A Pristine Place Under the Warm Philippine Sun
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A Pristine Place Under the Warm Philippine Sun
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  • 승인 2003.09.03 00:00
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Travelers often look to the proximity and affordability of Maui, Guam, or Thailand when choosing the best exotic beach package for their vacation getaway. But there is good news for those who are anticipating the winter cold and are already busy planning for the upcoming vacation. There is yet another option available, just as affordable, and a bit closer to the equator sun: Cebu, the oldest city in the Philippines.

Cebu has all of the makings of a world-class vacation site-palm trees, smooth white sand, and crystal-clear water one can see through for miles. Even better though, is what Cebu does not have: hordes of tourists, salesmen grabbing at people"s arms, and soda cans half-buried in the sand, all of which have become part of the scenery in most vacation spots. Cebu has largely avoided the heavy footprints of the tourism industry, and thus can still allow its visitors to enjoy a simple, undisturbed time on its untainted beaches. One will more likely be plopping into the water for a swim alongside a school of tropical fish or going out sailing than be jostled by other tourists while trying to get a glimpse of some monument. That should be reason enough to turn around any plane headed for Europe.

The hotels will not disappoint either; the city of Cebu may not have all the modern conveniences tourists expect, but the hotels do, and they have worked hard to blend in the modern with the natural environment. Take for instance the Shangri-La Hotel, a favorite among tourists; while the rooms are completely up-to-date, the open ground level is scattered with palm trees and other exotic plants. In the distance there are numerous pools and a private, picture-perfect beach which offers all the necessary equipment for various water-sports such as snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, and waterskiing.

In Cebu, conveniently enough for the Korean tourist, a complete grasp of the English language is not required to communicate, as it may be in many other places. As Koreans make up a large percentage of the travelers, signs are often written in English and Korean. In addition, locals who partake in the tourist industry are familiar with awkward expressions and understand whatever tourists try to say in broken English quite easily. For example, to go to the local market, the only word one has to say to the cab driver is ?anana.

Cebu, however, may not be perfect for everyone. As it is a relatively obscure vacation site, facilities many tourists have grown accustomed to such as bars, clubs, or even gift shops are not easily found here. Walking along Cebu"s streets, especially at night, can be quite dangerous as cars race along with no traffic lights available to control them. This makes it dangerous for people who decide to take a stroll downtown. Moreover, a number of empty, isolated streets make travelers vulnerable to purse snatchers or hard-up locals begging for money. Many locals are not very well off, and when tourists take their money out to buy something on the street, a small crowd will gather around them to stare at the pesos they are counting. This may not happen too often, but even so, tour guides will likely advise visitors to stay in the hotel after dark.

Whether or not a trip to Cebu will be a dream vacation or bore you to tears depends entirely on what you would expect from a tropical holiday. If you wish to go somewhere where you can enjoy the nightlife, go to bars and clubs and party it up with the locals, you might have a better time elsewhere. However, if what you are looking for is a few days of tanning on a picturesque beach, swimming in sparkling clean water, and snacking on fresh tropical fruit in the palm tree shade­and actually be able to afford all of it-there may be no better place to go on your next vacation than Cebu.

jiaryu@ewha.ac.kr

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