As i wonder about the tropics i find i seek the familiar and love going back to place where i feel at home. This area has several places that have found a place in my hears, they are home. Coron and more specifically Puerto Del Sol in Pearl Bay rises to the top of that list. Each time i enter that bay i have an over whelming sense of belonging. Why not? the place has all the ingredients; world class diving, a place to play my music, stunning views and fairy tale like small resorts. But it is the friends there that make the place home.
Now, as we leave Puerto Galera, i have the same sense of leaving a place i belong. We have visited this picturesque place twice now and again have many good friends. “PG” as it is called has a diverse and odd combination of attractions. Muelle Bay and the Puerto Galera Yacht Club moorings is always our home. The moorings are a blessing as they come with the service of the “service boat” , just call on the VHF and a shore boat arrives, picks up rubbish and will even deliver laundry. We have befriended the two drivers and they take excellent care of us. We often have one of them drive our dinghy for our dive expeditions.
Near Muelle Bay are two distinctly different tourist attractions, both abuzz with activity not found in the average place, to say the least. Sabang is the dive center, restaurant and girly bar scene, an odd combination that is fun to encounter. There you will find top end dive resorts, eloquent restaurants and large, girly bars with techno music pumping, flashing lights and red satin seats. Hundreds of girls come from around the country, don short shorts and prospect for thier fortunes. Judgments aside this is an extremely safe, regulated and health inspected environment, with great care given to the girls by dutiful mamasans.
White Beach is equal distance from our mooring in the other direction. By day, beach volleyball, sunbathing and shops. It is after the sunsets that bizarre things transpire. this is the ladyboy area, most waitresses are transsexuals. The prance and flirt about with no encumbrance. i find their absolute confidence and sexual prowess to be enchanting, so free. As i read the endless conflicts in the US around gay rights, wedding cakes, and so called religious rights and all the ensuing hatred, i think all would benefit from one good ladyboy friend , haha.
i have befriended (in person and on facebook) my favorite White Beach ladyboy waitress, Barbie. When i last visited her restaurant, as i approached, i heard a squeal from the kitchen and she bounded out to great me. I introduced her to my date and they instantly bonded and had a great time talking girl talk in Tagala, knowing i did not understand a word. Or so they thought, certain concepts cross the language barrier hahaha. We had a great meal and caught up on Barbie’s eternal quest for a boy friend, and her displeasure with the customers in the next table nothing unique here. i always enjoy my time with Barbie, she is full of life and smiles, just another of the little things that make life whimsical.
The service boat ends at ten o’clock, or as we say, we turn into pumpkins at ten so back we walked talking in a samples of a few more shows. Like the drag queens or not one has to admire their guts and the excruciating amount of effort put into each act.
I was never really homophobic, living in a place with a large gay population but i rarely encountered or connected on a personal level with a transsexual. In my years in SE Asia i have become very close with several ladyboys and consider them good friends. i may even be a bit paternal in my affection as i have genuine concern for their welfare. i continually marvel at their complete lack of conflict, a conflict i see in western women. they seek the attention, the sexual glares, the pat on the butt with complete abandon. It is often said the best way to tell if they are a “real girl” or not is watch. If every move is sexual, if they flirt openly, if they are solidly without conflict of their sexuality, if they are simply too good to be true, they are probably a ladyboy.
So one has to ponder, is this the case of Pinocchio wanting to be a real boy so dearly that he actually acts more real than most? What is real and what is not? to me, these glorious creatures flitting about are as real a girl as i know. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck sort of thing. Here, in SE Asia the culture allows, even encourages them to be what they want to be. They are real and themselves full time, not hidden in gay bars, gay neighborhoods and not only in private homes but full time all the time. It is a freedom western cultures do not provide, yet we boast of being the land of the free.
This personal metamorphosis did not come without personal conflict. If you go back to a blog i did about my first ladyboy encounter (Oct, 2010) i did the usual western man” yikes” on my first encounter. Fortunately the freedom of age, distance and a long engrained, ” i will be friends with anyone i damn well want ” ethic helped me quickly overcome the normal angst.
I measure the value of my cruising life in many ways. The amount and quality of the diving, the food, the anchorages, the sunsets and mostly the people all add up to the great experiences. None are of any value if you do not learn from them and evolve. i am happy to say that i do believe i have evolved into a much less judgmental more all encompassing seeker of the human experience and that is the real value of my travels. i am eternally grateful for that metamorphosis, it makes me a much happier butterfly.