I didn’t have a choice when it came to motorbike in Philippines. When you agree to go to Philippines with three guys your motorbiking choices are down to “go” or “go faster”. Today was the first time I spent more than 5 minutes riding a motorbike. Jonathan has been trying to make me ride his “boat” in Korea but I only took it around the block twice. I stopped after I almost wiped out a delivery guy by pressing down on the gas and the brake at the same. I’ve never been so furious at Jonathan’s amusement in my life.
I had no preparation for this day, except for Jonathan’s nagging and him telling me that I will not be sitting on the back of his while we travel in the Philippines. So here we go. What happens in Moalboal when you got four friends, $6 motorbike rentals and a mountain with a dirt path that you can see from your hotel room?
Absolute carnage and a damn good time.
In the morning our friend Kris, Jonathan and I went to snorkel with whale sharks (not a bad start to the day) and on the way back we knew that our friend was waiting. We met our friend Colin in the restaurant of the hotel, he just arrived from Canada to spend a week with us in the Philippines. Even though I was tremendously happy to see him I knew that the moment has come to face my demons. I was so nervous, we all were about to rent motorbikes and go off somewhere. We negotiated a good price of 6 dollars for the afternoon from some shirtless man near the resort. We actually could have gotten $4 rentals from a tricycle driver’s friend but what can you do?
I started the motorbike and almost rammed right through the owner of the “shop” and then through the support pole of his hut. He scratched his head and probably decided that I wouldn’t do too much damage to his bike and let me drive off. Thankfully, I didn’t stay in 1st gear for too long and we hit the smooth paved road to get some ice cream in town. It was an exhilarating 5 minutes on the bike and at that moment I realized that motorbikes are the right way to see southeast Asia.
The plan was to go up the mountain and we turned on the first road to the mountain that we encountered. At first the road was wide and paved. It did start to get quite patchy and then somehow turned into a single track. It became what I normally mountain bike through back home. We passed through someone’s backyard, I almost killed a rooster and then got to the road “up”. What was up there? Nobody knew, we were there to have an adventure.
The path got steeper and filled with gravel and rocks. This was not exactly what I was expecting on my first day motorbiking. On a way up a steep hill I couldn’t keep my balance, the bike went on its side and I smashed a mirror. What more did you expect? On the way “up” we all amused ourselves with glamour shots on the bikes and Colin showed his weird suicidal tendencies. He laid down to take a picture of Kris as he approached him on the bike. In the last second when Kris was 3 meters in front of him (fast approaching), Colin sprung up and ran into Kris’s way. No harm was done, everyone was just too bewildered by what happened and Kris simply blurted out “What the fuck was that?”. I guess Colin wanted to experience true rally audience adrenaline.
As we went higher the road became steeper, narrower and rockier. I began to lose control more often. The sun started to go down and even the guys decided that it was time to abandon the mission to go “up” and head down. On the way back we went through a couple of scenic villages with screaming kids giving us high fives, cow and goat stares, suicidal chickens and rustling palm trees.
On the way back, Jonathan stuck back to ride with me while Kris and Colin rode ahead. For some reason, Jonathan got tired of being stuck in the back and believed that he could ride “better” than the rest of us. He sped past me me with words “Let me show them how it’s done!” and before I had a chance to process what he said he whizzed ahead of Kris and Colin. All seemed good in the 5 seconds after those fighting words were uttered until I saw a giant explosion of puddle water and limbs. He went down into a puddle and bent his kickstand. You definitely showed us that time, Jonathan.
On the paved road we got gas and coke from the same bottles and heard a sick dance mix on the guy’s stereo. Colin asked if he could buy his CD and the dude told us to go to some town market and buy “Cebu Dance Mix”. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a market and after being dragged down sketchy alleyways Colin bought the CD. We returned the motorbikes, paid for the damage I caused to mine and spent the day reminiscing what the hell had just happened. Even though it wasn’t vocally addressed but it was mutually decided that we would rent motorbikes every chance that we get for the remainder of the trip. I agreed too.