Friday, July 20, 2007

Great expectations

It was my last week to travel before I head back to Manila and my energy was already running low. We were supposed to take a side trip to Surigao and Siargao before heading to the Queeen City of the South, but more traveling and less frolicking no longer seemed so tempting. So we packed our bags and took the ferry straight to Cebu instead.

I really wanted to spend my last week of the Sputnik journey in Cebu because it’s the only other megalopolis in the Philippines that I haven’t really been to, except for that one hour taxi tour my friend and I took around Mactan while waiting for a connecting flight to Davao eight years ago. I planned to roam around the city at least and then head to two of its famous beaches.

What I didn’t realize was how it would be too difficult to travel around Cebu without your own car. By this time, not only was my energy running low, I’ve also almost reached the budget limit I’ve set aside for the trip, and taxi rides in Cebu could get really expensive. This being the case, I ended up limiting my touristy pleasure to two of its biggest malls, an international media company I have always been interested to see, and a couple of its evening hotspots.

Our trip to SM Cebu introduced us to a lovely Thai restaurant called Krua Thai. I was stunned at how they actually invested so much time and thought—and money—in the interiors of a restaurant that was only going to be inside a mall. It has the perfect ambience and a truly authentic Thai feel, you’d actually forget you were inside SM.

They have Thai decors all over the place, elegant-looking tables and chairs, and waiters and waitresses dressed in traditional Thai costumes. I was scared at first that the food may not be able to match the look of the place, but not only did we enjoy our bagoong rice, pandan chicken and sweet and sour spare ribs, we were also pleasantly surprised at how affordable the meal was.

Our tour at Big Foot, an international film school and production house based in Mactan, was very educational and a bit intimidating for someone who also works in the media. They have the only final cut theater in the Philippines used to simulate how a film would actually look and sound when released for commercial viewing, a post-production set-up with fiber optics inside the walls for simultaneous editing, and an impressive soundstage that also has the only camera in the Philippines that is similar to the ones used in Hollywood.

I wanted to feel the vibe of the Cebu nightlife, but while my spirit was willing my flesh was getting weaker by the day. My spirit even followed suit when we tried to heed my brother’s tip to go to Vu Du, a supposedly hip club in a place that is Cebu’s little version of Libis. Well it did seem to be a really hot bar because throngs and throngs of young Koreans were lining up to get in when Ron and I got there. We thought it would be better to just move on and so we did.

Thanks to Ron’s friend Eva, we were able to enjoy a few drinks in a quiter bar a few blocks away. Formo suited my taste better and was perfect for my mood at the time. The place have a very elegant look and feel. They have a wide choice of cocktails and they play chill-out music that makes a good background for a nice chat, which was the only thing I could really afford to spare some energy for at the time.

When we headed out to the outskirts to see two of Cebu’s famous beaches, it seemed that we were back on our tracks. Cebu’s high traffic and noise became a little disorienting for us after weeks of staying in quiet provinces and beaches. We love the fact that Bantayan Island had a very laid back feel, which made us feel so comfortable again. Most of the restaurants in the island were meant to cater to tourists and yet there weren’t much foreigners around when we came. The bars were quiet, except for a few Koreans and some white guys who seem to have made Bantayan their temporary home. It was nice to just walk around, whether during the day or nighttime.

Malapascua had more foreign guests though. They are mostly divers, who seemed to enjoy the place more than we did. There wasn’t so much happening in the island when we were there, only dogs fighting along the shore. I find the beach in Bantayan more beautiful, maybe because I was disappointed by the fact that Malapascua didn’t meet my expectation of it being like Boracay in the 80s, which was what some people say about the place. But Ron and I got to enjoy some quiet time sitting by the shore, drinking beer while looking at the moon’s reflection on the beach, on our only night there. That moment was great enough to make our trip to Malapascua definitely worth it.

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