Monday, March 27, 2017

Cebu Adventure - 2017


  • You can rent the flippers for snorkeling so don’t bother bringing them along.  Whale shark tour includes the snorkel gear and it costs about 1000 Pesos.  Try to get there early to avoid the crowd.
  • When you try to get in and get out of the small truck that’s used for the commute during the whale shark tour, please be careful and always use the middle plastic footprint to support your
    self.  I fell and hurt because I was trying to support myself using my foot on the metal bar, got slipped and hurt.
  • If you are a vegetarian, finding something to eat on the street side or in small restaurants will be very tough.  
  • You don’t need to take the motorcycle ride to the Tumalog falls from the parking lot and it is in easily walk able distance.  
  • Unless otherwise you are super sure about the path from Osmena peak to Kuwasan falls, it is better to hire a guide.  We paid 1000p+some tips for the guide to take us to the Kuwasan falls from Osmena peak.  Wear good trekking shoes or shoes with good grip because the path is very slippery during rainy season.  There are some shops on the way where you can buy snacks and water, so you don’t have to carry a lot of stuff to
    survive the hike.  The hike is mostly downhill and if you can find a walking stick, it will be very helpful.
  • You don’t need life jacket to jump off from the top of the Kuwasan fall.  They have tied down rope for support in water at the downstream, so that you don’t have to swim long distance to rest.  Just keep an eye where the rope is before jumping off.
  • The Cocoloco cafe near the city market in Anda is a good choice for vegetarians.
  • Once you buy the ferry tickets in Tagbilarn, you need to pay the terminal fee at a counter nearby before checking into the ferry in an other counter.  No one will tell you this and it is assumed that you know this :-)  There are frequent ferries to Cebu from Tagbilarn.

My Journey

The immigration and customs are pretty easy and didn’t take any time to go through them.  Also, the checked bags arrived within 5 minutes.  Since we have friends waiting to receive us, I don’t have any advise on the public transportations.  I am totally
impressed with the cleanliness of the Cebu areas that we had been.  They were maintained real well and kept clean unlike what was showed in different Hollywood movies.  It may be true in Manila but I don’t know.  Even Cebu city is reasonably clean.

We went to the SM Sea Side mall and it is the best mall I have ever been, it is very spacious with a variety of stores with great decorations.  The lunch at one of the restaurants was decent but vegetarians have a few choices.  You have a number of restaurants to choose from and a number of European & American shops to burn your pocket.


After dropping our friend in the pier, we drove around the tourist places near the central Cebu before heading out to Argao.  Before checking into the hotel, we decided to watch the cock fight in Argao.  The cockfight is arranged only on Sundays in Argao but looks like the flight is conducted everyday in the Cebu city.  The entrance fee for the fight is 20 pennies.  The whole atmosphere was noisy and the betting on the cocks was between people, and could not believe that there’s a single fight broke out because someone didn’t pay the money or cheating when we were there for about 30 minutes.  People were betting between “this side” or “other side” among themselves without any intermediary and once the fight is over (it takes less than 2 minutes for a cock to finish the other one), the money is exchanged without any conflict.  Most of the flights that we saw were fine, not that bad, but in one fight both the cocks were badly injured but they still wanted the flight to continue..and it was really bad.  There was a lot of drinking and shouting at the venue.

What is Vegetarian Food?

We got out of the cockfight to check in to the hotel and to visit our friend’, Oona’s,
family.  We had a great time in their place but the funny thing is that they didn’t know what to feed the vegetarians and finally figured out to treat us with Salad, Banana flower dish with coconut milk and rice, which were very delicious.  Came back to the room to take rest and get ready to wake up at 4am to swim with the Whale Sharks the next morning.

