There is an old joke that’s been around forever. I’m living that joke as I type this into my PC. As I said in my article yesterday, I am traveling to Cebu this week. Well, I am trying to anyway. As of right now (it’s Saturday as I type this), I am not sure that it is possible to get to Cebu from Davao!
A month ago or so, when my American friend asked me if I would go to Cebu to take care of some things for him, he asked me how much it would cost me for the airfare. I looked it up online, and looked like I could travel round trip for $125 or so. There would be some other costs involved, and the fares might change by the time I went, so I told me friend $200 just to be safe, and I was quite sure that the trip wouldn’t cost any more than that. So, now that I am ready to go, I went online to check ticket prices. Wow! A few weeks ago I could make the round trip for $125. Now, I am getting prices of $150 to $200 each direction, so up to $400 round trip! Oops! This won’t work, because my friend didn’t give me this much for the trip! Hmm…
Well, next step was that I decided I would take the ferry from Cagayan de Oro to Cebu. I could ride the bus from Davao to Cagayan de Oro. I thought that this would be a fun way to travel, and a kind of interesting experience to ride the bus and the boat. The round trip this way would cost me only about $75 or so, well within budget. The boat schedule is only on certain days, though, and it didn’t work out perfect, but I could live with it. The bus ride to Cagayan de Oro is about 7 hours (I can drive it in 5), so it’s a major trip to get to CdO. The boat is scheduled for Sunday night on the Cebu Ferries website. But, if I am going to take a 7 hour bus ride, I want to make sure that the ferry is running on the same schedule that the website says (I mean, when was the last time they updated the site?). So, they have a “Contact Us” link on the site, so I sent them an inquiry, asking if the boat is still on the same schedule published on the site. That was at 8am this morning. At like 8:05am, I got an e-mail from the Ferry company (auto reply) saying that they would contact me within 24 hours with a response. OK, that was acceptable to me. Some 3 hours later, I got another e-mail from the Ferry company. This one said that the lady who would respond to me would be out of the office for about a week, but don’t worry, she will reply to me when she gets back! But… I wanted to ride the ferry about 36 hours from now! Well, obviously this won’t work out for me. Scratch the ferry ride.
I went back to the Cebu Pacific Website to check it further. I found that if I flied mid-week, I could indeed get a much better fare, back down to about $100 for the round trip. OK, I should have checked this earlier. Feyma offered to go to the Cebu Pacific Office and buy my tickets for me. However, when she went to the office, the price was about double of the price they listed on the Internet. Hmm… I told her that I would book it online, and she just waited at the office in case there were any problems. I went through the whole booking, and the price was just under $100. I know that there are often problems using a US credit card on the Cebu Pacific site, so I pulled out a Philippine bank debit card instead. Went through the whole process. My card was declined. I have well over ten times the money that I was trying to charge to the card in the account. I don’t know if the bank declined the charge, or if Cebu Pacific somehow messed up the process, but all I know is that I could not pay online for the tickets. The site also did not give me any option to just reserve the seats and pay at the office either.
Well, Feyma went back to the Cebu Pacific Office and although she had to wait for an hour or so for her turn in line, she was able to get the fare that I was quoted online, so that is good news. However, there is also a downside. When Feyma told the people at the Cebu Pacific Office that my card was declined online, they advised her to go to the bank and tell them not to allow any charges to be put on the card (she paid cash for the ticket) because Cebu Pacific might still put through the charges against the card, even though they declined it! And, if the charges are applied to the card, Cebu Pacific said that they will not refund it, even though it has also been paid in cash now! Oh my… as Feyma just told me on the phone… “Welcome to the Philippines.”
Well, as we all know, this whole process of booking airline tickets, e-mailing tourism related companies, etc. is not an easy process in the Philippines. I am just wondering, though, is it possible to get to Cebu from Davao? Hmm… I enjoy swimming!
Well, at least I have my tickets in hand now, hopefully I won’t have to pay twice for them! Unless any unexpected hitches come up, I should be in Cebu before the time that you read this article. Wish me luck!