Early next morning we left hotel to get to the smallest airport I’ve ever been and took an hour long flight to Cebu. As soon as we left the airport we were swarmed by taxi drivers fighting over who will drive us to the hotel. It was still early in the morning so we had few spare hours before we could check in in the hotel. We decided to go to the “Zoo” at the edge of the city. The taxi driver took us on about an hour long ride to the zoo, through the city, where he told us few things about the city and the life there. The city is really big, second biggest in Philippines – around 1M people. And if Boracay was scary at first, it was nothing compared to Cebu.
Traffic was all over the place, lots of motorbikes, people, tricycles, cars, driving all over the place where road rules were more of a guidance than an actual rules. After about an hour (I’m not sure if our taxi driver took the shortest path 🙁 ) we have reached the zoo, or something like that. Entrance fee was around 0.5€ per person, and we got a private guide to take us through the zoo. To our surprise, we could actually touch and take photos with some of the animals, which was pretty cool. On the other hand, the animals had such poor cages it was quite sad to see them there, I hope they are going to get better care in the future…
After the zoo the taxi drove us to the hotel, near city center. The hotel was quite far away from the water, besides I don’t think it’s possible to swim anywhere near Cebu city, because of pollution from such a big city. Because of this, I think, the hotel was more of a business type and even though it was from famous western chain we got the best room in the hotel for as little as 35€/night. And what a room it was, it was the nicest hotel I’ve ever been too. The room was almost bigger than our apartment in Ljubljana, around 40m2, with enormous bed and flat screen TV. But that’s not even the best part, the best part was enormous bathroom with shower and a bathtub with integrated TV in the mirror in front of the tub. That’s right, we had another TV in the bathroom. 😀 Since hotel was far away from sea, we had a pool on the rooftop.
After setting in our rooms we took a walk around the area, which in retrospect probably wasn’t the best idea, luckily nothing bad happened. Despite being in what I think was near city centre it was much different than what you expect in European cities. There was trash everywhere, in front of stores there were guards with shotguns (I’m not kidding). There was a particular situation that I found especially strange. While we were walking down really big (4 lane) street, there was big pile of rubble in the middle of the sidewalk, blocking the path so we had to actually go on the road and walk around it. Despite having zebra crossings, it was almost like playing a game to cross the street, no car slowed down let alone stopped when they saw us going over. We had to walk all over the street: up, down, left and right to get away from the cars and to cross the street. Well despite described, it wasn’t that bad. Streets were quite full of people, who were selling food at stalls or walking around. On few points we were swarmed by local kids, trying to beg some money off of us. We even went to a local store where we bought like 7 t-shirts for 3€ (all shirts combined). The strange thing was, that the shirts actually weren’t bad, the material felt quite good and I’m sure if I bought the same shirt here in Slovenia it would have cost around 15€ each.
In the afternoon we went to an enormous shopping mall with more than 700 shops. To my surprise the prices there weren’t much cheaper than in Europe. After getting through small portion of the mall we went to eat some weird Philippines’s fish dish, which too no one’s surprise I didn’t like. After returning to the hotel we went for a quick dive in the pool and then to bed.
Really really early next morning (4AM) we had a trip arranged to the south of the island, where we would swim with the sharks. To our surprises when we came down in front of the hotel a driver was already waiting for us, and too even greater surprises the car was actually quite good. After sitting into a car I turned to get my seatbelt fastened and as soon as I did that Veronika was already sleeping beside me. I’m not sure how that’s even possible, she fell asleep in less than half a minute, I wish I could do that, but for some reason I can’t sleep on public (and private I guess) transports. On the bright side, because I couldn’t sleep I was able to watch scenery outside the windows. On our 4 hour drive to the south, we almost had 10 car accidents, 2 times we almost hit a motorbike, driving in the dark without a light, and for some reason (maybe because it was may the 1st) we almost run over 3 marching band, who were marching in total darkness in the middle of the road.
After arriving to the Oslob, the town in the south where the sharks were, another guide was already waiting for us (and by us I mean only me and Veronika). She took us to breakfast and told us some instruction for shark diving. Soon after we were in the boat with 2 Filipinos, driving the boat for few hundred meters off the shore, where sharks were. And there we saw them, whale sharks – the largest fish in the world.
We jumped in the water and sharks swum around us. They were enormous, the tail alone was taller than me, or at least it seemed like that, because of magnifying effect of underwater goggles. We gave a camera to the Filipino on the boat and he took some photos of us. I’m mentioning this, because he held his breath underwater for what must have been 5 minutes. While I had to get up to the surface 3 times, and I can last more than 1 minute without air, he was still down under, taking photos of us. We weren’t allowed to touch the sharks, for their protection, and as they weren’t afraid of us, we actually had to swim away from them quite fast not to get in their way.
After about an hour we returned to the shore where a driver took us to a nearby waterfall and later lunch. In the afternoon we returned to our hotel. We went for a short walk around the area again, to buy some souvenirs and soon after retreated to a dinner in our hotel. We had a really nice dinner there, with surprisingly nice dessert.
Next morning, again in the middle of the night, we had to leave for the airport where we had a plane back to Hong Kong.