“Guess What?! I Got a Fever, and the Only Prescription is BACON!”

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

I LOVE bacon. Those close to me know it and although, often generous, bacon can bring out the worst in me; I have even been known to not share my bacon. Sometimes I wish when tanning with my Banana Boat SPF 4 tanning oil that it was bacon scented and then I would feel like a roasting pig on a spit – my own bacon fantasies – yes, there is a sickness called Baconitis.

Have any of you heard of Baconnaise? It’s a bacon flavoured spread with fewer calories than mayonnaise and it’s perfect for vegetarians and people who love bacon but know they really should keep it as a special treat. I first heard about it on Oprah and while I have yet to try it I loudly applaud these young men’s efforts. http://www.baconnaise.com/. They are “bacontrepreneurs” and they also make bacon salt, bacon flavoured popcorn, and yes, bacon lip balm!! Can’t wait to get my hands on that. Could tanning oil be around the corner? I also love that they were the “first company to trick TIME magazine into running a story about the development of the mythical product Bacon Air, a bacon-flavored oxygen inhaler made with 95% pure Himalayan oxygen.” Just imagine the freedom!!!

All of this to say, I couldn’t wait to get to the Philippines where Muslims were the minority and I could get my hands on it. In my month away I had already had two fairly substantial conversations about bacon. One while at Lahad Datu, the halfway point for the Mt. Kinabalu climb and the other, merely days before at Scuba Junkie Mabul. I and a scuba instructor from England talked and salivated about bacon for a good half hour, he even tried to lure me to his cabin with the promises of salami and chorizo but since it’s not my first time to the rodeo I decided to stay at the bar and yes, it was confirmed later that he found the conversation to be highly sexual in nature where as I found it to be quite gastronomic. Funny how sex just doesn’t enter your mind when you’re not attracted to someone. Or wait, maybe it’s just women who are like that, lol.

Hell, even on the most precarious hike I have ever done I still found something to remind me of bacon. Tell me these fresh wood shavings on a mountain path in the Luzon province of the Philippines does not make you think of bacon bits?

And you won’t believe it. While I’ve had pork in the Philippines I have yet to have bacon. It just isn’t a preferred cut here so I have resigned myself to wait until home when I can cook it to perfection, not crispy and not overcooked, just right. In fact, to Cathy, a friend who is staying at my place; would you mind getting me a pound of bacon and have it waiting in my refrigerator with a red bow on top?

I left Brunei on a late night/early morning flight to Manila and connected to a flight taking me to Cauayan, the closest airport to Batad and Banaue where I was headed to see and trek through the Unesco World Heritage site of the 2,00 year old rice terraces. The flights were uneventful, things were looking good and then I was immediately surprised upon landing in Cauayan. The plane was the size of one flying from Toronto to Montreal, let’s say a 777 and it seemed that many spoke English, but my logic didn’t make sense that they’d speak English just because they were flying from Manila. When we arrived, the airport was one room and suddenly no one spoke it. I had assimilated so quickly to Semporna, Mabul and Brunei’s ex pats and here I was taking steps back; I just wasn’t sure I was ready for it. At this point in my trip I was coasting on English, “civilization” and the beach and sun to get me through till the end. This was like a punch to the face and after not sleeping that night due to flight times I was not the happiest camper around. Everyone seemed against me, and yes, I was back in the zoo, everyone’s favourite animal. I managed to get royally screwed paying too much for a 5-minute tricycle ride (no, not the tiny ones with the cute pedals because that would have really been screwing with me) to the bus stop where I was going to take a bus to Bagabag and then switch to a jeepney to Banaue.

There was no bus terminal and I could see that whenever a bus approached I would have about 30 seconds to try to figure things out; they don’t even come to a rolling stop and the doors are perpetually open as there isn’t a door to be found. Let’s call them a door-way. The road is clogged with traffic and there are different sizes of buses going to many destinations and I knew where this was going – nowhere I wanted to be. So, I didn’t/wouldn’t let my tricycle driver leave me and insisted in our game of charades that he stay and find me the correct bus to Bagabag. His one tooth chagrin was apparent but grumpy, tired, hungry, dirty Julie always wins. He found me my bus; I tipped him $2 even though he had robbed me and I found a seat on a very crowded bus having no idea how I would get off.  As luck would have it I was seated next to a young woman with a baby who spoke English. She told me what I needed to know, that the ride was about 3 hours and told the driver’s assistant where to let me off.

