Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Finding Nemo in Cebu

I decided to take a couple of days off and fly back home to the Philippines for the weekend. I hadn't been back since we left in January and Kathy was organizing a post-Father's Day surprise - that seemed like a good reason to go.

If I'd waited another month I could have saved about S$40 each way on my Jetstar tickets... but we have some other stuff planned in July.

Anyway, four days was much too short! Between dinners with friends, one day in the office, and a weekend at the beach, there was no time to go shopping or visit the spa.

Anybody who's met my family knows that my dad likes making spur-of-the-moment out of town trips. This time, he had the great idea of flying us all to Cebu - so I spent Friday afternoon making bookings on Philippine Airlines for the 5 AM flight Saturday morning. We were supposed to pick up the tickets from the PAL ticket office at 3 AM, but at 3:15 we were still parked outside the Asian Spirit / Seair offices at the domestic airport checking to see if there were seats available for Boracay. As expected, the Boracay flights returning to Manila were fully booked - this meant a rush to the PAL ticket office and then to the check-in counter. When I got to the front of the line, the PAL check-in agent took our tickets and then put up the counter closed sign! Whew.

In Cebu we stayed at Alegre Beach Resort, 1 1/2 hours from Mactan airport. I liked it - it was quiet, secluded, and had a great reef within swimming distance from the beach. Kathy and I aren't the world's best swimmers so we borrowed a kayak, went out to the edge of the house reef, and took turns snorkelling and sitting in the kayak. The water was clear and there were tons of large fish.

We saw several large parrot fish and chubby blue starfish. And Kathy found Nemo!

Late afternoon we boarded a boat to go on a sunset cruise. Saw a few dolphins and (sadly) a small oil slick far off shore.

The food at Alegre leaves something to be desired, although their spa is excellent. Kathy and I both had traditional one-hour massages. We were so tired from the kayaking that we dozed off halfway through - but woke up feeling great.

The cabanas are comfortable and well-decorated. I love the bathrooms. The bedrooms were almost as nice as those at Alona Palm, and I liked the Alegre bathtubs much better.

Before flying back to Manila, we drove into town and had dinner at a new Italian restaurant in Cebu city. It's called Uncle Henry's - not a particularly Italian name, maybe because the owner is Chinese! Henry Uytengsu. Ambience was good, the bread was delicious and so was the food... but then Kathy came down with a slight case of food poisoning afterwards so I don't think we'll be recommending the place anytime soon. (You hear that, Chip Childers? :) Just kidding...)

We capped the weekend with a night at the Manila Doctors' ER while Kathy was under observation.

At least I got my massage and my great beach weekend.

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