22 Jul Filipino finger food and tricycles
Ok, in Philippines now for two and a half weeks; another few weeks to go. Coming from Java Indonesia, where everyone is trying to sell you something, that is not the case here; however, walking through San Juan, my little town in the north, I feel like a celebrity. All eyes watch me because I’m the only white person. But, people smile, and wave. Some even blurt out a big ‘hello ma’am!‘ Everyone calls me ma’am.
I flew into Manila and then gum booted it out of there (chaos and unsafe) on an eight hour bus ride north to San Juan City to find my cabin on the beach. Arriving around 2am, I could only hear the waves crashing on the beach. Beautiful.
Fishing boats outside my cabin.
If I thought Indonesia was humid, this is an entirely new level of stickiness!
Monday and Friday is market day in San Juan, but it’s bigger in nearby (10 kms) San Fernando so I took a tricycle (motorbike taxis with sidecars) to hang out for the day. It cost me $100 pesos (about $2 Canadian); but locals get it cheaper. “When they see foreigners they assume you are rich,” says my friend. By comparison, it only costs $120 pesos to go on an air conditioned bus to Baguio (two hours).
The last mode of transport is Jeepneys– everyone just piles in the back and passes the fare up to the front from passenger to passenger. Originally US military jeeps left over from WWII, they are synonymous with The Philippines. Locals hang out the back and pile on top at times! Wild. And they are so kitchy: drivers deck them out with religious slogans, ‘God is the best weapon.’ Inside: knit covers, or pom poms with more God slogans. Grandma went wild with the knitting!
So, squatting into the side car, I held on! With the wind flying in my face, zooming past rice fields, dogs and roosters, I was quickly in San Fernando to check out the market. Chicken feet, heads, frogs–you name it, it was there.
They don’t waste a single part of the animal here! I also love the street food. Pulutan is the name for finger food — shockingly, my favourite is isew, deep fried chicken or pig intestines served on a skewer. Fatty and tasty. Pork rinds double fried are also good.
Rice is served morning, noon and night, and bread is scarce– the North American kind. But, pastries are common for breakfast. Hopia is a tasty airy bread with mung bean paste. Mmmm. I can’t get enough. And the oddest dessert is puto. Vendors come onto the bus during stops and sell it. Wrapped in plastic, it’s mashed coconut and jelly–like a fruit roll up, you peel it off the plastic. Gooey and sweet.
This is fish pot pulutan–a mixture of deep fried fishy dumplings.
Next post: getting adopted by a Filipino family, hiking and biking and karaoke!