Someone’s at the door, struggling to open it. It’s not easy turning the knob. I remember what Monique, one of the resort’s staff, told me earlier when she led me to this room, “You got to keep turning the key to the right, one of the guests told me the trick.”
And so I was there silently cheering the person on, You can do it.
The door finally opened, and a light-haired white woman entered the room. She was the same girl who greeted me earlier; we’re sharing the 4-bed mixed room at Bravo Beach Resort. All beds are occupied, but I’ve yet to see the other 3 guests. They’re probably out exploring Siargao, which could mean 2 things; they’re either surfing or island hopping.
The girl looked up at me; I was on the upper bunk, “Why are you staying in this room? You should check out Siargao!”
I couldn’t place her accent, but I could tell she didn’t come from an English-speaking country. I was supposed to say that I didn’t know where to go; instead, I answered, “I think it’s raining.”
She shook her head, “No it isn’t. It’s sunny. Go out and explore,” she said excitedly.
“Alright,” I muttered a reply.
I went down from the upper bunk bed, took my wallet from my cabinet, and left the room. I was chatting with my friend about places to check out in Siargao. She gave out recommendations, including Shaka. I searched Google Maps for the location; it would take me about 34 minutes to get there on foot, so nope, I’m taking the motorbike.
The main transport mode in Siargao is motorbikes; tourists even rent them out. Some bikes have a roof; some have a surfboard carrier. I can’t drive a car, but I know how to drive a motorbike, so I thought about renting one. But my vacation was short, and I didn’t know where to go, so I decided it was a no.
Siargao is one of the well-known surf spots in the Philippines. Everybody has been there, but I and I had to do something about it. I booked a flight in June and got it for cheap due to a promo. When you plan a trip too far from d-day, it is always possible that it won’t push through. I resigned from my previous work and got accepted into a new company, and now I don’t have leave credits until I get regularized in May. I even posted a Facebook status that Siargao and I are not meant to see each other yet.
Then last month, I had to fly to Sydney for work the same week we had the ASEAN Summit. It was a declared holiday, which meant I’d be working on those 3 days when I was supposed to be at home. I didn’t really mind because, hello, that’s Australia! I wouldn’t say no to Australia. Given the situation, my manager and I agreed that I could offset those 3 days when I returned to the Philippines. To cut the story short, I used those 3 days in Siargao.
As I write this, Tori Amos is singing about the Cornflake Girl. I’m halfway through the signature cocktail drink of Bravo Beach Resort, a mixture of gin and calamansi juice, and they call it pomada. I cannot make its connection with the hair clay old men like to use, I could ask the staff, but I’m not in the mood. It tastes more like calamansi juice than gin, but I already feel dizzy. I haven’t even finished the entire thing; what’s wrong with me?
The restaurant is jam-packed, and it seems like I am the only person with no company. I am going, to be honest, I wish I have someone with me, a lover or a friend. I don’t know how to talk to strangers, I don’t know how to do it without feeling awkward. This is not my first solo trip, but I have never mastered the art of making friends. It’s the missing ingredient of all my travels; I cannot easily make a connection with strangers. People expect me to hook up with a guy, to find someone whenever I travel. I always go back with nothing, or should I say no one.
Today I paid ₱1,500 ($29.55) for an island-hopping activity. I texted Doy, a dark-skinned surfer with big curly hair. He was recommended by a friend to help me with my Siargao activities. He picked me up from the resort with his motorbike, I thought he would be coming on the trip, turns out he just arranged an island-hopping tour for me in which I was the only passenger.
Given my antisocial tendencies and aversion to waiting on people, I thought I would enjoy it. The boatmen, Mang Ben Ben and Kuya Bobby were quiet people, but they were nice, and they took care of me. I noticed that people from other boats were looking at me. They’re probably wondering who this weirdo is who has the boat all to herself. The islands were breathtaking, with golden sand that glitters under the sun, cerulean blue waters, and islands that are generally peaceful despite the presence of tourists, really I got nothing to complain about. But this time, loneliness has become a burden. I couldn’t motivate myself to swim, I couldn’t get myself to greet other people, and I didn’t want to stop anywhere to take a moment for myself. I was a classic tourist; I just went to take photos.
Our first stop is Naked Island, which, save for the long stretch of sand and a small patch of the area with vegetation, is completely bare. It is, as the name implies, naked. A light rain started pouring when we arrived, and the other tourists were already returning to their respective boats. I went down for a quick photo sesh with Kuya Bobby.
Daku Island has small huts and cottages where people could go and have lunch. Kuya Bobby said I could ask one of the locals to cook food for me, but I decided against it given my aloneness.
Guyam Island, like Daku, is covered with trees and cottages where people can hang out. There is a large section on the seashore covered with rocks, OOTD background worthy, so I asked Kuya Bobby to take my photos; he willingly obliged. After our mini photo shoot, I told him that it was time to go home.
He called out Mang Ben Ben, who was taking a rest beneath the shade of the trees.
“Tapos na?” (It’s over?) asked Mang Ben Ben in surprise.
“Oo,” (yes), replied Bobby.
The island hopping tour lasted for only 2 hours.
At times I covered my face with the beach towel because my eyes hurt from the sun’s glare. I don’t like wearing eyeglasses because I like to see the beauty of my surrounding in their true colors. But today, I regretted that I neglected to pack my sunnies.
It’s only 7:20 in the evening, and I don’t know what else to do. I need to pee. I guess it’s an early night for me.