For those who were interested, I would like to recap on my recent vacation to Cebu City, Philippines. As mentioned before, my wife is originally from there, and this was my first time visiting and meeting her relatives and friends.
Starting from the Los Angeles airport we flew to Seoul Korea (13 hours + 5 hour layover), then to Cebu Philippines (5 hours), pretty much the entire day of traveling.
What shocked me the most was the large beautiful shopping centers/plazas on one block and shacks on the other. It was a diverse combination of the poor (referred as “squatters” by the locals) and the rich.
Traffic there was pretty wild as well; everything on a first come first serve basis (no such thing as the Right-of-way), traffic lights and signs didn’t seem to matter as we drove through the city. The convenient thing was the fact that most places were only a few minutes away and the taxis there were very cheap.
We stayed at a hotel across the street from a big indoor/outdoor shopping center called “Ayala” and it was probably one of the nicest malls I have ever been to. Not too far from where we stayed is a spot called “IT Park” where it got its name from all the call centers that are located there. Call centers are one of the fastest growing job markets in Cebu, and the restaurants and bars there are open 24/7 to cater mainly for the call center workers.
A friend also took us to a local skateboarding/BMXing practice spot/park where I got to play a game of horse (S.K.A.T.E) with the locals. There were also a group of kids who were practicing backflips in a pile of grass. It was definitely a cool vibe there.
The Night Life
The entire vacation blew by pretty quickly with each night having bar/club hopping on the agenda. The bars and clubs in Cebu do not close at any given time like here in Los Angeles, and people party till the sun comes up. Drinks were fairly cheap and house music was blaring everywhere you went. I was told that January was a big party month in Cebu since a lot of people are in town for Sinulog (A huge annual festival with over 8 Million people attending).
Each night (around 5am) somehow ended with us cruising to the local street food stand and getting our grub on. Each spot we hit up was in some sort of alley way or street corner but the food was ridiculously on point. From grilled chicken/pork/beef/fish to shumai, noodles, etc, these guys served it up proper.
By far one of my most memorable days was the day we went island hopping. We started in Maribago Beach where we had a private boat where they took us to three islands.
Snorkeling felt like I was in Hawaii, the water was clear and there were colorful fish all around us.
We later stopped at a floating restaurant where we picked our fresh fish, lobster, crab, clam, and had them cook it on the spot. It was delicious!
Our last stop was at Pandanon Island (a sandbar beach); we were the only tourists on the island for that afternoon. We kayaked, swam, and ate some lechon (roasted pig) which was awesome.
The Grand Finale – Sinulog
As the days got closer and closer to the day of Sinulog, the city seemed to get crazier and crazier. Sinulog this year reached about 8 million people from around the world. This wild street parade starts in the afternoon and lasts until early morning, with people drinking, eating, dancing, and blasting music on every block. I would compare this as almost like a riot, but all in good vibes. Face paint was smeared everywhere from friends and strangers and we roamed the jam packed streets.
Detox and Some Relaxation – Shangri-la Resort
After all of the madness that went down in the first 2 weeks, the last few days were reserved for relaxation at the Shangri-la resort. The beach was crystal clear and it was the perfect setting to just kick back and relax.
Being labeled as a Third World Country, I flew down there not really knowing what to expect. What really struck me the most was how diverse Cebu is. From the beautiful beaches to the city life it was all an amazing experience and I loved every moment of it. If anyone is looking to vacation anytime soon, I would highly recommend checking out Cebu Philippines!