Gwen and the Good Guard

Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
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Trip End Aug 31, 2007


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Where I stayed
Kukuk's Nest

Flag of Philippines  ,
Thursday, August 30, 2007

Having covered the south yesterday, we decided we'd follow the road up north today. We skipped breakfast to get an early start and got a jeepney to SM mall and from there to the north bus terminal. The bus this time was an old dilapidated vehicle blaring out loud pop music, but we sat in front with the driver, which was more comfortable, less noisy and gave us a great view. For an absurdly low price, we had a two and a half hour ride along the east coast. As we drove along we saw thousands of school students lined up along the roadside at regular intervals, with flags ready to wave. Obviously they weren't there for us. Somebody important was about to pass by. We asked the friendly young driver about it, and gathered that they were waiting for somebody called Gwen. Eventually we saw a police escort with sirens blaring out and then an open car with a woman in the back. Gwen is presumably an important political figure, or perhaps a movie star, often the same thing in the Philippines, but she looked like a very ordinary person to us. We wondered about the wisdom of making school children miss a day's lessons to stand out in the sun waiting to wave flags at Gwen, no matter how important she is. For hours after this, we still saw children lining the road all along the way.

When we reached Sogod, we asked the driver to drop us off at an eating place. We ate at a little roadside stall, trying the local food. It was nothing great, though the eggplant dish was good, and there was a reasonable pork chop. We thought it was a bit over-priced as it was almost as much as the wonderful lechon meal we had yesterday.

We probably should have stayed on the bus all the way to the Allegre resort, as it was another four kilometers away, and, for the first time, we had rainy weather. We negotiated for a motor-tricycle to take us there. At the turnoff to the resort we were interrogated by the guards as to why we were going there, whether we had reservations, etc. We said we just wanted to have a look, so they took our names and phoned through to get permission. We then continued on our way to the entrance, where we had to write our names again. The driver could have taken us all the way to reception, but we decided to walk along the paths through the landscaped gardens. At reception we were given brochures about the resort written in the usual hyperbolic language. It was, admittedly, very attractive, but I could never bring myself to pay the exorbitant prices to stay in such a place. It was almost deserted, but there was a sprinkling of people at the beach, mainly young couples, probably honeymooners.

We then took another bus back as far as Danae, where we hoped to have some lechon manok, chicken roasted on a rotisserie over charcoal, but there was nowhere to sit down and eat it. We went into a Jollibee restaurant, a very popular fast-food chain in the Philippines, to use their toilet, and Yoong asked the guard if we could bring some chicken with us to eat in the restaurant. The guard was a very friendly, jovial kind of person who welcomed us without hesitation. He told us the best place for lechon manok, but recommended we try the lechon pork from the nearby market. We explored the market, following people's directions to the one place that sold lechon, only to find it had sold out already. So we bought a chicken from the place the guard had recommended and took it back to Jollibee. The guard shook hands with us every time we went in and out. We assured him we would buy some coffee and fries from the restaurant. Unfortunately, despite "freshly brewed coffee" being on the menu, they didn't actually have any. The fries were just okay. We had some rice in pandan leaves that we got from the market, a bread roll from a bakery and Jollibee had unlimited hot and cold water, so we had a substantial afternoon tea.

We walked around Argau, but did not take any photos of the lovely old church as there was a funeral taking place there. Our next transport was a jeepney that took a long time trying to get enough customers, and finally unloaded us onto another jeepney, which eventually got started. It dropped us at SM Mall so we spent some time looking around the vast array of shops and restaurants, then another jeepney back to the vicinity of our guest house. On the way we checked out two All-you-can-eat places, with a variety of local foods and drinks, at less than A$5 each, but we were not hungry enough tonight - maybe tomorrow. We just had some fruits that Yoong bought earlier (dukus) and a few buns from the bakery across the road.

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