People look forward to public holidays (especially long weekends) I already saw a list of official ones for the year 2015 on my Facebook NewsFeed. And August, despite being a ghost month, is notorious for blessing us with a couple of them. On one of those, I went with my high school friends to Sandbox at Porac in Pampanga.
As usual, commuting was a challenge. We imagined how our lives would have been so much easier and more convenient if only one of us had wheels. We left Manila via a Genesis bus in Cubao, rode two jeepneys and hired a tricycle before arriving at Sandbox. Don’t expect from the place aesthetic-wise because you will be disappointed. It looked like a barren land with a couple of structures strewn all over. There’s not even a decent waiting area and an electric fan. If you’re allergic to the heat, good luck.
Aerial Walk is probably one of the most physically taxing things I’ve done in my life because I’m such a wimp. I’m sure some of the athletic people I know can finish the course in less than 30 minutes. I lasted for an hour and I was aching all over afterwards. Basically, you had to go through a series of obstacle courses. One needs arm strength, balance, coordination, and endurance, things I don’t possess at all ESPECIALLY BALANCE.
It’s also the coolest because of their Smart Harness. There are staffs who will guide you but once you start, it’s each man for himself. You get to put and move your harness on the different cables. No worries because as long as you follow instructions, they’re safe. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even halfway through but I already lost the strength on my hand to grip the harness. Oh, and the staffs’ encouragements weren’t the usual “You can do it, Mam!”. Instead, they shout “Mam, if you don’t finish you will go back where you started. There’s no quitting in the middle”. HAHA!
And for the first time, I zipline-d without assistance with only verbal instructions from the staff below me. This is one of the most nerve-wracking ever. It’s one thing if you just stand there and wait for a crew to stable your harness and push you. It’s another to do-it-yourself, including the pushing.. Also, if the staff says raise your legs, YOU RAISE THEM lest you want to bump your thighs into the wooden platform on the other side with an impact that produces audible sound and come home with a purple-colored souvenir.
My post-Aerial Walk face. I seriously thought I would black out afterwards (everything began to look duller and darker) I had to sit on the floor and deep breathe for a couple of minutes. What a loser.
Next stop was Wall Climbing. It’s one of those things that look easy when you’re a spectator but is totally difficult once you try. One needs concentration, diskarte and muscular strength. It’s so embarrassing I didn’t even go past the second stone (same level with the staff’s hip, YES). My lower body was just too heavy to carry. notetoself: SQUAT FOR THE LOVE OF LIFE. Lilian went a few steps higher than me. A. FEW. STEPS.
Fae, who I think is already a fit person, only managed to climb halfway while Emman reached the top officially earning the bragging rights. Toffee was too scared to try, both for himself and the harness (his words not mine).
View from the Free Fall. The only thing scary about this one is the prospect of jumping but the actual fall was blah. We jokingly say that it’s a misinterpretation to call it free fall. A more apt name would be Assisted Fall. Over in a flash you wouldn’t even finish your scream (thin Haaaa—).
Among the attractions, if the most fulfilling is Aerial Walk, the most enjoyable is the Giant Swing. It’s like Anchor’s Away (in Enchanted Kingdom) but better. The sound of the cord snapping is especially thrilling. Just shout!
Sandbox is for those who don’t mind being sweaty and tired and hungry and ugly afterwards. You only get to try each attraction once so some might think the entrance fee is not worth it (520 pesos for Package B). Also, be patient with the management, security and all because they have a lot of growing up to do. But ultimately, it’s always up to you to have good time, right?
Historic Camalig restaurant housed in a 150-year old ancestral grain depot building during the Spanish Era. It was renovated into a restaurant during the 1980s but much of the original structure are still intact.
And you know what they say, when in Rome, do what the Romans do. When in Pampanga, eat Sisig. This was so delicious the Sisigs in Manila should be ashamed. It’s not crunchy and even the oil when mixed with white rice is enough to satisfy you (I know because the 5 of us shared in one platter).
Susie’s Cuisine afterwards for some Halo-halo, Pancit Palabok, Okoy, Tibok Tibok and another kakanin I forgot the name of. I had other places in mind that I wanted to visit just for the food but we were already full and it was getting late. Thank God we were able to catch the last trip to Manila from Dau. Another bane of a commuter’s existence: you are limited by bus schedules.