Donsol, PH: The No Plan Approach

Donsol Whale Shark

Sometimes the best way to experience a location is to simply just leave everything unplanned. This leaves room for a traveller to explore all possibilities rather than limiting and entrusting one’s experience to a carefully written plan.

Always remember that the reason why we travel is to experience something different from what we ordinarily experience in our daily life. We must therefore travel to leave our habits behind, in the hope of experiencing the unknown.

Writing an itinerary and systematically laying out a plan of what to do and where to go is  one way we hold on to our comfort zone; bringing with us along with our backpack our  routinary  life. We “normalize” what could have been an extraordinary travel experience because a plan removes the uncertainty which provides the majority of excitement when travelling.  Therefore it is advised that every traveller should attempt to lose themselves.

Not having one results to being able to interact more with the places you are visiting. It is likely that you would not leave any stone unturned.

You would meet some nice town folks, willing to share the “local secrets” on how to explore the whole place the cheapest possible way and hear a local resident, after thanking him for his advice, say:

 “Of course. Most of us like to get the most out of our money! Am I not correct?”

An advice from one of local residents could lead you to a dark neighborhood by the riverside where secretly you can commission a  boat to engage in firefly watching. Cheap and without you paying the unnecessary fees for the tour. The proceeds of the tour directly going to those who need it the most.  [not always the case]

Donsol River Firefly Watching Tour

(Tried my best to capture the fireflies)

Sooner than later you would feel that you know the place like your own neighborhood  after making so many friends along the way,

In an effort to save on cost you might find yourself sharing a boat with two foreigners both travelling the world solo. A free-spirited German and a very wacky former Israeli commando officer wearing whale shark stuff toy which earlier in the morning you saw him personally sewing on into his cap in an effort to make people smile.
Donsol Whale Shark Watching Tour Philippines

(Meeting an Israeli Commando with a hand sewn whaleshark (butanding) cap. What a character)

Donsol Whale Shark Watching Tour Philippines

(Free spirited German Ferdi)

Be overwhelmed by the world’s largest fish approaching you head on, looking like it has all the intention to swallow you whole  while at the same time realizing that you are not as good a swimmer you think you are, and you should have brought a life vest with you.

While in the rat race of locating a whale shark, you’ll get dangerously close to being sucked by a boat’s propeller, and find yourself hanging on the boat’s outrigger in an effort to preserve your life.

Donsol Whale Shark Philippines (Whale shark approaching head on. Photo Credit: Corey DeCaire)

Donsol Whale Shark Phlippines (Seeing a whale will leave anyone speechless. Photo Credit: Corey DeCaire)

Donsol Whale Shark Philippines (Whale Shark Eyes. Photo Credit: Corey DeCaire)

You may the find out that you don’t have enough cash in hand left to last through the following days , even with all your efforts to save on cost.  Such an unexpected event would cause you to resort to hitchhiking for the first time behind a pickup truck and spending half of the day going to the next barrio while being able to view the great scenery in an expedition in search of the “very rare” ATM machine.

Donsol Whale Shark Watching Hitchhiking Philippines

 (Out of funds. Hitchhiking in Donsol)

Meet the real life nice and friendly Canadian stereotype, Corey, and enjoy a drinking session with the foreigners you met earlier.  Listen to music and stories about their countries and all the foreign places they have visited.

Donsol Philippines Villa Jolee Corey

 (Corey strumming the guitar)

See for yourself that Germans are indeed in contention for the pound for pound best drinkers in the world and Red Horse is a light beer to their standards.

Donsol Philippines Villa Jolee Drinking Session

 (Poof! There goes our national pride)

.Be lucky to be the audience of an Israeli war veteran telling his personal reason why he acts goofy and funny.

Israeli: “I have been in war for so long to realize that war is non-sense. All the hate is non-sense. I grew tired of the war; I rather make people smile now.”

Donsol Philippines Villa Jolee Drinking Session

 (Sharing his serious story with a butanding in his head)

And to cap it all be dead drunk while walking in complete rural darkness trying to find a place to eat, only to be disappointed once you realize that everything closes by 8pm. Not able to do anything about your dire situation, you have no choice but to consider the biscuit in your pocket as a sumptuous dinner.

Collectively a long lasting memory by anyone’s standards and certainly impossible if you stuck with a carefully written plan.
Donsol Philippines Locals

 (Asking Donsol locals if there are any restaurant still open)

Reminder: A “no plan approach” is only applicable when a trip does not include major risk factors. This is not applicable for trips like mountain climbing, diving, surfing etc.

(Nicco Lampa visited Donsol, Philippines on May 21,2011 until May 22, 2011)


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