After we settled in our new environment, we decided to go on a reconnaissance mission using the islands main means of transportation: the motorbike.
Typically, I shy away from driving these vehicles as I have met too many expats and tourists with scars, mutilations, brain damage and other motorbike accident related injuries (which in Thailand they call “natural tattoos”). On this island, however, traffic was sparse so I threw caution to the wind and mounted my bike.
As we drove down the sandy roads through the jungle, we were constantly greeted by little kids who would rush to the side of the street as soon as they heard our roaring motors. They shoved each other aside to get access to the road just so that they their brief "hello" and "how are you" would be audible.
A short ride from our resort was the center of our municipality: a tiny little village called General Luna. It consisted of just a few streets, a school, a church, a market, and a little boulevard overlooking the ocean. As we sat down at a barbeque stand, sipping a cold beer and chatting to some locals, we realized how enjoyable a simple life can be. What more could you ask for than beautiful weather, friendly people, simple yet delicious cuisines, and best of all, no stress.
The boulevard turned out to be the center of nightlife activities in the area. Once the sun set, a few shacks morphed into makeshift karaoke bars blasting western pop sensations such as Britney Spears and even NSYNC!
Having about as much talent for singing as the water buffalos in the rice fields, I planned to abstain from this activity. However, after much encouragement from our new islander friends—and a few glasses of the locally brewed Tanduay Rum—I succumbed to my fans.
To my pleasant surprise, my performance was applauded with exuberant hand clapping and cheering. I briefly contemplated a career in the Filipino music industry, but after my friend’s appalling performance was greeted with even more enthusiasm, I quickly came off my cloud. I guess the Olympic belief of "participating is more important than winning" is taken very seriously here!
Read what happened next in part III!