Monday, March 10, 2008

Food Trip Plus Plus


Saturday turned out to be more fun I had expected.

There was, of course, the Davao Food Trip at Honeybear, a worthwhile event in itself. But it was a Saturday night, after all, and for the students, the classes were winding down and the professionals didn't have such a heavy schedule. Ria and Gwing were aching for the local perya over at the Matina Ma-a intersection, and Migs enthusiastically seconded the idea.

And so to the perya it was.

The perya was surprisingly full, and by that I don't just mean the hoi polloi. Parking was scarce, and I had to drop off Blogie, Migs, and Winston at the entrance while I left the car at Juna Subdivision.

The perya is about as cheap and cheesy as you can get. The partition was flimsy plywood held up by makeshift frames. Everything was handpainted in garish colors and slapdash irregular fonts. It was humid and noisy. It mildly stank of urine. In other words, it was cheap and cheesy fun.

Entrance was P20, and every ride and, er, attraction had its own associated price.

Our first dare was the "roller coaster", thanks in no small part to Migs' constant egging. Ultimately it was his generous offer to pay for all of us, at P30 each, that finally pushed us on.

Ria and Gwing were quite apprehensive, as were Blogie and I, though we did not admit it until after the ride. No surprise, either. I have been on Colossus at Six Flags and on Space Mountain on two Disney locations, but for real (as opposed to simulated) thrills, nothing beats a perya roller coaster.

In comparison to its Stateside brethren, the perya roller coaster is laughably plain and short. The entire loop is no longer than 250 meters and everything seems to have been hand-assembled from rods and nuts and bolts from the local hardware store. There were no paddings on the seats or on the edges; not counting broken limbs, there's also the threat of tetanus. And really, therein lies the thrill: safety is not guaranteed. If the car spills over and you die, the most you'll get is the operator scratching his head and shrugging his bare singleted shoulders.

The ride proved every bit as scary as it looked. It wasn't the ascents and plunges, it was the turns. At every turn, the shaky car threatened (or we felt that it threatened) to throw us off. The rickety sound of the beams or the struggling effort of the generator did not help matters any.

And so we went, one seemingly interminable loop followed by another. I did not scream, but I clamped my teeth so hard at the end of the ride I the rickety chatter stayed with me.

And, well, it felt good to be alive.

After that rush, everything else after that seemed anticlimactic, though no less fun. The other ride we took was the so-called "Horror Train". It felt more like a jeepney ride, what with the long wait to fill up all the cars. When we finally did get moving into the tunnel, the anticipation was high: what terrors were we to expect? Only to find out that the tunnel was a bare plywood frame painted black. And the terror? A solitary ghoul in a rubber mask and black cloak. Our first time through the tunnel his attempt to scare us was half-hearted, and by the second, he was probably so tired he just stood there waiting for us to move on. To his credit, he did recover some of his, er, spirits, on our last round; but he focused his efforts on five-year old girls clutching tightly to their mothers.

The hand-painted sign on a strip of cardboard at the entrance should have warned us already: "It is prohibited to hit the monster, or to pull off his mask." Poor fellow.

The guys tried the money pits -- games of chance run by tired and bored operators. There was coin toss where you had to get the coin exactly inside ridiculously small squares. There was color roulette played with a basketball, and a huge electronic one that spanned two stalls. There were shooting games with darts and pellet guns. The prizes were chips, cracker nuts, table glasses, and washbasins. And eagerly the people played. Blogie, Migs, Gwing, Ria, and Andrew walked away with a bag of peanuts each, each one less than the value of the P10 they paid to play -- but hey, they were winners all.

Two more stops before we called it a night: at Metro Avenue, supposedly to catch Ted Padova's Adobe presentation, but by the time we arrived, it was already over. We still caught the start of a domestic drama carried out by phone, but our player rushed home before we saw how it would develop.

Finally, a stop at Kopi Roti along Jacinto for cup of hot chocolate and their famed roti breads and biscuits. Conversation ran through crazed Palanca winners, poker, paintball, airsoft, NPA raids, web hosting, and upcoming blogger visits.

We finally adjourned at 1:00 AM. Food trip plus plus, indeed!