Entry by Kayleigh, with additions from Ryan in italics.
09.06.2015 - 19.05.2015 30 °C
Following the horrible hangover we decided to head to Bulabog beach, world famous for kite surfing. There’d been a few windy days so we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to see them in action performing their acrobatics. Before we went there we decided to walk up the beach towards boat station 3 (There are three stations on the beach, we were in the middle on two), but it turns out the beach is realllllly long! We walked for maybe a hour and a half and found a really nice bit of beach and just camped out there for a while instead. When we got tired of being lazy on the beach we had a really good work out, push ups (for Ryan) and abs and sprints for us both. Gotta stay fit! Plus taking a dip in the sea afterwards was bliss.
We didn’t sleep well that night because of a storm, it turns out it was Super Typhoon Noul (the locals called it Typhoon Dodong) which killed a couple of people in the north of the country! After the military coup when we were in Thailand last year we are starting to wonder whether we have bad luck or we are the bad luck!
We woke up after a bad sleep and decided we’d tire ourselves out that day and make sure we slept well that night. We went for breakfast at a cafe on the beach, had a triple espresso-mocha-chocha-chino, and headed to the local gym. A workout cost 300PHP (about £4.50), not really cheap but definitely worth it! Kayleigh managed to reach her full splits!! Very impressive, even if she had to hold a 15kg weight to push herself down. And I lifted some heavy things. Enjoying the healthy feeling we thought we’d eat healthy that evening; I ordered chicken salad, Kayleigh had Minestrone soup. It was DISGUSTING! We barely ate anything, so had Oreo cheesecake instead. Back at the hostel we had a few beers to try and get ourselves sleepy and able to face the heat that night, never have I wanted air conditioning so much.
We had two days left and two things we wanted to do – an infamous pub crawl, complete with free shots and guaranteed debauchery, or Ariels Point, a cliff jumping, snorkelling and kayaking day trip. I’ll be honest, it was a tough decision, but with the horrible hangover still a recent memory we decided on the day trip. We set off down to posh Boat Station 1 (where all the 5 star hotels are) to buy our tickets. We had some iced espresso and a sticky cinnamon bun to share and help us on our way. Tickets brought (for 2000php), hyped up from the sugary and caffeine filled breakfast and a very beautiful day on the way we decided to just buy a ball and hang out on the beach. We spent a whole hour in the sea practicing me standing on Ryan’s shoulders... I’m certain we can join the circus now.
After some healthy food (in pizza hut) we booked the next part of our trip from our bungalow porch whilst the hostel played some kinda out of place deep house. It took a while on the shoddy wifi but come a few days time we would be really glad for the organisation! Plus, there were less mosquitoes outside than in. Really.
This next day (days of the week have no meaning anymore, no idea what day it was) is so easy to write about because it was the most fun! Picture it.... Unlimited booze, beautiful scenery, lots of new friends and cliffs to jump off! On the way we had a beer, the big group of Koreans next to us had a lot more! The boat journey there took forty minutes and was very scenic, we sailed past mountains and hidden beaches. When we got there we were so excited, there were about fifty people and the area was built into the cliff-side and was all twisting paths and hidden dens. We originally sat in a cool little table off by itself overlooking the sea, but soon decided to be more social and moved into the bigger area.
The jumps! There was a 5, an 8 and a 15 metre. To put this into perspective, Olympic dive boards are 10m, so these were pretty high! Ryan went right in on the 5m, with no visible nerves (I’m sure there were some!) Nahhhhh! To get back up the cliff there was a rope/bamboo ladder and then some steps built into the cliff. I started off here on the steps (3m) and I was so scared! A 50 year old woman did it before me, else I’m sure I would have chickened out. Ryan pretty quickly worked his way up to the eight and I eventually made it to the 5. Queue lunch, a buffet barbeque affair which was delicious.
By now we’re several Red Horse beers down and feeling a bit more confident. I decided it would be a great idea to use the wrist mount for the go pro and jump off the 15m board. I should point out that the wrist mount is a Velcro strap, so what happened is not really my fault, but George de Mestral - the inventor of Velcro. There is a video (soon to be uploaded to social media) of this jump, followed by the GoPro falling 20 metres to an ocean shelf, next to a drop that had no visible bottom; there is 10 minutes of it sat there before one of the tour guides managed to free dive to the depths and recover it. We tipped him 700 pesos (about a tenner). Kayleigh made some friends with an aussie girl and a girl from Bournemouth, who eventually goaded her into making the 15m jump. We had some rum, I jumped, and Kayleigh followed.
