I was in the middle of an election-related event when I received a message from a friend asking for a favor. It was not an easy one but very tempting, indeed. And so, midway through the afternoon I found myself packing some stuffs and hopping on the first bus I saw on the terminal to go South, specifically to San Juan, Batangas.
I arrived at a few minutes past five in the afternoon in Lipa to meet my friend, who, just like me, is very much excited on our first trip to Laiya. Both of us are first timers and have no clear idea about going there. Relying only on bloggers’ experiences we have read from the internet, we embarked on our adventure to see that far and very famous getaway at the edge of Batangas province. We rode for more than an hour’s jeepney ride from Lipa to San Juan town proper with the mood between excitement and anticipation, and as the yellow sky turns to dark, our eagerness turned into slight fear since we’ll be entering into an unexplored territory - in personal terms. It was a good thing that the jeepney driver was gracious enough to help ease our anxiety, assuring us that we won’t get lost since San Juan is also the end of the route for him.
We reached San Juan town proper at around seven in the evening and we were almost dispirited that there was no more jeepney bound for Laiya at that time of the night. After waiting for almost an eternity, we decided to haggle for a reasonable tricycle fare and we cruised on that long stretch of mostly empty highway. After about an hour, we reached our initial and preferred destination, which was Aquatico Resort. I said ‘WAS’ since we didn’t get what we wanted. The resort was fully booked even on a weekday, including the other nearby resorts. We also tried Virgin Islands but I think they were skeptical about our ability to pay for their luxurious accommodations when they saw us alight from our country’s distinctive three-wheeled transport.
We settled for the cozy Kabayan Resort in Aplaya, and after settling in our room, we had a quick, late dinner and immediately went to what we were really after, the beach. We immersed ourselves under the clear night sky with the moon and some stars to gaze while floating from the waters at the beach, staying comfortably for more than an hour.We slept well and woke up at dawn, ate breakfast and exploited the beach early. We rented a kayak and planned to try rowing up to Aquatico Resort. A big task indeed, since we weren’t able to reach our destination. The searing heat, adding the limitless muscle power needed to row - which I do not really have (both muscle and power) - contributed to our failure in reaching our target destination. We consoled ourselves midway through the wide bay by meeting local fishermen diving for their daily food supply although we weren’t able to determine whether it is intended for lunch or for dinner. They were very good divers and very friendly that we were engaged in conversation with them while they were staying afloat and resting in between dives. We sunbathed and rested on the kayak for a short while and went back at the beach.
We went out of the vicinity of the resort to look for food and we found a nice little native eatery. The food at Kabayan was satisfactory but we were looking for something local, and cheap. The eatery near Laiya main road served the purpose. We wandered around the neighborhood and even played billiards at the adjacent resort while munching on buko salad packed on ice candy plastic bags sold by locals. We were planning to go island hopping and snorkeling, we were able to convince two sexy strangers to share the expenses but they were discouraged by their other companions, so we decided to forego at the last minute since the fee was expensive for two persons. We went back to dip in the shallow waters of the beach front of Kabayan Resort that we were enjoying every moment of our wet, unplanned adventure. We rested at high noon by tasting their Halo Halo specialty. Then after an hour, we went back to our room and start preparing to leave Laiya.
We waited at the roadside since we were assured that there are jeepneys going to town. We were accompanied by two taho vendors and another lady stranger who was also waiting for the ride to San Juan. It was still two hours past noon so it is still too early to panic about being stranded. A few minutes and the jeepney arrived with only a passenger inside so we felt all right although a little uncomfortable, since one of the taho vendor was probably too tired from his daily job that he fell asleep and was not aware of his head hitting my shoulders on occasions during the ride. We reached the town proper and rode a public van up to Lipa terminal were me and my friend separated ways and I, once again, got on the bus going to Manila still daydreaming about our unplanned, unforgettable, and exciting Laiya getaway.