We’re sitting on the back seat of a mini van headed to San Jose, there are seats for 9 people, but we’re 17 on board, including two on the roof!
This is bus no. 4 for today, and if all goes well the last one. Sally is predictably asleep on my shoulder, somehow she is leaning on me through one of her sunglass lenses, which while a bit uncomfortable for me seems to be working for her.
Bon Jovi’s ‘Slippery when Wet’ is playing on the stereo, and every now and then the other passengers join in with ‘it’s my life’…
There’s a steel bar pushing into my bum, and I have to leave my right arm and shoulder out the window as it’s too narrow for 4 of us across the seat, (from which fatigued metal creaks and groans as we bump along), sometimes I put my head outside and imagine I’m a dog with the wind running around my face 🙂
It’s getting dark now, but for most of the day we’ve had rice fields or a jungle view, scattered with small towns, really pretty.
That steel bar is really digging in, I hope some people get off soon!
We arrived here (Manilla) without much of a plan except to see some islands and get some diving in where possible… Turns out that wasn’t such a good plan as its not an easy place to get around. Especially when the Manilla airport is closed due to the ASEAN Summit for 5 days… What luck!
Hence the 4 buses, 2-3 hrs each, and then a 7hr boat trip tomorrow, assuming there is actually a boat.
This is going to be quite a statement given the trip we’re on, but I feel this is likely to be the most dangerous thing we do on our trip, an overloaded mini bus on mountain roads in the remote Philippines, if you’re reading this then we’re OK though. No WiFi here so will post later.
… Later same night
Arrived last night around 8, no boat today, hopefully tomorrow.
…next day now
3pm – Just found out that the boat tomorrow is now the next day… Maybe.
So we’ve decided instead to take a mini van to Seblayan, (2hrs away), and try to get a dive on Appo reef from there instead. Then return back here again and further back up the road an hour (direction we came from yesterday) and then get a fast Cat (boat) to Boracay.
Getting a mini van here is pretty easy, they park at the local bus station with a sign on the front window saying where they’re going, so you find a van and then wait until they have enough passengers to leave, and off you go. That could take ten minutes, or two hours. We’ve been here half hour now, and while we’ve been told we leave at 4.30 we’re not holding our breath.
Doing things this way means that we’ll no longer get to Palawan, which is disappointing but that’s life.
Times like this, it feels like we’re in an episode of Race Around the World, it’s quite chaotic! Half hour ago we were supposed to be staying the night here (in the hotel we already paid for) then getting a 7hr boat to an Island south of here and spending a week or ten days in that region. Then in the space of ten mins we changed plans and now I’m sitting in a mini van headed in the opposite direction, with no plan to go to Palawan at all any more.
But these are the joys of travelling in these countries. Just because there is a boat schedule, it doesn’t mean there’s actually going to be a boat. When a man tells you to hurry because the bus is leaving, you may then need to wait for two hours. Taps on walls of the shower don’t mean there is running water, and the half eaten pork chop in the fry pan on the sink, surrounded by someone’s dirty laundry, next to the toilet with a broken off seat that you need to move to get under the shower (which is all in the same room as the pork chop!), but isn’t actually a shower because there is no water… Should not be surprising.
We spent today walking around this little town, trying to find a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees (equivalent to the cost of a room for the night!), talking to a travel agent to get some tips on what to see and do, going down to the port to find out if our boat was still leaving in the morning, and now waiting in a hot mini van for departure.
First thoughts on the Philippines… I like it here, the people are really warm, the food is OK, and the scenery is beautiful. The people seem to be more honest than we’ve gotten accustomed to as well, the change is always right, and the tricycle (tuk tuk) riders don’t try to charge you 3x the going rate because you’re a tourist.
The prostitution is really in your face though, lots of old men with young girls in Puerto Galleria, and groups of girls who looked as young as 14 or 15 were walking the streets in Manila when we arrived at 4am the other night.
Cheat hotels cost from $9-25 a night, and meals are $1-5ea. A beer costs a dollar. The internet is terrible.
Hey it’s 4.26 and we’re moving!
4.37 and we’re back where we were ten mins ago, seemed too good to be true. We just went out to fill up with diesel.
This Appo reef better be good!
4.47 and we’re off again…