Doing this jump is up there with my BSc in the list of things I’m proud of doing... because it was scary! Everyone seemed to turn up just to watch me to it, everyone in the water, a crowd of people at the top and everyone in between. There was no question of backing out and once you’re up there it looks a lot higher! Only a handful of people there had done it. They all started cheering and chanting. Because we were some of the only English people, and because I was drunk, I yelled ‘FOR THE QUEEN’ and jumped! And landed bum first and I’m still in pain in bed writing this up a week later. I blame the Queen.
We boated back, and a lot of rum was pushed into our hands by the over zealous boatmen. Me and Ryan very drunkenly rambled to a very sober Texan family, with the help of the other drunken people, who, obviously, were also the only other English people. We got back to our room, somehow, and I proceeded to be very drunk and then get a hangover before I even went to bed. It wasn’t good, and we had to pack for leaving at 6am the next morning.
We had a crazy day of travelling the next day; trike, boat, minibus, plane, taxi, coach. We were knackered after it all! We got to see some great scenery though. The minibus was scary. It was an 8 seater that had 15 people and all of their luggage rammed in. There wasn’t even enough room to lean back and it was a very uncomfortable two hour journey. Ryan tried to sleep. Kalibo airport was the worst airport we have been in, there wasn’t even anywhere to buy food! We were very hungry, four hours into the journey and no food, plus another eight hours to go. On the plane we promptly ordered a tonne of food, but literally as soon as we got it the plane started to descend and we barely had time to eat it. It was beautiful flying over Cebu and seeing it from above, and we liked the city a lot more than Manila once we landed, too. We got a taxi to South Bus Terminal and managed to get on the right bus in all the confusion, we were pushed to the front of all the lines because we were the only white people! On the coach I had to close the curtain because so many people were staring in at me! Now the driver of this coach was certifiably insane. Like actually insane. He took corners at full speed and we were convinced it was going to roll. He barely used his breaks the whole time and overtook on blind corners! But we eventually made it to Oslob. We knew from research that Oslob was a little town, but as the towns and villages grew smaller and smaller we were both a little taken aback by just how tiny it was. It really was the middle of nowhere.
Oslob was literally 100m long. As soon as we were off the coach a local selling street food pointed us in the direction of our hostel, and it took us all of 5 minutes to lug our bags there, a little boy playing basketball in the street even asked if I’d like to join in the game with his friends. We were staying at a little place called New Village Lodge, the room was tiny but we didn’t care because IT WAS AIR-CONDITIONED!!!! We’d only be staying for a few nights so didn’t bother unpacking but just lived out of our bags. After we’d cooled off, we headed out to the street to get some food. It was almost impossible to find vegetarian food for Kay, and I’m pretty sure the locals didn’t even understand the concept. I had some chicken and pork (marinated in “sweet”) from the lady who helped us find the hostel, and Kay had some pastries from a bakery. We got chatting to some guys staying in the room next to us, who were from Ireland. They’d done the same as us and come just to see the Butanding (whale sharks).
We got up about 7am the next day, which was HARD, after that long travel day we just wanted to sleep, but it was definitely worth it. A guy that worked at the hostel called Elmer gave us a lift to the bay where we’d see the Butanding. By give us a lift, I mean both me and Kay on the back on his bike with no helmet. It was a bit nerve-racking at first but we quickly forgot as it was the most scenic route I have ever seen. The sea lapping on the rocks on our left and mountains of rainforest to the right. When we got to the bay, we had a brief safety talk, and were told we couldn’t go within 4 meters of the Butanding, and could be imprisoned if we touched them as they’re protected creatures. This was fair enough, but impossible to follow in reality. After we’d be rowed out about 100 meters, we grabbed out goggles and snorkels and jumped in. This is honestly one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life. The GoPro takes some amazing pictures, but nothing can describe or show what it is like to be in the water next to these huge creatures; but I’ll try. Feeders on the boats throw food over the side, and they swim right next to you to eat it. Once again, as Kay is extremely white, we got special attention, and a lot was thrown near us. As you’ve probably seen from the video on Facebook (the one where Kay almost gets swallowed whole), it is impossible to avoid getting close to them, they swim directly at you as if you are not even there. If you tried to back away from one coming in your direction, there’d be another right behind you! The ones in the water with us must have been about 8 meters in length, and these were only the babies. In Donsol, in the north east of the Philippines, you can swim with 12 meter long ones. We were in the water for half an hour, but it seemed to pass in a few minutes. We both agreed we could have easily stayed in there for at least another hour, just watching these gentle giants eat and swim about. Elmer waited for us on the shore, and drove us back to the hostel after. The whole experience was incredible and I could not recommend it enough to anyone thinking about doing it!
