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San Antonio is a nice ‘hideaway’ island if you are looking for a quiet place in the real Philippines – away from the busy and popular tourist spots.
It was time to move on to Ticao Island.
BANGKA TO VICTORIA:
It was a short 400m walk from the Haven to the Bangka Port; I was at the port by 6:40.
There is a constant and regular stream of Bangkas back to Victoria on the mainland. You don’t have to wait long for a Bangka. When I arrived, there was already a Bangka loaded and ready to depart.
TRIKE TO ALLEN FERRY PORT:
There are pedal Trikes waiting at the port to take you to the highway; I like walking.
It was an easy 5 minute, 500m walk from the Port to the highway.
There were a bank of Trikes waiting. I asked the price to Allen. They said PHP120.
I used my Rule Of Thumb … I thought that it was about 7kms away … this meant that I should pay PHP70 + PHP10 for my suitcase = PHP80.
I said that he was asking too much and kept walking. He called out to me and said ‘PHP80’. I said that it was only 5kms away and should only cost PHP60 … he said that it was 9kms … so PHP80 sounded fair … I said ‘OK’.
There are 2 Ferry Ports in Allen. He took me to the normal, northern-most one. This is the Passenger Ferry Port. We arrived at 7:30am.
The security guard spotted me and told me to run … a Ferry was just leaving … I quickly paid my PHP20 Terminal Fee and ran to the ticket counter. I was too late, they were closing the gates.
I asked when the next ferry was … ‘maybe 11:00am’. The girl behind the counter suggested that I try the other Ferry Port.
I had nothing to lose, so I got my PHP20 Terminal Fee refunded and headed out the door. The 2nd Ferry Port was 2kms away. The first Trike I asked wanted PHP60; over-priced. I walked to the road. There I agreed a Trike for PHP30; correct.
FERRY TO MATNOG:
This second port services bus loads of tourists; I am not sure that I should have been there.
I paid my PHP20 Terminal Fee, bought my PHP110 ticket to Matnog and waited for the 9:00am Ferry. There is a second ‘Fee’ of PHP5 – only God knows what for.
I found a roomy seat and sat down. It was immediately in front of a karaoke machine. Oops. I wasn’t expecting anyone to karaoke at 9:00am in the morning … but they did! It was LOUD!
Note: Don’t sit near a karaoke machine in The Philippines – no matter what time of day it is.
JEEPNEY TO BULAN:
As usual, ignore the Trike touts in the Ferry Port. Always walk out of the terminal.
Walk 20m straight up the road to the Pulis Station.
Here you catch the Jeepney to Sorsogan. Ask them to drop you off at the Junction with Bulan Airport Road. They charged me PHP50 – it should have been PHP20 or PHP30. Again, I use my Rule Of Thumb which says that you should only pay PHP2 per km for a Jeepney.
At the Junction, there is a Jeepney stop. Wait there for a passing Jeepney to Bulan.
The Jeepney to Bulan arrived within 20 minutes. The cost was PHP20 (correct by my Rule Of Thumb). I was there by 12:30pm.
BANGKA TO TICAO ISLAND:
Tell the Jeepney to drop you off at the Bangka Pier.
From the drop off, it is an easy 300m walk to the Pier.
I paid my PHP15 Terminal Fee and walked straight on to the waiting Bangka.
MY SAN JACINTO HOTEL – THE TICAO LODGE:
This is the start of rainy season. The North East Monsoon rains go from June to November. Until now, the rains mostly came at night … over the last few days, they were starting to come every afternoon.
I took shelter for 30 minutes until the rain eased. I had no plans to go far …
There are very few Hotels listed in Ticao Island on the internet.
The most well known is the Ticao Beach Resort.
The Ticao Beach Resort is the only SCUBA Dive Resort on the island. Room prices start at PHP2,500 / night – too expensive for GRANDPAckers.
I walked down the San Jacinto main street looking for the Ticao Lodge.
You can find information about the Lodge if you search the internet.
I didn’t see any other hotels.
The Lodge has a waterfront setting.
The room was just BELOW GRANDPAcking Standard. But, it was the best that I could do.
It came with cable tv and cold water shower. No wardrobe.
San Jacinto is quite a nice little town. The high street is strewn with small shops and a couple of Tinpots.
But, surprisingly for The Philippines, there is a waterfront restaurant: B@m’s.
To get to B@m’s, walk 30m straight up the road from the Port past the Pulis Station and turn left.
They do a reasonably priced Breakfast for PHP60 and a good Chicken Adobo with Rice for PHP135.
I was going to spend longer on Ticao Island. Ticao is meant to have some good sightseeing and some nice beaches.
But, Ticao proved to be a bit of a problem for me:
- I couldn’t SCUBA Dive because the Ticao Beach Resort had a monopoly and was too expensive;
- I couldn’t rent a scooter, so I couldn’t get around the island;
- There are no Trikes on Ticao – only Motos; I didn’t want to transit long distances on the back of a Moto with my suitcase;
- The Monsoon rains were starting, so (for safety) I needed to get back on to the main, larger Ferry routes and away from small Bangka travel
There are a couple of Jeepneys on the island but they only go between San Jacinto and the (southern) town of San Fernando. They are, actually, nice 20-seater minibuses rather than the ‘traditional’ Jeepney. I could have gone to San Fernando for a couple more days (there is a hotel there with rooms for PHP800) … but, in the end, I decided to quit Ticao and head for Masbate.
The trip from San Antonio to Ticao Island is a reasonably easy one. My door-to-door-travel time was 8 hours. My cost was PHP472. For 2 GRANDPAckers, budget PHP754.
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