I do not know should I consider this trip to be a success or a disaster. This trip has both surprises, first experience and also the usual “down”.
I am still recovering from a high fever. I do not know why since this year, just before every trip to the Philippines, I will fall sick. However my body will always recover just enough to let me travel. It is just like it will not kill you but will not let you have a good time either.
I am clearly aware that a typhoon is travelling across the Visayas. I am trying to gather as much info as possible about the typhoon to make a decision. In the end I decide to go based on the path of the typhoon.
So when I am on the plane, I expect to experience strong wind and maybe even rain.
The flight with Cebu Pacific landed on Mactan International Airport on time, well almost. I was awake throughout the flight and I exit the airport as a zombie.
I bought my SIM card and credit at the airport.
I then went to the domestic departure hall to get a taxi to the South Bus terminal. The taxi fare is about P201 and you need to pay P10 to enter the bus terminal. This is really a strange practice.
Now it has become a tourist attraction but the practice of feeding the whale shark has generated much controversy. I personally do not agree of feeding of wild animals. Much has been said about the whale shark in Oslob and I would like to have first hand account about it.
The journey to Oslob took 3 hours and 15 mins in a non-aircon bus. We passed by several areas like Cacar, Bato, Talisay etc. Our destination is Oslob but tell the bus driver to drop you off at Tanawan and not just Oslob.
I doze off several times trying to catch some sleep since I am wide awake during the flight. By the time I get down the bus, my but has almost cracked.
From where I alight, I walk back and found this sign (above). If you want to come to Oslob for whale shark, just look for this sign and ignore the rest. There are many establishments that offer whale shark experience but I think this is the one that is recommended and under the local government of Oslob.
When you reach the shed, you are required to listen to a 2 minute safety briefing. The safety briefing is just a woman telling you what are the Do’s and Don’ts when you are in the water. I find that the safety briefing is a joke compared to the one on Donsol.
I asked is there any where I can store my bags and they just say leave it in a corner. To be on the safe side, I took all my valuables with me in a dry bag.
I board the boat and they only paddle about 10m to 15m away from the shore and you can see the whale shark there.
It is very difficult to enforce the no contact rule when the whale sharks are charging towards you! I was once being forced backwards by a whale shark and in the end I was sandwiched between two whale sharks!
The feeling of seeing the whale shark up close and personal is really amazing. They are really very gentle and how often do you have a chance to have such close contacts with these marine life and they are considered the biggest fish you can find in this region.
After a while, I went back to the beach and wash up. There are toilets provided based on first come first serve. This means that the toilets are unisex but the cubicles do have doors.
I start to feel giddy and nausea after the swim. Maybe I have eaten some shrimp that is meant for the whale sharks?
After I washed up, I walk to the main road to wait for the bus to Bato Terminal.
Remembered I mentioned earlier that from Cebu City, I passed by an area called Bato? The Bato Bus terminal is different from the Bato that the bus has passed by on the way to Oslob.
To get to Bato terminal, go back to the same direction as you are coming from Cebu City. The fare to Bato Terminal is P19 and it will take you around 20 minutes.
I was thinking of going to either Kawasan Falls or Tumalog Falls but thinking that Waterfalls + typhoon is not a good combination and today is not a good day to die. So I decide to drop the idea and go straight to Moalboal instead. I have taken enough risk by going to Oslob while the typhoon is charging towards the Visayas.
The ride to Moalboal from Bato will take you about 90 mins. I doze off again and I reach Moalboal around 1200hrs.
Moalboal main activity is diving. It is considered a diver’s paradise. So if you are not into diving, I suggest you not coming here.
When I reach the Lodge, it has already started to rain.
I was early so I got to wait for the room to be cleared. While waiting, I took a short stroll around the area. I noticed that Panagsama area is not very big at all. You can walk from one end to the other like in 20 mins.
I woke up at 1700hrs. I made friends with a Swiss and Malaysian. We chat and decide to go for dinner at The Little Corner.
The food is terrible as it is very salty. I just finished like 15% and I gave up. We then play cards to pass our time. We also start to do a record of the time between rains. We noticed that as the time pass, the interval between rain is getting shorter. This also means the typhoon is getting nearer.
The foreigners are very excited about the typhoon as they have never experience any super typhoon before. From what we understand, the typhoon will pass by north of Moalboal at around 0200hrs. Some of them even want to stay up to wait for the typhoon!
Soon we were tired and we return to the hostel. However the rest of them still want to stay up but I went to sleep.
The power went dead last night. Moalboal has no electricity. However it is not hot as there is wind blowing continuously into the room.
By now my feeling of nausea is getting worse and the tummy is having his own typhoon inside.
It is still raining outside and everybody wonder what happened last night. Everyone is surprised that nothing has happen.
Power was return and I quickly check the location of the typhoon. It was then I found out that it is still at Leyte and it is charging towards the north of Moalboal. Everyone was shocked.
I quickly went to have breakfast when there is power. Without power, most restaurant will be close. I ordered an American breakfast from The Coffee Shop and it tasted so-so but not too bad either. At such situation, I should not complain too much!
The wind reached its peak between 1100hrs and 1400hrs.
