First things first – I’ll have to apologize for being missing in action for such a long time. I will not try to find excuses of any sorts but will admit to having been just plain lazy the last few weeks. This post, long overdue, is an insight to our getaway over the Chinese New Year vacation in February.
When we arrived in November last year we were told to start planning our vacation in February, as in China you get one week of public holiday due to the Chinese New Year celebrations. This time is also known as “The Great Migration” in China and literally half the country is on its feet catching trains and planes back to their hometown to spend the festivities with their family. Throw in the fact that Chinese outbound tourism has soared in the last couple of years (120 million Chinese tourists in 2015 alone), we were not too hopeful when it came to choice of destinations. As predicted, all airlines and hotels were capitalizing on this big holiday and no matter which country we looked into, prices were astronomically high. Gone were the dreams of relaxing at a Thai beach, exploring Cambodian temples, trekking Laotian jungles or cruising down the Mekong. Granted, we would not have exploited our vacation budget but when I know the same trip will cost a quarter of the price two weeks later, it just goes against my principles. Hence, we were faced with the choice of either South Korea (bbbrrrrrr, way too cold!) or the Philippines. Seeing Beijing was already morphing into an icebox, it was a no gamer. Philippines it is!
And boy were we happy when February came and we entered Beijing Capital International Airport with our bags filled with shorts, T-shirts, flip flops and our diving gear. The feeling of finally escaping the harsh winter even made the 34 hour journey worth it. From Beijing to Hong Kong to Manila, where we spent a few hours trying to get what little sleep we could, further on to Cebu where we were picked up at the airport in a minivan and had a four hour ride to the other end of the island. From the van directly onto a boat and after nearly an hour of gliding over pristine waters we were there, Malapascua Island! 到了(dao le), as we would say in China when arriving somewhere. The rest of the day was spent recuperating at the beach and gobbling down seafood over dinner.
Malapascua Island is a tiny island situated across the northmost tip of Cebu Island. And when I say tiny, I really mean tiny as it only measures 2.5 by 1 km. It is possible to tour the entire island by foot in about 1.5 hours. Seeing it is so small and originally a fishing island, there are no tourist attractions. The white sand beaches, clear waters and marine life, in particular the thresher sharks, are the main reasons for tourism. The absence of cars, simple beach huts and al fresco dining where you can dig your toes deep into the sand during dinner result in Malapascua being the perfect place when wanting to escape the city and recharge your batteries. For all you divers out there, if you’re considering diving Malapascua, we can highly recommend Evolution Divers.
The only actual “stress” you will have on the island is deciding which dive spot to go to and getting up at 4am if you do choose to search for hammerhead and thresher sharks in the wee hours. But given the fact that we were in bed by latest 9pm that was not too much of a problem. Time flew although we really did not do more than eat, sleep, dive and relax at the beach. And before we knew what was happening, we were packing our bags on the last day, getting ready to head back to cold and dreary Beijing. Unfortunately a GoPro is not the right camera for underwater shots but here a few impressions: