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Published: August 18th 2016
We flew into Cebu's tiny, one tarmac strip of an airport around 530pm. After collecting our bags we stood outside, in 90 degree heat, in the taxi line. Which was a nice change of pace. Usually we have to brave the swarm of drivers crowding us, shouting "TAXI! Where you go? TAXI! TRIKE!" However the line was moving awfully slow. We met another American, Ryan from San Francisco, and decided to share a taxi to our hostel Tropical Budget, located in the neighbourhood of Cebu City. Our 11km drive ended up taking over an hour due to the ridiculous amount of traffic going over the Marcelo Fernan Bridge. Across the bridge is where the children came out to press their sad dirty faces against the windows of our cab. Those devastating frowns ripped my heart to tiny little fragments. The taxi driver reiterated to me that it is all for show, the families send out their children to look pathetically sad and hungry for money, when in reality the majority, if not all, are doing fine. Evil.
To help us ignore the actors outside Ryan got out his laptop and started playing ridiculous 90's music, starting with "Barbie Girl" by Aqua. That seemed to do the trick. Our driver asked Ryan to upload songs onto a USB for him. He LOVED 90's American music.
That night we found a Mexican restaurant, Tequi-La-La. We thought we would give to a whirl. It was a block from our hostel and we badly wanted cheese. So what better place than a Mexican joint? Wrong. Eventually Calvin and I will figure out not to trust pictures of food or western restaurants.
Now before you jump down my throat for eating Mexican while in the Philippines, let me explain something to you. During long travels you start to crave similarities, looking for things that are familiar to you. Example; I saw a Shell gasoline sign and felt a calming happy feeling. Clinging to something I knew in a place that was beyond normal and forgien to me. First time out of the home country can do that to a girl.
We stayed at Tropical Budget/Cebu for 1 night. Our room was on the 4th floor, no windows and an Air Con machine that could pump ice out! Yes we overslept...but still made check out at noon. A hostel employee flagged down a taxi for us, told the driver we were headed to the docks, in Filipino, which helped a lot.
Once at the docks we bought our boat tickets to Bohol, another island just south of Cebu. Totally journey time: 3 hours.
At the Bohol docks we took a 20 minute trike ride over another bridge to a much smaller island, 80 square km, Panglao. Our driver had a hard time finding our place, shocking, but eventually we arrived at Alexis Dive Resort. Don't let the name fool you, this wasn't the kind of resort you are thinking about. No employees welcomed us with champagne and smiles. In fact, our room wasn't ready. While someone was putting together our room we were looking at their menu. Basic western food, spaghetti, fried rice. When I tried to order rice she said no. A sandwich, no. Instant noodles, no. Finally she explained they didn't have food at all but the neighboring resort did and we could go there to eat. A little confused to why they had a menu up, considering it did not match the other resorts menu. Next I asked for coffee, no. Water, no. What kind of place are you running?! (Later we would find out that the man who owns the resort lives in Manila and has his son and daughter run the place, not caring much about it. His mom and dad own each resort to the sides of the one we were staying in. Family land.) Oh well. We still enjoyed ourselves.
There was no air con, only 1 fan, our windows facing the sun all day. Which was a blessing in disguise, helped us get up early and spend all day and night exploring beautiful Panglao.
That night we had a wonderful time at dinner at the sister resort. Our server Christian shocked us with his hospitality skills, a forgien concept at restuarants in the Philippines. Turns out he studied hotel management and hospitality and was helping his grandparents out before working on a cruise ship. Christian asked what I did for work, when I told him I too was in the hospitality industry, he asked how he was doing. "Perfect!"
Christians hospitality extended more than just at dinner. He offered to take us snorkeling the next morning. When he found out that my snorkel was broken, from our place, Christian gave me his while he went to find another one for himself.
Here's what was super cool about our "resort", the location. My oh my was the location surpreme. It sat on the edge of a 20 meter cliff. Offered a jumping spot if you felt so inclined. As well as stairs down into the beautiful Bohol Sea.
Snorkeling was amazing! The colors of the reef were bright and vibrant. So many fishes and sea urchins. Finding Nemo got it right, blue tang fish and clown fish are always hanging out. 😊
It was my first time snorkeling and I will not lie, I was nervous. Mainly cause I didn't want to get stung by a jellyfish, even though Christian said he didn't spot any earlier. I saw jellyfish, plenty of them. Perhaps because I was looking for them. One floated right across, it's tails flickering with what appeared to be electricity. After that, I went back to the stairs and worked on my tan. You can judge me after I get home with a sunkissed tan.
Calvin on the other hand was stung by a jellyfish. I offered to pee on his arm, but he didn't accept. I guess we're not at that point in our relationship haha ;-) ;-) I tried telling him its going to hurt more and more, which it did. Later that day I remembered I had a sting wipe in our first aid kit, not sure that worked too well. Eventually the rash had gone away, but not before it got bigger.
Later that afternoon we went ahead and rented a motorbike through our place, which was a bit pricy compared to the prices in town. 600 pesos for 24hours. The resort was a few kilometers away from town, but once on the main road we circled around Panglao. Enjoying the wind on our faces and scenery in front. There wasn't too many sights to see on Panglao. The island is filled with white sand beach resorts and their overpriced restaurants. Driving around scoping it all out is one of our favorite pass times.
For dinner we took the motorbike across the bridge, back to Bohol. It was time for some lechon. We stopped at what looked like a winner, Senor Pedro. We ordered so much food! Half a chicken, 1/4 lb of pork, chicharrones, and a mango float. I usually am not a huge fan of chicken, mainly cause a lot of people don't know how to cook it properly, but this chicken was perfect. Moist and smoky, yum! The chicharrones had a nice layer of fat under that melted in your mouth. The food was spot on.
I ordered the mango float thinking it was going to be a drink of some sort. Maybe vanilla ice cream with mangos and sprite. Again I was wrong, but in the best way. This mango float came out looking like a cold casserole. Layers of cream cheese, mangos, more cheese, topped with rasisins. This is going to be one I have to attempt making at home.
After 3 days of hanging around Panglao, we took a jeepney back over the bridge to Tagbilaran City, Bohol. After getting off the jeepney we jumped into a trike and headed to our new hostel, Tr3ats. Our driver said he knew exactly where it was, in broken English, and that it would cost 30 pesos. After 10 minutes Calvin and I decided that he has gone too far. We were approaching the second bridge and knew our hostel was back near the first bridge. We asked him to pull over so we could ask for directions. Calvin and the driver went inside a rather nice looking hotel. The lady behind the desk spoke Filipino and English, and helped us get to where we needed to go. We turned around and headed back into town. After 10 minutes we reached Tr3ats. The driver said it would be 100 pesos. You can imagine our disagreement when hearing that. Calvin did is best to explain to the driver that it wasn't our fault that he took a ride, pretending to know where it was, and drive all around. I'm pretty sure the driver had no idea what Calvin was saying. Calvin handed him 60 pesos and told the driver, "You said it was 30 pesos. It's not my fault you didn't know where you were going. I'll give you 60 pesos but thats it." Then walked away. The driver stood there for a minute, maybe thinking Calvin was going to come back and pay him more. After we walked into our hostel the trike drove away.
We went back to Sr Pedro that night for more lechon. It was amazing, like always. And again, we ordered far too much. As were digesting our food back in the room we decided to go to Loboc the following day. A section of Bohol that was devastated by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013.
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