Philippines Travel: Numbers

OK, today was a MASSIVE travel day. To get a sense of what I mean, here are some numbers:

  • 9: The number of different vehicles I travelled in today to get to my destination
  • 8: (This is easy math) The number of connections I had to make
  • 6: The number of different types of vehicles I travelled in
  • 29: The number of hours of traveling today (I use “today” in a very loose sense)
  • 3: The number of hours of sleep I have had since I started traveling in Sagada
  • 550: The number of miles, as the crow flies, that my travels took me
  • 800: approximate number of miles actually travelled
  • 5: number of times my itinerary changed today
  • 5890: The number of Pesos my traveling cost me today
  • 133: The same amount, in US dollars (and that surprised me just now!)

So here’s the scoop.

As you know, I got up yesterday and decided to head down out of the mountains and find a nice beach resort. Brian (Dutchman who was on the rice terrace hike) suggested a very nice dive resort on Mindoro, an island just south of Manila. So I connected with Christie, a german girl who was on the bus up from Banuae, and we travelled down to Baguio by local bus (transport #1, 6 hours) where we were bummed to discover that there was not a bus to Manila in time for her to catch her flight to Thailand. I was originally thinking of spending the night in Baguio, since I did not need to hurry south and could take my time getting to Mindao, but I decided to ‘hitchhike’ on Christie’s motivation to get to Manila and take the overnight bus also.

Since we had 5 hours to kill in Baguio, we took a taxi (transport #2) to a big mall in town that had in internet cafe so I could make a blog post and make a reservation at the Mindoro resort for the next evening. But right after I made my blog post, I got an email back from the resort saying that they were full for the next two nights! And since this resort was on a private island, there were no other affordable resorts anywhere nearby. So suddenly I’m facing another change in plans, and I’m not sure what I’m going to do, since I already have my Manila bus tickets. But time was running out (we had to reclaim our bags from the security storage by 7pm), so we taxied back to the bus station (transport #3) and went to a little cafe by the bus station for dinner. While sitting there and discussing options, I decided to just fly down to Cebu and explore the islands before I go to Mindinao to see my friend John. I tried to book my tickets on CebuPacific Air, but the website was jammed and I could not book my flight, so I decided to buy tickets at the airport, and we caught the very comfy luxury class overnight bus to Manila (transport #4).

Unfortunately, I met the only rude person I have bumped into in the Philippines, and of course it was a bitchy little teenaged girl! She was seated in front of me on the bus, and the way the seats was arranged, when she put her seat back, it literally trapped my legs (we were in the last row)…there was not enough leg room at all. So I asked her if she would mind not reclining fully, but to leave maybe an inch so my legs could move. She grunted something and acquiesced, but within the next 15 minutes, she rearranged her pillow, got comfy, then shoved the seat all the way back. I tapped her shoulder and asked if she could move it up, but she just grunted and pretended to be asleep, so I had to spend the entire night with my legs in all sort of bizarre positions. I kept bumping the back of her seat, but she refused to move it up.

I did get even, though. The bus made one stop before my stop, and the person sitting in front of HER got off. So I moved up to that seat, and put THAT seat all the way back. She muttered something rude as the seat back knocked her legs, and I just put my jacket up as a pillow, stretched my arms and back out as much as I could and said “Ahh….so nice to not have my legs all cramped!” Heh heh heh.

Anyway, we the bus arrived early (1:30AM) so we got off and got into a taxi. Fortunately, I’m experienced with Manila cabs, and when this guy said “P450 to the airport” I said “Stop the cab!” and hopped out even while he was still rolling a little. He said “OK, OK…P400!” and I said “Do you have a meter? I’ll only pay what the meter says.” He slunk off and another cabbie ran over saying “P300!”

“No meter? No ride!” I said. He countered with “OK, OK…P200…each” That was the last straw…did he thing I was an idiot? We walked back up to the terminal where one of the metered yellow cabs was just pulling in, and we hopped in (transport #5). His fare, based on the meter: P95.

At the airport I went to the CebuPacific window, and got my tickets to Cebu for even less than the internet price! Then my co-traveller and I parted company, she went off for her Bangkok flight and I went off for my Cebu one.

The flight (transport #6) was too short for any sleep, and I arrived in Cebu at 7:15AM. Thanks again to the Lonely Planet, I knew which taxi stop to go to for the honest cabs, and got a ride down to the boat terminal (transport #7). According to the LP, there was a 1PM ferry (10 hours!) from Cebu to Siquior Island, but when I got to the terminal, I could not see any signs for it. Knowing that the LP has mistakes (it had my hotel in Vigan in the entirely wrong place), I decided not to wait for the ticket window to open  and just hopped the next ferry to Bocol instead with a different company, as there were many and the LP said it was an interesting place (another change of itinerary). So I paid the exorbitant sum of P500 for the two hour ferry ride (Transport #8) to Tagbilaran, and got off in the bright sunlight and warm air. Then I walked to a little sidewalk food stall, had some local food for breakfast and started reading about this island.

Right off the top, the LP says there are no good budget beach accommodations, and it’s all expensive dive resorts. Whoa! Not what I was looking for….I want a nice beach cabana with a hammock and a beer, not some luxury $1000/night dive resort hotel! So I found that there’s a ferry every morning at 10:30AM (it was 10:40 at this point…bummer) to Siquior, so I got a tricycle (transport #9) to take me to the beach part of the island where I did find a little traveller guesthouse that has non-AC rooms for pretty cheap, and now I’m off to the beach for the afternoon. Tomorrow, I’ll either do a day trip into the Chocolate Hills, or else just get a ferry to Siquior and find a beach cabana.

Anyway..I’m totally beat and ready for an ice cold beer! Talk to you all in a couple of days.

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