GoHotel, a place for every Juan in Dumaguete

First things first. This is not a sponsored post. I was not asked to make this review. I did so because it’s too awesome not to spread out there. Good lobang must share lah.

So this is where I stayed when I was in Dumaguete. It’s the GoHotel. Operated by the Robinson’s group, it’s a complimentary service to their Cebu Pacific airline. GoHotel aims to be the leading value hotel while still providing a quality hotel stay. Right now there are only five branches, but they still want to open ones in areas where there’s a Robinson’s Mall and where Cebu Pacific flies.

You get a 4 star room while paying the price of a hostel dorm by Singapore standards! Unlike regular hotels, there is no room service, pool, or other amenities. If you require the basic hotel to sleep in while you travel in the Philippines, this place is seriously a leading contender.
Go Hotel Dumaguete

Most GoHotel’s are attached to a Robinson’s mall. The one in Dumaguete is right across Robinson’s Place. This is great because you’re not limited to just the hotel. There are a lot of food choices, shops, and even a movie house a stones throw away.
Go Hotel Dumaguete

If you’re familiar with the concept of budget airlines, then GoHotel should be easy to figure out. The earlier you book, the cheaper the room will be. So far, the cheapest I’ve seen is Php388 (just S$12!) before taxes. When rooms get booked, the prices increase by the hundred.

By the time I remembered to book mine, I was able to get rooms that cost 588 pesos (S$18) a night, and for a THREE DAY stay including taxes, I paid Php2074.24 or S$63. Try beating that at a local Singapore hostel! When we were already there, my friends inquired what that day’s check-in rate was… and guess what, it was still affordable at only Php999 or S$30 a night pre-tax! Research on the ‘net says that room prices max out at Php3000. :-D

The check-in time is strictly 2pm — there are no leeways for this. If you want to check in earlier, you have to pay half the price of the room for that day. Because this is a no frills hotel, all additional services come with a fee. Case in point — because I arrived early and could not check in, I had to leave my luggage behind. Storing my pack in their luggage room cost me 50 pesos. They also sell complete a complete toiletries pack at the counter, in case you’re not satisfied with the basic soap and shampoo they provide in the room.

Also a weird observation, when I checked in, all I gave them was my name. I never showed an ID or my confirmation number. Then, they made me fill out some forms. After that, I was already able to get my room key. Hmmm… shouldn’t they have at least confirm my identity or did they already pre-stalk me on the internet so they knew how I looked like?
Dumaguete, Cebu

The Dumaguete branch had a tour service kiosk, a laundry kiosk, and a small eatery at the lobby area. It’s quite small, with only two floors. When I was there, the second floor wasn’t open yet.
Dumaguete, Cebu

I was able to get a room on the first floor with a window overlooking the rear garden. Great location because that meant I didn’t have to carry my bike up the stairs! The rooms operate by key cards — a lost key card only costs Php100. I still wonder how I lost mine. :-(

The entrance to my room became our official bike parking lot.
Go Hotel Dumaguete

My room was equipped with WiFi, lots of cable channels on an LCD tv, a small safe, two small bedside tables, a wall mounted writing table and a towel rack. There was a floor length mirror, and the wall behind the headboard was also mirrored. I think they did that to make it seem like the room was bigger.

The bathroom is small, but is set up with both handheld AND a ceiling mounted rainfall shower (!) and even has a detachable laundry cord. They provide shampoo, soap and fluffy towels.
Dumaguete, Cebu

Even though this is a no-frills hotel, the bed was INCREDIBLE. The sheets were high thread count cotton, the quilt was soft and clean, and there was even an ergonomic/chiropractic pillow. It was perfect to sleep on.

My room became a black hole of sorts. Every time we would stop by my place, my friends would ZONK OUT. C’mon, just see the photo above and below! Next thing we knew, hours had already passed while we were napping.
Go Hotel Dumaguete

There are a few rules that they have: no smoking, and no eating in the room. While I understand both rules, I still found it funny that they gave me a bundle of junk food — some cup noodles, coffee, a bunch of chips, etc — as a promo welcome gift. Where do you expect me to eat this? Hehehe. I admit I opened the chips in my room. My bad. I’m sorry. In any case, thank you Gokongwei family. :-)

The GoHotel was an unexpected gem and I was spoiled by how nice all the staff in the Dumaguete branch were. Every time I would come back to my room, people would compliment my Brompton. They never even made an issue when I folded my bike which was wet from the rain.

I swear the next time I have to book a place in the Philippines, I will check if there’s a GoHotel nearby, and honestly, you should too.

Cycling Negros Day 1: Rizal Boulevard and Neva’s Pizza

Touchdown Dumaguete City! First things first, check into the hotel. I booked a room at GoHotel Dumaguete. It’s great! Must stay here. Incredibly affordable but still a hotel experience. More of that in another blog entry.
Dumaguete, Cebu

I arrived earlier than the check-in time, which they were pretty strict with. No worries though because I could leave my pack with them for a fee. I paid 50 pesos and walked over to the nearby mall, Robinson’s Place Dumaguete to meet up with my friends.
Dumaguete, Cebu

Here are my friends Pia and Paul. We met because of our love for folding bikes. When I got to the mall, I just folded my bike and rolled it no questions asked. When they got to the mall, the guard took an issue with their bikes.

I’ve never experienced harassment from guards of buildings because of my bike (the only time so far was the guard at Plaza Independencia in Cebu City) — and if I did, I would simple choose NOT to patronize that establishment. I always tell myself to NEVER ask a guard if I can bring a bike in — act like it’s my right to roll it in, because it is. What differs a folding bike from a trolley or a baby pram? Folded, they are about the same size. What is it with Philippine’s guards and folding bikes anyway? I don’t get it. Ok. Rant over.

