Monday, September 24, 2012

Pinoy Travel Moments: From an Embarrassing Moment in "the John" in Thailand to a Hilarious experience of Ordering Food in Beijing

At Ban Phe, Rayong, Thailand .........
                  On our way to Ban Phe , Thailand there were only three passengers on the bus,me, my friend Anna and a local guy.When we reached Ban Phe I had to use the toilet at their bus terminal and shortly after I entered the toilet my companion Anna followed suit . While I was doing my thing, I heard Anna calling me.It turned out that she was occupying the cubicle next to mine . She asked  for the roll of toilet paper so I tossed it into the next cubicle to my left. After I tossed the toilet paper into the next cubicle Anna exclaimed “go” which was supposed to signal me to toss it in (but I already did!). It was only then that I realized that she was occupying the other  cubicle to my right . While Anna was begging for that roll of toilet paper, the person in the left cubicle tossed it back to me and guess who’s in the left cubicle------- the guy who was with us on the same bus to Ban Phe. Each one of us came out from our respective cubicles quietly.

At Angkor Wat, Cambodia .........
             When we were done exploring Angkor Wat we went back to Bana our tuktuk driver. On our way out we passed by a group of small stupas. At that time I didn't know what they were. We asked a local guy and he tried so hard to explain to us the use of the stupas. He was groping for words as he was explaining. It sounded like he didn't know the word "person" or "man". The poor guy ended up saying " If ah...ah... ( while pointing at me) die...dies...If a tourist die ( Oh no ! Does it have to be a tourist? ) we burn and put inside (pointing to the stupa ). That scared the wimp out of me.What he was trying to say was that if someone dies (not necessarily a tourist ) the body will be cremated and the ashes will be placed inside the stupa.

In Beijing ...........
             One afternoon when I got back to Beijing from the Great Wall, I looked for a place to eat. I ended up at a small hole-in-the wall. I checked out the menu and I couldn't understand anything written on it. Unfortunately, they didn't have an English menu. I was too hungry to look for another place so I just thought of randomly ordering an item from the menu. However, when I looked around I saw one customer eating in the corner and I did the not-so-polite thing of pointing at the bowl of noodles with scrambled eggs and vegetables that the local guy was eating. " I want something like that", I demanded. The customer who was a bit stunned said "10 yuan". I liked what I ordered so the following day I went back to the same place but this time there was no customer eating that bowl of noodles. Of course , I couldn't ask the owner if she remembered me and what I had ordered the day before since she didn't speak English and I didn't know any Mandarin either. I remembered though that I had taken a photo of the dish so I showed the picture of it from my camera and the owner prepared a bowl of that noodles for me. On my third day in Beijing I was still craving for it so I went back again to the same place. This time though I had already taken so many photos and it took so long for me to find the picture of that bowl of noodles from my camera. The owner got impatient so she dragged me to their kitchen (maybe she remembered what I'd been ordering) and showed me the ingredients of the noodles one by one.She showed me an egg, tomato and a pack of noodles. Relieved that she remembered what I had been ordering I simply nodded.

At the Bayon Temple, Cambodia .........            
                Inside the Bayon  temple one of the old Korean- (or maybe Japanese , how could I tell)looking tourist was examining a metal box. He was touching the box, maybe wondering how it had gotten in there. On the box was a sign that says " Warning Do not Touch". Obviously, he didn't understand the sign.I tried to stop him but he didn't get all the hand gestures I made. I was even thinking of giving out an Academy-Award-winning-acting just to make him understand that what he's doing was dangerous but I figured it would be to no avail as the old man seemed so amused. I decided to leave him alone.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A 200-Peso Accommodation in Boracay?

