2016: Cebu (Philippines), August 2016

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Where do I begin?  This trip was nothing short of amazing.  It’s Ray and I’s first trip together away for a month, along with many family members, many of whom I met during the trip.  It was amazing to see a different city in the Philippines, and it was even more memorable that it was the city where Ray was born and where he grew up as a child.  The history, the architecture, the people, the food (oh my god, the food), the ocean – everything about Cebu was unforgettable.  Dare I say that I enjoyed it more than Manila? I definitely did.

Here are some of my favourite photos of the trip as well as some highlights (all photos taken with my HTC One M9):

The island of Cebu is definitely a place to go when in the Philippines.  The surrounding waters the most azure I’ve ever seen.  The history and the beautiful churches (something Cebu is known for) are absolutely beautiful.  The food is absolutely fresh and was definitely something I could NOT avoid, especially with a family that enjoyed eating so much so that I didn’t know that sort of food love was possible, lol.  We visited the house where Ray and his siblings grew up in, the neighborhood, and it was so heartwarming to see Ray recall some of his earliest memories and to have his family members there to enjoy it with.  The streets and traffic are very similar to how it is in Manila – reckless, messy and dangerous – but that was sort of expected already.  I remember walking to Ayala (one of the biggest malls in Cebu) from our hotel by myself – probably the most nerve-wracking 5-minute morning walk I’ve had in a while.  The weather was very hot when we went – something I knew, but I expected a lot of rainfall as well, as August is the beginning of the rainy season.  However, we only had some rainfall in Boracay and no rain (TONS of sunshine) in Cebu until our last day (which was very nice)

Parklane International (our first hotel, on arrival)

Oh, and I also celebrated my birthday, basically the entire month!  His family is so so so generous and I absolutely love them.  They surprised me with cakes at two restaurants which also called for a birthday song by the restaurant staff.  We also enjoyed a free one-night stay at Plantation Bay Resort in Lapu-Lapu, courtesy of one of his uncles who is THE judge that handles most of the biggest cases in Cebu.

{ Accommodations in Cebu: Parklane International  |  Casa Rosario Pension House  |  Plantation Bay Resort  |  Quest Hotel & Conference Centre   }

Boracay was a bit of a disappointment – in terms of weather.  The weekend we went wasn’t ideal and it was trickling with rain throughout the 4 days.  Not only that, but it was definitely more crowded than the first time I visited, back in 2012.  Clearly, tons of foreigners from many parts of Asia as well as Europe and the Americas.  We did an ATV Tour (I forget the company we went with, but this was NOT worth it) and did the helmet dive.  The helmet dive was exciting and a bit scary, for me, as the ocean has always been intimidating to me.  The thought of walking underwater was so thrilling so once I was in the water and once the pressurized helmet was on, the nerves went away and thrill came through.  Although, there wasn’t very much to see 😦 the divers did provide us with pieces of bread which causes all the fish to come swimming to you which made for nice photos.

{  Boracay Holiday Resort }

Our stay in Boljoon, where their family resort is located, Jaynet Oceanview Resort, was beautiful.  Their family resort is absolutely THE place to relax and unwind.  With it’s 2-3 hour distance from the city of Cebu, it’s isolated, quiet and breathtaking with the view of nothing but the ocean.  It was so nice to hear that business at the resort has been successful since they opened this past March.   I linked the resort to the Booking.com page; however, you can find them on Facebook, AirBnB, Hotels.com as well as Expedia.  What’s crazy is that it seemed like every aunt and uncle of Ray’s owned their own resorts, all of which were just separated minutes away from each other.  The main reason for the trip was to get the family together for a reunion (maternal side) and have a big party at the resort – also to celebrate the opening of the resort too.  SO much fun, and SO much family!

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this every morning?

About 20 minutes away is the town of Oslob, famous for its whale sharks.  It was such a scary thing to do but I can say that I did it!  I swam with the whale sharks!! They were so close and SO FREAKING BIG.  So. Big.  Large.  Gigantic.  Ginormous.  But I swam with them!  Downside? The day after swimming with them, I had weird red bites (these were bigger than bug bites) that were so itchy for the remainder of the trip and I was forced to buy pants because I became so  conscious of showing my legs (all I packed were shorts, and I only had one maxi dress).  Now I have scars on my legs. Ray called me a leopard at one point 😦

{  Jaynet Oceanview Resort  |  Brumini Resort, Oslob  }

Sumilon Bluewater Resort was a resort I was looking at before the trip, thinking ‘damn, I won’t be able to see this place since it’s such an expensive place to stay’.  Thank God for day tours!  We went to Sumilon for a day and it was probably one of the best days during the trip.  It wasn’t crowded or busy.  It honestly felt like us five were the only ones who were onthe entire island.  Big bonus: no fighting for a great background for your photos!

Bliss

During our last week, we did a last minute 3-day trip to Bohol, where we stayed at the Henann Resort Alona Beach, in Panglao, Bohol.  Henann is, by far, the nicest resort I’ve ever stayed at.  It’s absolutely beautiful.  The island isn’t a big commercialized strip like Boracay, but I can definitely see it growing into one, which kinda sucks.   We also went zip lining!  My first zip line experience and it was definitely exhilarating! We went to go see the tarsiers, the world’s smallest primates, as well as the Chocolate Hills.   We also had lunch at the floating restaurant in Loboc.

Yes, you are seeing this correctly:  a huge window into the bathroom, lol.

Chocolate Hills (Note: there is no chocolate here)

We ended the trip in the City where we partied at Liv Ultraclub with the family and visited the beautiful Temple of Leah.

On our way home, we had an 8-hour layover in Taiwan so we took the opportunity to explore.  The information desks told us to check out one of the night markets that are famous for tourists – so we did!  Unfortunately, we couldn’t stomach any food since we were so full from our airplane meals and the meal at the airport prior.  We had to travel by bus from the airport to their train station, then by train to the night market.  This was a good way for us to see a bit of Taiwan which was really nice.

We will definitely be back, Cebu – hopefully sooner than later (and hopefully, with a ring on my finger as per all of Ray’s family, lol)

xx