Thursday, June 6, 2013

The long way to Borneo

The last good-bye to Manila

After coming back from Palawan we spent two final days in Manila the ugly, we happily said good-bye to it for the last time from the deck of the ferry that would take us to Cebu. Despite having spent our time in the city in extremely comfortable conditions, Manila rapidly climbed up to the top of my ranking of “The Ugliest cities in the world”. Manila, we are definitely not going to miss you, you are the ugliest thing in this stunning country.
It took the ferry 24hs of navigating calm waters to reach Cebu, where we hastily moved from one pier to another to connect with a speedboat that took us to the fishing village of Tubigon in the small island of Bohol. Unfortunately, after all this time of traveling in the country, I dropped my guard due to the wonderful affection of the Filipinos, and at a time of carelessness in the speedboat, somebody dug into my handlebar pannier and took the equivalent to 300 usd that I had stored there for an important expense we had to cover to leave the country. A bad experience that showed me that no matter how wonderful people are, there are always some who are there to ruin the party and we always have to keep and eye on our belongings
We went to Bohol to see a tiny wonderful creature that I had long been yearning to see since I had watched it on TV for the first time more than a decade ago. The tarsier.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Holidays in heaven

 There are always primitive reasons that make us who we are and explain why we do the things we do. In my case, the main reason why I am the adventurer I am is my parents, both of them natural born adventurers, who have taken me to every possible adventure since the time I was born and they raised me not to fear anything, or better said, they taught me how to not experience fear as paralyzing terror but rather live with it moving along all the unknown territories that I might come across in life without being paralyzed by fear. They have fostered in me a thirst for learning and discovery that can never be satiated. Thanks to them I have been able to dream and later realize all the things that I have dreamed and being able to live the life I've been living until today.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Volcanoes, solitary bays and rice fields

Manila the ugly

Entering and leaving big cities by bicycle is rarely a pleasant experience and Manila is not the exception. Actually it is the perfect expression of the immense stress that involves such process. Manila is a huge sprawling city of millions of inhabitants and for both entering and leaving we had to ride all across it. Like it's always the case with poor countries, it isn't a city of harmony but one of huge and harsh contrasts. There are no greys in Manila, it is rich or poor, it is immaculate or filthy, it is spacious or crammed, it is ostentatious or plain misery and unfortunately, the negative connotations are the ones that predominate in the virtually infinite horizons of this huge metropolis. The fact that a big city has big contrasts and negative connotations isn't a surprise, especially in Asia, but many of them, despite having them, they still preserve some kind of hidden beauty in them, some charm, even when poverty and misery is what predominates. Manila doesn't even have the slightest appeal, it is simply ugly from wherever you look at it, from wherever you walk on it or cycle on it.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cruelty in Paradise

Since we got to the Philippines many things drew our attention and almost all the time, with no exceptions, they were good things. Among all those good things was the lack of interest of the people in football. For me, that I despise football, it was a liberating experience not to have to hear the same reflex response I get from people everywhere I go, every time I say I'm from Argentina. “oh!Argentina! Maradona!” and these days it only got worse because we have a new one, Messi. Being from Barcelona, Julia is also affected by the latter. On the contrary, in the Philippines paradise exists because football seems to be irrelevant. Beautiful. However, after having seen the “sport” that takes the place of football as the national “sport”, for the first time in my life I felt some true appreciation for football and I would've preferred it had been more popular than this monstrosity.

Hello Sir! Hello Madam!

  It is possible that due to its geographical situation, most long-haul cycle travelers decide to bypass the Philippines. With more than 7000 islands spread across the Pacific ocean, The Philippines cannot be accessed by land. In most cases, people have to fly in and out of the country. This alone discourages most cycle travelers because of the costs involved in flying with all the stuff and how uncomfortable that is. It is a fact, we are not comfortable when we are away from our bicycles, let alone stand the nightmare of imagining what may happen to them when careless hands load them in and out of the plane. Although there is one way to enter and leave the country by sea, it is quite limited for the ones who are cycling from country to country. Still, I had been dreaming for years about visiting The Philippines and I wasn't going to let the discomforts of flying discourage me, thus I felt that it was worth it to pay the extra cost and face the unbearable feelings that come at the time you check-in your bike and last until you get it back. Two months later, time would not only prove us that it had been worth it but also that it hadn't been nearly enough time for such an amazing country.