Friday, January 7, 2011

Arrival in Cebu

We landed in Cebu Mactan Airport, 4 minutes AHEAD of schedule. Oh yes! Before flying I had read so many reviews on Philippine airlines stating they were the worst flights you can take, never on time, not the cleanest/ safest/ newest etc. However, our flight was problem free, thank fully. I hoped I could say the same for the return journey especially as thats even more important...

So we got to the airport and we were all ready to pay numerous fees that our friends who had just returned from the Philippines had warned us about. A fee for security, arrival etc, but there were no fees so perhaps Cebu is a better airport to arrive in than Manilla (Although I have just been informed they charge you to leave,not arrive, pesky buggers-time will tell!). The minute we left the airport doors we were bombarded with men offering us their taxi services. Usually I would be all prepared for such action, however we have definitely been in the safety of Korea too long. 

Luckily we had been warned by a regular traveller to the Philippines whom we met on the flight, not to take any other taxis but the white metred ones which required taking a right, avoiding 30 or so haggling taxi drivers and taking some stairs over the road.

 We almost slipped up, Paul being the ever so trusting guy he is starts negotiations with a driver who tells us ‘yes white taxi metre just there’, his taxi is parked in the middle of the road and I find it slightly unusual as to why all other taxis are driving up to the security guard who is helping foreigners take taxis and he IS NOT. He tells Paul 500 PHP to our destination to which I laugh and tell him no way just 200 PHP max and attempt to leave. This guy is not giving up easy and tells us OK OK however upon reaching his taxi he whispers 200PHP each OK. NICE TRY. I leave. Paul stays to haggle, he’s a one!

We ended up taking the white metred taxi via the airport security man who writes down the drivers plate number and hands it to you upon a review card that you can then use to report the taxi driver should you need. Pretty good system if you get to the right place to begin with.

The drive to the hostel awoke senses within you that whilst living in the safe, technology hubbub of Korea are somewhat closed off. People lined the streets, sleeping, drinking, working, hanging out.  Shacks for homes and familys selling just about anything possible to get by. At a red light a man collecting water bottles, I imagine for recycling, traded an iced water for the empty bottle and some change our taxi driver had. 

This all reminded me of Thailand and what a wonderful nostalgia that is to have! However, the unfamiliar feeling of a lack of security lingered at the back of my mind. Korea is safe to walk the streets alone, you rarely see homeless people and I can confidently say as a foreigner you are never financially exploited. I know in the Philippines we shall have to stay on our toes, keep our belongings safe and be wise about where we go late at night, I feel slightly naive to such measures after 10 months in Korea.

To put our minds at ease, upon arrival at our hostel (Cebu Guesthouse, Mango Avenue) we were greeted by an armed security man. I don’t think I have ever stayed anywhere with an armed security guard, least of all a hostel! We were shown to our room and left to scuffle about in the dark trying to find the bathroom etc, perhaps it was too late for tours! The hostel is very basic but the room is nice enough, basic double bed with enough room to change (no Yoga to be done here). The bathroom is slightly debatable in the cleanliness stakes. However, we are in central Cebu, paying  £9 a night!

Heres a taster of the local area:

Christmas decorations- We have been told that in the Philippines Christmas is celebrated September -January

Within Cebu you are surrounded by poverty, an area such as the above can be lived next to and played in by children.

Local products sold at the hostel

The lounge area of Cebu guesthouse.

Well it seems that's all the pics I can upload for now, I'll have to do a separate blog on pics of Cebu, there's a fair few!

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