10th January 2014
This morning we are on the move again over to Dumagete on Negros just for one night before travelling up the west coast.
The weather is still very grey. I read on the internet that the tropical depression over Mindanao to the south of us has been upgraded to a Typhoon and that they have called it Colin. Probably been so many Typhoons over the last 12 months that they have run out of ladies names. We are on the west side of the island so are largely sheltered but we miss the sun. It makes everything look so dull.
We have a reservation on the 14.30 fast ferry sailing from Siquijor town to Dumagete and after a lazy, lazy morning at the Coral Cay we are at the port looking with horror at the sea. It looks as though it’s boiling and the waves are crashing over the wharf walls forcing our equally aghast passengers to huddle in a small corner. I’ve gone white just thinking about it.
Nothing for it, if you are going to ride a roller coaster for an hour you may as well have something to donate so we head back up the wharf to a little eatery and have a second breakfast of fried chicken and pork adobo.
The ferry hoves into view. It’s an Ocean Jet catamaran. It disappears below a big wave, now we see it now we don’t. Best not to look. Enjoy your Nescafé and dream of sleeper class.
OK I may be exaggerating the waves a little but as we are waiting on the wharf to walk the plank the boat lurches up, down and from side to side violently. This will be no easy crossing.
I search the faces of the departing passengers, no smiles but no green either so it might be alright. The angle of the platform that the crew has rested against the boat is over 45º one second and practically level the next. Everyone including apprentice Alpha males like me is manhandled up the platform, along the lower rear deck and stuffed into the cabin.
We do not have seat allocation not that it matters so we sit right in the front row where one’s eyes can be fixed permanently on the horizon. Except the horizon keeps dipping below the window. Bugger!
I am sure that seasickness is made considerably more likely from the fear of it so despite the motion and the deep squeaking sound of the old lorry tyres that stop the boat from tearing apart on the wharf wall I try to think about anything but upchucking. No images as the camera in my bag was the last thing I want to be thinking of.
Anyway, enough of this as I survived the Big Dipper of the journey (just) with both my breakfasts inside so after a Pope John Paul style kiss of the tarmac its time to hunt for a hotel. Central Dumagete is not blessed with hoards of hotels but we eventually find an example of the “Check Inn” chain and take possession of a windowless box of an inside room for the night at 850 Pesos. Rooms on the outside of the building are fine is sleep is not part of your plan for the evening. The noise from the street is just too great.
Typhoon Colin is now doing it’s worst, it’s pelting down. We seek refuge in one of the many bars on Rizal Boulevard a half mile or so of seafront promenade reminiscent of the heyday of the average British seaside town. The rain and grey skies make that comparison complete.
Beer in the Philippines is almost always San Miguel or “Pilsen” as the locals call it. I would rather describe it as cold fizzy piss. This is a major town and this bar serves Cerveza Negra a black beer that is rather like a mildly fizzy Mackeson but cold. It’s very palatable and quite alcofrolic. I love it.
An English guy who lives here with his (surprise, suprise) little skinny doll of a Filipina girlfriend overhears our conversation about our travel plans the next day. We plan to spend a couple of days at one of the beaches near Sipalay roughly half way to Bacolod the main town in the north the jumping off point to Panay and Guimaras where we are to kick back in preparation for Manila.
We were following the advice of the old geezer on the ferry to Siquijor and take the bus over the mountains but our newest British advisor points out that the rain has washed out much of the road and we would be in the clouds out so we would be better off following the traditional coastal route. Sound advice.
The sun is down and the weather remains foul so a ride in an open trike to the chosen fish restaurant is out of the question so we sit next door at the Casablanca for fish sinigal, a clear, sour soup with copious chunks of tuna and vegetables before retiring to our stuffy shoebox.