Pia and Paul flew directly to Dumaguete from Manila. Unlike me, they would be staying at Negros and moving to nearby Bohol for the next three weeks. We had a quick lunch at the mall then rested at my hotel room a bit before heading for Rizal Boulevard.

We all roll our bikes in different ways. :-)
Dumaguete, Cebu

Dumaguete is a quiet university town. The vibe is very chill, whilst still being very cultural, if you get what I mean. A lot of writers and artists find their inspiration from Dumaguete.

This place is special to me because my favorite teacher, Mrs. Herma Rivera (Abqaiq Academy, 3rd grade, 1993!) came from here.

Our first stop was to chill at Rizal Boulevard. It’s the equivalent of Manila’s Baywalk, or Penang’s Gurney Drive. People go there to walk, run, jog, or just chill. At night, food stalls would appear at some areas. It’s also a great place to eat! Across the street are tons of restaurants.
Dumaguete, Cebu
Dumaguete, Cebu
Dumaguete, Cebu

That’s Siquijor Island in the distance.
Dumaguete, Cebu
Dumaguete, Cebu

Out of nowhere, this partly sunken ship. An odd sight for sure.
Dumaguete, Cebu
Dumaguete, Cebu

We waited until the sun set and then we headed off for dinner.
Dumaguete, Cebu

Here we are at Neva’s Pizza at the junction of Amigo St. and Hibbard Ave. It was a little out of the way, so I was pretty glad we had our bikes to take us around the city. We left our bikes parked at the lower floor and took a table at the second floor.
Dumaguete, Cebu
Dumaguete, Cebu

Pia said that Neva’s was especially known for their Kuripot Pizza (kuripot usually means someone who is stingy/miserly, but in this case it loses its negative connotation and just means “cheap”), a variation that uses affordable local cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella. A 14″ pizza only costs less than a hundred pesos! Pizza’s fired in wood brick ovens for three Singapore dollars?! I’m in! I forgot what pizza this was, but it was delicious!
Dumaguete, Cebu

In fact, a lot of foodie places in Dumaguete were really affordable! I guess that comes with being a university town. Students may have limited budgets, but that doesn’t mean they don’t like good food.

After dinner, we spent more time hanging out at Rizal Drive. I wasn’t familiar with the roads yet, so the P’s showed me the way back to my hotel before we called it a night.

Cycling Negros Day 1: Cebu to Negros via RORO

Since the next leg of my Visayas trip was across the water, I needed to figure out the best way to get from Bodos Bamboo Bar in Alcoy to Dumaguete. There are many ways of getting from Cebu Island to Dumaguete City in nearby Negros Island.

  • You can head down to Bato via any Ceres Liner bus heading to Oslob/Bato and take a passenger ferry to Dumaguete from there.Pros: Many buses head to Bato. Cons: You need to move from bus to pier, pier to ferry, ferry to pier, then pier to some transport that can take you to Dumaguete City proper. No idea which pier this ends up in so I’m not sure if I can cycle to the hotel.
  • You can head down to Lilo-an Port via any Ceres Liner bus and take a ferry going to DumaguetePros: Many buses head to Lilo-an/Santander. Cons: Pier is far away from the main road. Don’t know if ferry is for passengers or for vehicles. Don’t know if the Dumaguete Pier is in some other area of Negros Island.
  • You can hop on a Ceres Liner bus with a “Dumaguete” plaque plying the South Cebu Road that boards a transport ferry Pros: I can just wait at the foot of the resort for the bus to pass by. No need to move luggage from the bus. Cons: No idea what time the buses pass by. There are only 6-8 daily buses going to Dumaguete from Cebu in random intervals.
  • You can go back to Cebu City and take the Ocean Jet fast craft ferry from there direct to Dumaguete City.Pros: Direct fast craft. Cons: Requires longer travel and heading back to Cebu City.

I decided to take the third option — because I’m lazy. All I needed to do was wait for the Dumaguete bus to pass me buy and load my things. The next time I needed to unload my stuff would already be the Ceres Bus Terminal which was literally just behind my hotel.

I checked out early from the resort and headed down to wait for the bus next to the main road. It took a while, over an hour, before a Dumaguete bound bus passed me by. Luckily, the guard at Bodos lent me a stool and helped me wait for the bus (Thank you!). He even loaded my pack and the Brompton onto the bus’ luggage storage and told the conductor where to drop me off.

Then we headed off the Ceres Liner’s specific terminal to load our bus onto a ferry. In Pinoy terms, this is known as RORO or Roll-On Roll-Off. Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete

After our bus got onto the ferry, it took a while before we actually left. Some people went out first to eat and do last minute things, like these German guys having a quick brekkie at the pier eatery.
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete

It was nice to see that the water surrounding the pier clean, considering the number of ferry boats that ply this route. There were no oils floating on the surface, and lots of fish passed by. Near the pier are seaside homes, with these guys lazing the day away swimming. Lucky!
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete

Because the bus decided to turn the AC off, I headed to the passenger area of the ferry. It has this view of all the vehicles. The yellow bus is the one I was on.
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete

At a nearby pier is the passenger ferry.
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete

Hello Negros!
Ceres bus/RORO Ferry from Cebu to Dumaguete

The bus ultimately stops at the Ceres Liner Terminal in Dumaguete City. It’s directly behind Robinson’s Place Dumaguete and is near the Go Hotel I was staying at.

I don’t have the schedule of the bus from Cebu City to Dumaguete because I just got on from Alcoy, but I took a note of the schedule from Dumaguete back to Cebu. The bus leaves 8 times a day, and total travel time from the Ceres Bus Terminal to Dumaguete all the way to the Cebu South Bus Terminal in Cebu City took 5 hours or so. Ceres Liner bus schedule from Dumaguete to Cebu