The price of being spontaneous in The Philippines

Upon arriving home from work at about 7:45 on Friday night, Simon asked if I fancied going for a few drinks with some of his work colleagues at a local bar – Handlebar.  We didn’t have any plans at all for the weekend, so why not?

There was a good crowd there – a mix of people I had met and some whom I hadn’t.  I spent some time chatting to one of Simon’s colleagues, who has been in Manila for just over 2 years.  Generally conversation with other expats here touches on travelling plans in and around The Philippines.  I mentioned that Simon and I were keen to ‘plan’ where we wanted to go whilst we’re here to make sure that we see everywhere we want to see.  He responded with ‘The great thing about The Philippines is that you don’t really need to plan.  You can just up and go somewhere almost anytime you wish.’
The seed was planted.  Why didn’t we go away for the weekend?
So I asked a few others – ‘Fancy going away on an adventure tomorrow?’
Everyone said ‘Yes!’.
So, where to go?  Back to the colleague who has been in The Philippines for a while.  ‘Where could we go tomorrow morning, for one night, that is easy to reach from Manila?’  He responded with ‘Nasugbu’.  
With the help of someone else who had a 3G-enabled smartphone, we quickly figured out that there is a bus direct to Nasugbu from Manila.  Perfect.
Or so we thought.

We arranged to meet at 7:30am the next morning.  We piled into 2 taxis (there were 6 of us) and headed out to Pasay Rotunda bus station.

After a bit of early morning research, we figured that accommodation would be fairly easy to come by.  Nasugbu is by the beach and there seemed to be a number of ‘resorts’ there.  The alarm bells perhaps should have started ringing when there were only 3 of these resorts on Agoda’s website I suppose. is a popular hotel booking site for Asia.

After a considerable wait at the bus station, we boarded a Nasugbu-bound bus.  There were 5 seats per row in this bus – pretty cramped for our big-foreigner-builds.  At 9:30am we were finally on our way.  The effects of a couple of Jagermeisters, beers and not an awful lot of sleep were beginning to take their toll.  We were tired and irritable.  Our mood was not helped by the constant stop-start of the bus.  At one point we were going at a good steady pace, and then the bus came off the highway.  For the rest of the journey, it was that constant stop-start.  A mixture of heavy traffic and the fact that the bus would stop almost anywhere to drop passengers off, or to pick them up.  Simon felt it was more of a taxi than a bus.  I’m sure that’s just to our untrained minds – they were probably all scheduled stops.

We arrived in Nasugbu at about 1:30pm.  We were ravenous, and what was across the road from the bus stop?  A Jollibee!  I had just been saying to Simon that I haven’t tried Jollibee yet.  It’s The Philippines’ answer to McDonalds (the golden arches exist here too though).  My chicken burger was pretty delicious.

Another first followed closely.  A ride in a tricycle.  Basically a motorbike with a side-car attached, into which cram as many passengers as will fit.  In our case it was 2 in the side-car and one riding side-saddle behind the motorcycle driver.

The first resort we tried, we were going to have to squeeze into one room.  Double bunk beds and another double bed.  We decided to give another one (owned by one of the tricycle driver’s uncles) a look.  The entrance to this was probably what put us off – it wasn’t right by the road.  You had to wander through a narrow alleyway, which was a little dirty.  The owner seemed to have 2 rooms, but we said we’d need 3.  There weren’t any facilities – just the rooms and some benches by the beach.  It was only ₱1000
per room per night though.

We decided we should look at one more.  We set off in search of one which had looked good from our vantage point aboard the tricycle.  We had a look around and decided it would do.  It was called ‘Alix’.  It turns out, as with books, you can’t judge a resort by its facade.  The pool was lovely, and the resort really looked the part.  However, the rooms were extremely basic.  There were no toiletries (I can live with that), towels (we’d brought our own), hot water (neither did we have this back at the apartment) or toilet paper!  The toilet wouldn’t flush and there was no water from the hand basin.  I could go on, but I shan’t.

The best is yet to come.

After a great dinner at a Spanish restaurant nearby, we headed back to the resort.  The sweet sounds of karaoke met our ears.  From the first floor verandah (we were on the ground floor).  So we bought some beers from the local sari-sari store, found some playing cards and played poker.  I was out first.  But we don’t need to talk about that.

That sweet sound of karaoke didn’t seem to be easing off when we went to bed at around midnight.  We were reliably informed it would stop at 2am.  What we hadn’t counted on was that it would start up again at 6am.  Yes, 6am!  We couldn’t quite believe our ears.

Still, it was an experience.  And the idea of this weekend had been to have an adventure.

We took a boat to a nearby beach (I can’t remember the Tagalog name, but the English translation is ‘Little Sands’).  It was gorgeous.  We all had a swim in the clear, warm water and then lay on the sand chatting.  Heavenly.  And quiet.

And all too soon it was time to repeat the bus-journey in reverse back to Manila.  But we made it in 4 hours. It could have been worse.  I think, in the end, everyone was happy we’d been on this adventure.

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