Tl;dr – walk, minibus, boat, minibus, too many taxes, flight, wait, free bus, wait, delayed flight, super late hotel transfer
These remote islands take a while to get to and therefore a while to get out of. Also, with Manila being the main hub of the islands we were heading back to the madness to transfer to Brunei.
We had been so impressed with the transfer on the way in we figured it was well worth getting it back. When we gave our flight time we were told to be ready for 12:30. At 12:21 we were met by our first orange-shirted man. We were walked to the van and we set off. We picked up a bunch of people on the way and arrived at the jetty. The jetty had been closed the previous day due to the bad weather but the weather was glorious now.
We paid our terminal tax and had a short wait at the terminal before our boat was ready and we zoomed off across the strait.
Apart from the short walk at the start (which was in the shade) we had been air conditioned all the way until the boat but the breeze from the speed was perfect. When we stopped at the mainland we realised just how hot it was. We had to carry all our stuff round the terminal to the bus stop and Kate had overindulged on the UV rays so couldn’t carry much on her shoulders. So old Mike the Mule carried both bags in the midday sun and I felt it. But thankfully, the company’s little waiting room had loads of air conditioning! It also had a broken bench that both Kate and I sat on on separate occasions, much to the amusement of one of the eight orange-shirted men.
Our air conditioned bus rocked up after a short wait and we made the long but pleasant journey to Kalibo airport.
Once at the airport we checked in and I was informed the hand luggage allowance was 7kg and I had to pay to check my bag in. Once checked in we had to pay an extra tax to use the terminal, despite our airfare being “inclusive of all taxes and fees”. Regardless, we were through and when we picked up our own plastic child-sized chairs to sit on, we knew our airport tax was being well spent.
Our plane arrived on schedule and we got on board.
As soon as we were up at altitude we were heading back down into Manila. We had plenty of time for this transfer which helped but we were still going between terminals (this time T4 to T1) and we were pretty worried about how exactly it was going to happen.
Once off the flight and with bags collected we saw a sign for terminal transfers. We gave our flight details and waited patiently. The room was getting full until a man came through and read out a bunch of names. Everyone got up one by one until it was just us left. Then the room started filling up again. The man walked through once more and started reading out everyone elses name once more. Then “Laney, Kat” was shouted out and we assumed that was us and got on the bus to terminal 1.
We were there in no time and it was free. This whole transfer business had worked smoothly! We got some cheap microwaved food after security and headed to our gate (not quite the last one but only one off) to hear our flight was delayed due to needing a new tyre. We weren’t too bothered, after our last experience of Manila we were just happy to be there.
Our flight was with Royal Brunei as they had been the cheapest airline to get to Borneo. They are however not a budget airline and it was lovely. Big seats, all-inclusive price with a meal, even if it was served after midnight. Unfortunately due to our consistent usage of budget airlines I must’ve missed the special dietary requirements box and Kate was left without a veggie option. But aside from that, it was a very pleasant experience.
In Brunei immigration and customs took no time at all and our hotel driver was ready and waiting to take us to our hotel room so we could finally get our heads down in Bandar Seri Begawan.
12:21 walk to main road: 3 minutes
12:25 minibus to ferry terminal: 1100 PHP (as part of complete transfer deal) (£18.67), 24 minutes
12:59 boat to Caticlan: included with above but extra 200 PHP terminal tax (£3.40), 7 minutes
13:37 bus to Kalibo airport: included with above, 1 hour 36 minutes
17:02 (8 minutes early) flight to Manila: 3594.80 PHP (£61.03), 1 hour 18 minutes (5 minutes delay)
18:58 bus transfer from T4 to T1: free, 14 minutes
22:52 (57 minutes delay) flight to Bandar Seri Bangawan: $182.80 (£150.05), 2 hours 4 minutes (57 minutes delay)
01:21 private transfer to Jubilee Hotel: 10 BND (£5.88), 12 minutes
Arrived 01:33 +1 day (GMT +8)
Total time in transit: 5 hours 58 minutes
Total travel time: 13 hours 12 minutes
Total cost: £239.03 (£119.52 each)