A Weekend Camping Trip on the Beach
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It's 5 o'clock in the morning on the first full day that I have here in the Philippines. I wake up and begin packing for a trip that I am taking to a beach with some new friends of mine. I met them through work and they have shown me nothing but hospitality and laughs since I met them.
Around 6, I get picked up from my house. It's hot and humid, but it reminds me of back home during some of the peak summer temperatures. As we drive through the city, I am struck at how easy life is back home, and even though I knew about this, seeing it in person makes you feel it.
I eventually get dropped off at a Jollibee, a very common fast food joint here that resembles KFC. As I walk in, I am introduced to a group of 19 people, all roughly my age or a few years older. They all work at the company that I am shadowing this summer and it never occurred to me that almost everyone employed there is essentially the same age as me.
As I get to know many of the people there and attempt to remember all their names, we start to make out way towards a van. Since there were 19 of us, piling into the van became a fun game of Tetris and personal space became an unnecessary luxury. We drove through winding streets, passing through various towns and highways until we arrived at another Jollibee, where we proceeded to have a quick breakfast.
After breakfast, we made our way across the street to a Jeep, not like the ones back in America, but ones designed to carry over a dozen people. We actually were able to fit everyone in a single jeep both ways. Jeeps are the common mode of public transportation here so it is also something I'll be getting a lot more used to.
After a nice long and hot ride in the jeep, we arrive at the coast of the island. As we walk along the beach, we make our way towards some boats that have anchored on the shore. After some time, we begin to board the boats, going in two groups since they weren't large enough to accommodate all of us. After around 15 minutes of sailing, we arrive in a cove on another island, with most of our hearing gone due to the noise of the engine.
The cove, however, was peaceful and quiet, with friendly dogs running around and plenty of areas to relax and enjoy the view. Tents had been set up for us as we arrived, so we dumped our bags into our respective tents, and began to explore. We climbed over rocks and walked along the shore until we reach the end of the cove, then we turned around and went to the other side. You could out about 30 feet in certain areas and have water go up only to your knees. We were served unlimited breakfast lunch and dinner, prepared by some of the residents of the island. Eating with your hands was a common method, and I had to learn how to eat rice properly with only one hand. Since I wanted to get a full experience of Filipino food, I decided that I would try some of the stranger look dishes. Most of these dishes, however, were seafood; which I am not particularly fond of. We ate sardines, anchovies, and sea centipede (along with copious amounts rice). Through sheer willpower and the strength of a small god, I was able to eat everything I put on my plate each time.
Since the legal drinking age in the Philippines is 18, we were able to purchase and drink alcohol at any time. San Miguel is a popular local beer here, similar to Corona. There is also another beer called Red Horse, which is a little stronger and sometimes comes with a little surprise. Once in a blue moon, when you buy a bottle of Red Horse, it will have a smiling horse on it (it is normally just a silhouetted horse head). The smiling horse is an indication that this bottle is stronger than the regular bottle you get. Unfortunately, our bottle was just a regular brew of Red Horse.
Overall, our trip was one of the most relaxing and laid back trips I have ever taken. The entire day was filled with long walks on the beach, card games, alcohol, and plenty of food. Sure, taking a shower there was literally filling a ladle with water and dumping on yourself, but even that was a fun experience.