island

Malapascua Island 2015

2015 travels kicked off with a bang! After the long holiday season and a few resolutions for the new year, I flew again to Cebu (third time in 6 months) with my college buddies. And it was fun!

Day 1 – Harbour City & Larsian

Our flight was delayed for an hour. We arrived at MCIA at almost five in the afternoon and instantly got out and find the queue for the white cabs. Took us good 30-40 mins to arrive at our accommodation. Adelfa Hotel is situated along J. Llorente Street, close to Fuente and a stone’s throw away from Chong Hua hospital and Larsian. It was a relatively new hotel. We booked the quadruple room (good for 4 pax) for P1,760 via Agoda. Extra person (without bed) costs P150. I was surprised at how neat the room is. The bathroom is spacious. And most importantly, wifi connection inside the room was quite fast! For dinner, we went to Rama Street to try CnT Lechon only to find out that it’s already sold out. From there, we took a jeepney going to Ayala Center-Cebu to try our luck again. Guess what? Sold out. We headed to my favorite place instead – Harbour City!! I intended to visit on our last day (not complaining though). A very sumptuous dinner consisting of rice toppings, noodles and lots and lots of dimsum was served to us in around 15 minutes. My friends repeatedly told me it was similar to Tim Ho Wan only it’s cheaper and way tastier. After a few walks in the vicinity and a cup of coffee, we headed back to our hotel. It was already past 11pm – perfect time to visit the grill center of Cebu, Larsian.

image1 (2) Β  I have been to Cebu twice last year before this trip but I always fail to visit Larsian. Since it’s just a block away from Adelfa, I finally set foot on this smoky haven of sinful yet delectable food on thin sticks. We went around the small space, rounding up the grill at the middle of the commotion, of the vendors trying to attract customers. We ordered too many a stick (isaw, chicken skin, chicken breast, chorizo and pork BBQ) and a basket of puso. These are rice grains cooked inside a woven bananaΒ coconut leaf. A budget of P500 will lead you to a place which you might never wanna leave! We really did save the best for last! A few days after our Larsian experience, we still miss it and wish to be back soon.

Day 2-3 – Trip to Malapascua

We checked out of Adelfa before 6AM. It’s a very early morning for us as we ride a cab going to the North Bus Terminal. We planned on taking a bus going to Maya which will take 4-5 hours. Luckily, there’s a van available with five vacant seats! We paid the same price (P180) with 2 hours less travel time. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset It was not a very comfortable ride. From Maya Wharf, we paid P100 for the main boat which will take us to Malapascua Island. This is P20 more than the usual P80 boat ride to compensate for the minimal number of guests (boat capacity is 26 and there’s only around 15-17 people in there). We’re the only Filipino group and we got a chance to chat with a very kind and high-spirited Spanish couple who’s been traveling around the Philippines for a few months. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Since it’s low tide, we had to ride a smaller pump boat for P20 each to take us to the main boat. Same happened when we arrived in the island. Total boat costs per person: P140. But it’s nothing compared to what welcomed us. The sand in our feet perfectly rippled by the waves, the different colors of starfishes in the clear water, the little sand bar made the very bumpy boat ride worth it! Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset There’s no mode of transportation in the island other than motorbike. We opted to walk to our accommodation which is quite far. I think we walked for about 15-20 minutes. We stayed at Aabana Resort or most popularly known as Mike and Diose’s Beach House. We have reserved the biggest accommodation (P2,150 for 2 pax, P250 per extra person with breakfast) they have, Casablanca. image4 It’s the one closest to the beach which has one queen-sized bed, a little sala set, kitchen with refrigerator, spacious bathroom and a mezzanine/attic with two single beds. Please take note, though, that the accommodation only gives you 1kw of electricity. If you use more than that, there’s an additional P30 per kw. After taking a long walk along the shore, I can say that Aabana has the cleanest beach front. Strong winds are very usual at any time of the day which makes dipping in the water cooler. The fine sand and the waves show how well-kept this part of the little island. Kudos to Mike and his team for maintaining the beach’s natural beauty. I personally love the idea that the guests bring their own trash back to the mainland. With this, visitors get to be responsible for their own waste. It’s a little deed for the island πŸ™‚ DSC_0272 Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset We didn’t do much other than bum in the beach. We wanted to visit Kalanggaman Island but the weather is so unpredictable. I don’t want to risk it. πŸ™‚ Plus, Aabana made it hard for us to leave Malapascua. It felt wonderful to finally experience the testimonials I have read in TripAdvisor about Mike and his personal connection with his guests. I definitely recommend booking Casablanca way ahead of time as they are always fully booked. Quick tip: Lie in the beach at night and look at the stars. πŸ™‚ There are boats which will offer you trips to Dakit Island, Japanese shipwreck and the lighthouse for P350 if you’re local and around P700 if you’re a foreigner. image8 The only thing I wish the island (ahem, Cebu government) can improve on is the standardization of their rates. Malapascua has so much more to offer than what it has today and foreign tourists flock the place. I mean, there are more foreign guests than local ones. I don’t think it’s right to charge them more than what they charge the local guests. Having a standard rate from land trips, boat rides to island hopping costs would increase the island’s potential to attract more people. Malapascua Island has been hit by the past typhoons very badly and its damage is still seen. I hope more people will discover Malapascua’s enchanting beauty to help its people rise from the devastation the typhoons brought along. πŸ™‚

