November 19th, 2012:
So late last night we flew into the town of Laoag, near the northern tip of the Philippines in the province of Luzon. Our exhaustion finally starting to fade, we had two nights and one full day here so we were intent on making the most of it (even if it meant facing the tropical heat). The main thing to see here is St. Augustine church in the neighboring town of Paoay, and there are exactly two forms of transportation available in this region; either a Jeepney or a Tricycle.
A Jeepney is essentially an old army jeep that was left here when the U.S. pulled out of the Philippines, which was then converted and extravagantly decorated by the locals to become a bus to get everyone around in. They all say their route somewhere on the vehicle and if you want a ride you just wave and they’ll pull over and pick you up. $0.80 will get you about 10 miles to the next town, in crowded, sweaty, ass-bumping style.
The other (slightly more expensive) choice is a tricycle. Think of a 100cc motorcycle with a homemade (and decorated!) sidecar attached. For $0.50 to a $1 they’ll drive you just about anywhere in town. Although seeing that I am quite a bit larger than the locals, when Felicia and I squeeze into one, comfort is nonexistent.
After our first crowded 40 minute Jeepney ride, we arrived at the tourist drawing church, which immediately garnered an underwhelming response from Felicia and I. Instead of jumping right into wandering the site, we sat on the front steps of the cathedral and enjoyed ice cold Cokes. After our Cokes and about 30 minutes of relaxing and letting the sweat dry, we meandered the grounds, shot a few pictures and headed back towards town in a near empty Jeepney (a much more comfortable ride).
The rest of the day found us eating and riding around town in tricycles trying to decide if both of us and our backpacks are going to fit tomorrow when we head to the bus station outside of town. We’re still unsure, but I did make a shaky video of one of my rides around town.
Felicia and I, reflecting.
I stole this picture from Felicia for the blog. Why? Because I liked it, and I’m bigger than her. If you want to see her take on the day, check out her travel blog here.
And finally, my new favorite candy bar: “Take-it! 2 Fingers!”