THE SLEEPER BUS EXPERIENCE
We booked a flight to Legazpi back in January during a Cebu Pac sale. We bought those tickets for ₱499 each. It was done on a whim and we thought, even if we don’t go, it’s just ₱500 anyway. But we decided to go! We were kinda pressed for time though with the preparation cause we only started figuring things out like 2 weeks before the trip itself. I was very pressured cause I’m a planner and I want everything done way before we leave. This time around though, we only managed to book everything – tours, hotels and bus tickets like 3 days before we left.
Since we don’t have a flight going to Bicol, we decided to take the bus instead. Ate Rina was coming from Laguna so she took a bus on her own from Turbina to Naga. Celine and I decided to try Isarog Lines’ Sleeper Bus because we wanted to be comfortable and we kind of wanted to experience it. We’ll probably be riding the same kind of bus during our Laos trip so we wanted a taste of it. The sleeper bus usually leaves at 9:00 PM and arrives in Naga at 5:00 AM. I seriously thought you can book the tickets online, but Celine called their phone reservations and she was told to go to their office either in EDSA Cubao or Shopwise Araneta Center to buy tickets. I went there the Sunday before we left and bought tickets for us. They cost ₱1000 each – cheaper than what was advertised on their website! It was supposed to be ₱1200 if you’ll take the lower bunk and ₱1100 for the upper bunk. Celine and I decided we wanted the upper bunk so that’s what I bought.
So on February 25th – the date of our departure, Celine and I met up at the BGC Bus Terminal in Ayala, then took a cab to their terminal along EDSA Cubao. In fairness, there’s a waiting room! It looks shabby but at least they have AC! That’s the most important thing. We were early so at least, we got to wait in an air-conditioned room.
We were called by the guard around 8:30 PM and went aboard the bus. There weren’t a lot of passengers, there’s probably only 7 or 8 of us. Celine and I went up to our bunks and situated ourselves. It’s sooooo cool. Ok, I was expecting a curtain and socket since that’s what I read on blogs but it’s really not too bad! The “bed” is just enough for me and it actually has a “pillow” already. Celine and I both brought neck pillows with us so I used that for my back. It’s reclining so there’s like a gap in your back area, the neck pillow helped in filling that gap so I was very comfortable. Ok, don’t forget to bring a blanket because they don’t provide one. (Buti pa yung Joy Bus! Haha!) It would be better if they can provide blankets as well, and snacks? Hahaha. At least, they have WiFi. Anyway, I placed my backpack in the small space by my foot and my baon on the sort of basket above it. There’s a small compartment for your shoes. I seriously came prepared to sleep – I had a pillow, blanket and socks. Hahahaha!
Anyway, I didn’t get to sleep right away because they started showing The Revenant! I haven’t gotten the chance to see it in the theaters at the time. (I think The Revenant was showing in theaters the same time this trip took place.) The movie is 2 1/2 hours long and I totally spent the first two hours of our travel to Naga watching it. Yes, I wanted to sleep but that’s the thing with me, once I get engrossed in watching something, no matter how sleepy I am, I’d stay up just to finish it! It’s such a bummer though because I didn’t get to finish it! At 11:00 PM, we had a stopover in Quezon and once we got back, they didn’t resume the movie. Ugh, there was only 30 minutes left! I didn’t even know what happened to Leo’s character. Left with no choice, I decided to transfer to one of the lower bunk beds and go to sleep.
There was a funny incident though when I went to the toilet in the wee hours of the morning. It was super dark so when I was walking back to my bed, I totally lost track of where I was that I didn’t realize I went to the wrong bed. I ended up sitting on Celine’s legs! Hahaha! Lucky though that it was her, not some random passenger! Hahaha!
