Monday, September 21, 2009

Deciphering my way to Camotes

It was a confusing start. I zoomed-in and zoomed-out Cebu Island on my Google Maps but could not find Camotes! Where are they? Aysus, I found out they’re nearer to Leyte Island than mainland Cebu! Then there was Pacijan, Poro and Ponson, and there is Poro, Pilar, Tudela and San Francisco! Just where was I supposed to start? Some say go via Ormoc, some say via Danao others say via Cebu’s Pier 1, some say Pier 3 and still others say via Ouano wharf? Hah!

I even went to that travel office in Mandaue (towards old Mactan Bridge) to ask more about Camotes and scout around for tours and accommodations. Part of the dialogue was…
Me: What else should I visit in Camotes?
Clerk: Sir, aside from the beaches, there are caves and beautiful Danao
Me: Ah yes, I will go to Danao City after Camotes
Clerk: No sir, I mean Lake Danao
Me: But that’s in Ormoc, I just want Camotes
Clerk: Yes sir, in Camotes
Me: ha?!

Well, there I learned that Lake Danao in Ormoc is different from Lake Danao in Camotes! When I asked what would be a good way to approach Camotes, I was given choices like either going straight from Cebu City or via Ormoc. Then I said I don’t want to go to Ormoc, as I have a different tour itinerary going there. Then she said Danao is also fine. Then I said if I were in Danao Lake then I would already be in Camotes, right? The reply was, “no sir, I mean Danao City”! Whaahehehe, it was a confusing start but in the end, my asking around and researching on the web led me to decide I will go on a D-I-Y visit of Camotes! Plan of attack: Take the fastcraft from Cebu to Poro, check-in at nearest hotel, sleep, roam, transfer to a beach resort, roam, sleep, depart for Danao, enjoy the Caranza, go home to Cebu. That simple eh?! Let’s see how I actually fared in this plan.

The fastcraft thing was rather unclear. The ever-reliable shipping schedules on Cebu’s dailies did not have a fast craft service to Camotes. Everyone on the web says there is indeed, but the departure times were confusing. Some said very early mornings, others said late afternoons. At least I already learned that said fastcraft departs from pier 1. So, to make sure, I went there 2PM a day ahead of intended departure just to check. On entry I asked the guard where the fastcraft for Camotes would be, he pointed me to the booth of Ocean Jet. I did not believe him but without saying a word, I proceeded to Ocean Jet thinking I would just ask there anyway. At their booth, the ever-smiling lady told me yes the craft is Ocean Jet and it leaves at 5:30PM with only 5 seats remaining. I said “my plan is to ride tomorrow, not today”. Then she asked if I wanted to buy my ticket in advance just the same. And I said yes of course. Whoa!

Ticket in hand, I sensed something was not quite right. I paused there thinking… she said the fastcraft is OceanJet but when I said I will buy a ticket in advance, she called up someone else to do it. And the computer-printed ticket I was holding said ‘Goldenbridge Shipping, Inc. BUT the printed ‘Vessel/Vojage No.’ was indeed OceanJet. I returned to the lady and asked why my ticket was printed not on the usual OceanJet ticket like for my Bohol or Dumaguete trips. She said OceanJet and Goldenbridge are sister companies. I asked too if the craft would be the same as those used for Tagbilaran and Dumaguete. She said no as the crafts used for Camotes are smaller. Duu! I still threw in another question as to why Camotes trips are not in the OceanJet website. The reply was “sir, Goldenbridge and OceanJet are sister companies but only OceanJet trips are on our website. A… e… oo nga naman hehe! So there, now I know and now you know! Oops, you see the fare? Ad P15 for termiinal fee so that makes it a total of P345.

Following day, the D-Day, after sauntering around SM Cebu, I went to Pier 1 for my 530PM trip. Asked where I should get my seat number (as is done with other fastcraft trips), a crew told me its free-seating. Oh okay, so I went in. No sooner than I have entered the ultra dark waiting lounge (440PM), boarding for my trip commenced. Hmm, that was too early for a 530PM departure, I thought. Oh my, and that was the smallest fastcraft I have seen so far. But it looked safe anyway. Its name is not OceanJet but Golden Express 2. How is boarding done? Passengers walk a plank from the pier’s pavement to the roof of the fastcraft that is just about the same level. That’s how small it is hehe. Then we descend via stairs on the craft's side to enter the “cabin”. Inside, the arrangements are almost like in an Airbus A320 or Boeing B737. I mean there are three seats by the left window and three seats on the right with an aisle at center. Yep, the aisle is wider than a plane’s. The seats are like in a plane too (only a bit overused) but overhead there are no luggage bins as those are the air conditioning ducts!. Oh up front is a television set that soon will play gory war movies just like in a bus! Beyond that are rows 1 to 4 called First Class Cabin.

In a little more than two hours, we arrived at the port of Poro and all I could say was… "wow, its dark here" hehe! 20090921


  1. very interesting!
    we are planning a trip to Camotes and was considering of taking this fast-craft despite our bad experience with Oceanjet (our checked-in baggage were stolen!).

    so, how was your camotes trip?

  2. hi jacy, it was a fantastic trip. you can read the succeeding articles for more :)

    i like your blog btw!