Travelling overland and by boat in the Philippines involves some long journeys, so it is inevitable you’ll need to make some stopovers. Here are 3 that we didn’t stay long enough in to warrant their own posts but to skip over them would be unfair.
Our first stop was the gateway to Bohol – Cebu City. The second busiest airport after Manila, a lot of people pass through but not so many stay in the city. We however chose to stay for a few days, mainly because we arrived on Good Friday and almost everything was closed but being a city thankfully some places were still open.
On Easter Saturday we visited a mall – not a traditional cultural experience perhaps but a popular Filipino pastime, and just walking around and people watching was fascinating. It was also our first chance to visit one since all were closed on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
On Easter Sunday we visited San Pedro fort, a crumbling Spanish fort which although small, was very calm and picturesque.
Aside from a children’s birthday party taking place…
Despite not really doing an awful lot in Cebu, we quite liked it. It’s a big city (though a fraction of the size of Manila) so it takes a while to get around but luckily taxis are cheap and tend to have honest drivers.
We were quite looking forward to Dumaguete, it was supposed to be a hip university town, and I imagined a chilled day walking along the Boulevard stopping to check out some cool cafe’s.
Well we sort of did that, except the boulevard seemed quite seedy with sexpats filling the bars, and scores of child beggars tugging at your arm constantly.
It was also a day of unrelenting sun, so after walking around the university campus for a while, which was interesting, and definitely where the cooler area was, we escaped to an air conditioned mall again.
I feel a bit bad because it probably is a great town when you spend more time there, but with only one day we were limited and very hot! Apparently there are plenty of worthwhile sights within driving distance though.
This was a bit of a disaster, but still turned out to be our favourite city. We were only initially planning to stay here for a night, as a break between bus trips but decided to make it 2 nights as Katy had read about the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation. This sounded perfect – a place to see and learn about some endangered animals, while staying in the city. But we got there to find out it was closed. On a Saturday. Why?!?
Undeterred we did manage to see some sights, namely the beautiful San Sebastian cathedral an the Bacolod public plaza.
In the afternoon we set off for something I wanted to see – The Ruins. An old Spanish era mansion which was burned out during WW2 to stop the occupying Japanese from using it, the skeleton has stood ever since and is supposed to look amazing in the late afternoon and be a great place for photos. It’s a bit out of the way and we couldn’t get a taxi driver to take us there for less than 500PHP (more than our room for the night cost!).
We arrived to be confronted by locked gates and a sign saying it had closed early because of a wedding. Seriously?? We begged them to let us in to take one photo, and they eventually let us. Not exactly money well spent, as we drove straight back to the city again.
We had one more thing to do in Bacolod – eat Chicken Inasal. This is a local dish of barbecued chicken marinated with garlic, lemongrass, vinegar and various other ingredients, and served on skewers. It tastes INCREDIBLE. It’s served all around the Philippines, especially at my favourite fast food chain – Mang Inasal. However it originated in Bacolod and is the best place to get it. Sure enough we had some and it was delicious.
We enjoyed checking out some of the cities. It was a nice change from more heavily touristed areas such as Bohol and Boracay, and a chance to experience local culture a bit more. Not to mention accommodation is MUCH cheaper than on the smaller islands!