Yesterday I called the Banaue bus folks (Ohayamitrans) and reserved a seat on tonight’s bus. Seat 8, window, second row from the front. Today after checking out of the hotel (and saying goodbye to A, who’s headed to Hong Kong via Bangkok), I took a taxi across town to the bus station. Took about 45min ($5 fare w/meter). The first cab that I got from the hotel, the driver wanted to negotiate a price more than twice that. I made him stop and let me out when he refused to use the meter. Second cab was fine with the meter.
The waiting area at the bus “station” is outdoors but covered. A few benches and a tv. And wifi. Not really a place to want to hang out for a long time, though. I paid for my ticket and the girl confirmed that I should come back between 9 and 9:30pm for the 10pm bus.
Once that was sorted, I caught another taxi to the Ayala Museum and Greenbelt mall. Or rather, I tried to. The driver was friendly (and fast!) but even after looking at my map a couple of times, he still stopped at a different museum. After a couple of redirections, I eventually decided to just walk the last 4 blocks. Part of the day’s goal has been to stay indoors since it would be no fun to set out on my 9 hour night bus ride sticky from sunscreen and sweat. As a result, it’s been a day of taxis, museum, and (swanky!) malls.
Unfortunately, I still wound up sticky after walking just a few blocks in the humidity (not to mention waiting at the bus station). Ah, well. Can’t be helped!
I bought a few books to read over the next few days and some earplugs for the bus. Earplugs are just as hard to find and just as overpriced here as at SFO. I ultimately found them at a hearing aid shop inside a drugstore. $2 for 1 pair of simple foam earplugs seems like a ripoff. Still, if the bus is anything like the one in Vietnam from Nha Trang to Dalat (blasting obnoxious tv programs) the earplugs could be a lifesaver.
After the museum & shopping, I grabbed a light dinner, picked up a bottle of water, and collected my bags from the hotel. The bellhop helped me get a good, honest taxi willing to use the meter, and he did a good job. The driver not only got me to the station in short order, but spoke great English. He gave me his number for when I come back, too.
No wifi listed at my next hotel, so this may be my last post for a few days.