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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Traffic & the Steel Stallion

I was feeling kinda brave... so I rented a moped.


That's a lie actually. I'm never usually feeling too brave. The truth? I needed to get from Cebu City down to Oslob, an area on the eastern coast of the island. It was about a 3-hour journey and I wasn't having much luck finding public buses. I had made a 3-day, non-refundable reservation at a place down there... so...


What does one do in this type of predicament?

Rent a moped.


I know that I am very quick to judge these hazardous little contraptions, but I guess one must succumb to their convenience every now and then.


They are fun. Yes. I will admit that. But fun doesn't really deter from the fact that I'm still quite terrified of them. From the fragile stability to the appalling road conditions to the millions of dangerous drivers coming at you from every angle... I think I would rather walk.


Sometimes.


Alas, walking was not an option... so I threw caution to the wind, handed over all my identification and signed my name on the dotted line.


Renting a moped in the Philippines is a pretty uncomplicated business deal. Mine was, anyway.

The company wasn't in possession of a credit card machine, which struck me as odd, considering I was being trusted to zoom off on quite a valuable piece of machinery.

They insisted on holding onto a piece of my ID and it was my choice as to what I gave them. They didn't care. I chose my Canadian Citizenship Card, but I could easily have fabricated some kind of important looking card, had it printed and laminated... and they would've been none the wiser.


As opposed to a pre-authorization for potential damages, I was required to put down a 1000 deposit. That is the equivalent of about $25.


Hopefully I don't crash the vehicle, so I can get THAT back.


I rented a Toyota. Maybe. I think it was a Toyota. Maybe it was a Yamaha. I don't know.

Maybe it's something else that starts with a Y. It was black and the first thing I noticed was there was no cup holder. Dammit. Oh well...


The guy at the desk kept asking me if I was ok with the power.


What kind of a question is that?

Ya. I guess so.

I'm a speed freak.

A real turbo boost.


Turns out this was their last bike. Or at least that's what they told me. Saying that was probably a ploy to drudge more money out of me. It worked... I was easy prey. I had no idea what I was actually doing and I didn't pretend like I did.


It worked out to about $20 Canadian per day... and although that is a bit steep, I really had no other choice. My knee was acting up and I wasn't in any position to be galavanting all over Cebu City, seeking out a cheaper ride. I had to get outta Dodge.


I insisted on having a helmet... which I didn't think was an unreasonable request... and when they discovered they were out, one of the men ran off to buy me a new one. I was ready to go.


It took me a bit to get my groove.

There was some gettin' used to to get used to...


Like what?

Finding my balance.

Turning on my blinker... and more importantly, turning my blinker OFF.

Opening the gas cap. Harder than one can possibly imagine.

Dismounting without smashing my knee into the phone holder.

Honking at everything and everybody. Honking is a thing.

Leaning into the curves. Not my thing.


I felt like the Fonz. Perhaps not as cool though. Fonzie could probably turn on a dime... and I was more like a clown on wheels. Corners are not my forte.

The seat opened up and at first, I figured I would be big enough to hold all my belongings, but when it actually came time to stuff all my crap in there, I was sadly mistaken. The people that rented me the bike were kind enough to allow me to leave a bag there, so hopefully they won't steal all my dirty laundry.. as obviously I took all valuables with me.


If I'd been thinking, I would have just dropped the whole lot off at the local laundromat and told them I'd be back in 4 days. Stupid.


I'm not really known for doing smart things.

My first 10 minutes were freeing. I think that's the best way I can describe it. Fun. I was rolling down the highway on my black steel stallion, on my way OUT of Cebu.


I kept going... longing to be out of the city's traffic and cruising the endless stretch of coastal road. I wanted the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.


That's not exactly what I got...


Trouble was... there was no glorious route ahead of me. Not soon, anyway. It was city after city after city. It was traffic at the max. When I say traffic, I mean aggravating congestion. It was beyond frustrating.


Instead of the sun and the ocean breeze, I got exhaust fumes and excessive honking.


I don't know if anyone has ever dealt with me when I'm cranky... but man, those few hours took it to a whole new level. My hands were aching, my knees were seizing, my ass was throbbing and I was miserable. I tried numerous times to reroute my destination, but any road I ventured down eventually ended in a standstill.


Tiny, winding roads gridlocked with enormous trucks, livestock transport, buses, taxis, cars, tuk tuks, motorbikes, scooters, peddle bikes, children, stray dogs, chickens, vendors... you name it. It was there. To make matters worse, add in the occasional rain shower, some dangerous curves, narrow roads, potholes, blistering heat, exhaust fumes, ceaseless honking and road rage...


Fun?

Enchanting.


For shits & giggles, why not add a few ambulances... AND a never-ending community parade that closed down every road I needed. The entire day was pure magic. You know... I'm all for community events, but I didn't actually see one single person actually enjoying the parade. There were 17 million vehicles inconvenienced... but not one onlooker.


Cebu has officially declared a traffic crisis.

Put the blame on inefficient road design, reckless driving, overpopulation and economic growth. All of the above, if you ask me.

Who knows?


If you don't believe me... I made a video.

⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️

Yes... I love my videos.

I pulled over at one point to stretch and give my bum a break. I just wanted water and an orange fizzy soda. Royal... my new favourite. All they had was an energy drink. I haven't drank an energy drink since January 2020, but man, I chugged that back.


My 3 hour trip turned into EIGHT HOURS. It wasn't until I was well past Carcar City that things began to mellow out and I could enjoy the ride. When I finally arrived at my hostel/hotel... the power was out.

Of course it was...


I was staying at Sascha's Resort Oslob.

Had I been on the naming committee, I don't think I would have voted on the word "resort' but to each their own. It's definitely got a very unique style to it.


I believe that I overheard or read somewhere the owner is an artist, and there is art everywhere... and it's for sale. The art goes a little overboard, but it definitely adds to the charm and individualism of the place.

There was no food.


NOTHING.

I was famished.


I hadn't eaten all day, I was wired on an energy drink and absolutely no part of my body was working properly. I needed nourishment. They eventually agreed to make me a bowl of spaghetti with red sauce.


Ok. I'll take it.


I naturally assumed red sauce meant marinara. That's what I figured, anyway. But I've been wrong before and I'm certain that I will be wrong again.


It was red. Literally RED. I couldn't really fix on the taste, but if I were a betting gal, I would say it was cheap ketchup. I took two bites and I wasn't really very hungry anymore, at all.

What a day...


***Please note that some of the photos I have shared above are NOT valid representations of that first day. For a better idea, you have to watch the video.

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