Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'm Back! :)

Sentimental Saturday. Choz. 

Spent the whole afternoon editing the snippets of the Vietnam-Cambodia trip videos I had with my dear friends Tamems and Ana, circa June of 2010. Parang kelan lang! 

When I took these vids, I had no knowledge editing and uploading videos on Youtube, that's why they overstayed in my external drive for 2 years. I just remembered these files awhile ago, and thought of updating my travel blog and share these with you. Oh the good times! 

Our second trip together, first was Hong Kong-Macau:

One of the longest time I stayed away from home (and in another country). We had a 12-hour bus ride from Vietnam Cambodia...Na nasira pa ang aircon! Never again! Lol:

Although SUPER INIT in Vietnam-Cambodia, what we love most about this trip naman are the FOOD TRIPS. Ang SASARAP ng food nila!

We also stayed in 4 hotels ata, most number of hotel experience for me, since we hopped from one country, then back:

No cabs! Tuk-tuk lang most of the time. 
We even had our own "tuktuk" service for the whole stay in Cambodia:

Angkor Wat is just so---photogenic! :)

We climbed here and there, because, although popular spot ito, wala naman talagang ibang gagawin kundi mag masid. So gumawa kami ng sariling ganap, hahaha. Steep stairs challenge:

Feeling millionaire:

We also took a depressing tour and learned more about the killings during the Pol Pot Regime.
I really appreciate historical tours...

 Cu Chi Tunnels Tour:

We sighted the biggest yosi ever (haha)

Leaving you with the video I was talking about:

To My Future Travel Buddy:

I hope you can come sooner. 

I really miss going out and discovering things, whether they'll make me super ecstatic or just totally disappoint me. I don't mind the downside of traveling (12-hour bus ride through hell)... if only to be with someone on this whole crazy journey. Surely we will end up keeping only the good moments (good food, pang show-off pictures and videos), and just throwing away all the bad stories----or wait, maybe we can even use them for future good laughs.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eight Days with the Sumilaos

March 29-April 6, 2009

I only knew that they were the group of farmers who marched all the way from Bukidnon to Manila to protest for their land ownership.

I went to San Vicente, Bukidnon with no agenda or mission. I just told Geo I wanted to go with her when she emailed me her “business trips”: Davao by late February and then CDO-Bukidnon late March/early April with Cheenee (Geo’s friend from Ateneo). All I wanted was to continue my goal of “escaping from my world”, because we all know that by going out of your comfort zone means experiencing more, thus more life-lessons.

Here are the top distinct memories of this trip:

1. The Delayed Flight
4.30 am flight: Cheenee texted mewho slept over at Geo's house, that our friend was not feeling well and can’t come with usThe series of unfortunate events led to another, it's my first time to meet Cheenee and we weren't that close then, plus we were late for check in and got left by our plane! We had to pay around a couple of blue bills (P4000!) to re-book for being 5 minutes late, I actually cried right there in the airport and was even planning to not join this trip anymore! Airport drama!!!

 Early morning in the airport.

Finally boarded the second flight.

The girl next to me. I forgot her name, but I love meeting friendly people.
We had a great conversation during our plane ride, and even told her about that morning's fiasco.
I realized that I can travel alone with people like her, whom you can talk with.

2. The Families
The moment I walked in their lands, the families were the first ones who welcomed us. We were brought to the different houses, which are all friends of Cheenee, Geo, and Kring. They all know each other there, and the whole community is very hospitable. For the whole trip, we had one house for each area:
“Taas”— in the house of Tatay Peter and Nanay Luning, 
“Baba”—in the house of Ate Bebeth. 

They are families that are both active in attending the community events like the basketball league and parade we were able to witness. Their favorite past-time are watching TV, drinking, and videoke! They always drink at night, especially for the farmers, after their all-day hardwork under the sun. I also tried their "medicinal" alcoholic drink Fighter, which tastes like cough syrup! :D

Sumilao March all-over again?
Nah, this is for their basketball league!

I had a taste of their nightly alcoholic beverage!

3. The Vegetarian-friendly Foods
Anywhere we go, they always serve vegetables! But of course, they are farmers! They serve their own crops to us, and there was a time when Niniel got an egg under our bed! I also love their creative ways of cooking. It was my first time to try monggo (beans) mixed with egg! It was super good!

