I sluggishly reached for my phone to stop the tormenting sound of the alarm clock at 4:30 in the morning. Our check out time in our small double-deck room at Pahayahayan Hotel was at 5. The rent was only good for 12 hours and although we could still use some shut eye, we didn’t want to extend to avoid paying more. So we were left with no choice but to drag our sleepy souls out of our beds ‘biri’ early morning. LOL. The rest of the town was still sleeping but the Ferry Terminal at Allen was starting to come to life as the sun shly awakened from its slumber. We were finally going to Biri Island on the 4th of October 2012.
We decided to grab a quick fix for our rumbling tummies before we head out to the town of Lavezares. Christian would have wanted to drop by the Spice of Life Beach first since it was too early but decided otherwise as it may delay our journey. We agreed to visit the beach when we got back from Biri though. So after stuffing our mouth with pancit guisado, hot pan de sal and coffee, we walked to the jeepney terminal with our heavy backpacks in tow.
Finding a jeepney that will pass by Lavezares wasn’t difficult. We found one that’s headed for Catarman, which will also pass by Lavezares, and occupied the front seats. The fare was P20 for a 20-minute ride. Without minding the travel time, we were surprised when the driver announced we had reached Lavezares. That was fast! They instructed us to cross the street and walk 2 blocks down the road leading to what looked like a wet market with the port and the sea as its backdrop.
We arrived too early in Lavezares. At 6:20 in the morning, there were still no boats docked on their harbour. Only one passenger was in there.
In order to get to Biri Island, one has to wait for the boats coming from the island to arrive at the mainland. After thirty minutes, small boats started arriving, carrying with it passengers coming from different towns on the group of islands that surround the northern part of Samar. The port started to swell with boats in no time.
The first boat that arrived from Biri was going to be the first one to depart Lavezares. However, it had to fill up a certain number of seats before it heads back to Biri. Seeing that we were the only non-locals in the area (wonder what gave us away…hehe), the boat dispatcher and the boatman tried to convince us to pay P500 for a special trip to the island, otherwise, we’d have to wait for more passengers. We were actually not in a hurry so we opted to wait. After a few minutes, the boatman approached us again and asked if we’d agree at P300. We still declined since we’re only prepared to pay P50 for the one way trip to the island. I just hate the fact that just because we were the tourists, they’d try to ask more money from us. Why not tell all of the waiting passengers to also add more to their fares so that we could leave the place already. pft! So for the next 2 and half hours, we waited in vain.
I was so relieved when the boatman announced that it was time to leave. He asked for our bags and placed it on the make-shift extensions on the boat’s sides. When everyone was aboard, the engines roared to life and slowly slipped out of the harbor.
The weather has not been good to us on those past few days. In fact, we were afraid that our trip to Biri would be cancelled. Tropical Storm Marce (Gaemi) was ravaging the western side of the country. But on the day that we treaded the waters of Northern Samar, the weather miraculously behaved allowing us safe passage for our boat trip.
To first-time travellers on their way to the group of islands of northern Samar, you might wonder what’s that structure standing tall in the middle of the sea. You’ll pass by that area when you travel to Biri. It’s actually a statue of the Virgin Mary who looks like pulling out someone out of the water. A boat surrounds the area too. The waters are shallow in that place and during low tide, you’d see rocks scattered all over with fishermen working to find their daily catch. Based on a local we asked, that structure is a big help to seafarers in the region since the light on top of the Virgin Mary’s head serves as a beacon for night drifters.
Almost an hour after, we were welcomed by huge waves before reaching the gateway of small islands that surround Biri. The ride was moderately scary since our boat was not that big. I was more fearful of what might happen to my netbook, Lenny, than my own safety. hehe. But our seasoned boatman skillfully maneuvered the [small] boat ensuring our safe voyage. I just find it ironic that after surviving that ordeal, we were greeted with the calmest waves ever once we got passed the big island that covered Biri.