The ride was interesting. I was stared at, as usual but then I was given something to stare at when two young lady boys sat across from me. Now, I am surprised by little but yet I find them fascinating in their comfort and ease complimented by their freshly manicured nails, stylish coifs, and luscious lips highlighting their 5:00 shadow. I mean come on, they’d cross their legs and sit up straight in a bus of contrast – dirty, sweaty people who’d pick their noses and dare not flick in my direction. I think they thoroughly enjoyed the ride as they finally had something in common with their riders, someone else to stare at, me. I really wanted to take a photo of them but there is a line I won’t cross and didn’t here.

About 45 minutes in I began sharing my seat with a young man of seventeen. He was one of the most interesting characters I have met thus far. His open disdain for me was clear, he was judging me and hadn’t even spoken a word to me. Finally he did and I enjoyed watching him out of my peripheral vision as he did me from beneath his eyebrows. I could see the calculation happening before my eyes, was each answer I gave satisfactory enough to ask another? Was I of quality and honour? I finally got it, was I Christian? This boy was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be of morals and integrity and as much as he judged me I in fact felt for him. He questioned me as to my schooling, he was going to be an engineer, what was I? Was it good enough? Again, was I a Christian? Um no, but I find telling people that my father was a Jesuit seems to give me enough points to continue our encounter. I finally was tired of it so when a seat opened up I suggested he move there to get more space for his legs. He bit, I was happy. I then sat with a woman and her young daughter, we shared my sour cream and onion – first meal of the day – Pringles and I thought about how I was contributing to the rot of her already so delicate teeth but I felt it was important to forge a relationship since she was almost on my lap as well. And then the Prince of Darkness joined me. Ok, that’s a little harsh and he was meaning well, I think, but when he asked me if I was a “insert the “n” word here” I was done. I put on my iPod as he continued, I heard something about mixed breed and I actually pretended he was no longer speaking. Grumpy, tired, hungry, dirty Julie confronted with the “n” word = man meeting open doorway. But among all of this I think I took my favourite photo of the entire trip. Meet my biggest fan, a beautiful young girl who stared at me all the way to Bagabag.

Up next? Banaue and a trek no 1st world country would allow me to do…

What Was Spent In This Post: Flight from Brunei to Cauayan via Manila BND $269.37 / $212.54 CAD, SMART SIM card at manila airport PHP 500, breakfast at Manila airport PHP 100, domestic departure tax PHP 250, tricycle taxi to bus “station” PHP 100, bus from Cauayan to Bagabag PHP 100

Total: PHP 1050 / CAD $24.50 + $212.54 CAD

Total Spent: CAD $237.04

8 Responses to “Guess What?! I Got a Fever, and the Only Prescription is BACON!”

  1. Julie,
    Your bus trip reminds me of so many we have taken in the developing world, especially one in the highlands of Tanzania. The seats consisted of the outer rim only, sort of like soft toilet seats, as the inner area had worn away completely. What was fascinating was the “pecking order” – my husband and I, being the oldest, had seats. After that women, men, and finally the young boys who hung out the windows and the doorway, as you called it. Everyone knew their place. We were the only “whites” on the bus, so got the odd look, but everyone was exceedingly polite.

    Joanne November 12, 2011 at 7:53 AM Reply
    • That is so interesting and definitely an experience! Haven’t been to Tanzania yet but it’s on my list.

      juliemunsch November 12, 2011 at 10:30 AM Reply
  2. Hiya Julie,

    I just wanted to let you know how much I am enjoying reading your blog, especially this post, which is funny, honest and a little sad all at the same time. You are a very engaging and entertaining writer. (Your posts remind me a bit of the mommy blogger Dooce- have you read her?)

    Take good care of you and I look forward to reading your next post!

    xx Julie

    Julie Pedersen November 12, 2011 at 7:57 AM Reply
    • Thanks Jules, that’s quite the compliment. I haven’t read her stuff but she’s one of the best out there. Hope you and your family are well. Xoxo. Julie

      juliemunsch November 12, 2011 at 10:29 AM Reply
  3. Little J. I’m in Espana with folks. Pops sends you a big hello (mom does as well but u know pops better!). Loving spain and love this latest post except the bus ride and that uneducated POS. I guess that stuff makes you stronger. Keep it going and be safe! Rgds Juan

    juan martinez November 12, 2011 at 2:03 PM Reply
  4. lol You gott love bacon! I came across a blog recently called “Bacon In Magic”, I’M sure you would enjoy it!

    Great post, I was in the philippines back in February and loved it…and I’m pretty sure I spent nearly the same amount of money as you…not much at all! 🙂

    intrepidtraveller November 20, 2011 at 7:52 AM Reply
    • Hi Janet,

      Nice to meet you and thanks for the comment. I checked your blog out quickly and it looks fabulous. I’m on the very last day of my trip, home tomorrow and so I plan to check it out more once I get settled. Looking forward to it. Cheers!

      juliemunsch November 20, 2011 at 8:04 AM Reply

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