Sunday, March 04, 2012

Two Birders to go - Olango Trip

Here I will talk about our adventures and the logistics involved in our trip to the Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Since this was our first time to go to that place, we had some hits and misses in terms of transportation and dining experiences.


We booked at the Island Stay Inn in Mactan Island. It is a modestly-sized hotel not that far from the airport. The room we got had two full-sized beds, an airconditioner, hot and cold shower and a TV with cable channels. It didn't have a clock, a microwave oven or a refrigerator though. For the room, I'd give it 3 stars. However, I would gladly give 5 stars to the hotel staff, especially to the doorman and the front desk personnel. They were all very helpful and quick in responding to our requests. We would definitely stay here again in the future.


Mactan Island offers a great variety of transportation options: Taxis are practically everywhere. Then there's the usual jeepneys and multi-cabs. For shorter trips, tricycles are also plentiful. From the airport we took a taxi to the hotel. We took taxis to the places we visited for the first time (Mactan Shrine, Angasil Pier) then jeepneys/multicabs on the return trips. Not familiar with the city, we got lost a couple of times on our return from the Mactan Shrine. Thankfully, the locals were very kind in directing us to the places where we can get the jeepney to take us to our hotel.

From Mactan we took a pumpboat going to and from Olango Island. At Olango we rode a very tightly spaced tricycle to and from the Sanctuary.
boarding and disembarking a pumpboat


Our very first dining experience in Mactan was sadly quite disappointing. We've been hearing from our friends who had been here before to try a "sutukil" restaurant. "Sutukil" stands for "sugbo" (grilled), "tuhog" (barbecued) and "kilaw" (raw seafood fermented in vinegar). One of the more famous ones was the "Salo-salo sutukil". Little did we know when we got there that this area behind the Mactan Shrine was a tourist trap. Rows of "sutukil" restaurants and souvenir shops lined a narrow unpaved street. At Salo-salo, we ordered a "tangigue" (mackerel) filet for me and small "lapu-lapu" (sea bass) for Cynthia. We had them grilled. Then we also ordered "adobong kangkong" (river spinach cooked in vinegar and soy sauce) to go with Garlic fried rice. When we got the bill, we were shocked to find out that it totalled 980 pesos! Examining the details we discovered that we were charged 240 pesos for the "adobong kangkong" almost the same price for each of the fish dishes. Which of course is completely ridiculous, considering the market price of raw "kangkong" is only about 9 pesos a bundle. But they charged us 120 pesos for the bundle, then an additional 80 pesos for cooking it and another 40 pesos for the other ingredients that went with it (tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, etc). My wife just couldn't take such deviousness quietly. She stormed to the cashier, demanded an explanation and finally got a 100 peso discount resulting in a final bill of 880 pesos. Which is still outrageously high. We left the place in a huff and hurried back to our hotel. When we related the story to the hotel clerks, they surmised that the reason the restaurant personnel did that was because I "looked" like a foreigner and ergo has a lot of money. So whenever you are in Mactan DON'T EVER GO TO THE SUTUKIL RESTAURANTS BEHIND THE MACTAN SHRINE. Even if you are not "foreign-looking" if they sense that you are not a local, they will, I'm quite sure, overcharge you.

adobong kangkong and garlic rice
grilled seabass
grilled mackerel
That evening we ate at the Harbor City restaurant which is at the Marina Mall - a short walking distance from the hotel. It is a dimsum place and food was good but not that great.

Breakfast and lunch on the following day was the Zubu Chon restaurant which is located at the lobby of our hotel. Food here is excellent, reasonably priced and service is absolutely great! Their specialty, the Cebu Lechon (roast pig) is a must try and I highly recommend it.

dried fish breakfast
lechon flakes breakfast
monggo soup for lunch
crispy lechon for lunch
Dinner that night was at Chowking and like any fast food restaurant, the fare was so-so. What was even more pathetic was that half the items in their menu were not available which unfortunately included what we wanted to eat.

On our last day, breakfast was at MacDonald's which can be reached via multicab. Breakfast was the same as in any MacDonalds in the Philippines so nothing new there. Lunch was once again at Zubu Chon. At least our last meal in Mactan left a good impression on us.


Hotel stay: Island Stay Inn @ 1,650 pesos a night. We stayed for 2 nights. Total = 3,300

Day 1 Airport to Hotel via taxi - 60 pesos
           Taxi to Mactan Shrine - 120 pesos
           Lunch at Salo-salo Sutokil - 880 pesos
           Jeepney to Island Stay Inn - 9 pesos per person (actually costed three times more because we got lost twice)
          Dinner at Harbor City - 274 pesos for both of us (senior discounted)
          Total Day 1  = 1,352

Day 2 Breakfast at Zubu Chon - 234 for both of us (senior discounted)
           Taxi to Angasil Pier - 140 pesos
           Pumpboat to Sta. Rosa Pier (Olango) - 10 pesos per person 
          Tricycle from Sta. Rosa to and from Olango Sanctuary - 240 pesos
          Entrance Fee at Sanctuary - 20 pesos per person
          Photography fee - 500 pesos per camera
          Guide fee - 500 pesos
          Use of bathroom -  5 pesos (as a donation)
          Pumpboat from Sta. Rosa to Angasil - 10 pesos plus 1 peso terminal fee (per person)
          Tricycle from Angasil Pier to Main road - 8 pesos per person
          Jeepney from Angasil to Hotel - 9 pesos per person
          Lunch at Zubu Chon - 455 pesos (senior discounted)
          Dinner at Chowking -  120 pesos (senior discounted)
          Total Day 2 - 1,810

Day 3 Multicab fare from Hotel to MacDonalds - 7 pesos per person
          Breakfast MacDonalds - 150 pesos (senior discounted)
          Multicab from MacDonalds to Hotel - 7 pesos per          person
          Lunch at Zubu Chon - 445 pesos (senior discounted)
          Taxi from Hotel to Airport - 65 pesos
          Total Day 3 = 688

          3-day Total = 7,150 pesos 

Terminal fees - 200 per person. Total round trip = 800 pesos

Grand Total = 7,950 pesos (tips and gratuities not included)

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