On My Own Again


There weren't many hostels in Cebu so I booked one that seemed close to the centre. After a ferry back from Bohol, I said an emotional farewell to my friends and hopped in a taxi. The driver told me the hostel was up in the mountains. This was not what I wanted to hear. I showed him the address about 10 times to make sure he had it correct. Off we went. It wasn't a mountain but it was up a long steep hill. It was about 8pm by now and dark and the taxi driver didn't know where the hostel was. He drove right up to the top then kept getting out and asking people. I gave him the phone number but he wouldn't call. Up and down the hill we drove until finally we found it down a side road. He apologised a lot and helped me get my stuff out the car. Once in the hostel they couldn't find my booking so it took about an hour and a half of faffing before I could get to my room. It was fine though, there were loads of people sat in the lounge and ended up making a lot of friends. I declined a night out and sat talking to some Brazilian girls for most of the night, then headed to bed. I hate air conditioning so I usually wear all of my clothes in bed. Around 3am one of the guys that I'd been talking to earlier came back and shook me awake to ask why I was wearing my hoody. He also asked me if I knew what I wet squid was. I didn't but I do now. He slapped me in the face with the palm of his hand. After a long conversation where he told me every minute detail of his trip so far, he offered some space in his bed for me to come spoon. I politely declined.

Next morning I met spoon guy and another guy from last night in the lounge so we could head up to the lookout point. We walked down to the main road, stopping at the bakery for some breakfast. We waited ages for a taxi and then when we got in one he refused to use the meter because it was uphill. He wouldn't say how much he wanted but refused what we offered. Finally he said, which was too much, so we got out. A guy on a motorbike stopped and said he would take us for cheap. Two more bikes pulled up, we hopped on and off we went. The view driving up and from the lookout point was nice and you could see some of the islands in the distance. Later back at the hostel some people were heading into town to go to a make your own pizza restaurant. We all joined in! We got a jeepney down, which is sort of like a bus but is a jeep with an open back and seats along the outside. It cost 7 pesos for the ride (10p).

There is a really famous religious festival in Cebu called Sinolog but it also has street performances and known bands playing. It started on the Saturday so we got up early and caught a jeepney all the way across town to find the start of it. We faff about for ages trying to get some breakfast and find where we should be. We walked across a really poor part of town, I've never seen people so skinny in all my life. We found the main part and stood for a while listening to mass, hymns and watching people in the crowd. A lot of them had brought large statues of Jesus. I lasted an hour before saying I was leaving. Two of the guys were ready to go too so we decided to go to the zoo. It cost about £3 to get in. I could tell why, it was so upsetting to be there. They had huge snakes near the entrance that you could hold. There were maybe 4 or 5 of them piled into a box. We kept walking. There were birds of prey you could also hold but they weren't well looked after and there was bird poo everywhere. They had cages of pigeons, chickens, parrots amongst some other more unusual things. All of the cages were crammed with animals, faeces everywhere, feathers everywhere, the animals were scabby and half bald. There were also 2 monkeys chained to a tree, just climbing around in circles. There was also a crocodile you could have a photo taken with, the guy stroked under it's chin and it put it's head up. I didn't hang around long.

We got a motorbike taxi back to the hostel, through all the crazy Cebu traffic. I needed to book another hotel somewhere as there was nothing left in Cebu due to the festival. Only thing was the internet was down because of some work being done on the lines. I didn't know what to do. Two people had booked an airport transfer so I decided to go to the airport with them and fly to Manila also, or at least just use the Internet at the airport. At the booking desk the clerk asked why I was leaving Cebu after 2 days. When I said there was no accommodation he said I could stay at his place and party. Should he cancel my flight? Why does this consistently happen to me...

My flight was delayed by a good few hours thanks to the Pope flying. When I arrived in Manila I went to get a taxi. The hostel was 1km away from the airport and the guy tried to charge me 800 pesos (£12) because the terminal I'd landed at was further. I paid for the bus to the closer terminal. No taxi knew where the hostel was. One guy said he would take me so I hopped in, tired and grumpy. Then he said there was an airport fee and I had to pay 1000 pesos! (£15). I was livid! But we were on a highway and I couldn't get out. Once we got to the hostel I couldn't calm down at being ripped off, I was so annoyed. I know it's not that much money but it should only have been 200 pesos max (£3) and it was the principle of it, nevermind that I'd ended up paying more and taking longer by getting to the closer terminal. I woke up several times in the night still angry.

Today was a really uncultured day. We went to the mall, had a McDonald's, did some shopping, went ice skating, the cinema then home. The day after that the guys left so I had a chill out day. The guy running the hostel was super creepy and wouldn't leave me alone. Then I found out the girl working there was his girlfriend. He followed me around, pinched me on the cheeks saying I was cute, asked if I wanted to help him bake a cake. Awkward. I went to bed and he came in the room to talk to me whilst I was in bed! The next day I left.

There was a girl in the hostel going the same way as me so we shared a taxi. I ended up checking in to her hostel because it made things easier. We met a group of people who were going to the Chinese Night Market so we all got a taxi there. Manila traffic is horrific and it took ages! The market was one for the locals and was an experience. There was a lot of intriguing food, like balut, a semi grown chick. It's like a hard boiled egg but is partially formed and has a beak. We walked around for a while before heading back to our area and to a food market where we had some really good food and a beer and entertained by a comedy drag act. We sought out some halo halo, a Philippino dessert, then had some drinks outside the hostel.

I was getting the boat to Coron this afternoon on the Atienza Shipping Line. There's a normal passenger ferry but the times are really infrequent. I met the girls in the morning and we went for a coffee. One of the guys on the table next to us last night was also there and came to join us. He was also getting the ferry this afternoon so I arranged to meet him and another guy at their hostel beforehand. I'm so glad I did as I would never have found the ticket office and if I had, wouldn't have ventured down the waterfront to where it was. It looked like something I imagine in India, shanty houses lined the waterfront, engine oil and dirt everywhere, children playing and swimming in the filthy water, we were stared at the entire way. We bought a ticket and boarded the boat. It was an open deck with metal framed bunkbeds in rows. We squeezed our way to the other end and down into a small room as we'd booked aircon for £1 more. It was marginally better. The boat left 2 hours late and I lay on my tiny foam mattress, towel barely covering me and shivered for the 22 hour journey.

After checking out a few rooms we settled on Coron Backpackers which I'd read about already. There were only 2 rooms between the 3 of us so the guys let me have the double room to myself. There was a guy living there who explained to us that the small stone outside with the hole in is used as a grill. We went to the market and bought freshly caught tuna and barracuda and some vegetables and bread. Back at the hostel the guys sautéed the fish with lemon and balsamic and cooked them on the grill over charcoal. It was one of the nicest meals I've had out here. Then we went down to one of the bars, which was not very busy. The whole town shuts down at midnight.


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