I had a pretty good sleep until 10 minutes before we got off the bus. I saw Ate Rina’s message that she arrived in Naga at around 4:00 AM. She waited for us for an hour and a half. I checked Google Map to check how many minutes more before we get to the Naga Bus Station. Upon arriving, we took a quick toilet break and walked to the van terminal near St. Joseph’s school. The van fare is ₱100. There was an annoying woman inside the van but not gonna waste my time talking about her on this blog. Just really hate when it when you’re trying to sleep but there are people who wouldn’t shut up. It’s 6:00 AM for chrissakes. >_< Anyway, the trip took about an hour and 15 mins. We were already at the Sabang Port at around 7:15 AM but they have a boat schedule. Apparently, the first boat ride is at 5:30 AM and then at 8:00 AM, then every hour after that until 11:00 AM. We left at around 8:00 AM. I seriously thought that the boat ride will only take 45 minutes because that’s what it said on the website. Turns out, it’s an hour and 45 minutes. And that’s the minimum! Our boat ride took 2 hours and 15 minutes. Ugh. Plus, the waves were so strong, I felt like we were in a real-life Viking ride. Halfway thru the boat ride, I told my friends that we definitely won’t take the boat going back. LOL.
THE CARAMOAN EXPERIENCE
We paid for a tour package and it costs ₱2000 for each person. It includes the fee for island hopping, basic aircon room accommodation and 3 meals. We were picked up at the port by our tour guide, Kadi. We stopped by some table to pay for the environmental fee, which costs ₱30 each – which I thought was already included in the package. Anyway, we let it pass. It seems though that luck wasn’t on our side because our Caramoan experience wasn’t what we expected at all. During the planning process when my friend mentioned this, I was hesitant because I thought it was too far (and it actually is). But two of my friends convinced me to go because of the tale of the mystical bangus. That was my only purpose for actually going to Caramoan! Anyway, so we arrived at the accommodation at around 11:00 AM. It’s totally like my father’s province in Laguna. Very quiet and coconut trees everywhere! Anyway, we’re tired and hungry from the trip, we requested that we take our lunch first. Ok, I might have been very disappointed with what happened during our Caramoan experience but I’m definitely most satisfied with the food. Seriously. I LOVE THE FOOD WE ATE IN CARAMOAN! SEAFOOD GALORE! And actually, not just in Caramoan but during our entire Bicol trip. Love love love the food in Bicol. <3
Going back, we had shrimp, crab and fish for lunch. YUM! After lunch, we were told by our tour guide that it might be too risky to do the island hopping that afternoon because the waves are too strong. He suggested that we do activities instead that can be reached by land ie Crystal Cave, Gota Village and Underground River. But he said we have to rent a tricycle and that we have to add ₱800, we said ok since that’s better than just staying inside the room the whole afternoon. Our first stop was the Crystal Cave since it’s super near the place where we’re staying. Our tour guide shared that one of the Barangay Captain’s men found that cave during one of his walks. It’s located in the Barangay Captain’s land that’s why he included it in the tours. We did a little bit of trekking and we had to crawl down a very small hole to get to the cave, but nothing super difficult. It’s pretty cool how you can find a place like that super near where you live. We didn’t stay long as it’s just a very small cave and there was an area that was super creepy.
Our next stop was the Gota Village so we took the tricycle to that place. However, midway thru, our tricycle had a flat tire. TT_TT So we got off and the tricycle driver went to a vulcanizing shop. 🙁 We waited by the side of the road for a while before our tour guide told us that we can go to the Underground River first. He said we can walk there. It was noon but we had no choice, it’s a good thing I wore a cap. 🙂 Oh btw, first thing I noticed when we arrived in Caramoan are the pictures of their governor everywhere. I thought he was cute! I then asked our tour guide about him and he told us that he’s only 27 years old. He won as a governor at age 24. Woah there. I researched him when we arrived in Legazpi the next day and found out that he’s the son of the former governor and he used to pine for Sarah Geronimo. LOL. CamSur has very interesting politics. LOL.
Going back to what happened to us… So yeah, we walked to the underground river, I don’t really remember how long it was but I’m guessing 30 minutes? We paid ₱20 entrance fee and because I was already very sweaty from all that walking, I bathed in the river along with Celine. In fairness, the water was very clear and you get swim with the fishies <3 We stayed there for a while and waited for the tricycle driver to pick us up.