They also get coconuts straight from the tree--the juice was really good and fresh! We also had a taste of their fiesta where Geo and I went from house-to-house. Turns out that fiesta was a time when they cook meat! But they'll always cook vegetables for me coz they never forget I am a vegetarian. :)

Our Sumilao farmer friend Niniel climbs that high coconut tree!

Fresh Coconut Juice!

Slaying the pig!

4. Taas and Baba
In taas (Up), the setting is really quiet like a typical farm life. The view is beautiful, I remember waking up and seeing right in front of me a window framing the beautiful farm lands and mountains. Geo, who had been here a lot of times already, said that when your goal for the trip is to relax, you should stay in Taas. We slept there for the first 2 nights and our last night.

Picture Perfect View outside the window.

Welcome to the house where we stayed in! :)
A nipa hut!

The weather is typical-Manila during morning till afternoon, but when night dawns, it was airconditioned-like cold that you'll need a jacket to sleep! I love waking up when we stay in Taas, the air is fresh, plus they always serve us with their organic coffee. We also get to experience harvesting cassava and watering onions on our stay there!

Trying out "farming" outside Farmville! :)

On the other hand, Baba (Under/Below) is where all the happenings occur. It's like their "city" where more people go to. In Baba, we were able to attend an elementary graduation, a communal baptism, the fiesta, had a manicure, learned their beadworks and coffee grinding, plus go to a mini carnival!

Tried learning their bead works...I am an accessories maker, but theirs was complicated!

A school.

Having a manicure!

Coffee making! Geo and Cheenee were there to help develop Sumilao corn coffee into a marketable product! :)

House-to-house food trips during the fiesta!

Riding a ferris wheel with the kids in their fiesta carnival!

My betting addiction was tolerated here!

A disco during their week-long fiesta celebration!

4. Bathing
There was a time we tried bathing on where the locals usually go to: “Tugib”. It's a public place in the middle of mountains and forests where one can wash their clothes, get water for drinking, and take a bath. And since it's in the "middle of nowhere" we actually had to trek before getting there, that when you get back to your house you actually want to take a bath again!

We can also bathe in Taas where they have this rectangular space enclosed with patched woods and sacks. This comfort room is separated from the house, usually outside their back door. They have a very low toilet, plus you have to wear your clothes when bathing since the space wasn't fully covered. It was better though than hiking to Tugib!

Cold Water! Bathing in Tugib with Cheenee and Geo!

6. The Kids
Geo told me that she is closest with the mothers of Sumilao. I always listen when Geo asks them for stories and updates, coz the shy-type in me can't even start a conversation. I guess I am more fond of the kids!

They just love the camera! They'll pose right away every time I point my shutter to their direction. They also love dancing, watching TV, and cheering me when I sang in the videoke-session! They also become our instant body guards from strangers when we're out at night, plus they're always around! I love treating them with ice buko/ice candy/fruit salad!!!/candies/gum/cheese lumpia/soft drinks/chichiria and other junk foods, which were so cheap in their place!

 Ayla drew me on the floor. =) They are the sweetest!

On our way to the coconut area!

My playmates love the camera!

To my future travel buddy:

Get ready to cry buckets.

On our last day in the Sumilao Farm, I felt the loneliness Geo told me when she first visited and left the site. I wasn't able to hug Tatay Peter and Nanay Luning because I was afraid I might cry.

Tatay: Ana wag niyong kakalimutan ang sumilao a. (Ana, don't forget Sumilao a)

Before leaving, they even gave us things we can take home with us like "souvenirs". There's a small broom that they made and a crotched bag. Really, they taught me that generosity doesn't involve being rich! While walking to the bus, the kids went with us again. Cheenee was with Niniel her boyfriend, Geo was with a mother and some kids, while I walked alone till the little girls Cacai and Ayla walked along with me saying Dito nalang kami sayo at lagi kang nahuhuli. (we will stay here with you since you're always left behind)

Then somebody said "Mamimiss namin kayo!" (We will miss you!). I was touched. I’ve known them as the group of farmers who marched all the way from Bukidnon to Manila to protest for their land ownership… But Geo reintroduced them to me as my new summer family and friends. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Like being whirled in a giant washing machine.

