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I was slowly making my way south from the famous Boracay Island to Siquijor Island.
My trip had taken me via Roxas (Panay), Iloilo (Panay), Bacolod (Negros) and now Dumaguete (Negros); I was unimpressed by all of these cities … in fact, I have been unimpressed by all of the cities that I have visited in The Philippines from when I first arrived in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. Puerto Princesa is meant to be the ‘cleanest’ city in The Philippines.
I have come to the simple conclusion that no Philippines cites will make it into my list of GRANDPAcking Retirement Locations … an island is more likely to make it … let’s see what Siquijor brings …
HOTEL TO FERRY TERMINAL:
Harold’s is only about 500m from the Ferry Terminal? The road is sealed all the way, so it is an easy walk with a wheeled suitcase.
I had already popped down to the Ferry Terminal (the previous day) and checked out the ferry times to Siquijor. There are 3 or 4 companies that make the journey, so there are plenty of different times to choose from between 9:30am and 5:30pm.
That morning, I had to go down to the Bureau Of Immigration to pick up my passport (with my new 2 month visa extension – that, this time, ony cost PHP2,930). This meant that I didn’t get to the Ferry Terminal until 11:00am. The next boat was a slow boat leaving at 12:00 noon which was scheduled to take 1 hour 15 minutes. The price is PHP130.
FERRY TO SIQUIJOR:
As usual, there is a fee (in this case PHP15) to enter the Ferry Terminal.
However, at this one you and your luggage get scanned just like they do at an airport … Siquijor is dangerously close to the ‘troubled’ Mindinao; security is tight. There are Muslim insurgents operating in Mindinao. Raids and kidnappings have been known to happen in this area.
The slow ferry is a traditional Bankha. The seating inside is basic but sufficient for the short journey. It seats about 60 passengers.
Port Security board the vessel just before it leaves to make sure that everyone is wearing a life jacket. We left at 12:00 noon on the dot.
The boat was very ‘airless’ and it was sweaty and uncomfortable in the high heat of the day. I advise you to take water on board.
After 40 minutes, the boat engine broke down. It took the crew over 40 minutes to get it going again and we limped the rest of the way into port. We arrived over 1 hour late at 2:20pm. I was dehydrated.
SIQUIJOR FERRY TERMINAL TO MY HOTEL:
As you leave the Ferry Terminal, there are banks of Tribikes waiting for your trade. A Tribike to my hotel costs PHP300.
There was no roofrack, so my suitcase joined me on the seat next to me. When you do this, you are charged for the suitcase as a 2nd person … not a problem.
We got to Lerena to discover that all of the passengers on board were going further north to the next town. The Jeepney driver decided to continue and take us all the way.
I saw the man next to me take out PHP20 from his wallet ready to pay the driver when he got off. I now knew the price …
I tracked where we were on GPS and got off where Google Maps and GPS told me to get off … it was WRONG. I was 400m short of my turn off.
The driver asked for PHP40. As he was honest with me, I gave him PHP50. Yet again, saving money on the Tribike paid for my evening meal.
MY HOTEL – PALM TREE GUESTHOUSE:
I had done my ‘usual thing’ and pre-booked my Siquijor accommodation.
As I was arriving on a Thursday night, I didn’t want to be searching for new accommodation in the middle of a weekend, so I booked 3 nights so that my next accommodation would start on the Sunday night.
If you read my next post on Around The Island By Scooter, you will see that I am glad that my booking at Tori’s Backpacker was cancelled.
I got an email to say that the room was not available on the Saturday night.
They gave me ‘alternatives’ but I decided to re-book a better place using BOOKING.COM.
The PALM TREE GUESTHOUSE looked like it was on a decent side road. It is not.
After walking the 400m up the main road to find the turn off, I found a gravel and dirt road that could not be traversed with a suitcase on wheels.
I had to carry my suitcase the 400-500m down the dirt track to my hotel.
This would NOT be possible for the normal GRANDPAckers (unless they only had backpacks – which I don’t recommend).
The Palm Tree was PHP795 / night for a small cottage.
There are only 3 cottages in the entire resort … it is very quiet.
The cottage came with a balcony, a small Double Bed, Fan, small Cold Water Ensuite, and a wardrobe area (without a rail to hang your clothes on – so my clothes got hung on the curtain rail again).
The owners (a Dutch man and his Filipina wife) are very nice people and very attentive and friendly.
They cook but the menu is a bit ‘pricy’ with something like a Spicy Chicken Curry with Rice for PHP260 (I was paying PHP180 for the same thing at Shantal’s in Boracay).
The Palm Tree is not on the beachfront.
You have to walk 20m to the Casa De La Playa Resort to get through to the beach.
The beach is ‘OK’.
The Palm Tree advertise wifi in ‘common areas’ but their wifi is terrible to non-existent. You can’t rely on your own smartphone either … you either have ‘E’ for ‘Enough’ or no signal at all.
If you need wifi, you need to go to the Casa De La Playa (which has good wifi).
The trip from Dumaguete to Siquijor is an easy one.
Door-to-door it took me 3.5 hours (walking at both ends – and, with a boat breakdown). My total cost was PHP185. But, for 2 GRANDPAckers, budget PHP490.
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