Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Samar to Luzon RORO Ride & Onwards

Allen is on the northwesternern tip of Northern Samar and Matnog is southern tip of Luzon. And this RORO ride is the sole direct connection between the two islands. Takes just about an hour and a half of actual sea travel, but the waiting time at either of the ports before and after arrival makes the whole thing look like its a 3-hour gig or even more! I heard friends who drove passing this way and tell something like it took them 5 or even 6 hours. Maybe it was due to documentation needs. Other friends who rode buses this way tell us the same.

Maybe I was lucky? I usually am, actually hehe! My bus arrived at the Allen port at 3;44PM and at exactly 6;45PM, I was already boarding my bus again in Matnog after it emerged from inside the RORO!

How is this ride? Generally uneventful, but if it is an afternoon run on a summer day, you probably will call it one of the best. RORO departs from the Allen port at 5PM, just before the sun slowly inches down beyond the islands. Fantastic view of Samar as you slowly pull away from it. After about an hour with nothing but the vastness of the sea, some of the little islands off Matnog start to come into view. Fantastic islands! Some of them have white sand beaches. Whoa!

On both ports btw, there are still the children considered by many travelers as a spectacle. Many call them Badjao kids but they are in no way near Badjao. They are Waray-waray kids on the Samar side and Bicolano kids on Luzon side, swimming around the boats, coaxing you, egging you, to throw some coins to the water for which they will expertly dive for to get. And they are good divers, y’know! Some of them wear goggles, some have improvised fins they fashioned from plywood scraps.

On the Samar side, they were amazing to watch trying to swim and dive fast to catch a coin. They even already know if what you tossed is a real coin, a bottle cap or anything like that. and you could hear them shouting cursing you, if it was not a coin you threw in! Okay fine, they are a common view in many of our piers all over the islands. But I was surprised to see that on arrival at Matnog, there were still these kids even in the darkness! Yeah yeah, coins would probably shine and easy to spot in the water, but I think it also gets cold down there, even on summer nights.

Then the RORO starts pulling in towards the pier and the skies get even darker. End of your 90-peso RORO ride (Children-45, Seniors-72), plus 20-peso terminal fee. And you're there to continue your landside journey onwards!

For this trip, the first few kilometers was most boring and psychologically the most uncomfortable. Why? Its just primetime, you should have been watching evening news, but there is none on TV – you have a fast running bus on a remote provincial area for the TV signals to get properly through. So all that's shown are the boring old violent movies, depending on the conductor’s taste! You want to look outside, its dark. You want to read something, miracle if your reading light still works. You want to write something, same case, its too dark. Sleep? Come on, its not even dinnertime yet!

Oh, on this ride, dinner was at some gas station restaurant in Sorsogon City, an hour away from Matnog. Then it was an onward roll in the darkness. This time I did attempt some sleep, and was probably successful. Why? Because next thing I knew, the conductor was waking me up as we were already entering the City of Naga, Camarines Sur – at midnight hehe and argh!


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