EN ROUTE: BACOLOD-SIBULAN-OSLOB
It started raining late in the afternoon in Bacolod. The rain would pour hard for a brief moment and thin out as if it was about to stop… then it would start raining hard again. Maki sent me a text message, reminding me to pack my rain gears and that she was picking us up after eleven o’clock in the evening. So things weren’t looking too good. We would have to do without the “swimming with the (whale) sharks” in Oslob if it continued to rain the next day… and that was suppose to be the highlight of this trip.
Fortunately for me, my friends agreed to take the midnight bus from Bacolod to Dumaguete. I would much rather stay up late to catch the bus than wake at two or three in the morning to catch the four a.m. trip. Argie, Connie and myself carpooled with Maki to get to the south terminal. Maki, who never seems to be late, got us to the terminal early enough to catch the 11:30 P.M. non A/C regular bus. Lori arrived a few minutes shortly with her fastfood take out for a very late dinner. We waited for some time before we can board our bus. We were able to reserve the front row seats thanks a friend who worked in the legal department of the bus company.
As soon as we got on the bus, we took out our sleeping gears… Lori had a sarong as blanket and her backpack for her pillow. Argie and I each had inflatable pillows and our HeadWare as eye mask. Connie and Maki don’t like to sleep while traveling. They had to contend themselves with the outdated movies being shown on the bus.
There weren’t a lot of passengers in the bus when we left Bacolod at 12:50am. The air conditioning must have been in full blast… and with the rainy weather outside, it seemed to be freezing cold inside the bus. We were six hours away from Dumaguete… (five hours or less if you’re taking a private vehicle). Sibulan was the town before Dumaguete… so we will be in Sibulan in a little less than five hours, enough time to catch some much needed sleep.
I remembered the bus stopping a few times to take on passengers. (Hey! I thought this was a non-stop bus.) Then all the towns between the two provinces of Negros seemed to have passed by like a hazy dream. No matter how stiff my back and my neck was, I would still fall back into sleep. I guess, I can doze off quickly while on transit than I do in my own bed. In between dreams, I kept asking myself, “Are we there yet?”
It was barely 5:00 A.M. when the bus conductor informed us that we were already in Sibulan. We asked him if he can take us to the stop nearest the sea port. It was still dark when we alighted the bus. As we walked along the empty streets, we tried to look for someone to ask where the sea port was. It was quite difficult to find people in the streets at this time… though we did find a few, we relied mostly on body language and our rough translation of Cebuano.
After a couple of turns, we found the sea port and the first trip about to leave port. We didn’t have to rush since there was a ferry from Sibulan going to Santander, Cebu every hour starting 4:30am. We’ll take the next trip. We got our tickets, Php 62.00 per person. There was a restroom in the terminal in case you need one. Since our boat hasn’t arrived, we decided to have coffee and (very) early breakfast at the stalls beside the terminal while waiting. The tinolang isda must have been good, Lori ordered a second round; while the rest of us had noodles.
There were very few passengers when we got in the boat. Few enough to have one plastic bench for each one of us. Connie and Lori immediately got comfortable and got back to sleep. As we crossed Tanon Strait on the way to Cebu, the sun was rising over the horizon. Half way through our trip, the sky was bursting with blues and oranges to signal the beginning of a new day… and more importantly no more dark clouds.
We got to the port of Liloan, Santander in southern Cebu after about twenty to thirty minutes. I wanted to take some photos of the pier and the beach but we needed to catch a ride to get to Oslob and the bus parked at the pier was filling in quickly. By the time we got up the bus, there were no more seats but the conductor kept telling us there was room. Of course there was room, only if we wanted to stand in the aisle ’til we reach Daang Banwa in Oslob where we had reserved a room at a homestay. Since we didn’t know how long the trip was, we decided to hire a trike for Php 50.00 per person.
Being new to the place, the ride seemed to went on forever, with every up hill climb and endless curves. It was a scenic drive that was both a feast for the eyes and very challenging to my nerves. I should have taken photos… if only I knew how to hold my camera while riding at the back of the motorcycle.