Honestly, it had never crossed my wildest dream to go on a trip in unfamiliar places, alone.
I heard about solo traveling from a friend and I found it weird and boring so I immediately brushed the thought away. When I had dealt with one of the toughest problems there is (yes, a heart break), I knew exactly what I needed, to pull myself together and a new breath of fresh air, thus, travel solo.
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I had no idea why I selected Legazpi City, Albay, as my first destination when I booked my airplane ticket. Legazpi City is the capital of Albay province in the Philippines.
I did my research for a couple of months, prepared my itineraries, mustered all the courage I can, and read tons of female solo traveling tips. It was not a piece of cake, I tell you. I was scared but the fear I felt rather made me feel excited.
This breathtaking view of Mount Mayon jumpstarted my first ever solo trip for the next couple of days and the excitement was really hard to contain. Words failed me, my knees gone jelly and my heart was filled with different emotions rushing in all at the same time!
Solo Backpacking in Albay, Philippines
After filling my starving stomach and unloaded some of my baggage at the hotel where I will be staying at, I headed off to the first leg of this trip – Ligñon Hill. From the hotel, I took a tricycle but opted to trek my way up to the hill to enjoy the view. 15-20 minutes later, I’ve reached the top of the hill and I was drenched in my own sweat.
Next stop was Daraga church. The tricycle driver waited for me at the foot of Ligñon hill and drove me here. It’s a Roman Catholic church in the municipality of Daraga. You’ve got to get closer to appreciate its facade which made of volcanic rocks.
Manong tricycle driver took me to my next destination – Cagsawa Church Ruins. I’ve seen a lot of pictures of this place but I never thought why it was called “Cagsawa Church Ruins”, thanks to my tour guide a.k.a manong tricycle driver who told me that the church was destroyed by the eruption of Mayon Volcano and only the church tower remained.
It was part of my itinerary to try Albay’s famous sili (chile) ice cream at 1st Colonial Grill. It was very creamy at first but the kick of the sili quickly bursted inside my mouth. It was sort of addicting, that I took one spoonful after another.
At the end of day one, I felt really proud of myself that I survived the first day of my first solo trip. But I cannot stay relax at all just yet, I have to finalize and prepare again for the next day of my trip.
I’ve met manong Noel while I was at Cagsawa Church Ruin and he offered to tour me around. I admit that I was very doubtful at first but I took a big leap of faith, trusted my instinct and took all the safety measures I had set for myself. I took a picture of his permit and training certificate and sent it all to my brother.
We roamed around using his single motorcycle and our first stop, which happened to be my favorite part of the trip – ATV around Mount Mayon! The trail was not an ordinary ATV trail, it was very bumpy and rough and I had to navigate around the sharp curves, downhill and uphill. Braving and going against the wild flow of water from the volcano, getting stuck in the middle and roughly hitting huge stones along the way which all added to the fun and adventure! Your Legazpi trip won’t be completed without experiencing this extreme adventure.
My hands were still numb when we headed to our next destination – Hoyop Hoyopan Cave. I have enjoyed the chilly and fresh air inside the cave. It is multi-level cavern of natural limestone located in Camalig, Albay and it is roughly 30 minutes away from the city.
Kawa-Kawa Hill was our next stop, situated in Ligao City. It was named Kawa-Kawa because of its shape resembling a cauldron (kawa). This hill is well known as a religious destination because of large stations of the cross, one station after another, as you ascend your way up to the hill. I did break a lot sweat here but it was all worth it because I’ve got to see 360 degree view of Ligao City and neighboring towns, as well as the greeneries surrounding Mount Mayon and Masagara.
The final stretch of our day was Busay Falls. On our way to Busay Falls, rain had poured down and I was freezing my arse off (lol), whole body went numb while I was riding the single motorcycle of kuya Noel. Busay waterfalls, also known as Seven Falls, situated at the inner most part of Brgy. Busay, Malilipot, province of Albay. Too bad I only got to see the first waterfall because it was getting dark. I felt every pores of my body screaming as I took a dip in the water but it was sooo refreshing! I’ve met here some locals who had enjoyed their selves as much as I did.
I have truly enjoyed every hour of my trip in Legazpi City. Each day that passed increased my confidence that I can complete my trip and go back home in one piece. I’ve met a lot of locals, tasted some of their best food and explored different places which made my first solo trip an experience like none other.
After the trip I realized that it was not about soul-searching. It was more than that, waaay better than I have ever imagined. Being alone on the road made me more independent, self-confident, self-reliant, and it improved my sense of direction – which I really suck at. I have gained people skills, became friendlier, and more open. I became more aware of my surroundings, better handling of documents, money, belongings and the list goes on. I have also discovered that I can go to places relying on myself alone. The best thing is, I have proved to myself that I can be my own happiness and not being defined by someone else. I cannot wait to do it again!
About the Writer:
Shay Ne is a solo female backpacker, foodie, nature lover, budget traveler, adventure seeker, and a dog lover. She works as a full time Software Quality Analyst during weekdays and on weekends, you’d most likely find her chasing Mr. Sun or staying at home cooking and baking for her loved ones.
This article is an entry for the Bali, Indonesia Writing Competition 2015!
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