Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Nothing to See in Seebu… Cebu

I am finally posting an entry on my first real Asian trip, to Cebu, Philippines. How did I end up in the Philippines? The idea of a nice resort, the Shangri-La, an advantageous price, sun, beach and a short two hour flight was too appealing. Also, when I went in March, Hong Kong was still a bit cold, and I was ending an exhausting week long off-site. So my colleague, friend and travel buddy Cheryl and I hopped an early morning flight to ensure that we got the most bang (i.e. sun) for our buck.

Day 1 was great. The flight was smooth, and the hotel picked us up and drove us directly to the resort. We hit the beach right away, swam in the wonderful pool, enjoyed two delicious meals and slept amazingly well in the large comfortable hotel beds.

On day 2, we decided to venture outside of the resort gates and explore the local area. I was hoping to try some local food as well. As soon as we walked outside the gates, there was a souvenir shop with some old swim goggles, t-shirts and, strangely, Envirosax. There was also some sort of massage place, a restaurant and a not very well stocked convenience store. We felt very local as we mixed and mingled with chickens, goats and random children roaming around the side of the road. The children asked me to buy them ice cream… and if I was gay. At that point we started walking back to the resort but not before I was able to see a man exposing himself.
Now a normal person would probably not leave the resort again, but we found out there was a shopping mall nearby and a hotel shuttle to take you there. We caught the shuttle and started making the hour long drive to the mall. As we were driving, Cheryl asked me if something had happened in the area around our hotel. It looked somewhat like the pictures of Haiti. Cheryl also remarked if I noticed that a lot of the men were not fully clothed. Unfortunately, I did. I understand it is hot and all, but it was really odd that men were not fully clothed. This was definitely not an if-you’ve-got-it-flaunt it situation by any means.

Upon arriving at the shopping mall, I immediately noticed there were separate men's and women's entrances, with security guards and metal detectors at each. I contemplated not going into the mall and staying on the shuttle, but it was driving another hour to a different shopping mall. I was not sure I wanted to see more of Cebu or go any further from the safety of the resort. However, we manned up and went in.

Inside the mall, it was surprisingly rather nice. There was a great duty-free store with a good selection of bags, a Haviana store, a Technomarine store, a Sanuk store, a health food grocery store, many jewelry stores and a Fit Flop store, to name just a few. There was also a pretty good selection of Western food, including KFC, Pizza Hut, and Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Immediately, we decided to eat with the locals… at Pizza Hut. So much for trying Filipino cuisine!

We ended up having a good time at the mall. We both bought Fit Flops. I know some of you think they are ugly, but I promise you they are the most comfortable flip flops ever. I also purchased a Bally bag and some tea -- another weird combo. The biggest disappointment was that Auntie Anne's only accepted cash. Neither of us wanted to withdraw Filipino currency.

The mall trip concluded with another ride through the beautiful Cebu scenery. The shantytowns and half-naked men urinating in the street were glorious. We also spotted the local public transportation of choice: the Jeepney. Jeepneys are open buses made from Jeeps left behind by the US Military in WWII. They are all colorfully decorated and very crowded -- so crowded that people ride on the roof.

The rest of the trip was thankfully uneventful. I am happy I went. I had a lot of laughs with Cheryl and came back to Hong Kong well rested and ready to work. However, I do not think I will be going back anytime soon.

P.S. As we were leaving, we regretted not using the Spa Services… until we returned to Hong Kong and learned that a coworker spent a week in the hospital after a visit. He was cut while receiving a pedicure with unclean tools and was admitted to a hospital upon returning home.

1 comment:

  1. Where are the pictures of naked men urinating?