Talk About a Cheap Date…

I don’t know what it is about Saturdays. My mornings are free, the first obligation I have it kid’s ministry at 2 pm. I try to avoid doing much of anything “out” on the weekends, so there is no reason for me to wake up early. Apparently, my internal clock hasn’t gotten the memo. So, almost every Saturday, I find myself wide awake at about 6 am. Not a “oh, I guess I could get up…” awake, I’m talking a “get up, the bed is on fire!” kind of awake. Why?!?! This past Saturday, Dan actually beat me out of bed, and so we were both alive and kicking way too early. So, we got up and left.

Samal Island is about a 20 minute ferry ride from Davao. Known for it’s beautiful beaches and laid back small town feel, it’s a world away from our big, loud, crazy city. It’s an escape that we horribly under-utilize. You know how you get comfortable with your surroundings, and began dreaming of “getting away from it all”? We have a getaway right here, and we never use it. We are trying to change that! We left a note for the still-asleep teenager, saddled up our borrowed motorbike, and headed to the ferry.

We arrived at the car ferry around 7:30 am, booked our first class seating (hmm…maybe not…wrong ferry…) and waited as cement trucks, freight trucks loaded with mountains of glass soda bottles, and personal vehicles drove on, leaving us just enough room to squeeze in and fill in the gaps. It’s economy class for sure, but for the price, it’s still a bargain.

Our trusty, rusty ferry
Our trusty, rusty ferry
My cute motorbike driver! Still not sure what I owe him...
My cute motorbike driver! Still not sure what I owe him…

Once we reached the other side, I let out my usual sigh of relief as we offloaded. These ferries cross the bay no fewer than about 6000 times a day, but I still get a bit nervous every time. I know, the big “SAFETY FIRST” logo painted on each ferry should alleviate my fear, right? Anyways, once back on solid land, we rode north to Babak, a little town that feels like the tourist “crossroads” towns we always stopped at as a kid, a last chance to grab gas and a Dairy Queen sundae before heading into more rural territory. If only Babak had a DQ…they do have amazing bakeries though, so we grabbed a bag of pastries, filled the gas tank, and rode north along the shore.

The town of Babak
The town of Babak
So many choices! Each one around 7 cents each.
So many choices! Each one around 7 cents each. Super dangerous…not to the wallet, but to the waistline.
Filling up in Babak
Filling up in Babak

The impressive newly paved roads finally gave way to non-new, non-paved, unimpressive roads. It’s rainy season, which interestingly enough, coincides with ridiculously sticky, deep, icky mud season. But, we pushed through, and like most nasty messes in life, the other side was waiting, full of rewards. We passed little resorts I didn’t know existed, picturesque beaches usually reserved for photo spreads in travel magazines, and small towns filled with kids who called out “hey!” as we passed through.

Yeah, the expected palm tree pic...still love them though!
Yeah, the expected palm tree pic…still love them though!
Local housing
Local housing
The back side of Samal
The back side of Samal

After a bit, we stopped to let the bike cool down, let our rear ends regain feeling, and grabbed a Coke. As we sat in front of the sari sari, the local kids began to gather to sneak a peek at the rare white people in town. They finally got brave enough to round the corner of the building, and stood across from us, just staring. Then, one kid, clearly the leader, would yell and they would all run away until he yelled “Balik!” (back!) and they would return. Repeatedly. It was cute, and I must have been in a good mood, because usually the uninhibited blatant staring usually drives me crazy. Something about the country air…

Grabbing a Coke at the local sari sari
Grabbing a Coke at the local sari sari
A few of the kids were brave enough to approach the white girl...and lived to tell about it.
A few of the kids were brave enough to approach the white girl…and lived to tell about it.
I mean, for real?
I mean, for real? We get to live here?

We circled back around to the ferry, and we were back on, home before lunch. It was just a few hours out of our day, hours that probably would have been spent watching old movies on HBO, putzing around on the computer, or wasted in some other pointless way. Instead, we had an awesome morning “date”, a rarity, but something I’m looking forward to doing again soon. So, the bottom line? We got to get out of town for less than the price of a trip to Starbucks, our standby cheap date. Here’s the breakdown:

Ferry (round trip for 2): 120 Pesos

Environmental Fee (Paid on entry to Samal): 5 Pesos

Breakfast Pastries: 24 Pesos

Gas: About 150 Pesos

2 Cokes: 20 Pesos

Cute Motorcycle Driver: Price to be Determined 😉

Scenic Beach Views: Free!

Entertainment from Local Kids: Priceless!

Total: 319 Pesos

That’s just over $7! Cheaper than a coffee date, cheaper than a trip to the movies, heck, almost cheaper than the refreshments at the movies. If you have a bit more time, throw some snorkel gear on the back of the bike for some added adventure. We are truly blessed with the opportunity to spend time together on the cheap, we just need to remember to do it more than once every four months. I think that’s something every couple and family needs to remember. In an environment where you are constantly giving and expending yourself, you need a chance to refresh, guilt free, as well.  

Gorgeous views! Stop and ENJOY them!
Gorgeous views! Stop and ENJOY them!
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