Monday, October 27, 2008

Arrival, Brunch, Choosing a Siquijor Guide

Once the boat neared the shores of Siquijor (town), in Siquijor (island/province), I heard cameras started clicking. Whoa, the boat must have been full with tourists. And everyone seem to be excited to get out of the boat. Low tide… the views to the left or right of the pier was of inviting white sandy beaches wider than usual. Whoa! How I wanted to dip! But I was to tour the island. Oh well!

This is another long walk by the way, which is probably 300 meters or so – from the boat to the exit gate of this long concrete pier. Remember to look either way and even back. It is quite an exhilarating view from here. You can see the tips of at least four islands namely Negros (where Dumaguete is), Cebu (its southern most tip – the town of Santander), Panglao Island that actually seems to be part of the 4th island which is the main island of Bohol. Very nice views!

As you walk the pier towards the exit gate, some men would already be accosting you. Don’t worry, they’re calmer and observe decorum here unlike at the ugly Batangas City pier. They have the same purpose though – to get you to avail of their services. What services? Their tour or transport services in various modes or types. I just wonder though how come some of these guys are able to penetrate the barrier/gate where they’re supposed to wait it out and where there even are policemen at that area. I saw four or five of them who attempted to get me but I played hard to get hehe! All I wanted this time was light a cigarette, get to the main gate and observe how “business” is conducted at that area. Two at least tailed me but just the same disappeared when I continued to ignore them.

Then I was at the main gate. The place teems with a lot of men offering a tour around the island in either an air-conditioned van, a multicab, a jeep, or a motorcycle – depending on how many of you. Others are just there to get you to ride them going to Larena, the resorts or the other towns of the island in similar choices of transportation. I listened to the conversations especially on the “how much” portion. At times I would pretend I was part of the group haggling with those drivers and just stood there listening. Good I wore my shades so they didn’t readily recognize where my attention was. At times though I would be spotted as 'alone' so some of them would corner me with an offer. I just declined and moved away. But I did hear many of the agreed prices!

Knowing I was already short of the needed time to tour this island, I did know I had more than enough after dropping some destinations that were the obvious time consumers. So I took my grand sweet time. Boom! I spotted my target! This was a dark, muscled man who I saw was also offering his services but ended up with no customer. Passed in front of him and made it obvious I might be looking for a driver-cum-tour-guide. I went to that store-cum-restaurant to have brunch. Naturally he followed in that direction. The man sat by the entrance area as he watched me and other passengers buy lunch or snacks. Mine was fried chicken, rice, tinola and Mt. Dew. Note that in the Visayas, when you say “tinola” the default meaning is fish. You say “tinolang manok” if its chicken. And hey, no "Coke" - this is probably Pepsi country, I wonder why!

After finishing my food and as I puffed a cigarette, I asked one of the waiters (who looked like the owner of the place) about how much would it cost me if I rented a motorbike with driver to tour around the island. His reply was, “itanong mo lang sa mga driver sir, depende yan sa kanila”. Note that a friend (sometime ago) tipped me that I can have this tour for as low as P500. Then came the waitress (his wife or sister) saying “mag-van nalang kayo sir, kay mainit… tanghali na”. I said that would have been too expensive since I was alone. Another waitress offered “sir, mahal ang habal-habal, mag-rent nalang kayo dyan – meron per hour, meron per day”. I said “magkano nga ang mahal?” Miraculously, no one could answer me.

With all the fuss and discussions (and this happened as they went on with their jobs to serve or take orders from people) all were trying (or pretending) to be helpful, the waiter finally said “ayan si ano o… driver yan, kausapin nyo lang sir”. And so came forth my target driver-cum-tourguide hehe! I immediately said “magkano”. His reply was P1,500 and I exclaimed “ha? Ang mahal naman!”. His reply was ganyan talaga sir ang going rate ng multicab, pero pwede ko ibaba sa P1200”. And I explained that I did not want a van, jeep or multicab, I just wanted to get a motorcycle ride preferably with a driver and I riding at the back. Note that even before I left Manila, I already considered the option to rent two motorbikes for the guide and me but I thought I would have been concentrating on the road than the sights and my camera.

The hunk recovered by saying “oh, meron din ako motorcycle, sir, P700 for the tour”. I said P500. He said P700. I said P500. He said P600 and I said DEAL! I instantly knew that with that deal I would have to shell out an extra P100 if his service was good – so I thought he should be happy it will come out to his original P700. Am sure this was too much but I felt he was knowledgeable of the place and articulate enough so I gave it a go at P600. He excitedly smiled and told me to wait as he returns the multicab home and get his motorcycle!

Win-win I thought! So let’s get on with my tour, shall we?

For a chronology of stories on this trip, click the following article numbers:

01   02   03   04   05   06   07   08   09   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18
19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29   30   31   32   33   34   35


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