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Monday, March 12, 2012

Eat, Walk and Ebb Along in Dumaguete City



I've always wanted to visit Dumaguete City because my friend Dee, who I met in Bacolod, raved about it during our conversation. It stucked on my mind like a fish bone waiting to be plucked out. The charm of this University town and its laid-back environment fits my ideal city for future residency. It's also a big plus, when even before I set foot in Dumaguete, a new friend was already waiting for me at the airport - complete with a "Welcome Marky" sign written on a used COMELEC secret ballot folder.

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View of the sea from Rizal Blvd during Sunrise
Her name is Tina - she grew up in the States but is now pursuing a Master's degree in Marine Biology at Siliman University. She sent me a shout out via my blog's contact page telling me I SHOULD check out Dumaguete. It was a great thing that an airline just had their promo fare and I already booked a ticket to this laid-back city. 

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Tina and Me
We agreed to meet up and from the airport she fetched me using her motorbike, which is the transportation of choice around Dumaguete. This reminds of my trip to Saigon where people ride their motorcycles to almost everywhere. The boulevard and the rows of restaurants and hostels and hotels along further reminds me of a similar strip in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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There are more foreign tourists to be seen here than in Manila, it excites me in a way that it could be a foremost backpacking district in a few years, much like that of Khao San in Bangkok and Pham Ngu Lao in Vietnam. The location of Dumaguete City is very convenient, its an ideal gateway to the whole island of Negros Oriental and its port serves routes going to Zamboanga, Bohol, Dipolog, Siquijor and a few other locations, while RORO buses has mang trips going to the province of Cebu. From Dumaguete you can even see the tip of Santander, which is in the southern tip of Cebu and is only a few minutes away via a ferry boat.

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This city has a lot of potential if its not already living up to it right now, in terms of a tourism center. I stayed here for a night before my next day's trip to nearby Siquijor Island. But before that, Tina took me to some of the place's best food-stops. I also met her Marine Bio mates, Miles, Mark, Ting and Jean. 

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So, my first night in Dumaguete was spent satisfying my gastronomical delights and meeting new friends. I had  (trying to remember) Bacon truffle burger at KRI, a frozen ice cream from Panda Ice Cream, kikiam at the boulevard and a bottle of San Mig Light at Hayahay Tree House Bar.

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I went back to Dumaguete after my trip to the island of Siquijor and met up with another traveler who answers by the name Cindy. She's a poker junkie who also love to travel. She just came from Malapascua Island in Cebu and I waited for her at Rizal Boulevard while she completes her Cebu bus jaunt from north to south passing Carcar, Oslob, Boljoon and Santander and crossing the sea into Dumaguete. 

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I know, for the many people reading this, that might sound like a very hectic travel route, but for people like her and me, that's what makes traveling awesome. In my case, long bus rides passing through scenic towns and beach side roads are perfect moment to analyze one's life and whatever you would want to experience in your life. Cindy arrived at around 4:00 pm and we hanged out at the Boulevard, lounging around, people watching and talking briefly of places we went to.

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Just like Tina, It was my first time to meet Cindy also. I'm a very shy person, but traveling has allowed me to open up more and now, I am more comfortable as ever in meeting people for the first time and instantly developing a connection on the fly. I'm pretty sure the weariness and wonders of being on the road contribute to that fact greatly. As a traveler I am more gregarious socially to fellow wanderers. 

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And fellow travelers also understands the importance of sharing the cost, especially in accommodations. So it wasn't a big deal to Cindy when she has to share a room with me in order to save up a big percentage of our travel budget. We shared a small room at this place called "Vintage Inn" in the heart of the city, very conveniently located and has a cool view of Dumaguete Market. You could easily witness the start of the new day from its veranda and walk half-awake into the magnificent sunrise at Rizal Boulevard in the morning.

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The next day, our beautiful and smart host Tina, met us up again for breakfast and took us to her University's Marine Bio Lab which is located beside the beach and near the airport runway. We spent the whole day riding shotgun on her motorbike. We walked along the Acacia tree covered Siliman University and ate our way through the city.

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Me, Tina and Cindy
We capped our day with a massage and a sweet-fest desert at Gabby's Bistro. The next day I had to leave early back to Manila and Tina will have to sit-in for her Marine Bio mate Mark's thesis defense (which he passed easily) while Cindy had to go to her next destination which was Bohol.

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As I walk to the port, the day I was about to go to Siquijor and I saw the schedule of the ferry boats includes places such as Zamboanga and Dipolog, I immediately entertained the vast underlying freedom of what traveling brings. I know I have a job waiting back home - but I was settled with a thought that in the near future I will find myself jumping on random ships, bus and even airplanes into anywhere.  

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While I could not do that yet this time. I've to feel really lucky that I get to do so anytime I want even on long weekends, and along the way see new places, savor new foods, do awesome things and most importantly, meet new and wonderful friends. 
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