Cool World (Mid-Summer Dream pt. 2)

Mid-Summer Night’s Dream

PART II

바다가 들려 (I hear the sea)
오늘따라 내 귓가에 가까이  (Closer to my ears today)
종일 뜨겁던 빛이 어느새 (The light that had been hot all day)
붉게 물든 지금 (Has now been dyed red)
구름은 더 높아지고 (The clouds have risen higher,)
적당히 습한 공기에 (And the humidity is just right,)
길어진 그림자 같은 기억 하나 (Even the lengthening shadow-like memories)
바다가 들린다 (I hear the sea)
파도 소리와 너의 목소리 (Your voice and the sound of the waves)
별보다 더욱 반짝이던 깊고 까만 너의 두 눈 (And your two deep, dark eyes so much brighter than the stars,)
한낮의 해를 닮은 너의 마음 (Your heart that resembles a day’s sun)
전부 다 이 계절이 품은 이야기 (Are all part of this season’s story)

바다가 들려 – Red Velvet

***

Continued from Mid-Summer Night’s Dream Part 1

Cool World

After a few days of staying in Lola’s house and preparing to head out for our real sight-seeing vacation, my dad, mom, sister and I hopped into a plane again. I’ve never been to Cebu before and I’ve heard a lot about it from Koreans (ironic, am I right? I’m the Filipino here, but they’re the ones telling me all about my country), and they say that it’s one of the best places Koreans love to travel to. I kind of found it slightly hard to believe. The Philippines that I grew up knowing had always been something I never wanted to visit again… Even on the way to the airport, the traffic went slower than the vendors selling random stuff in the highway. That gives me the perfect seat for staring at nonsensical, pun-filled billboards. It’s ridiculous. Because of the jam (neither the sweet stuff, nor the groovy stuff) we we’re almost late for our flight. Good thing we got to the airport on time anyway. But as much as Manila is a dump of a city, I do have higher expectations from the islands of Visayas. Even as a kid, I’ve heard about the beauty of this country, it’s just that I’ve never been to the greener grass to know how awesome it truly is. Sometimes it’s just hard to believe if you never see or experience it. We’re all human like that.

After being stuck in traffic for hours, we got to board our plane. Unlike that time when I boarded the plane from Busan, I actually felt all the excitement this time. It gave me major throw-back feels to when I first rode a plane on my 10th birthday. It was around 11 years ago. My mom and I went to Mindanao for some conference thing my mom did in the church (?) (IDK I was a kid. I didn’t really care about whatever my mom was supposed to do at that time; I was just excited to be on a plane to Mindanao.) I remember how fascinating the whole airport process/airplane ride was. (Lol I’m sick of the airport process thing now. I even hate take-off’s and landings, because they wreck havoc to my ears.) I even saw Mayon Volcano from that plane window, with the smoke rising from it’s perfectly-shaped crater, like “Wow, this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” (Seeing the view from the plane–the sky, clouds, and even the stars–will always be fascinating to me.) Come to think of it, this flight to Cebu is actually the second time I’m flying local. I’ve flown overseas more than I’ve flown local. If you think about it, it’s kind of a saddening thought. It’s my country, yet I haven’t been sight-seeing here as much. I’ve been to six out of seven Emirates; I’ve been to Seoul, Busan, Daegu, and to most of the better-known cities of Gyeongsang Province. Unfortunately, I don’t even remember much about the places I’ve been to here in the Philippines. I guess I was too young at that time too, and my family never really had the money to go travelling often either. That’s why this trip is definitely a special one for me. I couldn’t wait to see the sights. It was always my dream to go visit the islands there. I wanted to see for myself how truly beautiful it was like they say.

It was around 30 minutes. 30 minutes was all it took to get there. It was too quick. I was still enjoying the breath-taking view from the airplane. You could really see how the emerald waters were glistening. That part of the sea was definitely too beautiful to be true. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was almost magical. I thought, This can’t be a dream, because I’ve never seen anything this beautiful in my dreams before. See, even my dreams aren’t capable of reproducing such a scenery. I could stare at it all day. I could just sit on a cloud and admire all of it all day.

After landing, we then waited for our driver (part of the tour package) and got into the car. And that’s when another long ride was in store. The ride from Mactan City to Cebu City wasn’t a short one at all. And since Cebu City is still a city, there was still traffic. At least the sights were more bearable though. The sky had beautiful streaks and puffs of clouds and the city was painted colorfully (like more colorful than “Colorful Daegu” ㅋㅋㅋ) with palm trees planted in a row on road islands. There weren’t that many billboards crowding the skyline either. It was definitely a pretty good first impression. I was already liking it here better than the NCR. My fam kept saying it looked like Busan. (Nah.)

