Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Attack of the Ladyboys: Traveling Through the Philippines Part 2

The second half of my traveling began in Donsol.  This town is famous for one thing; whale sharks.  The whale shark is not so much a shark as it is the world's largest species of fish.  It's a freindly animal and it spends most of its time swimming around with its huge mouth open sucking in plankton.  Oh yeah, the whale shark can grow up to 40ft.  It eats a lot of plankton.  Every year the whale sharks migrate to the shores of Donsol around February to feed.  They usually stick around until summer and then migrate to where ever it is whale sharks migrate.
Sheesh, chew your food.
As far as the Philippines go, this was my favorite place.  I never felt like a walking ATM, but I actually felt like a welcome guest.  I believe this is because the locals are extremely proud of the whale sharks.  There is whale shark decor everywhere and the locals love the fact that this is one of the only places in the world where people can swim along side the beast in the open ocean.  Let's hope it stays that way!
Whale Shark Decor
We were there at the very beginning of whale shark season, so we were nervous as sightings could be infrequent.  We boarded a boat with three spotters and a driver.  They drove back and forth off the shore for what must have been two hours.  The first hour we kept our eyes to the water hoping to spot the beast.  The second hour we tried not to close our eyes and succumb to an inevitable boredom nap.  Then suddenly the excitement began and I mean SUDDENLY.  Just when I was getting comfortable on my towel turned pillow, the main spotter was yelling at the driver to steer towards a small fin just above the water surface and simultaneously yelling at us to get our asses to the front of the boat and get the snorkel gear on!  Then he yelled at us to jump in the water NOW as he leapt off the boat.  Next thing I knew I was swimming behind other people's fins looking down for something huge.  Then it was over.  Unfortunately I didn't see it but others did.  The water was unexpectedly cloudy as a result of plankton everywhere.  The ones who saw it said the whale just came out of the mist of plankton without notice and they were suddenly face to face with a fish over the size of 30ft.  I got back on the boat filled with envy.
How can I miss something this big?  It was cloudier than this picture, I swear!
While others back on the boat boasted about what they saw, I sat there with my head down as the spotters began the process again.  Then just as I thought it was going to be time to head back home, the spotter began the yelling again and I was back on the front of boat ready to jump in to the unknown.  This time was much different.  When I got in to the water a whale shark the size of a bus swam directly under me from out of nowhere.  I turned and swam next to it for what must have been a full minute.  I was so close at one point I could have grabbed its top fin and hitched a ride.  The experience felt so surreal that after it swam in to the depths of the ocean I thought I must have dreamed it.  However, we got back on the boat and had three more sightings!  I don't have a water proof camera but I probably looked like this swimming next to the whale shark:
My what a big fish you are.
We were so lucky our first time out that we decided to lounge around the bungalows the next day because there's no way the second time could be as good.  In the middle of the day Caroline mentioned hearing the faint sound of bees buzzing with in the wall of our bungalow.  There were also a few bees chilling on the wall.  Thinking that bees don't usually hang out with people indoors, we alerted the staff.  Two guys came over and pried off a piece of the outside wall to discover a fully functioning hive in honey making mode.  One of the fellows decided the next course of action was to blow cigarette smoke in to the wall.  This of course sent the bees in to a frenzy as bees tend to do when you annoy them.  Cigarette smoke only pissed them off so the next step was to pry off more wall and stick flaming branches in there.  I had been curiously watching outside when the thought popped in to my head that the bungalow is probably going to to turn in to a bonfire.  I rushed in to the bungalow to get our belongings to find it filled with smoke and angry bees.  Quickly I wrapped a wet towel around my head and began blindly grabbing for things to throw out the door.  I was able to get everything out with only one bee sting to the neck and minor smoke inhalation.  Great success!  The staff decided they better find us a new room for the night.
Not the bees! Listen to them in our wall.

