Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Midnight RORO to Tubigon

As I read the “shipping section” of Sunstar Cebu…
You’re leaving again?
Where are you going this time?
Again? Panglao?
Yes and No.
Ha? Where… ahhh… can I go with you?
Just don’t make me carry your things…

And so a plan was hatched. I went to Bohol via a separate entry point, Tubigon. Just to try the ‘other way’ really. And I am happy and proud I did this trip. I had many discoveries that changed my perspective on this island-province that is becoming more interesting to me as I go places. This trip brought me to other facets of Bohol island… equally beautiful and mesmerizing than the usual Tagbilaran and Panglao escapades we Filipinos most often do. Not to mention a fully packed RORO. Plus, I had company this time and I can tell you he enjoyed what he calls his ‘tour of a lifetime’ hehe. More of that later he hehe he he!

Where is Tubigon and how did it come across my crazy itineraries anyway? Well, I heard about the place via a news report on Cebu’s local TV. I remember it was not a very good kind of news (they all aren’t anyway, right?) but when the town’s name was mentioned, and that there were/are fast crafts plying between it and Cebu City, I remembered something... Ah yes, it was this town suggested by some of the men over at Tagbilaran’s pier when we got stranded care of a tropical storm sometime ago. I looked at google maps and saw that its on the northwestern seaboard of Bohol facing and nearer Cebu. I surmised, if there were fast crafts, then the area must be busy… therefore must have something worth a peep for me.

Hah, so I scanned the pages of Sunstar again and it actually looked like there were more trips from Cebu to this town than to Tagbilaran. Hmm, I wondered a bit… and the availability of various rides perked up my interest to go for it even more. Immediately on the same day, I found myself lining up for tickets at the offices of Lite Shipping Corporation over at a little street perpendicular to MJ Cuneco – an entirely new experience that tested my wits, patience and my stomach hehe. I now smile recalling this experience but am not actually really sure I am ready to do it again – since I discovered there are other ways of getting LIte Shipping tickets. Let me tell you more about it in a separate blog entry, okay?

Anyway, we took the midnight run of Lite Shipping’s RORO from Cebu to Tubigon. Their trips from Cebu are every 7 and 12 – meaning they have departures at 7AM, 12NN, 7PM and 12MN for this 2-hour trip. It was a full packed boat, so there was quite a crowd just about everywhere on board. I liked it though, as I was able to witness the general cross-section of folks who ride these boats during weekends and/or holidays. Note that this is the only available mode of transport at our preferred time of departure – nighttime. The many fast crafts depart at various times during the day – daylight, that is.

We were “sitting only” hehe. You still remember what that means? Alright, let me describe these for the benefit of those who are not used to RORO rides on Lite Shipping: ‘Sitting Only’ is a class of service where you ride the RORO on long wooden benches much like church pews with taller wooden backrests. No kneeling-pads of course hehe. That’s P170 one-way. These are non-airconditioned portions of the boat but open on the sides where you get to savor the sea breeze. Then there is the “non-air-conditioned bed” at P190 one-way. These are beds locally called “tejeras” with foam wrapped in faux-leather as mattresses. Good enough if you want to snooze, and if at all you can. Finally, at P200 one-way, there is what they call “air-conditioned bed”. Those are beds in air-conditioned rooms. Note that beds anywhere are of the double-deck types. They just differ in make, like those at the non-air-conditioned section are made of wrought iron while those in the air-conditioned section are wood and more claustrophobic. And what a sorry place, those who are on the top beds have their heads reaching the ceiling when they sit on their beds, while those who occupy the lower decks have feet from upper decks dangling in front of their faces. Gosh!

Anything of note during this midnight RORO ride? Well, not a lot but let me throw in some significant things as far as traveling is concerned. TVs are all over the ship. I think there is no passenger area where you couldn’t watch TV – at times you even have a choice if you will look left or right. Well, yes, they are small at probably 20 inches or so, thus, you’ll have to get nearer if you were serious at watching whatever is showing. When still docked, they show whatever is on local free channels, generally news. But when the boat starts to cruise, they switch to whatever kind of ‘movie in pirated DVD’ the crews so prefer hehe – usually gun shootout movies. Don’t worry, if you consider most of those movies violent, this country is not top honors on showing such horrible flicks. Try the buses in Kota Kinabalu or Kuala Lumpur that show movies – also from pirated DVDs probably bought at Pasar Pilipino hehe. Anyway…

There is a canteen. And the most sought-after items are the various flavours of instant noodles that can easily be sold out in a flash. So you had better crave for them ASAP. Same story for bottled sodas and juices. Of course there are other things like crackers and chips. Bottled water is cold only if you bought it upon embarkation. If you buy bottled water halfway on the trip, you are given a bottle that is dripping wet as it also comes from swimming in a chest cooler. But it wont be cold as it was probably dunked unto that chest about a minute ago hehe. That’s how brisk water sells on the boat. Ah beer is also available. And first to go are the big bottles of red horse, followed by San Miguel Grande. The small regular SMB bottles last till about half the cruise. After that, you can cry blood or wave wads of thousand-peso bills, but your money can’t buy no beer because there is already none hahahaha! Drunkard!!!

So, what else do you expect on a midnight boat? As others do… snooze or snore your 2 hours away. Or wake everyone and start talking to them hehe. Or go on the side of the boat, savor the cool sea wind and imagine you are looking at anything other than the actual pitch black of night!

Bitin ba? Wait until I get to post my return trip, it was a mid-day cruise. Hang in there reading the rest of this trip!

If you want to read the chronology of all stories on this tour, click the following:
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


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