The most negative thing I’d have to say about this trip is that the hotel we stayed in was kind of bad. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten used to superior Rotana hotel service that I think every other cheap lodging is bad, but who could blame me? Not to brag, but I’m one of the privileged whom have experienced top quality hotel service.😎 The place we stayed in wasn’t awful to the point that it was impossible to stay there, but for a hotel–really? The bathroom stunk, the shower wasn’t working, and we didn’t even use a proper tabo until a few days later. Not to mention the “menace” that nibbled at our food and stole my sister’s sock. (We didn’t see it in the act, but it couldn’t have been anything but a rat.) Dude, my grandma’s house was more posh than this. Oh well, at least there was cable TV so it wasn’t completely terrible.

Also, as a given, I never had a decent sleep the entire time I was there. I’ve always had this condition that prevents me from sleeping when I am subject to a new sleeping environment. My mom told me several times that as a baby, I would cry all night staring at the ceiling of a new place. Of course, I don’t cry anymore, but I very much want to. It’s very stressful when you’re too tired to process, but your body just won’t sleep. The worst part is, although most people would be okay after the first night, I’m usually never okay until a week or two later. Since I just arrived less than a week before this Cebu trip, I never had a decent sleep, and then I came to Cebu and still could not get a decent sleep. It was horrible. I even thought of sleeping while sitting on a chair and my head on a table. After more than a year of sleeping in the classroom during break time, I actually get a peaceful sleep from that position.


When we were out and about during the day time, everything was slightly hazy. Maybe it was because I was too tired to actually function, but it all felt like a dream still. I also slept in the car for most of the drives, because I was exhausted from trying so hard to sleep at night.

The first day of the tour was nothing much. We went sight-seeing around the city to some historical sights. The highlight was the food. We had great seafood in that one restaurant, and it was AMAZING. Other than that, I just slept in the car between stops. I took too many naps in the car that day.

***

When we went Oslob the next day to swim with the whale sharks, I just agreed without thinking. My dad kept asking me if I was excited or scared, but honestly, I did not have any real thoughts. My mind was entirely blank. Although, at some point while we were riding the banka to the deeper waters, I did think to myself (yes, I refer to myself in 2nd and 3rd person often), “Hey, what are we doing? We’re going in the deep part of the ocean, where you can sink a couple hundred meters down and there will be beasts there, aren’t you a bit apprehensive about this? You’ve never done this in your life, and you did not even know that you were ever going to do this in your life until today!” When we reached the deeper part of the ocean where the whale sharks were, that was when I kind of snapped out of my blank state and thought, “OMG. They want me to jump in the water. What. Why. What. What. I won’t die here, won’t I?” Past that ripply surface was the unknown. It was all un-breathable water, filled with creatures you never know are friendly or not. I did not even know if that ugly, uncomfortable life vest actually worked. And yet… “YOLO.” I just went in the water.

 When I got into the water, WOW. Just wow. I was speechless. I resurfaced to tell my mom and sister how unbelievably amazing it was down there, but words cannot express the wonder, the awe I felt at that moment. I wanted to drag them down to see everything with me, but they didn’t want to join, so their loss.🙄 It was like my eyes were opened to a whole level of astonishing beauty I have never before seen in my almost-21-years of living. It was surreal. It was breath-taking (literally, I was underwater). As an “aesthetic” lover, I can honestly say that nothing beats the beauty I have seen underwater in Cebu. I saw colorful schools of fishes swimming all around me. Their scales glistened and shined the closer they were to the surface, and the deeper they go, the saturation of colors seemed to fade. Some of them were quick, and some took their time. They were more graceful than ballet dancers; their movements were fluid and smooth. Then about a meter or so, a HUGE FISH (which was apparently the whale shark) probably 3 or 4 times bigger than me was just right there before me, yet fear was the last thing that crossed my mind. I was just in awe. I continued watching the humongous creature–so graceful and elegant. I had never seen anything that amazing. How could such a beautiful creature exist?

While I was marveling at the creature, the guide kuya kept yelling at me saying, “Baby, baby tingin dito! Tingin dito!” At first I didn’t notice him because I was still flabbergasted at the sight of the huge sea creature, but then I realized that he was actually taking photos. Since I was confused and the waves were bobbing me up and down, I kept flailing my arms and legs, thinking I might drift off or sink if I don’t.

Apparently I looked like a “kiti-kiti” according to my mother, but I freaking can’t help it.

***

The underwater adventures did not stop there though. The next day we went island hopping. During the past few days, I was still skeptical about how much fun I was going to have during this vacation, but that day (after the whale shark), my eyes were opened to a world adventure. This time I did not even hesitate. I wanted to jump into those waters and explore as soon as possible.

