Tuesday, October 29, 2013

First Solo Travel: Guimaras On A Budget Part 2

I went up early to catch the 9am boat as I have already planned my day ahead. I'm a fan of sponteneity, but for something like traveling alone for the first time, that wouldn't be a nice thing to do. LOL. I actually made second thoughts whether I'll go to Guimaras or not because I'm gonna go over my budget! First, the fare is quite expensive for a solo traveler; the only transportation to go around the island is via  tricycle and you need to talk to the driver where to go as the tours are included in the fare, then I wouldn't know if I'd stay in the island or not if ever the beach convinces me to do so, but thinking that I already paid for that day's room rent, I just let that thought slide.

So I woke up at 7am and prepared myself for my Guimaras beach tour, and I contacted Kuya Cherald, as he was the most referred tour guide in Guimaras by almost all of the travel blogs I've read. He said he couldn't tour me around, but he referred his brother instead for the same price, and he even gave me an mini itinerary for my short sidetrip.

 The boats on dock at the Ortiz Port.

I left the inn around 8am and crossed the street to ride the jeep headed for Timawa. I just asked the driver to drop me off at Ortiz, where I just need to walk a short distance to where the port is. The ticket fare is just 14 pesos and from Ortiz to Jordan Port, it only takes 15 minutes. 

I went on the boat, and it's bigger than the boats we took to Cagbalete Island. It's spacious boat can hold up to 40 passengers max and for safety, they have lifevests on board. The trip was fast and I barely even finished my drink when we finally reached the island, where Kuya Cherald is waiting for me so I can start my tour. BTW, though he's the most sought after tour guide at Guimaras, be a good traveler and don't ignore the other tricycle drivers on the island. They are also making a living and they all charge the same rate, so don't be afraid to ask them to take you on tour.

 Jordan Port, Guimaras

My tour starts at the Smallest Plaza. Yes, literally. It's so small, they claim it's on the Guiness Book of World Records as the smallest town plaza in the world. 

A statue of Jose Rizal stands in the middle and for some reason, the Ilonggos are a big fan of our national hero. I could see him anywhere in the city.

After a quick photo op, we headed to the Museo De Guimaras, but unfortunately it's closed due to renovation. T,T 

Our next stop was the National Mango Research Facility of the Philippines. It's like a big backyard full of different species of mango trees and the tricycle just circled around the around the area beside a small lagoon there. I also found out that bringing mangoes to the island is strictly prohibited. I guess it's something about ecological balance as Guimaras takes prides in breeding the best and the sweetest mangoes in the world. 

 I'd imagine how these mango trees would look like when they're in full bloom with mangoes and such.

Next we went to the Trappist Monastery, the only male monastery in the country. The church is closed for renovation (again) but the monastery grounds is open for sight seeing. It was so peaceful and the landscaping was beautiful, rows of tall pine trees beside the pathway will make you feel you're on a different place.

 Where am I? LOL.

A little trivia here, this Monastery is home to the Trappist monks who are known for their strict observation of the Benedictine rule, which is a list of instructions that was made way back in the sixth century for monasteries and keeping one's individual behavior at hand. I was free to roam the monastery grounds but was unable to see at least one monk or nun around.

 The facade of Our Lady of the Philippines Trappist Abbey.

Just a few blocks from the monastery is their gift shop, where you can buy some goodies and pasalubong. Be a good traveler and help the monks make a living by buying their goods. I especially liked the Mango Biscocho and their Mango Jam. :D I also bought a pink rosary bracelet and a bark keychain that has a cross in the center for good luck.

 The Trappist Monastery Gift Shop

Last stop for the trip was of course, the beach at the Alubijod Cove, and the driver just dropped me off at the Raymen's Beach Resort. Upon entry, I paid a small fee and then I was free to roam around the beach just behind the resort area.

  Entrance to the beach area.

Raymen Beach Resort's rooms for rent.

Oh my God that beach was beautiful! Never mind the short distance between the shore and the resort grounds, but the crystalline blue water was so inviting! I haven't been into a lot of beaches but the sea at Guimaras seemed different from the others.

I walked along the shore and I think there's just three or four resorts along the Alubijod Cove. Doesn't matter where your tour guide dropped you off, you'll still end up in one shore anyway. A few tourists were at the beach at the same time and they're at the shade mostly because it was high noon when I got there. I also didn't go island hopping due to time constraints, so I just went beach bummin' for 3 hours hahaha.

I find those blending hues of turquoise and blues so soothing to the eyes so I couldn't stop staring at it, it's really like what you really see in a postcard! 

Boating/Island hopping rates at Raymen Beach Resort.

After a short lazy nap under the sun, I looked around and explored the area. The resort also offers boating/island hopping services that's I feel that I can't enjoy at this time because I'm alone and I've still got half of the day to go exploring back the Iloilo. So I asked Kuya Edwin (that's his name) to take me back to the port so I could continue my Iloilo trip. 

  The long road going back to Jordan Port.

I asked Kuya Edwin to stop at this area because I thought it seemed like a great view LOL.

Now for newbie solo travelers like me, here are a few tips that I'd like to share if you're going to explore Guimaras on a budget.

1. Decide whether you'd like to spend the night in the island or just make it as a your sidetrip to Iloilo. The tourist spots here can be reached within half day if you rent a tricycle.

2. Though the tourist spots are few and thinking of how long the trip was and how expensive the tricycle fare was as well, makes you think you'd just like to stay in the island instead. That's how I felt then, I didn't maximize what I payed for coz I just stayed for like, 3-4 hours in Guimaras. Anyway, feel free to explore and try island hopping!

3. You may talk to your tour guide where you'd like to go if you've done further research on the areas you want to explore. They will ask for an additional fee if you're going to somewhere far like the lighthouse or the falls. I didn't go there due to time constraints.

While at the boat, I thought that I should go back and explore it more. I missed some places like the Guisi Lighthouse and being a fan of anything waterfalls, I'd like to see the Sadsad Falls next time. Here's my itinerary and budget table during my solo trip!

ITINERARY - Thursday, October 17
7AM - Wakeup, prepare for Guimaras trip
8:45AM - Jeep to Ortiz Port
9AM - Boat onboard to Jordan Port
9:15AM - Arrival at Jordan, Guimaras
9:20AM - Start Tour
9:30AM - Smallest Plaza
9:45AM - Museo de Guimaras
9:55AM - Mango Plantation
10AM - Trappist Monastery
10:55AM - Arrival at Raymen's Beach, Alubijod Cove
1:15PM - Left Raymen's Beach
1:45PM - sidetrip, buy Pasalubong
2:30PM - Depart Guimaras
2:45 - Arrival at Ortiz Port, Iloilo

BUDGET (in pesos) - 841
8 - Ortiz Wharf to Jordan JEEP
14 - Ortiz Wharf to Jordan Port
500 - Trike tour
130 - Trappist Pasalubong
120 - Guimaras Mangoes
25 - Raymen Beach entrance fee
14 - Ticket (Jordan to Ortiz Port)

1 comment:

  1. I highly recommend Kuya Michael he is our Tourist guide/ Tricycle driver/Multicab Driver/ Photographer, when we visit Guimaras last June 17, 2015. He is very nice and honest. Feel free to call him next time you visit Guimaras. He will fetch you on time at Jordan Wharf and greeted you with his warm smile. Here is the Contact no. of Kuya Michael Selorico -- 0908 324 6835.