked with young Filipina women, heading back to the hotels. At one point we saw four Japanese men in at least their seventies, all with very young-looking Filipinas, laughing and talking all the way to their hotels. On one hand I have full respect for women who work in the sex trade industry, just as long as it’s her decision. The awareness of the sex slavery industry, however, always lingers in my mind, so the idea that in some cases it may not really be consensual is disturbing to say the least. That being said, it’s a reality in this world and my judging it right now is not going to help the situation at all (at least not until one day when I hope I’ll be doing some psychiatric work in this area!).

Onto happier things, all of my dives were incredible. I did a deep dive at 100 feet, a wreck dive, a navigation dive where I learned how to use a compass and natural landmarks underwater to navigate around, a dive focused on fine-tuning my buoyancy, and a drift dive where we floated with the current for the whole time. The water is unreal, warm enough never to need a wetsuit and so diverse and lovely! It made it hard to leave Sabang, but I’m excited for some more of it when I head to Visayas!

 

 

Yesterday morning at 11:30 we hopped the hour-long boat ride to Batangas, then got ona bus just as it was pulling away to Manila. Two hours later we got to Manila, grateful since we had only had toast for breakfast at 7am, but as we pulled up our bus to Baguio was about to leave so we had no time for food! Nice to get to leave early, though, which brought us to Baguio at a reasonable hour. That bus ride took about 6 hours, with three twenty-minute smoke breaks for the driver, and the air conditioning blasted on our shorts-and-tshirt-exposed skin the entire time. Everyone on the bus had hoodies zipped to the top if they had hoodies, and we all exchanged looks when we found out that the driver had no way to turn it down!

Baguio from the highway at night is huge and beautiful. The city is shaped like a bowl so buildings climb the hills on all sides of you. We finally got to the hotel, Baguio Village Inn, a bit after eleven, tired, cold, thirsty (for water, and for beer) and hungry (having had a donut and Vitamin K-enriched Cheesies for lunch). Arriving in a university city at 11 on a Saturday night sounds like a blast, but in reality the area we were in meant the streets were packed to the brim with extremely drunk and rowdy 18-year-olds. Not actually as fun as it sounds when you’re in the mood we were in. We asked a cabbie about good restaurants and he brought us to Volante, a 24-hour sit-down place with all kinds of food and drink for great prices compared to Sabang and Makati. I had a pizza and dad had fish and chips (before you judge us about not ever eating local foods, remember that vegetarian food in many places refers to meatless pizza or fries or plain rice, and remember that I would have killed for comfort food at that time of night!).They were the best meals!!! Possibly partly due to us being starved all day long, but I think the food might have actually been really good…The wine was cheap so I guzzled that and felt happy and relaxed again!

First impression of Baguio: Last night at first thing this morning, really bad, to be honest. Passed out or rough-housing teens in the street last night, not being able to see anything in the dark, and then being awoken at 7am this morning to blasting church bells ringing for over half an hour straight after going to bed at 2am did not make me love the city, that’s for sure.

Second impression of Baguio: Today made up for all of that, easily! We were able to go to a mall, a beautiful open-air mall with a super view of the city, and get a sim card that works. Called mom and Chris, it made me so happy to hear their voices and catch up a little. Ate a smoothie there, mmm my very fave food. Finally got to wash my clothes, which were pretttyyyy gross with sweat after I sweat through them all while in Manila and Sabang. It’s cooler here so you never actually drip with sweat, which is a welcome reprieve. Went out to a vegetarian restaurant in town that serves fantastic food, Oh My Gulay, and it’s run by a national artist! Pics to come to Facebook shortly, nothing can capture the immense awesomeness that was that place! It’s in an atrium and is just like a giant treehouse, with a lifesize ship built of reclaimed wood, carved reclaimed wood and staircases and bridges, a koi pond, and plants galore. The food was tasty as hell and the atmosphere was very whimsical. On our way in, somehow we ended up talking to two guys in the restaurant,  Chris and Matt, and we talked like old friends for over an hour and a half, before we even thought to look at the menu. One is from Cebu, where we’re going next week, and one from Manila. We exchanged emails after one of the most relaxed and interesting conversations I’ve had in quite a while. Hoping to meet up with them before we leave :)

Tomorrow we head North to Sangada for some hiking, rice terrace-viewing and to see the hanging coffins.

Anyway that took me 45 minutes to type so I'm going onto other things now :P Sending lots of love everyone's way! Comment on our blog to make it more interesting, we like comments!

Comments

1

I'm so happy to find your blog Kirsten! Since graduating nursing school I've been itching to travel but the timing hasn't worked out yet. Reading your adventures definitely helps scratch that itch, although it seems to make it worse at the same time:) Can't wait to read more. Have a fantastic time!!!

  Cyndi Jun 23, 2014 6:20 AM

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