Sunday, October 4, 2015

Whale Encounter in Oslob and the Attractions South of Cebu City

Since my partner moved to Cebu for work, I have been on the lookout for every opportunity to visit him, like long weekends, and extended holidays.  I’m always on standby to catch promo fares, and the recent declaration of September 25 is something I would not miss.  Fortunately, there are more than 10 flights a day and the fares are still reasonable even on last minute.

For this visit, I originally planned of making a side trip to Bohol but found it too expensive considering that we still need to book a room, pay for the tour on a very limited time.  Instead, I opted to go to Oslob.  According to other sites, the whale encounter is relatively short, 30 minutes to be exact, that’s when we decided to rent a car and drive there.  We can use the remaining time in the afternoon to check out the other sites South of Cebu City.

After searching the net, we found Safe Ride Van and Car, who’s willing lend us on a short notice a small car for only 1500 pesos that's good for 24 hours.

We went home early that Saturday night to make the most of our destination.  We found ourselves at their office right in from of SM Cebu at 8AM.  Oslob usually takes 2-3 hours, and we want to catch the last Whale Watching encounter at 12:30.

Oslob is less than 200 kilometers away, but because the roads are narrow, prepared to overtake or phase yourself with the tricycle in front of you.  We decided to head straight to Oslob, and take our time on our way back to the city instead.

Armed with Waze, we made it to the Whale Encounter around 11 AM.  Don’t be deceived with the location it's pointing you. It will lead you to a resort that usually charge more.  They have a standard rate for tourists.  It's 500 pesos for Filipinos.  I’m guessing it’s almost double for foreigners.  We made it just in time to join another group for the briefing.  After that, you need to pay at the counter, where you take your receipt to the dispatcher.  Since we had a car, we used it as our changing room before boarding the boat.

Most blogs recommend that you take the earliest trip to avoid the crowd of tourists mid morning.  We realized that our timing was also good, because, we were last few groups in the water.

I rented an underwater camera to document the encounter.  I did not drive for 2 hours with nothing to show for our trip.  It’s just the two of us in one boat.  Our boatmen we’re really accommodating and would instruct you what to do to get that perfect shot.

On the boat, we were able to catch giant shadows swimming below.  Our guide then instructed us to get into the water.   The Whale sharks follow a certain boat that feeds them, and when they pass you, one boatman will push you underwater, while the other takes the shot.  They we’re so experienced at it that even you struggle in swimming, you look like a professional snorkeler.  After a few dips, it was our time to go back.  We were the last boat on the water and had the Whale sharks to ourselves.

I did not waste time on retrieving our photos.  After rinsing on the open shower and changing in the car, I was at the store to have it downloaded on a CD.

We were done around lunchtime.  We did not eat, because we had an invite from a friend who lives in Argao.

On our way back, we made a stop to take a photo of a church in Baljoon.  Considered as a National treasure, it’s one of the Baroque Churches being considered for the UNESCO Heritage Sites.

We should have entered, but since, our lunch invitation is waiting, I just took a shot of the fa├žade.

The next town we visited was Sibunga known for the Simala Church.  Simala Church is perched on a hill connected with gothic bridges.  It reminded me Hogwarts from the famous Harry Potter novel.  Waze lead us to the road leading to the church, but directed us to a monastery.  You can ask anybody on the roadside the correct location.

They follow a strict dress code and we voluntarily not enter the main church for the ongoing mass, since I’m in a tank top and shorts.  I was able to light candles and see the many testimonials of patrons whose wish have been granted that lined the corridors.  The faith of the Cebuano’s is truly inspiring.

The next town we would visit is Argao.  We missed visiting the Church because we don’t want to keep our host waiting.  We were in time for their Fiesta, and a feast is waiting for us.

After stuffing ourselves with Lechon among many others, we were on the road again this time to visit the heritage town of Carcar.

I was able to tour Carcar on a previous trip, but I wanted to show it to my partner.  Carcar is known as the Marikina of Cebu with their thriving shoe industry in the past.  They were slumped with the increase of cheap imported products.  But in spite of this, Carcar remained known for their Chicharon (crispy pork cracklings).  The church is also popular, and the old houses that they try to preserve. 

Carcar houses are different, since they reflect the American influences.

After a short stop at the church, we made our way to the center of town to grab ourselves a few bags of their famous Chicharon.

The traffic from here to the city gets really bad.  We found ourselves stuck for long periods, but made it to the South Reclamation area just in time for dinner.

We took the opportunity to check out Lantaw.  We were able to visit their mountain location on a previous visit, and this time, we want to check out the seaside view.  There’s nothing much to see at night, and the place gets crowded fast especially the tables near the shore.  The food was great just the same.

After dinner, we decided to return the car, since its closer, and just take the cab back home.

Is renting a car is cheaper?  Not necessarily, but it has its advantages.  You can use it as your changing room and you can take stop anywhere, bring as much as you like and explore the other attractions South of Cebu.

Exploring North on my next visit.

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