After seeing uninhabited islands for that whole one-hour trip, the sign of life greeted our eyes when we started seeing houses from afar, an indication that we were almost nearing the end of our journey. Finally, we reached the port of Biri at ten in the morning.
We are not fond of room reservations for we wanted to be spontaneous on our travels as much as possible. So the moment one habal-habal driver asked us if we already had a place to stay, we told him we wanted to go to the homestay accommodation mentioned by our friend Gael. We thought that the place charges P150 for a night (travelling while spending cheap is the ultimate creed for budget travellers like us. hehe. ) but we found out that it charges P150/head/night/room. They also do not have a room with 2 beds and the caretaker won’t budge when we tried to ask if we could use 2 rooms for the same rate since it wasn’t the peak season for tourists. Honestly, I think we were the only visitors of the town at that time. She said if we’ll occupy 2 rooms, that would be P200/room, or was it P300? I already forgot. But despite our pleas, she was still firm with her decision. She’s only the caretaker, she said and can’t do anything about it. Fine. Fair enough. With the rate she’s offering us, we decided we’d better stay at Villa Amor, our first choice, since it’s almost the same rate as what the homestay one was offering. So we asked our motorcycle driver to take us back to Villa Amor.
Villa Amor is the first resort that was constructed in Biri Island. Before we reached the place, their website published room rates of P500 per night. But we learned that they increased their rates to P600 since the resort just underwent major major renovations. P600 was too steep for our budget but the place was ideally the perfect choice for our short vacation in the island. It’s also the only resort in town which has a beach front. We tried asking the gracious resort manager (mom of the owner) to give us a discount for our 2-night stay. After displaying our award winning smiles and convincing powers, she gave in. I could almost see myself leaning forward to hug her but I restrained myself. The discount wasn’t that big but it was more than enough. The place was more than what we could ask for. Its location, perfect.
Our motorcycle driver offered his services for the trip to the rock formations. He also offered to be our tour guide. We were supposed to start the tour the next day, Friday, but when we realized that we had to get back to the mainland on an early Saturday morning, it dawned on us that we should have paid for the special trip that morning so that we’d have more time exploring Biri that day. But there’s no point regretting our decisions. We then decided to start the tour that afternoon. He offered a round-trip fee of P80/head and a tour guide fee of P300 that day. For the next day, he said he’ll accept whatever amount we’d give him for the tour guide fee. I jokingly told him that we’ll just walk to the rock formations the next day and meet him there to avoid paying the habal2x fare. After agreeing on the tour guide fee and the transportation fees, Kuya Jun Giray agreed to pick us up after 2 hours to start our rocky adventures.
Note: If it’s your first time to travel to Biri, I would highly recommend that you HIRE A TOUR GUIDE so that you can safely explore all 6 rock formations in the island. I also personally recommend Kuya Jun Giray if you are looking for one. Why? Check back on my next posts on this series You can contact him at +63 920 2512590.
40.00 – breakfast (10 – pancit guisado, 5 – pan de sal, 25 – water)
20.00 – jeepney fare from Allen to Lavezares
50.00 – boat fare from Lavezares to Biri
10.00 – habal-habal fare from Biri port to town
P120.00 – Total Expenses when travelling from the town of Allen to Biri Island
This post is part of my Biri Island Adventure series.
For more information on the previous posts, please refer to the links below:
Majestic Rock Formations: The Hidden Gems of Biri Island
Biri Island Series: En Route Cebu to Calbayog
Biri Island Series: Looking For Affordable Places to Stay in Allen?
Biri Island Series: Side Trip to Spice of Life Beach in Allen
Biri Island Series: Waking Up Biri Early Morning <— you are here now
Biri Island Series: Biri Rock Formations Tour Activate!
Biri Island Series: The Hills are Alive in Magaspad
Witnessing the Sunset at Magasang in Biri Island
Waiting for Sunrise at the Bel-at Rock Formation in Biri
On Being Stranded at the Caranas Rock Formation
Learning How To Drown in the Natural Pools of Biri Island
For more photos of this trip, please click this Facebook Page Album.