October 24, 2009

A Good Tan in Mactan, Cebu

If there’s one trip that I would label as “unforgettable,” it would definitely have to be this one.

Not only did we get our airfare to Cebu for free, it was also our first trip outside Manila. It also happened to be my 31st birthday. But the thing that really lit the candles of my cake and sparked the rest of my day was the fact that this was our very first date! :)

Although I already had everything planned, the day didn’t start flawlessly. In fact, it started terribly. We encountered turbulence even before we boarded the plane when we didn’t get to be at the check-in counter 45 minutes before our 6:35 a.m. flight. The lady manning the check-in desk refused to accept us as it was already 6:05 a.m. I wanted to argue our way to the boarding gate, but I decided to just save it for another day. Our zero-fare tickets ended up having a couple of zeroes more, only this time it was preceded by a different digit.

We left Manila at around 10:15 a.m. Gin and I originally planned to just sleep through the entire trip. However, Cebu Pacific’s in-flight game jolted our drowsiness away. We didn’t welcome the game at first, but we ended up as active participants and eventually won a water tumbler :)

We landed in Cebu an hour later. Cebu shares its airport with Mactan, the latter being the actual host of the facilities. Nothing much has changed in the airport. But it still remains to be a good and very efficient one. It’s even more tourist-friendly than NAIA as it has a tourist information desk with free brochures and maps of the city. There even was a time when it put to shame our airports here in Manila, well at least to the ones which served the domestic flights. That reign ended when Terminal 2’s construction was completed in 1998. And with Bacolod and Iloilo now having new air terminals, I think the Mactan-Cebu International Airport is already due for a facelift.

We didn’t immediately proceed to Cebu City. Our first stop of the day was at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort & Spa for lunch. Getting a taxi at Mactan-Cebu airport is easy. There are coupon cabs and metered ones. Taxi drivers in Mactan and Cebu are very courteous. Some would even chase you down to give you your change, even if it’s just a few pesos! I wish I could say the same for Manila’s cab drivers. The drive to Shangri-La took just 15 minutes. I’m glad to see that Mactan still retained some of its rural charms. However, urbanization is fast creeping in on the island. I hope the place won’t transform into another replica of the city proper.

I wanted our lunch date to be a bit grand as it was a special occasion, so we went to the hotel’s Aqua Restaurant for a buffet feast. After filling our tanks, we went around the hotel to give our tummies time to sort out the things that we’ve eaten. The facilities and the view at the resort were captivating. We were so absorbed with the sensory feast that we didn’t notice that it was already 2:00 p.m. Time was of the essence as we’re scheduled to go back to Manila by 8:45 p.m.

One thing I liked about the hotel staff, and about the Cebuanos in general, is that they’re very friendly. Upon seeing us waiting for a cab by the entrance, an employee offered us a ride at the hotel’s golf cart. It was a fun ride going to the hotel’s exit by the main road. We found a cab a few minutes later and headed to Cebu.


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