We rode a small fishing boat with two guide kuyas navigating the sea. They were so nice and friendly. While looking at the two humble, simple folk, I just realized that although they probably don’t make much off of what they do, I sure bet that they are happy. They get to tour people around and show them the beauty of this amazing country. They see the fishes all the time. They see the beautiful ocean all the time. It was a simple, yet beautiful life. It was good to see that. You get to realize how there is more to life than just graduating from university and getting an office job. There are other ways of living too.

At first I was scared of stepping into the boat, (especially when it started moving faster) but after a while I just kind of got used to the slight rocking movement. Going from one island to the other took longer than I thought though. I did not think it would take around 20 or so minutes to go from one island to the other.

Seeing nothing but ocean in all directions was really an unforgettable scene. It was raining and we were wet from the rain and sea mist, but it did not bother us at all. By the time we got to the first snorkeling spot, I was the first one to jump in the water. I could not wait too long for the others. I had to see what was down there. Besides, if I sink and drown, those expert kuyas will probably save me anyway, and if I die, I go to heaven. If the ocean was amazing, then heaven must be even better.

When I went in there, I surely did not die, but it sure felt like heaven. I saw colorful fishes everywhere. They were all around me, yet they never touched me. It was surreal. However, when I looked directly below, I saw that it was dark and I couldn’t see the bottom. It was like an abyss. What could be down there? I secured my goggles and tightened my life vest. It was a scary thought. I suddenly remembered that we were in the ocean, and there could possibly be sharks and other scary monsters down there.

Suddenly, I heard Kuya asking me if I have bread. I told him I don’t, so he tossed me a bun of some sort and told me to come swim closer to where he was. That’s when I realized that the boat was actually hovering over the abyss, while Kuya was floating over a shallower area. I knew there were such things as cliffs and ridges that go deep underwater, but seeing it with my very own eyes was staggering. Learning about it in science class and documentaries was different from actually seeing it for myself. Upon approaching the area where Kuya was, I saw that there were a lot more colorful fishes and corals there. There were so many different kinds. Nemo and Dory were even there. They were all so pretty. Kuya told me to feed the fishes with bread crumbs so that they would come closer. It was absolutely marvelous. I swear there were hundreds of fishes swarming over me. I was in love with them. They were so beautiful.

After that, we went for a buko juice at a different island. There we just spent the rest of the morning enjoying the beach, taking photos and playing with starfish. I actually have never seen a starfish before, so getting to touch them and see them move was very fascinating. They had these tentacle-like things on their underside that helped them move, and they could flip themselves over using those. They also preferred to be hidden under the sand. Apparently the small fish in that area liked pecking on them, and being under the sand protects them from the fish. They were really strange, yet also very cute.

DSCF1467

Lunch that day was amazing. I learned to eat crab from my mother, and ate as much as I could possibly devour. I knew I will never get a chance to eat like this in years probably, so I had to take my fill. Filipino food is amazing. I hadn’t had the stuff in ages.

Later, we went snorkeling again. At the end of the day, I sat on the boat heading back to the main island, and thought, “This is probably the best day of my life so far.” Yes, I had to admit that to myself. It truly was the best–if not, one of the best–days of my life. I fell asleep on the boat from exhaustion, still dreaming of all the different fishes, the starfish, the corals… I did not want the day to end.

***

The next day, I was too exhausted to function, but I tried my best anyway. We woke up before the sun rose and rode a ferry to Bohol. Throughout the whole ride, I pretty much slept. And when we got to the island, I slept in the car again…until I realized that we were about to head to the Chocolate Hills. They didn’t have to tell me we were close, because the roads were like a roller coaster. The car kept going up and down slopes and I felt sick. After Formula 1 in Ferrari World, aka the fastest roller coaster, I kind of developed a bad trauma, so I am absolutely scared of swift up and down motions. I cannot stand rides of the sort.

Yet, when we got there, the view was amazing. Seeing the Chocolate Hills from photos were nothing compared to seeing them in real life. There were so many huge lumps and humps everywhere!

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During our stay in Bohol, we also saw tarsiers:

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I feel sorry for these little guys though. Although there were rules like avoid being noisy or going to close for pictures, the annoying tourists just never obeyed. Little guys were trying to sleep. I know if I was disturbed like that, I would have attacked if I wasn’t so tiny and helpless… Anyway, my mom bought me a super cute tarsier magnet and its on my fridge door now. (It’s proof that this vacation wasn’t just a dream.)

We also did a bunch of other things that I probably won’t recount in this blog anymore, like shopping, more boat rides, foodies, and more historical sites. Overall, it was exhausting and I felt like I never got enough rest, but it was so much fun. I think out of all the travel-vacations I’ve ever had in my life, this is definitely my favorite one. Cebu was such an amazing place. I’d love to go again. I can’t want to go to the Philippines again. Maybe Palawan next time?

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