Bucket List No. 90 : BANTAYAN ISLAND… revisited!

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anikabantayan6  Images above:  credits to Anika Resort’s fb anikabantayan3One of the beaches in Cebu province, Philippines that still bequeaths a different spirit once you’re frolicking on the white soft sands.

Bantayan Island!

A pretty resort I went to in this particular ‘re-visit’ was Anika Resort. A new hotel with stylish cabins. It’s amazing to see how contemporary architects blend innovative-ness to creativity. Anika’s cabins are from discarded cargo containers, the new urban trend  called  ‘Cargotecture’  as portmanteau of cargo and architecture. The bungalows were well-kept and impeccably clean, and that immaculate beach you were dying to cartwheel to from your doorstep is right before you as you open your windows.

The winning charm of Anika Resort is its staff. I’ve fairly been to a handful resorts but the service and genuine friendliness of staff (plus amazing English) makes this place a winner. Of course the cleanliness of the premises counts oh a lot, but they flair on that too, the well-equipped rooms, right onto the beach and, the tranquility which you require for your break is there.

The food are absolute delight, its at these sort of places that you should taste the real Filipino dishes.

All of the pedicab (pedal-pushed side cars) drivers know the place, a few pedicab pedals  away from the pier.

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From Cebu, I knew this day was  going to involve a lot of travel but I figured it worthwhile as Bantayan Island will be my kind of place for an unwinding trip I have been looking forward to.

Ceres Bus (yellow ones and largest bus operators in Visayas) airconditioned leaves every hour for Hagnaya, San Remigio. This port is the launching point for Bantayan Island, docking into a town where the beaches are, called Sta. Fe (Santa Fe). San Remigio is another town at the tipmost of Cebu (close to DaanBantayan for Malapascua) north. And these buses are found at the Cebu City North Bus Terminal close to Parkmall in Cebu/Mandaue City. Free wifi onboard! Anything better than that? I killed the time with my few browses and reads while on the road. I love free extras like these stuff, so convenient for the passengers. Plus the seats at the coach are good…note that this is Ceres bus.

That’s 150 pesos (about $3.50 US) each person Cebu City to Hagnaya. Estimated travel duration of 3 hours and 15 mins, stopover of 10-15 mins at Carmen, Cebu (next to Danao City) at the middle of the travel. Good stopovers actually, I mean, I rarely use restrooms at stopovers because of sanitary issues but this one’s considerable. You could stop for little snack or buy bottled water, fruit, etc, or perhaps just a little stretching for a surely long trip! =D

2013-07-06 12.59.44A little later, you’ll be here, at the Hagnaya Port

The ferry left on time, dosed-off in the ferry and after an hour woke up with the scenery I have been longing to bubble up before my eyes when I was too drenched from work back home.

The white sand stretch can already be seen while the ferry’s maneuvering to dock, I was already so impatient and can’t wait to get in there.2013-07-07 10.11.45bantayanjuly672013_

The huge catamaran docked at expected time while welcoming strip of white beach and blue-emerald waters were such irresistible temptations.

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The beckoning trees noted my arrival that I’m already in a far away secluded island ready for me to indulge.

Arriving, I reminded myself that this is a town unadulterated with massive tourism like other tourist-laden places in the world which had turned into a horrible tourist pothole like Bali, or Patong, Phuket, Thailand. So I dropped off my guard, conversed a few questions to a friendly pedicab driver at the wharf and asked him if he knows where to go for a new-ish accommodation that isn’t crowded with mature westerner guys and their ladies. I prefer a family-like atmosphere and calm and far from any pubs. Without further ado, he drove me off to a new resort after ticking off his new customer’s nitpicky requirements and said “I know where to drive you to, Ma’am” (we are so formal in the Philippines in courtesy. Guys are all “Sir” though you didn’t work hard for your knighthood and all women are “Madam/Ma’am” though we are not majesties.)

Strange enough, for an overly-organized person like me (do I qualify as OCD?) I didn’t book for accommodation this time since I really wanted this trip to be absolutely ‘carefree’ to the point that I don’t care if I wouldn’t have a room for that night. Such a scary thought for obsessively organized people. But it turned out my driver was a heavensent. Since Anika Resort wasn’t built yet at my previous visits, so I didn’t know there was such.

