Bacolod the city, as I have found, is not unlike most provincial cities. I found it strikingly similar with Puerto Princesa where city proper is mainly just the whole length of Rizal Avenue, with the exception that it has two almost parallel roads: Lacson and Hilado Streets and the city divided into Uptown and Downtown areas. To me, everything seemed very near to anywhere because all our taxi rides to any of point of interest did not cost more than P50 inclusive of the flag-down rate of P30.

We arrived from Manila very early on a Sunday morning so my first impression of the city was of any other city on an early Sunday morning, that is, few people and few vehicles on the streets.

Sunday morning

Empty streets on an early Sunday morning

I found myself quite taken a back when the next day, arriving from Punta Bulata at about four in the afternoon, we found the city teeming with people and bustling with street activity.

We booked ourselves at Pension Bacolod, listed under Lonely Planet’s Budget Sleeping options and were totally amazed when we found ourselves in a room with two beds (one was a little larger than the other) and its own bath at P270 for the night. Yes, P270. Cheaper than the cheapest motels know in Manila hehehe. Well, we did not have air conditioning and we lacked some notable amenities, but by God, two seventy! For two people! For one night! You cannot find any accommodation cheaper than that, other than the street as my husband said. We didn’t mind because we had a 6AM flight the next morning and the entire evening was spent exploring the city. We knew we wouldn’t be spending that much time inside the room any way.

Pension Bacolod, located at 11th street, right smack in the middle of Lacson and Hilado Streets, was very accessible and had a nice façade that made you think the interior was something other than it actually was. Or perhaps the more expensive rooms had better hallways, bathrooms, doors etc. etc. I did not get to find out. The only thing I found out was the hallway mirrors made anyone appear longer and thinner than in actuality and that the in-house restaurant operated on a 6AM-2PM and 6PM-10PM basis.

After taking a well-deserved and refreshing shower after a long dusty bus journey that left our bodies sticky and grimy with sweat and dirt, we embarked on this exploration tour. As on any other journey that involved venturing on unexplored terrain, our first attempts were met with frustration and subsequent bickering as to which turns to take and who made the mistakes. Rising tempers found us at Bo’s Coffee for a quick caffeine fix.

I am so into asking for directions so I asked a local shopkeeper how to get to the nearest internet shop as I needed to upload a short story for my creative writing class. That had us walking four blocks uptown and taking a pedicab to the La Salle area which we were consistently told abounded with these internet shops; thus followed our long arduous journey that took us uptown, downtown, uptown, downtown and so on and so forth until our heels ached.

In a period of four hours, we completed the upload, had dinner at Bob’s Restaurant, checked out the cakes at Calea, bought pastries (most notably oatmeal cookies which were highly recommended by my friend Marra who is from Cebu) at Bob’s Deli, which was a different branch at the corner of 21st and 22nd streets and had a few drinks at this snazzy place where Ryan’s kind of music was played and Ryan’s kind of people hung out at but that which’s name we do not know only that it had a “Henna tattoo” sign on the counter, the walls were decorated by cool stick figures and a huge, colorful sun and that the lighting was nothing less than romantic (which is another way of saying they were dreamy in the high kind of way).

At past nine, we were on our way back to Pension Bacolod. Ryan retired to his bed and I retired to my writing. My battery had a life of about 3 hours which could not be extended, as the sole fan in the room had possession of the only electric outlet. I was left to tossing and turning in bed until I got tired of pretending to be asleep.

At about four in the morning, my cell phone beeped. After two exchanges, the battery went dead. Although I had resolved the issue of a dead laptop by coming down to the desk and having them charge it for me, I opted to let the cell phone be. Before the alarm rang at five in the morning, I was doing stretches and packing in the darkness.

Having seen left and right, up and down the street empty cafes and restos the previous night; I was surprised to discover that three or more establishments operated at a 24 hour basis. I had my coffee and hunger fixes at the airport while Ryan bought his pasalubong.

As usual, the Cebu Pacific plane left on time and outdid itself by arriving 15 minutes ahead of schedule compared to the previous flight when we only arrived 5 minutes early.

Written September 25, 2007

Originally posted here.