Being caught up in the hustles of employment, the boring yet exhausting weekday routine, and the burden of having to deal with some toxic people every day take away my innate youthful vibe. My cousin would often ask me why I don’t seem to have a lot of new friends after I transferred here in Manila. I am a social butterfly, he insisted. I did not intend to, but that part of me was unconsciously hidden somewhere in my petite anatomy. I became lazy and I forgot how outgoing and cheerful I really am.
Just when I thought I was doomed to be a loner, I was invited to stay at the Circle Hostel, La Union for 2 days. My 2-week vacation in Iloilo last December brought me back to life, so I thought, a trip outside the metro would probably do the same. All I expected was a breath of fresh air, some quiet time near the shore to hear the sound of the waves, and a short surf session so I can check surfing off my bucket list. But, I got so much more than just that.
The Circle Hostel is a haven for backpackers, wanderers, and surfers. It has 45 bunk beds (P550/day, 35 hammocks (P450/day), clean showers and toilet rooms, free lockers (bring your own padlock), and a common area. Each bed has a mosquito net and private curtains while the hammocks are custom-made with zippers to keep you comfortable and tucked in throughout the night. The place is eco-friendly, affordable, and refreshing. The doodles everywhere also tell you that it is a sanctuary for the expressive. Find scribbles of the artsy, the adventurous, the die-hard surfers, the musicians, and the hopeless romantics all over the place. Click here to see more life marks at the Circle.
Rafael Oca, the hostel chain’s social media manager, said that the common area is where all the social magic happens. It’s where all the sockets are! Of course, you need to charge and connect to the Wi-fi. You need to check in to Swarm, post your modelesque bikini poses on the beach, and tweet your friends that you’re chilling 270 kilometers away from Manila.
But no, the sockets and the Wi-Fi are just disguises. They are actually there to encourage the guests to mingle with each other. Besides surfing, basking in the sun, and feeling the fresh breeze on your face, the random talks with foreigners and fellow Filipinos who are also lounging at the common area make the trip more memorable.
After half a day, the awkward hi’s and smiles turn into modest introductions, intellectual discourses, sharing of travel diaries, belly laugh inducing games, and deep conversations of life experiences, perhaps after the alcohol has sunk in.
Traveling, whether alone or with a group, is a learning experience. It’s nice to know that even solo travelers won’t feel alone when they stay at The Circle Hostel. They will always have somebody to laugh or stay the night with while tinkering on their smartphones in the common area. The hashtag #therearenostrangers definitely signifies the Circle.
We also met people from Europe and Japan and it’s very humbling to know that they have come to love our country and our people.
My aching arms, back, and legs remind me of my awesome weekend. I surfed, I was refreshed, and have retrieved my sociable and amiable side. Oh, did I mention that I went there with people I met for the first time too? But, we eased up after a short time and got along with each other.
These people made the trip all the more unforgettable.
These are chance encounters I will cherish forever. True enough,
“Good things happen when you meet strangers. – Yo-Yo Ma”
Because they eventually become new friends.
The Circle Hostel, La Union is located at
Urbiztondo,San Juan,La Union
Thanks Aldous of Aldous Ate the World and Rafael Oca for the invite.