Whale Sharks

Woke up at 4am to get ready to swim with the whale sharks in Tan-awan.  On the way to Tan-awan, we watched the beautiful sunrise and the drive reminded me of drive in Sri-lanka, with a lot of coconut trees and ocean.   The whale shark snorkel was very well worth it, we could swim very close to the shark and at one point the whale’s tail hit me.  They feed the sharks at certain time of the day so the sharks visit that area regularly.  There were about 10 sharks in the area where we were snorkeling and we were allowed to snorkel about 30 minutes.

After the snorkel, we visited Tumalog falls and it is very well worth it, if you have an hour to spare.  It is pretty close to the place where you snorkel for whale sharks.  We went there on Monday so there’s not much crowd and the atmosphere was so beautiful.  

Carlo, my friend’s brother, got a small boat for us to visit the corals in the Argao Beach Club area.  It was crazy to get on the boat without the life jackets and five of us jumped into the water far away from the shores.  Very nice corals and beautiful fishes but with that strong current was there, I got away further away from the boat while snorkeling and got panicked.  Since there was a strong current, we were all holding the boat and snorkeled while the boat was cruising through for more than an hour.  It was nice lazy
way to snorkel.  

Finding vegetarian lunch after our long swim was another story, we spent about 30minutes looking for something vegetarian to eat but ended up nothing (except in one place we found bitter gourd that we didn’t like to eat).  Finally ended up eating rice, soy sauce and egg - If you are a vegan, you are screwed.  But we were very well taken care by our friend’s family for our dinner and had banana flower prepared with garlic and ginger as well as vegetarian spring rolls, variety of fruits and rice that took care of what we missed for lunch.

Osmena to Kuwasan

Woke up in the morning 4am to get ready for the trip to Osmena peak and the hike to Kuwasan falls.  We left after 5am to catch the bus to go to a near by town, Dalaguete junction, and from there we took two hable-hable (5 of us) to the foot of the mountain. It was a very beautiful motorcycle ride and awesome view of the peaks.  It cost us 150P per motorcycle and the hike to the peak was not bad at all but it was slippery due to previous day rain.  You don’t need a guide if you are going to the peak alone.  After reaching the peak, spending an hour there and on our way down we realized that we needed a guide to take us to the Kuwasan falls.  So one of our friends, Allaid, went down to get a guide for the hike.

The guide was very friendly and told us that it could take about 5 to 6 hours.  It was
not a strenuous hike but a long hike with slippery path that we made it to the falls in less than 4 hours.  The hike takes you through remote parts of the island in dense areas of tress or bush as well as some small farm areas.  We were glad that we got the guide because there’s no sign or any one to verify whether we were going in the right direction.  All of us fell down at least once during the hike because of the slippery soil or stones, but the hike is very well worth it.  On the way, we saw cocoa farms, egg plant farms and different vegetable farms in addition to people working on the farms in old ways, just doing back breaking cutting with
sickle.  We started around 8am and reached at the Kuwasan falls just after 1130am.  The falls at the third level is not that interesting, so we continued to the falls at the second level.  

The falls in all the three areas are very beautiful and we spend all our time in the second level, mostly just being in the water, people watching or jumping from the top of the waterfalls.  The water and the view are so beautiful, and the whole area is kept very neat and clean.  

After chilling there for more than five hours, we walked through the first level to get to the bus stop.  From here, you can take the bus to Cebu or any other connections that you may use to reach your place.  Our bus ride took about three hours and by the time we reached our hotel, we were all tired to eat so went to bed.

Ferry To Bohol

Today is a pretty low-key day; we vacated the hotel around 10am to have second breakfast in our friend’s place before going to the ferry station in the 3-wheel bike.  The ferry from Argao took off around noon and reached Tagbilaran (Bohol) around 3pm.  When we went to ferry station, we were asked to pay 5P and we were happy that the ferry cost for about 3 hours ride is only less than 10 cents but happiness ended shortly after boarding the ferry.  The 5P is the ferry terminal fee and the ferry fair was different - 250P - still cheaper for 3 hour ride.

