At the end of 2016 I made a trip, a four week trip, and while writing it is still 2016, only two weeks or so after I returned from my trip. And I wrote several posts already about this trip, but I wanted to add a post about the journey I made, the places I visited, the route I followed, so I am starting that now here.
And I am not fully sure when I started my trip, but as far as I remember it was November 16, 2016, a Thursday if I remember well. And of course I can check that date, as there must be messages or photos or whatever relating to that date, or the days after. And it was weird how this trip started, as at first it was a long time suggestion of my (ex-)partner. And no, I still don’t know if he is my ex or if he is still my partner. He says he is not, but somehow we are still related, still connected. He is even still here, even though I asked him to stay away from me, from here, as I wanted to recover from the loss, from him leaving me.
But that is another story and I don’t really want to write about that here now, or maybe not even at all, although that may be also good. As I have learned that sharing helps, sharing anything, can even inspire other people, no matter how weird or sad or bad the story is.
Anyhow, so I left on I think November 16, 2016, and yes, it was my own choice. And at the time I was kind of running away, away from home, away from Malasag, away from my obligations, away from the dogs, away from everything. And yes, looking back I needed it, looking back my (ex-)partner was right, I really needed a break, away from everything, as I had been stuck for quite a while, actually a very long time, in Malasag, in my home, The Malasag House.
And it was hard leaving, as I did not know whether I could trust my (ex-)partner with everything, as he had offered to take care of everything while I would be away. I did not know if I could trust him with the house, the stuff inside, the dogs, everything. But somehow I knew I needed to get away, get out, to “find myself” as my (ex-)partner called what he suggested I would do. So finally I did.
And right now I planned to make an overview of my trip, like a summary of the route I took, the places I visited:
- My first stop was Butuan, where I changed bus. And it was a stop, as I had a nice conversation with one of the shop keepers. I don’t recall his name now, but maybe I will later. Actually my first good experience, as I had many, many good experiences during my trip.
- My second stop was Maasin, where I had planned to stay, as someone I knew who I wanted to visit had not replied. And here the first miracle happened, as just when I was about to tell the conductor I wanted to continue to Ormoc, the destination of the bus, I received a text from my friend that he would like me to visit him. So I got off the bus in Maasin.
- After getting off the bus in Maasin I realized I was already too far, quite a bit too far, as my friend lives in Sogod, a municipality about one and a half hour away by public transport from Maasin. As I really wanted to see him I decided to go back, back to Sogod.
- Sogod was my first real stop, the first place where I felt safe and comfortable after kind of running away from home, from Malasag. And I forgot how long I stayed. I think it was three nights. And it was good being with a friend, being with a family, being with people that felt good, that I trusted, even though I barely knew them. So yes, there are people everywhere where a human being can stay, no matter what. I was very grateful staying there, even though they were very poor, so I even had to sleep on a bed without a mattress, but I felt safe and comfortable and taken care of.
- After Sogod I left for Legazpi, my first real planned stop, as before leaving Malasag my first planned itinerary was go to Manila by bus, but make a stop over in Legazpi as I thought it was too long a trip to go to Manila in one setting. I also had never been in Legazpi, and while researching my trip I found it is a tourist destination, so it sounded like a good first stop. And it was.
- And again, several miracles happened, first just finding a hotel very easily and smoothly after being dropped off the bus in what looked like a very strange location, and after when leaving Legazpi, just getting a bus ticket and a bus by some hunch I got while waiting for my phone to charge.
- My next stop was Boracay. And getting there was really a crazy trip, but I loved it, even though I decided not to push through getting there through Masbate, a route that looked shorter, but also looked very adventurous and unsure. Reason to go there was that a friend of mine is working there and as we were never able to meet, due to budget constraints, I decided to go there. And doing it at this part of my trip was because he had planned to leave for Manila a few days o after, so we might have been able to travel together, as my next planned stop was still Manila. I also had never been to Boracay, and living in The Philippines for so long I really wanted to go there, even though I expected not to like it there. How wrong was I, as I really loved Boracay after arriving there, staying there for a few days.
- After my (first) stay in Boracay I finally went to what had been my first goal as a destination: Manila. I arrived there early morning waiting for a friend to wake up as I had asked him if I could go there and have breakfast as I was too early to check in in the hotel I booked. I stayed two nights in Manila before going to the main goal of this trip: Luzon, and then go to the most northern tip, which would be the farthest (north) I had planned to go on this trip.
