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Last days in the Philippines

and a ferry to Borneo

sunny
View Around We Go on LauHot10's travel map.

Initially we just planned to make it back to Cagayan and we completed the return journey with no problems. However once we arrived we both felt that there wasn't a lot to the place and made the decision to just keep moving. Once we'd found the correct bus station we began to wait for one going to Pagadian City which is about half way to Zamboanga. Unfortunately we missed our chance with one and then it seemed that every bus was going to a place called Illigan which is only about a quarter of the way. It was beginning to get a little late and we were tired so we decided to go to Illigan as at least it was in the right direction.

We disembarked about an hour and a half later and set about finding a bed for the night. We avoided the few taxi drivers who wanted silly money and began to walk up the main road. It was dark by now and it was hard to know whether we were going to come across a hotel or pension house in the near future, so when a taxi pulled over we gave in and got a ride. We never could have known but it was a bit of a mistake, he took us to the pension house the other taxi drivers had mentioned which ended up being only a short distance away and he charged us way too much. He then proceeded to claim commission for bringing us there, we thought about explaining that we'd actually told him where we wanted to go but we weren't really in the mood for a squabble.

The upside was that it was a great place and was really, really cheap. Definitely the best value for money we have had in the Philippines. So once we had popped out to feel up our empty tums we fell into a contented sleep.

Next morning we walked back up to the main road and caught a jeepney to the bus station for a fraction of the price the taxi had cost us. Although we'd been assured the night before that there were buses going to Zamboanga every hour this was in fact not the case and so we boarded a bus bound for Pagadian where we would have to catch another bus. The journey went smoothly, in Pagadian we transferred to a more comfortable a/c bus with a tv which was showing a pirate dvd containing a number of disaster movies including Dantes Peak and Titanic. It made the trip go a little quicker.

Once again we arrived in the dark which is always a little frustrating because it makes you more reliant of the local tricyle/taxi drivers. You feel a little less inclined to wander around in an attempt to get your bearings when you can't see so much and you're sleepy. We squeezed into the tricycle cab with our backpacks piled on our laps and he took us to the first hotel. This one felt like it was an old mental asylum, the room we were shown was huge and the limited furniture was metal as was the door to the bathroom. I couldn't see us finding this place very relaxing. The second one was being run by completely uncommunicative staff who just kind of stared at us when we asked to see a room, and so we stood for a little while feeling like idiots before we gave up. Adam went to view the next one on his own but came back to report it was dirty and had a healthy infestation of cockroaches. When he went to look at the next the driver asked me why we didn't want the other ones and when I told him the last one had cockroaches he just laughed. This time Adam returned with a fairly resigned look on his face, it wasn't really that nice and it was quite expensive but it was the best of a bad lot.

Next morning we got up early and had a tricyle driver take us to the office of Aleson Shipping so we could buy our tickets to Borneo. After we found out how much it cost we then did a bit of running around town to get the money out and have copies of our passports made, soon enough though we had paid our passage to Sandakan, Sabah, Borneo. We had planned to get a cabin but you have to share it with two other people and in the end we decided it wasn't worth the extra money so we just went for the large a/c cabin. This was mainly because on the last over night ferry we'd been on it was much quieter and we thought we were less likely to be awoken by a Cockerel!

We spent the rest of the day walking around Zamboanga, unfortunately the weather was not great and we ended up getting quite wet. We were also slightly unnerved by the amount of attention we we received. We hadn't seen a single Westerner since we arrived, which is probably due to the bad reputation Mindanao has. There have been a few terrorist attacks especially in the West (which is where we were) over the years which I suppose has deterred people from visiting. This means that the people don't see us lot very often and as we walked along we created quite a stir. By now we are used to the prolonged stares and fits of giggles which we hear as we pass but here we people were much more vocal. They were calling out to us left, right and centre and there was no way we could even attempt to merge into the crowd. Neither of being the kind of people that crave the limelight we felt a little exposed. Still it was nice that people were so friendly and in many ways it's better than the death stares we received in India.

We visited the Fort Del Pillar which was built in the 17th Century by the Spanish as a defence against pirates and raiders of the sultans of Mindanao and Jolo. Upon the requests of the Jesuit missionaries and Bishop Fray Pedro of Cebu, the Spanish governor Don Juan Cerezo Salamanca approved the building of a stone fort in1635. The fort was originally called “Real Fuerza de San Jose.” It has faced a number of attacks over the years and has had to be rebuilt several times, it is now an outdoor Catholic Marian shrine and a museum. We sat on a bench in the outdoor shrine and watched a number of people light candles and pray.
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Afterwards we decided to go into the fort and have a look round the Marine Life museum which it is home to. We were one of only a few visitors and it had a slightly abandoned feel to it but it was reasonably interesting. They had lots of shells to look at and we managed to identify some of those we'd collected while in Camiguin. Despite the drizzle we walked round the courtyard and I snapped some shots of the pretty flowers, now I've discovered (thanks to Adam) the macro mode on my camera it's becoming a bit of an obsession!
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On our way back to the hotel we made a quick stop at the supermarket to stock up on food for our ferry journey to Borneo. Tomorrow we would be waving goodbye to the Philippines.

As we off to a new country we had to get to the port early enough to get through immigration, although this all seemed fairly pointless as they waited until they had filled the hall to capacity before they began the slow process. With the H1N1 situation every where we go we have to go through a medical check and fill in a form so this makes things even slower. In the hall we spotted a white guy which took us a little by surprise and once we were on board waiting to leave we got talking. It sounds a little silly now but we never actually exchanged names so since parting company we have “affectionally” referred to him as Fritz. I cannot tell you why.

He was a Dutch guy who had been away for 14 months and had definitely seen a lot of the world. Initially it was really nice to speak to another traveller but when he told us he wasn't bothering with most of Asia because it was “all the same” and he wasn't bothered about culture, just natural beauty he got our backs up a little bit. Nonetheless we chatted for a while and ignoring his slightly superior attitude it was good to talk. We all shared the opinion that our a/c accommodation was incredibly claustrophobic and dingy. We ended up going our separate ways when Fritz went off to find food and then we moved on to the upper deck to a couple of bunks out in the open. The boat wasn't as nice the previous over nighter we had taken but it served its purpose.
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We whiled away the hours listening to our ipods and gazing out at the sea.
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It was a spectacular sunset and we were even treated to a few brief sightings of some dolphins. They were far off in the distance but it was still quite magical, the sky looked like it was on fire and the sea was dark and mysterious.
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I thought one of the dorsal fins looked a little large to be a dolphins and could even have been a killer whale's but Adam wasn't so sure. Either way we were really happy.

We both slept relatively well and thankfully there wasn't a Cockerel in ear shot! Around 10am we began to see the coast of Sabah, which is the eastern state of the Malaysian part of Borneo. Before we were allowed onto land the Westerners, all three of us, were asked to gather in the canteen to undergo a quick interview by a Malaysian official relating to H1N1.
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I suppose as we've been travelling around they presume we're more likely to contract it and so we had to explain where we'd been and have our temperature taken. Once we'd jumped through that hoop we were set free to find out what Borneo had to offer.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 00:47 Archived in Philippines Tagged round_the_world

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