We then continued our journey to Gota Village. Thankfully, there was no entrance fee because I was starting to get pissed off with all these extra fees that we’ve been paying when it said on the website that the tour package is all-in. -_- Understandable though because this wasn’t originally included in our package, so ok, chill. I think the charm of Gota Village Resort are of course the cottages. It looks really cute and it’s definitely nice to take lots of pictures there. The waves and the wind are still super strong, that when we go to the beach area, it’s like there was a sandstorm. Seriously, sakit sa legs! And it was very difficult to get a decent picture without your hair being blown into many different directions. We also got to do some swimming but there are too many water plants that I feel like it’s going to trap me there forever. LOL. We took some rest at the restaurant while waiting for our tricycle driver to take us back to our accommodation. Which took about an hour because it looked like our tour guide had some side business. We were already tired and just wanted to go back so we asked the tricycle driver and texted our tour guide if we could go back without him. He eventually said yes at around 5:00 PM. I think we waited for an hour. Ugh.
Ok, my opinion on Gota Village Resort, I think it’s just meh. It was definitely one of our options during the planning stage but I’m glad that in the end, we didn’t go through with it. Sure, the cottages are nice but I think there’s not much going on despite the fact that it’s supposed to be a “happening” resort. There aren’t any people at the restaurant and I think I know why – food was quite expensive. We found some of the guests buying from a sari sari store right outside the gate of the resort. Even some foreigners were buying snacks from there. I feel like if we stayed there, we would have been bored to death. After our trip, I came across West Pen Villas and I wish I saw that before the trip! The rooms are cheaper and they have a pool and I feel like there are more stuff to do there. It totally looked like a resort! Maybe next time. I will surely keep it in mind and I hope that next time, we can actually do the island hopping.
More photos in the meantime though 🙂 (From Ate Rina’s phone)
After going back to our room, we took a shower then it’s time for dinner! I really liked our place at night because like I said previously, it totally reminded me of my father’s province. I forgot to mention that outside our room, there’s a small hut where there are tables meant for eating and it also serves as the common room. There’s only one other couple staying with us there and we only got to see them during dinner. I forgot what exactly we had for dinner but we had seafood again. Plus, we had fresh buko juice! YUM!
We were very tired and fell asleep not long after that. Well, at least I did. I think I was the one who slept first.
The next day, it was still raining. HUHU. Look how sad we were during breakfast 🙁
We planned to do the island hopping really early like 5:00 AM (since we slept super early cause there’s nothing to do) but our guide that the earliest we can do it is 7:00 AM. However, when he visited us before breakfast, he said that we still can’t go because the weather is so much worse that morning than yesterday. He said though that we can do island hopping in a much farther island but we need to pay more since the boat ride would be much farther. At that point, we were really super hesitant to go and we actually wanted a refund. The guide said it’s not possible because the bangkero has already been paid. We kind of doubt that though, and even if it’s true, we think that they can use that for another tour / group. Also, it’s not just the additional payment but the longer boat ride. I mean, we were already fed up with the previous day’s boat ride and we don’t want to do it again. Another factor is that we have to be in Legazpi in the afternoon cause we wanted to do the ATV to Mayon. Our final suggestion is that since no refund will be given for the island hopping package that we didn’t get to use, we asked the tour guide if they can just provide us with a ride to Naga instead since they also offer that in their tour package. We felt like that wasn’t too much to ask considering the expense for that won’t be anywhere near what we could’ve spent for the island hopping. The tour guide agreed so we packed our stuff and got ready to leave Caramoan.
It was really disappointing because the only thing that I wanted to see was the bangus but I didn’t get to see it. Saaaaaaaaaad. I understand that it wasn’t the travel agency’s fault but we felt like they could have been more flexible in case of weather constraints such as this. I still wish to go back to Caramoan but next time, I will probably go to West Pen Villas instead and book the island hopping package once already there and make sure to check the weather first! Hahaha! Definitely a lesson learned for us.
We took the bus to Naga instead because (1) we don’t want to ride the boat anymore and (2) the weather was so bad, it’s too scary to take the boat. However, we didn’t realize that the bus ride from Caramoan to Naga will take 4 hours. Ohmigoodness. My only concern not too long after the bus left was that I wanted to pee. LOL! I swear, before the bus even halted at the stopover, I was so ready to jump out and go to the nearest toilet. I really like that stopover though because it’s a carinderia, and they were selling suman and puto. I bought puto and it was soooo yummy. We also bought 1 kilo of bananas and it was only ₱30. That was such a good buy! Right after that, I was able to sleep all the way to Naga.