Away for Christmas and my birthday

12:00:00 AM

I turned 30 last December. I didn’t really plan anything big - I was ready to spend it in the condo, quietly sipping my wine. But my friend Daiva, whom I met in Flying Fish (best hostel ever!) in Dumaguete, wanted to come back to the Philippines mere weeks after leaving and she asked if I had any holiday plans. Since 30 is a milestone year, I figured I’d do something I’ve never done before: to go on a birthday trip!
My birthday crew! <3
We planned the whole thing over Facebook, and the next thing I know, I was on a plane to Cebu. I spent one night in Dumaguete, after which we boarded the boat to Siquijor. Christmas was spent there, and although it was a bit sad to be away from family, the owners of JJ’s Backpackers Village adopted us for the occasion. They prepared a lovely lunch feast and it was absolutely wonderful. The husband and wife team, John and Jeisa, are officially my favourite people in Siquijor.
Christmas lunch! Yum!
On Christmas Day, I hopped on a scooter and drove around the island with Chris, who was also staying at the hostel at the time. I’m used to being the passenger on a motorbike, but not being the driver; I got into a minor accident when I was 12 and I never drove one since. But Siquijor is a wonderful place to drive - the streets were not crowded at all, and everything you see is just beautiful. Chris was very nice to offer to drive around with me - knowing he’s just nearby at any given time helped ease my anxiety about driving.
Oldest in the country
Here fishy fishy fishy 
I survived it, and beautifully, too - no accidents or any untoward incidents whatsoever. Chris and I first stopped at the Balete Tree, the oldest in the Philippines, to have the dead skin on our feet eaten off by fish. HAHA! It tickled a lot so I was really just laughing most of the time, but I think Chris enjoyed the experience thoroughly. It was an instant foot spa! There’s a small pond right at the roots of the Balete, and the water streams from the tree, itself. That was my third time seeing it, and each time I do, I always remember the Tree of Life from the movie Avatar - it’s just absolutely magical.

The only thing I didn’t like about the Balete Tree spot is that they have two dogs and a monkey in a cage - the animals should be allowed to roam freely. Or at the very least, they should be on a long leash by the tree. Putting them in cages, especially the monkey, is something I can’t stand. But there’s really nothing I can do about it.
Church of Lazi
We drove to the Church of Lazi next. I absolutely love that structure - it’s made of stone, mostly. Inside, it it has a wooden floor and a high ceiling. It’s been there since the Spanish occupation, so that explains why I like it so much (I’m an old soul, you see). They were actually preparing the place for a wedding when we got there! It was Christmas day so I said my prayers of gratitude; I got candles for Chris and myself to light.
It remained as beautiful as I remembered it.
Top tier
From there, we drove to Cambugahay Falls, and although I didn’t have an extra shirt, I couldn’t resist getting in the water! It was so cool and refreshing - perfect after the hot afternoon drive that gave me a t-shirt tan line. Haha! I had the top of the three-tier waterfalls by myself - everyone else was at the lower levels. 
December 23 sunset
December 24 sunset
Christmas day sunset
We headed back to JJ’s in time to catch the sunset by the beach. Daiva and I have this thing about taking a sh*tload of sunset photos because every minute is uniquely beautiful, and we couldn’t decide which one is the best (thank God for digital photography! We wouldn’t be able to do that with film cameras, haha!). Since I got to Siquijor, I made it a point to upload one sunset photo per day so other people could see how amazing our world is.
Cozy lunch spot: Dagsa!
The following day - my birthday - I drove to the port to pick up Cousin Mathieu. We had lunch in Dagsa (YUM!), and then we headed to Kagusu-an Beach where I did the mandatory headstand! (I did it too in Paliton Beach and in the beach fronting JJ’s.) I hurt my wrist doing so because the ground wasn’t even, but Daiva took such an awesome shot that the pain was totally worth it.
Kagusu-an Beach
Since Kagusu-an Beach was all the way in Maria, Siquijor, we didn’t have time to go anywhere else before it got dark. A shame, really, because it was Cousin Mathieu’s first time in the island and it would have been nice if we got to see more places. But we did go back to the Balete Tree the following day for another foot spa, and then we went to see a healer for my arm (my elbow was bothering me). I don’t know if it’s just placebo effect, but my elbow did stop hurting! My wrist was still in pain, though - I guess he can only heal one thing at a time. :)

Other highlights were three phone calls - with my Dad, my brother, and my dear best friend, Joandrea. The first two were quick phone calls, but with Joandrea, my phone actually started to overheat! Haha! But December was a busy month for both of us so we had a lot of catching up to do.

I’m really glad I went on the trip; after all, I only turn 30 once. I love being 30 and the stability that comes with it - the stronger sense of self, the independence, the calm. I’m living my life in my terms, and I like being able to call the shots. My life has been amazing so far and I know it gets even better from here. 

Cousin Mathieu and I already have plans to go back there with Brother Glyn in May, when I move to Dumaguete. :) So excited for it! :)


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