Once we got back to the hostel we were a bit dazed and in shock that we had done something so amazing, and it was only 9am! The room was a little basic and there wasn’t much to do in there so we decided to visit some local waterfalls that we had seen a sign for on the way back from the Whale Sharks, called Tumalog Falls. Once again on the back of Elmers bike we set off and about fifteen minutes later we were there. We had to walk down a pretty steep slope to get to the actual waterfall, and on the way we were accosted by a group of teenage Filipinos who wanted a picture with us (again, because we are white!), they were so excited! It was nice and cool in the trees at the bottom and the waterfall was so pretty! We had a little swim and stood under the falls, it was all very serene.
This sounds like a pretty amazing day, but to top it all off it was also mine and Ryans four year anniversary! And we spent it in the best way possible.
Back at the hostel we decided to cut our time in Oslob short and spend an extra day in Cebu. Oslob was great but we had pretty much done all that we could do, so we hopped on a coach the next morning and four hours later we were in the city where we had booked into the Best Western Lex Cebu. We weren’t expecting much from this hotel even though it was a little on the expensive side (a present to ourselves for our anniversary) but it was amazing! Hands down the best hotel I have ever stayed in. The room was gorgeous, the bed was massive and the bathroom had a huge shower in, but what really made it was the service, the staff were all so accommodating.
Now by this point I had been eating nothing but oreos and cakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a few days, so the first thing we did was order a tonne of room service! We had so much and we ate every last bit! As soon as it settled down we went to the rooftop gym where Ryan sated his gym addiction with a good workout.
The next day we headed to the Ayana Mall, which was very nice and set out with no logic at all. I think this was my favourite place in Cebu. There was a big gardened area called The Terraces that had a lot of restaurants and bars. It was very western though, there was a Topshop, Marks and Spencers and a TGI Fridays! We had a plan to go home, get ready and go to TGI Fridays for dinner followed by bars, but time got away from us and so we had to have dinner in the room instead (no big disappointment, it was super tasty!). We asked the guy who brought us our food where he would recommend for a night out, and he mentioned a place called IT Park, which is where a lot of the locals go. Even though it was already 11pm, we decided on an impulse to just get in a taxi and go.
We rocked up to the place expecting nightlife but were faced with a bar which was still serving families dinner... so we walked about trying to find a club. We wandered into a place called Music One, it looked a little odd and so I went in and asked if it was a bar, but no, it was a KTV place! KTV is karaoke television, where you have a little room to yourselves with a big TV in, two mics and a big book of songs to pick from! On a whim I said lets just give it a go and it turned out to be one of the best nights out we have ever had!! We started off a little nervous, we are both a little tone deaf (me more so) but you could get alcohol delivered to the room. Skip forward five hours and we were a bottle of rum down, dancing around the room and getting the bartenders to join in with us! Memorable performances included the likes of Rammstein, Taylor Swift and A-Ha.
The hangover wasn’t as bad as the one in Boracay but it was still pretty bad. We stayed in the room all day and only left to get McDonnalds. Waste of a day but worth it for the fun night.
The next day we had to check out at noon but our flight to Manila wasn’t until 1am, so we had a lot of time to kill. The logic to the flight time was to save on a nights accommodation by sleeping in airports, which worked but wasn’t fun. We went to another mall just to bum about until we could leave but it wasn’t as nice as the Ayana. We went to the cinema and watched Pitch Perfect 2, which was funny. The Filipinos were a lot more interactive than us Brits at the cinema, there was a lot of loud laughing, clapping and whooping. There was a very awkward moment with a Filipino ladyboy joke in the film that no one laughed at.
The rest of the day is a bit of a blur as we spent the whole next 36 hours awake, we made it to the airport in Cebu, flew to Manila and then onto Bangkok.
I’ll miss the Philippines! It was such a beautiful country with the friendliest people. Me and Ryan have decided to definitely come back at some point, as theres a lot we didn’t get to do.
For anyone expecting pictures, we are having a few issues uploading them. We will keep you informed and should hopefully have some up soon