Last year I took some time off during summer break to get away from Hong Kong and visit one of the nearby sensational tropical attractions. At that time, a new budget airline by the name of Airphil Express just opened up with insane return fares going from Hong Kong to Cebu for 750HK$ (~95US$), and it was just too good to pass up. When I booked the last minute flight I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but as it usually happens with these things everything worked out brilliantly and that trip offered some of the most authentic local experiences I’ve had since I moved in to Hong Kong.
I think what took me most by surprise was just how undeveloped the Philippines are. The inherent stereotypical bias from the Filipinos I’ve met oversees was that they were quite well educated, mostly English proficient, and so aside from the general rumors I try to ignore regarding corruption and crime I expected things to be generally well off. You’d expect that from a former American colony, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, even Cebu City, one of the most developed cities in the Philippines was far below my expectations regarding infrastructure. If I’d have to place it, I’d say it was somewhere along the lines of northern Thailand, Cambodia and non-Urban Vietnam. But this is just from my very short tourist observations, I could be dead wrong.
But, as a tourist, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could spoil your vacation if you’re expecting top notch tourist attractions that cater to the well-travelled international audiences, but if you’re there to enjoy wonderful undeveloped beaches and relatively unspoiled authentic local culture, then southern Philippines might be just the thing. Most of my time was spent in Siquijor, a small island south of Bohol, where I had some terrific local adventures – catching local cock-fights, sipping horrible rice wine with the locals, enjoying wonderful hospitality from a local arts group and playing with local Filipino kids on gorgeous tranquil beaches on both sides of the island. Not to mentioned rarely visited waterfalls and off the beaten track picture perfect beaches. My near-death experience trip just off of Dumaguete to some mountain hotsprings and further north to the twin lakes will most definitely stay with me for long.
My path, should you wish to follow some of it was :
This is what it looked like…
Following are the posts I wrote about my Filipino travels :
Hope to go back and visit other parts of the Philippines when back to Asia. Palawan, Borocay, and the northern side await me.