A few months ago, we blogged about the trip we were planning to the Philippines. As we speak, we’ve already enjoyed our first few days here. So it’s about time to start blogging again!
After our positive experience with Emirates last year, it was obvious to choose them again. Emirates offer great service on board, in combination with good food and drinks and the most important must-have for us: 30kg luggage freedom. So our journey for this trip: Amsterdam – Dubai and Dubai – Cebu.
Travelling alone, sir?
At the airport, we got a glimpse of an aspect of the Philippines we didn’t really think of before arriving. The security officer at the customs asked Steven one simple question: ‘Travelling alone, Sir?” Steven’s reply: “No sir, my wife, is at the counter behind you” ;-). But no laugh. Filipino sir? No Sir Belgian. The security officer whished him a nice trip only after looking at Leen and seeing we travelled as a couple.
Scooters, tricycles and jeepneys
By the time we stepped into the van for the transfer to the Quest hotel in Cebu City, our first stop to spend the night, we realised we had been travelling for exactly 24 hours since we left at home. Quite a journey, but definitely worth it, so far! Filipinos are super friendly, always in for some small talk and they love to laugh.
The three most popular means of transportation in the Philippines are scooters, jeepneys and tricycles. The island is very busy mainly because there are thousands of scooters, it’s by far the most popular way of transport. Sometimes you see couples with two little children on one scooter. I think quite some scooters are 2nd World War survivors or a least look like they are. Besides that there are tricycles which serve as mini taxi’s, usually it’s like an iron cage with an extra wheel mounted to a scooter. From a bag of fruit, to a box of living chicken and even granny’s are transported in with a tricycle. The last popular means of transport is the jeepney, they are called like that because originally after the 2nd WW the Americans left their jeeps and the Filipino’s made small busses from them. Nowadays jeepneys are constructed in the Philippines and often the chassis of micro pick-ups are used.
We didn’t see much of Cebu City, besides the car ride to our hotel, no big deal because we are both not so much of city people anyway. Only three things we had to do in Cebu: eat, sleep and be ready for the last part of our trip. The craziest thing we did in Cebu was trying the local dish: halo halo. We ordered the fried version with ice cream. Honestly we had no idea what the super friendly waiter persuaded us to order. When the dish arrived, we were very surprised. Two fried bars that looked like egg rolls on a plate with the brightest purple ice cream I’d ever seen. The ingredients of the fried halo halo still puzzle me: mung beans, jackfruit, corn, … But it tasted sweet? And then the ice cream: looks a bit weird, but tastes very yummy. When the same waiter told us it was made from obe, some kind of sweet yams, we were puzzled even more.
After that first experience with the Filipino cuisine, a good night sleep and some breakfast, we were ready for our transfer to Malapascua. For those who’ve never heard of Malapascua: it’s a tiny island, north of Cebu island, famous as the best place in the world to spot thresher sharks. There are no roads and no cars. The only way to get there? Easy-peasy: After a car ride of about 3 to 5 hours (depending on the traffic) from Cebu City to Maya pier, you get a boat transfer of about 30 minutes by one of the local boats. First a short transfer in a wooden bathtub and then on a bigger Bangka, the typical Filipino boats with the wooden floaters on each side. It wasn’t really our lucky day, although it was 30 degrees, it had been raining like hell for the biggest part of the day. But when we arrived at Malapascua even in the pouring rain, we were still taken by the magic of the island and the good vibe of Ocean Vida Resort. And the Filipino smiles made up for the lousy weather.