Guimaras (How to get there and where to stay)
After wrapping up the luxury travel magazine we had been working on for the past two months (yes, endless OTs and breakfasts, lunches and dinners on my desk, that is), we finally had the chance to take a break, and off we went to explore the island of Guimaras and the city of Iloilo.
Iloilo City (the gateway to Guimaras) is accessible via a one-hour flight from Manila, or a 35-minute flight from Cebu via Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Airphil Express, Zest Air and just recently, Tiger Airways (SEAIR).
Upon landing at the Iloilo Airport, we boarded a public van to SM City Iloilo. Fare is Php 50. It is the cheapest way to go to the city proper. Taxis usually charge Php 350. When we got off infront of the Travelers' Lounge in SM, we transferred to a jeepney bound to Mandurriao and asked the driver to bring us to where we could ride a tricycle to Ortiz wharf. He brought us to what looks like a public market (I forgot the exact place), where tricycles await. The tricycle driver said temporarily, the pumpboat to Jordan is docked in Parola, not in Ortiz wharf. This is due to the recent typhoon and the current sea condition. We were hesitant at first but when Kuya Mai (our tour guide in Guimaras - 09236389891) confirmed that we were on the right track, we proceeded. Fare is Php 10.
At Parola, we boarded a pumpboat to Jordan as instructed by our guide. Fare is Php 14. Boats leave every 15 minutes and there are several trips per day. How I wish there is a bridge connecting Guimaras to Iloilo, just like in Cebu or Bohol, so that people can conveniently go there anytime.
|Boat to Jordan|
The boat is big enough to accommodate about 40 people. It is not as cramped as the ones in Guijalo port in Caramoan, and not as loaded as the ones going to Cagbalete Island in Quezon. The boat ride to Guimaras took around 15 minutes. Yes, that was fast.
Kuya Mai was at the port already when we docked at Jordan. Note that a lot of tricycle and multicab drivers are there waiting for tourists. Kuya Mai approached us and he directed us to the Tourism Office kiosk where we had to register our names and get some maps. I just find the tourism officers here not-so accommodating. It is as if one precious map is priced a million! Hello! (eyes rolling)
After getting our precious maps, Kuya Mai brought us to Raymen Beach Resort where I reserved a room for three pax. The travel time to Alubihod Beach where Raymen is located took about 30-45 minutes.
Raymen Beach Resort is perhaps the most popular and cheapest accommodation on Alubihod Beach, and so that what the others say, but I beg to disagree. It might be the most popular being one of the first resorts on Alubihod, but there are myriad better choices in that stretch. Since it has been around for many years already, expect mediocre rooms, worn out beddings and old airconditioner. For me, Raymen's better days is over.
This is the events hall building. Yes, it looks new. But the rooms are way way older than this.
The mattress is worn out, the sheets are so old. And take note, it looks like those you see on hospital beds. (Sigh)
What annoyed us more was the service. I reserved a room for three pax about two months before our trip. Someone called me to confirm which room I want - the room with a double bed, tv and hot shower; or the room with 2 double beds but without TV and hot shower. Since I have the habit of watching news every night no matter how tired I am, and since I know my husband needs hot water for his bath, I chose the first one and just requested for an extra bed. When we arrived at the reception on the day of our reservation, they showed us the room and to our surprise, it doesn't have a TV nor a water heater. So I asked if we can move to the other room that has been offered to me before. The receptionist said we can, but only for a night, as the rooms will be used the next day by a big group who'll be having their event at the resort. Hello! Should you have told me that there is no TV and hot shower in that miniature mediocre room, then I should've reserved the other room in the first place. Talking about inaccurate information from the "help desk". That's case number one.
Case number two. When the bellboy assisted us to our room upstairs, we forgot to bring our luggage which was with Kuya Mai because we were so annoyed already. So my husband asked the guy in the most courteous manner, to please tell Kuya Mai that we were already in the room and if he can bring the luggage up. The guy said something like he is busy and has to do something else, and that my husband should go down to call Kuya Mai. I heard it and I can't help but ask my husband to reconfirm again what the guy said. That is just unacceptable! Isn't that his job? To assist us and even help us in bringing our luggage? Who trained these people? They seem consistent - from receptionist to bellboy - and now guess what, even their waiters and waitresses at the restaurant! Read on.
