Butuan to Zamboanga by bus
Trip Start Nov 15, 2006
228Trip End Jul 15, 2008
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Today we are on our way to Zamboanga, which is at the southern tip of the Zamboanga Peninsula on the island of Mindanao. The area we are traveling through is a no-go area according to some people. Locals in Northern Mindanao tell us that the area is on the U.S. travel advisory list. Our Lonely Planet guidebook for the Philippines says that it is not advisable to travel to Zamboanga by bus, because of the activities of Communist and Muslim insurgents operating there. There have been incidents of robberies, kidnappings and worse. However, there haven't been any major incidents lately; particularly since the U.S. military has been aiding the Philippine government in eradicating these groups. But the buses do go there. In fact they go there hourly during the day light. So if there is regular bus traffic through this area then how dangerous can it be?
Our first leg is from Butuan to Cagayan de Oro
We hate to be negative about the Philippines but we have to be honest. The vast majority of the people are very nice but an unusually high percentage of the people hanging around the bus stations are there to prey on tourists. The pickings for them are bleak because we never saw any other western tourists using the buses. So these jackals doubled their efforts on us. The pattern is that when you arrive at a bus station they try to grab our bags offering to help carry them the few feet to the bus. Even if you resist and carry your own to the very side of the bus where the luggage is loaded underneath the bus, they will then grab them and shove them into the cargo hold. This apparently entitles them to demand as much as $5 for a couple bags. Then the bus drivers' assistants will demand another amount ranging from p20 to p60 to allow your bags to ride on the bus
Iligan is famed for its waterfalls, so as it was about 3PM when we arrived we decided to stay at the Tinago Falls Residence Inn, which our June 2006 edition of the Philippines Lonely Planet says is a picturesque inn and restaurant overlooking the falls with a small zoo, including a lion, on the property. The description in the book goes on about how lovely the place is. So from the bus station we take a metered taxi up to the Inn
March 16, 2007
We get up early today and take a Rural Transit bus to Pagadian. The tickets cost p280 each. From Pagadian we take another Rural Transit bus to Zamboanga. The punch marks on the ticket stubs we were given for this trip showed the fare was p326 each, but the driver's assistant shorted us on the change. When Irina brought this to his attention he took the stubs back and wrote p710 on the back, so she owed another p10. Irina is really pissed and wanted to report they guy when we got to the bus station in Zamboanga. But it was after 7 PM when we arrived and everything was closed. Arvid is not so upset and just considers the extra $1.50 or so as the cost of not having to argue about it. But it really irritates Irina. We arrive about 8 PM so we go directly to the Grand Astoria Hotel right down town here in Zamboanga. It's not really that grand and our room has a real musty odor. The rate is p998 per night, and we're too tired to look for another room.