Monday, November 1, 2010

Manjuyod Sandbar, Negros Oriental

Below are two of the photos I saw from the net, showing the 7-km sandbar of Manjuyod (pronounced as man-hu-yod) during low tide at calm sea in Negros Oriental.  Located along Tanon Strait that separates the Negros and Cebu islands, its what enticed me to see the place, about 54 km north of Dumaguete city.

After breakfast, we rode the Manjuyod-bound Ceres bus from Dumaguete terminal. Fare is Php 50 per adult person, on this northbound route with views of the hills on the west side, and seaside views on the east side. The bus trip took 1.5 hours due to a lot of stops to load and unload passengers. We passed the towns of Sibulan, San Jose, Amlan, Tanjay, and Bais City, which is another takeoff point if we were able to avail the usual tour package which includes dolphin watching, etc. Unfortunately, the Bais City tourism office had not responded on my online reservation, while a private tour operator I was able to contact is charging Php 3,000 for boat rental which is just too expensive for only three of us.

So after a few online tips from solo backpackers' websites, I learned that a less expensive way to see the Manjuyod sandbar is by hiring a pumpboat from the small fishing village nearest to the sandbar. I told the bus conductor to drop us off to the place where we could go to the fishing village. It was raining when we arrived at Manjuyod, so we waited on the waiting shed until the rain stopped, before we rode the tricycle that took us to the fishing village. 

Arriving at the fishing village, the tricycle driver helped us look for a fisherman who would be willing to take us to the sandbar. I would have rented a bigger boat that could accommodate 8-10 people, but one has a defect on its steering apparatus, while the other one has no fuel. Reluctantly, I have to settle for a small pumpboat that can hold 5 persons for Php 600 rental, including the use of 3 life jackets. The weather still shows heavy clouds, and the habagat monsoon makes the water quite choppy, so I told my wife to stay at the village with my son who is afraid to ride the boat.

After 15 minutes in less calm waters and against the waves, the fisherman and I arrived at the submerged sandbar on a high tide, with 2 other groups enjoying the area. One of the large boats is grilling seafoods from another fisherman who just sold a newly-caught tanguigue (mackerel) to the tourists on board. He offered to catch one for me, but I declined since I plan to stay there for less than an hour. 

The stronger monsoon waves make it hard to see the bottom of the waist-deep shallow sea. On the highest point of the sandbar, the seawater is only up to my knees. On a low tide and perfect sunny weather, we could have walked on the sandbar's fine white sand, while admiring the cyan blue color of the sea. Well, at least now I could scratch this place off on my "To Visit" list, even if we failed to see its true beauty.
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