Exploring Cebu City
Trip Start Sep 17, 2009
37Trip End May 06, 2010
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I underestimated the contrast of moving from China to the Philippines. Whereas both are dirty and clearly in need of much infrastructure updating in certain places, in China you have mass spitting, strange looks, and little english... in the Philippines, you have this odd mix of some kind of definitely foreign, island culture with a generous helping of American and Spanish culture on top. Nearly everyone speaks english to some extent, everyone is eager to say "hello" to you as you walk by, and *gasps* they have HBO and Cinemax on cable. Oh, and no more chopsticks (which never fazed me at all, but Mike is happy about the reversion to silverware hehe).
Philippines is the land of mangoes, pineapples and bananas, which is GREAT because these are some of my favorite fruits
Pictures (on Facebook)
We arrived in Cebu around 4 AM in the morning and headed to Palazza Pensionne, which turned out to be a very nice place. Breakfast included. Good wifi, showers were almost hot, and good location for exploring the sites in Cebu/Cebu City.
We got up for breakfast in the morning, but then we crashed again. We eventually got up and headed to Metro Ayala, the big shopping mall here. Shopping, eating, groceries, hardware -- this place had everything. Unfortunately, at tourist prices. We also got approached by some prostitutes here. Seems like this would be the story for the rest of the trip...
First impressions of the Philippines were definitely not what I thought. This is probably one of the poorest places that I've been to, but it would not become readily apparent until the next day.
Another interesting thing are the buses that go around town (called jeepneys). There are so many of them and they all have fancy designs on them. They are tiny buses, but they hold a shitload of people. We later found out that these are old army jeeps that have been converted.
After having pizza at an Italian place and some San Miguels, we headed back to the hostel
We headed all around the downtown area on this day. We saw the Carbon Market (tons of people selling different items out of tents), Basillica Minore del Santo Nino, and Magellan's cross. We also wandered into a little village where there were a bunch of kids taking a bath in the ocean water. Very dire living conditions, but the people seemed mostly happy. As we walked around all day, people were staring at us and yelling hello. Little kids followed and begged us for money.
I took advantage of several of the fruit stands selling juices (it was very hot). I got some coconut juice and mango juice. For lunch, we had a hamburger and then hit one of the bakeries to have some cinnamon bread and a piece of pineapple pie. We also checked out a few nearby hostels, but we had a hard time finding ones with wi-fi in the rooms. We're computer nerds, what can I say...
The Basillica and Magellan's Cross were amazing. The cross is where Magellan landed in Cebu back in the 1700s. Since it was Sunday, there was a mass going on and we got to see that. One of the things that was readily apparent were how religious the people here are. The grounds were packed with people, and in the surrounding areas people were lighting candles.
After seeing the sights, we went in search of cheaper hotel
We had dinner at a restaurant right around the corner in St. Patrick's Square. Some chicken place -- nothing special. There is also a cool coffee shop next to it that surprisingly charges for electricity to plug your computer in. After dinner, we headed back to Palazza Pensionne to get ready to go out.
We got some 1 L bottles of San Miguel and just started walking around Uptown. We ended up at this convenience store across from Tokyo KTV (with a strip club right next to it -- not really a strip club though...as we found out later). We met two Filipino guys there, and we just sat around and drank till about 12 AM. Then, we headed over to the KTV.
Inside the KTV was a bit weird. There were a bunch of Filipina girls dressed up as Japanese schoolgirls. We sang a bunch of songs on the karaoke machine -- Californication, Danger Zone, and yes, even Celine Dion -- My Heart Will Go On. I'm pretty sure I sung the shit out of it too.
Woke up around 11 AM and had to be out of hostel by 12 PM
We first went to Fort San Pedro -- and old fort that was designed for immediate security when Magellan and the Spanish arrived back in the 1700s. It had been restored twice though. Very pretty walk around the fort as they had many different types of plants/flowers on display.
After that, we planned to head to Casa Gordoro Museum, but it was closed. We wandered around the area, but it didn't look that impressive. They were also charging PHP70 to get in.
Before going to Casa Gordoro, we stopped off at 'Heritage of Cebu', a new structure that was finished in 2000. It contained a depiction of the sailors and ships that landed in Cebu back in the 1700s. Pretty cool art depiction. No idea why this wasn't in our Lonely Planet guidebook...
After that, we headed to Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Also very pretty.
(Scott: Here is where the next blog entry takes place - "At Your Own Risk". Read it for more details)
After that, we headed back towards our hostel
After that, we headed back to Casa Rosario, but not before stopping at the coffee shop around the corner for a smoothie. My third smoothie at this place. I also got some garlic bread for some of the kids that followed us for 1/4 mile begging for money. I have given out money to several of the little kids around here -- very sad. It is also sad to see how thin the animals are. We saw some cats today that looked like they were about to die. I have never seen cats so skinny before. There is also a lot of litter around the streets. At night, you can see tons of strays dogs going through the garbage and trying to find food. This city needs to get the litter problem under control. Also, many of the waterways in the city are polluted with garbage, urine, and feces. The smell is horrible. Time to crash so we can hit Mactan Island tomorrow...