A Journey Through the Philippines

Arriving

My flight landed at 1am at the Cebu-Mactan international airport on Wednesday May 4th. The flight from Seoul is only 4 and a half hours with a one hour time difference on the islands. Despite the late arrival, I was still able to easily get a white taxi to the location of the Airbnb I had booked, located 30min away from the airport. If you take a white taxi, the fair starts at just 40pesos and it rises very steadily by distance, making transportation via taxi a very responsible expense.

Private Beach Resorts:

On our first day in Cebu, we were unfamiliar with exactly the best way to explore like locals, and were in a rush to get some sun, so we decided to try the private beach experience. The resort we visited was Movenpick (yes like the ice cream) and it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The price was relatively high at 2,000pesos (about 43USD.) However, this included an extraordinary buffet lunch that had a very large salad and fruit bar, assorted fresh meats to be grilled, bread, desserts, and much more. The fee also included an unlimited number of fresh towels, a large steam room and shower, and a free scoop of Movenpick ice cream of your choice. The resort had a large pool with built in seating, many reclining seats along the beach, an amazing beach bar, and a club located over the water. The resort was sponsored by H&M summer and they had many large logos placed around the resort. The waterfront of the resort was a perfectly clear blue and there was a large platform we were able to swim out to and jump off or sunbathe on.

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Living like a local in Cebu:

The second day, we chose to find a public beach so we could see more of how the locals spent their beach days. Another Hanyang exchange student put us into contact with a guy our age that worked on the SuperCat ferry used to transfer people from Cebu to Bohol, and he offered to show us around the local way on Thursday. First, we traveled by “jeep,” which was more of a large truck bed with 2 long wood benches inside of it than a jeep and had a very very low fare. The jeep took us to a local public beach which we soon realized wasn’t the most ideal place to go swimming, as it was very shallow, and the water was already flooding with local families. A man who had a large boat that seemed to be home made of bamboo and other wood, offered to take us further down the beach to a place we could swim, so we paid him $1,000pesos between the 4 of us and he sailed us a half a mile down the beach where we could jump off the boat and swim in deep, clean water off shore. After the boat ride we took a “tricycle” to dinner, the tricycles can be described as a motorcycle that is attached to a small box car that comfortably seats two people, but is apparently built for four people, the travel fare on these is very cheap as well.

Off to Bohol

We purchased round trip tickets to Bohol from pier one in Cebu for $1000pesos (about 20euros) and the trip was a little over 2 hours each way. Lucky for us, the local friend we made that worked for the ferryboat was able to upgrade us to business class where there were very comfortable seats and air conditioning. Once we arrived on the island of Bohol, we took a taxi for 600pesos to a Hotel named Aquatica that was located right on the beach on a small sub-island of Bohol called Panglao. The hotel only cost 1,500 pesos a night (about 25euros) and had many beach restaurants and bars located all around it. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost everyday somewhere along the water.

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A Scooter Tour of Bohol:

The first night we stayed in Bohol we met two French guys that were traveling for 4 months all over Asia, so they invited us on their next day’s adventure, which was taking motorized scooters all the way to Chocolate hills, located 60km away from where we were staying. The scooters cost 500pesos to rent for 24 hours and they required no insurance or even proof of knowing how to operate the vehicles. We began our journey with a stop at a private beach that had beautiful water to swim in and a restaurant with amazing, fresh mango shakes. After the beach we continued for about an hour until we ran into a “Floating Buffet Lunch” that was located just past the bridge that linked Panglao and Bohol. The buffet was only 400pesos, and included many local Pilipino foods. What we did not realize prior to sitting down for lunch was that the “Floating Buffet” meant that we were actually sitting on a boat that went floating down the river for a small tour of the mangroves. I felt that between the great food and short tour, the 400 pesos was a great deal for today’s lunch! After lunch, we continued on until we found an attraction where you could walk to forest and observe Tarsier Monkeys which are very small, slow animals with very large eyes. Finally, we reached the top of Chocolate hills where there was a viewpoint where you could look at the dozens of hills that literally look like little chocolate drops spread all along the landscape. Touring the island by scooter was one of the most beautiful and exciting experiences I’ve ever had. The only warning is that there is extremely limited traffic control in the Philippines, meaning there are cars and buses flying all around you at all times with no warning other than a small honk of their horn, so be very cautious of staying on the outside of the road, giving larger vehicles and other motorbikes the ability to pass you with ease.

Virgin Island

On our last full day on the island, my travel partner, the two French friends we made, and myself took a small boat for 250pesos each, and traveled to Virgin Island. The boat was again homemade and ran by two brothers. The water was very rough this day, with a storm off shore so the boat ride was very rocky but it made it all the more fun. When we arrived, the tide was very high so the whole end of the island that they took us to was about waist deep. We had all rented snorkel gear and were able to swim around, seeing many different kinds of fish, many starfish, and a decent amount of jellyfish as well. The water was crystal clear here and very salty, but it was a beautiful and cost effective, short trip.

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As a whole, my stay in the Philippines was very rewarding. Not only was I able to see so many beautiful things, I was able to experience yet another culture that I was not used to seeing. I learned a lot about the lifestyles of people who have lived there their whole lives, and also talked to many foreigners who have been living on the island for the past few years, teaching dive lessons or owning small local bars and restaurants. I would definitely recommend visiting an island in the Philippines if you are in South Korea because it is so close and also a very feasible trip as far as a budget goes.

 

Article by Rachel from the U.S.A.

Comments

  1. Wow! Your photos look lovely! I hope you enjoyed the Philippines! :)

  2. Susan Keaveney says:

    Looks amazing!

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