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Admist a Monsoon

Sickness & Spiders

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We got to the bus station just in the knick of time to jump on a coach to Baguio which is about 125 miles north of Manila and an altitude of about 1500m. As we were on what seemed to be a fairly new coach and the roads were in good condition we didn't expect the journey to take too long. So we were a little surprised when it ended up taking the best part of seven hours to get there. The air con had been on full blast the whole way and even when we closed the vents above our head it did little to prevent the Arctic chill.

Our arrival coincided with the beginning of a 3 day monsoon, the like of which I have never ever seen before. We got a little damp searching for a place to stay but found a cheap and clean enough room, so dumped the bags and went to hunt down some dinner. We ended up at the local mall which seemed to be the heart of the town. Before I came to the Philippines I'd heard that it was a very Catholic country but thus far it seems to be the malls where people come to worship! While eating some fairly horrible dinner I noticed that a sore throat which had started earlier in the day was becoming worse and I began to worry that I was now the one that was getting ill.

We had quite a bit of difficulty getting a taxi back to our hotel and although we had an umbrella and waterproof jackets on we still ended up getting fairly wet as we stood on the roadside. Finally we made it back and squelched our way up to our room. Just as we were beginning to unpack a few things I heard Adam say 'Holy Shit!' I turned around and he was staring up at the ceiling, I followed his gaze and lay my eyes on the biggest spider that I have ever seen. Now I am no fan of spiders, or any insect really but Adam has a phobia so there was no way that we were staying in that room. We backed out of the room slowly, half expecting the beast to lunge at us and went down to report our findings to the lady at reception. She smiled in a kind of knowing way, as if this had happened before and gave us a different room. When we went in we were really happy because it was a much nicer room and had an attached bathroom, so in a way it seemed like we should thank the spider. Everything seemed fine, I did a quick spider sweep and on first inspection it seemed like the coast was clear. However the joy was short lived and as I gazed behind a little bucket on top of the toilet I realised we had yet another eight legged friend, this one was quite a bit smaller but still bigger than anything you'd get at home.
The presence of the second spider condemned the Mountain Lodge as a no go area and we decided it was best to move hotels.

When we had arrived there had been a nice looking hotel by the bus station called Microtel. It was now about 10:30pm and it was still pouring, all we wanted was a hotel that was guaranteed to be spider free. With little energy and not liking the idea of getting soaked while we commenced our usual search we decided it was the safest bet to just head there. Microtel was really very nice and comfortable, expensive yet again but there didn't appear to be too many alternatives. As we settled into our room I began to feel worse and had a terrible night. I was now the one experiencing the fever, and was hot and cold. My throat was very bad by morning and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.

Moving wasn't an option, we got complimentary breakfast and I made it down to eat four chunks of pineapple before I had to go back and lie down. We managed to move to a cheaper room which made us feel a little bit better. Finding somewhere else would also have meant venturing out into the rain or flood from the sky. It was quite unbelievable and from my vantage point on the bed it looked more like huge waves crashing against our window than anything falling vertically. Adam went out to get some food and I dozed off to sleep. I woke up and realised he'd been gone for about an hour which made me panic because I thought he'd only gone across to the bus station. In my slightly delirious state due my high temperature I had visions of him having been knocked over by a car or attacked by mutant spiders, and began wondering how I was going to find him. Thankfully he walked through the door about 5 minutes later having been to the mall/supermarket and bought items containing vitamin C and also fresh salad which has been a rarity on this trip.

The next day we were thinking we'd get the bus to Banaue which is a town surrounded by areas of land divided up into rice terraces. Adam went to the bus station next door to check the buses but was informed that that particular bus company did not go there and we had to go to another bus station in town. With that piece of information and me still not feeling well at all we decided it was better to stay one more day. Unfortunately our room was not available and all the other cheaper rooms were also reserved or occupied so we had to move. The monsoon was still in full swing as we headed out the door, my umbrella and waterproof did little, actual make that zero. Within the space of about three strides we were both soaked. We checked out one place but it smelt of damp and had no bathroom or window, I couldn't see myself being very comfortable there.

In the end we got a taxi to take us to a hotel on the other side of town, it was listed in the guide book as being a good midrange establishment but when we got there we were informed it was for Korean students. Not sure we were taken to the right place, but thankfully there was a hotel pretty much next door. Adam checked it out and gave it the thumbs up so I ventured out of the taxi. Our time in the rain set me back a bit and I felt pretty horrible for the rest of that day but by the evening was beginning to feel that I was perhaps turning a corner.

In the morning I woke up and had almost slept through the whole night so we thought today we would catch the bus. We found our way to the right bus station but were just met with disappointment. There were two buses a day, one at 8am and one at 8pm. It was now about 12:30pm and so if we wanted to leave today we would have to get the 8pm bus. That however would get us to Banaue at about 4am and it just seemed to make more sense to stay in Baguio one more day and get the morning bus. Our time in the Philippines had generally been very frustrating and we felt like we had seen and achieved so little, deep down we knew it couldn't be helped, we had both been ill but there was no denying a lot of time had been wasted.

We found a place to stay just next to the bus station and went to get some food. We walked through a nice little park at the centre of the town where some people were out on little boats shaped like swans in the lake. We ended up going to the mall, the heart of the town and getting some food. I fought the urge to go back and sleep and we settled instead on a trip to the cinema to see Drag Me To Hell. I'm not sure whether it is actually intending to be funny but it really was ridiculous in places, although there were still points which made you jump. These were added to quite considerably by the audience who thought nothing of screaming in unison or kicking the back of Adam's chair when something jumped out on screen. We left with slightly frazzled nerves.

I really turned a corner in the evening and felt much better as we had a bit more of a wander around town which really consisted of shops, shops, fast food restaurants, and more fast food restaurants.
Also there were a number of indoor markets whose stock consisted purely of pirate dvds. That said it had a nice feeling about it and the Filippino people are so friendly.

The next morning after a fairly sleepless night, however this was not due to illness but rather the loud karaoke party going on at one of the nearby bars we climbed on to our bus to Banaue and waved goodbye to Baguio.

More Soon

Laura & Adam.

Posted by LauHot10 05:43 Archived in Philippines Tagged round_the_world

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