Thursday, May 28, 2015

Backpacking Biliran

Sambawan and Maripipi Islands in Biliran

The island which I did not know was in itself a province until I got to Samar. 

For sometime, i was hearing people say Biliran, Samar. Then, I would also recall people saying Biliran, Leyte. Eventually, it’s Biliran by its own.

Traveller’s arrival point will be the capital town of Naval unless coming from a ferry from Calbayog (to Maripipi). There is nothing in the traveller’s interest in Naval except for the sunset (and barbeque) in the Pier.

There are several lodging houses right in town (D'Mei Residence Inn, GV Hotel, El Roman Pensionne, TJ's lodging house, and Brigida Tourist Inn).

Naval Town, Biliran
D' Mei Residence Inn, Naval, Biliran

El Roman Pension in Naval, Biliran
GV Hotel in Naval, Biliran

Interesting enough though, when I was walking around, i spotted a shop that had movie posters as those of a video rental shop. Then again, i could not see cupboards of disks; it looks too small as well for a cinema. Instead of living a life curious of what that was, I walked in and asked. It was a Biliran Moviehouse. You have a sort of KTV rooms with a TV, and where you play a movie of your choice for P100 per movie.

Another thing that is interesting about Naval is that people sleep late (or at least not as early as 8am of other provincial capitals; if not at least at the time of my visit, and that it is a school holidays).

For food, carinderia's are your best bet. I spotted a number of them, at least 1 on every street, but I ate in the market instead. There is only 1 upscale restaurant I spotted, but with the price and the expected especialty of the cooking, it is most likely just a place to be.

Boulevard of Naval, Biliran

Sunset in Naval, Biliran

From Naval, you can make your way to a several waterfalls, the best one of which is said to be is the Ulan ulan – Recoletos falls in Brgy Sampao, Almeria. This barangay is up in the upland with a lot of scenic rice terraces en route. From Naval to Sampao is a habal ride costing P25 per head, though motorman might ask to earn with 2 passengers at minimum before leaving. If coming from Almeria town, habal ride is P70 to Sampao. Surprisingly though, I was able to walk in no time from Sampao all the way to the highway.

Rice Terraces in Brgy Sampao, Almeria, Biliran

Rice Terraces in Brgy Sampao, Almeria, Biliran

Recolletos Falls in Brgy Sampao, Almeria, Biliran

While in Biliran, I also saw a billboard of the church in Almeria, though when I visited it, i did not even come close (Nothing historical, heritage, or sort about it which is the normal reason for visiting churches in provinces).

There are also several small and interesting islands around, and again, travellers would not want to miss Sambawan island off Maripipi island. From Naval, you can get the 10am boat to Maripipi all the way to brgy Ol-Og where you can get the boat to Sambawan island. Take the Brian Claire boat as fare (P60) includes a jeep service from dock point to your destination in Maripipi. Otherwise, you spend an additional P50 for a habal ride to Ol-Og.

The Boats leave Maripipi to Naval at 5am; Hence, visitors of Sambawan who would like to catch the Naval boat the next day will have to leave the island the day before. It is not possible to leave the island very early (like 2am) as waves are said to be big at night. The Brian Claire jeep picks up from Brgy Ol-Og at 2:30am.

Naval Port in Biliran

There are homestays near the port, and even in Brgy Ol-og. However, with just a few hours to go before riding the boat, I would rather get straight to the boat, from Sambawan island, so I don't have to spend for a few hours sleep. Plus, i don't have to wake up early just to get to the boat, since I am already in the boat. I can just wake up when I am in Naval.

Some travellers take the Cauayan route in Biliran mainland, and take the boat from there; But with the waves in the area, it will get everyone wet and screaming. It may have been quicker to get to Cawayan through the jeep, but it will even out, if not longer, with the boat time from Cawayan to Sambawan (especially this time it will be a smaller boat compared to the big boat between naval and maripipi). Besides, since Sambawan is off Maripipi, and Maripipi being an island municipality has less income compared to Biliran, it is but as a courtesy to give the livelihood to the boatmen of Maripipi. 

Naval is a no smoking City.

To get to Biliran, there are boats coming from Cebu, Vans from Tacloban (Fare is P120 with Duptours and Van Vans), and Boat from Calbayog.

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