Tag Archives: Cebu

Cebu: Kawasan Falls Victory (Water World Thingy Part II)

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Part of the track at Kawasan Falls

After the mass-tourism experience that was the whale-shark watching and visiting a near-by island, that left us a tat underwhelmed as we, the Magnificent Seven, were so terribly spoilt after our Tao expedition, we were driven to our hotel in Badian. Badian is an hour-and-a-bit drive away on the west side of Cebu island and once we reached our hotel, we chilled for the rest of the afternoon and evening. The next day we had another water activity planned namely, canyoning in the natural water park of Kawasan Falls.

Kawasan Falls Water Adventure

Dressed again in swimming gear and a life vest and this time around also a helmet, we were driven to a spot close by, away from the main road. We walked the remaining bit to the beginning of the water track in the natural park of Kawasan Falls. For a few hours we waded, floated, glided and jumped in and through the water, that runs through a narrow canyon and the whole event turned out to be another highlight of our trip. At several points along the track, you could jump of rocks into the water. As I have a certain fear of depths, I gave most jumps a miss. The first one was from a height of around 5 metres, or 16 feet, from which I did make the jump, but already found quite scary and there was risk of injury, as the natural pool was quite shallow at some places. Rick filmed that particular jump and on screen it didn’t seem that high at all. There were other points where other members of the Magnificent Seven bravely jumped into the water, while I gave it miss and just walked down whenever that was possible. After a few hours of wading and floating and an opportunity to sling like Tarzan over the water, we came to the end and the piece de la resistance of the track, which was a jump into a large pool with clear water from a height of 10 metres or 32 feet. It looked terribly scary and I didn’t see an alternative path to take me down. It helped that I was the first in line of our group and our guide told a ‘white lie’, that there was no other way down. So I jumped, which I consider a small victory. After the jump and a swim across the pool, we reached a seating and eating area, which was absolutely packed with people. As it was a Sunday many families treated themselves to a pleasant day out at the beautiful and cooling Kawasan Falls. After lunch we walked back to the car through the park, which was another 20 minutes, but no wading in water was needed and we could stick to unpaved paths. In the Philippines food is never far away and when we walked back to the van, several members of the Magnificent Seven were tempted by all sorts of treats vendors had on offer along the track, despite just having had lunch.  Once we reached the car, we got rid of our protective gear and made a short drive to the hotel, where we had 30 minutes to get our stuff and check-out, so we could be driven back to Cebu City.

Back in Cebu City

The van took about four hours to get back to the apartment complex, where we spent a few hours before we went on our whale-shark watching trip, as there was a fair amount of traffic on the road. As we were stuck in traffic near Carcar City, Louis took the opportunity to buy Buko pie, that was being sold at the side of the road. Buko pie is a traditional Filipino sweet dish filled with young coconut, that is consumed across the country. It would be the last night with the complete Magnificent Seven, as we split up the next day.

The following morning Lara, boyfriend Jason and paternal cousin Melody left in the morning to have another adventure on another island. Cherry left for her own adventurous action, although we did catch her at the airport. Rick, Louis and I also returned to airport in the afternoon to catch a plane- again with the budget carrier Cebu Pacific – back to Manilla, which was our last port of call before returning to Europe via Doha.

Buko pie

Buko Pie

 

Captured by the Mall

We spent a couple of days in Manilla, where the boys mainly went shopping at the very nearby Robinson Mall and I mostly worked as I finally could make use of a solid and reliable wifi- connection. I have therefor not seen much of Manilla, except the mall and the road from the airport to the hotel. The city doesn’t seem particularly pretty, but it is very lively and an event seems to occur on every street corner. The mall, which is massive to my Lowlands- Country standards, is an attraction for Filipinos of all ages and income brackets. Kids play truant to hang in the mall, as that is considered far more interesting, than being stuck in a class room. The place offers relief on very hot days as it’s fully air-conditioned. The affluent can shop western brands, that are far more expensive than in their native countries and the less affluent can window-shop. The mall also has a large food court, which is accessible to everyone as food is inexpensive.

