Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Our trip to the Philippines

So, we have returned from our long awaited trip (reunion) in the Philippines.
I have tried really hard to condense what we did, so I regret there is a lot I am leaving out, but I am sure you will enjoy it just the same.
Despite travelling during one of the worst monsoon seasons in recent Asian history, we were lucky enough to enjoy great weather for our week in the Philippines and we had a fabulous time, as I am sure you can imagine. I arrived on the Saturday night to Cebu city just one day ahead of Jon (who had a lot further to travel). My hotel apparently misplaced my reservation and failed to meet me at the airport, so after a lengthy wait and a very short van ride I arrived at my hotel just after 1am and quickly fell asleep. I awoke to the sounds of roosters crowing and the hot sunshine pouring through my window. Since Jon wasn't arriving until late afternoon on Sunday I decided to tour around downtown Cebu. Unfortunately, there is not a lot to see. I went to Magellan's cross - which is a large cross commemorating one of Cebu's premier explorers who not only found the island, but later died on it (due to some dispute with a local chief). I also went to see one of Cebu's most famous Churches and even stayed for the mass, despite the crowds and hot, extra sweaty weather.
I met Jon at the airport late in the afternoon (yeah!!! It was so good to see each other after over 2 months of being apart) and we made our way to the sea (since our resort that we booked also failed to meet us at the airport - despite their confirmation....yes I too was seeing a trend). We arranged a 'taxi' to take us to what we thought was a port, but in actuality was a small town with some boats floating a few hundred meters out in the sea.
Even though we were far from convinced this is where we were suppose to be, we met a lady who offered us a ride on her boat to our island (for a not too small fee). Because the tide was very low, we had to walk out to the boat to board. We knew our adventure was definitely beginning.
We arrived at our resort and were dropped off at the end of a long jetty. There appeared to be no one around, so we walked down the jetty towards our resort. When we arrived at the office, the man was so surprised to see us. Apparently he had not received our reservation from their head office. He told us we were the only guests staying on the island. It was clear he was as surprised as we were. For the next 2 days we relaxed in the peace and quiet, snorkeled with some incredible fish, swam in the ocean, star gazed from a sandbar, dined at a table set for 2 along the ocean and kayaked to a near by island. Our room was on stilts sitting just over the ocean and each morning we could sit and watch the fish swim through the coral in the shallow waters that surrounded us. It was paradise.
Although we were sad to leave our own private island, we were excited to be travelling north through the country (through typical South Asian villages and hills covered in jungle) to an island off the north west coast called Banatayan. After a long day of travelling on a small pump boat, a local bus, a large ferry and a motorcycle (Jon, me, our large backpacks and some Philippino guy who promised to drive us to a nice resort all squeezed onto one bike) we made it to a lovely stretch of beach in a small town called Santa Fay.
We stayed for 2 nights and spent our days swimming and biking around the island.
The morning we planned to depart, we awoke to a large storm passing by. Luckily by the time our small pump boat arrived to pick us up, the storm had passed and we enjoyed a relaxing ...minus the very very loud motor....3 hour boat ride towards Malapascua Island (just off the northern tip of Cebu Island). We rode past loads of fishermen along the way and even saw flying fish - which look a lot like birds (very interesting).
We arrived onto Malapascua island to discover the resort we booked was not quite what we expected (there was no beach - just a rocky cliff, and the cabins were surrounded by what looked a lot like a construction site). Luckily we found a wonderful resort not too far away and booked in for our last 3 nights. The island is very small and has no actual roads, only small footpaths and dirt paths for motorbikes. Our days were full with swimming, snorkeling and exploring the island on foot (which took us over 6 hours). The people were very friendly and it was so much fun to get a real sense of life on a small island.
On Sunday we left Malapascua for our long boat and bus ride back to Cebu city to catch our flights. Just as every other day, there was so much to see along our day-long trip back to the city. We finished our day with some Vietnamese food and a few beers before heading to the airport for our separate flights home.
I have to admit, this was one of my favorite vacations!!
Not only did Jon and I get to travel around some amazing islands, we also got to spend every day together....which is something new for us. I had fun every day we were together and never stopped smiling ( well almost...on our hike around Malapascua I cut my feet on some rocks and I admit stopped smiling for a couple hours). Thanks to Jon for making my vacation so incredible!
Enjoy the photos below and please check back for updates early next week - I guarantee there will be something very interesting for you to read!!


At 7:21 a.m. , Blogger Why am I here??? said...

WOW sounds like you had an amazing time with Jon. I can't wait to read more about your trip......


At 5:18 a.m. , Anonymous Kelly said...

Hey Colleen,

Your pictures are amazing, as usual...

I love seeing you so happy!!



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