5 Life Lessons I Learned When I Went to Albay with Zero Plans

The moment Catriona Gray was crowned Miss Universe 2018, the online community couldn’t be any prouder, especially the Bicalanos as that’s where she hails from. Her gown for the finals was even inspired by the Mayon Volcano that recently erupted. I was scrolling on my social media feed and suddenly, I had this strong urge to see Mayon. Do you get that-the sudden urge of wanting to see a place and know what’s there out of utter curiosity? And so I went to Albay, Bicol with zero plans.

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Being used to planning everything before a trip, this was something new to me, but I still made sure I’d have a comfortable one. Last year, I found a website called Biyaheroes and I swear by it!

Gone are the days when you have to go to bus stations with your bags without the certainty of getting a seat. Now, all you gotta do is visit the website, pick your destination and pick up point, select your seat and see which ones are already occupied. So convenient!

Actually, it made me wonder how much life in Metro Manila could change if a system like this would become available for urban commuters. I heard that Biyaheroes is currently exploring this. Can’t wait to see what’s next for them.

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I don’t really mind what kind of seat I get when I travel because I’m used to sitting for long hours just to see a new place (or you know, when I’m stuck in EDSA) but I gotta say the bus ride was the most comfortable bus ride I had been on so far – and this wasn’t even their best bus! Just imagine what an experience it would be if you take the Sky Bus Premiere.

The one I took was the Royal Bus from Penafrancia, which has lazy boy seats and a toilet inside – the perfect bus for someone who has to go to the toilet every hour (because you know, we gotta keep ourselves hydrated)!

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The bus took off at exactly 9PM from the Bicol Isarog Transport Terminal in Cubao and we arrived in Legazpi City Bus Terminal at around 8AM the next day. I thought it would take longer as some of my friends who have been to Bicol said that the bus ride can take more than 12 hours. I’m really glad we arrived earlier than expected.

The bus ticket from Cubao to Legazpi via Penafrancia costs Php1,250 and you can easily book your tickets online to many Philippine destinations via Biyaheroes.

My trip to Albay was a spur-of-the-moment decision and I’m glad that more than the photos I can share on social media, I learned lessons that I can share to you guys before the year ends.

5 Life Lessons I Learned When I Went to Albay with Zero Plans

5. The journey may be rough, but just enjoy the ride.

With my eyes still strained from using my phone and laptop in the darkness and just getting a few hours of sleep, I was surprised to see how beautiful Mayon is even just by looking at it from the bus window. It truly is perfect, even from afar. I wondered how it would look like when I got closer.

Of course, one’s trip to Albay wouldn’t be complete without experiencing an ATV ride to get closer to the majestic natural wonder that is the Mayon Volcano. Being a millennial (or Gen Z idk anymore tbh) without any plans, I went online and saw that this ATV company called Mayon SkyDrive ATV Adventure in Cagsawa Ruins has 4.9/5 stars, so I went to them for my first ATV ride.

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It was my first time, so I was feeling nervous yet very excited. Nervous because I got into a motorbike accident twice in two consecutive years. Excited because I had never driven an ATV before. You know what they say: “If it makes you feel nervous and excited at the same time, it should be well worth-it.” Of course, it was! The trail was rocky, but the bumps and rough roads are challenges that can improve your driving skills and prepare you for even more difficult ones. The puddles and the rain may be something that ruin it for people, but that rain is actually what makes the lush greens along the trails to Mayon Volcano so beautiful.

4. No one can take your happiness away from you.

A natural wonder where the wind blows free is tucked in a small town near the ruins of Cagsawa. The Hoyop-hoyopan Cave in the town of Camalig has been around since 3000 B.C. to 4000 B.C. according to the late Fr. Cantius Kobak, a Franciscan priest and archaeologist. Even during the Japanese occupation until the present when the town is being hit by calamities, the cave has served as refuge and shelter for the people of Camalig.

What I find very interesting is that there is an area they call the “Dance Floor” where party-goers have found a haven. Apparently, during the Martial Law era in the Philippines, a curfew was strictly imposed but it didn’t stop the people of Camalig from having fun and being happy with their friends. This just goes to show that you really are in charge of your own happiness and no one can ever take it away from you.

3. What you think about you is what matters most.

After a tiring day, what you want is a comfortable place to rest your body and your mind. Just a few minutes away from Legazpi City Bus Terminal is this eco-friendly hotel that opened in May 2018. It was only on my second night at InnBox that I was reminded of the image drive-through hotels in Manila has. Actually, I wouldn’t have associated InnBox with drive-through hotels in Manila if one of the managers hadn’t mentioned it.

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After that conversation, it made me think of the people I encountered on the way there. To be honest, no matter how hard I try to think if anyone has given malice, there really was none. This simply means that it InnBox has created its own image and even if people may have had associated it with drive-through hotels in Manila, it has its own personality. It stands out because it dares to be different. That made me realize that I shouldn’t always think of what people think of me. Instead, I should learn how to embrace who I really am and work on my own personal growth.

2. Being friends with the locals creates a more genuine travel experience.

Being a tourist is fun (that’s why a lot of people travel) because you get to do relaxing and amusing activities that make you happy; but for me, the experience is so much better when I get to travel with locals who can tell me the history of a place, as well as talk about their childhood and their hometown.

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We were lucky enough to spend a few hours with Miss Katrine Llaguno, manager of Bicol’s Best and Farm Plate, who made us feel like we had a friend representing Bicol: telling stories based on her experiences with a gleam in her eyes.

1. Beauty isn’t about being flawless.

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Almost every Filipino knows that Mayon is the most perfectly formed volcano in the world because of its symmetry. However, if you look closer, you will notice that Mayon actually has its rough parts. It has its imperfections, outbursts, and fair share of wrongdoings that leads to hurting other people; but all of those flaws are part of who we are, molding us into who we should be, so learn to look into the beauty of everything including you.

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