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Philippines Travel

Solo island hopping in Siargao is not as fun as I thought

Someone’s at the door, struggling to open it. It’s not easy turning the knob. I remember what Monique, one of the resort’s staff, told me earlier when she led me to this room, “You got to keep turning the key to the right, one of the guests told me the trick.

And so I was there silently cheering the person on, You can do it.

The door finally opened, a light-haired white woman entered the room. She was the same girl who greeted me earlier, we’re sharing the 4-bed mixed room at Bravo Beach Resort. All beds are occupied but I’ve yet to see the other 3 guests. They’re probably out exploring Siargao, which could mean 2 things; they’re either surfing or island hopping.

The girl looked up at me; I was on the upper bunk, “Why are you staying in this room? You should check out Siargao!

I couldn’t place her accent, but I could tell she didn’t come from an English speaking country.

I was supposed to say that I don’t know where to go, instead, I answered, “I think it’s raining. ”

She shook her head, “No it isn’t. It’s sunny. Go out and explore,” she said in an excited tone.

Alright,” I muttered a reply.

I went down from the upper bunk bed, took my wallet from my cabinet, and left the room. I was chatting with my friend earlier on places to check out in Siargao. She gave out recommendations including Shaka. I searched Google Maps for the location, it would take me about 34 minutes to get there on foot so nope, I’m taking the motorbike.

The main mode of transport in Siargao is motorbike; tourists even rent them out. Some bikes have a roof, some have a surfboard carrier. I can’t drive a car, but I know how to drive a motorbike so I thought about renting one. But my vacation is short, and I don’t know where to go, so I decided it’s a no.

Siargao is one of the well-known surf spots in the Philippines. Everybody has been here but me and I had to do something about it. I booked a flight in June, got it for cheap due to a promo. When you plan a trip too far from d-day, there is always a possibility that it won’t push through. I resigned from my previous work, got accepted in a new company, and now I don’t have leave credits until I get regularized in May. I even posted a Facebook status that Siargao and I are not mean to see each other yet.

Then last month I had to fly to Sydney for work the same week we are having the ASEAN Summit. It was a declared holiday, it means I’d be working on those 3 days when I was supposed to be at home. I didn’t really mind because hello that’s Australia! I wouldn’t say no to Australia. Given the situation, my manager and I agreed that I could offset those 3 days when I return to the Philippines. To cut the story short, I used those 3 days in Siargao.

As I write this, Tori Amos is singing about the Cornflake Girl. I’m halfway through the signature cocktail drink of Bravo Beach Resort, a mixture of gin and calamansi juice and they call it pomada. I cannot make its connection with the hair clay old men like to use, I could ask the staff, but I’m not in the mood. It tastes more like calamansi juice than gin but I am already feeling dizzy. I haven’t even finished the entire thing, what’s wrong with me?

The restaurant is jampacked and it seems like I am the only person with no company. I am going to be honest, I wish I have someone with me, a lover or a friend. I don’t know how to talk to strangers, I don’t know how to do it without feeling awkward. This is not my first solo trip, but I have never mastered the art of making friends. It’s the missing ingredient of all my travels; I cannot easily make a connection with strangers. People expect me to hook up with a guy, to find someone whenever I travel. I always go back with nothing or should I say no one.

Today I paid ₱1,500 ($29.55) for an island-hopping activity. I texted Doy, a dark-skinned surfer with big curly hair. He was recommended by a friend to help me with my Siargao activities. He picked me up from the resort with his motorbike, I thought he would be coming on the trip, turns out he just arranged an island-hopping tour for me in which I was the only passenger.

Given my antisocial tendencies and aversion for waiting on people, I thought I would enjoy it. The boatmen, Mang Ben Ben and Kuya Bobby were quiet people, but they were nice and they took care of me. I noticed that people from other boats were looking at me. They’re probably wondering who is this weirdo who has the boat all to herself. The islands were breathtaking, golden sand that glitters under the sun, cerulean blue waters, and islands that are generally peaceful despite the presence of tourists, really I got nothing to complain. But this time, loneliness has become a burden. I  couldn’t motivate myself to take a swim, I couldn’t get myself to greet other people, I didn’t want to stop anywhere to take a moment for myself. I was a classic tourist, I just went to take photos.

Naked Island

Our first stop is Naked Island, which, save for the long stretch of sand and a small patch of area with vegetation, is completely bare. It is, as the name implies, naked. A light rain started pouring when we arrived and the other tourists were already going back to their respective boats. I went down for a quick photo sesh with Kuya Bobby.

naked-island-siargao (1)
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naked-island-siargao (4)

Daku Island

Daku Island has small huts and cottages where people could go and have lunch. Kuya Bobby said that I could ask one of the locals to cook food for me, but I decided against it given my aloneness state.

daku-island-siargao (6)
daku-island-siargao (5)
daku-island-siargao (4)
daku-island-siargao (3)
daku-island-siargao (2)

Guyam Island

Guyam Island, as Daku is covered with trees and cottages where people could hang out. There is a large section on the seashore covered by rocks, OOTD background worthy, so I asked Kuya Bobby to take my photos; he willingly obliged. After our mini photoshoot, I told him that it’s time to go home.

guyam-island-siargao (2)
guyam-island-siargao (1)
guyam-island-siargao (3)

He called out Mang Ben Ben who was taking a rest beneath the shade of the trees.

