After being somewhat disappointed by the top-rated ‘things to do’ in Cebu City, I had my most interesting Cebu experience today, just by walking into a local neighbourhood that is off the main road. I got a taste of an authentic Cebu neighbourhood that you won’t find listed on Trip Advisor. It just shows that you don’t have to walk very far to get off the beaten tourist track.
After dropping off some laundry at a local shop, I saw some locals walking down a narrow lane off Gorordo Avenue (the main road), and decided to take a walk to see what was down there. It was immediately clear that I was walking into a local neighbourhood and, judging by the quizzical looks I received, I don’t think many tourists venture down these lanes.
The tin-roofed neighbourhood is visible from my hotel room and is only a short distance away. It can be accessed by walking down Dr. Jose Ses Reyes Street, although I initially walked down the un-named narrow lane opposite Molave Street and then cut through the Purok 3 Upper Basketball Court (a concrete square with a basketball hoop at one end).
Many of the homes had roosters outside, tied with a piece of string to one of their legs. Cock-fighting is popular in this region, so I can only assume that most of these are fighters.
In addition to homes, the neighbourhood has many small businesses to cater to the residents, including small shops, internet cafes and food outlets.
Interestingly, I saw more street food outlets in this small neighbourhood than I’ve seen anywhere else in the Philippines so far. Unlike in Thailand, where street food is prevalent, I haven’t seen much at all in Manila or Cebu. A man encouraged me to eat some of the food instead of just taking photos, so we had a chat. I told him that I was not hungry at the time, having eaten breakfast at the hotel about two hours previously. I added that I was hoping to return this evening for my dinner and a couple of beers.
The local vendors all greeted me with a smile and were happy to allow me to photograph their food. I look forward to tasting it later.
This is a type of tourism that I particularly enjoy, getting off the beaten track and experiencing the local culture. As promised, I returned later in the evening for my dinner.
On my way back to the hotel, I saw another small lane, directly behind the hotel that leads to another neighbourhood. I just took a couple of quick photos of shops at the entrance.
After 7.00pm, there was intermittent rain, but I returned to the neighbourhood so that I could taste some of the food. Several of the food outlets are take-out only, but at least one had a seating area inside, so that is where I stopped for my dinner. I asked whether tourists visited the location very often and I was told that I was the first one to visit that particular cafe. Trailblazer indeed!
With several dishes to choose from, I said that I wanted to taste a few options. So, I started out with a dried fish, a pork dish and a curried chicken dish with a single serving of rice. I subsequently added a chicken back (that had almost no meat on it). Plus three 500ml bottles of Red Horse beer. The total cost = 200 pesos ($4). Amazing! I’m going back for more before I depart Cebu.
Video clip: Pouring with rain as I sit inside the cafe, with the locals amused at my presence.
Video: Preparing the veggies for tomorrow. Bitter melon being prepped.