I will start my short story with a confession… I always had the wrong impression that Phillipines is a country with nothing spectacular to offer other than cheap Spa sessions. Every time when I asked someone what can be done in Philippines I got the same answer: massage… OK, maybe I am a little bit old fashioned but this is not my type of thing or at least not a priority while I am traveling in a new place.
Looking for a life time adventure
This time, disbelieving my colleagues I decided to check with the concierge as they always have some interesting offers and I was not disappointed at all. In just few minutes I had in front of me a wide variety of offers and a hard decision to make…what shall I choose? My first option was Taal volcano while my colleague, who wanted to join me, was tempted by something more adventurous, the Pagsanjan waterfall. I agreed with his choice but not before of getting the promise that we will have lot of fun during this trip.
In the end of the day I had much more than expected. But let’s start from the beggining…
I woke up very early, trying to find the right outfit and make up for what was about to start as a fun day. Going down in the lobby, I am meeting my colleague and decide to have a very quick breakfast before our driver’s arrival. We introduce ourselves again and start making plans for the day ahead. He seems to be a funny person, a little bit obssesed with selfies though. Myself, I have 3 different cameras in my purse and I wonder if all this situation is going to have a good outcome.
First thing that I notice since we are on the way is the cleanliness of the streets. Surprisingly, each and everyone is keeping the area in front of the house neat and tidy, sweeping all day long the dust left behind by the passing cars. And then…the people. Regardless of the limited financial resources that are facing, they all are having a clean look and a polite attitude.
I think I found the heaven
Going back to the waterfall…whatever happens from now on it is a surprise for both of us. The hotel didn’t provide with too many information and the poor English skills of the driver doesnt help us either. My colleague is very enthusiastic and I am freaked out, as usually when I feel that I am not in control of the situation. I am trying to relax, decided to enjoy the unpredictable events of the day.
After 3 hours drive from Manila, we finally reach a small and not so fancy “resort”, being warm greeted by a filipino lady, who invites us down to the river but not before of making sure that we are properly equipped with helmets and life jackets.
The lady helps me to reach the weird floating device (similar with a gondola but green in color) and I am stepping carefully inside scared that I might flip in the muddy waters. My colleague is following me excited, unbalancing the boat with his rapid movements.
After several minutes of panic, I realize that the river is not deep at all and I start breathing relaxed in the rhythm dictated by the nature, amused by my silly behavior.
Everything around me is marvelous, full of splendor, the reflection of the heaven on earth. The sky is in a perfect harmony with the earth, the birds are dancing above us, the cows are eating their fresh meal with gratitude, the river is following its path and a small black butterfly is stretching his tired wings, fearless, close to us.
A short piece of heaven runs under my eyes and I am so greatfull for the choice I have made in coming here.
Few beautiful souls are playing happily in the river, waving their hands whenever a tourist boat is passing next by. The small ones are floating hanged by tiny life jackets while the older ones are diving from the high rocks directly in the sallow waters. I am watching their performance with some kind of sweet “envy”… how brave they are!
The happiness is contagious and spread all around: in their innocent eyes, on their honest smile, in their childish laugh.
Meanwhile their parents are giving them a careful look from the shore without interfering in their childish games.
Hardly “escaping” from their hugs and kisses we continue our beautiful journey to the waterfall, contaminated with good mood and positive attitude.
While, on board…
Sailing trough a narrow tunnel, the boat driver alerts me to keep my arms inside, to avoid any injuries caused by the sharp rocks. Another young man is joining the team, and I notice they are all wearing orange jackets imprinted with a staff number. I feel a little bit sorry for them, empathizing with their hard work.
Other tourists are coming from the opposite direction, excited of their own experience in Philippines, sharing some tips with us.
The “river” vendors approach us with soft drinks and water, trying to make some money on a torid afternoon.
Just as I expected, my colleague is smilling non stop to the camera, while me, embarrassed of the whole situation, I pretend not to notice or not to care.
Board the raft, hold your breath
Reaching our destination, we are invited to board a new weird device, a bamboo raft which suppose to take us straight into the waterfall.
Sceptic as always, I refuse the new challenge, preferring to watch the whole fun from the safe side of the border. My colleague though doesn’t take a “No” for an answer and almost forced I am boarding the raft together with him and few others adventurers.
Approaching the waterfall with speed, I can feel the cold water drops touching my skin while the raft driver is shouting something incomprehensible (probably to hold ourselves tight). In this moment I cant hear or see anything, holding my breath instinctively while the water is falling heavily against my body. Some people are falling in the river, underestimating the force of the water while others more lucky manage to keep their balance on the bamboo raft.
To increase its beauty, the nature carved with patience a small cavity just above the waterfall. We stop here for a moment, swimming in the agitated laguna, preparing to enjoy once again the inedited experience under the falling waters.
A story to be told
We are leaving the heaven behind with sadness but tired and hungry in the same time, making our way back to the resort where the filipino lady is waiting for our arrival with warm, good smelling Asian food. Eating with an increase appetite the whole variety of dishes prepared for us, some traditional and others new for me (mussels soup), we are ending this funny day in a perfect chilling environment, greatful for the experience and with a new lesson learned.
The filipino lady printed some pictures taken by the river and now she is trying to sell it to us. Unfortunately I dont have any pesos with me but impressed with her begs I ask my colleague to purchase it, as a souvenir. She is almost crying, sharing with us the hard life that is hidden behind this paradisiac place and I feel regretful that I cant help much more.
She is hugging me warm before I get in the car and I promiss her to come back…one day.