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I had spent 3 nights in the Palm Tree Guesthouse on Siquijor Island.
I had been slowly making my way south from the famous Boracay Island to Siquijor Island before turning north through Bohol to Cebu.
I was still trying to find a GRANDPAcking Retirement Location in The Philippines … I had not found one yet (and, I have been in The Philippines for nearly 4 months).
My trip had taken me via Puerto Princesa (Palawan), Roxas (Panay), Iloilo (Panay), Bacolod (Negros) and Dumaguete (Negros); I was unimpressed by all of these cities … I have come to the simple conclusion that an island is more likely to make it onto my GRANDPAcking Retirement Location list…
Once again, I was disappointed with Siquijor. It lacks the required infrastructure, the beaches are poor to average, and the swimming is no better.
I was going to stay on Siquijor for another 8 nights but, after 3 nights, I had seen enough.
It was time to move on to Panglao.
HOTEL TO FERRY TERMINAL:
To get to Panglao from Siquijor, you have 2 options:
- Catch a 7pm large Ferry from Lerena to Tagbilaran (Bohol) at 7pm Sunday night – it takes 3 hours
- Catch a Bankha to Dumaguete and, then, a boat from there to Tagbilaran (Bohol)
I decided to do the latter. It is more expensive but it meant that I would get to my Panglao Hotel at a reasonable time of the day.
I targeted the 8am Bankha to Dumaguete.
The Palm Tree is 400-500m down a dirt road that cannot be traversed with a wheeled suitcase. When I made my way from Dumaguete to Siquijor, I had no choice but to carry my suitcase down the track to my hotel.
I had no intention of doing the same in reverse. I had no choice but to book a Tribike. I could book a Tri to Lerena (and catch a Jeepney from there to Siquijor Town), or catch a Tri all the way to Siquijor Town.
I decided on the latter. The cost was PHP300. The Palm Tree booked the Tribike for me.
I was up at 5:45am. The Tri was waiting for me at 6:30am. We were at the Siquijor Ferry Terminal at 7:10am.
There is a ‘local’ restaurant just outside the Pier. I stopped for breakfast: 2 fried eggs with rice and coffee (PHP45).
FERRY TO DUMAGUETE:
I bought my ticket to Dumaguete. The price is PHP130 for the ticket and PHP14 for the Terminal Fee.
The seating inside is basic but sufficient for the short journey. It seats about 60 passengers.
We left at 8am on the dot. I had learnt from my trip from Dumaguete to Siquijor (on the same boat). That time, I sat at the very front; it was airless. This time, I sat at the very back; it was so much better.
On this trip, the boat did not break down. We were at Dumaguete by 9:15am.
FERRY TO TAGBILARAN (BOHOL):
I looked around for my options. It was a Sunday, so there may not have been as many boats running as other days of the week …
I had only 1 option: the 3:00pm Oceanjet (fast boat) to Tagbilaran leaving at 3:00pm. The trip takes 2 hours.
The ticket was PHP700 for ‘open air’ and PHP1,020 for ‘aircon’. I booked the cheap seat; at speed, there should be lots of air-flow … who needs aircon? The Terminal Fee was PHP15.
I had some time to kill, so I found a cafe, had coffee, and did some work. I found a ‘tinpot’ for Lunch. I was back at the Terminal by 2:00pm … you are advised to check in 1 hour before departure.
You, then, have to queue at the check in counter to get a seat number.
It is, now, that you discover that you are only allowed to take 1 item of luggage on board with a maximum weight of 15Kg.
This meant that I had to check in my suitcase. The cost was PHP50. However, the COST VARIES, depending on how much the porter feels like charging you … the American couple in front of me paid PHP75 each for smaller bags!
After a 30 minute wait in the Terminal, we started to board at 3:00pm. The ‘open air’ seat was actually inside with aircon.
The ‘aircon’ seat was, actually ‘business class’ on the top deck. The seats were comfortable and they played a movie (in English) all the way. We left at 3:15pm and arrived at 5:15pm.
TAGBILARAN FERRY TERMINAL TO MY HOTEL:
You wait next to the boat for your luggage to be delivered.
