Malapascua: Best Beach Yet!

*Aside Title* What do you do when home is calling? While we were still in Moalboal we made plans for the next stop: Malapascua. Moalboal is on the east coast of Cebu Island, Philippines. Malapascua is a small island way up off the northern tip of Cebu Island. The easiest way to reach Malapascua is via a four-hour Ceres bus ride from Cebu City to Maya Bagay port then a 20 to 30 minute ferry ride to reach the island. As we made our plans for Malapascua we watched a You-Tube video account of how you get on the ferry, which led to a conversation about our luggage. We have too much luggage. We decide to pare down our baggage for Malapascua to a medium bag with dive equipment and one big bag instead of two big bags and a carryon. We can leave the other two bags locked up at ABC Hotel where we will return after Malapascua. When we return to ABC Hotel in Cebu City from Moalboal we look harder at the luggage situation. The biggest problem with our luggage is we have too many things that we shouldn’t have brought with us but are too valuable to throw away. There are also things we wish we had brought with us but getting them shipped from the US is problematic while we are traveling, and then that would add even more weight. It would be nice to do an exchange. Also our big suitcase appears to have very little viable life left in it. We need a new suitcase. The one we want is cheap in the US, but expensive in Asia. We bring into the discussion the fact that my knee is still bothering me and I have no confidence in the medical treatment in the Philippines. Also I would really like to see my dentist. Then the Snapchats start coming with the plans for the big wedding on the calendar for August 28th. My daughter is going to do a lot of work for this wedding. I would love to be there to help her. My entire family will be at this wedding. It’s been years since I’ve been to a wedding with my family and this promises to be an awesome wedding. I want to go home. Within five hours we decide I will go home and I have ticket in my hand. We madly begin ordering things to be delivered to the house in the U.S. My daughter makes doctor and dentist appointments for me. I start making lunch and dinner plans with my family and friends. I’m going home for ten days. Tom will stay at ABC Hotel for a few days then move over to Mactan Island to do a little research for when we return in December. I will leave the evening we return from Malapascua, flying to Incheon, South Korea to enjoy a 14 hour layover there, then a 13 hour flight to Chicago, hitting Columbus after about 36 hours of travel. After two days of crazy planning and internet shopping, we leave for Malapascua.

Malapascua is the place to go if you want to see Thresher Sharks, so named for their long tails that can be as long as their entire bodies. Sightings are never guaranteed but if you are lucky you will see them. If you’re REALLY lucky, you’ll also see Manta Rays. Tom was lucky, but not really lucky. No matter: it was still great diving. I’ve included some of the pictures from Malapascua: a Cuttlefish, a Seahorse and the amazing “Blue Dragon” Nudibranch are among the highlights. Stunning! Thresher Sharks are camera shy and the visiblity is poor, so I'm sorry there are no pictures of the Thresher Sharks The best thing about the beautiful white sand beach of Malapascua is the sand walking path between the resorts and the beach where no motorized vehicles are allowed. This is also the worst thing about getting to your resort. *Aside* What we didn’t know is that there are only motorcycles to transport you to the resort. This is really fun with one over-sized suitcase, a dive bag and two back packs, but we love a challenge. Tom and I each got a motorcycle and then did our best to hang onto the driver while hanging on to our suitcases. The motorcycles dropped us off at the back of the resort leaving us to drag our luggage to the front of the resort (remember that previously mentioned no-motorized-vehicles-allowed rule). 200 hot, sandy yards later we arrived at the Evolution Dive Resort reception desk. *Aside* The sand on Malapascua is beautiful fine, white sand: gorgeous to look at and walk on, but hell to drag a suitcase through.

Tom dives. I rest. I am thrilled to put my feet in the beautiful, soft, white sand, immediately kicking off my shoes to go barefoot. *Aside* It takes me two days to realize that the reason my back (now in concert with my knee) hurts so badly that I can barely walk is because I’m not wearing shoes with good support for my flat feet. The sandals go back on and my back improves immediately, but the knee is still troublesome.

