Today’s Quote: “A very wise quote is a spectacular waterfall! When you see it, you feel its power!”
— Mehmet Murat Ildan
I apologize for the hiatus but I was experiencing technical difficulties.
I have been back in Xiamen, China now for a week and I have had ample time to reflect on my trip to the Philippines. I spent nine blissful days with my friend relaxing on the beach, eating delicious food, making new friends and snorkeling with sea turtles. I’ll get back to that in a minute.
Quick Plan Update! I will be leaving my current teaching job at the end of December to travel! Destinations are still up for debate (I am debating with myself. The internal struggle is real.) but I believe my next country will be Thailand.
Alright, so Moalboal is a small town on the island of Cebu in the Philippines and boy is it beautiful. If it weren’t for the mountains and outlying islands on the horizon, you would swear the ocean and sky were one. The blues and greens of the ocean showcase nature at its finest.
I made so many incredible friends and talked to the cutest kids who were eager to know where I was from. Filipinos are very welcoming and I was always greeted with a smile or hug. If you plan to travel to the Philippines and speak English, it is a fairly easy adjustment because one of their official languages is English; this was quite different than adjusting to life in China (let’s just say my charades skills have improved exponentially).
The reefs in Moalboal are so close to the beach and for just a couple of dollars you can rent snorkels and explore for hours. Life under the sea is incredible and Cebu was perfect for because the reefs are so healthy and a multitude of fish species and other creatures call them home. I know you are all wondering…”Natalie, did you see huge sea turtles or not?!” Why yes, I did and there was proof, however, the camera did not save the photos. Take my word for it, they were incredible.
Imagine getting into the ocean; the warm salt water tickling your little toes. By the time you are about 15 feet from the beach, you adjust your snorkel, go under the water and realize you are just a couple feet away from the reef. You, perhaps hesitantly, glance around and realize you are in a whole new world (cue Aladdin music). Varieties of coral that are other wordly and fish darting about. After some time exploring the reef you swim out a bit further and everything is just…blue. You look around, possibly have an anxiety attack because you realize how miniscule you are in the grand scheme of things and…BAM!! A sea turtle! If you have not tried snorkeling, I highly recommend it.
One of my favorite things in life is watching sunsets and the sunsets in Cebu did not disappoint.
While lounging on the beach and taking in the sunsets or lovely sun rays, I was frequently approached by local dogs wandering along the ocean’s edge. They even approached me when I did not have food! I must have that doggy je ne sais quoi. One pup decided she would be our protector and she would growl at other dogs or people who came near.
While another kept making attempts to steal my sarong and take up residence as close to me as possible.
This cuddly guy was just too handsome not to share.
Don’t worry, I made it back without any new pets.
Another great adventure in Cebu was canyoneering. Nature is an amusement park and everyone is tall enough to ride. Canyoneering uses nature’s ups and downs and takes you on an unforgettable ride. We hiked through the beautiful mountains and then jumped into the stunningly blue, fresh water. That was just the beginning. During canyoneering, you slide down rocks that have been shaped over years by the natural flow of the river. You conquer your fears and jump from the top of a canyon, sometimes 30m (close to 100ft) into a deep pool of water and you swim under waterfalls. (Please try and disregard the annoying date/time stamp on these photos; I could not make it go away.)
I could have floated in the water forever. Well, if someone brought me snacks.
Even now I am questioning whether or not my time in the Philippines was in fact reality or a perfect, lucid dream. The intermingling of natural beauty, adventure, kind people and exploration left me in awe. The Philippines is still considered a developing country and despite their battle with poverty and struggles with infrastructure, it is a truly beautiful place. The all around beauty of the people, culture and nature is astounding. Leaving was tough because I knew I would be coming back to a culture and environment far different from that of the Filipinos’. Now that I am settled back into life in Xiamen, I am considering what I have left to experience and accomplish here before moving on. Before leaving China, a fellow teacher and I will be going to Gansu Province to explore the Rainbow Mountains, a more secluded section of the Great Wall of China and other cultural aspects of the region.
Ciao for now and Happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the United States!