It has been a while since I got to travel on a vacation and get some good shots. And it is my first time to travel in a very small group. By means of small, we are only two. It started in one of those “seat-sale” moments that sold at Php 0.99 per way in all domestic destinations. It was actually quite a long shot because the promo was about to close when my friend saw it. And since we were the only ones that can be contacted easily that time, the plan of a random vacation was left to us. I was in-charge of the booking and my friend was for hotel reservations and itinerary. With 6 months to prepare, we did not worry that much.
Then 2 weeks to our travel, we almost did worry, but since we set our minds that this will be in a budget and at a slow pace, we did not mind preparing too much. It’s just like planning a sleep-over in one of my barkada‘s place (I haven’t done this yet, I think). What we had was a 3-day-2-night vacation in Cebu. The general plan is to get tanned on a beach and do a Cebu City tour plus hoard for pasalubong and give thanks to Sto. Nino de Cebu. So we need to fit all these on a budget (I gave myself a Php 4,000 allowance less the roundtrip ticket cost of Php 900) and in not more than 72 hours. So here’s our version of Cebu at a pace for two.
Fortunately, our travel began smoothly: the plane leaving on-time at 9:10 AM for Mactan International Airport. Keep in mind that traveling to Bantayan Island will be long. So from the Airport, we immediately headed to Cebu North Bus Terminal. For a backpacker’s tip, take taxis at the departure area and not those parked at the arrival area. They have different price range similar to white taxis and airport taxis back in Metro Manila. We took the one with a flag-down rate of Php 40.00 compared to the one that has a Php 75.00 flag-down rate. We spent a good Php 120.00 for the taxi. Buses (aircon and non-aircon) to Hagnaya port leaves at 30min to 1 hr interval. We chose to take the aircon bus for Php 270.00 for a 3.5 hour travel. Luckily, by the time that we get there, the bus still has a good amount of space while we still had the time to eat our packed lunch. By the time that our bus is about to leave, we have eaten our lunch and are ready for a site-seeing and eventually, a good long afternoon nap. And I must say, travelling with a full stomach is the best decision we had which jumpstarted a great adventure for both of us and helped us overlook some difficulties. It was roughly a 4-hour travel to Hagnaya. Then from Hagnaya port, we took the 3:00 PM ferry to Sta. Fe port in Bantayan Island. The ferry costs Php 150.00. That was another hour travel.
We have reached the Beach Placid Hotel which my friend reserved for us roughly three (3) weeks before we set for Cebu. For Php 1,800.00 (which requires 20% reservation through bank deposit or credit card), we get to stay at a beach front room for two (2); land transfers to-and-fro the port; and basic amenities.
For our night at the Island, we rented a bicycle (Php 30.00 per hour) which we used in roaming around the market and food center and buy our dinner. Inihaw (barbeque) and much of the Filipino cuisine as well as Italian and Persian cuisine can be found. But since both of us are girls and obviously not from the area, we just contented ourselves to be mindful of our whereabouts as the time moves further into the night. We then only had to take-out home-cooked meals and just eat them back in our hotel (actually, as we listen to the waves and feel the sea breeze that evening).
We spent our morning in cycling around the island especially near the market and spent shooting photos at almost anything. It’s great to roam around and just beam on the locals’ ‘hellos’ after enjoying sauteed shrimp in chilli sauce for breakfast. And I remember that my friend just loved the breakfast we had. We also had the chance to visit the Church of Santa Fe. After which, we just had ourselves tanned until noon by altering taking a nap by the beach, swimming, and doing jump shots. We had the long beautiful shores of the Island almost all to ourselves. We then had our lunch just in time for check-out.
And since we were planning to leave by 3:00 PM, we chose to go to the central market where Cebu’s most sought dried seafood delicacies are its freshest and cheapest. We traveled by tricycle at Ph 25.00 per way. To be honest our travel took longer than our shopping time. But it offered what it promised. We got danggit at least Php 200.00 cheaper compared to what you can buy in Cebu City. For those who plan to stay longer in the Island, they can do island hopping and have lunch at Virgin Island with freshly-cooked seafood and just finish the tour in the afternoon at Php 2,000.00 for 6 to 10 pax.
By the time that we took the 4:00 PM ferry to Hagnaya Port, our travel took long enough to catch the last bus to Cebu City. It was a long 3-hour trip back, enough for us to sleep. After dropping off at the Cebu North Terminal, we immediately headed for SM Cebu which is also a public transportation hub to various places in the City. Also, it is a good place to look for dinner for hungry backpackers at almost dead of night. We satisfied ourselves with La Paz Batchoy then took a jeep to our hotel. We were able to check-in at the hotel at almost 10:00 PM. Check for Sugbutel which is perfect for budget travelers. They have male and female dorm-type rooms as well as offers single executive, double, and family rooms. For only Php 1,200.00, we were able to stay to a standard twin room, complete with clean linens, toiletries, 2 single beds, and cable T.V, plus free use of the baggage deposit area. Though it does not include free breakfast, there is a canteen located inside the building where we brought our meals. If you have packed food, you can eat it there as well.
Such a long day it would be for us so we chose to check out first before we roam the City. Good thing, we can still deposit our luggage and the sites are very accessible through jeepney. We did not worry much of time since we are just an hour away from the airport and we will be taking the evening flight. Remember, no need to spend so much in transportation by taking a taxi or renting a van. Not only are Cebuanos are very accommodating in your query (including the drivers) on the street but the jeepney transportation system are very easy to understand. Not only destination sites are placed on their windshields but alpha-numeric codes were written on the top of jeepneys so from afar, one will immediately know where it will go. Take note that different points in Cebu have different codes. I promise that these are easy to learn.
Since it was a Sunday, we prioritized hearing mass and taking the tour at the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño which houses Señor Sto. Niño where millions of devotees would celebrate and give thanks especially during January. Devotees and spectators alike would assemble on the streets and watch the streetdance competition at the amphitheater. However, since we were in awe with the devotion of the Cebuanos (we even queued to personally touch the image) and the size of the the Basilica that we forgot to drop by the Magellan’s Cross and Lapu-Lapu shrine which was also in the same area.
We headed then to the famous Tabuan market. My friend just received requests to buy additional danggit while both of us hunted for dried mangoes, otap, and chicharong carcar. Shamrock otap are easy to find as they are retailed in all souvenir stores even outside the market (though nothing beats the Php 10-50.00 difference when you buy directly to the Shamrock shop so we really did). We then had our lunch to another ihawan stop (and drinks and pulutan at night) which was the Larsian. Almost every type of meat can be found for barbecue. Combine it with bulalo, papaitan, or sinigang (all famous Filipino soup dishes) and puso (rice cooked in weaved banana leaves), you’ll surely bloat full.
We only missed the Skywalk at the Crowne Plaza by half because my friend is not exactly fond of heights. Instead we took a break at Starbucks and checked the featured rides and tourist centers at the 32nd floor. Their activities do seem thrilling. For a price of Php 700-800 per pax, you get to do the Skywalk among other activities.
For our final rounds in Cebu, we bought a couple of kilos of “cholesteroliffic” Cebu lechon at CnT lechon. This is only one of the many known lechon stores that made the City even more culinary famous. And I do remember how it was consumed so quickly by the time I came home.
And looking back to what happened, given this much detail, I really say I did enjoy Cebu at a pace and I’m sure, my tired feet and my full tummy will definitely agree as well.