Our first real experiences of the Philippines would be in Cebu city, since we had decided to skip Manila completely on our way in, and take an ongoing domestic flight to the islands. On arrival at Cebu, we exited the airport, walked up the ramp across the road, and took a White taxi to the Ayala Shopping Mall.
The yellow taxis charge 350 pesos, but our driver ran his meter and charged us 230 pesos (50 pesos to the euro). The traffic was really heavy, so the trip took a good 50 mins. The Ayala Shopping Mall doesn’t actually open till 10am, but luckily one breakfast place (ArmyNavy) was already open so we munched burritos and quesadillas, with beer and tea (470 pesos).
Our next priority was to find a suitable cash machine. When we arrived in Manila, I had no option but to get a small amount of cash from a Philippine bank ATM. The problem with that is you pay 200 pesos bank charges on any transaction, and the maximum you can take is 10,000 pesos.
I was therefore looking for a HSBC ATM, where there are no bank charges, and you can take 20,000 pesos. We found one opposite the Marriot hotel just outside the Ayala Mall.
We then went back in the Mall and bought a prepaid SIM card for 40 pesos.
Cebu City Guesthouse – The New Era Pension Inn
After that, a helpful security guard gave us directions to our hotel, which was about 20 mins walk away. We’d booked our accomodation, The New Era Pension Inn, because this was the only place we could find that offered early check-in (from 9am). Everywhere else had check-in from 2pm, with a substantial surcharge for early check-in. This place was also reasonably priced at €32, including breakfast.
Although close to the business centre, the Pension is located in a typical poor Fillipino street area, with chickens and children dodging between the cars on the narrow congested streets.
The New Era Pension Inn is surprisingly modern. Small rooms, but clean and comfortable.
When we arrived, our hostess told us that check-in was normally from 2pm!
I politely pointed out that her online booking form suggested different. The situation was quickly resolved in our favour, but I’m just glad we didn’t turn up at 7am, straight from the airport. After 2 days travelling, we were really looking forward to a shower and change of clothes.
Next morning, there was no sign of breakfast. Instead, we were given 2 meal vouchers and told we could use them at a small eatery at the end of the road. There, we cashed them in for a very basic breakfast of toast, eggs and coffee.
After that it was time to head over to the South Bus Terminal for the next leg of our journey – to Moalboal on the west coast of Cebu island.
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