"There is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven." Ecclesiastes 3:1

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Plantation Bay: A Solo Escapade

This should be it! This could be it!

The Plantation Bay Day Tour was supposed to be #17 in my Cebu Bucket List. It indeed crossed that item out. And more. While I soaked in the experience, I realized that I was actually crossing out an important item from my Life Bucket List. This should qualify as that one trip that I will take on my own, which is not for work but for leisure. At the end of the day, I was thinking, "I did it!"

The road from Mandaue to Plantation Bay was quite a long one considering the ongoing construction. After almost an hour, I finally reached the place. Everyone in this place was uber-courteous, from the receptionist to all the staff I met throughout my stay. The staff were always smiling, greeted me "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" and always responded to my "Thank you" with "You're welcome". These were proud moments for me as a Filipino. Exactly how I wished all Filipinos should be.

The receptionist, Olya (a foreigner actually) clearly explained to me the day tour basics. She gave me a map and my arm band (to distinguish day trippers from regular guests). The arm band is water-proof and I was reminded never to take it off or lose it. I was also given my coupons for the lunch and the towel. (Please check my separate post on Plantation Bay: Essentials.)

The day tour is an option for curious cats like me who may not be too willing to spend for a room or a suite in high-end resorts like Plantation Bay Resort and Spa but wanted the "man-made lagoon" experience. The day tour costs Php 2,000 (with a discounted price of Php 1,500 for a group of at least 20). This entitles the day tripper to a whole-day access to the resort's lagoons and swimming pools, 30-minute use of bicycles, 15-minute use of non-motorized aqua sports like kayaks, gaming facilities, use of shower room, a dedicated changing room for day trippers, a Kilimanjaro set lunch and drink, and wall climbing (1-5pm).

I studied the map for a while and decided to explore the entire area on foot before swimming. It's hard to get lost here as the names of the halls and houses are alphabetical. (Please check out my separate post on Plantation Bay: The Alphabet Series.)

My favorite pool was the one at Savannah. All the pools were quite shallow; thus, no worries for non-swimmers like me. Deep areas (e.g., 12 feet) were properly marked as such. The swimming lagoons and freshwater pools are more than enough for the regular guests and day trippers. There was just so much space and water. I don't think Plantation Bay will ever feel overcrowded. (Please check my separate post on Plantation Bay: Swimming Series.)

Hmmm, go ahead and click 'Read more'.

Another of my favorites are the hammocks. I settled in three of the four hammock spots I found (Please check out my separate post on Plantation Bay: The Hammock Series). I really loved the hammocks, hahaha.

Overall, this was indeed a relaxing treat. The sands and lagoons may be artificial but they are all well-maintained. The life guards kept the boisterous ones in check. Thus, the calm and serene vibe at the resort. More than being courteous, the staff are very professional. I didn't feel out of place or embarrassed even as I made several boo boos in my kayaking, wall climbing and archery attempts. The Plantation Bay staff all made me feel that it was alright and fun.

It was a liberating experience. I was on my own. I didn't know anyone there. Yet I felt safe, relaxed and at peace. I explored and soaked in the sun. I walked around in my orange swimwear and blue cover-ups like I belonged to the place. Like I was treading the gardens of a tropical paradise. No worldly cares, just pure appreciation.

Batanes will remain to be an ultimate challenge in my Life Bucket List. But this short-notice choice of Plantation Bay for my solo escapade is a big deal. I felt like I accomplished something important. Like I freed something in me after pushing through with this escapade on my own. I did not become a beach bum after almost nine hours in this resort, because I know I am not. I think I just became more comfortable with myself and overcame my little fears (archery, wall climbing, kayaking, and swimming in general). I had failed attempts but I managed to laugh at myself and still be grateful. I am most thankful to the Heavenly Father for making this trip possible and for keeping me safe throughout this mini-journey. 

