Indochina 2015

32 days from the day I left Manila to the day I left Kuala Lumpur for Manila. It’s been more than a month. I miss traveling. I miss the independence it taught me. The idea of being lost or almost being hit by a pick up van in Vientiane and feared for my life because I didn’t avail travel insurance.

No matter how planned and well-researched everything was, there were just things I wasn’t able to control. Let me tell you what were the most gruesome and wonderful experiences of my solo travel for three weeks from Cambodia – Vietnam – Laos to Thailand. But first, let me organize my thoughts.

Calayan Island

During my 4th day in Claveria, there was no way coast guard would let lampitaws sail. I engaged myself into more sleep. I also booked a hotel room in Tuguegarao because I lost hope and decided to leave the town and fly back to Manila the next day as scheduled. However, Albert and Rayn were still hopeful that we would be able to cross the sea the following day. Then I thought, I planned this trip; if I would not be able to get there… WHY THE HECK? So I stayed and cooked Tuna Spaghetti for dinner instead. Ilang araw na kasi ako nagcra-crave for pasta eh.

Sunday, February 22.

Without notice if the lampitaws would be allowed to cross the sea, I prepped just in case. After shower, I received a text message from Ms. Tessie that MV/Vynne Vynne (?) left Calayan with her Wild Berry Wine products so mostly we would be able to leave mainland that day. I immediately sent a text message to Kuya Sabino asking the same. Guess what? He didn’t reply. So I called him. He said that he was waiting for (Calayan’s) Mayor’s text/call if he would go back to the island that day but we were sure to sail!!!

Then off we went to the port and waited for few minutes before boarding the lampitaw. We had to put our bags in garbage bags because it would likely get wet along the ride

Lampitaw ni Kuya Sabino
Not so comfortable.

Luckily, there were seats available. Although, the seats were just enough for the three of us. It felt it was reserved for us as their guests. Other local passengers had to sit uncomfortably behind us. But I guess they were used to it.

We left around 7am and arrived at 12:30pm. 5 and a half hours of lampitaw ride. It was the longest boat ride I ever had experience. ‘Yung natatanaw mo na yung island, isa’t kalahating oras pa pala aabutin mo sa dagat bago mo marating! Sobrang init pagdating namin, sign na magiging maganda ang panahon sa mga susunod na araw.

When we reached Calayan’s shore, we were greeted by Kuya Jomar (not his real name as I forgot his name). We hopped on his tricycle that looked like a delivery service tricycle used here in Manila. Bam, after about 3 minutes we were already at Ms. Tessie’s Homestay. We had a short introduction and she showed us the rooms we can use. Dahil nabasa ako pagbaba ko ng lampitaw, shower muna ang inatupag ko kahit gutom na gutom na mga kasama ko.

Our lunch was sumptuous with bonus wine tasting. She brought us around her house to chill and chat more. Siguro napagod na rin ang lola niyo kaka-daldal, she let us rest then. I went out to buy detergent (running out of clothes!) and a Smart sim card (no Globe cellular reception). Our group rested for a bit and agreed to walk around at 4pm.

When we headed outside, our first goal was to find the market for us to buy bulk dried fish. Kaso habang naglalakad kami, may chumika pa sa aming Lola. Good thing though because we were walking to nowhere pala because they don’t have a market. DUHHHH! Ang mga daing na isda pala ay nilalako mostly in the morning. Kapag gusto mo naman ng fresh seafood, magpapahuli ka mismo.

Facing the sea

Since bigo kami to find a market and anyone who would sell us dried fish that afternoon, we went straight to the beach instead and waited for sunset. Doon din mismo yung daungan ng ibang lampitaw. Ang ganda ng sunset sa Calayan!!

Hi, Sun!

Cloudy lang pero the colors were amazing. The wait to get there was worth it! ‘Yung akala mo hindi mo na mapupuntahan pero, thank God.. He’s very kind, He allowed us to sail even it was too late (considering our jobs).

After witnessing a great sunset, we headed back to the homestay where we did nothing but wait for our dinner. Merong dalawang batang nagdala ng dinner namin. Syempre, seafood galore na naman! During those times, I started my cut-rice diet but every viand was soooooo goood, I couldn’t help it!

I couldn’t recall but after dinner I think we went to the grocery store to buy few snacks and other thimajings. When we got back to the homestay, Tita Tessie was there already… Chika galore again! Until she invited us to her home (few houses away from the homestay) to have some wine (mango flavor)! We were introduced to her nephew, Kuya Medi who then was our tour guide. Ms. Tessie also showed us the room where she stores her wines. It was a fun night!

We headed back to the homestay and prepped for the night because electricity will be cut at 12nn! I tried so hard to keep my eyes closed until I fell asleep. The house was old and eerie. Even Rayn was in the same room, it didn’t make me feel at ease because he was already snoring! It was even harder the following day because I decided to take a full bath with no lights but those from my phones. 😉

Indochina: To Cambodia

We finally took off and flying for probably 30 minutes already. Departure was delayed.

Interesting:

• My sister gave me $100 to hire a tour guide for my Angkor Wat tour. She seemed to be very concerned I was gonna take a tuktuk alone and no one would take pictures of me.
• While waiting for the check in counters to open, I met a Pinay who’s traveling to Cambodia for a workshop. And guess what, that’s part of her studying archaeology. How cool is she?????????
• I wasn’t questioned much by my IO! Though I’d confess that when he ticked that ‘occupation’ part because I didn’t fill that out (duh unemployed), my heart skipped a beat.
• IO asked if it was my first travel outside the Philippines. When I said no, he asked if I brought my old passport. I showed it to him and viola, he stamped my passport. Baaaaaam!
• Only had about an hour to eat dinner. Counters opened quite late compared to my previous flights and the lines were too long!!!!
• I managed to eat dinner with P180 on hand from Tapa King. I had Tapa Flakes and it was the most expensive tapa meal I had in my life.
• I never saw Ms. Archeaologist again since I left her to run towards another check in counter. Medyo feel ko ang bastos ko when she just wanted to make friends, I guess?
• Going back to food, I no longer have peso… I’m hungry.
• I still need a proper meal.

Nap first.

When I arrived in the airport, I followed fellow Filipinos and took a Visa on Arrival slip. Wrong wrong wrong. I just wasted about 5 minutes of my time filling out the form. Tanga tanga lang.

Upon exiting, hindi ko agad na-spot si Kuya tuktuk driver because he was standing far from everyone else. “Is this your name?” he asked. I tried to talk and talk but no, he was just too quiet. The ride from airport to my hostel along Sivutha Boulevard took about 17 mins. There were good lighting within 5 minutes and next thing I knew, Kuya turned right on a very dark road. Oo, seryoso walang street lights at all. Meron ding part na wala talagang kabahay bahay and I feared for my life. 12 minutes din yon.

• Check in was smooth and everyone here in the hostel is very friendly.
• I just don’t like the amoy paa scent when you enter.
• I like my bed, bottom bunk and white sheets. Lockers are big enough I could fit my backpack.
• Rusty ng water. Pati yung hand towel near the sink has rust already!!! Kaya pag nagtu-toothbrush ako, mineral water pinangmumumog ko. 🙁
• The Japanese girl in my room snores loud.
• I was able to sleep well.