Francesca in South Korea: From Seoul to Cebu

Until some days ago, the only Asian country I had visited was South Korea. However, last Thursday I had the pleasure of discovering a whole new world by flying to Cebu Island, in the Philippines, with some other exchange students.

Cebu is one of the 7,107 islands of the archipelago of the Philippines, even though I believe that it could perfectly fit in the archipelago of paradise!! The tropical forests, the incredible beaches and the unique reefs make this place just unforgettable.

Although our trip only lasted five days, we had the chance to experience unique activities such as the shower under the waterfalls or the snorkeling along the reefs.falls

Our hotel was located in Moalboal, on the southwestern side of the island, near the famous Kawasan falls. To get there, we had to ride on a tiny, 15-year old tricycle that had to carry all of us curve after curve. Once reached the hot spot by miracle, we had to walk through the tropical trees and the crystal clear waters of the torrents until we arrived to one of the many falls. There, some local guys carried us on a bamboo raft toward the high waterfalls, until we got right under them. Rainbows were forming all around us and the water would hit our bodies for a natural massage. So nice! To add some thrill to the trip, we later climbed the surrounding rocks for some dives. While walking around this isolated piece of paradise, my envy toward the local people, who had actually the privilege of  living inside this natural spectacle, grew stronger and stronger.

The day after, we took our masks and pins and dived into the Pacific ocean for some nice snorkeling. Blue starfishes alternating under us with colorful fish of all sizes kept our eyes moving continuously up and down, right and left. The hot sun, on the other side, made our bodies turn red like tomatoes!!

Apart from the natural attractions of this fascinating island, I also was able to meet some Filipino people and their culture. In accordance with the paradisiacal landscape, the locals seem to avoid any possible stress. On our way from and to the hotel, in fact, we would always pass some villages made of wooden shacks in between the tropical palms. The little kids and their mothers did not seem concerned about their incredibly poor conditions, and they were actually smiling and waving at us every time we passed them.  This made me think a lot!

Moreover, for the first time since I started my exchange program, I had the possibility to compare South Korea to another Asian country. To be sincere, I was quite shocked by the difference of life standard between Korea and Cebu Island. In economic terms, Korea is decades ahead of Cebu, and, as for people’s behavior, the attitude appears completely opposite: while Korean society is highly competitive and extremely work-oriented, the people in the Philippines seem to worry much less about money and enjoy much more the simple things of life. I guess the idyllic setting contributes a great deal to the happiness of these welcoming people.

waterfalls

Da Seoul a Cebu 

Fino a qualche giorno fa, l’unica nazione asiatica che avevo visitata era la Corea del Sud. Tuttavia, lo scorso giovedi’ ho avuto il piacere di scoprire un mondo nuovo e volare fino all’isola di Cebu, nelle Filippine, con alcuni exchange student.

Cebu e’ una delle 7.107 isole dell’arcipelago delle Filippine, anche se a mio parere sarebbe perfettamente in sintonia con l’arcipelago di qualche paradiso!! Le foreste tropicali, le spiagge incredibili e le pittoresche barriere coralline rendono questo posto semplicemente indimenticabile!

Nonostante il nostro viaggio sia durato solo alcuni giorni, abbiamo avuto l’opportunita’ di vivere alcune esperienze uniche, quali la doccia sotto le cascate o lo snorkeling lungo le barriere.

Il nostro hotel si trovava a Moalboal, una regione a sud est dell’isola, vicino alle famose Cascate di Kawasan. Per arrivarci, abbiamo dovuto prendere uno striminzito “triciclo” di soli 15 anni, il quale ce l’ha fatta per miracolo a portarci a destinazione. Una volta arrivati, ci siamo incamminati tra gli alberi tropicali e i torrenti cristallini, fino a che non siamo arrivati davanti a una delle cascate. Neanche il tempo di entrare in acqua e un paio di abitanti locali ci hanno caricati su delle zattere di bambu’ e trasportati fin sotto le cascate.

Piccoli arcobaleni si formavano attorno a noi mentre l’acqua ci faceva dei massaggi naturali. Una goduria! Per rendere la gita un po’ piu’ movimentata,  abbiamo poi “scalato” alcune rocce per tuffarci nell’acqua trasparente! Mentre camminavo tra una roccia e l’altra, la mia invidia per le persone che vivono all’interno di questo spettacolo naturale cresceva sempre piu’.

Il giorno successivo abbiamo preso pinne, fucile ed occhiaaali e ci siamo tuffati nell’oceano Pacifico per un po’ di snorkeling. Sotto di noi, stelle di mare marine blu e pesci di ogni colore e taglia facevano balzare i nostri occhi su e giu’, a destra e a sinistra. Sopra di noi, invece, il sole ci faceva diventare rossi come peperoni!!

Oltre alle attrazioni naturali di quest’isola affascinante, in questi giorni ho anche potuto conoscere alcuni Filippini. In armonia con il paesaggio paradisiaco, gli abitanti sembrano evitare qualsiasi fonte di stress. Lungo la strada dell’hotel, per esempio, passavamo sempre in mezzo ad alcuni villaggi di capanne di legno immerse tra le palme. I bambini e le loro madri non sembravano affatto preoccupati per le loro incredibili condizioni di paura, ma anzi sorridevano e ci salutavano cordialmente ogni volta che passavamo di li’! Questo mi ha fatto riflettere molto!

Inoltre, per la prima volta da quando ho inziato il mio semestre di studio all’estero, ho potuto confrontare la Corea del Sud con un’altra nazione asiatica. A dire il vero, la differenza tra gli standard di vita delle due nazioni mi ha scioccata alquanto. In quanto a sviluppo economico, la Corea e’ decadi avanti rispetto a Cebu. Per quanto riguarda il comportamento delle persone, l’atteggiamento appare completamente opposto: mentre in Corea la vita e’ decisamente competitiva e focalizzata sul lavoro, la gente nelle filippine si preoccupa molto meno per i soldi e si gode molto di piu’ le cose semplici della vita. Senza dubbio, il paesaggio idilliaco di quest’isola contribuisce alla felicita’ di questo popolo ospitale!

Francesca Passudetti
International Business Major, International Affairs Minor
JCU Class of 2014
Study Abroad at Sookmyung Women’s University in South Korea

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