From the foliage and greenery, to the chirping of the birds, swaying of the palm trees, I sighed with peace inside. I can feel the laid-back atmosphere at my first minute in the island. While people’s lives are slow and calm, a few locals sprout from here and there biking, some selling snacks of rice cakes , some motorcabs arriving from town packed with merchandise from the market, this quaint town is still how it’ve been few years ago. Scenes like these always remind me of the question on why  am I killing myself in the city while a life in places like this never fail to act like a magnet, attracting me to just savor a slow-paced world. I still don’t know the answer… All I know now is the waves is tirelessly lapping before me right now.

2013-07-06 15.25.08bantayanjuly672013_I always do a favorite habit when infront of the sea: Stare blank. It just sets your mind to… Nothing. As in space. Void. Empty. Zilch. Is this why vacations are just lovely? Thinking nothing? So maybe that’s why this lucky pair of beach sandals propped itself with the view since the owner seemed to be in another world.

If I had good camera lenses, photos would be good quality.

anikabantayan11 As I ghastly famished, I peeped onto Anika’s menu and made me hungry even more. Above is a filipino dish, Lechon Kawali served in Anika Resort.

I explored my fine amenities at my new home for a day. Had I been unlucky, I could’ve ended up homeless, wandering around for a night. Not just lucky but I am fated to have a marvelous time, spot on to what I just needed now. Total relaxation.

I searched the neighborhood too, for food and smoothies.

Found Tristan’s Beach Resort, strategically propped before the beach.

Tristan’s best known with their pizzas, but didn’t have any of their pizzas as we have the best pizza place back in Cebu too and been gorging on those. So opt out for now.

I love splurges on restaurants when on holidays and found this resto that I’ve also have already heard from TripAdvisor:

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2013-07-06 18.12.30bantayanjuly672013_ Tummy-gratifying Beef Tenderloin tips at Balikbayan Restaurant for dinner (paid 236 pesos total).  A classy along the main street of Sta. Fe that is sprawled with restaurants, grilled fish and chicken barbecue stations, T-shirt and souvenir shops, the little neighborhood market, convenience stores, church, plaza (Park. As a Spanish-influenced country, our churches has a park next to it). The restaurant by the way has  lovely cabanas great for spending romantic nights…. *sigh*2013-07-07 07.30.39bantayanjuly672013_

A flashpacker like me cannot stomach places like Pattaya, Thailand and places of those sort. I just don’t understand how people conceptualize the blend of their tourism to prostitution. In simple terms, not all people who would come to an island or a tourist spot are sex-tourists. Its already disgusting talking about this here, but in Thailand, even the quaintest town, as long as they can see that it’s starting to be heard by tourists and arrivals increase, they would then gradually line up agogo bars on streets. Imagine how someone who arrived on an island for mere meditation. The point of saying this is, although its sad to admit that as a Christian country we sadly also have city marked to be a red-light district which is Angeles City (that I don’t have an interest to go to, and who would either?)… The islands here in the Philippines do not have those strips dedicated to this what they call as “oldest profession on earth”. Although of course there should be some few lurking here and there on dark corners, but again, we don’t have those disgusting out-of-this-world spots like Thailand. On why I mentioned this, is because I ended my night on a bar. Bar is always confused with the other. This bar is like a pub with food and drinks and great for hanging out with friends and bringing your family for a nice meal and not anything else. The renowned bar and resto in Sta. Fe, the Blue Ice Bar:

2013-07-06 18.05.00I did note that Blue Ice Bar’s live band will start at 8:30 PM. Grabbed a seat at the bar then delved into some seasoned wedges and Coke Zero (Paid 190 pesos total).  Good band!

Bade the night goodbye at 10:15.

Slept like a baby, but leapt out of bed before sunrise as I was on a mission again to capture the beautiful sunrise from the beach. Mission accomplished!

2013-07-07 05.39.43bantayanjuly672013_2013-07-07 05.39.00bantayanjuly672013_Sunrise near Marlin Beach Resort

2013-07-07 05.39.00bantayanjuly672013_Then fueled with a delish breakfast at CouCou Restaurant and Bar owned by a French fellow who’s so hands-on.

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Went on to more beach interlude

2013-07-07 06.58.06bantayanjuly672013_Sugar Beach Resort above.

2013-07-07 08.46.15bantayanjuly672013_A small pathway towards the beach from the Sta. Fe’s lines of restaurants.

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2013-07-07 08.52.48bantayanjuly672013_While my strawberry drink is sunkissed from the happy sun and sparkling silver beach…you should already be packing to  here.

Mesmerizing,

Fritzie xoxo ❤

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