Up at the crack of dawn, the group was raring to go. The hotel would be serving breakfast at 6 am and we were at the coffee shop by 5:45. Once done with the food, we were off. Hitting the road at round 7 in the morning, Surigao City was in full swing by the time we were passing through it’s streets.
This was to be one of the highlights of the trip. This long almost 400 kilometer leg which will take us from the northernmost tip of Mindanao and cross a ferry to the Island Garden City of Samal. The route would take us through breathtaking mountain passes with magnificent views of Lake Mainit. My Vespa suffered a flat tire in one of the seemingly endless, sweeping turns. I felt the slight wiggle coming out of a turn and knew right away I had lost my rear tire. No drama there, just stopped on the side of the road and replaced it with my spare tire (don’t you just love Vespas).
Continuing on the rout we reached the junction of the Butuan-Davao highway junction. We had a long break here since Bunso made some repairs on his battered suspension that had him bouncing all over the road on the way there. The repair was unsuccessful and we had decided that we’ve stopped long enough and that the repairs will have to wait till we get to Samal. After making small adjustments to his suspension to make his scoot rideable, we were off. But not before we had a bit of fun. Uriel had been eyeing the Habal-habal for some time now and was eager to ride it. He couldn’t help himself any longer and approached one while it filling up with gas. The driver reluctantly agreed to a photo-op but had insisted there be two rider so it would be easier to balance. After giving me the “What the hell are you waiting for?” look, Uriel and I were now trying to balance ourselves on the small platforms connected to the motorcycle. It was no mean feat, the guy was a legend trying to balance to oversized bears on his bike and after a few shaky starts, we were off. Once around the station was enough. Once we had dismounted the driver quickly left before we could appeal for “Manong, isa pa!”.
The highway towards Davao city has got to be one of the best pieces of road I have been on. Immaculately asphalted and, in spots, ridiculously straight, with very little traffic. This meant good trave times for the group which we needed since we had stopped for almost an hour in the vicinity of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur. Uriel had spotted a welding shop on the side of the road, we needed to do a bit of welding to my side mirror which had broken the mounting bolt all the way back in Catbalogan, Samar. The owner was gracious enough to let us park in his shaded area and let us use his equipment to check our tires as the bolt was being welded and fixed. After getting everything in order, and a quick lunch in a roadside eatery in front of the shop, we were off again.
The pace continued to be fast (as fast as a PX can go anyway) and we were making good time. Everyone was having fun gunning the Vespas down the long, clear straights. With some having more fun than others, that being me. I had enjoyed myself too much and had lost view of the two. Then I felt a slight hesitation of the engine that continued to the eventual seizure of the engine. I caught the seizure right away and had pressed the clutch before any serious damage could be done. I was free wheeling on the highway for a good 2-3 minutes before I restarted the engine, and we were on our merry way again, albeit a lot slower. Another incident happened a few minutes after on an uphill climb that I had pressed the scooter too much. My scooter had become too hot and needed extra lubrication so there was no other choice but to add oil to my fuel to make sure that the lube will make it to the cylinder head. Well, that and slowing down.
After making the necessary adjustments we continued on to our destination. The remainder of the trip was uneventful and before long we had reached Tagum City. This is where the open roads ended and the trip became an urban nightmare again. It was like being back in Manila, or Valenzuela as Uriel had mentioned. But, we were used to this, we just had to avoid major mishaps to get to the island. We eventually got to the Samal Ferry Terminal and we were on our way to Samal Island.
This is where the trip entered the twilight zone. After landing on Samal Island, we had been told that The Pearl Farm was around 20 Kilometers away. After travelling 400 what’s another 20? Oh how wrong we were. We were going around in circles in the island, asking the residents where the road was and they just kept pointing us forward. The resort was calling, but without any knowledge of where the heck we were, they weren’t much help either. We eventually saw a sign (a small one) that said “To Pearl Farm” pointing to a side road. A sense of relief took over confusion as, at last, we had found the road. And the road went on and on. And on and on. Until there was no more road. Still THAT went on and on. We were asking the few people we were seeing if this was the right way and they were saying yes we were. It had become dark now and we were still on the limestone road to hell. And off we went still. We reached a fork in the road, one lane being really small and led to seemingly nowhere and another was the same as the one we were on, but uphill. We chose the bigger lane and ran up the hill. Loaded Vespa, heavy rider, loose limestone road, darkness, you know where this will end. And come crashing down I did. The Vespa had lost traction in both tires and just fell on it’s side. Good thing I was able to slow down the fall by holding the handlebar. Uriel wasn’t so fortunate, he lost traction in both his Vespa and his feet and he and the Vespa crashed down, thankfully not on each other. His Vespa’s left side cowl was dented and scratched along with other smaller bits. But he was unhurt and that was what mattered.
We found out, by asking a bike that came out through the other lane that that was also a way to Pearl Farm. Uriel had asked another rider to accompany us to the gates and he had agreed. We made our way through lanes and tracks and houses and sea shores which were more suitable for mountain bikes. We were literally riding through people drinking. They would stand up to make us pass through. What a trip. We eventually got to the gate of the resort and after a few minutes of swearing and quite a tongue lashing, we found out that Pearl Farm had no real roads that lead to it. All guests were ferried by boat from the mainland. What a time to find out. It was dark, we were tired, thirsty, hungry and really cranky and we advised the people in reception to please lead us to our rooms first so we could freshen up before we discussed the situation any further.
After getting settled and getting our heads on straight. We, again, congratulated ourselves on a great and safe trip and greeted each other a Happy Father’s Day. Dinner was a feast of local delicacies served up by the fantastic kitchen of The Pearl Farm. A few round of drink followed after and we were ready to retire for the evening. Day 5 was going to be a rest day so there was no need to hurry and fix our messes. A pat in the back for a job well done. Time for some R&R.