Category Archives: Philippines

Leaving Manila…

A very rare moment here in our place:  Ellie is asleep, during the day, in her crib (!!!) and I have two (TWO!) free hands.  Have I mentioned how much I miss typing with two hands?

So despite being late in updating a lot of things (like trips from almost a freaking year ago, how home leave in OBX was awesome, how my running is going badly, how the podiatrist said I will need surgery in both feet, etc, etc), I figured now it’s a good time as any to update on the last few weeks in the Philippines.

It was tough leaving Manila, I left a lot of amazing friends behind that I miss dearly.  As much as being back in the US of A is awesome (awesome!), I wish I could have packed up all my friends with me.

Before leaving Manila, I got to do a lot on that last month…  I said goodbye to my Brazilian friend and her twin girls (cannot believe they’re a year old now!).

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I went to Puerto Galera for the first time and got to pack my diving stuff after a year away…  And yes, I got a couple of last dives in!  Yay!  Never got my 50th dive, but I did leave the Philippines with 49 dives under my belt – which is pretty good, considering there was a 9 month pregnancy in the midst of that.

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We stayed in Buri Resort, and it was lovely…

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Yep, we had our own plunge pool, and it was a two bedroom/2 bath/2 stories villa – which we shared with friends – with an amazing view!

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Then 6 moms, 7 babies, one yaya all took a flight then a boat over to Siquijor Island…

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And aside from a stomach bug I caught at the last night, it was lovely to spend a couple of days with them and to just relax and hang out with this view… 

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And with this pool.  We got two villas in Coco Grove, each with two floors and two full bathrooms, and it was perfect!

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Before leaving I ordered a Filipino quilt for Ellie at the AWCP Bazaar, since I wanted her to leave with something from the country she was born in.

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After almost 2 years, Karl finally got his braces removed!

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In the midst of moving madness, I thought it was a good idea to pull out this broken plug from our wireless router and electrocuted myself (I do not handle sleep deprivation well and make stupid decisions…).

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I took more cute pictures of Lily and Ellie…

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Our place got packed up and all we had left was ugly embassy furniture – and we won’t see our stuff for another year, until after we get to Brazil.

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I got one last shopping trip done in Greenhills.

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And had one last meal at my favorite restaurant in Manila, Alba.

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The pets hung out on our ugly now-uncovered embassy furniture…

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We went a few more times to Salcedo Market across the street from us.

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Had more amazing ice cream at Merry Moo (Salted Caramel, Honeycomb and Cookies & Brownies are our favorite flavors).

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Got more of the amazing fruit only found in Asia, like mangosteen…

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Lanzones…

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Dragon Fruit…

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Rambutan…

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I will NOT miss seeing the cow lechon every Saturday! (I’m a very much hypocrite carnivore – don’t show me the animal!)

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I had the worst haircut of my life by the same stylist who had given me the best haircut of my life…  This was my 4th time with the same stylist at Hair Philosophie.  I left in tears (then took scissors to it myself a couple of days later so I could wear it down again).

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Went to Legaspi market…

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Ellie wore her Department of State onesie (that Karl’s coworkers gifted him) to represent!

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I had a great goodbye party thrown by Una (sadly we didn’t get a picture with everyone later, we were too busy eating and chatting!).

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Una also gave us this super cool Filipino painting.  I will not miss the jeepneys!

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Una and Naomi came over on my very last day, and Naomi went all general on me and got me to get on to packing, and weighing every single piece of luggage I had, which means Karl and I actually had free time later for a foot massage and dinner.

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We woke up at 3am and left to the airport to what was (and hopefully will always be) our worse travel experience ever.  Cely, our helper and yaya to our pets, said goodbye to Lily and Lucas through many tears.

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Turns out what we were dreading the most, going through NAIA, was the easiest.  We were very mistreated in Japan, and kicked out of the Delta lounge because we had pets (even though they were quiet, and we were allowed to be there with pets as long as they were in their carrier), Lucas broke out of his carrier and almost escaped, and I had to McGyver the thing mid-flight…

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And this is how the inside looked like.  Somehow no one noticed and we went 7 more hours in flight with the carrier looking like this, got through a connection in Detroit and boarded our next plane with no issues.  He also pooped himself because he was so freaked out (Lily’s blanket that she had since the day she came home to us was sacrificed), broke his claw and had multiple cuts to his little nose.  I had to spend the rest of the time with a hand inside the carrier petting him.  It got very tricky when I had to hold Ellie with one hand to nurse her and had my other hand petting Lucas, with both Ellie and the carrier on my lap. 

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Then we finally arrived in DC, bought a brand new car which we love, and headed to the start of our much needed rest in the Outer Banks, NC.

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Pictures from our home leave at the beach to come…

(And for the record, the last half of this post was typed mostly one handed.  This chick will not sleep for long during the day.  *sigh*)

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Filed under Foreign Service, Manila, Philippines, Travel

10 Days…

And so it begins…

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While this chapter of our lives comes to an end…

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And I’m still not ready to say my goodbyes.

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Filed under Foreign Service, Philippines

Bad Diplomats?

Our neighbor host parties (dinner?) next door at least once a week, always on a weekday.  Always ends close to midnight.  Their guests all leave at once, are always very loud, laughing and chatting and hanging out in front of our front door before saying their final goodbyes and taking the elevator.

