Next stop was going to be Moalboal on Cebu on account of it being a cool little backpacker enclave and a good base to explore a load of stuff around the south of the island, but by the time we’d ferried over from Tagbilaran to Cebu City the next bus to Moalboal would have gotten us in a little bit too late. We figured we’d just stay in Cebu City for the night, just some cheap digs near the South Bus Terminal. We found somewhere on Agoda called Michelle’s Guest Place but could we fucking find the place? Could we buggery. We walked up and down the road we knew it was on, checked and re-checked the GPS, couldn’t see it anywhere. Finally we stopped outside where Agoda said it was and looked suitably confused until an elderly bloke took pity on us.
“Michelle’s?” he asked. We nodded and he pointed us in the direction of some steps up a dark corridor marked with a plethora of signage, none of which had anything to do with any manner of hotel. Oh god. Here we go. We made our way up and across a landing, it just got darker, there was no one around and some of the lights weren’t working. I’ve seen this movie. This is it. This is how we die. We dragged ourselves to the third floor where we finally found a door emblazoned with the sign we were looking for where we found a disinterested man who spoke just enough English to confirm our reservation and show us to our room which could legally be defined as an oven it was that cramped and hot. Whatever, it was for one night and it was early morning stumbling distance to the bus station we needed. We got as much sleep as you can when you’ve got the remains of a 7/11 hotdog refusing to digest in your stomach and your room is hotter than the sun.
Right, so you don’t need to time your bus from Cebu City to Moalboal, just show up, they’re pretty regular, at least every hour, and they run 24/7. I think it took around three hours give or take and the bus will drop you in Moalboal proper which isn’t where you ultimately want to be. Well, you might, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess you want to either be at the quieter and slightly more expensive White Beach, or Panagsama Beach which is a bit more backpackery. We were headed for the latter and you can easily pick up a tricycle as soon as you step off the bus, the drivers know by your general foreigness that you’ll want one or the other.
Once we were there I left Tarrant with the bags and went on a mission for somewhere to stay and there’s a lot of choice. We opted for Moalboal Backpacker Lodge in the end, most the hostels were a similar price and included breakfast but the dorm here was light and airy and opened out onto a deck. All the beds had mozzie nets too to reduce the chance of you ending up as an all-you-can eat buffet for the various biting insects taking full advantage of the lack of the fourth wall.
Job number one upon arrival to Panagsama Beach is to immerse yourself face first in a metric fuck tonne of sardines. It’s the rules. You can rent a mask, snorkel and fins from several places and shuffle down to a tiny bit of sand that passes for a beach here and swim right into the schooling sardines, no boat required. They’re right by the shore. The visibility was bloody awful on our first day there, it was windy, the sea was churning up all manner of questionable debris and at first we thought we were shit out of luck. Then suddenly there they were, everywhere, all around us. Hundreds if not thousands of them. How the actual fuck did we miss them for the first ten minutes? We spent as long as we could without choking to death on the sea water getting into our unsurprisingly defective snorkels, just floating around and duck diving whilst brandishing a GoPro at the fish.
It’s easy enough to rent a scooter around these tourist infested parts so rent one we did and took off one morning to check out some waterfalls. Our research for this hadn’t extended far beyond pin dropping waterfalls on Maps.ME and hoping for the best and we’d decided to start with the furthest one away and slowly work our way back. Slowly because riding in the Philippines still utterly terrified me with its hell-combination of driving on the right, potholes, stray dogs/chickens/children wandering out into the middle of the road, and other drivers. All good, though. We rocked up to Aguinid falls, parked the bike up, and shuffled towards the entrance all ready for a nice, relaxing swim.
Yeah, see, so this is what happens when you don’t research properly. We approached the desk, paid our entrance fee, then were assigned a human whose job it was to make sure we didn’t die horribly. Wait, what? We didn’t want a guide, we just wanted to go for a swim. It turned out that no, this wasn’t a swimming waterfall, this was an adventure waterfall and a guide was compulsory so we didn’t get lost or lose half a face because we fell off a rock.
It’s six levels of increasing awesomeness. We were lead (literally, because I have the balance of a badger on ketamine and need someone to hold my hand when traversing rocks) from waterfall to waterfall by our guides who were also handy with my GoPro. Guys, it was brilliant and so stunning. You when you get a waterfall that’s made even more gorgeous by the rocks the water cascades over? That. It was a brilliant if slightly exhausting surprise. Of course it’s one of those “pay what you feel” efforts so I had to stop myself from handing over my debit card and PIN because I always feel like I’ve probably offended them with whatever I give. Stupid British brain.
The next falls we tried to find, well, we couldn’t. Dao falls. We were probably in entirely the wrong place and probably should have realised this when the GPS sent us though a fucking cornfield. We finally arrived at a river with a ruined cottage that hadn’t seen use in donkey’s years, and I sized up the climb down to the water. Yeeeaaah nah. Refer to previous paragraph and my inability to negotiate rocks unaided. Even if I got down they’d probably have to send a helicopter to get me back up again and we couldn’t see or hear any evidence of any manner of falling H20. I headed back to Tarrant who was far too busy fending off biting insects to try to find a way down and we buggered off back to the bike to find less elusive waterfalls.
Inambakan Falls. They were easy enough to locate. We found the humans we had to pay an entrance fee to and they half heartedly tried to insist we needed to rent a life jacket and enlist the services of a guide to take us right up to the waterfalls on a wooden raft. We assured them we could swim and really didn’t fancy a raft ride today, thanks. They just left us to it and we got on with the serious business of frolicking whilst trying not to trip up over our own nipples. Fuck me, for a tropical country it doesn’t half produce some bastard freezing bodies of water. It’s magnificent though, the colour of the water is something else and the blast from the falls as they plunged into the pool was literally breathtaking.
On account of the fact we’d spent so long at Aguinid Falls, so long trying to find Dao Falls, and I operate a scooter like I’m a 90 year old blind woman, that’s all we ended up managing today which is good because I’ve run out of descriptive words and the Thesaurus is no fucking help. We scooted back to Moalboal to avail one of the many seaview bars of their San Miguel whilst watching the fiery skyball sink on another day.