It starts to weaken at around 1500hrs and by 1700hrs, the rain stopped. Actually the wind is still bearable. It is not so strong that it will blow us away. We are lucky that we are at least 120km away from the path of the typhoon and we are also shielded by the mountains in Negros Islands.
We will really need to worry when the coconut trees start to bend!
As there is still no power, Moalboal has plunged into darkness and the water supply has been cut off too as the pump is not working.
I went back to the Little Corner for my dinner. The restaurant is dark but they are still operational. I ordered Chocolate Banana pancake and it also taste horrible. I forced myself to finish it so my stomach have something to digest.
The power did return for a short while around 2000hrs but it got cut off after an hour.
I spoke to the staff Analou Buaya of the hostel. I then found out that Panagsama actually has no water supply during weekend. The water that we used is actually from the water tank. The community has feedback to the Mayor but to no avail.
Analou also tell us how Panagsama beach used to look like and where it extends to. A typhoon in 1982 washed away the whole beach and the black sand starts to surfaced.
She continue to talk about her experience in the hostel, how did this hostel comes about and the owner main intention setting up this hostel which really touched my heart.
We chat till 2300hrs and I went to bed.
Rise and shine!
No wind! No rain! Power is restored! WiFi restored! We are back to civilization!
I took a walk along the beach and happy to see that the dive boats are returning! Yippee!!!!!
I quickly walk over to Savedra and ask will there be any dive trips today. They said yes and I was ecstatic!
I decide to do a house reef dive to see the sardines which is my main objective of this trip.
After gearing up, the dive master brought me to the beach. Panagsama beach is very rocky as one needs to be very careful when walking along it.
This is my first experience entering a house reef.
I descended and in less than 3 minutes, the sardines appear. I was in a lost for words. Though the visibility is poor but still the view is magnificent. I never expect to be able to see such a scene with my own eyes!
After the house reef dive, I took another dive to at Pescador Island.
Still it is an enjoyable dive.
When we return to land, I quickly washed up and pack my bag as I have passed the check out time. However the staff told me it is ok to be a little late as they are cool with time.
I then ride a trike out to the main road for P35. If you want to go to Cebu City, just wait at the place where it says “Ceres Bus”.
The bus came and it was an aircon one! I thought it is a good choice as it will be cooler. I was wrong! The sun that shine into the bus make me feel uncomfortable. This reminds me of my journey from Maya to Cebu City. I am feeling sick and nausea.
Finally I reach Cebu City in one piece and no other parts came out from my stomach. I took a taxi to my hotel, Hotel Casa Rosario (firstname.lastname@example.org) for P70.
The hotel is located near to the bar district. The reason I chose this hotel is because they are charging me only P1000 per night!
The room itself is big! They gave me a King sized bed. Water pressure is good though the shower head is pathetically small. Hot water is working fine and there are soap and shampoo provided.
They even provide drinking water along the corridor and you can refill as much as you want. WiFi signal is strong in the room too.
I was really famished now but I have a saviour!
My friend in Cebu and has invited me for dinner! Time to be a glutton!
I am not a foodie so I am always in a lost for what to eat. With a friend along, I can be assured that at the least there will be someone to finish the food!
At 1800hrs, my friend came with his family to pick me up. He decide to bring me to a place call Lantaw which is located in Mactan Island.
It took an hour to reach there and it is really a secluded place. If you want to go there by yourself with a taxi, make sure the driver know the way there and wait for you to finish your meal. There is no way you can get a taxi out of that place.
The restaurant ambience is very good. It is open air and you will have a good view of Cebu City. It is better for you to have a reservation as it is quite crowded even when we are there which is one day after the typhoon.
We ordered food like Squid Adobo, Kare Kare and some food which I can’t remember. My friend ordered pig legs that are fried. I was a bit hesitant to try it because I do not even eat that at home! I find it even weird eating it.
We have a good conversation and we understand each other better.
After dinner, my friend still drive me around Cebu City to show me around. I really appreciate his hospitality. As a matter of fact, upon hearing I have stomach upset, he even brought me a bunch of banana to ease my pain.
After he send me back to the hotel, I just turn in and slept till the next day.
This day is like any last day I am in Philippines; shopping time but not for me. I checked out at 1400hrs and went to SM Mall to buy all the stuff I can.
After that, I go to the airport to check-in. Fortunately the flight is on schedule and I did not get bump off from my flight. I was worried that due to the backlog of passenger due to the typhoon, the flight will be severely over-book.
Couple with a good dive, good friend, nice dinner of pig legs, I could not ask for more.
However, this trip also mark a sad event in Philippines at the same time.
Typhoon Yolanda, the biggest typhoon ever recorded in history has wiped out almost everything in its path. Tacloban, Malapascua, Bantayan and other islands has been devastated by the typhoon. The number of death has been estimated to exceed 10,000. This is the largest number of death that has been recorded for a typhoon disaster.
Sometimes I wonder has Philippines been cursed. Name any tropical disaster and they will encounter it. Typhoon, earthquake, landslide and even tornado! Philippines has experienced it all.
However, the resiliency of the Philippines people astonished me. Despite all the natural disaster, they will spare no effort to rebuild their homeland countless times.
Here I wish Philippines the best in their latest effort to rebuild their homeland.