Wednesday, November 12, 2014

We Missed the Bus to Cebu

I had wanted to travel from Bacolod to Cebu by bus and ro-ro barge but alas, it is not to be.

I like the intercity bus and have taken it before from KL to Singapore, KL to Penang and back and Manila to Bagiuo and back. All were interesting journeys and different experiences; all good. I was looking forward to taking the ro-ro barge, I last took one across the Suez Canal in the 1980's.

We went to the bus station in Bacolod and it was very 3rd worldy.

Some buses had A/C (everyone here calls it "aircon") and some didn't and nobody could tell us which routes had it and which routes didn't.  No advance ticket sales, first come first served on the day of the trip only. All of the buses queued up in the bus station had small seats and open windows but in fairness to Ceres Liner (most bus companies in the Philippines incorporate the

word "liner" into their name) they have 13,000 buses in their fleet that spans several islands. Some of the barges are out and 2 of the 5 daily Bacolod to Cebu runs have been cancelled until further notice. For us the 7 hour bus trip was regrettably out of the question. So we'll fly to Cebu.

Airline travel in general is sterile and often a pain in the ass. We're going to fly Cebu Pacific airlines to Cebu, they're the Air Asia of the Philippines. They have a dismal and self proclaimed on time rate of 63%. After our experience flying from Manila to Bacolod, a 1 hour flight that took 4 hours, it wouldn't surprise me if the bus beat the plane. The bus would've cost $12.25 each plus food and water. Plane will cost $45 each. There are lots of flights from here to Cebu which is about 100 miles east but most have long layovers 300 miles north in Manila.

I had expected Cebu Pacific to try and charge me for sandwiches, snacks, baggage, fuel, insurance, seats and anything they could blow past me on their web page and they did run me through their gauntlet but they even tried to charge me a currency fee. Seeing that I had a foreign credit card they offered me a price in pesos and a price in dollars but when I ran their dollar price through a currency converter it was higher than the peso price when I converted it myself. My credit card doesn't charge a currency conversion fee so I picked pesos. And besides, if I was using a card that charged a currency conversion fee banks are even worse than airlines and they still charge it on a purchase billed from a foreign country in USD. The airline wants to make money, let them get it somewhere else.

Philippine Airlines or PAL or as they say here, "Plane Always Late". Cebu Pacific is owned by the Gokongwei family, another Chinese family who controls this country. I guess I won't get to find out who controls the ro-ro barges.

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