                  When I have an upcoming trip I prefer to plan everything way ahead, while others just let things flow. I couldn't afford to be the other kind of traveler because usually there's money and time constraints. I wouldn't want to miss the must-do's and the must-sees in a place because I may not be able to go back to that destination in this lifetime.
                  I had been planning a trip to Myanmar  but for some reason it didn't push thru, so was my plan B which was Vietnam. Since I already had vacation leaves approved (which I didn't want to cancel otherwise I might have to wait for weeks or maybe months to get approved for long vacations if there would be no available slots) I decided to finally go to Boracay instead. I booked the tickets less than two weeks before the trip, something I wouldn't normally do. I researched for the cheapest accommodations but I found the rates way beyond my budget , which was not a surprise at all since my trip was scheduled a week after the Holy Week Talk about a bad case of itchy feet! I gave up and decided to just look for one when I get to Boracay. At the back of my mind I was actually counting on what I'd read from one blog that there are lesser known accommodations in the island that are so affordable but are off the radar.I listed them down. I also read from another blogger ( that there's even a local that rents out her place to tourists. The blogger even bragged about having brought the rate of the room from P1200 to 700.
                                                         Boracay At last! wasn't able to take pictures when I arrived because I was busy looking for a place to stay

                 It was getting dark when I arrived at the Philippines' most famous island.I took the trike from Cagban port to Station 3 where the cheapest Boracay accommodations are said to be located.I paid P20 for the ride (it would be P100 for a special trip). The trike driver dropped me off at the "Talipapa" and I walked thru an alley that led me to Station 3.Since it was already dark when I reached the beach front I could not see how white the sand was which believe it or not was the main reason I chose Boracay. I tried to feel the sand between my toes and it seemed coarse not like the way it's always been described.The first place I decided to check was the house of a local where Blissfulguro stayed at.She was so good at giving directions (must be her forte since she's a teacher) that I found the place in no time.She actually posted a series of pictures in her blog which showed the buildings and signs that led to the house. I'm not gonna mention the house owner's name and you'll definitely find out why. The house is hidden few meters from the beach front. An old lady saw me standing outside her house.She came down the stairs to meet me.She turned out to be the owner. I told her I'd read about her place from a blog. She immediately showed me the available room. It's a spacious room with three beds. She quoted P1500. I asked if she could give me a discount but she wouldn't yield. I remember Blissfulguro saying that she was able to haggle the price down before she could even show her killer moves. I thought of showing mine but I figured it would be to no avail as the "old lady" added that she would give me the room for P1500 even if it's for 3 people but that I should not use the other beds.What she said ticked me off. Why would I use the other two beds when I was alone and only had a backpack on me. She also said that I could not find any cheaper places since it was a peak-season. I dashed away as she was getting on my nerves already. She was right though, it was a peak-season and I started to panic as it was already 7pm and I still had no place to stay.I continued walking along Station 3.The places I passed by looked pricey and it really bothered me because this part of Boracay was suppose to be backpacker friendly but again maybe not during the peak-season.
This is the sign you'll see outside the guesthouse

The 200-Peso Bed at the "Tree House" guest house

View from my room at the Tree House Guest house
                 Few hundred meters from the "old lady's" place was a familiar sign. It says  "Tree House". It was one of those accommodations mentioned on another blog. "Tree House "offers a dorm type accommodation. I asked an employee who was standing outside if they had an  available dorm type rooms but I was told they only had private rooms which  I couldn't afford either. She suggested I walk farther because there's another "Tree House" towards the end of Station 3. Good thing the other place had a dorm type room available , not only that it cost P200 per night.Whaaaaat? P200 for a room few steps away from the less crowded beach of Station3 ? I got excited and checked the room right away. I found it to be OK. I mean for 200 pesos I shouldn't expect too much. I booked 2 nights.
Carrying my things all day since my room doesn't have a lock.
The crowd-free and algae-free beach outside "Tree House" guesthouse
                  For a dorm type  room it was clutter-free .The sheets looked clean.There was only one ceiling fan for 4 people but that was fine because it wasn't hot.No ensuit bathroom but that wasn't an issue either because the shared bathroom was right next door. I took a shower as I was going to explore Boracay's night life. When I was about to leave I found out that the door's lock was broken and  worse is  that I realized that there wasn't a fence that separated the property from the residential area at the back. Anyone could pass by our room anytime or worse might break into it. I ended up carrying my backpack all night and when I slept I was hugging it so freakin' tight as the cabinets had no locks either..Cheap as it seemed ,with its downside it made me wonder if there are still things that come cheap in an overly commercialized destination like Boracay.