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mikewright

Recent Philippine trip

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Enuff

Recently travelled around the Philippines with family and friends, some of whom had never been to Philippines before. Visited the usual tourist spots, Manila, Boracay, Cebu, Oslob, and Palawan (PP, Underground River, El Nido, Taytay and Port Barton) as well as spending time in Leyte.  Group ranged from four recent school-leavers (“kids”) to several retirees and a few in between.

 

Because of the budgets of the kids, we picked cheaper accommodation where possible, but with basic mod cons – clean, no shared bathrooms, aircon for places where electricity was available.

 

Some things surprised me.

 

Firstly, Manila. Stayed there a week until kids all arrived. Really enjoyed the time there. Booked a modern fully-furnished apartment for eight nights next to Gilmore station, 21st floor, US$324 for eight nights, all mod cons including a sky lounge and swimming pool.  Did a Carlos Celdran walking tour of Intramuros, excellent.  Democrats, and possibly even Republicans with a sense of humour, would love this tour.  Worked out the MRT stations and buses; was able to get to NAIA for about 60 pesos. When kids arrived moved to White Knight Hotel in Intramuros, loved the area. Historically interesting, a few good restaurants, Weng Weng cocktail 105 pesos++, excellent value. Had previously stayed in Malate or Ermita, wish I had known about Intramuros before.

 

Secondly,  Boracay.  The kids loved it, henna tattoos, parasailing, island-hopping snorkelling tours.  The oldies loved it too, 75-peso cocktails at Wave at sunset, abundant cheap fresh seafood from the Tilapia markets cooked to order in the adjacent restaurants, more cocktails at Wave. Water was clear, food was good, and cocktails were exceedingly cheap. People selling things on the beach were not overly persistent, took a “no, thanks” at face value. Had heard so many bad things about Boracay was surprised that we all enjoyed it so much.

 

Thirdly, Cebu City.  So many good eating places around, at reasonable prices.  STK ta bai!, Vienna, Canvas, Aranos, Kuya J, Fred’s place during a LinC function (excellent clientele), Abaca cafe for breakfast in Banilad and many more.  Some good bars, The Social, Time Out, an Irish Pub on Mango (during happy hour), and some interesting bars, Our Place and El Gecko.

 

Fourthly, Oslob. Went there with about 20 people, stayed one night, swam with the whale sharks the next morning. Thought it was a place you would only go to to swim. Nope, could stay a few days. Good restaurants around, cheap, can swim there after the shark-feeding finishes. Visit the Monastery of the Holy Eucharist on the way back to Cebu; I’m surprised this place is not more publicised.

 

Fifthly, Port Barton, Palawan.  IMO better than El Nido. Islands are closer to the town, water clearer, so laid back you can sleep on the verandah of your restaurant while waiting for your Jambalaya to be cooked.

 

Sixthly, Puerto Princesa, Palawan. This place has boomed over the last 10-15 years, but the food at the Ka Lui is still as good and as good value for money as it was so many years ago. Only difference is they now have two sittings per night and are open every night, and you need a booking to get in.

Underground River, Sabang, Palawan. Visited it about 10 years ago and again last month. Now a much more professional operation, well worth the day trip from PP.

 

Taytay. As always, the restaurant at Casa Rosa is the place for a meal on the way from PP to El Nido. Bit of an uphill walk, but worth it for the food and the views of the fort.  Highly recommend the seafood pasta there.

 

Lastly, by unanimous consent.  Best part of the trip was time spent in a very small village in Leyte- a fiesta, with cockfights, lechon and disco, church and novenas; family and friends; a traditional 18th birthday party; and just sitting around on a verandah with mountain/sea views, watching the changing landscape. This really surprised me; thought people would be bored. Then sort of remembered that this village was what so impressed me about the Philippines when I first visited decades ago.

 

It really can be more fun in the Philippines.

 

Some photos of the trip here:

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/trota/collections/72157664868739935/

 

great report!!

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JonnyBravo

Looks like a blast. I think I have seen your tour guide in your Manila album in a documentary. He was talking about the history of the Philippines. I seen him also in some youtube videos. 

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Mr. Mike

Ditto...

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perrya

I spent 20 days there last month, focused on going to Eden Adventure Park in Davao, rented a car and drove to GenSan than Lake Sebu for ziplines across the waterfalls. Flew to Palawan and did Honda Bay tour and Underground river and their Zipline at Sabang over the ocean-loved it! Great food also. Flew to Cebu, rented a car again, drove around the great island went whale watching at Oslob, Tumalog Falls, Aguinid Adventure Falls, Kawasan Falls, stayed at Lambug with a pristine Boracay-like white sand beach that was vacant, got lost trying to get back to Cebu city. Stayed there for several days and had fun at the Go Kart track near Sykes. Took bus and ferry to Bantanyan island, not much is there but beautiful beaches, which was fine. Saw lots of poverty around for sure. My favorite local food was at Mang Inasal restuarants, great stuff, wish they were in the USA.

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hitman

Great vacation, you saw a variety of  places... :)

 

Boracay is one of my favorite places, but some people just don't like crowds whereas I don't mind at all...

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rep1

Those street item sellers were quite persistent in Bohol and changing price all the time. I'm not going to buy anything from the likes again.

 

And seafood is way overrated... they never bother to remove the shell from shrimps and last time I ordered a 2-person set it barely has enough seafood for one (tiny asian) but with the rice of 8.

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rainymike

Nice report. There are a lot of ugly things to see in this country if that's your mindset. Then there are a lot of beautiful and unique things to see if that's your mindset. Because I live here now, I try to balance the two. The good outweighs the bad - for me and by and large I remain a happy camper.

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ozboy

If you have your Health, Regular Income and not into too much nite clubbing....then it can be a pleasant enough lifestyle....but the political and corruption side of things can also be a real detriment....

 

I was fortunate to see many remote places courtesy of such a large extended family whether genuine or crawled out of the woodwork......but that was before all the local no go zones started springing up, making one apprehensive about seeing some really beautiful areas around Zambo.... :rolleyes:

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