Siargao

Siargao holds a special place in my heart. It’s not quite on the map yet. Everyone I met including myself had only heard about this place from word of mouth. It’s a bit tricky to get on the island. There are only a few flights a week on super tiny planes that fly direct. The other way to get there is by ferry. I flew from Manila > Cebu > Surigao then took a ferry to Siargao. Surigao is not to be confused with Siargao, yes super confusing. I’ve never felt unsafe on my solo travels, except while in the Philippines. First experience was in Surigao where this guy I met in the airport shuttle added me on Facebook. How he found out my last name I will never know. I guess there’s no privacy if you ask front desk? C r e e p y. But anyways, the second I stepped foot on the island I really felt like this is what all of the Philippines should look like. You’re in the province with miles and miles of palms trees everywhere. I took a hubble-hubble which is a motorbike taxi that you just hop on the back! This was my first time seeing a hubble-hubble, I was a bit confused since I was used to tricycles. They’re essentially the same thing – a tricycle just has a cart. Some hubble-hubble’s could even hold up to 5 people! I sat on the front for that.

I spent about 2 weeks on the island. The first couple of days it rained and rained, so I spent a lot of time just hangin’ around the hostel. I like to think I had adjusted to backpacker life quite well. I mean you can’t be a germaphobe out there, but it took a bit for me to accept the fact that my feet would a l w a y s be dirty. The hostels are open air dorms and since its a surf/beach town, it’s inevitable to not be sandy.

^^ Siargao is the surfing capital of the Philippines and I was determined to learn to surf! I took a lesson and did great! I mean it’s super easy to get up when someone is holding the back of the board. So, I decided to go without an instructor which probably wasn’t the best idea. I went with my hostelmates and we did not got to a beginner area. I was just eaten alive by massive waves. It’s scary when you see the waves towering over you and you need to paddle as fast as you can to get over it. I wiped out so much! Then I got stuck in the white wash and felt so defeated trying to get out. It’s also a reef break so whenever you wipe out you get tons of cuts on the bottom of your feet. They don’t heal very fast especially when your feet are always dirty. Nevertheless I want to try surfing again, but maybe this time on a sand break.

^^ Everyone drives motorbikes so of course I had to rent one. I don’t know how to drive a manual car so I opted for an automatic scooter. Apparently that wasn’t a good idea since you don’t have as much control. Not even 5 minutes in to learning I crash… Why is the accelerator right next to the front brake?!?! I was lucky I fell into the bushes and barely broke any skin. Luckily I didn’t crash after that, but I was still too scared to turn. So whenever I had to I’d get off the bike, walk it across the street, then hop back on haha! Oh yeah, helmets don’t exist here.

^^ I would just like to say I’m quite proud for driving the scooter on these dirt roads! I thought the flooding was bad, but once it dried up there were tons of rocks everywhere which actually was harder to drive on.

^^ Photo credit to my friend @max.smd. I’m actually the worse model lol I am so awkward!!!

^^ Walking around Cloud 9. They hold surfing competitions here! I really liked how proud and adamant the locals were about keeping the beaches clean.

^^ Cute kitty sleepin’ in front of our hostel.

^^ On my last day I went on a tour to the 3 neighboring islands. I think this was Daku Island where they had a beautiful sandbar. It was cool to watch the waves crashing into each other. I tried to take cool photos but just ended up with these haha.

^^ I really like climbing trees and palms trees are the best kinds! There are little divots from people getting coconuts that make it easier to scale.

There’s a ton of political stuff going on with the Philippines right now. My parents told me to be extra careful, but I thought they were just being overprotective. Well, my hostel got robbed in the middle of the night while we were all sleeping! There’s no real locks anywhere so the robber just walked in through the gate. Like I said it’s open air dorms so no doors or walls or anything like that. The robber only stole cash. Luckily the person sleeping under me was still half awake so she asked what he was doing which scared him off. Others weren’t as lucky. It’s sad that things like this keep happening as it seems to be a common problem. The next hostel I stayed at had an overnight guard which made me feel much better at night!

Besides this I really did enjoy Siargao. It made me see a more liberal side of the Philippines compared to Manila. I enjoyed meeting other Filipinos and learning about how they grew up whether it was in the Philippines or not. Funny as no one believed that I was actually Filipino even when I started speaking in Tagalog. This didn’t help much as they speak cebuano/bisaya in Siargao. After Siargao I went back to the States for Paige’s wedding!!!

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