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Summer Adventure Trip

April 10th, 2008

Its summer time and most people choose to tread the beaten paths of summer destinations, like beaches, or chill out to places like Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines. Those who can afford, fly to holiday tours somewhere else in the world.

But there are other alternative summer escapades for those who want to spend less but enjoy more. It’s an offbeat track, a road less traveled by summeristas, a less costly yet full of excitment and discovery adventure trip. To go to places in the Philippines where you’ve never been to armed only with a few cash, a sense of adventure and stories from friends who’ve been there, which serve as irreverent yet important guide books. It’s a backpaker’s fare, or a localized Ian-Wright-lonely-planet type of back channel adventure trip.

So here’s some tips for those who want to have a back channel adventure trip this summer. For starters, travel light. Aside from your basic light-wash-and-wear-dark-colored clothing, bring only necessary stuff like a Cambodian Krama or any shawl, a flashlight, a standard compact digital camera, (a dslr is not advisable) loose change or coins, a cheap cellphone, a bottle of water, some candies, alcohol, few basic medicines including insect repelent lotions. Of course, don’t forget to bring your own identification cards.

Choose the place at random, i.e., put a map on the corkboard or a dartboard, shoot a dart on it and wherever it lands – that’s where you go. Take three shots so you will have three different spots to go, one after the other. Look for some friends who are from these places or has been to these places before. Ask them for some basic information about the place, like: transportation, local culture, do’s and don’ts, interesting places to go, cheap watering holes and eateries, extra advices and tips and of course referals to and contact details of persons in the locality in case of emergency or when some snafu arise. It is also important to know where the cheapest hotels and lodging houses are. Hotels or lodging houses in second class municipalities are hard to find. If you can find one, more often they’re pest infested. Mosquitos and bedbugs will keep you busy the whole night and cockroaches keep you company while you stay awake and dream of Terminix.

It would add spice to your adventure if you ride the popular mode of public transport in going to or commuting within the locality, like the train, the tricycles, pedicab, an ordinary bus (not the airconditioned buses). Try riding on the “taplod” (topload), a logging truck or the “habal-habal,” a single motorcycle with nine passengers riding on it. In all these travels, try not to attract too much attention. Blend with the crowd, it is important to be conscious about and maintain liminality. Using fancy gadgets is a no-no. Try not to overdo your get up by looking too fancy – like you’re a CNN embeded journalist in Iraq, a National Geographic reporter or a typical tourist on Four S (shorts-sandals-shirts-and-shades). Always have that warm smile and talk to people in tagalog if you do not know the local dialect. Don’t try to talk in the local language if you do not know how to speak it. You will not only sound and look stupid but more importantly you might insult some sensitivities. On back channel adventures like this, the most basic rule is, if you’re in doubt about something, don’t try it.

Try this adventure trip with friends. Three is the ideal number to compose a group for this kind of adventure. And for best result, travel with no detailed plans or even maps. Let the adventure current take you and go where ever your feet will take you.

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