Off we set again heading south this time, by bus 4 hours to Batangas where we caught an overnight ferry to Romblon. (I don't think I have mentioned that on the "better" buses, the seats are plastic covered - to keep them in good condition?? - but they are not so nice to sit on for long periods of time.) The ferry was an experience in itself and the way so many Filipinos travel between the islands.
We were early for the ferry, so purchased our tickets and went through to the waiting room, after having our luggage scanned. Here we had dinner and were persuaded to each have a pedicure, and Sven indulged in a foot massage also as we waited!
The ferry left at 10.30 pm for the 10 hour trip. It was quite a large RORO (roll on, roll off) ferry taking cars, buses and trucks. On the wharf, before boarding, men and women were lined up separately and our luggage set down in front of us. Each person was frisked, then a sniffer dog followed checking all the luggage. Once on board, over the loud speaker, came a prayer for a safe journey!
We had been allocated a bunk in a large dormitory room which had a mattress and a pillow. Watching what other people did, we lined up at a window to collect our "linen" (a pillowcase and sheet) for a deposit of P50 each (which we got back the next morning when we returned them). There were bunk dormitories on 3 floors. We had been advised to get "tourist" class because this floor had air conditioning. But the air conditioning was too efficient. We had to get up during the night and find lots more warm clothes from our backpacks! Next time, we will sleep right up on the top deck in the warmth and breeze.
A band was playing on the stern of the ship where the bar was so we enjoyed the music and a beer before heading to our "icebox". It was smooth sailing all night.
Romblon Island has about 40,000 inhabitants. It is well known for its grey marble which is cut from the surrounding hills. We watched in dismay and awe, many people (females and males) sitting on a little mound of large chunks of marble, pounding them with a rock to break them into small pieces. These small pieces were put into sacks and shipped off to be used as landscaping material we guessed. There were also many shops selling intricately carved pieces of marble from small to large.
It is always a challenge for us to get around like the locals on jeepneys and tricycles.
Tricycles here are bigger with room for two people to face forwards, two backwards and two sitting side saddle on the motorbike behind the driver. One day we went to Champagne Beach by jeepney 10 pesos each which is 30 cents. The jeepneys wait in the centre of town until they are filled up before they leave, squashing as many people as possible onto the bench seats running the length of the vehicle.
Champagne beach was a beautiful white sand beach with clear, pristine water. Later we waited on the side of the road to get back to town by tricycle for 20 pesos each, Sven sitting on one of the seats, me sitting side saddle behind the driver.
Filipino food is quite basic, always rice, accompanied by fish (usually very small with lots of bones) pork or chicken. Often there are no veggies served with the meal.
I am missing the strong Balinese coffee. Except in the city, it is usually "three in one" coffee sachets which include coffee, milk and lots of sugar!
After two nights on Romblon Island, we caught another day ferry for a 3 hour trip to Tablas Island where we are doing our next WOOFing job. We are going with open minds and not too high expectations!! That is part of the adventure, not knowing what to expect!