It was very fascinating to view the sights of the Tacloban from the plane. The Samar Island was truly beautiful, which can be seen from the Tacloban airport. The airport was situated beside the sea and the plane maneuvered near the Samar Island and the sea surrounding Tacloban. As I disembarked the plane, I proceeded to Tourism counter for the directions on the ride that I should take in going to the hotel. I immediately chose the jeepney ride as it was very cheap. At PhP15.00 I would reach my hotel compared to the fixed taxi flag rate of PhP300.
In 20 minutes, I arrived at Luxury Suite Hotel (tel. no. 053.3218844). The room for overnight stay was only at PhP650. It was modest accommodation with single bed, bathroom, air-con and cable TV. It was already 1:30pm when I tried to arrange for a city tour in one of the reputable travel agencies in the area. Unfortunately the rate was very expensive for just one person. I was being asked to settle for PhP2,100 for the entire tour. Until I have decided to just walk around the city. I went to Gaisano mall to check the items that I could buy for souvenirs. Then I decided to just go back later to the mall after the tour.
When I went to a nearby McDonalds to take an afternoon snack, the weather was already hot. I stayed there for awhile since the rain started to pour and lasted for 30 minutes.
From the fast-food, I asked the policeman for some directions and he gladly assisted me in taking a jeep going to San Juanico Bridge. The trip was almost 30 minutes. I had a bad experience with the jeepney driver for being dishonest. All the while I thought the fare was P30.00 and I paid the said amount but the fare was actually PhP13.00 only. At the Leyte side of the bridge, I asked the permission of the policemen that I will be walking on the bridge. Since the San Juanico is the longest bridge in the country connecting the two islands, one can feel the bridge shake as trucks passed the bridge. I had taken photographs of the bridge with the islands as back drop. I was very enthusiastic in taking the photos as rainbow appeared over the bridge. Unfortunately even if there was rainbow, raindrops fell and I decided to go back to the Leyte side. Probably next time, I can go back and walk towards the Samar side. From the Leyte side, I waited for a jeepney to bring me back to the town proper.
At 6pm, I went back to Gaisano mall to buy souvenir shirts for my family. I was looking for a ref magnet but the sales lady kept on pointing at the appliances. At that point, it became obvious to me that we were having language barrier. Since I cannot find a ref magnet, I went out of the mall and found a small souvenir shop. I bought some key chains but I still did not find any ref magnet in the souvenir shop. I decided to walk along the street until I found a better Gaisano mall but I did not bother to go inside since I was asked to deposit the shopping bags that I bought from their other malls. I found lining up for the baggage counter very inconvenient since there was a very long queue. I also noticed while I was looking for local fast food chains in the area that most of the meals were no longer available and to think it was only 6:30pm. So, I opted to have dinner at Jollibee. After dinner, I just went to my hotel to leave my things. At 9pm, I still went out for a coffee and read the magazines at a nearby Bo’s coffee.
The next day, I woke up feeling tired since I was uncomfortable with my room. I went for a city tour and started with the Sto. Niño Church but I left immediately since the mass was at their local dialect. I asked for directions in going to MacArthur Park by approaching a traffic enforcer but he could not speak nor understand neither English nor Tagalog and he just pointed to another person in front of a mini store. The man assisted me in taking a jeepney and he even told the driver on where I should alight. I took the Campetic bound jeep and paid PhP11.00. I alighted in front of BIR building. Then, I took a tricycle to the park and paid PhP13.00. At 9am, I took some photographs of the park. I only stayed for 15 minutes and I immediately boarded a pedicab back to the jeepney station. I then proceeded to see the Provincial Capitol, which was used to be the Philippine government seat of power. It was still early and the Leyte Park hotel was walking distance from where I was standing.
I opted to take my breakfast at the hotel (PhP190.00). The buffet breakfast choices were very limited and I vowed to myself that next time, I’ll just have ala carte breakfast. By the time I finished breakfast, it was already raining and I did not have any rain gears.
From the hotel gate, I took a tricycle in going to the Price Mansion. From the Mansion, I never got the chance to take some photos due to heavy downpour. Again, I rode a tricycle to bring me back to my hotel.
At midday, I checked out at the hotel and went to Ocho Grill and Restaurant for my lunch (PhP250.00 meal).
From the restaurant, I went to the airport by taking the jeepney. I arrived at the airport at 1:30pm but I was not allowed to enter the pre-departure area. According to the airport police, due to limited space and the other flights have not yet departed, I could only enter the premises by 2:30pm. Normally, I checked-in 2 hours before the flight but it was my first time that I was not allowed to checked-in early. It was hot and uncomfortable at the airport parking lot and I hope the Romualdez Airport management can do something to make the visitors comfortable. The experience has not dampened my interest of going back to the place since I there are still a lot of areas that I want to explore.
Visited last November 19 – 20, 2011