Trip to Cebu

Cebu Trip
I turn 62 next week (if I live that long) and have been trying to sign up for social security for months. I tried when I was in the US in August but had to wait until within 90 days of my birthday.
The embassy in Manila used to accept walk in customers but changed the policy sometime in the last 2-3 years and you now need an appointment. That would not be a problem IF they would respond to correspondence. I sent my first email to them in November and got a automatic reply saying they got my email and would respond within 3 days. Guess what? I never got another response. I tried again in mid December and again got the automated reply followed a couple days later by an actual reply asking for more info. I gave the requested info right away and NOTHING. I sent several follow up emails and was totally ignored. I have talked to other Americans here and they all said they have had no luck trying to call so I finally gave up and decided to try the consulate in Cebu. The website says they do services for American citizens and one of my friends here said they also do SS sign ups on a walk in basis.
We went to Cebu by ferry Wednesday night and got there Thursday morning about 6:30AM. We were in line at the consulate by 7 AM. They open at 8. There was only one other American native there, all the other customers were Filipinos with US passports.
I was told I HAVE to go to Manila to enroll with SS. I was wondering how I was going to get an appointment until I opened my emails today and discovered an email from the SS in Manila saying they will call me on the 28th. The email was sent on the 23rd.
Everyone and I do mean EVERYONE cusses out the Philippine government for corruption and inefficiency but I do not think the US government is any better.
Anyway I will now tell about our trip. Les went with me. We have taken overnight ferry trips two other times and always stayed in a private room with our own bathroom and large bed. For some unknown reason she booked us into a shared room with 4 twin beds this time. We were able to upgrade to the private room I wanted but we were lucky considering there is only ONE private room on the ferry. It cost $70.
I was very disappointed in the cabin because the sheets did not look clean and the on demand water heater was not connected. Most Filipinos here do not have water heaters and think nothing of taking a shower with what to me is pretty cold water. It is about 70 degrees F but that is cold when you are in a shower of it. There was surprisingly toilet paper in the bathroom but no soap, shampoo or towels. I did not take a shower.
I only took one change of clothes since we were planning to return the same day. After we left the consulate about 9 AM with no good results we went to McDonalds to eat and then back to the pier to buy a ticket home.
Les had heard about a new big mall in Cebu that she wanted to see so we went there to kill time. While we were there I decided to make our return trip back a little better. I bought a set of sheets, a towel and wash cloth to use in the bathroom so I could take a bath without freezing in the shower. I bought a small bar of soap and shampoo for me and conditioner for Les. With those supplies I could stand in the bathroom (no tub of course, only a bucket for water) and lather up the wash cloth and bath then do a quick rinse using the shower head.
The ferry we were on is about 500 feet long and I saw bunks numbered up to about 900 but it was less than half full which was great by me. I have heard and read too many stories about overloaded ferries sinking and killing hundreds of people at a time.
Within an hour of the time we left CDO we could feel and hear the ferry hitting waves. It never got bad but you had to be careful when you were walking. When we went to bed it was hard to get to sleep because of the rocking and the noise. We were in the very front cabin with about 50 feet of the ships bow in front of us. That is where the two anchors are dropped from as well as where the big mooring ropes are spooled on drums.
We would hit waves at uneven times, sometimes every 20-30 seconds, sometimes 2-3 minutes apart. When some of them hit it sounded like Thor’s hammer hitting the bow.
We took the exact same ferry to return to CDO and again it was a little hard to sleep because of the noise and rocking. It was not bad or scary but more than this landlubber is used to.

There are several classes of accomadations on ferries here. Economy, tourist, shared room with 4 twin beds and private bath, and the private room with king size bed that we had.

The parts of Cebu we visited are a world apart from the Philippines we live in here. The consulate is in the basement of a high dollar very very nice hotel with a beautiful garden. According to their website the rooms are $76-$443 per night. Considering an ok hotel here is only about $50 per night, that seems expensive to me.

The mall just opened in 2015 and still looks brand new. There are a lot of empty spaces that have signs of coming businesses. There is an ice rink that looks to me like it might be regulation size. I let Les try it out and she liked it but only skated for about 40 minutes.
The mall is the 3rd largest in the Philippines and the 8th largest in the world. Filipinos are NUTS about malls. There are different lists on line for the largest malls in the world but I will use Wikipedia for this blog. For those of you who have been to the Mall of America, it has 2,779,000 sq ft of leasable space.
The SM Seaside City Cebu mall that we went to has 5,064,300 sq ft of leasable area.

The mall is not near to most other areas where people shop and the taxi driver who dropped us there commented that he would have trouble getting a new fare there. The mall was mostly empty while we were there. We were there when the mall opened at 10 AM and stayed until about 4:30 and it never did get busy. Granted it was on a Wednesday. It is a very nice mall just as good as anything I have seen in the USA with all the same brands and most of the same stores. No Sears or other big anchors like the US malls have but the Philippine equivalent of them though.
I will attach a few pictures that I took but I have many more so if you want to see them please let me know.



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