I decided today to finally begin exploring the city. Up until this point I was recovering but from an extremely painful and challenging bout of food poisoning. Thankfully I was motivated by a new couchsurfing friend to go check out some prominent historical sights in the city.We travlled downtown in a Jeepney, which is a US military jeep left over from World War II. This form of public transportation is known for its flamboyant exterior but be prepared to be squeezed in tightly to this vehicle. A ride costs only 7 pesos. A much more cost effective way to see the city then taking taxis. One drawback however is the pollution in Cebu streets can make it hard to breatheWe arrived in the Pari-an district which is in view of the ocean and nearby to the carbon market (One of the most prime locations for cheap shopping). There are many historical sights to see in this area, the first of which I saw was Magellan’s cross.Magellan’s cross was a wooden Christian cross planted by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in 1521. The cross however is displayed encased in wood because visitors would come and chip away pieces of the original hoping to bring the sacred blessings with them. The Cross is covered by a structure whose ceiling is decorated with beautiful religious paintings.The cross is situated next to the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño Church. It is the OLDEST Roman Catholic Church in the country All around you will be approached by ladies selling prayers and candles. I visited on a Sunday when they were having mass every hour, you could witness the magnitude of faith and dedication the Filipinos have toward God and get a feel for Catholisism. IA few minutes walk will lead you to fort San Pedro a small 18th century spanish military fort commissioned by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. The bricks where fashioned from hand carved chunks of coral and you can still find the cannon lining the battlements, defending from enemies at sea. The battlements create a picturesque terrace outlying the perimeter of the monument. It is quaintly lined with flowers and ornamental shrubbery, it also provides tables, benches and idealistic opportunities for gorgeous photos. The ground floor of the fort houses many galleries where you read and explore the history Of this magnificent building. They have a wide variety of historical photographs taken at the fort as well as write ups of relevant personages. Here you will find an uplifting amount of cats. You won’t want to miss the shrine of Virgin Mary or the wishing well which can be seen downstairs next I the galleries. With a lush green court yard below and a beautiful view of the ocean meeting the sky this makes for one of the most sought after attractions in Cebu.We began our journey towards the Cebu Taoist temple, we disembarked the jeepney and commenced a 1.5 km walk on a quiet and winding residential neighborhood. It provides a brief hiatus from the thick blanket of carbon monoxide coverinng most roads. The temple imparts a breath taking view of the ocean and city, which is equaled in beauty by the temple itself. It is decorated with intricate Chinese ornamentry and it will appear as though you’ve been transported out of the Philippines entirely. Dragon statues stand guard inviting in good luck, and wishing ponds and buckets tempt believers to pray for their desires with the help of some coins. The nature and beauty of this place is reflected in the vast amount of trees and plants whose presence creates an air of peace and calm. Here you can gaze into the soft waters of the ponds pondering life and enjoying the lily pads and life supported by these waters. Pack a lunch and enjoy at the many tables and chairs provided by the temple and don’t forget to enjoy some complimentary green tea before leaving. And while pictures are not allowed at certain places, there is no entrance fee.After shopping around one of the largest and most organized ukay ukay (the name for filipino thrift store literaly translated into dig-dig; because you often have to dig through giant piles of clothes to find the good deals) we met up with another couch surfing friend and decided to check out the astounding night market~Sugbo Mercado~. This mecca of tasty and unique food options was a much appreciated vaction from the typical meat and wheat heavy processed foods typicaly available in the philipiness. Here I found real fruit bubble tea, a fruit shake containing soft gooey perfectly prepared tapioca pears. it comes in three sizes and the largest is only 70 pesos. They also offered the usual BBQ but with all sorts of fresh seafood, lechon, takoyaki, churro cone ice creams for less then 90 pesos, vietnamese pho for only 150p, alcoholic beverages, and pretty much anything you could desire. They play live music and have a wide range of extrelely talented philipino singers. It has an amazing vibe, however its only open thursday to sunday, so if you get the opportunity definitly check it out!
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