Travel By Heart: Samal Island, Davao – Part 01

By this time I was so used to the idea of inter-island travel taking an hour or more. When someone told me that I can go to Samal island in less than 15 minutes, I was a bit skeptical. So I decided to check it out of it’s true.

I saw a long line going to the port, but it was a fast moving. There was almost no waiting involved, the vehicles just moved like it was just in slow traffic. I watched some motorcycles at first, just to see how everything unfolds. Where people pay, how much and where do they go after… the usual port routine.

After paying everything someone signaled for the motorcycles to board the boat. I followed a couple of them. As they parked something very peculiar happened, nobody was leaving their motorcycles. Some of them didn’t even use their stands, they were just comfortably sitting with both of their feet touching the ground.

I did hear that this boat ride was going to be short, but short enough to not even bother to leave your motorcycle? That’s just unusual. Then I realised that the boat was really packed both with people and vehicles. Leaving your motorcycle is not really ideal, as it will be hard for you to find a seat.

Upon arriving, as always I didn’t have any idea where I should go. In cases like this, I just turn right then see where I end up. On my mind, I always thought that Samal is just a very small island and getting lost was close to impossible… and boy was I wrong. There were some resorts near the port, but they didn’t look all that interesting to me. I thought that If I just go on and on I would find something interesting or maybe talk to someone to point me to some hidden destination. But the more I rode the more remote it became, houses were fewer and the people rarer.

So I just decided to stop and check my Phone GPS (which I have been ignoring) and low and behold, there’s no signal. So I took out my Garmin Navigator (since it didn’t rely on the telecommunications signal) and waited for it to lock on to satellites… 10 minutes passed… and nothing. I decided to ride a little bit more hope that at least one of my 2 navigation equipment would get some sort signal… still nothing.

That’s when I realized that I was lost. I tried asking people if the road that I’m taking will take me to the highway (main road). There were a couple of people who pointed me to a direction, in my mind a highway would be a wide paved road. But they might be referring to something else as the more I ride the less I saw that. Then I saw a convoy of vehicles with brightly colored flags on them. I tried to catch up with one of the motorcycles that was riding with them. Then asked the same question, “Are you all headed to the highway?” they said “Yes”. So I followed them for a good 30 mins, through different terrains and then they stopped.

Apparently, their destination is quite far from the main road, which left me exploring on my own again. I decided to change my question for the next person that I will see. Instead of looking for the elusive highway, I will just look for a resort. It was getting really dark and it will be extremely difficult navigating at night.

I finally found someone who gave me directions to a resort, I was relieved to know that it wasn’t that far. Upon arriving as always all eyes were on me. Even the front desk wasn’t sure what to make of me, then I asked if they allow camping overnight. He said the sweetest word of the day “Yes”. I paid all the camp fees, looked for a spot far away from the families and cars, pitched my tent and called it a day.

Before I closed my eyes I told myself “I’m not done with Samal yet. Tomorrow I will take my vengeance, I will look for an amazing place here and make sure that I make the best out of it.”

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