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This is a post I’ve been deliberating about writing for a long time.
Before you read any of this, I’ll make a quick mention that this is NOT how my usual backpacking journey goes. Hell, this is by far the most traumatizing event in my travels, so nope. I don’t screw up like this most of the time 😛
Now that’s out of the way, this is a story I will be telling my kids and grandchildren until the day I die. I wouldn’t even stop rambling, because nothing in this post is going to be ordinary. I’m not even going to let Facebook share this so that not everyone will read it!
One fine day, I travelled with a few others from Manila to Pinatubo. Now those with a good idea of the Philippines will know that the travelling in the Mountain Province region is not as straight forward as seen on the map. It’s usually much longer because the bus takes the routes AROUND mountains. I however, was clueless.
See, I made my way to Tarlac from Metro Manilla in 4 hours, made a stunning hike at Pinatubo Crater with friends and then thought that since Zambales was so near (or apparently so) I was going to make a quick run for it. So I bid my friends goodbye at Tarlac and made my way to Olongapo.
When I started the journey, I knew I had a few buses to change, 3 to be precise. But because I had such terrible luck, some bus routes were cancelled due to landslides caused by typhoons. This I found out after I left Tarlac at 4pm-ish. Since the first bus itself cost me a good 300 pesos, I decided to go for it.
All in all, I ended up on 2 long distance buses, 2 town buses and one trishaw ride. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the efforts of the kind strangers I met. I wouldn’t even deny that Filipinos are some of the nicest people alive. Someone borrowed me her phone so that I could access wifi and call home.
So at about 10pm, I reached Pundaqit, a ‘fisherman’s village’ of some sort, which is the last stop at which I was supposed to take a boat ( with 9 other tourists) to Anawangin Cove.
Isn’t that the loveliest thing? I was just obsessed with the idea of sleeping in a hammock, under the stars and all.
My brain forgot to process that it was TYPHOON season for crying out loud.
And with that everything went downhill. In the bus, I’ve made a few phone calls and arranged for a trishaw to wait for me near the market. But the woman who picked me up was so scary looking, like the one from Hansel and Gretel.
She was however a very, very nice lady I have to add, but her initial appearance did not do her wonders.
In that 10 minutes of tricycle ride, I only had to say to myself, “WHAT SHIT DID YOU GET YOUR ASS INTO?”.
I’ve never been as scared in my life. As I was wheeled into a dark town already sleeping, alone with strangers and completely vulnerable, I feared for my life.
But nothing else can be done, and so I ploughed through. Until I reached the beach and she said the only accommodation for the night was the tent. That’s to be set up at the beach. No more than 20 meters from the shore.
So at about 11pm, I followed her to the beach (I CANNOT SWIM, and I have a fear of the tide carrying me off to the ocean, never to be seen again, never making it to med school). My face must have been quite a show because she was insisting I sleep in her hut. That sounded like an even worse idea, I had to say no.
So off she went, giving me her number in case of emergency. Her face was one of pure terror. That makes the two of us.
I settled in the tent, not removing anything from my bag except for my pepper spray, and a torchlight that I kept on the whole night so that if the waves ever reached me, I can make one last attempt to ditch everything, grab my bag and run. Again, I don’t prefer swimming in the sea. I did however, make a quick video with my iPad, for memories’ sake :’D. (ignore the accent, I catch them easily, plus I was already in the Philippines for more than a month with German, Russians, Japanese people and the whole lot)
I felt a lot better after I was in the tent, it was a sanctuary of some sort. So I sat down (slept a bit from the exhaustion) and waited for the longest night ever to pass. I remembered hearing the sounds of the waves so close to me I had to unzip the tent to make sure I wasn’t already in the waters. Plus there was a full moon, and my brain was conjuring all kinds of ideas about sudden high tides and warewolfs…
Appropriately, I heard a howl and some muzzles scratching at my tent. Stray dogs, about 15 of them. Great.
When nothing could go worse, it started raining.
So I was the only one on the beach, one I have not seen in daylight but can only imagine, with no wifi, in the rain and surrounded by stray dogs. My perfect kind of adventure.
About 7 hours later, I woke up to a few other fishermen getting ready to go to the sea. I had then the option of continuing to Anawangin Cove with a boat (the one I supposedly shared with other happy tourists) alone because it was typhoon season or cancel the whole damn thing.
I decided I actually LIKED this fishing town and waited around to see if anyone would join me to the cove. I found out about a little waterfall I could hike to and decided to do exactly that and come back to the town later to see if any tourists arrived. I remember crossing a stream of water that connects with the beach.
The waterfall was lovely, small and I had it all to myself.
When I passed the same stream of water to get back, another man was walking ahead of me. The water reached his mid thigh and he passed it easily. Not suspecting anything, I threw myself in and halfway through crossing, the water reached my mid-trunk.
My phone, which I kept in my pocket died. I cursed the whole damned world and made my way back to Manila shortly after.