Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hello Iloilo! (The Preliminaries)

26 – 28 October 2012. Iloilo.

We were so excited about this trip because it would be our first trip after I gave birth. Jas and I were supposed to celebrate his birthday in Hong Kong, but since I was so pregnant then, my doctor didn’t allow me to travel. Our airfare was thus placed in a travel fund for future use - Iloilo was one of those future uses (the other being our El Nido trip on March 2013). I chose Iloilo because it is to the south what Ilocos is to the north.

I searched the web for a 3D2N itinerary, and I saw A LOT. However, I limited the trip to church visits and a side trip to Guimaras since it was a mere 15 minute boat ride away. I printed a copy of the itinerary, confident that I could follow it to the letter. Upon arriving in Iloilo, however, I was at a loss as to where and how to start touring the place. For one, I didn’t study the city’s public commute system. So we ended up riding the cab to everywhere we wanted to go. Fortunately, cab rides in Iloilo are cheap because our hotel was in the center of everything. About the most expensive cab fare we had was at Php150.00, and that was from Iloilo Esplanade to Tatoy’s located in Villa Beach, 8 kilometers from the city, which seemed miles away even on a cab.

Iloilo International Airport is located 19 kilometers northwest of Iloilo City, between the municipalities of Cabatuan and Santa Barbara. Cab rides and airport vans greet the passengers upon arrival. A cab ride from the airport to Highway 21, our hotel, costs Php350.00. The vans charge Php50.00 per person for a trip to SM Iloilo. From there, one can take another ride to their designated hotel. We took a cab ride to our hotel for Php300.00; the lady was kind enough to slash Php50.00 off the fixed rate. Anyway, Iloilo International Airport is about the best airport (domestic) outside of Manila that I landed on. Its pre-departure area has a modern structure, with a spacious area and facilities to entertain passengers waiting for their flights.

Highway 21 is located at General Luna Street, next to Sarabia Manor Hotel and Convention Center. Its restaurant and function rooms are located right beside the road, while its hotel is located at the back, so one can easily be confused. I thought the cab we rode from the airport dropped us off at the wrong place because the signage said 'Highway 21 Restaurant'. He insisted we were at the right place; apparently, there's only one Highway 21 in Iloilo City. There's a driveway to the restaurant's right when you're facing it, go through it and viola, Highway 21 Hotel. I thought we had to look for another hotel when a fiasco happened with my booking (I take full responsibility). The front desk suggested we take the standard twin for one night and transfer to Superior A the next night. Despite the hassle, I acceded. It turned out later that we won't need to transfer rooms. Two nights of standard twin cost a total of Php2,500.00.The room we stayed in was pleasant – plasma television, clean bathroom, and oh-so-comfortable beds. The good part about this hotel, it was accessible to everything.

We arrived in Iloilo at around 3.45 in the afternoon due to a delayed flight due to air traffic. After cleaning up and depositing our stuffs, it was time to explore the place.