Finally, after a year of waiting and preparing, I sit at my guesthouse in Manila, warm and sweaty, a jetlag from the long trip and skipping an entire night, hung over from last night… Life is good and damn it is great to be on the road again, despite all the downsides of traveling itself. It’s the bits in between what is all about. Backpacking is definitely not about the journeys, long flights, endless bus rides and hours and hours of waiting. But it is so worth it!


First day in

The first day has been great, a true travel experience. Having checked into Cozee Monkey I tried to sleep for a few hours without success, went out for some food and observe Philippino life as it passes by and meanwhile enjoy some burning sunshine as Philippinos smile (or laugh?) at the pale foreigner I still am, but not for long. Back to Cozee to contact some people at home and let them know I survived the trip and arrived ok.

I expected, actually planned, a quiet night. The last couple of months have been so busy, especially the last few weeks, working non stop from morning to night. But one of the things about traveling is that you never know what to expect and what’s gonna happen, it’s like a box of chocolates!

I started chatting with some of the guests, a Colombian guy from China on his holiday, a New Yorker teaching in China on a visa run, a Portuguese-French backpacker from Germany and the friendly hostel worker Gino. All of a sudden a bottle of local Brandy appeared and before we knew it we were outside on the street mingling with the locals, an awesome group of friendly people that shared their food and drinks with us. Next thing I know everyone talked me into going to a Reggae bar… gotta make it a memorable first night, right? The bar wasn’t really a bar as you’re used to, but a large venue in between shops, with a proper DJ and a few singers (one true Jamaican guy if I’m correct, he sounded like one for sure) and a great Philippino reggae band in between setups, beers for €1,20, not bad! We ended the night at Cozee with some guitar playing and singing by Gino and Viviane. Pretty cool for a first night, a Sunday night.

Drinking local brandy with foreigners and locals

Interesting sign


Next destination: Batanes

I’ll be back in Manila a few times, so I can’t be bothered right now to do any sightseeing and check out the city, of which I haven’t really heard much positive anyway. I need some time to chill out, adjust myself and get some stuff sorted first. But my next, or actually real first, destination is a highlight: Batanes island, most northern island group of the Philippines. Hardly any of the tourists bother to go here, there’s a few good reasons I guess, first of all it is quite expensive. The ticket alone will cost you quite a bit compared to other flights (€200-300, €250 for me). And second, there’s only a few months a year when the season is good enough to travel, because the rest of the year is storm season, winds are rough and if unlucky you might get stuck at the island for weeks. There’s no internet from what I read, so I will be offline from 20-30 January, what a welcome change, actually looking forward to it, less distraction. I thought I was traveling in the good season, but not sure if my misread, because I just found out I’m a few months early. So if you don’t hear from me for a while, you know what might be wrong! Or right?! To be honest, I’d love the experience, I’m sure it would make for some great shots with stormy weather. ‘See’ you soon folks!


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