Aug 4, 2011

Convivial Cebu (Part 3)

(Daddy recounts)

After being holed up in the resort for the past 2 days, Day THREE promises something new and a chance to explore another side of Cebu.

We were going island hopping on a small motorized boat, or a banca in Tagalog.

Expectantly, there are numerous cruise operators on Cebu that offer various island hopping packages, with even BBQ picnics on the islands being one of the many options.

After some research, we decided to go with Islands Banca Cruises. Their packages aren't exactly the cheapest on the market, but the bancas sure looked sturdier than the rest from other operators that we have seen there.

Another important factor was that we had the sole use of the entire banca for our trip - no sharing with other strangers and most of all, no overcrowding. But perhaps the greatest advantage was that we could go at our own pace, especially since we have an infant on board.

The boys were definitely looking forward to the cruise, with the impatient Ayd wondering aloud why we hadn't boarded the banca yet. Many many times.

And when we finally found ourselves on the boat, Ayd wasn't exactly in the best of moods.

Why? Because in his opinion, he wanted to get on the boat much faster. Sigh, attitude lor.

Luckily, there was still one other monkie who was getting way excited.

But all was well again at the sight of the beanbags strewn on the deck of the banca, and both Ash & Ayd grabbed one each, made themselves comfortable & enjoyed the invigorating sea breeze as the banca cruised along.

And just in case one has the fervent desire to be connected online even at sea, you would be pleased to know that there is even WIFI onboard. So now, you can check-in at the various islands on Facebook, or unlock some new Mayor badge on foursquare.

As for us, the only checking we were keen was to check out the fishes in the sea at our first stop - Talima Marine Sanctuary.

The 2 boys last did some snorkeling at Pulau Redang early last year, and since then they have been wanting to have a go at it again.

And I think they pretty much enjoyed it better this time round, because they had gotten the hang of breathing through the tube while underwater.

Another monkie was also waiting to try though.

Poor mei-mei could only watch onboard while the boys have their fun in the sea. Erm, at least the beanbag was comfortable, no? :P

After tasting all the saltwater, what could be more welcome than a refreshing sip from a cold coconut.

Make that 2 coconuts since Ash & Ayd wanted one each, and they were overpriced as one would expect. But I didn't have a choice - incurring the wrath of the 2 monkies wasn't on my to-do list that day.

Besides, I was thirsty too.

As the coconut juice dwindled, we were fast approaching our next stop of the day.

Cao-uy - an area off Olango Island that is scattered with floating restaurants, or stilted restaurants that are built right on top of the sea. Much like the seafood kelong restaurants that we are all familiar with.

And it was here where we were going to have our lunch, an early one in fact because our next stop was about 45 minutes away so we figured we had better fill the tummies of the monkies first.

And the sheer mention of the word lunch had the 2 boys licking their lips in anticipation. Must be the exertions of the snorkeling.

While Ale finally had the chance to cuddle up to a coconut and attempt to take a sip.

The water level was actually quite shallow, probably because it was low tide then. So we had to wait a while on the banca while the crew anchored it and pulled us in.

Soon enough, we were in the floating zi-char restaurant, waiting for our food!

Hungry hungry hippos every single one of them, including the photographer.

And when the food did arrive, it was well worth the wait! Slurp!

Ultra giant clams, and sweet & sour fish.

Ayd's fave - calamari.

Naturally, seafood was the theme of the day and as you can tell, all of us couldn't wait for the other dishes to arrive.

It was time to tuck in!

Ale, though, had to make to make do with her jar food.

So poor thing. Luckily, I ate extra on her behalf.

Especially steamed crabs.

Ash's absolute fave - Giant shellfish, which was a bit like the gong-gong shellfish that we get here.

If there was ever a reason for me to go back to Cebu, this would be it.

Char-siew satay! The meat was so tender with just the right amounts of fat, and the sauce complemented it very well. Shiok or what? 

With our ballooned tummies, we boarded our banca for our final destination.

And see who was the first one who felt the full effects of a heavy lunch immediately onboard.

Our next stop was Pandanon Island, a small island with clear waters and a sprawling sand bar.

The wind was so strong that it took quite a bit of effort to walk against it to reach the tip of the sand bar.

Ale was clearly enjoying the wind though.

AND enjoying splashing water at her 2 older brothers. Heh.

There are cottages on the island, like the ones behind me in the above photo, that are available for rent. And we did see many locals there, having their own BBQ picnics and gatherings on the beach.

As for us, we didn't hang around for long because the sky was turning grey and we didn't want to be caught in the rain before we were back on the banca.

Our timing couldn't be more apt - as soon as we were back onboard, the skies opened up. But that meant a rather choppy ride back to our starting point as well. 

Kudos to the 3 crew members onboard, 'cos they unfurled a canvas sheet and used it to shield us from the pelting rain throughout the entire ride back. And also kudos to my 2 older cheekiemonkies too - I knew they were bitterly cold but they just covered themselves with towels nary a complaint and even fell asleep on the way back! 

As for the Diva, she didn't act up as we feared she would. In fact, she slept through most of the journey and that to me, deserved a walk along our resort beach in the evening. Haha!

And look what was lying on the beach?

Patrick's (of Spongebob Squarepants fame) friends!

Ash was very much fascinated by the starfishes, because he hadn't held one so up close before. Needless to say, we were at the beach until the sun went down.

After an eventful day, all of us had an unsurprisingly early night that day. And we were just going to take things easy the next day. That's right, more beach more pools more chilling. 

Just the way a beach holiday should be. :)

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