About Pandemic Prowling: In this series, Pandemic Prowling, I share stories about my travels across 4 continents amidst the outbreak of Covid19.
A “Fun” Multiday Trip
(Early March 2020)
Previously, I had a little debacle getting settled on a few week tour of the Philippines. As I was planning things as I went as was how I so commonly did things, one of the places I wanted to go to was the Banaue Rice Terraces.
For those that don’t know, the Banaue Rice Terraces in the northern Phillipines is an engineering marvel built by hand or basic tools.
I was in the capital Manila at the time and getting there would involve taking an overnight bus there.
And me being the cheapo I am, was going to be in and out of the vicinity within the same day, therefore getting 2 nights of accommodation on overnight buses as well as not hiring a tour guide.
The bus ride was packed with international tourists and Filipinos alike. Every seat was taken. Jammed packed buses aren’t the most ideal but what are you going to do. We were heading north, and the further north we went the less developed the areas got. The last stretch of the way there was a narrow, winding road with no shortage of sharp turns. I started getting car sick but managed to finally get to the destination sweaty and tired but habing successfully controlled my stomach. We were carted to the nearby towns ranger station where tour guides offered their services. One mentioned how certain hiking trails were closed because of coronavirus. He languished that he didn’t understand why because he said there was noone sick here.
When I refused all services of the guides, they asked me what I was going to do all day up here in the rice terraces,
I proceeded to walking up the trail that led up to the scenic viewpoints with everything I brought with me from the US (about 20 pounds of stuff in a 26L bag).
The weather was quite warm but the scenery was beautiful. The walk itself only took a dew hours out of the entire day. With so much extra time on my hands, I walked to secondary spots that didn’t amount to much.
It was curious because I hardly bumped into any tourists here despite it being such a major attraction in the Philippines. I suppose those international tourists on the bus went to go do an off the beaten path hike.
Nonetheless I was smug about having spent so little money to see this engineering marvel. A round trip bus ticket and small money for food, that’s all it cost.
The ride back to Manila was yet another cramped overnight bus without too much rest but that was manageable.
“Just Keep Stepping”
I ended up falling asleep in a rather empty McDonald’s when I got back to Manila early in the morning. By the time I woke up, it was still morning so still to early to check into my hotel, so I did what I normally do in a foreign country when I have too much time on my hands. I went to one of the posh malls with AC, nice seating areas and maybe even Wifi.
As I walked, I began limping. My feet hurt.
“Blisters” I thought to myself.
Once at the mall, I went up to the top floor where these types of establishments keep their cinemas and along with them, comfy waiting areas outside. And after plopping down on one of those nice chairs, I kicked backed and relaxed. I then took off my boots, socks,
and the smell.
I’ll spare you the details. I then investigated the source of the “blisters.” They were not blisters, but splots of black gooe on the soles of my feet.
Did I mention I never took off my boots for 3 days during this little excursion north? Yeah that was a bad idea with all the walking in the heat and humidity of SE Asia.
Much to the disgust of onlookers, I used old receipts I always keep in my back pocket to wipe the gunk off.
A few showers, rest and vaseline solved the problem in the next few days.
You know there is a saying, that that which we hold dear is only when we lose it. And it’s also been said that our bodies are like cars. They (in this case our feet) need to be taken care of.
To keep the sweat and bacteria at bay, I’ve since used baby powder whenever I need to have my socks and shoes on for an extended period of time.