The "Politician" insisted that we take one of his mini-coach. He wanted to give my group a couple of escorts on our way to Camiguin Island. We already declined his kind offer but just so we don’t get into trouble (because we wouldn’t want to insult him); we opted to take one of his mini-coach providing he won’t let us drive with escorts. He agreed.From Cagayan de Oro City, we drove eastward to Balingonan Port. This is what our Lonely Planet guide book told us to do, so we did. It’s a 2 hour drive and reached the port just before lunch time. But it was supposed to be an hour and a half drive only, but Michael is such a pussy driving veeeeeeerrrrrryyyy slowly! *sigh*
The Port to the other side. We paid 1,900 Pesos (US$ 40/ 1,200 Baht/ RM 120) to the ferry boat to take our car across the bay to Camiguin Island. The ferry boat is obviously Japanese and when it got old, sold it here to be operated again. But it was still in good condition and everything. There’s a passenger deck on the upper level and the view leaving the main island of Mindanao is spectacular! Sweet.
The ferry trip only took roughly 30 minutes. We reached Benoni Port sticking our neck out not knowing what to expect! (Or so I did…I don’t know about them). All I know is I got a Fil-American car jockey – hahahaha! Yes, he drives left hand so he’s the designated jockey. Next stop is to find accommodation, freshen up, do 300 push ups, 200 sit ups and eat my burgers. But Morgan had a better idea…
Old World Charm. We drove around the main town called Mambajao /’mam-‘ba-‘hao/ -- old colonial houses with dates etched on them... 1921, 1933, 1935 --antique houses anyone?! These houses are old and whitewashed. The vintage charm is enchanting. Very Iberian. Very….uhm…just enchanting-- what do you want from me?!
We drove further to find the Ardent Hot Spring (30 Pesos on entry) had lunch – don’t ask me about the food there, I just wanted my burgers – and swam around the small pond with lukewarm water in it. This must’ve been a public bath because some good people are using shampoo and body soap on the pool! Waaaaaaahhhhh! My eyes are stinking! Goddamit!
We got to visit Katibawasan Falls (I’m good with spelling, so there! Take that!) – a 250-ft water falls. Looks awesome to someone who never been to Niagara or Venezuela. You need to pay 10 Pesos to get in the compound. A baby monkey will greet you at the gate (I'm not kidding! Don't laugh!). We stayed for like full 3 minutes….
Soaked caskets, anyone? Morgan is on a roll yakking his way through all of us. He wanted to go somewhere else before finding accommodation! Such a genius (read as moron)! We drove straight to the Sunken Cemetery and it’s already almost half past 5! The old Spanish cemetery is now underwater after a volcano (apparently the Big Vulcan) erupted in the 1800s or some era like that.
You won’t see anything except this huge concrete cross in the middle of the water and you can actually hire somebody to paddle you to it. We just opted to have a little chit-chat with the boatman to know the itsy-bitsy details about the place. He said we can snorkel and see the underwater cemetery – who is he kidding? Why would I wanna do that? If I wanna see cemeteries, I’d see a Stephen King movie! Take that!
A Tale of the Vanishing People.
Past 6pm and still driving around the island’s coastal road, we were like entering the twilight zone…
Where are the people that we saw earlier merrily walking about? Where are the cow herders? What happened to the old folks carrying the day’s harvest? Why are the shops closing already? Where is that small internet shop we saw earlier?.... Where are the 75,000 inhabitants of this island -- or are they just lying to me? The streets are deserted! Did we miss something? Are they going to bed this early? It’s just fucken 6 in the evening, for christssake!
We gotta find Paras Beach Resort fast! Forget about the clubbing I was dreaming about. We drove westward, found the sign and there it was! It turned out that this place is adjacent to the white sand beach that we saw on the flyers….we checked in, freshen up, yellow mango shake and all…and we’re ready for a night skinny dipping on the beach…a few minutes later, we fell asleep. Thank god for good air-conditioning!
Got up early in the morning… pushing on the plan of skinny dipping that didn't materialize last night on white sand beach…stormed out of the hotel room….and there it is… black rocks on deep brown sand! What a bugger! As it turned out, we had to take a 10 minute boat ride, pay 400 pesos to the middle of the sea! And finally there it is… the most spectacular view of Camiguin Island!
An Island of 7 Volcanoes? Morning sun clearing the mountains dominating the horizon – think Lost World – a better description of the spectacular view I’ve seen. (Or just fucken look at the picture on the left, gosh!)
Speaking of volcanoes…where the hell is it?—a local man pointed each and every volcano on the horizon stating their respective names and all. He also added that only one of ‘em is still active – Mount Hibok-Hibok.
It got me all excited….So, what now? How active is it, really? Can somebody fucken prove it to me? – I wanna see lava flows, I wanna see burning rocks, I wanna see people running for their lives, ashes and all! – where is it? Hey! We don’t have volcanoes in Thailand. Show me why it’s called a volcano and don’t just stand there! PLEASE, somebody! Dammit! --No matter how hard I tried to provoke the locals…they weren’t able to prove that all those mounds that look like ordinary mountains to me are actually-- a volcano! Pffft!
The White Sand Bar. No, it’s not a club or a gogo bar. It’s actually what they were referring to as the white beach on the flyers! I felt I was cheated. Didn’t they say it’s white sand “beach”? Why are we 2 km away from the shore?*eyes rolling*
Anyway, this sand bar is actually an atoll obviously. No coconut trees, no blue grass, no nothing. Just as we all wanted – pure white sand, tons of it. Bugger! But I enjoyed my 4 hour soaking there. Me and my buddies have to go to the farthest part of the sand bar so we can sun bathe “naked”. We didn’t wanna offened the locals. Tourists come and go. Lots of small motor-boats bring the people back and forth. Most of them won’t stay more than 30 minutes – as I observed, they hated the sunshine. They don't wanna get dark and all? They all come with towels covering themselves head to foot! Huge sunglasses and all. Hilarious! Why are they afraid of the sun? I really don’t understand.
Somebody said to me that we should've come on November for the Lanzones (Long Kong in Thai) Festival...huh? We're already here what do you want from us?
Camiguin Island....Born of Fire.
Yeah whatever, we're out of here tomorrow.