Wednesday, June 16, 2010

CamSur nightmare

Quoting Maryflor: “Ang CamSur ay parang etong halo-halong kinakain ko. Mukhang masarap pero kulang pala sa gatas at asukal pagkatapos kong tikman.” Funny metaphor but true.
This is a documented ranting of our trip to Camarines Sur last 16-18 April 2010.
Personally, I consider travelling to Bicol by land as a very stressful event in itself. Then going through all the hassle we’ve been through totally turned our vacation into an almost mayhem. Or we could simply be just maarte. Or poor – because we couldn’t afford a plane ticket (at least just at that period). Or lazy to book plane tickets for everyone. Whatever.
We left Manila (Makati to be exact) at around 11pm and did a late dinner stopover at Shell SLEX at around 12mn. The land trip was excruciatingly long. I fell asleep when we passed by Quezon’s first town. I am a “masa” (masandal tulog) type of passenger so I’m pretty sure that I slept for quite a long time. But when I woke up, alas, we’re still in Quezon! And that was not the last town yet. I felt frustrated and I lost my urge to sleep. But due to tiredness, I fell asleep again.

We left Manila at midnight. But that time, the sun was already shining in the sky and we are still on the road going to Sabang Port, where we were supposed to ride a boat to the Caramoan peninsula.

Upon seeing the public transpo boat at the port, we decided to take a private boat instead. It was quite hard to get in the public boat, because we would have to soak ourselves in the water just to be able to hop in. Some boatmen offered a private boat for a pretty expensive price.
But wait! There’s more! They charged us for carrying us (our bodies) and bags from the bank to their boat. When we were about to head for the peninsula, we discovered that there was a ramp (hidden from our sight) that should have allowed us to get in the boat without them carrying us – without the need to pay them additional fees! So much for moneymaking.

To add more to our pissed mood, the boatmen told us upon arriving near the Caramoan port that they could not park the boat because it was low tide. Out of the blue came some small boats that would take us from our private boat to the shore – for another fee! The situation was so infuriating that my colleague, Maryflor (who is a very uncomplaining sweet girl) exploded and said “Kuya pineperahan niyo lang kami eh!” From then on, so many heated comments came from everyone until the boatmen decided to park the boat. In other words, the boat can still be parked even when it’s lowtide. It’s all for the revenue!
The land trip from the port to the Villa took 15-minutes along rough roads.

One of my colleagues booked an inn (Villa Caramoan) where we will be staying. By the looks of it via the photos in their website, the place seemed promising. But when we got there, it was different. In fact, it didn’t even have similarities at all with the website pictures. So we complained. But in the end, we still paid for it with the agreed (note: pricey) rates.

From the villa, we did another 15-minute road trip to the shore for our island-hopping. Good thing the islets were damn beautiful to ease away all the bad vibes we’ve been through. Sad part is – we were not able to visit the most beautiful islands because the production team of Survivor Israel was shooting their episodes that time.

The food was bland. Nothing special. We enjoyed our booze and chips more. Our night activity (Pinoy Henyo) was so much fun.

We left Caramoan the next day and headed back to Pili to visit the CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC). It appeared to be a pretty fine tourist attraction. True enough, there were many foreigners when we got there.

We were very hungry when we arrived so we headed straight to the restaurant. We called the waiters several times (read: for 30 minutes) for the menu but they just kept on saying “yes” without returning to our table with a menu. We even overheard a woman at the other table complaining that it’s been an hour but their food was not yet served.

With that, we decided to eat somewhere and just go back after. Our extreme starvation brought us to a bus stopover cafeteria. Food was cheap and okay. Satisfied and full, we went back to CWC. Some of us tried wakeboarding, some went swimming while I and Ivy decided to just chill and get some cocktails and snacks.

CWC is a cool place. It has world-class wakeboarding facilities, sophisticated water activities amenities, skateboarding park, cute villas, among others. Unfortunately, they offer bad service, for some reason. Apparently, the waiters have preference to foreign guests in terms of service over Filipino guests which is so colonial mentality-ish and racist!

Tourist destinations like CWC should focus on improving customer service because in the end, it is what will leave a lasting impression on guests.

We left CamSur in the evening for another agonizingly extensive journey back to Manila.
25 May 2010

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