My life lessons from this solo escapade:
The sands may not be as pristine white as we hoped for. But we came here for the sun. 
Bask in the sunshine but protect yourself.
Don't lose yourself in the science of things to capture the moment. Soak in the sunrises and sunsets that come to you. Tomorrow may not be the same.
Choose to see the happy little details ("ea") instead of the entire negativity ("it").
Indeed, life is a beach. 

Here we go with some OOTD credits:
Shades - Sunnies by Charlie
Crop top and skater skirt swimwear - from a bazaar in Park Mall
Blue coverup - gifted by Ms. Cecille
Watch - Skagen (water-resistant)
Please click "Read more" to see the rest of my solo escapade.
(Warning: Pictures overload)

First set of gazebos at the left side of the reception

My favorite of the swimming pools

Don't expect much of the beach. The beach front is actually small.

The Mactan shoreline are not of the white sand type.
Plantation Bay had to pour in the artificial white sands here as well.

The swimming lagoons should make up for what the beach lacks

Pools you might miss...

Piazza Palermo (it's at the back portion of the resort)

Windward freshwater swimming pool
This feels quite private as it is hidden behind the cave-like Windward cluster.

Sit and relax: Find your little nook

Children's playground for the little child in all of us

The day tripper's complimentary set lunch at Kilimanjaro Kafe:
The pork-belly and bam-i were so good that I just had to have second servings.

Clockwise from top: Papaya slices, guava slice, rum ball (loved this most), strawberry roll and the crunchy bar

After a complete tour of A-Z houses and halls, I returned to the area near the reception and had my coconut juice.
Thank you to the nice Korean who took my picture.

Thank you also to the nice kuya at the coconut bar who patiently acceded to my "choice" to not miss the little umbrella.

My trusty Gelattto flip flops enjoying the sand, too.

Kayaking, yippee!
The boat and row were quite big/heavy for me.
I also didn't have a sense of forward and backward in rowing, hahaha.
Thank you for the very patient life guard.

Wall climbing, yay!
L-R: Easy, medium and hard.
Even the "easy" part was quite hard for someone like me, haha.
But at least I didn't scream like crazy. Fear of heights conquered!

Archery, whoa!
We had just to come close so I can at least hit the target, hahaha.
Well, okay, enough of my Katniss aspirations :D
 Here are other activities you might be interested in...

Pitch and putt at the mini golf course

Tennis, anyone?

A luxurious spa treatment, maybe?

A back or foot massage by the beach

The slide is currently under construction.
The resort offered free kayaking to its guests to compensate for this.

Treat the kids to some fun stuff at the open air shops

Tapas and pastas at Palermo Cafe and Bar

Or if you may indulge to the fullest, a private suite all your own
Attention to details: Care and extra effort were taken to make every little nook of the resort picture-perfect as much as possible.


Steps, steps, steps

With all the pools and bodies of water at the resort, it seems that you can't just have enough of Plantation Bay.

Bye for now
The pianist played his last song

Transportation back to my hotel (A.C. Cortes, Mandaue) proved to be another challenge. But hey, this was supposed to be part of the bucket list experience. I quietly and patiently endured two long tricycle rides to Grand Mall and then to Tamiya (getting a taxi from the resort would be next to impossible, I was told, given the road constructions and the traffic).
I finally took the cab from Tamiya to my hotel and was blessed to have chanced upon a courteous driver who didn't play on the "I'm not sure where it is" scheme (unfortunately, my experience with some, not all, Cebu taxi drivers left a generally not-too-good impression). I surely feel sorry for the foreigners who had to go through an unfortunate ordeal with some not-too-honest drivers. Bringing your own car or rented transportation is still the best option for trips like this, particularly if you're a foreigner or do not know your way around Cebu.
And that ends my Plantation Bay solo escapade, my dears. It's siesta / bed time now. A happy and blessed Sunday to all =)

Note: Pardon the quality of some of the pictures as these were taken from my good ol' BB mobile when my camera battery finally ran out midday.

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