It’s funny how easy it could be to become a stranger in your own locality.
Staying long enough in a city and living as a local could bring about the flawed assumption that you know everything there is to know about the city you live in. So you go about and continue living there – content with no need for exploration in the city – because, after all, you already know everything there is to know, right?
The funny thing is, so many of us dream of exploring new places but many would continue to ignore the possibilities of exploring their own locality. There’s so much to see and learn even in your own area. One can never really tell what surprises a city can show, and these surprises can only be found if they are ultimately sought for.
Personally, I believe we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just dreaming about exploring other cities and other countries. We can always start by exploring our very own and letting it surprise us. This is definitely a great way to start on traveling and is a cheaper way to satisfy any lingering wanderlust.
So, yesterday, we decided to do just that…primarily because a couchsurfer decided to stay over at Sheila’s and we took it upon ourselves to show him around.
For those who don’t know what couchsurfing is about, couchsurfing is an organization for travelers which helps them connect & meet up with other travelers by staying over at their place. Usually, it involves having a host accommodate the traveler in his or her home by having the traveler stay over or “surf” at his place…usually on a couch, or an extra room. It is also a helpful way for other travelers to ask about cheap places to stay in if they don’t want to surf.
Unfortunately, Sheila’s guest only has less than a day to fully explore the city. His only itinerary for the day was watching a movie in the mall, but that wouldn’t be so much fun. After all, what’s the point in going to another country if you won’t go out to explore?
The challenge to our city trip was we don’t have a lot of money. We intend to spend less than P200 each for a whole day around the city. So with that in mind, we ventured out.
We started by going around Colon, the oldest street in the Philippines. We took a jeepney ride from Ayala which only cost P8 each.
Around Colon, we came across the commemorative sculpture of the Spanish arrival in Mactan.
(This photo was taken on a tour around the city with another friend of ours. I’m using this since I didn’t get to take a more recent photo).
We also walked around a bit until we came across the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral.
Lucky for us, a wedding was taking place in the Church so we also got a view of the beautiful ceremony taking place. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get a better angle to capture the wedding. We wouldn’t want some tourists disturbing a perfectly beautiful ceremony. 😛
Then we went around the street and stopped by the Basilica del Sto. Niño – one of the oldest churches in Cebu.
The Basilica is dedicated to the baby Jesus Christ and is one of the major churches in Cebu.
Its bell tower was damaged because of the magnitude 7 earthquake last year, but the government is working on getting it fixed – hopefully in time for Sinulog this January 2015.
After that, we decided to have halo-halo at Chowking. Halo-halo literally means “mix-mix” since the frozen desert is a mixture of different ingredients ranging from ice cream, red beans, corn, nata de coco (coconut jelly), and ube to corn flakes, pop rice, and, even, leche flan.
The halo-halo at Chowking cost P72 but several shops sell them for a much cheaper rate.
After the halo-halo, we decided to take a short trip to the Philippine Taoist Temple in Lahug. To get there, we rode a jeepney from Colon that passes by Mango to Lahug. The ride only cost us P8 and from there, we stopped near La Vie Parisienne where a lot of habal-habals are waiting around for passengers.
The habal-habal is essentially a motorcycle ride wherein two or more people could ride the back of a motorcycle to steep areas. The habal-habal ride to the entrance of the temple cost only P10. This is very important to note since several habal-habal drivers would attempt to haggle for an increased rate or would demand a more expensive fee if they can see that you’re new to the place. Some may even pretend they don’t have enough change so you’d have to pay a bigger fee. Naturally, this only happens in some cases but it’s better to know about this in order to prevent getting ripped off.
The walk to the temple was short but tiring because of the elevation.
The effort was still worth it though because the temple is a view in and of itself.
It has long, winding staircases that provide a good view of the city once on top.
People are allowed to roam around and take pictures of the sculptures, the architecture and the gardens, except for the holy Taoist Saints.
The temple also has the Taoist prayer and wish stones which allows for devotees and visitors to ask for prayers from the Taoist God. I rarely get the chance to be in Taoist temples and I am very much curious about the prayer stones so I tried to make a wish myself.
It was a wonderful idea. In fact, I was so thrilled I got to try it. I’m not Taoist but I have high respects for the faith.
Personally, I believe that regardless of what religion or faith you come from, there will always be harmony so long as there is respect for each other’s faiths and beliefs. I believe this is very important and one that many should try to attain.
This harmony and balance is essentially what Taoism is about. After all, according to the Taoist philosophy, one has to understand that we are all part of the whole. In order for us to attain harmony and peace, we have to accept that balance is necessary and respect is an aspect that helps achieve this balance.
I was actually quite nervous when I managed to hold the kidney-shaped blocks in my hand. I was afraid I’d throw them wrong or that I’d receive a “no”.
I am very fortunate to have received a “Yes” from the Taoist God (through the kidney-shaped blocks, of course) when I made the request to make a wish. I was even more fortunate to have received another “yes” when I was asking about my wish.
I honestly didn’t expect for anything and I was prepared to receive a “No” or a “Maybe”, but I’m so glad it managed to turn out positively. This gives me hope. I would love to tell you about my prayers and my wish, but I’m afraid of jinxing it.
We couldn’t get a photo of the prayer room because photos of the saints are forbidden.
After our short trip around the Philippine Taoist Temple, we went back to the urban jungle by riding another habal-habal for P10 and a jeepney back to Ayala for P8.
Overall, it was a very tiring and exciting adventure. Also, one of the coolest parts is..we spent less than P200!
Here’s a tally of our expenses:
P8 – Jeepney from Ayala to Colon
P72 – Chowking Halo-Halo
P32 – Softdrinks at Chowking
P8 – Jeepney from Colon to Lahug
P10 – Habal-habal to the Temple Entrance
P10 – Habal-habal from Temple Entrance to Lahug
P8 – Jeepney to Ayala
Obviously, if I hadn’t eaten halo-halo and had expensive soft drinks, I would have only spent a total of only P44. Not bad for a cultural exploration around the city’s downtown area and its Taoist Temple atop the mountains.
It was so much fun and I look forward to sharing this experience with my friends and family. I say, more people should try exploring their own cities. You can honestly never tell what surprises your own city has in store for you.