When you take the elevator in my building, if you make a right, there are only two apartments – mine and the neighbors.  Mine comes first, and it’s about 15-20 feet from the main elevator, the neighbors’ are at the end of the hall.

Our walls are made of concrete – when my neighbors have their little events, we don’t hear a peep.  When you gather in front of my front door and chat loudly, however, the noise travels through my apartment reaching every bedroom, since all our bedrooms face the living room (video tour here), added to that, the wooden floors are great at making sound travel.

When Lily hears the loud voices echoing through our apartment, she responds the same as any dog:  she barks.  Loudly.

A couple of weeks before I gave birth, I finally decided to attemt to put an end to the loud noise, the last thing I wanted was to have a baby awake all night because of people hanging out by my door.  So on a Tuesday at 11:30pm, I went out and told the group of 10 people hanging out to please be quiet, we were trying to sleep.

The noise got better and for a little while, if there was anything, it would be passing noise, no one was lingering here.

Then it restarted.  To make matters worse, guests started going to the hallway to have lengthy phone calls, right in front of our door.

So sometimes Karl goes out and asks them to please be quiet, we have a newborn baby sleeping.  Sometimes I’m the one who asks.

Yesterday, the neighbor angrily accosted our helper to complain to her that we don’t own the common hallway, and we are bad diplomats for asking people to be quieter.  Because don’t you know such guest was the president of XYZ company?  And another president of ABC company?

Say what?!? 

Am I the only one that expects MORE from people in high positions?  Consideration for others is not something you’re exempt from just because you have money, but if you do have money, I expect you to set the example for everyone else!  And truth be told, let’s be honest, I don’t care if you’re the Queen of England!  It’s the middle of the week, late at night, if you want to be loud, do so in your own apartment where the insulation keeps my baby and my pets from getting aggravated!

It’s going to be really really really hard leaving Manila.  I’m going to leave an amazing group of friends behind, and board that plane with incredible memories.  But this kind of crap?  This sense of entitlement that some have just because they have money?  I won’t miss it at all. 

(Want a more drastic example?   The men who murdered George Anikow were granted bail 3 months ago, despite having coldly murdered the former marine and spouse of a US diplomat – the murder itself happened because rich kids were told what to do and did not like it.  It was all caught on video, but the video, where Anikow is seen running away, then tackled and stabbed by the four men, was not considered to be enough evidence.  And then one wonders how some of the richer folks here get this sense of entitlement.  Well, because they can.)

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Filed under Asia, Foreign Service, Manila, Philippines

Boracay!

As I mentioned before, as we are getting ready to leave the Philippines (in 25 days!!!), I was sad that we had never been to Boracay, the most famous beach in the country.

Stories of crowds and the partying atmosphere might excite some, but actually kept us from going there. Personally, I hate crowded beaches – I like my space, my quiet, my peace. To add to that, tickets to Boracay are just as expensive as international tickets, so we chose to go to places like Hong Kong, Taipei, Jakarta, Shanghai, Brunei, Kota Kinabalu, Seoul, Bangkok, (etc, etc) instead.

But splurging for a 5-star stay at the Shangri-la in Boracay sounded like the perfect way to end our time in the Philippines, plus an easy first trip with a newborn!

Ellie did great on her first plane ride, I nursed her on the way up and down, as everyone recommended in order to keep her ears cleared, and she slept the rest of the time.

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We got to the resort, and immediately fell in love…

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The view from our room didn’t hurt…

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We spent the next few days at the private beach in front of our room, the water and sand were gorgeous!

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And as Karl and Ellie took a few naps at the beach, I was able to explore the grounds and check out the pool (which oddly enough, was heated, so it was super uncomfortable in this sunny weather…).

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I also visited the other private beach, which was much smaller, but being next to the pool, also much busier…

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But from there we could see amazing sunsets… (No filters needed – actually, for any of these pictures, everything looks exactly as it did on my camera!)

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Traveling with Ellie was great too! I wore her on my Beco Gemini, which instantly makes her pass out, so we were able to go out to dinner every night, and she was completely oblivious to it! (I’m getting really good at eating above her head…)

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And to add to my joy, Ellie loved being on the beach!

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And she loved the water too!

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(Except when Karl held her…)

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We took advantage of the free shuttle and checked out the “real” Boracay as well…

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But around the beach area, and specially the boardwalk, it was all so noisy and crowded, we were relieved we decided not to stay there!

The only hard part of the trip was leaving this behind…

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I’m so happy we went to Boracay, and despite the extra expense for the flights and to stay at the Shangri-la, it was absolutely worth it! The place was paradise, and it was a super easy trip with a newborn too (after all, Ellie wasn’t even 8 weeks!).

We have one more trip scheduled before we leave, spending a weekend in Puerto Galera (which involves a drive + boat), and I ended up scheduling a trip with the girls from MADS back to Siquijor – 6 moms, 7 babies, 1 yaya. Now THAT should be interesting… Stay tuned… I’m also hoping procrastination to pack will give me a chance to finally catch up on all the trips I’ve taken in the last few months and failed to blog about!

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Filed under Asia, Foreign Service, Philippines, Pictures, Travel, Travel Review, Traveling in Asia, Trips!