Tapos na?“ (It’s over?) asked Mang Ben Ben in surprise.

Oo,” (yes), replied Bobby.

The island hopping tour lasted for only 2 hours.

At times I covered my face with the beach towel because my eyes hurt from the glare of the sun. I don’t like wearing eyeglasses because I like to see the beauty of my surrounding in its true colors. But today I regretted that I neglected to pack my sunnies.

It’s only 7:20 in the evening, and I don’t know what else to do. I need to pee. I guess it’s an early night for me.

 

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    ROBERT JAMES
    March 12, 2018 at 6:18 AM

    Fuck. I’ll be going solo too this April. @_@

    I wonder if you can rent a boat and spend half a day (or at least 3 hours) in one of those islands. I’m not a surfer nor am I comfy riding a habal-habal for hours by myself (plus the driver who I would meet and forget afterwards).

    Would you have any “introvert” travel tips?

  • Reply
    rachel
    February 26, 2018 at 9:15 AM

    That was hard for you ah. how did you last for 3 days w/out even knowing even single person that time? or even accompany w/the whole journey. it makes me jiggle because i will be travelling solo in siargao this sept 2018!. wish me luck! 🙂

  • Reply
    Steph Dobson
    January 17, 2018 at 4:38 AM

    I can definitely relate to loneliness when you travel solo. While I am able to connect with people quickly, it’s still not the same as experiencing the world’s most amazing wonders with someone you enjoy spending time and sharing such things with. But hey, at least you weren’t expected to actually get naked on Naked Beach!

  • Reply
    neha
    January 12, 2018 at 3:35 AM

    I can see the island hopping was not that fun. But the islands really seem beautiful. I was surprised that the trip lasted just 2 hours. If there is a group of people, is it possible for them to go to one of these islands like the naked island and do a picnic out there?

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      January 13, 2018 at 10:33 AM

      They don’t allow eating on the Naked Island just to prevent people from throwing trash anywhere. You can only eat on the other 2 islands, Guyam and Daku.

  • Reply
    Sam
    January 11, 2018 at 11:30 AM

    Most of the attractions in the Philippines that involve island hopping is not as much fun doing solo. Much as I want to travel alone, it’s really safer and cheaper to go in groups. My compromise would be to go in small groups that can merge with other smaller groups. Siargao is on my list this year. Truly hope I go there on November — and that it’s not as crowded given the popularity of the Siargao movie

  • Reply
    Kris
    January 10, 2018 at 12:19 PM

    What a refreshing read. Honest to the bone and very brave. Congrats on a lovely blog!

  • Reply
    Travel Tips
    December 31, 2017 at 10:38 AM

    Wow this is a kind place for me. It looks so beautyful and pure. Would love to go there.

  • Reply
    Dex Bautista
    December 21, 2017 at 7:54 AM

    I’ve read this before and sometimes I feel what you’ve written here when I’m doing solo travel . 😅😅😅

    dextograph.com

  • Reply
    Carlo Madrid
    December 20, 2017 at 8:14 AM

    I was planning to solo travel here next year, but I guess I need to call some friends to accompany me now. haha

  • Reply
    Lor
    December 13, 2017 at 12:08 AM

    Marge,.
    May mga time din ako na nahihiyang mag approach sa iba when i travel alone.I think i read it somewhere if your alone traveling don’t forget to bring smile kahit di ka mag salita.it will start from there. What i do for example nasa breakfast table with strangers i smiled and in return some will do the same and .
    Nxt move is to ask then taga san ma or kayo and it will start from there.some will ask you to tag alonh with them sa island hopping since iisa ka lang.

  • Reply
    Mr_jeng
    December 10, 2017 at 1:30 AM

    Na feel kita marge. I get that. Sometimes, talaga it would be better to go to places with friends or lovers…. medyo someone to share the experience with ….. balang araw meron din tayo niyan ^_^

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      December 10, 2017 at 3:52 AM

      Tiwala lang! Haha…

  • Reply
    Erica
    December 7, 2017 at 9:45 AM

    I understand how it feels to be excited for a solo travel and ended up feeling lonely because of the environment. I felt this in Phuket. Although, I managed to get some company because I happened to meet other solo travelers who kind of eager to join and a group who didn’t mind me tagging along. But if nobody talked to me, I don’t think I would have been be able to start a conversation. But I am working on this skill because yeah it is expensive I I pay the whole tour for myself.

    Your nails are fabulous and so are your photos from Siargao!

    • Reply
      Marjorie Gavan
      December 8, 2017 at 4:09 AM

      Oh, I wish I’m like other people who can talk to strangers easily. Thanks for dropping by Erica.

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