- My next goal after Manila was Pagudpud, as I decided to first go to the farthest point and then slowly go down, visiting the Baguio/Sagada area, another goal of this trip as I have been living in The Philippines for a long time, but never went to that popular area. Unfortunately, or looking back maybe fortunately, there was no direct bus from Manila to Pagudpud at the time I had planned to leave, so I decided to go to Laoag instead, and go from there.
- So I think something like my first goal not reached, as I had planned to go to Pagudpud and not to Laoag.
But it seemed God had planned something better for me than I had done, as I visited a Dutch friend that I knew from the internet and he toured me around Laoag for about the whole first day I was in Laoag.
- The next day I still went to Pagudpud on a day trip, so I did reach that goal also, although that day I did not reach my main destination of my trip: the northern tip of Luzon. Again, not reaching that goal was a lesson for me, and a deliberate choice, as I did not want to end up as I had ended up one day in Boracay: totally wet and with a broken umbrella.
- Then the next day I wanted to reach the Sagada area, preferably via the shortcut via Cervantes. And my target, my goal was Bontoc, a municipality somewhere in the middle of the Sagada area that seemed a good starting point for my next target, probably Baguio. And this was the second time I did not reach my goal for a day. As when I arrived in Cervantes there was no more transportation to Bontoc, so I ended up in Bauko. And again, not reaching my goal was not a bad thing as I ended up in a very nice inn, Domog Village Inn Bistro and Café. You can read more in the post Unexpected Baguio.
- The next day I indeed reached Bontoc, but basically only passed through as I had decided to make some kind of round trip in the Sagada area. So my next target was Banaue.
- And again, God changed my plan, as when arriving in Banaue I was not able to find immediate transportation to Baguio City. But that was a very positive experience, as it gave me the opportunity to roam around in Banaue for a few hours, enough for me to get the feel of a place before moving on. You can read more about my Sagada experience in my post about Laguna.
- After Banaue my plan was to go back to Manila, passing through Baguio. And the last was a big detour, but I wanted to be able to say I have been to Baguio as that is a very famous place in North Luzon. I ended up only staying five minutes on Baguio soil, as the van dropped me off at the bus station and a bus to Manila was already waiting. But at least I have been to Baguio LOL, so I don’t have to explain I went to North Luzon and did not visit Baguio.
- The trip from Banaue to Manila lasted much longer than I expected, so I arrived or would arrive in Manila somewhere in the (early) morning. As the friends I wanted to visit were not available I decided to skip Manila and continue to my next stop, Liliw, where a friend of mine is living I wanted to visit and already agreed with I could stay for one or more nights.
- After two or three nights in Liliw I decided to continue my journey and go to Boracay again as I had enjoyed Boracay so much. This meant going to Batangas again to probably cross over to Calapan, take a van again to Roxas or Bulalacao. So I did, traveled overnight from Liliw to Boracay through San Pablo, Batangas, Calapan, Roxas and Caticlan (of course).
- I think I spent two nights in Boracay again and it was indeed a similar experience as the first time. I enjoyed very much being a tourist again in a place focused on tourism. My last night was kind of weird, a prayer being answered in a way nobody could have ever imagined. I still don’t understand how that was organized.
- I left Boracay early morning towards my next stop: Iloilo City, where I was planning to meet a friend, which I did. I only stayed one night and the morning and around noon I left for my next stop: Bacolod, where I was hoping to meet a friend.
- As my friend did not respond I decided to continue to basically my last destination: Dumaguete, a city I know pretty well as I have been there many times.
And right now I feel like I have to stop writing here, as it just doesn’t feel good anymore, but of course I will continue the description of my itinerary later. Actually I was writing about planning. And planning, good planning, happy planning, relates to this trip, so that is why I (also) wanted to write about this trip. As I reached all my goals, or virtually all my goals during this trip, and I wanted to know how I did that, as in real life things seem to be so hard and impossible, where during this trip everything went smooth, even though often I was still scared and anxious, especially when I thought of my next destination, how I would get there and if there would be a place to sleep, a place to stay. And amazingly, or maybe not so amazing, there was always a place to stay, always a place to sleep, always transportation. And there were always people, helpful people. And even more amazing, none of my fears came true, literally none. Or maybe one or two did, but solutions were available, and the found solutions for the fears that came true were even better or at least as good as my original goal or plan.