Cebu City, Day 2

Last night we go on an adventure. Murray chatted with the hotel desk lady and found out which jeepney to take to get to the Sugbo IT Park Mercado, an outdoors food fare. The 17C stops right opposite our hotel, we wave it down as it approaches, climb in the back and find two seats on the bench. 

A jeepney is an vibrantly coloured extended Jeep like vehicle with open windows, two long benches and the passenger door at the back. The fare is usually 15 pesos (40 cents Cdn). Coins are passed along the line of passengers to the driver. Change is passed back in the same way. Everyone is very honest about paying and transferring money. 

Cebu, Philippines

We are let out at the mercado, which seems to be a popular spot as the jeepney empties out there. The mercado is an enclosed area with about 8 aisles of food and drink kiosks with tables in the center. It is crowded, noisy and bustling. Murray has nasi goreng and satay and I have pad thai. We share, of course. Pretty good food for cheap.

On our return jeepney ride, we chat with a 12 year old boy who is returning from swimming practise. He has a competition the next day, swimming a 400m and a 200m freestyle. Pretty good for a 12 year old. As we get off, we wish him good luck with his races.

Today, we leave the hotel at 8:30 am to walk to the tourist sites – the Spanish Fort San Pedro first built in the 1500s, the Basilica del Santo Nino, Magellan’s Cross and Carbon Market. The streets are quiet when we start out as it is Sunday morning. As we approach the area, we see streams of worshippers going into the church for mass. The voices singing hymns carry into the street (most likely miked).

Carbon Market
Carbon Market

The Carbon Market is a mix of fruits and veggies, meats, food fare, household necessities and tourist type wares. By the time we wander through it (it’s gigantic), we are exhausted and most likely dehydrated. We find some shade and lemonade drinks and sit until we feel we can move again. Once again, trusty jeepney 17C takes us back to the hotel!

Murray writes:

Sunday in Cebu. Our last day here and the goal is to cover off the sites we had scouted before we left home. Most of the sights are in the same general area. We figured out how to use the Jeepneys so we thought we should use the cooler mornings (only 30C) to walk there and then use the Jeepney to get back to the hotel area. Worked out perfectly. We found the ‘bus stop’ to get on and got off exactly where we wanted. You would think we were locals.

A few random thoughts about the Philippines in general and Cebu specifically.

There are security guards at every door, Walmart greeters if you will, no matter how small the shop. They open the door when you enter, sort of check for things you should not bring in, and open the door for you to leave.

Read your restaurant bills carefully. First you should check to see if there is a service charge. I was about to pay one bill but I thought it was too high. Upon checking with Debbie about the price of one item we double checked the menu and a wrong item had been added to the bill increasing the total substantially. They did make the difference between the items’ costs but there was no adjustment to the taxes paid or the service charge. Not likely we will be back to that restaurant anyway but it did leave a bit of a sour impression.

Magellen's Cross
Magellen’s Cross

Know your cab fares. The people at the front desk of the hotel are pretty good at passing on at least a ballpark figure. I paid too much for one fare I had not checked on. It only cost me a couple of Canadian dollars but still if I had known I could have been closer to the mark when bargaining.

Man, this country is noisy. When we are on the street Debbie and I yell to communicate. Talking loudly is also required in malls and restaurants. Last night in an open air ‘food fair’, the Sugbo Mercado IT Park, the din was overly loud and again we had to yell to converse.

The mercado we went to last night was quite a distance.  The hotel receptionist told us to go outside catch the 17C Jeepney and it will drop us right there. For 15php each ($.40 CAD) we saved our feet. It was a truly ‘local’ experience. We climbed into the back of the vehicle, the ceiling was low, even Debbie had to duck. Squeezed in on the sideways bench seats and passed a few coins to the driver. Then as more people got on they passed their coins along the line of people and that money made it to the driver who made change and the coins were passed back to the proper passenger. Very trustworthy system.

I think most Asian countries have this problem but there is a considerable amount of pirating electricity. We walk under the power lines and there are many lines hanging down unconnected to anything. Someone has obviously cut the line, piped into the receiving power side and left the on going wire loose.  Weird connections are everywhere. No need to install solar panels when the electricity is free anyway.

Scooters and small motor bikes are not as prevalent here as in other Asian countries. There are still a lot but there are a lot of cars as well. All the powered bike riders wear helmets in Cebu. Not the case in Puerto Princesa where is seemed to be some what optional. Probably law, just not enforced.

I’m quite sure there are loads of tourist somewhere in the Philippines but in the two cities, Puerto Princesa and Cebu, Debbie and I have spent time in are not tourist meccas by any means. We do see obvious tourists occasionally, especially around the ‘sites’ but for the most part we are unusual when we are out walking and the local people acknowledge the fact we are not a common sight. They’re all really friendly. They say hi or good morning or sometimes they just stare with a dropped jaw until we say good morning then they smile and return the greeting.

Friendly Folk

There are a few more homeless people in Cebu then in Puerto Princesa but it is a city of 3 million so I guess that can be expected. There are out and out beggars but it is hard to tell if they are for real or just preying on tourists. Some of them look like gypsies, but we are long way from Romania. The locals ignore them so, so do we. I have had a couple of well-dressed kids put their hand out to which I just scoffed at them. I wish bleeding heart tourists would stop handing out money and encouraging such behaviour.

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