Updated: Nov 17, 2019
Every time I travel I experience an initial few days of discomfort. My head is flooded with hyperbolic thoughts such as: Ugh, everything is so dirty. I miss my couch! All insects must be poisonous! Instant coffee, are you crazy!? I hate traveling. Oh God, am I getting old? I tell myself that this is just my mind’s way of processing the startling contrast in environment - in under 30 hours, I’ve gone from one of the cleanest cities in the world, to the dirty and scent-assaulting land of South-East Asia. Then one day, I wake up and the feeling is replaced by pure joy and I remember why I'm here. Now feeling relaxed and recognizant of why we decided to travel in this beautiful country, I am already dreading the flight home. There is so much to see here. After exploring Panglao Island, Bohol, we took a tricycle and a Jeepney to the remote town of Loboc. Our reason for visiting Loboc was because it’s a recommended home-base for seeing the Chocolate Hills (which are definitely worth seeing!); however, I was taken aback by the Loboc River. Deliciously tepid waters of opaque aquamarine flanked by nipa and coconut palms - it's a tropical dream. We “splurged” ($19) on a moonlit Stand-Up Paddleboard river tour with four other couples, led by two locals. It was a 2 hour paddle (there were a few slow-pokes) to our main destination: the mother trees, a natural phenomenon where thousands of fireflies flock to one tree in the area (something about the leaf nectar). Nature’s Christmas tree - it was magical.
Filipinos start celebrating Christmas in September, so it’s already half-way through their seasonal lead up. There are Santas, lights and cheap plastic decorations everywhere. Last night. Chris and I braved a trip to the big mall in Cebu City. If you’ve never experienced an Asian mall, I highly recommend it. It’s strange to see high-end western consumerist culture in developing countries: Guess, Louis Vuitton, Apple etc. and it’s a reminder of the vast contrast between the rich and poor. Walking to the mall we were accompanied by two street kids begging for food, and within minutes were surrounded by the upper class buying useless expensive purses and high heels. In many ways, it’s not so different in our own county. Surprise, surprise! We found stevia-sweetened Vanilla gelato - I'm keto - and I ate more than my fair share. (We ended up going back a few days later because it was so good.) The best/worst part of the mall trip was the Metro Supermarket. Imagine a big grocery store with florescent lighting, 1000 filipinos, the worst Christmas music you've ever heard (and I love Christmas music), and almost nothing edible. (I don't know how people survive eating only sugar, flour and canola oil, but more on that later.) We left the market with a bottle of gin, water, coconut oil and a bag of cacao nuts feeling lucky to have access to so many healthy options at home. #cebucity #thephilippines #annakatarina #boholisland