Monthly Archives: September 2011

Turtle Bay Resort Review, Moalboal, Cebu

I posted way too many diving pictures and even videos of Moalboal before, so if you’re curious about the dive spots we went to, just click on the links above.

We again took Cebu Pacific, and the flight to Cebu was inexpensive, a little over $50/person for the round trip tickets.  Basically, book early, you’ll get a deal, book late, you’ll pay an arm and a leg.  We had booked about 6 weeks in advance, so we got a fairly good price.

As for where we stayed, we went to Turtle Bay Dive Resort.  It was EXPENSIVE.  But, we were served delicious meals, and the whole place was super relaxing – despite the cost, I can’t help but recommend it!  It was worth it!

And there really are turtles in Turtle Bay!  So if like me you love seeing turtles, this is the spot!

Here’s the breakdown of what each thing cost (please see note below about the low-season discount we got, so we paid slightly less):

Sea View Deluxe Room with Breakfast:  PHP 4,340/night (U$100)

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Can you do it cheaper?  Absolutely.  We splurged for the sea view room, which was also very private.  I wouldn’t recommend this room for anyone that’s elderly or have difficulty walking, as there are some steep steps to get down to the room, and back up to the restaurant, but for us, it was perfect.  The bathroom was also very spacious (per Filipino standards).  And yes, there’s both a fan and air conditioner in the room.  The construction of this whole resort was not your usual Filipino construction.  It was actually brick and concrete buildings, which we rarely see when traveling here!  The resort is 4 years old, but looks brand new.

Lunch and Dinner:  PHP 1,100/person/day (U$ 25.50)

You can do without the full-board and just order off the menu, which will be a bit cheaper.  The food is spectacular (seriously, some of the best I’ve had in the Philippines), so I do recommend eating your meals there.  You can go into town, but it’s a 20 minute ride from the resort.  Also, if you’re in the same room we were, there’s a mini-kitchen, so you can always prepare some of your own meals.  We wanted no-frills and we just wanted to relax in between dives, so the full board was perfect for us.  There was always rice, seafood, pork and chicken, so there was enough for every taste.  (And have I mentioned how the food is delicious?  I’m still dreaming about their stuffed eggplant, and Karl couldn’t have enough of their blue marlin!)

Guided Boat Dive:  PHP 1,350/person/dive (U$ 31.25)

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Guided Shore Dive:  PHP 1,100/person/dive (U$ 25.50)

The day we arrived, the water was too rough for a shore dive, so we took the resort-owned Jeepney towards the Marine Sanctuary in Moalboal, about 30 minutes away, at no additional cost.  (We also paid additional PHP 225 per dive for the BCD and regulator rental, but we had our own wetsuits/fins/masks.)

The rest of the days the water was calm as the wind had settled, and we had no issues with the shore dive or taking the boat.

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Airport Round-Trip Transfer by private car:  PHP 6,200 (U$ 143.50)

This is self-explanatory.  Not cheap, but it’s a 2.5 hour trip each way, so having someone waiting for you at the airport and delivering you where you want to be, and doing the same on your way back home, removes so much stress from the trip!

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Agoda.com had good deals for Turtle Bay, but we were interested in the full board package (not offered on Agoda), so I emailed Chris, the manager, and asked if they offered any embassy discount rates.  Being low season, he offered us 20% discount off all the rates above, as well as no VAT (we are exempt from those taxes here, even though some hotels don’t honor it, likely because they don’t pay their taxes anyway, but Turtle Bay gave us no issue, we just had to present the card), so our total prices were less than listed.  We got a great deal!  Agoda rates were very good as well.

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They have enough rooms to fit 57 people, and I have no idea how it would be if it was full (there were only a total of 7 of us there).  I would recommend going during low season, to fully enjoy the quiet and peace of the place.  It was like we had the place to ourselves!  The first night we met a French couple, who are living in Beijing, and were very nice (they left the next morning), and luckily, the 5 Americans who joined us on our second day were also a blast to be around.  You eat meals on one big communal table, which can be great (when you have great company) or bad (if the company sucks).  We really lucked out!

Customer service at the hotel was excellent.  The waiters learned our name, and our preferences in food.  The dive master was nice (but not nearly as funny as the one we had in Batangas and Coron), and the boat people were super sweet. 

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The day we arrived, both Chris as well as his wife, Faye, were there (she’s the owner) and they had their meals with us and provided great conversation (he’s Australian, she’s Filipina).  They also came to say hello when we sat for lunch right after arriving, which was a nice touch.