After reaching Tagbilaran, our plan was to check into the hotel and go for the firefly tour around 630pm.  But the plan got cancelled because of the rain. the firefly show won’t happen if it rains. So we took the three-wheeler to head to the downtown and that’s where Tony experienced the Cebu’s true appetizer experience by eating Balut.  

Chocolate Hills and Beyond

We left to the Chocolate hills around 730am and when we reached there, there’re not many tourist there.  We enjoyed our quiet time enjoying the mountains of chocolates (though wet and green) in the cloudy day.  It is called chocolate mountains because these mountains turn into to brown color
during the summer months and all look like mountains of chocolate.  To have a better view of the surrounding areas, you have to climb a number of steps to reach small hill.  The next stop was the Tarsiers sanctuary, which is maintained and kept well with caretakers of the Tarsiers.  Tarsiers are much smaller than what I imagined off and their body length is less than one fourth of their tail length.  Since they are nocturnal animals, most of them were sleeping and only a few of them could be spotted with their eyes open.  After taking a few pictures at the Man Made Forest, we decided to do the zip lining over the Loboc River and even
though the safety of that was a concern, I didn’t bother to mention about it to anyone.  We enjoyed (almost) flying over the Loboc River about 250 feet high.

The lunch was at the Loboc river cruise with some local music and dance.  It was nice ride on the river with some good food if you eat meat, else, just eat fruits and enjoy the views.  Still we got a lot of time to spend in the day so our friend Carlo took us to the python zoo that I really didn’t want to go because the way most of these places treat the animals there.  We took a quick walk before decided head to Anda.  


The bus ride was not bad and it took us about 2 hours to reach Anda, and we drove along the ocean to reach Anda.  The hotel that we booked, Anda de Boracay, was fine but not great.  The food sucked big time and the hot pool is not even close to being warm, but the location was great.

We started the day early and went to a couple of cave pools before spending most of our morning in the Kaligoon cave bool.  It is well kept and less crowded when we reached there.  We really enjoyed jumping from the top of the cave a couple
of times before booking two pump boats to head out for snorkeling.  We visited a few caves where they use to cremate or bury the humans in 1800s before snorkeled in the marine sanctuary and then came back to the city for lunch around 3pm.   The lunch at the Cocoloco Cafe was very good.  We tried to relax in the hot pool but it was pretty cold to chill on a windy evening.  We retired to our rooms early hoping that we could wake up early to watch the sunrise, but we didn’t bother to wake up early for the sunrise.

Cebu City

Man Made Forest in Bohol
The movie that was played in the ferry is not appropriate for any kids below 18 years of age, a lot of violence and nudity. We were surprised to find that there’s Uber in Cebu city, which made our lives easier to get back to the hotel from the ferry terminal.  After dropping off of our bags in the hotel, we headed out to the mall close by for lunch.  Looks like most of the malls in the Cebu are big and nice open area in the middle of the mall to walk around among the trees or nice flowers.  We spent a lot of time in the mall walking around and making videos for the upcoming Tony’s series “Tony’s Adventures - Cebu” before going to the Colon Street to check
out what it got to offer (against advise of the hotel personal because that area is not supposed to be safe).  Colon street is nothing interesting but a number of platform shops and a lot of crowd, but we felt perfectly safe.  We left that place in about 30 minutes and one of the craziest things happened first time in my Uber experience is that we got the same Uber that we took to come to Colon street to return back to our hotel.


Thanks to Oona’s family for taking care of us when we were there, especially Carlo, Oona’s brother, we spent the seven days with us making sure that we stay alive and get fed on time :-)  Also Yayen, Oona’s cousin, who took a great care of us during our stay taking care of the logistics.  We felt pretty safe in Cebu and we spent no time at night walking around to different places.  
If you like beach and water, it is the place.  Being a vegetarian sucks but if you book a place with a kitchen, you can really enjoy a lot.  It is a less expensive place to have a lot of fun in the water.  Most of the people speak English and they are very friendly, so moving around is not an issue with a lot of public buses operating all over the place.