Yup just stick that there burnin' branch in the hole.
Our heroes?
Any honey in there?
After Donsol Caroline had to go back to Korea to teach, but I still had a week left of vacation.  I wanted to go somewhere easy to meet people, so I decided to go to the Philippines "premier" destination; Boracay.  The island has a very nice and long white sand beach that is perfect for wasting the day away, but Boracay is one of the most overwhelmingly touristy places I have ever been.  Just off the beach are resorts that would cost me a week's budget for one night of accommodation.  Places with names like Shangri-La, Golden Phoenix, and Ambassador in Paradise.  I stayed in a hostel behind one of the big boy resorts.  Then there are huge tour groups of umbrella-holding Chinese tourists following a yellow flag up and down the beach while over-weight, ultra-tan, speedo clad Germans soak up the rays.  Then just when I am getting relaxed a Filipino carrying two hundred sunglasses asks if I want to buy sunglasses after I point at the sunglasses on my face.  Then another Filipino asks if I want to pay $30 to ride a wave-runner for 15 minutes.  After I decline another offer an old woman asks, "Sir, Ma'am, Sir massage?"  Yup, it's back to the walking ATM look, except this time on steroids.
Oh it's a good thing they have this beach.
Not only did I look like an ATM, but by being male it must have looked like I was desperate for some love.  And not the type of love between a man and a women, but the kind of love between a man and a ladyboy.  For those who haven't been to Southeast Asia, a ladyboy is a skinny Asian man who has made himself look very much like a lady.  Not the kind of lady that you see walking though a department store, but the kind of lady that lurks around dark lit avenues at night.  Boracay, the Philippines "premier" destination, is filthy with them after the sun goes down.  The funny thing is that I never encountered any prostitutes that were actually women.  It made me wonder about Boracay.
I was very tempted to put a picture of a ladyboy here, but then I didn't really feel like googling ladyboy.  So here's another picture I took of the beach.  Ooooh good thing they had this beach.
Boracay did have some good things, like cool people to hang out with and ridiculously cheap bottles of rum.  I met some people and we soon discovered the best way to spend an evening was on the beach with cheap rum, a chaser, and new friends.  One evening we decided to meet at a cluster palm trees with rum and supplies in tow.  I was the first one there and I was hanging out for just a few seconds when I heard the faint calls of "Sir?"  I looked around and from behind the palm trees heads were popping out. "Sir?"  I couldn't really tell who was behind the trees but I could see a few head shapes through the darkness.  "Um...yes?" I replied.  "Sirrrrrr?" is all the heads said and then suddenly there was a ladyboy standing right next to me grabbing my forearm.  (The story gets a little graphic here.)

"Come with me," the ladyboy demanded in a husky voice.
", why?" I replied nervously.
"I think you have the wrong idea, I'm meeting friends here.  They'll be here soon," I say as I glance around frantically.
"Just come on," the ladyboy pressed.
"No, friends.  You know friends.  So, no!" I said starting to get annoyed.  However, the ladyboy tightened the grip on my forearm.
"Come on, I give you message long term."
"Definitely NO.  Ok I really need to..."
"Come on, I suck you off on the beach,"  the lady boy insisted, to which I replied by with a frightened "Aahhh!", tearing my arm away, and fleeing to the closest bar for shelter.  I stayed hidden there and kept watch on the trees for my friends.  When one of the other guys arrived at the meeting point the same ladyboy was on him like a hobo on a muffin.  I ran over and grabbed my friend.  "He's with me!" I proclaimed as we struggled to break free from the death grip of an aggressive, almost rapist, prostitute with man hands.  Lesson: Palm trees are for something else when it is night time in Boracay.
I'll never look at you the same palm trees in Boracay.
There are more stories from Boracay (like being deathly ill for two straight days only leaving my hotel room for more medication and Gatorade, or the story about eating at a Lord of the Rings restaurant where all the servers are dwarfs), but I've written enough already.  In conclusion the Philippines make for some intense traveling, but I was glad I got to have the experience.  The scenery combined with friendly whale sharks combined with some cool people made the effort worth it.  However, I wouldn't recommend anyone to visit who can't stomach terrible poverty and the feeling of constantly being hustled.  It was interesting and nice to know you while it lasted Philippines.  Here's a few pictures to feast your eyes on:
Rum on the beach with Wade.  What I did at night after I ran away from the ladyboys.
Rum and laughs with Peter & Jodi.
I guess this is where they do kite surfing in Boracay.  I don't know how they don't run in to each other.
It looks fun!
A glorious sunset.

1 comment:

  1. great article, the topic about ladyboys is very entertaining. I cam across with this article Your ladyboy dating guide, which is based on a true story can it be true?