I have been living in Manila for 8 years now. And during the past years, I’ve traveled to Bicol and back for so many times already. Despite having discovered Cebu Pacific and other airline promos, there are still many instances when I opt to travel by bus not just because of the lower cost but because of the different kind of experience that bus travel offers.
Bus travel from Manila to Bicol can take approximately 12 hours, but the long hours can be worth it.
- It brings back warm memories.
Every time I travel by bus from Manila to Bicol, I do not only look forward to reaching home but also to passing by all the places that have become a part of my life. From the moment I see the Mayon Volcano from afar, I would be looking out the window for familiar places—the school where I first taught when I was still in the university, my uncle’s home in Camalig, the intersection leading to a friend’s house that we used to frequent back in college, and so many others.
In a way, passing through these places is like slowly immersing myself into the Bicol that I know… Until I finally drop off the bus in Cagsawa and excitedly hail a tricycle that would take me home.
- Food trip!
I love bus food, the kind sold by vendors who would get in the bus and approach each passenger to ask if they want to buy (while the bus is running), and then simply drop off somewhere once they’re done with their business.
There are different kinds of Bicol food that I miss, and I don’t always get the chance to eat them when I go home. Sinapot (banana fritters), rice cake with sweetened buko filling, hard rice puto, and fish crackers—these are some of the food that I like to buy when in a bus from Bicol.
You’ll encounter more vendors when you ride an ordinary (non-aircon) bus, although there are also a few aircon buses that allow vendors inside while the bus is running.
- It gives me some time to just be.
Bus rides are among the few instances when I can do nothing without feeling restless. Every time I ride a bus on a long trip (usually night trip), I rediscover the fun in watching people on the road and seeing places go by. I get excited when I wake up in the middle of the night in a bus and I look out of the window, up at the sky, and see millions of stars—a rarity these days. I love the feeling of peace in the darkness, of joy amid the shadow of the trees going by. I love seeing the world asleep.
The short travel time and convenience offered by plane travels have its appeal. But, once in a while, I know I’ll always look forward to traveling by bus.