Travels of a Kinnie travel blog

The pier for the boats to Negros

A sail boat goes by the ferry

Up the estuary to Cadiz in Negros

Church tower in Silay

Street sign, Silay

The night before, ended up drinking a fair bit of local jungle juice (called tubo) with the German guy in the cottage next to mine, which despite earnest reassurances that it would taste better with every glass, actually tasted more and more like rotten mangoes to the point that I nearly had to hold my nose to finish the last glass. So I'm a little hungover as I wait for the motorcycle ride promised me last night, but it never materializes as the bike is being repaired, so I hop on the back of a jeepney bound for Bantayan Town wharf where the ferries to Negros go instead. I sit in the main cabin of the ferry, eating some BBQ chicken and rice bought from one of the vendors on the boat, and look around a bay dotted with islands, some with fisherman's shacks on them. Sailboats go by, loaded with clay dredged from further out to sea, the water lapping almost to over the sides. The ferry (run by Island Shipping Corp. motto 'We sail for the glory of God and country') is slowly loaded up with boxes, thousands of trays of eggs and two goats, with men boarding holding braces of dead feathered chickens by their cold legs. We slip anchor, the ferry carefully picking it's way between the sandbanks before hitting the open sea. Tearing myself away from a programme on non-surgical breast implants, I sit on one of the white plastic benches on the aft deck, sailing past islands of thin dark green strips, with vague grey blue shadowy forms lining the horizon further back, coming slowly into and out of view as the imposing volcanic form of Mt Kanlaon on Negros looms ever larger. After following the coast of Negros for an hour or so, the ferry slowly chugs it's way up a winding estuary to the port of Cadiz, past houses on stilts, past rusted boats lying beached next to the metal skeletons of new ones being built, showers of sparks flowing down from the welders. On the bus to Silay, towns aside, the scenery is one of churches and sugar cane. Negros is an island dedicated to the production of sugar cane and at it's height one hundred years ago, Silay was the epicentre of it, a cultural and later a revolutionary centre too as the wealthy sent their sons abroad for education and they returned with fervently held dreams of independence, briefly realized in 1898 with a Negros Republic before the Americans replaced the Spanish. The continuing sugar boom led to the building of beautiful houses (called ancestral homes here), some of which still survive; it's like a tornado has gone through a small section of antebellum America and scattered what it's picked up here in Silay.

After getting some food and my internet fix, chill out in the central plaza, watching a fiercely contested game of basketball, passed by small groups of young Filipinos. Aside from some very interesting architecture, Silay has no obvious tourist attractions; no beach, no girlie bars, no scuba diving. It's just a typical Filipino small town, and that in itself is a major attraction. Being off the tourist trail like this means no hassles from tricycle drivers, it's cheap, the looks I get are of natural curiosity mixed with a little bemusement and astonishment, and you get to see a little bit of how people live here, removed from the distorting prism that tourism places elsewhere.

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