A funny thing happened at the way to the beach....

Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
Tambuli Beach Resort

Flag of Philippines  , Visayas,
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

In spite of a mostly cloudy morning and a weather forecast that called for 30% chance of evil things, we decided to go through with our plan to spend the day at a beach.  I visited with the hotel travel planner and got a sheet of all of the beach resorts on Mactan Island (along with the fees charged for access).  Some are quite high, $50 USD or more per person, but pretty much all of them included some sort of lunch buffet.  Unsure whether we wanted to commit to a high-dollar beach on what could become a poor day, we elected to go to the cheapest resort on the list -- 375 pesos (a little more than $8 USD each):  Tambuli Beach Resort.  A 350 peso cab ride got us there.

Tambuli was a quaint little place; it certainly looked the part of a tropical island resort.  A single small pool seemed more attractive than their fairly small, rocky beach.  As we walked along the beach taking stock of what there, we were first approached by a gentleman offering Jet Ski rental for 1500 peso per 30 minutes (about $34).  It seemed a little much for such a limited time, so we started heading back towards the resort when a woman approached us offering unlimited use of a crewed catamaran for 3500 pesos (around $75), plus another 200 peso each to rent some snorkels.  The crew would take us to some reefs to go snorkeling.  Oh, and don't worry about the food, the lady retrieved carryout packages of the lunch included with our resort fee, comprising of pork fried rice, a grilled fish, a huge calamari ring, prawns, and roast pork skewers.  Considering the price, it was the best cost/value meal I've had here yet.

Zel's Revenge

The first place we stopped was a "floating restaurant."  It wasn't really floating at all, it was built on pilings; I've seen such things near New Orleans and elsewhere.  The only access, of course, is by boat.  Their claim is live seafood.  And live it is.  Some items were arrayed on a table when we got there, others were introduced.  The lunch apparently didn't fill Zel enough to dissuade her from picking a section of live, crawling critters to consume.  In the end, we settled for a clam, 3 large snails, and a crab.  It was served with garlic rice, and cost us 2000 pesos (of which I ran embarrassingly short -- I thought I had plenty to cover the day and left most cash in the hotel safe).   Zel had me covered though, so we didn't have to give CPR to revive a snail killed in vain.  The presentation of the food was outstanding, but remind me not to bother with ginormous snails again.  I had conch before, and that was too tough to chew, apparently, it's smaller siblings are no more tender.  The crab and clam were good, though.  While we ate, we were serenaded by three minstrels, a singer, a drummer and a guitar player, jamming to the dulcet tones of The Beatles and Rod Stewart.  They solicited suggestions, but didn't know anthing I suggested.

Before the dinner came, a little dish of dipping sauce was brought to the table.  Zel requested hot chilies be brought.  The tiny Thai chilies are nothing to laugh, she ground 5 or 6 of them into my dipping sauce.  It wasn't enough to warrant submerging my head, but after a few dips I realized my beer was nearly empty, so I went the rest of the meal with no sauce.  Zel was very pleased with herself.  But, I shall have the last laugh.

After we left, the boat took us to a spot where the water was maybe 20 feet deep to go snorkeling.  We were earlier provided with a small bag of old bread, the purpose to feed the fish.  While I got some images from the surface, an underwater camera would have been great.  A small moray eel was near the bottom, along with a few larger fish.  Those swimming in swarms around us included a yellow and white striped fish and black fish of equal size.

Next we stopped at some very shallow shoals, maybe only knee deep.  Snorkels were still useful, because the bottom had small clumps of round coral studded with black urchins reminiscent of Shadow fighters from Babylon 5.  Even with sandals on, kicking them could have led to bad things.  While the water was a little shallow for me (I had to bend down too far to see where I was going), it was perfect for Zel, who only had to bend slightly and then started swimming away from the boat while looking downward.  She had wandered about 20 meters off the bow of the boat when suddenly she shot up, screamed, and started splashing back to the boat as fast as she could move.  It seems she encountered a snake -- according to one of the guys on the boat, not a deadly sea snake found in these parts, but a harmless one.  Zel has a fear of sea snakes, though, so this rattled her quite a bit. (Leslie, if you are reading this, you have a soul sister across the world).  I, however, was much amused.

We went back to the resort after this and spent a few minutes swimming in the pool.  The day was more adventurous than we thought.  We got back to the hotel and Zel promptly went down for the evening; she wasn't even up for dinner.  We have to be up around 4 am for the SuperCat to Leyte which promises to be a long and eventful day.

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