Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Philippines: San Juan, La Union.

The night before Sheila and I left for La Union, she played a short film for me that she’d been raving about. She told me that it was hilarious, and begged me to watch it with her. The reason why I’ve shared this video (watch below) is because I’ll be referring to it throughout the blog as Sheila quoted it throughout our travels to and from La Union, a province in northern Luzon, known for its surfing. So without further ado, here’s “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.”

MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON from Dean Fleischer-Camp on Vimeo.

To reach La Union, Sheila and I decided to take an overnight bus. Sheila’s mother graciously dropped us off at the bus station at around 1 o’clock in the morning where we would take the 2 a.m. bus. While waiting in the bus terminal with about an hour to kill, Sheila took out her camera and began taking pictures. Oddly, as we were viewing the pictures that she had just taken, we noticed a creepy white guy in the background, who, with no shame, had been looking directly into the camera. What a weirdo.

And then it began . . .

For the next few days, Sheila would impersonate Marcel the Shell from the short film, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.”

“One time I nibbled on a piece of cheese and my cholesterol went up to 900.”

"I'm afraid to drink soda because I'm afraid the bubbles will make me float up onto the ceiling."

She didn’t stop.

“Guess what I use to tie my skiis to my car?”

I sat in silence.

“Go ahead,” Sheila laughingly said, “ask me.”

“What?” I reluctantly mumbled, as I knew my participation would only provoke her to continue.

“. . . a hair.” Sheila quickly roared into laughter, while slapping my shoulder.

Oh, boy.

It takes around 6-8 hours to reach La Union from Manila, depending on traffic and weather. Sheila sat soundly asleep throughout the duration of our commute. I don’t know how she does it; I barely EVER fall asleep on long bus journeys. But maybe that’s because I have an extra 16 inches of height attached to my body. I mean, you should’ve seen the extra leg room she had. Seriously, it’s really a disability to be tall while you’re traveling.

It was around 9 o’clock in the morning when the bus driver turned around and hollered that we had arrived at our stop. So we grabbed our things and exited onto the pavement before the bus quickly drove away. There was a sign off to the side of the road that read, “Surfing Area: San Juan Beach.” And Sheila, not one to pass up an opportunity to take a picture, directed me to stand near it.

Sheila reserved a room for us at Lola Nanny’s Surf Retreat, located in front of San Juan beach. The accommodation was relatively inexpensive, had air-con, a large bed, a hot shower, and, most importantly, it was clean. After a nap, a shower, and some lunch, we enjoyed our day by walking and relaxing along the beach.

San Juan beach isn’t the most impressive beach that I’ve seen during my travels, but it’s pleasant enough to spend a few days here and relax. Sheila and I enjoyed a few drinks and snacks at Lola Nanny’s restaurant which overlooks the beach as we waited for the sun to set. And the ensuing conversations were ever so stimulating.

“Guess what my skiis are?”


“…toenails from a man.”

“Guess what I use as a bean bag chair?”


“…a raisin.”

As the sun was beginning to set, Sheila and I returned to the beach and enjoyed the view.

And before we called it a night, we ordered some delicious fries and walked back to the beach where we enjoyably washed it down with some cold beer. It was a pleasant evening that night, as we layed on our beach towel and enjoyed the cool summer night’s breeze. I really enjoyed my time here, and was happy that Sheila recommended coming.

Around 5 o’clock the following morning we waited on the side of the road and waved down the first bus heading back to Manila. Sheila and I were going to be attending her lil niece’s birthday which was being held at a Yamaha motorbike race in which Sheila’s eldest brother, Mark, was organizing. The bus ride back to Manila was long and arduous; however, Sheila made sure to bring the comic relief.

“. . . His name is Allen. Guess where I found him?”


“Under a tooth. Well, you know what they say?”


“. . . A lint is a shell’s best friend.”



  1. do you have contact number of lola nanny's?

  2. I'll ask Sheila once she wakes up :)


  3. Lola Nanny's Guesthouse # is 09154184034