The one beef I had?  We ended up spending another 50% of what we had already paid upon checkout (we paid in full by bank transfer before arriving).  The 20% discount we were offered was only for the stuff we pre-paid.  If you do get a discount, if you already know you’re doing a certain number of dives, book those in advance, we had only prepaid for 4 of the 7 dives we took (and since the price is per person, we could have saved PHP 1,890 – U$ 45 – if we had scheduled those in advance).

Coffee is only included with breakfast, and no refills are included.  The price of coffee is expensive at PHP 85 for every little cup (it’s the same price of drinking a beer there!).  You do get water included (if you pay for full board), but there are no bottles, if you want to take water to your room, you need to open one of the bottles in the fridge, at a cost, and refill that.  No drinks/juices, etc, are included in the price, and even though we left early afternoon, our last lunch was not included, so we had to pay that apart as well. 

I guess my biggest complaint is for the price of coffee…  I thought it was extreme, and Karl liking his coffee and always getting a refill with breakfast, it added up to quite a bit.  (Personally, I didn’t realize coffee was not included with the other meals, since it was always offered, until we got the bill at the end.)

As for how the rest of the resort was like?  Super relaxing! 

We got a lot of reading done in between dives!  (There’s no TV in the rooms – don’t remember if there was one at all in the common area – so bring reading material!)

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There are a lot of these little tables around the place for you to sit down, relax and enjoy the view.

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This part is their “fake beach” for people who want to sit by the ocean.  At a lack of a real beach, they built this small strip with sand, and had lounge chairs you could put out and lie down.

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As you can see, even during low tide it’s not really a beachy place, so the fake beach is a nice addition.

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This little gazebo and the fake beach, were right in front of our room.

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The view from the restaurant…

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Restaurant on the left, the other rooms on the right.  We ate outside in the covered area most days and it was PERFECT.  Being so close to the shore, the weather was always a bit cool, specially at night.

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There’s also a lot of green space to relax in.

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And the water is super-clear!

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We only went to the pool on our last day, since we couldn’t dive (for you non-divers out there, you can’t dive the same day you fly).  Sadly, there was construction going on at their future spa behind the pool, so it wasn’t the most relaxing place, as there were lots of banging.  We left when the power drills started up.

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The pool was not a chlorine pool, maybe a salt water mixture?  I liked it as my skin/hair were not gross afterwards.

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And yes, on our last day we killed time by reading next to this amazing view in our favorite gazebo!

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Overall it was a really nice trip, and I highly recommend the place.  Just getting good customer service, it’s worth it.  The food was delicious and the diving spots amazing!  They also have many couches inside the covered area of the restaurant, so you have plenty of space to sit down and relax.  I even took a nap there before dinner one day!

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Filed under Philippines, Pictures, Travel, Travel Review, Traveling in Asia

And THAT was awkward…

So the helper was supposed to be here around 3pm to take care of Lily and Lucas while we’re gone (I leave for the airport at 2pm).

So needless to say, at 11:15am, as I strut out of the shower, butt naked (yes, not one towel or underwear in sight), and go into the other room to stuff something into my suitcase, I wasn’t expecting to hear a “Hi Mam!”

I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so hard in my life.

Well, at least now she knows that those hives really are THAT bad.

Onto less embarrassing news, I got a 3.5 mile run with Mai Mai again today (you could read more about it on her blog!  She even got a picture taken!).  I was exhausted, it was hot and muggy, and I was super slow (yes, more than usual…).  I took a couple of breaks to walk after the first 2 miles, but overall, not too bad all things considered!

Now excuse me, while I go compose myself of the almost heart attack I just endured.  20 minutes after being caught naked at home, my heart still hasn’t settled down.  One more reason to up the cardio…

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Filed under Non-Running Stuff, Runs

4 Miles in 2.5 hours!

Wait, what?

I like structure.  I might suck at motivating myself to get out there and run, but when I have a training plan in front of me, I follow it.  Sure, with time I learned what works for me and can tweak things here and there for my training, but I still need to see a schedule.  On paper.  With numbers.  And I need to check those miles off my calendar.

So after deciding to sign up for a 10k that I am in no way in shape for, I of course went over to my friend Hal Higdon (ok, so he has no idea who I am) and checked out his beginner’s 10k plan.  Let’s not mention how his plan is 8 weeks long, and my time frame is only 2.5 weeks.  But though I’m at a beginner’s endurance, I’m not really a beginner per se, right?  After all, I have ran over 30 races, with over a third on the double digit mileage, so even though I’m out of shape, I still call myself a runner.

