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Published: October 16th 2007
So Macho...he's got to be ...So Macho...he's got to be big and strong...enough to turn ...errr...me on?
We finally decided to drag ourselves away from the beach at Malapascua to head to Leyte so we could catch our flight back to Manila. For some reason we had a crazy idea to travel to Leyte (specifically Tacloban) for a flight, rather than backtrack on ourselves to Cebu and to see a new area of the Philippines. As it turns out this was the funniest and worst journey we had yet done...and we won't be having any more crazy ideas in the near future!
On the day we left we were up bright and early (we even had time for breakfast!) before we caught the boat to Maya on Cebu. It seemed silly to us that we had to return to Maya to catch another boat to San Isidro on Leyte, but we went with the flow. We arrived in plenty of time to get the 10am boat, so we ended up sitting on the boat for an hour and a half before it left. As the boat cast off from Maya we started talking to a German expat who told us about his farm and how he teaches the local Filipinos about sustainable farming. Half way into the
journey we decided to ask the locals about the bus to Tacloban from San Isidro. This was where it started to all go very very wrong!
According to Lonely Planet (which is 80% right for travel information), there are bus connections from San Isidro several times a day. Unfortunately for us it seems that the authors of this book have never actually got off their backsides and done this journey for themselves, they have just heard of it. The locals on the boat started to tell us that there was no bus to Tacloban, it left in the morning, we would *just* have to go south for 4 hours to a city called Ormoc and then north for a further 3 hours to Tacloban. Oh dear, we really began to worry...but ever optimistic we decided that the locals couldn't possibly know all of the buses from San Isidro!
We docked into San Isidro 'port', which was basically just a concrete jetty and nothing else, we pushed past the guitar/chicken/big box carrying locals to get off the boat and suddenly realised we didn't have a clue where the bus terminal was. We had plenty of offers from moto drivers
Groovy bus transport
inside was not as attractive as its exterior
for a lift, but with the backpacks we had and the type of bikes they had, there was no way we would fit onto a bike. So we walked. It was midday, there wasn't a cloud in the sky and we walked 2km to the bus terminal...well we hoped we were walking the right way. Every time we asked a local for directions they vaguely gestured up the road to the left. We were both walking with sarongs wrapped around our heads and Neil trying to balance the umbrella over our heads to at least protect us from sunburn! After a really hot walk, up a main road, left onto another main road, over a bridge, left down the town's high street and right next to a government office (on the bright side we must be getting used to walking with big rucksacks as it only took us an hour!) we found a parking area which looked like it would be the bus terminal...how did we know it was the bus terminal? By the tyres buried around the edge of the parking area and the people sitting around with luggage of course!
At this point, exhausted and hot we
What are we doing in this place?
...the place being San Isidro...and 'we' being the tourists which everyone gawped at!
took a look around and noticed that the whole village of San Isidro had turned out to sit and stare at us. So Neil was sent to ask a group of men what time the bus to Tacloban departed. First he was told 3pm, then he was told there was no bus we would have to go to Ormoc, so we were left none the wiser. So we just hung around the bus 'terminal' to see what happened. Eventually we figured out we would have to go to Ormoc and a bus turned up at 3pm to take us there. We arrived into Ormoc at 7pm and after a quick pit-stop for Donna to pick up some pineapples we got another bus to Tacloban...bear in mind we had been travelling since 8am, who says travelling is a holiday? From what little we saw of Ormoc it looked really nice.
Finally we arrived into Tacloban at 10pm and the driver of the bus kindly abandoned us at Tacloban bus terminal which was approximately 4km from Tacloban. Of course the obligatory extortionate trike drivers were gathered to offer us 300 peso (£3) journeys to the centre, but after a quick chat
with the local police, they hailed us a jeepney and we got to Tacloban centre for 20 pesos (20p). We found an overpriced hotel but when its late at night and you have no choice you'll settle for anywhere!
Tacloban itself is not the most attractive of cities and it obviously doesn't get many tourists as we were stared at more than anywhere else we had been in the Philippines. You would think that being the focal point of people's attention would be very flattering, actually it is very off putting...particularly when people shouted things at you in the street and you aren't sure whether they are friendly or unfriendly comments. We think and hope they were friendly! There are a couple of places of interest in and around Tacloban. The first is that it was the home of the infamous Imelda Marcos and her shoes, the second is that near to here, at Palo Town, is where General MacArthur of the US Army returned to fight the occupying Japanese forces, thereby fulfilling a promise he had made 'to return'...he didn't fight the Japanese forces by himself, but brought his army with him (the men in the statue in
Dodgy moto drivers staring at us
...we are sure they were friendly.....ish!
the photo we took, weren't his entire army, we think he had a few more men!). FYI the General is the cool looking dude in the sunglasses in the middle of the statue.
So escaping Tacloban, we knew we were destined for another marathon journey as we had decided to try and make it to Mindoro in one day, which would involve a flight to Manila, a bus to Batangas and a ferry to Mindoro.
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