A lot of people don’t have the best impression of backpacking, but there are a lot of things worth seeing. Once you get off the regular roads, away from all the tourists and really settle down in the rhythm of the local life you’ll discover just how much it has to offer.

I went to a small town not far from Manila to start my journey in the Philippines. After a few misadventures with some buses and some jeepneys, I stopped by this tiny community on the edge of a mountainside called Sta. Montinola. I was hungry so the moment I saw a Bulalo shop, I dropped my bags and did my best to interact with the locals.

They were very kind people, they told me all about the places I should visit around their town. The hot spring, the mountainside and the beautiful river were all wonderful surprises. This is why I enjoy backpacking. You get to see sights that aren’t on any tour map or travel blog. You get to see the beauty of the area on your own.

The town itself had very interesting architecture. I was about to knock on a door when a local grabbed my hand and stopped me. He explained that the door was covered in bubog (broken glass) and that I should use the doorbell instead. I asked why they would put something so dangerous on a door and if it causes accidents but the local just said that that’s the way they do things in this town, it helps people live longer.

The doors seem to be covered with dangerous things. In my hotel there are some nails attached to the front of all the doors in the hallways. I asked the manager about this strange tradition and she said it was to ward off evil spirits. She told me that they would never open a door to anyone that doesn’t use the doorbell.

It seems like an odd thing to do in a town and very dangerous. I don’t want to think about all the accidents that might happen with those sharp things on the doors. It just seems overkill.

But I don’t want to judge the locals. They’re very friendly people and it seems to be working out for them. They even gave me a schedule of when I should go up the river so I can see the sunset.

I should sleep early tonight so I can get a head start, but someone keeps knocking on my door. I think it’s a prank by one of the local kids because every time I open the door no one’s there.

I’ll talk to the manager about it in the morning.

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