It's 10:27am and I have ten hours to kill until I can check in for my flight out of Manila. The small waiting area in the airport was fine, but I don't think I'd be able to entertain myself for ten hours. Virginia checked in and left for the terminal about two hours ago.We said our goodbyes (no need to go into it), and I realized that I'd have to catch a taxi back into town or else wait around for the entire day eating potato chips and drinking coke. I paid entirely too much for a short taxi ride to a tiny internet cafe without any airconditioning or fans. At least all this time will give me a chance to catch up on the few posts that I've missed. Let's get started.
After Legaspi we stayed in Naga. Not much happened there, so let's just fast-forward through that. From Naga, we continued to Lucena, which is about three hours southeast of Manila. Lucena is the jumping off point for exploring Quezon National Park, which, according to the guidebooks, is full of waterfalls, caves, monkeys, lizards, streams, and mountains. It wasn't a bad park by any means, but it didn't quite live up to the literature. But we'll get to that in a minute. Lucena was probably the dirtiest, loudest town we've been through. Every motorized vehicle seemed to have it's muffler removed, and they all spit out thick gray smoke. The haze in the streets was permanent. The majority of decent hotels were out of walking distance from the city center, and those close enough to the action were a bit questionable. We found the House of Halina, which seemed to be a decent deal, and was fairly close to the market. Everything seemed fine until we returned around 8pm from dinner to find a large cockroach in the middle of the floor. I don't like cockroaches. I know they're pretty much unavoidable, and for the most part, are completely harmless, but I still don't like em. We set up the bug nets, in an attempt to keep any from crawling on us at night, and in the process, came across two more large ones that came out from under the beds. Unlike all the other beds we'd had, these ones were not raised up off the floor, which allowed any crawling things easy access to us. I figured we'd just have to deal, but Virginia and I went to the nearby 7-11 (They're everywhere here) anyway and picked up some insect spray. After thoroughly spraying the room, we sat outside and played cards for about 45 minutes to let the fumes die down. Upon our return, we crawled into our beds, and tried to get some sleep.You know when you see a creepy bug, and then you can just feel them crawling all over you? I told myself that the tingles I felt were just my imagination, but when I opened my eyes, there was a cockroach crawling across my face (thankfully on the other side of the bug net). I was actually pretty impressed with myself that I didn't scream, but "freak out" would probably be an appropriate description. Virginia wasn't happy about the situation either, and after much discussion and more spraying, we finally decided that they only way we were going to get any sleep is if we set up the hammocks outside. I'd been hoping that at some point we could set them up on some palm lined beach and spend the night that way, but I guess the cement supports from a parking garage (not sure if it was in the process of being constructed, or was falling apart) are the best I'll get for a little while. We had the hammocks set up by 1am, and fit in a few hours of sleep before we got up the next morning and checked out, trailing the scent of insecticide. We had to move to one of the out of town hotels, which turned out to be cheaper, cleaner, and much nicer (even had cable TV). This isn't really that exciting of a story, so let's just move on to Quezon National Park.
The Philippines only has around ten national parks (I made that up, but there sure aren't many). One of the few is Quezon, which is a small area of rainforest that somehow managed to escape being cut down like the rest of the Philippine forests. There was no information on how to get to the park, trails, or anything else that we could find. We caught a bus out to the "Old Zigzag Road" which is where the park starts. Every zig (or possibly zag?) of the road had a flagger to ensure that two cars didn't round the corner at the same time and run into each other. We asked the flaggers where to go, but most of them told us that there were no trails, and even that we were no longer in the park. We didn't believe them, and just kept walking without any idea of where the official entrance to the park was, or if there even was one. About 4km of confused, uphill walking later, we finally came to a cement set of stairs leading down into the jungle. The trail took us about two hours into the jungle and to the top of a mountain where we got great views of the surrounding area (see pictures). We didn't see any monkeys, but I was happy. At least we got some hiking in the jungle done before we had to leave. We emerged from the jungle dripping sweat and jumped on the first bus we saw back to Lucena. I felt bad for the guy next to me on the bus. I fell asleep almost immediately (due to the cockroach incident, we only slept for three or four hours the previous night), and I think I kept falling on him. Not only did he have to sit next to the wet, smelly kid, but he also had to support me. We showered, and our second night in Lucena was much nicer (and cockroach free!). We caught the bus to Manila the next morning, and prepared for the madness that is Manila.