Our trip to Philippines was CRAAAZY. So, my main reason for wanting to head in to Philippines from Vietnam was because of Sinulog, the festival they hold in Cebu once a year. It’s a grand street parade where contestants are dressed in bright coloured costumes dancing gracefully to the rhythm of drums, trumpet and native gongs. It looked incredible, what a sight to be able to show Indiana!
So our plan was to stop off in Manila for the night before heading down to Palawan where we had found an incredible resort, Princesa Garden Island. We knew we would of been non stop in Laos and Vietnam so this would be our little ‘break’. It was incredible, we used the resorts facilities to kayak, eat amazing food, paddle board and they even had a huge section for kids, indoor and outdoor, which gave us so much down time it was well needed! We also went on a day trip, island hopping around Honda bay which was absolutely breathtaking, one of the hottest places we’ve ever been, we went snorkelling, jumped off huge diving boards and had a BBQ in the middle of an island which was just to die for!
So the next part of our trip took us to Cebu, finally, we made it! We had booked a hotel right near where the festival would be and even made sure we got the best room to view the fireworks from our room whilst baby girl would of been fast asleep! We set up in our room, the next day we headed straight to the festival, bright and early, we grabbed a milkshake on our way there, just as we saw the festival across the road we got super excited! I placed Indiana on the front of me, even though I was 2 months pregnant at this point, it was just the safest way in such a big crowd. Crossed the road, annnndddd down I go. I FELL DOWN A FUCKING CURB. A CURB!!!!! With Indiana! Huge crowds appear around us, paramedics turn up (so embarrassing), my ankle has completely blown up and turned blue. I was carried in to the ambulance (it was just a stretcher in an old van), the crowds slowly disappear and there is me missing this whole fricken festival because I fell down a fucking curb. I knew I had done my ligaments in as I’ve done it before so I declined their offer to take me to the hospital (🙈). I tried being the strong one and told the family we could still watch the festival, so I’m stood there in the crowd, now with crutches, with a tear coming down my face as I felt the blood rush to my feet. We had to go, I couldn’t bare standing there, it was awful. Off we go back to the hotel, we watched maybe 5 minutes of the festival (LOL). So back at the hotel we plotted up by the seemingly quiet swimming pool (no idea where everyone was lol), I had some crazy retired athlete in my ear telling me, no wait not just telling me, actually getting me the biggest bucket of ice I’ve ever seen and he actually forced me to keep it in for as long as possible. It was shit. So whilst trying to make the most of the beautiful weather and pool, Stu strolls off to get us all a drink from the bar…when I hear a massive SCREAM…wtf, no, that was not Stu. I can’t see because again, there were crowds around the injured. I eventually see Stus face through someone’s legs, he had trod on a fucking nail. AN ACTUAL FUCKING NAIL. WTF. So there he was, being treated, we are looking at each other actual LOLing, it was an awful day, I couldn’t help but laugh. I’m actually laughing so hard typing this out!
So here we both are, plodded together, I had been given a wheelchair from the hotel to use to which I now had to pass over to stu as I still had the crutches as back up. This is all with Indiana, a toddler of only 18 months, walking EVERYWHERE around the swimming pool that was NOT set up for children. It was an accident waiting to happen, off we went in to the hotel for the night to decide what the hell we were going to do this whole trip now. Our plan was to island hop to about 5/6 different islands but this was looking impossible, there was no way I could hike and do everything we had planned. So we figured we’d head to Bohol, it was an Island that was close to us, we could do a lot of day trips from a hotel there and that would suit us best. Bohol was lovely, we saw the chocolate mountains (which were not so chocolatey in January), we visited Pythons, and chilled on a beautiful beach for a week, with Stu lapping up the beach massages. We then spoke to a lot of the locals about day trips out on a boat, which one was best to do with children etc. And the best one was to go and view the incredible shark Wales just off the coast of Cebu to which we could get a boat and that would be a 5 hour round trip – 2 hour boat trip there, 1 hour to spend with the whales and 2 hours back.
