I was already prepared for the worst for the 10+ hours Bus journey to Bagan from Yangon. Oh I’ve read so many horror stories of old buses breaking down, air-conditioning giving up mid-way the journey or even some bumpy roads that would shake you up awake. But, fortunate to say, it wasn’t even that close. Changes here were for the better and the journey was much more comfortable and easier than I expected. I guess it was too comfortable that I had to push my seatmate, who’s sleeping like oil, a few times as he constantly leans on my side of the seat.
There are no direct flights to Yangon, Myanmar from the Philippines so I had to make a couple of flights to get there. First step was to get Bangkok, the closest possible airport to Yangon. I was lucky to get a cheap flight there through an introductory promo fare from Seair/Tiger Airways from Clark. On the rainy morning of November 2, 2011, I made my way to Megamall which is only 15 minutes from home. The Philtranco Bus (P400) headed to Clark was ready for its 7am departure. It’s been a while since I travelled by my lonesome and that familiar feeling of fear and excitement crept in. I don’t know what to expect of Myanmar except that I would be cut-off from the rest of the world for two weeks.
It was time to move on. Butuan was okay but our main purpose for this trip was Bislig in Surigao del Sur. We weren’t really much of a hurry and checked out of our hotel mid-morning. Took a couple of the trademarked orange trykes to Langihan Bus Terminal where we’ll catch our ride to Bislig. It took only a few minutes to get to the station.
When we did our Backpack Photography Banaue 101, we took the GV Florida and was surprised to find that there are actually sleeper bus here in the Philippines. I had my share of riding a sleeper bus when I was in Laos, journeying from Pakse to Vientiane and finding them here made me excited. We were joking then that we should try for the heck of it. Being in Tuguegarao, we now had a valid reason to try it out on our way home. So after a day of spelunking in Callao and Sierra Cave, we trooped back to our hotel and prepared for the ride home via GV Florida’s Sleeper Bus to Manila.
It seems I’ve been scaling deeper up north a lot lately and I really don’t mind. It’s time to get past the ever popular Ilocos region and cross the border just a step to Cagayan Region and explore the next town of Claveria. Known as the gateway to the Babuyanes Islands, Claveria is a small town with its livelihood revolving around fishing. First time I went here during the Lakbay Norte 2, we rode through here under heavy rain but it didn’t dampen the magnificent rock formations the place holds. So I went back with a few friends and discovered a lot more.
I hear the heavy clacking sound of the engines as it starts and the loud honk of the train signalling any living beings to move away from its path. There’s a low grumbling noise under my feet as if something just woke up from a long time slumber. Yes, the Philippine National Railways has revived the Bicol Express and just last night, it started its first commercial run in years. Like a dragon that just woke up, the train howled as it cuts through urban Manila as it heads to Naga City in Bicol.
The alarm sounded at 9am. Yeah it was late because we’re not really obligated to visit as many places as we possibly can. We were supposed to go to this eatery Nina recommended but has to move that in the afternoon. Instead, we dash to the street to find a good breakfast place. We passed by McDonalds on the street, no way are we gonna eat there. 7-11 Convenience stores? We wanted something a bit local and authentic. Then we found ourselves at Mallory Street staring at this giant wall facade art of buildings and junks done with a paintbrush. It was the Art Community building with illustrations done by Dickie Seto.