My solo ride around Samar Island has been one of the most memorable rides I’ve done this year. I got to traverse through three provinces of (Western) Samar, Northern Samar and Eastern Samar. Since it’s the third largest island in the Philippines, it’s is a bit challenging getting around by public transportation. The main cities are geographically located far from each other and vans and jeeps don’t leave regularly. Usually, you have to wait for public transport vehicles to get filled up with passengers, so getting from one place to another usually requires a lot of waiting time. Since my main purpose was sightseeing and ease of access getting around, I thought I could cover more ground on a motorbike.
For riders just after a pure straight ride minus all the activities and sightseeing, they could probably loop the whole area I covered in a day. I allotted four days for this because I prefer driving only 4-5 hrs a day in the morning, so I have more time to enjoy the place and chill out in the afternoon.
Any solo traveler will tell you that one of the most painful parts of traveling alone is the fact that you have no one to share expenses with. After riding around the coastal road of Samar on the way back to Catbalogan City, I decide to squeeze in one last activity. When I passed by the local tourism office in Samar, the three main destinations being promoted were Sohoton Caves Natural Bridge in Basey, the Rock Formations in Marabut and the Ulot River Torpedo Boat Ride in Paranas. I’ve visited the province of Samar on several caving trips and have written a detailed travel guide about it, but for some reason, I haven’t been to those three main and most popular sites.
Everything looks better when the sun is out. The same roads and structures which I found scary the previous night look perfectly ordinary in the daylight. It’s like watching a horror movie with a particularly tense nail-biting scene set at night. Then the scene shifts to a sunny day and you breathe a sigh of relief because you feel the worst is over.
Desolate. The empty highway seems to stretch on for miles. Except for the occasional habal-habal or van going in the opposite direction, most of the main road in Northern Samar just feels so empty. There are hardly any establishments or houses on either side of the road. Just mountains on the horizon, coconut trees and fields.
While driving from Lavezares to Laoang Island, the only fairly large town I pass that has an actual mall and big gas stations is Catarman. After that, I only encounter small villages with their poblacions made up of a few streets punctuated by a handful of sari-sari stores selling gas in litro bottles. Then it’s back to deserted roads after driving for five minutes.Continue reading →
Ang laki pala ng Samar, I thought to myself as I drove along the highway on my way from Catbalogan City to Lavezares in Northern Samar. When I ride a van or a bus, I usually just sleep and wake up near my destination, so I don’t really feel how far I’ve gone. I get an inkling of distances when I plan my route on Googlemaps, but the kilometers on Samar island just felt longer than usual.
Otherwordly. Ethereal, Magical. Like a scene from a children’s fairy-tale storybook, the two tiers of the waterfall cascade like a white curtain into a basin of clear blue water. From where we stand, the massive boulder formations carpeted with moss, wild ferns and tiny purple flowers provide a postcard-perfect viewing deck.
Samar (formerly named Western Samar), is one of the three provinces of Samar Island in Eastern Visayas in the Philippines. Home to a network of amazing caves hidden beneath the region’s lush jungles, including the biggest cave system in the country, Samar is a rugged destination where adventure seekers can experience something out of the ordinary. Though most of Samar Island remains off-the-radar for local tourists, many international spelunkers have been drawn here since it’s been dubbed the “Caving Capital of the Philippines.”