Family togetherness is overrated, especially if all everybody else wants to do is lie around and watch TV and dilly dally about when to go out (and other worse things which will not be mentioned here.) So what I did on Christmas day: brought out my bike and took a tour of Samal Island.
It was an unplanned trip. From past experience, this is the best kind. I left the house at 6:00am and found myself on the road to the old airport. Then it entered my head: why not go to Samal Island? I asked around and they told me to go to Onse, local slang for Kilometer 11 in Sasa. From there, I could catch a ferry to the island.
The car ferries are a sight to behold. There's several of them plying the Davao-Samal route. They take buses and cars and motorcycles. Fare was P60, a little pricey but worth at least one try. Besides, I didn't know of other options just yet.
The ride took fifteen minutes, showing just how close Samal Island is to the mainland. The ferry was full with holiday revelers taking a day trip to the beach resorts on Samal. There were also several Samal entrepreneurs heading back home with their morning's purchases. Favorite commodity: piglets.
Samal is best known for the overrated and overpriced Pearl Farm Beach Resort. I've never been there myself. Too expensive for a local like me. So far, I've been limited to Paradise Beach Resort which, while still pricey, is affordable enough for the occasional jaunt. Away from the pristine fantasy of the resorts, though, you get more authentic coastal scenery.
There's a circumferential road surrounding the island, a few hundred meters within the coastline. The highway near the ferry wharf is paved, but that soon gives way to rolling dirt roads. That said, the biking in Samal is largely unremarkable owing to the lack of interesting landmarks. There's supposed to be a bat cave somewhere up north, and waterfalls further down south, but they were too far for this trip.
Straight from the wharf, I headed down to Catagman. I wanted to hit the major town of Peñaplata, but the lack of any interesting sights along the way discouraged me. Around 10am, I turned back for the municipality of Babak.
Babak turned out to be a small sleepy township. Again, not much to see. There was the branch of the Holy Cross college in the town and some small shops. There was also a big church, the Virgen Dolorosa, but it was too new and too modern to be of any interest to me.
The decision to hit Babak turned out to be fortuitous one, though, as there was another wharf with smaller boats and cheaper fare heading back to Davao. Fare: P9 for me and P9 for my bike. I headed back around lunchtime as there didn't seem to be any good restaurants in the place.
Total distance travelled: 22km on the Davao side (round trip) and 18 km on the Samal side.