A daredevil I am not. I can quite confidently say that, I also am not prone to making decisions borne of an insatiable need to live life on an edge or be on the front seat of danger. I have a sense of self- preservation. Or so I thought, A couple of weekends ago I was faced with the golden opportunity that rarely begets this poor traveller. I had the weekend off and got a fresh delivery of manna that instead of being wisely used sparingly in the interval it was meant to be, I made a lightning fast decision: Packed my bags and off I went to Bicol :D
The last airconditioned bus departed ages ago, and my first warning should’ve been the adamant hesitation of the taxi driver on my decision to take the conductor’s advise of getting on a non-aircon bus instead. But time is of the essence so I shall go on this journey fresh-faced or not. Nonetheless after 8 hours I arrived unscathed, had lunch at Naga, did the usual tourist-y stuff and proceeded to Legazpi where I spent the night perusing all that could be perused. The next day, properly showered and even if I had a bit of eye bags, my loose mental itinerary dictated that I should go to Cagsawa Ruins and get some Facebook shots (according to the kid photographer) armed with a backpack of Fudgee Bars and Lollipops, there were no kids to share them with on sight. So after helplessly trying to maneuver my self timer into submission I wielded my camera to the kid like an honorary passing of trust, and he was so much better than I was.
I think in the middle of babbling about everything I was talking to everyone on sight there I got talking to someone breaking in his motorcycle (mean: to put 3500km in a new vehicle) so he was on a trip from his hometown Naga to Legazpi. I think I said, Oh I’m going to Naga today and he offered a ride. At this point random things popped into my head.
A very fast run down of Death vs. Saving 150 Pesos.
= I was a girl solo traveller who couldn’t speak the language (but they didn’t know that)
✔ I was carrying a heavy backpack, an advantage, if I need to jump from the motorcycle it can cushion my fall. (in theory it was reassuring)
x If they will rob me I do not a lot of cash to offer as life ransom
x Apart from a camera I have no other gadgets of value
x I took Muay Thai classes that left a laughing not lasting impression on my teacher.
✔ I was carrying a tripod that could double as a weapon if need be, it was tied like a cool nun-chucks.
The odds weren’t good but the premise of adventure lured me so I went ahead anyway, if I die (I really don’t want to think about it). We were going on 65mph with me not wearing a helmet whilst seated at the back of the motorcycle, I have no problem with balance but this was one heck of a different challenge, I was wearing heels, pyjamas, loose shades and a heavy backpack. A plastic bag with a tripod served as some sort of balancing pole like what you see on the circus. Adventurous? Yes, it was and probably absolutely stupid as well.
I think at one point during the ride I reached a quiet serenity. I tried to converse with my possible captors but the roar of the engine rendered it impossible. Also the fact that I was making an illusion that I can at least understand a bit of Naga-nese, which is kind of cripplingly embarrassing. Signs were aplenty and the ride yesterday was still fresh from my memory so I knew we weren’t taking any shortcuts. The day was bright and a respectable amount of vehicles were passing by the highway. Maybe the serenity was brought upon by my numbing and aching Gluteus Maximus or my poor shoulders forced to support my backpack for the entire trip. This was my longest habal-habal ride and it was nothing less than exciting, so when I saw those familiar signs of the Mayor’s autocratic tarpaulins I knew I was k-ok. I asked them whether they knew of a place to eat Kinalas. And we got talking and they asked me if I preferred pork or beef, with them saying beef is better I said “lets go” so in an unassuming eatery we all ended up for lunch.
Ah, my first meal as someone who finally checked the hitch-hiking bookmark on my bucket list. And I was spending it eating a hot delicious bowl of Kinalas. With a hefty serving of Loglog noodles (a fatter canton, since it has a yellow color I’m assuming eggs are used) sinfully good broth and slices of beef with a uniquely charming gravy plopped on top. This was well-worth the fact that trying to save by hitch-hiking was a false economy since I spent about 200 Php for our lunch.
I wish there was a fried version of this dish, with the broth made into a glazed reduction and drizzled atop the crispy log-log. Kinalas is a famous dish in Naga, though not a tourist attraction per se, because the usual stuff we hear of is Sili, Bicol Express, Laing and Pinangat so the first time I heard about Kinalas was through the recommendation of a friend who probably guffawed at the thought of me eating and enjoying simmered animal heads. They will be disappointed to learn that I had no *PFFFT* moment because I only found out about its true identity after returning to Manila. (Yes, I would still eat it again) It was salty, sinful and pleasurable much like my entire trip and eating it after such a gamble with fate together with fellow travellers made it so much better.
I really think everything I experienced in this trip was worth it. I only visited Bicol for 36Hours but I’ve done so much, experienced a lot and I shared great kin-ships I won’t forget with different types of people. I learned that there’s hope for the world and trusting isn’t always so bad. Maybe a little act of kindness to stranger is what we all need sometimes. I’m glad I took this trip and I’m happy I got home safe and alright enough to tell my tale.
Death’s Bargain and The Story of Kinalas is a cool anecdote of what happened a couple of weeks ago. Thank you for reading my post. This is my 1st ever entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers Blog Carnival with the theme “Awesome Food Experience While Traveling in the Philippines” hosted by Anton Diaz of Our Awesome Planet.