Sidetrip to CDO, not the corned beef brand (haha). March 31-April 1.

My trip to Cagayan De Oro, which I now fondly call CDO, was actually just a segue for a longer trip in its nearby province: Bukidnon. Although I've stepped in this city, where there is an airport, we went right away to Bukidnon. So I was in between a vacation with my domestic trip-buddy Geo and her friend Cheenee in the farms, living with the farmers of Sumilao, and in the the middle of it, we rode a bus going to the city. It was a long ride, plus the bus wasn't air conditioned so our faces were all dusty by the time we reached CDO.

Lost in Transition.

In a few days in Bukidnon, I started getting used to "The Simple Life": like sleeping in a high hut, eating rice and vegetables everyday, and using the typical outdoor restrooms of deep provinces (made of wood walls, and no lights at night!). Stories will go to another blog entry, so watch out!:) Anyway, so when we reached a commercialized area like CDO, I was really eager to eat pasta again! We arrived just in time for dinner, and I ordered pasta at a neat local diner called P. Joes. 

 For Dine In Please! A different city-dinner with Geo, Cheenee, and Niniel after being on the countryside for days!

That night, we stayed over at the house of Cheenee's aunt. Cheenee's family is actually from Cagayan de Oro, and she also speaks in Bisaya. :) The night was restless because of the mosquitoes, but when I used the bathroom, it was like using a tiled restroom for the first time! :D In Bukidnon, we had to go trekking a mountain to take a bath!

High Five!

The next day was the biggest adventure of my life! Geo and Cheenee planned a White Water Rafting activity for the four of us, handled by a group of pro paddlers. These organizers are all-over the internet, and it's actually cool to have them around since they'll handle the pick up and going back-to, all the stuff we need, plus they'll give pointers pre-rafting. 

 Survivor Cagayan de Oro. Pre-adventure lecture.

Thought Balloon: Will it really be that hard that we need to have an orientation? *knees suddenly shaking*

Aside from that, they are usually bunch of humorous guys, making up stories and names for each rapid we encounter. "Para hindi kayo mabore!" (So you won't get bored!) They said we only had the "beginners" stage in white water rafting. That was why they made us do all sorts of things for every stops: 

1. like getting us to stand up all together when encountering the rapids (they really aim to make us fall from the boat!), 

Balancing Act. 
Pray that you're beside and at the back of someone strong enough to pull yourself.

2. getting showered with small water falls (which hurts, I tell you), 

Poor Drenched Kid. Oh boy, was that me? Yes.

3. to jumping from a tall rock formation to the river (I think this is where I lost my contact lenses--which turned out to be just there on the other side of my eye--it went there, seriously! So when you're a contact-lens-wearer who is going to white water raft, a piece of advice from me to you: Don't wear them.), 

 In the count of what? 1-2-3.....JUMP!

 To whom it may concern. I'm alive! :D

4. and of course, the highlight of the whole paddling and standing and swimming: They asked for volunteers, only those who want to jump straight into the rapids!

 The three brave(???) ladies. The only ones who jumped out of the boat to the rapids!

I wasn't prepared on what to expect, and how to deal, that the moment my body touched the waters, I was swirling and twirling and being thrown against rocks by strong waters!  Like being whirled in a giant washing machine. We had on our helmets (thank God!), our life vests kept us afloat, but the whole time I was panicking, memories of the good times flashing in my head (just kidding!). 

Lunch was provided by the guides, and at dinner time and back in the cite,we tried CDO's famous "night cafe": a long outdoor strip of inihaw stalls (grilled) in the town-center. I realized that I acquired some minor leg-bruises, and a toe hurts, but that drowning moment was the-most-talked-about whenever Geo and I recall our CDO quest.

To my future travel buddy:

Stalker Alert!

If you're wondering how we acquired all the photos while we're all busy paddling for our dear lives (haha), the guides actually offer a documentation of the whole event. I think it was pricey, but in the long run, P1000 per head (for the photos and videos only) is actually worth it.
Hope we get on to Level 2 of White Water Rafting in the future, or better yet, spend more days in CDO and try its other adventure-activities!