It was close to noontime when we arrived at Estancia from the Gigantes. Rather than catching a ride to Iloilo City right away, the three of us decided to first have lunch at Pa-on Beach Club, as per our prior agreement. So after saying our goodbyes to Joel upon disembarking from the boat, we then proceeded there.
RETURN TO ESTANCIA
I’m not sure if I have mentioned it already but Pa-on’s restaurant is sort of hit-and-miss in terms of their food quality and volume. While the food during our first visit was a bit lackluster, our second visit showed much improvement and the items we ordered from the menu were more than satisfactory and very filling. Unfortunately, we forgot to take note of the specific items we ordered, so I can’t give any guidance as to what you should order if you choose to stop by here.
So after lunch we proceeded to the Estancia terminal where all the buses and vans are. I was thinking of us taking the bus because the van that we rode going here wasn’t really comfortable (although fast). But upon seeing that the parked vans going back to Iloilo City were in very good condition, I agreed with Richie and Gracey that it would be a good idea to take a van again.
It took a while before the van got filled up so we weren’t able to leave right away. Ultimately, when it was taking too long for one last seat to be filled up prior to leaving, we decided to just pay for that one seat. And so began the long but fast ride going back to the city. Along the way, we passed by areas where a really strong thunderstorm was occurring. We were both thankful that no such deluge happened when we were in the Gigantes, and at the same time worried that it might also be raining in the city, and we didn’t really have umbrellas, nor jackets.
BISCOCHO MISADVENTURE IN JARO
Thankfully, the weather wasn’t that bad in Iloilo City once we finally arrived. Upon getting off at the Tagbac Terminal, we took a cab for the short ride going to our hotel, i.e. Vista Inn. We could have easily ridden a jeepney, but we weren’t sure which one actually passed by Vista Inn. We didn’t feel like asking around anymore, plus we were still carrying our heavy backpacks. So we just hailed a taxi and arrived at our inn a short time later.
It was at this point that we realized we should have at least attempted to make reservations with Vista Inn beforehand. Fortunately, there were vacant rooms upon check-in and we found one that fit 3 people. We had to pay extra for a refrigerator rental because both Gracey and Richie had fresh scallops with them that might go bad soon. After unloading our packs and asking for some directions from the hotel staff, we made our way to a Biscocho Haus branch near the Jaro town plaza.
The funny thing about this is that we decided on Biscocho Haus as our first destination because we saw its elaborate building a couple of days prior and we thought it would be a nice place to buy pasalubong. So there we were in the jeepney with no clue as to where to go so we just told the driver to drop us off at the Biscocho Haus. This might have sounded ridiculous to the driver because there are lots of Biscocho Haus branches in Iloilo City. So we were just dropped off at the first one that the jeepney passed by.
This turned out to be a wrong move because we bought a box each of treats which we had to lug around for the rest of the afternoon and there were at least 2 more Biscocho Haus branches that we pass by in the course of our tour. But you can’t blame us. We didn’t know about that fact prior.
So we walked towards the Jaro Town Plaza. Hung out, took photos of the surroundings, including the massive Spanish-era bell tower, as well as an art deco police station which, I was later told by Ivan Henares, was once the Jaro City Hall – back in the days when Jaro was still a separate city.
We felt really silly when we mistook the nearby SM Hypermarket for the actual SM Mall, which was still a long jeepney ride off. We then took a jeepney and experienced our first bout with Iloilo City traffic.
DINNER AT SM
Eventually though, we reached the SM Mall where we decided to have late lunch/early dinner. I know that SM is a particularly poor choice of a destination for travelers to Iloilo City, but we had no choice as we had very limited time, and daylight was fading fast. There was no more room for risky explorations.
Anyway, Gracey and I wanted to have La Paz Batchoy, while Richie was in the mood for Pizza, so he separated from us and we just agreed to meet at a specific place at an appointed time. Richie went to Pizza Hut, while Gracey and I went to Ted’s (which is like the Jollibee of La Paz Batchoys.) Since our last full meal was 5 hours back, I was in the mood for pigging out. So I customized the La Paz Batchoy I ordered to be of the biggest possible bowl size, and with everything in it. (And when I say “everything”, I mean everything sinfully high in cholesterol.)
We briefly thought about the possibility of watching a movie there at SM, but we figured we needed to rest for the night because Richie still had a flight to Manila the next day, while Gracey and I would be having a day trip going to Guimaras. So we just attempted to withdraw cash from the ATMs (failed) and went to the mall’s grocery to buy supplies for next day. At around 8 PM, we were ready to take a cab and go back to Vista Inn.
We had hoped that the afternoon’s tour would have been more substantial than what just transpired. But this simply wasn’t the case. I guess we’ll just try to make the most out of Guimaras the following day.
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This entry is part of the Iloilo & Guimaras series dated March 23-27, 2012:
1. Looking for Travel Buddies
2. Preview: Tangke Saltwater Lagoon
3. Las Islas de Gigantes (prologue)
4. Las Islas de Gigantes (morning)
5. Las Islas de Gigantes (afternoon)
6. Why are they called the “Gigantes Islands” anyway?
7. Gigantes Islands Sample Itinerary & Budget Estimate
8. Gigantes Islands Travel Guide
9. Las Islas de Gigantes (epilogue)
10. Back to the mainland, back to the city
11. Day Trip to Guimaras (morning)
12. Day Trip to Guimaras (afternoon)