I arrived at Legazpi city around 7:45am. I then crossed the road over to the jeepney terminal and boarded a jeepney going towards Albay Cathedral. I was in Legazpi for two things: to see Mt. Mayon and to get to Donsol from here.
I hadn’t slept well the night before because of how freezing it was inside in the bus. Add to that the slight cold I already had got a little worse because of the lack of the sleep. So I freshened up, switched off the aircon and went to bed after taking some medicines Janet had bought for me.
I woke up in the afternoon and decided to step out for lunch.
I took a jeepney going to Legazpi City as I didn’t feel like having lunch nearby. Plus I wanted to see the main town area. Legazpi City is barely 20 minutes by jeepney.
After a while, I got bored as there was little else to see or do in Legazpi City. So I took a jeepney back to Albay.
I had dinner with a hostel mate from India who was in Legazpi on business. We sat down at a Japanese restaurant near Albay Cathedral.
Date: 28th May, 2013
Today morning I woke up early and took a jeepney to the bus terminal, from where I would get in a van taxi going to Donsol.
The van left the terminal only after they could fill it with as many passengers that could fit inside. Thankfully they had functioning A/C.
I hired a tricycle taxi to take me to the whale shark center (cost ₱40).
Granted, I chose to come early because I read they only have 2-3 tours in a day and some bloggers said going for the early morning tour has the best chance of seeing the whale shark. But the fact there were only cleaning staff there and one tourist — me — I took that as a worrying sign.
After an hour or so of waiting, and just as my hopes were getting dashed, an American family walks in saying they were here for the whale shark tour. Phew! My day was saved — for now.
The office staff finally showed up and told us since it was going to be a total of 5 people in one boat, the cost per person would come to ₱1000 person — which is what I was hoping to pay. But I also had to pay ₱300 extra for I had no snorkel mask or flippers with me.
The staff were insistent on reminding us there is no guarantee we would spot whale sharks. I paid up knowing the risk — as this is common place anywhere you go to see wildlife in their natural habitat. This isn’t a zoo, no animal was going to pose for our cameras.
The water did get a bit bumpy under the grey clouds. I looked down at the waves and wondered how would I even see the whale shark in such grey waters. I wasn’t going to get in the rough waters without a life jacket of course.
The seas eventually calmed down a bit, and the sun even came back out again. We went deep into the sea, more than 2kms from the coast. An hour of going left to right, going around in circles, speeding up, speeding down… nothing.
Some of the Americans dozed off as this was turning into one boring boat ride. I know I agreed to take the risk… but this sucked.
Back on the shores, I returned the snorkel and flippers I paid for but didn’t use and just left the tourist center disappointed. For those who are wondering what it must be like to spot the whale sharks in Donsol, watch this:
I was pretty hungry as I left Legazpi pretty early in the morning.
I hired the same tricycle taxi to take me back to Donsol. I told the driver I needed to get a jeepney going back to Legazpi.
One odd observation along the way was that the jeepney would be stopped at different towns by people who would collect some money from the driver. Now I assumed the jeepney would drop and pick up new passengers along the way. But the men who would stop these jeepneys would make the guy wait for quite some time before the jeepney could set off again, and the guys who stopped the jeepney looked a bit, well, menacing.
Even though I had wasted nearly ₱1500 for practically a bunch of joyrides, when I could saved it and slept in… oh well. What’s done is done. Next time, I decided I would rather go to Oslob in Cebu where it’s easier to swim with whale sharks.
I went out at night for dinner alone as the other Indian who was staying at the hostel had to return to Manila. And there was no new guest in my room.
So far my visit to Legazpi was turning out to be a dud. So I had my hopes up high for tomorrow, when I finally get to go up close to Mount Mayon.
Today, Ramesh and I were going on the Golden Triangle tour — one of the most popular and common full-day tours tourists do while in Chiang Mai. I had been to Chiang Rai and the point where Thailand’s border meets Laos and Myanmar in 2010. But I didn’t get the chance to hop across the river and set foot in Laos, because it’s much easier to do that when you go as part of a tour group.
One and half hours later, we reached Chiang Rai province. The van dropped us off at the famous White Temple.
The plan for today was to rent two bikes and ride all the way to Promthep Cape, a popular viewpoint at the southern tip of Phuket island. But after breakfast, we first walked towards Patong beach.
We then went around looking for bike rentals. I had already read up on scams in Phuket and one of the most common advice handed out were to avoid the vehicle rentals on Beach Road.
Be careful when you rent any vehicle in Thailand, especially Phuket. Vehicle rental scams are common here and don’t go by the cheapest rate being offered. The scammers make money by claiming you scratched the vehicle upon return, when in reality, the scratch was always there — you just didn’t notice it when you took it. The going rate for a Honda Click and like are around 200-300 baht a day. The place we rented from was right next to our hotel and she insisted I hand over my passport (original) as security. I usually never agree to that, but she gave me a form to fill up stating she would return it upon giving the bike back, and provided there are no damages/scratches on the bike. It’s an agreement I had to sign and she put my passport in a password-protected locker.
You may find other places that just request a passport copy, but we bargained it down to ฿150 because we didn’t need the bike for 24 hours. So handing over my passport was something I had to agree to as part of the bargain. I also took photos of the bike from all angles in front of her. Something I always do before even starting the engine.