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Published: November 19th 2016
On my second morning in Manila I contacted my Mum via text message that I am now leaving Manila for Boracay. The reaction 'Oh, did you still not arrive??'.
Well, this is something that separates me from the rest of my family. For me the holiday starts when I leave my hometown with my travel bag. From this moment on I always feel happy knowing that '9 to 5' and other day by day thoughts are now behind me. I bet that my smile is never broader than on these days... This time on my third day of traveling I encountered with Bejing and Manila two new cities and I enjoyed this part of my journey already very much.
My family would also not understand why I chose the variant to take a bus and ferry which took in total almost 19 hours rather than just flying from Manila to Boracay door to door in 4,5 hours - not only because it takes longer but also due to safety concerns.
Well, looking back on this part of the journey I am very happy that I did so as it came with nice experiences.
Manila to Batangas
There are many busses going from Manila to Batangas. I chose Jam Liner, which goes every 30 minutes from Buendia Terminal which is actually not located at Buendia station but Gil Puyat LRT station. When I arrived there was waiting a bus already. I found it very easy procedure - no need to book or check in. Just hop on and after departure the bus conductor will come to you and you pay. The ride was very inexpensive 167 pesos and for that you get a ticket that looks like a bingo card.
Going with us was a young college guy who sold packs of pastillas. Money that he needs to pay for his school fees as he told me. One pack was 30 pesos and he sold two of them this time on the bus ride which is a little bit more than 1 Euro. During my stay I learned that this is one crucial thing in the Philippines. Not many families have enough money to pay the fee for the college but college degree is very much needed for a life that keeps you away from poorness.
The bus was leaving Manila soon and our route to Batangas offered some nice views of the big inland lake 'Laguna de Bay' with its many fish farms and some volcanic mountains. After 2 hours we arrived after a quick stop at Batangas city bus station at the ferry terminal. I booked my ferry ticket already via the internet with 2GO, so it was just up to me to pay the terminal fee. After checking in at the 2GO desk with its cheerful stuff, I waited inside the terminal for boarding. Some time to relax, to eat some local food and to read a book. Looking around there were only a few Western tourists - the most of the people here were locals. That's the way I like traveling - being surrounded by locals, eating local food.
Batangas to Caticlan
After few hours of waiting the boarding started. Our boat was named 'St. Ignatius of Loyola', a true holy boat. As I was not really sure what I will encounter on this ferry ride, I booked a stateroom. The room was just next to the reception desk. Inisde a very friendly Filipino couple - Jay and Maria - greated me. We had a good laugh as Jay more or less lives in Germany - not far away from my hometown. As many Filipinos he works overseas due to lack of jobs in the Philippines. Jay works in a for me well known adventure park and I actually know the house where he stays in Germany. Tiny world. Now Jay is on his annual home trip and happy to be some weeks together with his girlfriend Maria.
Maria gave me some tips while being on the boat like 'make sure not to keep anything in the room unlocked' and 'do not trust anybody on this ferry', she really was caring. 'Don't keep anything in the room unlocked' was easy as there was a big locker for me where my big travel suitcase plus backpack fitted in. The stateroom had 2 two storey beds with curtains. The room also had an own toilet with shower - all kept very clean.
'Do not trust anybody on this ferry' is a bit harder for me - as I am kind of naive person. I believe it was good that Maria told me it, so I was kind of alerted. After having my dinner which was chicken with rice, I went upstairs to the open air bar to watch the boat leaving Batangas. A white guy with a big open bag was going around multiple times looking for something. I didn't know if he was confused and I was asking myself what he is looking for. Then he approached me in British accent 'Hi, I have a problem. I have my little dog in this bag but pets are not allowed here. I need to get my dinner and now looking for a hideway for him. Is it okay for you if I place the bag over there so that you could have an eye on it while I am away'. I agreed and he put the bag in a little hideaway. At that moment some stuff of the boat came along, the dog barked and well, the guy and his dog where accompanied downstairs. Maria's words came instantly into my mind and I had to grin - ' do not trust anybody on this ferry'.
With a beer in my hand I watched the people on the deck. A lot of laughter and singing - and a lot of alcohol. I thought that this might be a problem for many of them tomorrow as the boat would arrive in Caticlan at 7am the next morning - but they would prove me wrong...
As I felt still jetlagged I went to bed around 10pm passing by the 'economy accomodation', which is a huge dorm room with many many two storey beds. To my surprise it was actually kept clean including the bathroom.
During the night starting at.3.30 I was woken up by several announcements each of them starting with a 'dayday-dayday' alarming sound: 'The boat will arrive soon at Port Odiongan...' - first in Filipino and one minute later in English -, 'Now the boat is about to arrive at Port Odiongan...' - again first in Filipino then in English -, 'We just arrived in Port Odiongang...' - Filipino then English - 'We want to welcome our new passengers...' - Filipino - English - Prayer 'Our Father' - Filipino - English.
I had to laugh.
Well two hours later we arrived at Caticlan and when I left the cabin to my surprise all other passengers were already queued up to leave the boat and they all looked actually very fresh.
My lessons learned: 'Do not trust Westerners' and 'Filipinos can party hard without side effects'
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