Tag Archives: Vanilla Beach Café

Cebu SM Mall

It’s crazy for us to think that today is actually Christmas Eve, and we are celebrating Jesus’ birthday in the Philippines.

Today woke up, ate breakfast at the resort, and took the iconic pink jeepney-shuttle, also known as the “pink thing” to the SM Mall. The resort offers various scheduled time allotted free shuttle rides to and from the SM Mall or Ayala Mall in Cebu. Just ask the front desk for a schedule, reserve your spot, and be on your way. The trip takes about 45 minutes from the resort.


Jeepneys are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines. I snapped a few quick pics with my Iphone to show you how bedazzled some of these vehicles can look.

We had a really nice ride taking in the countryside and sights on the way to the SM Mall. We also got the opportunity to pick the resort staffs brain and their feelings of various things we took notice to since being in the country. Some of our conversation even revolved around older foreigner men with young native women. After the conversation we were really floored by the opinions and also more appreciative and hold a bit more respect for these women that are trying to save their families.

We arrived at the SM Mall and were briefed by the resort staff that we needed to make sure we kept our bags zipped up and held tightly in front of us if we were in a large crowd. They continued to tell us that there are many things that go unnoticed until it is to late when being a victim of theft. The atmosphere at first was a bit intimidating, you are ushered through security guards opening up your belongings and wanding you through a metal detector. The resort staff told us that ever since 9/11 the country has beefed up security in heavily frequented tourist places. I guess you can say it is more reassuring. Once inside of the mall we took notice to the locals grasping their bags tightly and wearing backpacks in their frontal body region. We quickly realized that it was no joke.

We Bees at the SM Mall in Cebu.


We enjoyed walking around the SM Mall. One of the largest Forever 21 stores is located at the SM Mall. The food court is huge! We ended up eating pasta and pizza. Hey! We are on vacay! We can skimp on the healthy-smelshy stuff for these few days. Mr. B purchased a Cebu mug from Starbucks that he has been collecting as we make our way around the globe. Mrs. B purchased a tiny star that seems to be the Christmas symbol displayed through the Cebu area for our future Christmas tree.

In the mall we caught some video of the craziest entertainment for kids….


These are almost as good as the kid sized, adult remote control cars we have seen in Korea!

After walking the entire mall about three or four times over we caught the shuttle back to the resort. Mr. B had a scheduled night dive that he needed to get back and prep for.

While Mr. B headed out for his dive, I sat in the open air game room in a nice high-back comfy leather chair and continued to read my book. On the plane ride over I started reading on my Kindle application, “Somewhere Inside” by Lisa Ling and her sister. I really have enjoyed reading about the unknown North Korea culture and haven’t been able to put this book down. I’m pretty certain that I will have it finished by the end of our trip.

Typically for Christmas Eve, we open gifts with some of our family, attend church service, and afterwards stuff ourselves silly with cookies, shrimp, and my grandmothers homemade sweet pickles. This year we had to improvise since we were remote and separated from the family festivities. We decided to treat ourselves to the HUGE Christmas Eve dinner buffet that the resort, Vanilla Beach Café, was serving for the holiday occasion.

While we enjoyed our meal we watched a Christmas performance of talented singers that preformed traditional Christmas tunes. We ate, ate more…oh and ate more. Gosh, the food. The food was just out of this world! There was so many things to pick from! We joked and said we needed to have the hotel staff follow us with trays or carts because we just wanted to eat everything in sight. Yes, we completely indulged. The buffet featured any meat you can think of, any dessert you can think of, veggies, and pretty much anything in between too.

Take a look for yourself, check out these picture!






















We wanted to make sure that we posted that we Bee’s got to feast on a local Filipino dish called Lechón. The word Lechón literally means suckling pig. In the Philippines, we were told that they roast an entire pig and call lechón baboy over red hot charcoal. The process reminded us of what we had seen in China, the peking duck. The method is incredibly long but well worth the end results! The pig’s skin is very crispy hard, but the meat inside is incredibly moist and juicy. Words really cannot describe how delicious the dish really is.