Oh, and did I mention how I broke out in hives?  And how it hasn’t gone away?  And I’m now on prednisone?  (Which sadly, is not that type of steroid…)  Just like last year, I have a horrible reaction to prednisone, I’m a bit “off” most of the day, you know when you’re there but not really there?  So I’m tired all day, and the hives are just now finally improving a bit.  Luckily, most of the VERY noticeable part is hiding under clothes…

But onto the running 4 miles in the time it takes me to run a half marathon.  And yes I RAN it.  NO WALKING.  The last time I ran this much, was with Erin on my last run with the group a couple of days before leaving DC (I didn’t blog about it, but I got 5.5 miles in), but I did blog about my last 4 miler in DC, and gosh, looking at those pictures again, I ache for those trails…

So I hopped on the treadmill with the goal of running 3 miles, but after a (very slow) mile, I was sweating profusely and breathing hard, despite having the AC pumping and the treadmill fan on (damn you prednisone!!!).  It was TOUGH.  So I hopped out.  I took a break.  I went on the computer, I ate dinner, even took pictures of myself after the sweat dried out.  

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And then I went back for one more…   I put the elevation back at zero (I had run at 0.5 for the first mile), and when I hit the end of that mile I decided that I could finish the 3 miles.  I even sprinted for the last quarter mile at a 8 min/mile pace with the 0.5 elevation back on!

I was sweaty…  but decided that it wasn’t over yet.  I went outside, walked Lily, and then was back for a final mile, sprinting to the finish again, this time at the last tenth of a mile.

And I finished 4 miles!  Definitely sweaty.  Yes, I’m totally posting a sports-bra picture here, you can almost see the hives on my chest – my stomach is really the worst part, where the hives are almost purple, I was trying to avoid the sweat factor not to make the hives worse.  (And as you can see I still love my Moving Comfort Fiona, even if the company never gives me anything free to review…  I think the one I’m wearing is 5 years old…)

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Sure I took breaks, but I got the distance done in one day, and in the end, 4 miles in 2.5 hours is still better than if I had given up after that single miserable mile…  (And I should add that the first mile was the only miserable one!)

The treadmill proof!  (If only the total calories part was accurate…)

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And Lily as usual wouldn’t let my post-workout sweaty face alone…

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This Sunday I’m off to Cebu for a couple of days to celebrate my birthday (I’m freaking old already), and I’m hoping to get a couple of miles in down there too.

And I still owe pictures and reviews from both Coron and Moalboal, so that is coming soon!

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Filed under Training, Treadmill Run

Now if I can just believe in this myself…

After posting my last post about signing up for a 10k even though lately that actually seems like a big number (Carla circa 2010 is in tears right now), Jen, who ran my last 20 miler training run with me wrote on my Facebook page…

“…I know you can do it! I know because I logged 23 training miles with you and saw you finish the MCM strong, with barely a week of recovery from the brutal inferno that was the Chicago marathon. You, I believe, have the spirit of a warrior and you truly do finish what you set your mind to finish…”

Well, it seems like I need to have faith in myself for a change.  Nowadays, we all know I’m far from having the spirit of a warrior and I have instead the spirit of a wimp.  Maybe I can print out what she wrote on the back of someone’s shirt and make them run just a bit in front of me so I can keep reading it throughout the 10k whenever I feel like giving up?

Tracy also had words of wisdom for me…

“You can do it. It might not be pretty, but you can do it (and however long it takes you, I promise I’ve done worse!).”

It’s funny, because my fear of running a 10k right now it’s not of failing and not crossing the finish line.  Heck, if I had to run a half marathon tomorrow I know I’d cross that finish line (it would just take me a long time to get there, and I might develop a new injury to boot). 

My biggest fear?  Is to get a personal worst.  As it stands, my personal worst was on my very first 10k in 2008– when I had never done more than a 5k, and didn’t properly train for it (blame it on a wonderful vacation for a friends wedding in Greece).  The time?  1:18:42, or a 12:40 pace.  Ugly and miserable, but back then it was a BIG accomplishment, because I never even stopped to walk.

But the weather then wasn’t hot and muggy, and though my training was lacking, my fitness was good – I used to commute by bike to work logging 10.5 miles each way, at least 4 times a week.  Nowadays, I’m far from that. 

But then I stop and think about it and if getting a PW really the worst that it can happen to me, what’s the big deal?  At the end of the day, it’s just numbers.  And if I don’t go for that PW, I’ll never be in shape again to attempt a new PR.

Let’s hope sometime in the next two weeks, I can find that warrior spirit within me again…

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Filed under 10k, Race