And so, it comes to an end.

My 2019 Philippines trip has come to an end. With the final instalment of this travel short story series, I think it’s only appropriate to celebrate the crazy experiences I had, today I’ll be sharing two events that had happened to me during my vacation. So here they are, the two key exhilarating and terrifying things I did (and survived).

1. Palawan: Glimpses of Wonder

The first few days in El Nido, Palawan was pretty awesome. I’d been to this place already back in 2017 but the spectacle that is the view this place offers is out of this world and still blows my mind. So much so that this time, I brought my trusty drone. My DJI Mavic 2 Zoom to be precise. Besides all the mosquitoes attacking everything in sight, including mauling the crap out of my legs during take off, setting the drone out to see the views around me was in fact, exhilarating. We were staying at our accommodation, the Blue Mango resort and the workers there were really chill, serving me freshly made mango shakes every hour and even allowing me to fly the drone around.

Once the drone was in the air, it was just vacation-mode me, sipping on my mango shake, flying through and exploring the island of El Nido. From the birds eye neighbourhood around us, to the El Nido sea itself, soaring into the sunset, tracking towards the nearby mountains, trees and the many speed boats docked below. A solid and mesmerising view to take in, a constant reminder for me that this expensive little gadget is worth all the money spent for these glimpses of wonder.

It all sounds like a make believe dream, a beautiful concoction of how far video camera technology has come in capturing the crisp quality beauty in places like the islands of El Nido. All sounds real nice, except for the fact that I nearly had about two or three heart attacks when my drone controller screen would suddenly turn all black. Oh shit. I lost connection to my drone as it’s flying above the ocean. This happened about two or three times during the flight and I feel like I rediscovered, relearned what fear was every single time, my amygdala lighting up like it’s a bloody fiesta with fireworks in there. The reason for this occurrence is due to, while El Nido having many beautiful sights and delicious mango shakes, the one thing it does not have, is strong wi-fi.

But hey, let’s not fret, I survived those panic attacks and my drone is safe and sound. If you’re ever blessed with the chance to visit Palawan, and you happen to own a drone (or know a mate that likes you enough to lend you his/hers) I’d highly recommend. Just be wary, and extra mindful of the internet connection. Fly safe!

2. Bataan: The Half Cycle

So, tricycles are cool right.

Tricycle in the Philippines

Looking for a ride that’s not only cost effective, but will even drop you off exactly where you  need to go? A taxi would be too expensive in the Philippines, and a Jeepney is pretty much just a smaller bus which has dedicated stops to take. So what else? That’s absolutely right, a good old fashioned, tricycle ride. The tricycle is considered a Philippine transportation vehicle that boasts its versatility. It can serve passengers during rainy or sunshiny weather taking you anywhere you need to go whether that’s just to the next corner over, or from one province to the other. Also it’s fucking exhilarating to be on one of these bad boys.

I had a pretty weighty drinking session the night before, so safe to say, I was extremely hungover the following morning. The next day rolls on through, we had to pick up the usual stuff you know, to stock up. Beer, water, ice, some Bingo cards, the whole lot. So my cousin, the eldest of all my fifty cousins who lives in the Philippines tells me to come with him to pick all this stuff up. It’s Good Friday, the hottest time of the year and my sensitive skin does not agree with extreme humid heat. Not at all. I’m looking at this Half Tricycle and I’m thinking, well at least I can jump in the cushioned seats over there despite the scorching heat attacking every fibre of my skin. Next thing I know, two of my other cousins jump in and fill in the spots. The motorbike had already been kicked and started, rumbling loudly. The only seat available? Well, at the back. Behind the rider. In a usual tricycle there’s a roof with railing to hang onto, but not this one. Nobody believes in helmets either over here so I was low key in a state of panic but I couldn’t show them said panic.

My cousin’s famed, Half-Tricycle

So how did I stay on this thing? No joke, I literally hooked myself on, pretty much bolted my rude fingers into the railing beside my seat. I was locked in. We got onto the main road, and the wind would hit me and move my body around. I’m wearing nothing but shorts and a singlet. My eyes shut, straight up blinded from the searing Philippine sun. Probably the most terrifying hour of my life. Okay you got me, it wasn’t an hour. Probably only like ten minutes but by God, it felt like an hour of torture. And once we bought all the inventory we needed, and hopped back onto the Half Tricycle, something amazing happened. I began to enjoy it. My body adapted, I acclimated to the fear. To the point where I found every moment exhilarating.

Suddenly the sun didn’t bother me anymore, the breeze that would pass by as we rode through the roads was nice and peacefully comforting, it’s the unspoken truth when defining what it feels like to be on vacation. It felt tranquil, and relaxing. Funny how fast you adapt to things that was terrifying the shit out of you just earlier. Aren’t we just amazing in that sense?

End of PH-5

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