Golden Week in China is always a busy time when a lot of Chinese tourists flock to Beijing so it is thought to be a good time to get out of the country. This year with the added 70 year celebration of the People's Republic of China we all started planning our escape early.
Françoise was going to the Philippines for the week so you know what they say. "Every year go someplace you have never been before". The Philippines seemed like a good choice to us. Leo was a little worried he would be harvesting so he said he would book his flights at the last minute. As it turns out he was right in the middle of harvest.
So here I was going on my very first ever girls only trip.
Leo said, "I will give you three days and then you will be desperately homesick and fretting for me".
Françoise and I caught a plane to Hong Kong at 3.30am on Saturday morning where we met Kellie who is now living in Shanghai. Then it was straight on to Cebu. Just a short 2 hour and 50 minute flight, we arrived about 11am. It is on the same time zone as China so it was all so easy.
I had booked a van to take us from the airport to our resort so it was lovely to be greeted at the airport by a smiling face and my name written on a sign. (This has been a lifelong dream of mine) They had told me at the resort it was 110kms from the airport and would take 3 & 1/2 hours. They must of got that wrong, I thought. It was true though, 110kms and it took us over 4 hours. To say that we were all quite shaken up by the time we got there was an understatement. The traffic was thick and the roads were narrow but when the driver could see a gap he put his foot to the floor. Once out of the town we then started on the narrow windy mountainous roads. It was a quiet trip until someone piped up and said, "Does this remind you of anything?"
The memories of our drive to the elephants in Sri Lanka came flooding back, we were all a little more relaxed though as Poppa wasn't with us to abuse the driver or maybe some of us wish he was with us at times.
We arrived safely just before the sun set, didn't even check out our rooms but headed straight to the bar to settle our nerves.
Sunsets are something I miss living in Beijing and this one certainly did not disappoint, we were totally relaxed in no time.
I awoke to a glorious morning and the birds chirping, another thing I miss whilst living in Beijing.
Breakfast was delicious with Asian and western choices.
Over breakfast we decided to have a pool day. The pool was very inviting and we had it all to ourselves which was magic. It was very tiring relaxing by the pool all day so it was early to bed for us girls.
The chef came and had a chat to us at breakfast and he told us if we snorkeled straight out the front of the resort at high tide we would see turtles so we were keen to do that and went after breakfast. It was absolutely amazing, just hopping straight in and it wasn't long before we had spotted the big turtles and swam around with them for ages.
The afternoon was spent at the pool and then it was off to town which was about 10 minutes away on a trike. Luckily I am used to the tuk tuks in Beijing but this was my first time going in a trike. All three of us squishing in or depending on Kellie's mood sometimes she would ride side saddle behind the driver.
Town was jumping, the people were friendly and we had a beautiful tapas seafood dinner. It was here that I fell in love with the children. They would come around selling souvenirs, how could you resist those beautiful faces?
Today we decided to have a beach day and headed to White Beach. It was high tide so we had to walk on the road to get there, it was hot and when we arrived I must admit I was a little disappointed. It was no Australian or Sri Lankan beach and wouldn't be making it in to my Top 10 beach list but it had character. There were little huts all along selling souvenirs and drinks. It was something different to see some soldiers walking past as we sat on the beach.
We had lunch of fresh seafood grilled on hot plates in a little cafe on the beach looking out to this view and it was then that I thought I must be spoilt thinking this isn't going to go on my Top 10 Beaches List.
Dinner back at the resort tonight where we have become the best of friends with our dear Don and Gia. Our holiday was a million times better because of them.
We were up early this morning and set off on the trike to meet a boat which was taking us on a snorkeling tour.
We walked out to our boat and set off first to Pescador Island. Jumping in the water I was absolutely blown away, the island was like a coral wall and there were so many bright colourful fish. The water was so clear and it was pretty cool watching scuba divers swimming under us. Our guide was lovely, always swimming close by and pointing out interesting things.
It was then on to snorkel the sardine run which happened to be the most amazing thing I have ever seen. If you get a chance look up Sardine Run in Moalboal on youtube, it truly has to be seen to be believed.
We then moved on to another spot where we swam for ages with some lovely big turtles who seemed to be showing off for us. It was the most magic morning.
On our walk back to finding a trike home to the resort we went past the markets so I had to have a quick look. The meat section was nearly wilder than China.
We went back in to town tonight for dinner but I must admit we weren't too lively as our day of adventure had tired us out.
This morning we had a 45 minute trike ride to Kawasan Waterfalls. There was some beautiful scenery along the way.
Once we got there we walked through a rain forest passing a grotto and stalls along the way.
I was excited to cross "Swim under a Waterfall" off my list and it was as wonderful as I imagined. The water was very chilly but beautiful and clear. We then walked further up the mountain where there was another waterfall and people canyoneering, it was good to watch although sometimes I couldn't watch as I was sure they were going to die.
Our last day in paradise so we decided to have the day at White Beach again. This time the tide was low so we were able to walk along the beach to get there. It was a magic way to spend our last day swimming, sunbaking and lunch at our beachside cafe again.
Our last night at the resort tonight and the sunset did not disappoint.
I certainly wasn't looking forward to the early morning ride back to the airport. We left at 6am, the traffic wasn't so bad this time but it was just as rough as on the way and we made it to the airport in about 3 hours so we had plenty of time to settle before flying out.
It was great to land in Beijing at 7pm. It was lovely to have a nice relaxing week with a little adventure mixed in. I came back with my port filled with souvenirs as I just couldn't resist those beautiful children, I just wish I could have brought some of them home with me as well.