Last week it was my birthday and to celebrate we went to Cebu for four days.
Cebu is a province in The Philippines which consists of a main island and surrounded by 167 islands and inlets (thanks Wikipedia). The Capital, Cebu City is the oldest, and the first capital of The Philippines. It is still a major business hub, much like Manila and so when you visit the island, you need to get away from the city to the coast, or a surrounding island where you have lovely beaches and resort style comfort.
We checked into our resort. The second we get in the door of our suite the children go crazy exploring every nook and cranny. BB checks every light switch and provides us with a report on which switch operates each light. Every cupboard and drawer gets checked over and the beds get jumped on. SB and I recline back enjoying the oceanfront views, chatting, roughly forming plans for the coming days.
An afternoon rain swept across the bay like a curtain and it is really quite something to watch it pass over as gentle rain drops spatter on your face. Once the rain was over it was time to hit the pool. The children had eyed off a water slide so that was the first order of business. It was too cold for me to swim so I lay on a pool chair in the shade of a frangipani, quality testing the cocktails.
The sunset was stunning and before dinner we walked along the pier and the beach listening to the waves lapping the shore. Feeling the stress of everyday life fade and float away on the tide.
At dinner that night I was surprised with a birthday cake as the band serenaded me with ‘Happy Birthday’ and then an Adele classic.
We woke up and thanked FB for being our overnight insect repellant. The poor child had been eaten alive by mosquitoes while the rest of us slept soundly without a worry. Mental note to actually use the citronella stickers I had packed for such a situation.
We hired a car with driver and headed to the Kawasan Falls. Supposedly the ‘pearl’ of Cebu, we had been seduced with stunning photographs and what seemed to be the promise of untouched falls hidden in the mountains. This is a three tiered fall and you walk further up the mountain for each tier. Suitable for swimming, the waters are a gorgeous turquoise and water falls from the lush surrounding Forrest.
Four hours later we arrived road side and took motorbikes deeper into the mountain to the base of the falls. The motorbike ride was great fun and the kids really loved the chance to get onto a bike. I thought that was the best part of the trip and that we should spend our time zooming around on the bikes.
The falls were indeed lovely to look at, however we were disappointed with how commercial they had become. Buildings had been roughly put up to house adventure groups which was just people jumping off the tops of the falls. Rubbish lay scattered in waterways and once again we felt saddened at this lack of respect shown to the environment. I felt dismay as a local boy washed himself with soap, foaming up the water. The walk between tiers was not long and easy enough to navigate so our visit, after such a long drive, was short. We rode the bikes back, stopping for souvenirs and then walked across the road to the beach. Here were sat under a cabana enjoying a beer as the children played on the beach littered with coral and seashells.
The drive home took about five and a half hours and in that time SB and I had agreed that this was not really a good way to do things. I did get some great shots of old derelict buildings though, and who doesn’t love photos of those.
We booked a boat to take us island hopping. We love island hopping in the tropics. We were taken to a very commercial location, Nalusuan Island & Marine Sanctury. Surrounded by coral reef, the shallows provide snorkeling opportunities for those not strong at swimming.
The area was so crowded and the coral reef badly damaged by the hordes of tourists. We took the children to the small beach on the other side of the island to explore and swim until it was time for lunch.
We rode out to deeper waters where we ate quickly and then jumped into the deep for more snorkeling. A neighbouring boat blared techno music, spoiling an otherwise pleasant moment. Finally that stopped as the boat rode off and another boat awarded us with a guitar wielding guide serenading passengers with lovely acoustic music. FB was fearless, putting on a mask and getting busy meeting the fish. It was awesome to watch. BB swam a little and then sat on a pontoon feeding the fish small handfuls of white rice.
Our ride back found us next to a pod of playful dolphins and the boat captain slowed down as we all watched in awe as these beauties sprang out of the water over and over again, belly flopping back into the ocean. SB and I realised we should have paid for a private boat owner who would have taken us off the touristy route, to places free from crowds, loud music and trampled coral reef.
We arrived back to our resort early afternoon.After another swim we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon lying on beach couches, drinking cocktails and watching the sun go down. Soft music drifted on the breeze and the children drew pictures in the sand and danced. It was a moment of pure bliss and happiness.
After another swim we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon lying on beach couches, drinking cocktails and watching the sun go down. Soft music drifted on the breeze and the children drew pictures in the sand and danced. It was a moment of pure bliss and happiness.
It was an early start to head to Bohol for the day. A long car ride to the port, a two hour ferry ride in a cockroach infested ferry, awful food and bored children to entertain. Not to mention I get sea sick if in an enclosed boat. Nevertheless we made it and went straight into a minibus for another long car ride to the Tarsier Sanctuary.
Tarsiers are super cute but really uptight little critters. The second smallest primate in the world, this little fluff ball is super anxious if it gets upset by, well basically anything at all – sound, light, company, a friendly smile, it will commit suicide. Yeah, I know right, really over the top. They do this by either smashing their head on a rock or strangling themselves with their tails. Super crazy. It all kind of made sense when we found out they mate once a year, which involves courting for five days, and bonking on the full moon. That sounds romantic doesn’t it! Except their act of lovemaking lasts only six seconds. 6 SECONDS. So on finding this out it all fell into place. These little critters are repressed and sex deprived. Perhaps someone should make some medication to help out with that.
We had lunch on a river boat, again super touristy so not overly pleasant for us. Getting shoved out of the way, while at my table eating, so tourists could do cat bum poses with the river in the background is not my idea of fun.
Following lunch we drove a long way again through the man made forest which was pretty, all the way to the Chocolate Hills. So called because they turn brown when dry. They were green and lush when we were there and they really are a sight to behold. I told the children they were made of solid chocolate and we could eat them. They didn’t believe me. I actually did think they were chocolate plantations when I first heard of them…they do grow cacao around Cebu and you can readily get traditionally made hot chocolate to drink.
Our last stop was at the butterfly sanctuary. Pretty flutterbugs tried their hardest to avoid our pestering cameras. We got a few shots though.
Finally it was time to head back to Cebu. The long ferry ride, an extra long car ride due to a Fiesta we got stuck in and we made it back at 10pm. A quick room service meal of pizza and the kids were in bed at ten thirty. We were so thoroughly exhausted after that day. I’m exhausted reliving it.
Time to leave. We said goodbye to the lovely staff at the Costabella Tropical Beach Resort and flew back to the mainland. SB was already busy planning our next adventure.
**We stayed at the Costabella Tropical Beach Resort, who had no idea I was going to write about them. It was lovely, our room was great with amazing water pressure (a luxury in these parts) and hot water. Clean, great food, fabulous service and just peaceful and clean surrounds made it such a great getaway for my 21st *ahem* birthday…