We decided to go on another trip so we did a little research on http://www.skyscanner.com and the result was a round trip to Cebu in the Philippines from Singapore on Tiger Airways for $ 150. So yeah we were going!
Travel philippines guide Cebu island
Cebu is the big island of the Visayas region in the center of Philippines https://getlostinasia.com/en/category/country/philippines-country/. It is the largest and oldest city in Southern Philippines, often called the Queen City of the South.
Cebu en.wikipedia.org / wiki / Cebu is a slower version of the chaotic Manila’s. It’s a bustling city full of cultures. With its large port, a small international airport, its « shopping malls », its industrial park and universities, Cebu has got some poverty but also lots of prosperity too. The exchange is similar to Thai Baht https://getlostinasia.com/category/country/thailande/ with 43 Philippine Pesos to one U.S. dollar.
There are not many tourists.Travellers are composed of groups of Koreans with cameras, a few adventurous backpackers, many Filipinos working abroad coming home to visit their families and unfortunately a lot of lost Caucasians attracted by something other than culture . The white foreigners here are mostly grey haired, half bald, retired U.S. Army, divorced or eternal bachelor with a young Filipino girl in his arms.
Mactan Island is a major tourist point that’s where the high-end hotels and luxury places are located. At the south you can find the most charming hotels in fisher village that offer budget facility. This is also where we ended up on the Olango Island; a small isolated island with small quiet resorts close to the village.
The people are poor but very friendly. People here live day to day, it reminds me vaguely of Laos where the tempo of life is slow, where everyone is smiley and unpretentious. The water is clear and green emerald.
Brief Philippines travel guide of our visit to Cebu:
– Customs formalities at the airport are fast, no need for visa
– Taxi from the airport to the pier to take our ferry (20 minutes by taxi) was 347 pesos (8 USD)
– Walk a little further and take a taxi from there and ask for the meter to be turned on, that will save you a bit of money
– The taxi took us to the wrong pier where all the locals take the ferry to the island of Olango. There was no terminal building and everyone was watching us. There were no tourists coming there. The price of the ferry is 25 cents. The boat is filled to its capacity. The notion of time by international standards are suspended. The boat comes and goes when it wants and no one complains or blows up a fuse.
On the boat there we made a local friend who lives on the island. He gave us a « lift » to our hotel. 3 on a motorcycle is just the average, it’s common to see a complete family with building materials and half a dozen chickens. We were lucky that we embarked with him, because this narrow road in the middle of nowhere made me doubt that a hotel is hidden among a dozens of small shops selling almost anything, soap, cigarettes , coke ….
We stopped at a gas station with an old lady in her hammock smoking a cigarette. We buy a bottle of rum filled with gas, a well spent 35 pesos to thank our host.
We finally reached a bamboo fence with a sign announcing the Talima Beach resort (http://www.talimabeach.com). We thanked our new friend for his kindness as we went into our hotel.
It’s small and intimate land of a few hundred meters surrounded by a fence, it’s not super luxurious, but clean and quiet, too quiet I would say, but perfect for relaxing from the city. There is a nice little pool to relax in. The room is small, but OK, because of the limited availability of electricity on the island we are asked to avoid the air conditioning between 5 and 9 pm, the hottest parts of the day.
It has a beautiful view on the Lapu Lapu city . We can snorkel in front of the hotel if we have the courage, because at low tide you have to walk more than 100 meters and the bottom of the sea is not very pleasant. The hotel has a small diving equipment rental service. (http://polaris-dive.com/), People usually arrive by sea as it gives a more spectacular entrance, but was able to share the daily life of inhabitants of the island.
We tried the local food provided by the hotel which was good but not excellent, and each main course cost more than $ 10. One thing that was annoying was that they asked us to order in advance and indicate the time at which we want to eat. But at the end, we were still waiting for our food. It’s funny especially when we ask for toast and coffee, something which we need to prepare ourselves. We reserved a boat for the next morning to visit the small islands surrounding (island hop). 4600 pesos (100 USD) for 6 people it’s cheap for a day of exploration on this turquoise sea
A classic boat like a catamaran with canvas roof and a diesel engine perfect for the shallow waters surrounding the islands of Cebu. We can see brightly colored starfish and fish through the clear waters. There are islands everywhere. It is difficult to figure out where we were on the map.
After an hour of navigation in the ocean breeze that made us feel good, our first stop on a small island Padanon http://www.cebucruising.com/cebu-pandanon-island-mactan.html with a picnic area with small huts. The island is beautiful, but not extraordinary. The water in the Philippines is extremely clear we see several meters through to water with our naked eye. There is not much to do on this island. It is part of a conservation program and we must pay $ 5 per person to enter.
The place is lost somewhere in a remote paradise. But there is a lack of activity. There is not much to be discovered and you have to walk in the rocks for several feet before swimming. This is not the best island I have visited. In fact, it’s more a place where big Filipino families and friends come to have a seafood barbecue and drinking ale and practicing beach activities. After an hour on the island everyone is ready to sail to another island.
Half an hour of navigation and we arrived on the island of Nalusan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalusuan_Island. A large wooden bridge leading to a resort and restaurant, and nothing more. Filipino families and as usual Korean tourist groups enjoyed a meal accompanied by a small orchestra singing in English. It’s expensive on the island and all we can do is nothing but eat and pay the entry fee. A rather unimpressive meal with a coke and a beer for around $ 40.
We got out quickly from this tourist trap like most people who come here. There is a hotel here for people who would like to stay on this island. We dropped anchor in front of the island where there is a protected marine sanctuary to do some snorkeling. I could see the beautiful silvery blue fish and a stingray camouflaged among the rocks. It was already time to go back to the hotel. A beautiful day, unpretentious, relaxed, and the water was really one of the clearest I have ever seen.
We went across to the other side on a private boat with 4 other guests for 500 pesos (12 USD) to get to Lapu Lapu city. A small ordinary town with few hotels and homes and shops made of wood and metal sheet .The sun was blistering. Our first mission was to find sunscreen and a hat that was not too ugly and not too expensive.
Visite de Lapu Lapu et Mactan Philippines en bref
– The streets are narrow and traffic is acceptable.
– The sun is too hot so we engaged the services of a motorcycle taxi to take us to the market or the nearest tourist spot.
– One of the only tourist attractions around is the monument of Lapu Lapu with small artisan market filled with local tourist bus and Koreans. They seem to have invaded the city, there are Korean markets, restaurants, Korean karaoke …
– The guitars sold here are quite original made with coconut-shaped turtles
– Goats on the edge of the street and quietly graze, local guys proudly walk on the street with their rooster in their hands, cock fighting is very popular in the Philippines
– The Jeepney or public bus honk to pick up local people.
– We walked passed a necklace micro-factory in a house on the side of the road
– We tried a seafood restaurant, a garlic crab with and fresh jumbo shrimp sold by weight, excellent, fresh, tasty and not too expensive.
– Some people on the road ask what you’re looking for? For example a taxi. It helps you because they have a small commission
In short, it was a relaxing country full of surprises and people, despite the poverty surrounding them, are still smiling. Look at where your hotel is located, the islands are pretty, but you must take a ferry every time you want to visit some tourist attractions. In the Philippines you can never predict, we take what the country and its people give us without asking anything in return. The best plan guide for travel philippines is to not have one. The best is to have a lot of time and an open mind.