Day 4 – Cebu City

After checking in our baggage to SM’s Travellers’ Lounge, we walked to the nearest CnT Lechon branch. Your Cebu trip won’t be complete if you haven’t tried Larsian and CnT Lechon! After which, we took a jeepney going to the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Sto. Nino Church and Magellan’s Cross. We bought pasalubong at the nearby Island Souvenir shop. Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetimage1 We went to the airport way earlier than our scheduled flight as we were too exhausted from the boat transfers, land trip and a quick city tour. — All in all, this trip has set the bar high for my 2015 travels. I am very much looking forward to go back to Malapascua Island! Another reason why Cebu is my happy place. πŸ™‚ image10

Bohol 2014

I decided to celebrate my mother’s birthday for a week. First two days were spent at home with simple meals and the next five days were dedicated to visiting Bohol and Cebu. This trip marks the second year of our annual family vacation.

Panglao Island

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Checked in at Isis Bungalows. They have very spacious, hexagon-shaped rooms. Our stay was fine but the great view and the extensive shore are a few minutes walk. Food is tasty (they serve Thai food) but a bit pricey. Stroll along the beach and you’ll find cheaper restaurants.

DSC_0059DSC_0106DSC_0056Mama’s first jumpshot! She enjoyed it so much we did it for a couple more times (with no successful shots!) We were all out of breath afterwards. πŸ™‚

 

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Sunset was behind the part of the island we were in. But we’re still lucky to see it bled through the clouds. We had seafood for dinner which costed us around PhP1,000, good for 4. I have noticed that aside from fresh seafood, it’s common to see Thai and Italian restaurants along the beach.

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Many boats are flailing near the shore in the next morning. It made the whole stretch very picturesque, almost like a portrait. We waited for the sunrise but it’s hidden in thick clouds.

It was a short but sweet stay in Panglao Island. I’d go back again but probably look for a better accommodation and would stay a little longer to try more stuff around.

Bohol Island

We had a tour via Samantha Tours the next day. They fetched us from Panglao Island and went straight for a half-day tour back in Bohol Island to visit a few places before checking in to our hotel.

We drove around 1.5 hours to Carmen to see the Chocolate Hills. But unfortunately, the viewing deck is still not repaired from the devastating earthquake which hit the province. We saw a few hills on the road which is fine though it would have been awesome to really see them from atop. There are a few activities you can do there – ATV (PhP500/30 mins), ziplining, etc.)

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We passed by the Loboc man-made forest. This is Forks! And yes, I made a reference to Twilight! The trees are so high and so close to each other that the sun rays couldn’t penetrate. It has a gloomy feel but still magnificent. I don’t mind walking in the long stretch. πŸ˜€

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Before lunch, we went to a park to see the tarsiers. I’m glad to see that they’re in the natural habitat and not caged. The place is fenced widely so the tarsiers can feel as familiar as possible. Too bad, I haven’t got a good shot of them with eyes wide open. But they look so delicate in real life. Please ensure your camera flash is off when taking a picture of them. πŸ™‚

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Finally, we had lunch at the floating restaurant sailing along the Loboc River. It was very festive! Food was okay, nothing fancy. But the culture is so rich. We had two stops – one for a folk dance show and the other for the Aetas.

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Luckily, rain poured after we were done with lunch. We were supposed to visit Baclayon Church and the largest python. But the church is closed for renovation and I’m not really a fan of pythons. So we went straight to our hotel, Ocean Suites.

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This boutique hotel is situated right beside the Blood Compact monument. I fell in love with the place instantly. They’re still relatively new so there are things here and there which I found a bit off. But generally, it was a pleasant stay.

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I have no words for the view in our room. The pool is just lovely and stayed there until sunset.

They are constructing another infinity pool which, hopefully, is done by the time I return. They also serve good food. Service was also great. They have one-way free airport/seaport shuttle service.

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Our Bohol experience was good. Though the damage of the recent calamity is still apparent, the province is slowly getting back to its feet. And in our own way, we have helped by adding up to the tourists still visiting the wonders of Bohol. I’m very much looking forward to coming back when everything is fully restored.

**All accommodations are booked via Agoda.