After dinner we were so stuffed. We honestly should have been wheeled out of the place. We made our way back up to our room and found a cute little homemade stocking the resort put in our room while we were at dinner. How sweet! The stocking was filled with two homemade cookies, an apple, and an orange. Just another one of the many personal touches Mövenpick continues to provide guests.

Before heading off to bed we stepped out on the balcony and listened to the local jams playing off in the distance. Again, we couldn’t believe it was Christmas Eve already. While chatting a bit and looking out into the distance we could vaguely make out people dancing outside, a bar like setting. We were on the 18th floor of the hotel so it reminded us of the Sims game where you just see people all over walking and going about their everyday life.

We Bees on Christmas Eve.


We Have Arrived

We boarded our flight a bit delayed due to heavy air traffic. Nothing major.

We were so eager to board the plane, only to realize our long American legs were about to be crushed for 4 hours. Booo!!! We learned a valuable lesson with deciding to fly Cebu Pacific Airways.


Yikes, Poor Mr. B’s legs.

To keep our minds off our legs we kept occupied by browsing though an interesting unique in flight food selection available for purchase.



Okay, serious question, would you try the spamusubi??

The Philippines is located almost directly south of South Korea. The difference is 1 hour, Korea is ahead by 1 hr.

Getting off the plane we quickly thew off our winter coats because we left Korea’s bone chilling 26 degree weather to a warm balmy 85 tropical weather.

We arrived at the airport in Cebu, first impression was that it was fairly small, however we were really tired from working all day, driving, and flying, all and all not totally coherent.

We exchanged our money inside the airport.

We were greeted by our driver that collected our luggage and we off to the resort.


Driving to the resort was a bit intimidating, it was the early am hours so it was still dark outside. We really didn’t know where we were going as this was our first time. This entire trip was a total first for Mrs. B and she was about to be fully emerged in this sort of environment.

We instantly saw a lot of teenagers and young kids out walking around so incredibly early in the morning. We talked and speculated what it may be.

We arrived at the Mövenpick Resort and Spa and were instantly greeted by hotel staff that collected our luggage and provided us with freshly squeezed mango juice, Mrs. B was in heaven! Later into the vacation we realized that she might even turn into a mango herself with all the fresh fruit she consumed. 🙂


Check in was painless and very quick. We headed directly up to our room, located on 18th floor, incredibly nice! The room had Comfortable linen, pillows, bed, a little safe for your valuables, a glass shower area, large deep bathtub, and Crabtree and Evelyn bath products. We were delighted to have an outstanding view from the walkout balcony of both coasts of the island beach area.

Eventually after all of the excitement of checking into our room we retired to bed at 4 am. We ended up waking up at 8 am to get a jump start on the day. We grabbed breakfast in resort restaurant Vanilla Beach Cafe. Gah! This Cafe was perfect for the freshly arrived, tired travelers. There was something for everyone! Everything from eggs made to order to Korean foods to local fresh fruits, yogurts, cereal, freshly made waffles, pancakes, you name it and they had it.

We decided after breakfast to walked over to the Shangra La Resort to check out area for future reference. We Looked at little shops and checked out the local area around our resort.

Once we got back it was time for lunch. We ate at the resort and it was just as delicious and plentiful as the breakfast that was offered.

After lunch we had booked a snorkeling trip. We were lucky enough to have a private boat take us out away from the resort about 30 minutes away to a smaller island where we docked out in the ocean and went snorkeling. The tropical fish were just beautiful! Mrs. B had never been snorkeling, she was a bit hesitant at first, after getting in she loved it and could have swam until her lips were blue. The water was so clear and the fish were so colorful!

On the way back to the resort we were able to see the sunset behind us. It was just breathtaking.

Once we got back to the resort we grabbed drinks and dinner. Cheers to an awesome first vacation day and here’s to many more ahead.