I was so amused with this trip and how we made it with very limited budget. Here are practical tips for traveling on a shoe string budget in Siquijor.
Tip #1. Find a cheap eatery not a restaurant
From San Isidro Labrador church in Lazi we walk downhill a few meters where an eatery was open. The food were still freshly cooked and we ordered our first meal of the day. Mine consists of tinolang isda and rice. They served a good portion of freshly cooked rice. The soup was hot relieving our empty stomach, and the fish was fresh, of course its Siquijor. I paid only 40 pesos for the meal. While waiting for the meal, I devoured the three boiled eggs I prepared at home for baon. My companions refused the eggs so I consumed them all to myself. I also brought a few pieces of moron and banana which we started eating during the float from Iligan City to Siquijor.
Tip #2. Be a Friendly Smart-Ass and Haggle
This is a lesson, that a snob of me never ever learned to appreciate. The one good thing my companions were good at is being street smarts. They small-talked the crew at the eatery while I concentrated on my meal. The small-talk probably was elaborated into a real conversation when I got back from the bathroom because they already booked three motorbikes to take us around the island. By the way, their bathroom was clean with lots of water much like M/V Siquijor. This is one of the things I appreciate about the island. My companions haggled. The 1,000 peso trip offered to us by the men who stalked us from the pier to the church was negotiated at half the price. You got it right only 500 pesos. I was happy at the deal especially that I only brought a few cash. When I went home I was left with 300 pesos. That’s big cash for me because I was already jobless.
Tip #3. Renting a Bike
When renting a bike, be specific with the agreement, does it include fuel if not then how much? You have to set your contract very specifically such as where do you want to go, what to do, when, and how. This means you have to prepare your itinerary before coming. Meal for the drivers is also important, in our case we dined cheap and included our friendly drivers although the latter wished we could eat in some upscale restaurant. We explained to them we are poor tourist. So that did it. This is necessary otherwise you will be paying more with nasty drivers. The second option is, if you want to have fun and adventure you can rent a bike which you can drive around yourself as most foreign tourists do. The bike is small and can only seat a driver and one passenger on the back. I surmise that foreigners do this probably because they are too huge to be accommodated at the back of a tiny bike
Tip #4.Observe local culture.
The century old Balite tree was our first stop from Lazi. The Balite tree sits on a spring. When we arrived there, there was woman and probably her grandson doing their laundry, and a man of a considerable age, swimming on the other end, with his underwear. It does not really look like a tourist destination considering how the people continue about with their daily chores in and around the tree. There were tiny fishes on the spring, in fact, many a school of tiny fishes that provides free foot spa service. Be careful however, because the spring is slippery. You may dip if you like, with your underwear and pretend you are a local and its free.
Tip #5. Visit their beaches. They have crystal clear waters. We went to a beach quite far away from the highway and took a hundred steep steps below the cliff, it is named, Kagusuan Beach. The seawater sparkles , the sands white and fine like baby powder, and rock formations too, but the downside – seaweeds beaching on the area. But his is nature working on its own and its beautiful as it is. They have more touristy beaches like the Salagdoong beach, water is fine, but the slide which was constructed on a rock formation, spoiled the beauty. You can just forget about the slide and the picture and just take a refreshing dip in its waters.
Tip #6. Visit a public swimming pool in the middle of the town of Barili.
It amuses me, how this spring has strategically placed itself, like it were a public plaza. You know what public plazas are, they are not only accessible but your activities are viewed by the public inside the grounds, or outside for example, the motorists and the commuters, curious onlookers and tourists. This public pool/plaza can be a breeding ground for voyeurs. I tell you, when we were at the Balite tree which comes with a spring, a naked man in his underwear was comfortably swimming in a public spring. In this public plaza/spring there was a woman, swimming with her underwear. You know what its like when you swim with an underwear versus a swimwear the latter has pads for privacy and security, the former, none!