Well, prepare yourself for another horror story. Our trip was about to get a whole lot worse. SO, we had been told we would be picked up and taken to the boat. Our ride came and it was a moped – probably big enough for two adults, mayyyybe three at a squeeze. No, they wanted us to get three adults and a toddler on a fricken moped, we should of known there and then to not go! But we didn’t, we got to beach about 8am where we were due to be picked up at 8.30am. However, after delay after delay, we were eventually told at 9.30 the captain of our boat was hungover and couldn’t make it. (We had tried so many times to get a refund and just do it another day but with no one speaking english suddenly, running back and forth up this beach it was impossible. So they had to organise another boat,
however because they had missed the tide times by this point they couldn’t get the bigger boat right to the beach, so we all (about 20 of us) had to hop on a smaller boat to get to this bigger boat. (Don’t forget about my ankle which was still painful!). So turns out as we reached the bigger boat they had no plan (at least a safe plan) to get us on to the bigger boat, as the waves crashed together both boats were alternating going up and down, which meant we would need to walk across the plank, it was a literal plank of wood like a pirate boat, as a few of the members of our group made the jump and made it seem okay it made me more confident that we could do this and wouldn’t have to abort plan, because we were ready at this point to head straight back on the small boat. (Hope your keeping up). Just as we thought we were going to be safe, the smaller boat almost capsized as there was an uneven number of people on both sides of the boat, we were pretty much vertical with one half of the catamaran up in the air as we held on to the side of the boat, just imagine titanic, that was pretty much us. As that happened I was first to get off that smaller boat, I made the huge jump on to the bigger boat and was safe, with tears coming down my face shaking and feeling sick. I was glad to be on the bigger boat.
We enjoyed the 2 hour trip to Cebu, we chatted and made friends with other travellers, Indiana loved seeing all the other boats. When we reached Cebu because we were about two hours later than planned by this point the tide had completely come in, which meant the boat could dock up because of the jagged rocks. They explained to everyone they would need to jump off and swim to the shore. As we watched everyone jump off we realised it wasn’t going to be easy, the water was coming up to everyone’s necks, we couldn’t touch the floor because of the jagged rocks so we would need to swim across with our bags with camera and money in, Indiana and us. The realisation as the last member of the group got off was that we couldn’t do it, I mean one of us could of stayed on the boat with Indiana but we just wanted to stick together at this point. So we sat on that boat for an hour waiting for everyone to have an incredible experience whilst we sat there hungry and thirsty. To say we were pissed was an understatement. Ohh but it doesn’t end there, it got worse, much worse.
Because of those damn tide times, the current had got crazy bad and it happened to be a very windy day too. That boat trip back was THE most terrifying experiences of our life. We both generally thought we were going to capsize and would highly likely not make it, the size of the waves crashing against the bamboo boat were huge, we couldn’t see above each wave and as we were at the top of each one the front of the boat would crash in to the next, forcing us back and forth heavily. Many of the other passengers were crying, you had the absolutely A hole thrill seekers at the front who thought they were the coolest, they even backed down towards the end. We had two other passengers cuddled up to us, some others being sick off the back of the boat. It was fucking hell, horrible, some of the bamboo was falling off of the boat as it crashed against the waves. The only thing I am truly grateful for is because of all the rocking Indiana slept throughout the whole thing, I’m not sure I could have handled it if she would have been awake and frightened. So the trip back didn’t take two hours but FOUR hours because of the harsh weather. It was brutal. We both cannot believe we survived and demanded our money back but they refused and it was a whole scene. We had wobbly legs and were so grateful to be back on land. We felt awful that after all them red flags we still out ourselves and Indiana in danger. We soon took a step back, it really made us reconsider many things and access things differently. We really did have a terrible experience, something that we hadn’t heard anyone have similar experiences or even read. It is very unlikely for that to happen again and although I wouldn’t suggest doing that particular tour, please don’t be put off by doing tours or boat tours in general.
So we made our way back to Manila, we had a ferry booked back to Cebu where we would then get a flight to Manila. HOWEVER, because Philippines didn’t want to treat us well, of course, all ferry’s were cancelled that day because of strong winds. We had our flight out of Manila already booked so we had to get to it. So we managed to get a plane ticket from Bohol to Manila, HOWEVER, this also got delayed 3 hours 😂 could you believe our Philippine luck?! Luckily, the airports in Asia are incredible and have amazing spaces for children full of toys and movies and everything you could wish for. We managed to get to Manila on time and got on our flight to Bali. Not going to lie, we were glad to see the back of Philippines. We WILL go back another day and experience it properly, it just wasn’t our year.
I felt like the worst parent after this trip, I’d love to hear some of your horror stories to make me feel better 😂👍🏼
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