05 October 2013

CYCLING THE PHILIPPINES - CEBU


28 Setember- Alona Beach, Panglao Island - Cebu City, Cebu Island- 26km

I cycled the short distance to the ferry port in Tagbilaran from where there was a ferry nearly every hour to the island of Cebu. I bought my ticket (P500) and pushed my bike on board. The weather was perfect and the sea as smooth as anyone can wish for.

Two hours later we arrived at the large and chaotic city of Cebu. I quickly found myself a room and set off to one of the multitude of malls in the city. The purpose was to see if I could find a GoPro camera. There are so many shopping centres around that I reckoned if I could not find it in Cebu, then it does not exist at all. I spent more money than what I should have, but was now the proud owner of a GoPro camera!!  The only drawback was that I could not find a handlebar mount for it. I understood that there was one in Bacolod, which they promised to keep for me until I got there. I spent the entire evening trying to figure out how it works and how to change the waterproof housing. Quite a nifty, little thing!!

29 September - Cebu City – Blue Pot Resort- 85km

I was a bit sleepy as I went to bed rather late but eventually got underway. I first stopped off at the Old Fort, took a few pictures and then cycled through the old part out of the city. The old part of Cebu is rather interesting, with its narrow lanes and what smells like open sewerage canals. Soon, I was on the highway out of town, heading clockwise around the island.

The going was a bit on the slow side as the traffic was hectic (although it was a Sunday). The road was jam-packed with buses, cars, trucks (loaded to the hilt), tricycles and colourful Jeepneys. I kept as much to the side of the road as possible, but still had to veer off the road from time to time to make way for oncoming traffic overtaking. I spotted many cyclists along the way and guessed that they must be part of a cycle race. Soon, I saw one of the participants pushing his bike along and stopped to ask if he needed help. Fortunately, all he needed as an inner tube, of which I had two, and I could help him out.
Just after passing the town of Argao it started raining,and right there I saw a sign for the Blue Pot Resort!!  I turned off to see if they had a room. It was not much of a resort, just a few rooms, but I was happy to be out of the rain and in a very comfortable room. I cooked myself some pasta, had a beer and played with my new toy.

30 September - Blue Pot Resort – Moalboal- 130km

It was a long day on the road, past roadside gasoline stalls selling petrol by the liter in Coca-Cola bottles. Amazingly enough, the price is similar to what you’d find at the gas stations. Judging by the number of motorcycles and tricycles that stop at these stalls, business is booming.

I passed drying crops taking up the entire one lane!!  It’s not the fact that they use the road for drying their produce that surprised me, but that no one ever drives over it. In fact, buses and trucks will come to a complete halt and carefully manoeuvre around it before continuing.

Eventually, I arrived in Moalboal and turned off for Panagsama Beach, about 4 kilometres down the road. It is a real diver’s hangout with plenty of accommodation and a few dive shops. A couple of bars and restaurants line the single dirt road. It is a laid-back place where the beers are cheap and dive boats are eagerly waiting to take divers off to the nearby Pescador Island.

1/3October - Moalboal

I was eager for a dive and to try out my new camera. There were, however, still a few things I wanted to check online, just to make sure I had it all correct. I did my laundry and went into town to draw more money………..diving is an expensive business!!Again, it felt that I spent just about the entire day eating.
The following morning I was up and at the dive shop first thing in the morning. Oh, and what a fantastic dive it was!!  We went out to the near Pascador Island and dived for about an hour. Taking pictures underwater, however, turned out to be more difficult than expected and I came away with a flat battery and hardly anything to show for it. Lots to learn!!!  The second dive was just off the beach and even more amazing. It turned out that the Sardine Run was on at the time and we saw the most amazing formations of thousands and thousands of sardines!  Unfortunately, by that time my battery was flat so no pictures to show for it.
Oh, the underwater world is so amazing and so incredibly rewarding.When I’m underwater, I experience this amazing feeling of peace and calm;it feels like I could just stay there forever…. it is completely surreal.Being located in the Tañon Strait, the dives around Moalboal tend to be along steep, near-vertical walls. The strait drops to around 600 metres (I’ve been told) yet currents were non-existent while we were there. Visibility was not crystal clear but the water was around a very comfortable 28º C. I´m going again tomorrow - this will be my last dive for a while as I´m spending all my money on diving!  Time to move on!!

In the process I made some friends and together with three other travellers we set off on a tricycle to the Whale shark diving area. Getting there was a bit of a pain, as first we took the tricycle and then two busses, only arriving at the dive site at around 11h00, if not later. It was, however, quite a unique experience diving with as many as 9 or 10 whale sharks in close proximity. They lazily floated about, looking for food, sucking in each and every morsel floating around. With their huge mouths wide open it, from time to time, seemed that they could easily suck me right in!!  I played with my camera and in the process learned a few things, but still was not happy with my shots.

After an hour or so it was time to get going again, and after a bite to eat we went back to the roadside to wait for the next bus back to Moalboal. That night we had something to eat, shared pictures, and had a few beers at one of the local joints.

4 October - Moalboal

I did not waste any time in the morning. I just had a quick breakfast and then headed to the main road for a bus to Cebu. The bus ride was very comfortable and the bus even had Wi-Fi on-board, not bad at all. We arrived in Cebu about 2.5/3 hours later.


I took a taxi to the Immigration Office, where I found a room packed full of people all needing a visa or visa extension. As usual, it was a long and slow process but the day passed quickly and at 15h00 I was on the bus back to Moalboal, visa extension securely stamped into my passport. 

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