Back in February 2014, our group of 14 people boarded a Hiace Grandia van to Bicol. Our destination? The Caramoan Islands. We planned to stay there for 3 days and 2 nights within 3500 pesos budget all-in.
Past 10pm from Alabang, Muntinlupa we travelled south passing Laguna, Batangas and Quezon. We have to reach the Sabang Port in San Jose Camarines Sur as early as possible in the morning to catch the ferry that will carry us to the Guijalo port. After around 5 hours we stopped at Petron gas station in Tagkawayan, Quezon to re-fuel, take restroom break, stretch our legs and take a hot drink. It was an bumpy ride. I am well aware that our van was going very fast.
Tip: If you’re going on a trip and you plan to hire a van and a driver. Choose someone you can trust and choose someone who knows the road very well. After all, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
We were relieved to have a driver who knows the twist and turns of the road specially the Bitukang Manok (old zigzag road) between Pagbilao and Atimonan in Quezon National Park. The Bitukang Manok is narrow, steep with sharp curves and turns which requires caution from drivers, expert or newbie. It is said that many have met accidents falling into the ravines while on the way down. Did I mention that ours was a night trip and that our van was going fast? I was awake during the trip, completely aware of the van’s velocity and turns.
We stopped by Naga market to buy our food supplies. We planned to ask the caretaker in the island to cook for our group during our stay. After that, we headed off to Jollibee for a quick breakfast. It was around 6am-630am. We were off again to Sabang Port in San Jose Camarines Sur. ‘Got to catch the motorboat to the island!
On our way to San Jose port, we were able to glimpse the Mayon Volcano
We reached the San Jose port around 830am. Our driver left his van in a parking lot along with other vans that traveled from Manila. The travel took a long time we had to use a toilet in the parking area which is not so decent but you can view the beautiful sea. Equalizer. We walked to the beach port where many people were waiting. We signed our names in the manifest and waited for the trip while watching others aboard the boat. Our bags and luggage were knotted together inside huge transparent plastic bags. We kept our knapsacks with us. There were lots of porters carrying the bags and passengers! 🙂 People walked on a wooden beam to get to the boat. However, eventually the tide rises and was already high, the platform cannot hold any longer and eventually will be carried by the waves. Several porters stand against the waves in the sea having to hold the wooden platform until all of the passengers safely crossed to the boat. At that time, while we watched, the platform was finally carried and washed away by the huge, strong waves on a distance and the porters have to carry last few people and bags to the boat. This is why it’s important to catch the boat while it’s low tide. Less hassle. When our boat arrived, all the porters worked hard to raise the platform again. No I was not carried by porters, we were able to cross the wobbly platform without falling to the sea.
Feast your eyes on spectacular islets and rock formations
Inside the boat we were cramped so that everyone could fit. We did not wore any life vest but the sides of the roof of the boat were filled with them hanging. There were silence at first but we can hear the loud motor of the boat. Outside we could see the waters of the sea change its color from blue to light green to dark blue. There were lots of interesting islands of varying structures of stones and rock formations. Our group managed to laugh on few stories we shared on the way.
We reached the Guijalo port after less than 2 hours. Awfully long trip, don’t you think? Good that we were not nauseous or something because we still have to cross a narrow improvised bridge made out of bamboo starting from the motorboat to another huge boat to finally step on land. Everything’s moving while you walk on the beam. I am 5’6” weighing 180 lbs. The bamboo creaks each time I step on it so I have to technically run to reach the other end, however, the girl I am following is stuck in the middle of the beam. Good thing an adjoining beam was open so I ran to the other side before both our weights broke the beam and cause us to fall down to the stones and water 20 feet below. Gave me the shivers looking down. Thank God we arrived safely.
Keep safe and enjoy your travels!