Thursday, January 8, 2015

9 Days of Nowhere: Palawan to Batangas to Quezon

Limbonis on hammock in front of Port Barton's bay

Coming back home after 7 month of backpacking Southeast Asia, and being so firm about not going back to corporate work (unless it’s my previous company), I got a ticket for Puerto Princesa on Christmas day and Flying back to Manila on New Year.

For some reason, I almost got denied boarding, but somehow managed to make some great excuses so I made it to Palawan.

From the airport, I headed straight to the terminal where I can catch the trip to Port Barton. Unfortunately, there was no more Port Barton bound transport, and so took the San Vicente Trip instead and got off in the San Jose tricycle terminal.

At the terminal, the tricycle drivers were asking P300 for a habal ride for that 20kms remaining to Port Barton.

I got back into my Math. It normally take me 10 minutes for a kilometer walk, so this will take me 200 minutes or 3.3 hours. It’s 4 o clock at the time, and it would take me until past 7pm to get there. Well.. not a very good idea to walk in the jungle dark, especially I have loads of grocery stock in my hands. Then again, there’s no way I will be paying P300 from that point to get there. It would have been only P250 if only I caught the direct Port Barton transport, and after paying P90 to the San Vicente bound bus, my cost is already at P390.

And so I waited. I told the drivers I can wait for another passenger to share the cost, and make it at least only P250 for me. They were fine.

I’m glad that everytime I travel, I always bring out that poor traveler loo (probably even effortless because of the backpacker dress up, my skin, unattended hair style, etc).

A little while later, a driver flagged a van. It was a tourist van en route to Port Barton. I was asked to Board. I paid P150 to get there.. Yipee! It was P240 all in all.. cheaper than expected.

I got to Port Barton and stayed with a friend who recently bought a piece of land there.

Everyday was about waking up, preparing brunch, chopping wood, cooking whatever, harvesting coconuts,waiting for electricity at 5:30, and walking at the beach to find if any place has any crowd, and even making a broomstick out of coconut leaves.

Few days passed, we decided to spend the New Year’s in the city. We did the countdown in the Bay area where there was a 6-minute firework. Unfortunately, the new year wasn’t as lively as everywhere else. We resorted to sleeping it away after giving up on finding a place to drink.

our NYE dinner in Baywalk, Puerto Princesa

Then, a few days ago, I had an invitation from friends to climb Mt Batulao on New Year.

So, without any proper gears, from the airport, I went straight ahead to coastal mall terminal to meet my hike buddies. It was about 6:00pm when we met, stopped by Tagaytay for dinner, and about 10pm when we started the trek. It was muddy, windy, and fiercefully breezy. We camped at #10 and did our drinks right inside the tent.

Mt Batulao photo courtesy of Gen E Sis

After our descend the following day, we head straight to Alibijaban island in San Andres, Quezon. From Nasugbu, we took the jeep to the terminal in Olivarez, then a van to calamba, and then a bus to Lucena. It was around 8pm when we reached Lucena.

From Lucena, compared to my first trip to the island, there are now 3 other companies that service the town. There were 2 buses ready to leave, but decided to wait for Superlines – the supposed bigger company and expected to have better seats.

We also met other San Andres residents who were waiting for the same bus, and recommends indeed that we wait.

It was about 2 hours later when the bus arrived. There were no more buses from the other companies and this Superlines bus don’t look like there’s seats for us. We had to stand in the bus, and could only feel so bad for the kids dumped in any available space.

The conductor said there were people getting off in Burgos, but there were only 2 of them, and around 25 of us stucked in the aisle. It did not even feel like there was space freed out by the 2 passengers who just got off.

It was already in Mulanay when all 4 of us got a seat.
By 3am, we finally reached San Andres terminal. From there, we were going to wait for sunrise and some boats bound for Alibijaban. There were some fishing boats there, but did not want to charter for it would be more expensive that necessary.

We laid our sheets, and sleeping backs, and attempted to sleep in the pave way of the port.
Then, a fisherman passed by and asked where we are bound. We told him ‘towards the island’ and asked if we’d like them to drop us. We said NO need, but he said, we can just pay him P200. That was a good bargain so rephrased our answer to YES.

the group sleeping in the San Andres port waiting for a boat to Alibijaban Island

We could hear the waves right in the port, and I was so worried that my laptop would get wet. I wasn’t really intending to do this straightaway from Port Barton, but it’s just being ME.. totally spontaneous.

It took us probably an hour and a half to get there. The sea wasn’t calm enough so couldn’t run the engine fast enough. I’d fall asleep once in a while, and when I get awakened, looking at sparks of light from the town and from the boats in the island, it doesn’t seem like we are moving. The boatman seem calm though so I was not bothered.

Somehow, we managed to get on the shore by nearly 6am.
We were received by my contact’s family, and the brgy Kaptain. We were escorted to the free space where we can camp the night.

After setting up the tent and my hammock, we decided to take some nap. Afterwhich, we walked onto the shores of the islands with the kids.

Limbonis in Alibijaban Island photo courtesy of Gen E Sis

Water Pump in Alibijaban Island

Alibijaban island

The following day, we set to leave the island before noontime. After brunch, and cleaning the utensils we’ve used, we hitched from the Kaptain’s boat who is bound to town to buy some construction materials. They were actually building some sheds for future visitors.

From town, we thought it would be too early to be bound to Manila, especially that by the time the bus is in Candelaria, and Laguna, traffic would have been irritating to a suicide level. We decided to take a side trip to the beaches of San Narciso.

The beaches we’ve seen just nearby the town of San Narciso were nice except that they were not maintained at all. There was too many coconut husks on the shore that spoil the view of the blue and fine white sand.

We were not so content to settle in these beaches so we took a walk further.
Towards the beach of the next cove, we’ll have to walk back to the main road, or just trek its boundaries. We are used to trekking anyway, so didn’t mind getting onto the wild bush and get off the ridge.

From the ridge, we were also seeing some nice rock formations, and thought about walking all the way there.

my broken slippers from climbing the boulders of Talaw Talaw or Taraw Taraw, San Narciso (photo by Gen E Sis)

Talaw Talaw, San Narciso (photo by Gen E Sis)

The rock boulders surrounded by waters weren’t so bad after all. The water was not so deep, so thought about walking towards them. We climbed all the way up the 2 rocks. Villagers say the area is area is called Talaw Talaw (or Taraw Taraw as others said).

At around past 3pm, we decided to go back to the Terminal so not to miss the bus.
Unfortunately, all the buses that arrived were packed so we waited back to the junction between San Narciso and San Andres. We got the bus there, although again, it was standing.

As we drove further, there were more and more passengers to a point that you can’t even move from the time you find your position in the aisle. There were probably more than 50 of us in the aisle, including mothers with infants. The driver is a big fucking nut.

In Mulanay, I was asking for a refund so I can just sleep in the town and not endure any more of it. Driver refused and I wasn’t wealthy enough to let go of my 200 pesos.

Lesson learned: avoid Superlines! Avoid Superlines! Avoid Superlines. Their drivers are dirt cheap futile.

We were in that situation until Lucena City.

From there I decided to call it a night and attempt to travel back the following day instead. I was already tired.

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