This beach is delightful and although the resorts all have a claim on the sand in front of their establishment (tending it and grooming it) there are no impediments to walking the full length of the beach with the exception of the occasional moored boat.

Our room is great, spacious and comfortable, complete with its own front veranda and live-in gecko. *Aside* I quickly discover that if I hang out where the “house” dog is lying on the beach, the flying insects will hang out on him instead of me. Note: this is not a dog that stays in the house, but a dog that belongs to the property. He definitely

stays outside. It’s fun to watch him on the beach. He digs a shallow hole to lie in. As the sand under him gets warm, he gets up to move more sand, getting deeper down to the cooler, damp sand below. I type on my computer and look over appreciatively at the swarms of gnats and flies that don’t seem to bother him in the least. The food at Evolution is okay, but the food next door at Exotic is awesome. *Aside* The first dessert we try at Exotic, is Ginger Crème Brule. The flavor is fabulous but the consistency indicated that it probably wasn’t refrigerated enough before serving. However, another evening I tried the Panna Cotta. It met and exceeded my expectations: smooth and creamy, not over sweet, pefection leaving me wanting more when it was gone. It was the best Panna Cotta I’ve ever put in my mouth and will be the one by which all future Panna Cottas will be measured. Sometime I’ll tell you about the Key Lime Pie we ate in Roatan, Honduras, by which all other Key Lime Pies will always be measured, but that was another adventure. Because the “town” area is located behind the “resort” area, a considerable walking distance away, I don’t do a lot of “town” exploring, but I do walk the beach. A lot. The second night there is a storm. There are rumors that it was a tornado. *Aside* I didn’t even think they had tornadoes in Asia, but according to Wikipedia (reliable source that it is) it could happen. There is lots of debris and even trees blown down. A number of boats are damaged and several are sunk during the storm including one from the resort next door at Exotic. Their newest boat (three months old) was belly up the morning after the storm. However the storm did not adversely affect Tom’s diving or our enjoyment of the island. On the last of our four days on Malapascua we walked down around the tip of the island for sunset massages on the beach, and an Italian dinner.

*Aside* It’s nearly impossible to get good Italian in the Philippines, mainly because the cheese available in the Philippines is not good. This includes pizza. We ate some great pizza at Altrove in El Nido and Coron, but that was because they imported all their cheese. The cheese manufactured in the Philippines is nothing like the tasty cheese we get in America. In the grocery store we overheard a man with a strong Scandinavian accent saying longingly to his wife (who just commented that the imported cheese is too expensive), “But I don’t want to BUY any cheese, I just want to look at it.”

As we relaxed under the capable hands of our masseuses, the breeze and the sound of the surf were amazing. We took a short break from our massages to watch the sun dip below the horizon. It doesn’t get much better than this! Unfortunately our Italian Restaurant experience was not nearly as good as our massage. The salad was surprisingly good with cheese that had the texture of ricotta but the flavor of Feta. Tom’s lasagna had a good flavor, but it was a “short stack” lasagna, taking up a lot of plate space with very little elevation. However although the cheese for my fettuccini was imported, the flavor totally missed to boat. I’ll just go back to not ordering Italian in Asia. *Aside* The same goes for beef. The beef in the Philippines has a strange (to me) flavor and is often too tough to enjoy. So beef is off my list. Tom keeps trying burgers, but I haven’t tried one I liked. I’m not eating much chicken for the same reasons. However the fresh fish is awesome!!

All too soon it’s time to leave this delightful version of paradise. We wish we had planned to stay longer. This beach is the closest to our vision of a dream location we’ve seen to date, but it isn’t sustainable. We couldn’t afford to stay here long-term. We opt for the significant up-charge to get a boat ferry from in front of our resort back to the pier to catch the bus so we don’t have to drag our luggage back up the 200 yard sandy gauntlet. Also we need to get back to Cebu as early as possible.

I have a plane to catch.

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