Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Caramoan To Naga, All Ahead of Time

So, there I was, ready to leave Caramoan, even if reluctantly!

I found out that departing from town center (or any of the resorts for that matter) towards the Guijalo Port is no simple thing. The easiest way is still to charter a jeep or tricycle if you are traveling as a group. The habal-habal ride is best if, like me, you are traveling alone without so many things to bring. Why? Because its not as if there are available rides anytime you wish to go, especially early in the mornings. The tricycles may not want to take off if not full to the roof, even if you say you are trying to catch the boat departure! You can coerce them of course, but then you’ll have to pay for the vacant spaces if you want them to move pronto – which may, after all, end up more expensive!

I took a habal-habal ride at 6:15AM so I could catch the 7AM boat departure for Sabang. Too early a trip? Yeah, very! Especially if your bio-clock has already adjusted to ‘vacation mode’! And on a habal-habal, the trip could be chilly at such an early time of day in Caramoan. Even if you say it is going to be a sunny day. The cold night’s dews still linger around at this time and its not uncommon to see folks even wearing sweatshirts or jackets! You might say its just a nice enough cool morning, but when the habal-habal zooms through the foresty road towards Guijalo, wind smacking at you could be biting cold. Precipitation even blurs your camera lenses, your shades and the motorbike’s side mirror! Yep, you must wear your shades – even if there’s no sun yet – for protection.

Though my flight back to Manila from Naga was still at 2:55PM, I decided to get the 7AM ‘first boat’ trip for a reason - they do not leave on time and neither the vans from Sabang to Naga City. There was an 8AM boat. If I gave or take a few minutes for the delays, that would have been an ideal connection all the way to the Naga Airport. But I was not too confident about that since the delays are sometimes more than just a few minutes! Oh, there is even a 9AM boat which should have been most ideal for the body clock, right? But knowing the very usual and unexplained waiting (for more passengers) by both boat and van, departing at such a schedule was for me too much of a risk.

How is this long trip anyway? Well, reversing my “going to Caramoan experience” I surmised it should go something like this: about 30mins from Centro to Guijalo, some wait, then 2hours from Guijalo to Sabang, some wait again, then 2hours from Sabang to Naga. It should be that simple. But nothing leaves on the dot! Technically, departing on the 7AM boat, if everything were on time, I’d be arriving at the Naga airport something like 4 hours before my flight. Too early, right? I took it just the same to give ample leeway for the many delays of boat or van not being full yet.

Now the “actuals”…

Habal-habal from Centro arrived Guijalo at 6:26AM. So it was not 30minutes, and thanks! But just as expected, my 7AM boat departed at 7:29AM! Wonderful sceneries again – from departure at Guijalo all the way to arrival at Sabang. Ah, especially for my photographer friends, you must catch the Guijalo Port at sunrise. Not that you’ll get a glimpse of the sun inching up, but the scenes in the area are too damn beautiful! It registers well even on my lowly point and shoot camera. You know, the vivid orange tint, bright but soft and cool to the eyes, contrasting well with the greens and blues, the works! And there are a lot of subjects like the hustle of people loading things on the boats, the idle colorful boats at the docks with a real forest as backdrop and so on… I know you guys will love that place for a shootout!

And the trip, since it skirts the peninsula still offers even more wonderful views at early morning. I climbed up to the roof of the boat and stayed there all the way until arrival! There was Mt. Mayon, again in a haze of fog and clouds, but we could see the silhouette of its apex. There were fishermen busy plunging things hard on the water as if trying to break it apart into little pieces that I wondered what they were doing. I asked a fellow passenger and learned that those guys were trying to drive fish towards their nets. Hmm, first time I saw fishermen all standing on a boat. No one was sitting pretty! Btw, there was Mt. Isarog clearer and nearer than Mt. Mayon. And then there were the boatmen sleeping hehe!

At 9:16AM, I had already alighted from the shoulders of the ‘human carrier’ at Sabang Beach!! So it did not take two hours, but thanks too! Hey, arriving at Sabang Port was a ridiculous mix of feelings watching those porters. It starts from amusement, fun, disbelief and consternation - in that order - watching the red-shirted “human porters” get busy. They were already on the water even if our boat was still far from shore. While at first the visitor like me will get excited watching them, once you know the real story of why they still exist, it becomes a shameful spectacle. But that’s my next story.

I easily caught a van, and front seat no less! Friendly driver said it would leave soon since all seats were readily taken. But he allowed everyone (including me) to get some breakfast at the eateries just where the vans park. And we were off Sabang at 9:42AM. But at 10:44AM, I was already getting off the van right at the gate of the airport - yes, driver even went out of the way just to deliver me to the airport. Take note, it took just an hour and two minutes! So, pretty unfortunately for me, I was way too early hahaha! Better so, than missing a flight!

I still have stories about the airport experience but, let's do that after a review of that 'human ride' thing at Sabang Beach in San Jose - which comes next!

For a chronology of this trip's stories, click these 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


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