As always … if you catch a ride from the Terminal, you will be paying a premium price. You are ALWAYS best to walk a few minutes away from the Terminal to get a better ‘more local’ price.
I had done some online research about costs. The Tribike from the Terminal to Panglao City is PHP500 … a rip off. You can catch a Jeepney but, for one of those, you have to get to the Central Bus Interchange Terminal of the Central Shopping Mall … both of which were about 3kms away.
I had a look at Google maps and formulated another plan … 500m from the Terminal is one of 2 bridges across to Panglao Island … I decided to walk to the bridge and to flag down a Tri there. I needed a walk anyway as I had been sitting down all day.
It was a fairly easy walk but, with no real footpaths, you have to walk on the road and be part of traffic – but the traffic is OK.
I got to the bridge and flagged down a Tri. He already had 1 passenger on board. I asked him for a price … he said PHP250. I offered PHP200. He said OK.
I used my normal ‘rule of thumb‘ to establish the PHP200 price: PHP10 per km plus PHP10 per suitcase. As we drove to Panglao City, we talked … he confirmed to me that this was the correct ‘rule of thumb‘; this was, indeed, what the ‘locals’ pay.
The trip was further than I was expecting and took about 40 minutes. We had a bit of trouble finding my hotel. I gave him PHP250.
Once again, by ‘putting yourself out’ just a little bit … you can save enough money on a Tri to pay for your evening meal!
MY HOTEL – SPIRIT OF NORWAY:
I had done my ‘usual thing’ and pre-booked my Panglao accommodation.
I decided to book 2 nights so that I was looking for new accommodation starting on the Tuesday night (once everyone had gone back to work).
I found the best priced Double with Ensuite accommodation (Spirit of Norway) on AGODA.COM. It came at a very good price (for Panglao),
I paid a 50% discounted rate of PHP950 / night.
The Spirit of Norway is near the Circular Road 1 km from Panglao City and 2-3 kms away from the start of Alona Beach.
Alona Beach was my target area but online hotels were too expensive for my GRANDPAcking Budget … the Spirit of Norway would allow me time on the Monday to go around on a rental Scooter and find something within my price range.
The Spirit of Norway is in the middle of nowhere.
There are no minimarts, restaurants nor bars around it. It took us 10 minutes to find it in the dark.
The Spirit of Norway is a new-build hotel and the rooms are very clean and modern.
It came with a kitchenette – but there was no water in the tap and there were no kitchen utensils and no kettle, etc. There was, strangely, a rice cooker – which I used to heat up water for my coffee the next morning.
The room was very comfortable and one of the best value for money rooms that I have had in The Philippines.
It was spacious and came with good aircon, cable tv, in-room wifi, kitchenette, seating area, a big bathroom with hot water shower, and balcony.
They rent Scooters for PHP400 / day – which, on The Philippines islands, is a reasonable price … they, probably, have to be reasonable because they are so isolated.
I arrived at 7:30pm. I asked the receptionist where the nearest Minimart was. She said that the nearest one was too far to walk and that I would need to catch a Tribike. I walked to the end of the hotel driveway and found a small store across the road.
I returned to my hotel and asked to see the food menu. She said that they only did breakfast. I asked where the nearest restaurant was. She said that the nearest one was too far to walk and that I would need to catch a Tribike. I returned to the small store and bought some biscuits. When I returned to the hotel, the receptionist was sitting down and eating chicken and rice. The hotel staff made no attempt to offer me a meal.
I went down for breakfast the next morning and found the menu … there were Lunch and Dinner items listed on the menu.
I don’t know about you but, if a hotel is so isolated, I think that providing meals to guests is a necessity. The Spirit of Norway is an enigma.
The trip from Siquijor to Panglao is a long one but an easy one.
Door-to-door it took me 12 hours. My total cost was PHP1,265. But, for 2 GRANDPAckers, budget PHP2,000.
Alternatively, you could catch the 7pm (3 hour) ferry from Lerena. This would be a bit cheaper but you would arrive very later at your hotel.
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