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Panglao is the start of my loop back north through the eastern islands of The Philippines.
Once again, I was disappointed with Panglao. It is just another El Nido and over-priced – but with a slightly better beachfront and slightly less tourists.
It was time to move on to the northern Cebu island of Bantayan; but, first, I had to pass through Cebu City.
HOTEL TO FERRY TERMINAL:
My journey from Siquijor to Panglao had already taught me that the Trike between Alona Beach and the Tagbilaran Ferry Terminal should cost PHP250. This was supported by my rule of thumb.
I was up early and walked the 70m to the Alona Beach Trike Terminal. There were only 2 drivers there at 7:00am.
I did not ask for a price … I took control … with a smile I said ‘I will pay PHP250 to Tagbilaran, do you want the fare?’. One man responded ‘PHP300’; I didn’t have many options, so I said ‘OK’.
He, then, pointed at a flat tyre on his Trike and said that I could go by aircon taxi. He wanted PHP350 for the taxi. I said ‘no’, my maximum was PH300. He said ‘OK’.
We jumped in the taxi and were at the Ferry Terminal by 7:30am.
FERRY TO CEBU CITY:
I wasn’t sure exactly where I was going … I just wanted to get to Cebu Island … so I remained open minded (and I had not pre-booked any accommodation anywhere).
You can go to Dumaguete (Negros), Siquijor Island, Dapitan (Mindanao), or Cebu City. So, Cebu City it was.
There are the normal 3 companies that do the run to Cebu City; each leaves several times a day and the times inter-leave. You should not need to wait more than 1 hour to catch a ferry.
I bought a ticket for the 8:20am with Oceanjet.
The price was PHP500 for aircon or PHP400 for open deck. The trip takes 2 hours. I chose the cheaper open deck ticket.
The Checked In Luggage SCAM:
Again, as with many of these fast ferry routes, all bags weighing more than 15Kg need to be checked in as stowed luggage.
I went to the luggage check in. They wanted PHP100. I saw this happen to two Americans at Siquijor – they paid PHP75 each for smaller bags than mine – and I paid PHP50. They charge you what they think they can get away with!
I firmly refused and told them that I would not pay PHP100 for my luggage. I know it sounds petty but you actually get sick of this ‘thieving’ after a while and start standing your ground. I said that I would pay a maximum of PHP50. They showed me the ‘PHP100’ written on wording on the front of their check in desk.
Many people are too lazy to read … I read it to them (I had seen the wording before), it states that their ‘maximum liability for luggage loss is PHP100’. I said that this is not the luggage rate and asked to see an official schedule of rates; they said that they did not have one.
I returned to the Oceanjet Check In desk and asked to see the schedule of rates for their ferries. She said that the Porters did not work for Oceanjet and that they were a different company. Bullshit; these porters are loading bags onto their ferries!
I returned to the luggage check in. I had made my point. They asked for PHP50. I paid. The transaction was amicable, we all smiled at each other.
The Ferry Trip:
We started embarking at 8:20am and left at 8:30am.
Unlike the ‘open air’ ticket that I got from Dumaguete to Panglao (which ended up being indoors with aircon and a tv movie), this actually was open air.
The seats were basic deck-chair style; but adequate for the short 2 hour trip.
It was comfortable in the open air breeze and pleasant to watch the scenery pass by.
We arrived in Cebu City on time and waited 5-10 minutes for our stowed luggage.
CEBU CITY FERRY TERMINAL TO MY HOTEL:
By 10:45am I was walking out of the Ferry Terminal.
My hotel was only 500m from the Terminal. I could have jumped on a trike and, using my rule of thumb, paid PHP20-30 to get to my hotel.
But, I had been sitting down for most of the past 3.5 hours and wanted to stretch my legs. With a 4-wheeled suitcase, the walk was easy.
I needed to stop for some breakfast on the way anyway.
MY HOTEL – USDA Dormitory Hotel:
I had done my ‘usual thing’ and pre-booked my accommodation.
I was in transit to Bantayan Island but thought that it would be worth a day in Cebu City to look around – so, I booked 2 nights.
I found the best priced Double with Ensuite accommodation (the USDA DORMITORY HOTEL) on AGODA.COM – I didn’t book it until after I bought my ferry ticket from Tagbilaran … I got online and booked it whilst I was in the Ferry Terminal.
Again, I found Cebu City accommodation surprisingly expensive. At the USDA, I paid a last minute ‘discounted’ rate of PHP840 / night.
I was at the USDA by noon and was able to check straight into my room.
The USDA is clean and modern but my room had a slight ‘musky’ smell.
It came with 1 Double and 1 Single bed (which is very common for a ‘Double’ room in S.E.Asia).
The room was very comfortable and fair value for money for The Philippines.
It was spacious and came with good aircon, cable tv, in-room wifi, desk, small ensuite, and hot water shower. The wardrobe was a clothes rail on the wall.
About 30m metres down the road I found the ‘Our Place’ pub which was full of English speaking expats. A San Miguel Pilsen was PHP45 and they had many food options in the PHP200-250 range.
About 40m up the road in the other direction is a Jollybee. I had breakfast there for PHP60 on my first morning.
The trip from Panglao to Cebu City is an easy one.
Door-to-door it took me 5 hours but I walked and stopped for breakfast at the Cebu City end; expect 4 hours.
My total cost was PHP770. But, for 2 GRANDPAckers budget PHP1,240.
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