On the third day, the time had come to return to Europe. We left for the airport on a heavily air-conditioned bus and spent too much time at a very uninspiring terminal of Ninoy Aquino International Airport. At around midnight we boarded a Qatar Airways flight to Doha, where we were to arrive in the early morning for another long stopover.

top image by Koen F Smit- Amor
Buko pie image courtesy of burble.com

 

Cebu: Enlarging One’s Water World Part I

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Cebu’s Sea Circus; Whale-shark Watching

After the five-day Tao expedition during which we enjoyed beautiful sceneries, great food and lovely people, we arrived at the port of El Nido. We seemed to be quite a spectacle, as crew of near-by ships were watching us disembark, as if we were the latest instalment of the James Bond franchise. After having just been with Tao passengers and crew for a few days, being in El Nido was another contrasting experience, as the place is touristy as hell. The Magnificent Seven spent one night in El Nido to leave the next morning to Puerto Princesa to take yet another plane with destination Cebu. From El Nido to Puerto Princesa is a three and a half hour drive. I had already experienced Filipino-style driving, which involves overtaking in bends or just before a hill and tailgating, which surely makes driving exciting, but not necessarily safe. In Puerto Princesa we had lunch in a very atmospheric restaurant, where shoes are not allowed, so make sure you don’t have smelly feet or holes in your socks when you go. After lunch we boarded a plane to Cebu City, as on Cebu island we had a whale-shark watching and canyoning trip planned.

The Cebu Circus

One of the girls had booked a lovely house in an apartment complex in Cebu City, which would be our base for two days in total. It was quite a challenge to reach that base. After arriving at Cebu City airport a massive queue for the taxis awaited us and after four of us finally managed to get into a taxi, the driver was being difficult by refusing to switch on the metre and demanding extra money, despite it being an official airport taxi. After we forced him to pull over we found another taxi to take us to the apartment complex. The driver said he knew where it was and with the help of google maps, we thought we would have found the place in no time. We were wrong, however and the others, who had taken another taxi, seemed to have the same problem. After a lot have hassle and a lot of time passed one of the members of staff of the apartment complex picked us up at some central point- the 7-Eleven, an American chain of convenience stores and a popular meeting point for Filipinos- and arranged a van to take us to the place. We were only to spend a few hours there, as we were picked up the next morning at 3 o’clock to be taken to Oslob, near the southern tip of Cebu island, where we were to swim with whale sharks. I am not a big fan of animal tourism, but the trip was booked and I didn’t want to be a ‘bah-humbug’. I also secretly didn’t want to miss out on the experience of being in the water with large sea animals. We arrived at the whale-shark-watching beach at sunrise and the whole event was- obviously- a total sea zoo. Dressed in swimming gear and life vests we boarded boats and were sailed no more than 200 metres from the shore. As we were lying in the water with what felt like hundreds of people, the whale sharks were lured with bait, so we could witness them from very close by. Those poor animals probably don’t know how to feed themselves anymore and would feel ill at ease when they don’t spend  the entire morning with hundreds of people. But then, I’ve been in the water with large sea creatures, which I found, despite the zoo-like situation, quite a special experience and the local community could claim their tourist pesos for the day.

Too Many Selfies on the Reef

After the sea zoo, we had breakfast and after that we were taking to a nearby island, which was also some sort of tourist attraction. Yes, the water was very clear and light blue and I’m sure the reefs were beautiful, but after the Tao expedition, it was a very underwhelming experience. The island had a very tiny beach with little to no shade and it was packed with people, many being terribly busy taking selfies. The most underwhelming thing of all is that all we had to our disposal was that tiny, shadeless beach and the dozens of people, as the rest of the island was off-limits. After an hour and a bit or so, after someone might have said something, our kind guide led us through the water around a few rocks to another tiny beach. But at least this beach was in the shade and besides us there was no one there, giving us a mini-Tao experience after all.

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View on The Magnificent Seven

Imagery: Koen F Smit- Amor