Lost in Cebu

I hadn’t planned to go to Cebu this early in the year. Originally, my first trip would be to Iloilo for the Dinagyang Festival. But the trip for two to Cebu (free flight + accommodations) that I won from last year’s office Christmas raffle changed all that.

So I decided to fly to Cebu’s Sinulog festival. My very first adventure of the year.

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And if there’s one thing I learned from this, it’s that things don’t always go as planned.

Sometimes in a bad way.

Like getting hopelessly lost in a city you’ve never been to before. Or missing out on a night of fun because of the traffic. Or having your phone snatched during the parade (Yep, it happened to my friend – we had walked the whole length of Jones Avenue to get to the Basilica de Sto. Nino and then on our way back, her phone was snatched right from her front pocket. That was a bummer).

Or being so so so very hungry.

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But then it can also happen in a really, really good way.

Like meeting new friends…

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Or waking up insanely early to swim with the whale sharks…

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Eating fresh mangoes by the beach…

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Walking (or dancing) along crowded streets, and joining in the celebration…

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Arriving at your destination after hours of walking and offering a few prayers at a historical and religious site…

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Best of all, rewarding yourself with food – and lots of it!

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Rice all you can!

DSC_3155DSC_3158DSC_3194DSC_3197DSC_3344DSC_3350 copyDSC_3353Going around Cebu was definitely tough, especially since it was my first time in the island. And in my previous trips I was always with a group with a designated navigator. But an adventure isn’t without a few hang-ups. And this was unlike any other; I enjoyed getting lost in Cebu.

What actually made the trip worthwhile were the people and the food.

While we were in Oslob, I met an interesting couple from Romania. They were backpacking across Asia. I had a chat with them as they lounged in one of the many shacks that lined the beach. They had just come from the nearby island of Bohol and were in Cebu to swim with the whale sharks and experience the festival. After that, they would be flying off to another island. I listened starry-eyed to their stories and dreamt of following their footsteps.

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They even shared a bit of wisdom gained from weeks of travel. Catalin told me, “If you plan to travel, be more calculating about your trips.” To support what he said, his companion Irina held up a travel book guide to the Philippines and pointed out that the prices stated aren’t always accurate; it’s usually more than what’s printed on the pages. Their advice is to keep track of expenses, so you don’t end up scrimping on later trips.

We met a lot of other interesting people along the way. They made Cebu come alive, providing fresh and colorful perspective to a place I’ve only encountered previously in history and travel books.

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And the food? Ah, when I think of all the calories we consumed during the trip – scratch that, I don’t even want to think about it. I don’t know if it’s because we always stumbled into the restaurant ravenous and exhausted from trying to find our way, but the food always made us exclaim “Lami!” (Cebuano for “Sarap!”) and made us forget about the day’s mishaps.

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Two of our favorite dishes were Bryan’s Ribs in Casa Verde – two big slabs of ribs glazed in delicious barbecue sauce for only P208 – and  Mackerel Ceviche in Maya – cooked in coconut milk, this is undoubtedly the best kilawin we’ve ever tasted!

All in all, it was a good trip. To be honest, I wish we had more time to go around. If things had gone as planned, we would’ve seen more sights, done more activities, eaten more food, and had the chance to party with the rest of the Sinulog crowd (yes, we missed all the partying!).

Well, as the experience in Cebu has taught me, things don’t always go exactly as planned.

But then, that’s usually where the adventure begins.

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