Location: Cebu, Bohol and Boracay – The Philippines
Highlight: Snorkeling with giant Sea Turtles
Before we began exploring the city, we picked up Jenny, our new travel buddy for this leg of the journey.
Under the heat of the Cebu sun on New Year’s Eve, Simon took us on a walking tour around the city sights. First stop was an immaculate Taoist Temple, up high, overlooking the city.
Some more wandering around from museum to church to statue and we decided it was time to prepare to bring in the new year in style.
We searched the streets, trawling from closed restaurant to bordered-up bar, growing hopeless that we would find anywhere to celebrate. Until – we saw a rainbow in the distance. It seemed to be coming from a building up ahead, so we followed it to the proverbial pot-a-gold that was a trusty Irish bar!
Live music – tick. Full of people – tick. Random assortment of jokes on the wall, such as how Irish people would have taken over the world if it wasn’t for the invention of beer – tick. Super low corkage fee for bringing in our own bottles of rum from the supermarket opposite – double tick!
So we sat, sang along to the live music, put on some hats we were given by the barman and then counted out the final seconds of 2016 outside with a free glass of sparkling wine.
Resolutions drawn up, we popped out to the central “Mango Square” to celebrate with the locals who were not there in particularly large numbers, but we still had fun.
One ferry later and we were in Bohol, a diver’s paradise and a place to chill for us.
The best part of the trip was a private boat tour for the day where we saw a whole hose of natural delights, including spinner dolphins dancing around us:
… and then we stopped at a remote island surrounded by wonderful coral and Giant Turtles. They were incredible to see up close; they glide through the water so majestically, popping up for air once every 30 minutes or so (if not longer). I don’t have an underwater camera, so no photos I’m afraid.
Then after navigating our boat through some precariously shallow corals by punting along through canals, we arrived at Virgin Island which was inhabited by thousands of starfish (pretty as a peach) and sea cucumbers (it spews its own guts out as self defense – so not exactly a ‘looker’). And the odd sea anemone to avoid, which made me think that if there was a battle against sea anemones then you may have to shout quickly “I see an enemy sea anemone”, which is today’s first and only Late20scrisis daily tongue twister.
Back to Bohol beach for some R&R and the all-too-common 1 hour wait for food. We wanted to be chilled out about waiting 1 hour for food every time I go out to eat, but it really did annoy us. Not something we got used to either after being there for 6 days, so we opted not to eat out on a couple of occasions.
One night we kicked some ass at a pub music quiz, coming in 2nd place (I said ‘kicked some ass’, not ‘kicked all ass‘) to a group of 7 even though max teams were 5 so we got a consolidatory free beer each, which we were chuffed with.
One day we took a tour into the main island, but it was the worst tour we’ve done. I found all but one of the stops were uninteresting, the one stand out was the rolling Chocolate Hills (no chocolate involved):
This island was a three ferries away from Bohol (including an overnight stay in Cebu), but well worth the ride.
A couple of hours after we arrived, we found ourselves in the middle of a festival.
We were invited into the procession, holding their signs and dancing with them as they boogied down the beach with steel band and drums behind. Such nice, welcoming people, keen to hear our stories and tell us theirs, and they invited us out to keep partying with them afterwards, but we weren’t ready for that!
What we were ready for, however, was a night at the hostel’s paint party:
We met lots of fun people who were staying at the hostel with us.
Off to the beach in the morning – and wow, what a beach.
When the sun was out, not many in the world can beat it. The water was warmer than many baths I’ve ever had; you could hardly notice if you dipped your feet in.
The next day, Jenny and I were Booze Cruising with the hostel. Quite the raucous party it was too.
How to turn all cruise events into drinking opportunities, and their relative success ratings:
- Cliff jumping – Shot of rum from plastic cup while in mid air – 1/10. Ended up with more in my eye than mouth.
- Snorkeling – Beer poured down the snorkel tube – 5/10. Difficult to switch from breathing to swallowing, but great pay off when it works.
- Sunset at the beach – Casual beers, consumed as usual – 10/10. Sometimes, the tried and tested methods are the best.
We had such a great time, made some fab friends (two of which I would later be attending a music festival with in Melbourne. More on that will come in a future post.)
Boracay was the most ‘tourist ready’ of the places we visited in the Philippines and there were a lot of tourists there enjoying the many restaurant and shopping options, but it was a nice change for us for a few nights.
I particularly enjoyed a bakery which sold sweet, sugary buns with butter and cheese in the middle. At first, as I imagine you might, I thought it sounded terrible, but it was deeelicious. And each one was 20p or so and sorted me out for breakfast.
I would recommend it as the beach was glorious and it has something for everyone, it’s tough to get to, but well worth it.
Next stop: Cebu for Sinulog Festival
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