April 5, 2006

Henna tattoo and $3 prostitutes

I finally was able to have a real vacation, this time in Puerto Gallera last April 2. It's been ages since I've been there, the last being in 2001 (?), a skin diving trip with my friends Joan, Joel and Jazz. This time I'm with some buddies from the gym, Brian, Bong and Peter, and Joel also came along. We decided to stay in Sabang this time since none of us have been there.

The trip going there was uneventful. We set out to Batangas from QC Friday morning , at around 4am, and after a rather choppy launch ride from the port we arrived at Sabang at around 10. Sabang is your typical touristy place, full of sun-burned, pot-bellied Europeans going scuba diving during the day and chasing local women during the night until the wee hours of the morning.

We were able to find a decent place to stay. Cheap too, as we came just a week before the peak season starts. The room comes with airconditioning, a fridge, a kitchen, cable TV and a veranda, which opens to a view of the walls of the neighboring buildings, as it is located on the side.

The food is ok, if you have a taste for European cuisine like schnitzel and cordon bleau and those hard, uncheweable breads. Pricey in local standards too. We did plan to eat in one of those turo-turo but we weren't able to. I did however continued with my tradition having a slice of cheesecake in new places that I've been to, and I was able to find a decent slice of blueberry cheesecake in Rock Cafe just around town.

The first day was a busy one - it was just the three of us then, Joel, Bong and me as Brian and Peter arrived the following morning. We went around the town scouting for nice places to see. We went to La Laguna, a white beach just a stone's throw away from Sabang. We also haggled with the boatmen who are offering to take us to White Beach the following day.

We also met some interesting characters along the way. Niko is one. He is a middle-aged Spaniard who reminds you of those sleazy characters you see on TV. He was a bit disappointed, he complained to us, because he wasn't able to find local women who are willing to sleep with him for $3. The Philippines is so Westernized, he said, because women are empowered, not unlike in Cambodia where he can get laid for as cheap as three bucks. Needless to say, we avoided him for the rest of the time we were there.

Another highlight of the trip was when we went to White Beach. We actually have to rent a boat going there, as it is located on the other side of the island. Joel and I have been there before, but we were surprised to what it had become. There were more people there, but the majority are Filipinos. It is full of beach-side shops peddling bric-a-bracs like native jewelry, board shorts and sarongs. It also has a multitude of tattoo shops, from which I got my three henna tattoos from. I had one on my back, just above the shoulder blades, and one on the Devil's Horn, that V-shaped muscle connecting my hip to my thigh. It was pretty daring for me to do it, as it caused me to parade around the beach with my trunks hugging my hips down low lest it's going to ruin the design. I never felt so naked in my life until this.

We went back to Manila on Sunday, with a sort of a heavy heart. Well for me at least, as I wanted to spend a day more but can't since I have work the next day. The post vacation depression wore off after a few days though, about a week shorter than the henna tattoo I had .

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