Cloud Nine (Siargao) to Cagayan de Oro
I wake up at 6am to take some early-morning surf shots from the boardwalk overlooking Cloud Nine, but an onshore squall has moved in and flattened out the legendary wave. Only a few diehards out are out in the chop, including Jonah. At 7am I’m off, but predictably my motorcycle won’t start – I hate kick starters. About 15 minutes later it finally catches on the 70th or 80th try and I am off to the ferry pier in Dapa in a light drizzle. It’s an easy half-hour ride to Dapa, where I return my bike to its owner and board the 8am bangca for the 21\2-hour journey back to Surigao on mainland Mindanao. My goal is to get to Balingoan, the jump-off point for Camiguin Island, in time for the last ferry, which is supposedly at 4.30pm.
According to my *always* reliable (because I wrote it) Shoestring book, it’s 2hrs to the bus transfer point in Butuan, then another 1.5 or 2hrs to Balingoan. We arrive a little after 10.30am at the busy waterfront dock area in Surigao, which means I have about 6hrs to get to Balingoan. I eat breakfast, then run around checking out boat schedules and a couple of hotels. By the time I’m ready to go it’s already noon. Uh-oh. I b-line it to the bus terminal in a tricycle, but it’s slow as molasses and of course needs to stop for gas (no surprise there), so we don’t get to the bus terminal until 12.30. I catch a break when a Butuan-bound bus is pulling out of the station just as I arrive. I jump on it and we’re off.
But the bus doesn’t take 2 hours to Butuan it takes 2.5hrs (grrrr, fucking Lonely Planet; whoops, did I write that?). And it’s pretty clear that it will take at least that long to get to Balingoan. The Balingoan bus doesn’t even pull out until 3.30, so I figure there’s no way I’ll make the ferry. But hope springs anew when a phone call reveals that the last boat to Camiguin is at 5pm, not 4.30pm.
Fat chance. We don’t pull into Balingoan until well after 6pm! Even if I hadn’t wasted 90 minutes checking out stuff in Surigao, I still would have missed the boat. But it’s not the end of the world, as I figure I can continue on to Cagayan de Oro (or CDO, another city that I have to cover) and spend the night there. I have phone numbers for about 10 hotels in CDO. All 10 are booked solid because there’s a friggin’ Free Mason’s convention in town. A Mason’s convention? You. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
So yet again I’m pulling into a town where all hotel rooms seem to be booked. I call the rafting guys in CDO with whom I’m scheduled to go whitewater rafting two days later. They say they'll see what they can do. They leave me hanging for a little bit but after about an hour they call me back and - what do you know – they've found something.
We don’t pull into CDO until 9pm - the trend of late arrivals throughout this trip continues. On the plus side, the hotel is a nice little find – essentially a studio apartment, in not-too-bad shape, for less than 1000 pesos ($20). It’s outside the center but I can live with that. At least I’m not taking a concrete nap.
I’ve posted a short video of the pretty boat ride through the mangrove canals between Siargao and Surigao, plus some photos of Camiguin Island, which I managed to reach the next day.
Cloud 9 to Cagayan de Oro
Total Travel Time: 14
Means of Travel: motorcycle, boat, tricycle and two buses