On our first night, we stayed at the beachfront to unwind because it has been a long day for all of us. We stayed there until around a little before 9:00 pm. We didn't have dinner because we were so full already with chips. But our friend can't help it without having dinner, so he went to the restaurant at 9:00 pm. He asked if he can still eat. The waitress said the kitchen is already closed. So he asked if he can at least eat noodles or whatever that is easy to prepare. The lady said she can serve cup noodles and egg and cheese sandwich. So, no choice, my friend agreed. The cup noodles arrived, and then the sandwich. Guess what - the egg and cheese sandwich doesn't have an egg! So he asked the lady where is the egg. The lady said no one is in the kitchen anymore. Duh? Why did you offer a sandwich, an egg and cheese sandwich when in fact you know that no one will prepare the egg. How dumb. And so my friend asked how much is that sandwich. The lady said Php 65 (same price as the egg and cheese sandwich). My friend couldn't help it anymore and said how come it's the same price when it is incomplete? The waitress' reason - because all our sandwiches are priced the same. Oh my. Who the hell trained these people. I have dined at gazillion restaurants, cafes and even hawker-type eateries, but this is the dumbest I have ever encountered. I even remember dining out at a restaurant in Baguio, that when I ordered a slice of cake and they found out that the remaining slice isn't as big as the original slice anymore, they serve it to me for free. That's commendable customer service. You don't give "because I said so" reasons to paying customers.
The next day we decided to check out already as we were really disappointed with Raymen's service. So when I settled the bill, the lady at the reception said there's also a bill from the restaurant from the night before. I asked how much is it, and she said a whopping Php 445! Are you crazy? You served my friend an egg and cheese sandwich without an EGG and you are charging him Php 445??? Where the hell did you get that? Apparently, the one in-charge of the restaurant does not know what he's doing and he said the Php 445 bill was not ours. Talk about CUSTOMER SERVICE.
So we left the "most famous" and "cheapest" resort in Alubihod. The room by the way is priced at Php 1,600 per night.
To balance all the yin with a yang, here is a view of Raymen's beachfront. The sand is manicured and powdery. Just like the ones in Boracay, station 2. It's pebbly on the coastline but powdery as you go deeper.
We walked along the beachfront and found another newer resort - Alobijod Cove. There are huts, native-style cabanas and concrete rooms as well. So, we talked to the receptionist and inquired for the rates. The cheapest room for 2-4 pax is priced at Php 1,600 without breakfast. Php 1,800 if with breakfast. Since it is off-peak and the receptionist (whom we call "Nanay") is so accommodating, we asked if she can extend a discount, or at least give us free breakfast. She smiled and agreed to give us free breakfast instead. Yey!
The room that we got is 2 rooms away from the beachfront. It is made of native materials outside but concrete inside. There are 2 double beds, an airconditioner, a spacious bathroom and a dining table at the patio. Oh ha! For the price of what seems like a dungeon in Raymen, you'll get a more spacious and homey room in Alobijod Cove. And they are both beachfront.
|Our room in Alobijod Cove|
|The restaurant at Alobijod Cove serves everything from breakfast to dinner.|
The servings are good to share. The Pancit Molo for instance is served in a huge bowl with a lot of Molo noodles and savoury soup. We (3 pax) were not able to finish the entire bowl so we asked them if we can save it in their fridge so that we can have it for dinner. They agreed.
|A view of Alubihod Beach from one of the huts in Alobijod Cove|
The azure waters and pristine sand in Guimaras make it a relaxing vista. You can just sip your Buko shake here, or just let the waves take your blues away.
|The one with the border is Raymen's swimming area, while the one on the foreground is Alobijod Cove's beachfront|
|Capturing the moon while sitting on the powdery sand|
Up next: Guimaras Inland Tour