Sunday, July 27, 2008

Roaming Ilocos: Homeward Bound, Laoag to Manila

Goodbye Laoag and goodbye Ilocos! As if it’ll be long till I come back hehe. Some folks were actually against my taking the long bus trip again, this time to return home. But I needed to do this for the experience. Plus, taking an airline flight is actually more inconvenient for me – Quezon City is very far from the airport that it takes even longer than the flight itself to/from the airport to my abode. And the cheaper fare airline flies at such an unholy time. So Maria De Leon was it! Why did I have to go back to Laoag for this trip when I was already in Vigan earlier in the afternoon? Ah, I already explained that on first paragraph of the previous story! Besides, I really wanted to get more of this Maria De Leon thingy. From Vigan, it would have been Partas, which requires a separate story, therefore a separate roundtrip!

I merrily did the leisurely walk again, this time from Hotel Tiffany towards the capitol, then the city hall and behind it, which is the Maria De Leon Bus Terminus in Laoag. I liked that final glance of the capitol with those flood lights. Beautiful. Oh hey, I even got a shot of the bridge again, in its wonderful splendor with all light posts covered in Christmas lights already. Ah, the city hall, dark as it is during the day, it is mighty eerier during the night hehe. Reason why that area, together with the tobacco monument is a favorite hangout of lovers and hookers alike even during the early evenings! Of course I passed there earning the attention of just about every shadow I saw, since who goes there with a backpack anyway hehe! Note: be careful crossing from the capitol to the monument, and from the monument to either the church or the city hall. Vehicles are aplenty and all fast since it’s a wide road going up to the bridge. Anyway…

8:27PM I was already at the Maria De Leon bus station. Too early for my 10:15PM Super De Luxe schedule. Don’t blame me on this. I got too used to the ‘2 hour or more’ leeway that we always observe when going out on a flight from NAIA. The inner self just took notice that I was abut to depart. Bus or plane was not at all considered by the lowly brain. Lesson learned there, and noted hehe! Can you believe I almost got to ride the 8:45PM schedule?! Driver and conductor tried to convince me. I was hesitating, as I did not want to arrive too early in Manila. An empty metro manila street almost always becomes the home of the devil, right? So I was making sure my arrival in QC would at least already be near sunrise. Awk, the reserved couple arrived just in time to catch their schedule. Now that was a real reason for me not to take that bus – all seats taken hehe!

Oh, there was even another Super De Luxe at 9:45PM hahaha! Nah, I didn’t bother anymore. It was fully reserved too, and per my calculations, 10:15PM was the best departure as I would be in QC by about 6:15AM. How did I know? Those are just about the very same times I left Manila and arrived Laoag three evenings ago! So I knew this trip was taking me a full shift schedule hehe, eight hours! But I was not at all complaining. I instead walked over to a store named Limbona’s, watched people passing by the area, having dinner or having a nightcap, had three bottles of SanMigLight, and voila! In no time, it was time for my trip! So I walked to my bus and looked for my seat to find that I was just a row in front of last! Interesting! I mean it!

My window seat on the two-seater side (left side) was second to last, and behind that last row was the CR. Yes the toilet! I have been meaning to check this one out, just to be able to tell really if they are at par with the long-haul buses I have been riding in other countries. Ah on this one, it was better than that I took going to Laoag. The bus is probably newer. Compared to the buses of the same type in Australia, Singapore or elsewhere, I would say, comparable. I asked the conductor about the “ihi lang po” (urinate only), he said that it is actually possible to defecate but sometimes the stench would still escape towards the bus cabin. Yuck! And I was just a row in front of it! He assured me there wont be any smell, he said that sometimes, just sometimes, some people just really have very foul smelling stomachs and they have the nerve to immediately open the door before their miracles could escape thru the bus exhaust system. Haaay hehehe, that gave me a laugh. Mind you. The last seat of the right side single-seater row is right in front of that toilet’s door hehe!.

Bus departed on the dot. First observation: it was too cold I had to wear two shirts and wrapped my whole head with another, revealing only my eyes. Not only that. My seatmate walked to as far as two rows front of us flicking all those aircon vents close or turning them away from us. I learned that what is sometimes wrong with careless passengers. They’d turn those vents away from them without care as to where those would be spewing the bitter wintery air hehe. My seatmate told me that. Next observation: ironically, the wider seats of a Super De Luxe bus is not at all comfortable on a fast running bus that flies even while negotiating curves. How is that? There is too much space between you and the armrest such that, when the bus pitches and turns, you kinda roll over or shift from side to side hehehe. Solution? I reclined my seat and curled up sideways with my knees on one armrest and my back on the other. Ayun! Howsoever the bus turned, I was snug already fit on my seat and was not sliding from side to side hehe!

Nice trip. And it'd be a lie to say I slept the trip away. I couldn’t even sleep on a first class seat of a smooth direct flight from MNL to LAX, how much more on this bus. yes, even after the 3 beers. But that's probably just me, a nice trip still!

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