Tuesday, October 13, 2009
What's the deal?
OK so here are the basics of my trip.
My college roommate came to visit me. It's the furthest she has ever been from home (of course) and the longest she has gone on a vacation that didn't involved her parents.
I already told you about our first couple of night so I'll skip to the rest.
Sunday is where the fun started.
Meghan and I grabbed some dan bing (geez, I can't get enough of that stuff) and we hopped on a plane to Manila. After a moment of confusion and stressing out over the fact that we didn't have pesos so we couldn't use a pay phone to call Meghan's cousin who was meeting us at the airport, he found us.
Thank goodness, because I get a little panicky.
Manila was relatively uneventful, which I guess is a good thing.
Honestly, it was just a little different than what I expected. We were staying with her cousin who is an American businessman living in The Philippines working for a company in Hong Kong. He has this fabulous house, amazing (and gracious) wife, two adorable sons, three maids/nannies and a driver.
That's living the high life. And thus, we lived the high life for a couple of days to.
When we arrived that afternoon, Troy and Loren (his wife) took us to Tagatay. It's an active volcano with a lake and an island in the middle.
Unfortunately, the clouds had set in by the time we made it up there, so this is what we saw.
If you squint really hard you can see the ripples in the water, but the island is pretty much impossible to see. It was still pretty and peaceful though, so we had snacks.
The next day we pretty much just hung around for the morning. We were woken up with a gigantic (Western) breakfast. Eventually Meghan and I decided we wanted to go to Intramuros.
Intramuros, inside the walls, is the oldest area in Manila, built by the Spanish, most of which was destroyed in WWII. You can still see parts of the wall, Fort Santiago and a couple of super old churches.
They have this amazing shrine to Dr. Jose Rizal. After his execution by the Japanese, the Filipinos rose into rebellion. I honestly couldn't repeat the whole story, but it's a very romantic story when you hear it told by a Filipino tour guide. Ours was actually quite excellent. He did the whole tour in a horse-drawn carriage for 250 Philippine Pesos per person. I recommend it.
After Intramuros we headed over the The Hobbit House. This is a bar staffed almost entirely by little people. Yep. Just think Hobbit. It opened in the '70s and is basically Lord of the Rings themed. It's owned by an Irishman and therefore sells hundreds of amazing beers. Unfortunately we chose to go on a Wednesday night in October, so it was dead.
We also went to a wet market (you know how much I love open-air markets) to buy tons of fresh-out-of-the-water seafood. A restaurant right next to the market cooked it all up for us. It was such a nice night.
Then it was off to Bohol for our beach time.
Now remember all that panicking I was doing? You know how I was obsessing over the weather?
Well, it all pretty much disappeared as far as The Philippines went (though Meghan didn't have one cloud-free day in Taiwan).
Alona Beach was gorgeous and everything I hoped it would be. We had a room at an awesome resort and it wasn't crowded at all. I highly recommend Alona (on Punglao Island) if you're going to The Philippines. It's so wonderful.
The only thing that bothered me is that people kept saying that we were rich because of the resort we were staying at. It baffled me because I'm anything but rich and honestly, I found a fabulous package deal.
We could have actually done stuff cheaper, but I didn't know that at the time considering I had never been there.
I found this package that got us three nights stay, breakfast everyday, a one-hour massage and a tour of the big Bohol tourist spots. All for about $600/each. I'm happy with that. Like I said though, we could have done it cheaper, but this was safe and easy. You pay for luxuries like that.
On the tour we went to the Blood Compact site, Baclayon Church (also known as Immaculate Conception Church), Loboc River (where we went on a lunch cruise through the rain forest on a bangka), the Chocolate Hills (which were beautiful) and the Tarsier Sanctuary.
Either way, at the beach it was pretty much nothing but watermelon margaritas and San Miguel Pale, a ($5) massage every day and beautiful views.
The Philippines were amazing. The people were so nice and it was kind of nice to take a break from thinking in two languages all of the time.