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Another cruise brought us from Sandakan in Sabah to the Philippines. The route bypassed the Sulu archipelago which like our destination Mindanao is home to the Muslim part of the predominantly Catholic population of the Philippines. Independence attempts, rebellions and hijackings made the archipelago world-famous. We were insured several times that the passage, without stop in Tawi-Tawi or Jolo, should be safe, but we were advised over and over again against cycling on Mindanao. Therefore, another cruise on a “safe” island was awaiting. We arrived at 2 o’clock at night in Zamboanga City and cycled through the dark streets which appeared in comparison to the meanwhile noteworthy cleanness of Malaysia dirty and chaotic, even at night. After a short time we were pursued by children on our hotel search, they wanted to help us apparently, but besides begged us again and again. Since the night was advanced meanwhile we wanted to check in not before the next night which was possible at all hotels only from 5 o’clock on. When we had found a suitable lodging we slept beside the security staff two hours on a couch in the lobby until we could go on our room. After taking shower and resting a while we went to the ferry agencies to look for a ticket to Dumaguete on Negros. Two companies cruise this route – one ship was at the moment in repair and the other one departed that very same day in the evening. Since the next ship should depart not earlier than several days later, we bought a ticket for the evening.
Zamboanga City was almost a shock after the leisurely towns of the last weeks. Thousands of people crowded on too narrow sidewalks and streets. On top of that a small boy tried to pick pocket my purse, certainly a different country here!
In contrast the cruise to Dumaguete with “Superferry” was pure luxury, even in the cheapest class. Everything was clean and new, we even got pillows and blankets and an eatable breakfast – no comparison to PELNI in Indonesia! After arriving in Dumaguete we didn’t leave the port at all, but boarded directly the RoRo ferry (= “Roll On, Roll Off”) to Siquijor, a small island which the Lonely Planet describes as a paradise with the cheapest lodgings in the Philippines. As I was still in search of beaches which can bear comparison with those in Southern Thailand, we wanted to try our luck here. A big, old Catholic church was the first what came in sight. Our way along the coast passed palms, outlooks on the sea and coloured stores with San Miguel advertisements. After the “dry” countries Indonesia and Malaysia we were looking forward to a good, cheap beer for days already! In the north of the island we found an affordable (so much for the cheapest lodgings …) bungalow by the sea or more precisely on the beach; the sea was very far away, we still tried to swim, however, but gave up after wading several hundred meters through mud. After one day of idleness we cycled round the island and took the next ferry back to Dumaguete.
We liked Dumaguete a lot, a university town where we even found bars what seems to be a rarity in South-East Asia apart from the tourist places. Unfortunately, it was raining hard most of the time, although there should be dry season at this time of the year … our motivation staying longer in the tropics or more precisely in South-East Asia sank day by day. We booked a flight from Cebu City on the neighboring island to Macau, and in the end took another ship there since the rain seemed not to stop. In Cebu City we spent almost one week before our flight to Macau via Manila was scheduled.
We feared hassle again because of the putatively required onward or return ticket, however, fortunately, the lady at the counter of Cebu Pacific was impressed by our assurance that Macau doesn’t want to see any tickets from Germans. Although we weren’t quite sure ourselves …