Category Archives: Trips!

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!

Away at Sonya’s Garden…

After a failed attempt to spend a nice and relaxing weekend in Sonya’s Garden in Tagaytay, I’m looking forward to 3 full days enjoying the beach and (hopefully) sun in Boracay!  We leave in a few hours and I couldn’t be more excited!

I had such high hopes for Sonya’s, after all, their rooms are made for relaxation (if you ever go, ask for the Chamomile room below):

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And yes, Lily was welcomed too, which was a big plus (wish I could take my little puppy everywhere!).  Sonya’s is such a nice contrast from Manila, and having been there for lunch before, I couldn’t wait to spend the weekend (dogs are welcomed in the restaurant too!).  Who wouldn’t want to relax here?

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Entrance to our room:

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We had an amazing lunch at Antonio’s (everyone insisted that I’d go, I’m glad I listened!), wish I knew Lily was welcomed there too though.  The atmosphere at Antonio’s was also great!

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When we got back to Sonya’s we had a spectacular massage  (HIGHLY recommend their signature massage! One of the best I’ve had!).  We went back to the room to relax and read our kindles, when the super loud music started.

Yep, they forgot to mention they were hosting a wedding at the restaurant that is just a few steps from the rooms.  So we went from hearing the birds outside to feeling like we were in a club, ready for some fist-pumping…  *Sigh* 

I have no idea why with two big restaurants they chose the lower one near the rooms to host the party instead of the upper ones, which would have been far enough that the noise would not be bothering the guests.

It wasn’t even 6pm, and I knew the party would be going on until late, and I didn’t expect the wedding to be quiet (it’s their one day, you know?  I wouldn’t even think of complaining to keep the noise down!), so we decided to cut our losses and leave.  (Karaoke was starting up then, and though Filipinos are amazingly talented, not all of them can sing, and that was clearly obvious by the sounds of it!)

Sonya’s staff was wonderful and totally understood why we were leaving (and apologized as someone should have warned us about the wedding when we made the reservations – if we knew, we wouldn’t have booked it).  They refunded our 50% deposit without hesitation, and we headed in a 3 hour trek with traffic back to Manila.  It was still a nice day so it wasn’t a complete loss, but I was so so so disappointed that my weekend of relaxing in a quiet environment that smells like flowers (because the area really does smell like flowers – such a change from Manila!) was a fail.  And with less than 40 days until we leave the Philippines I wouldn’t get a redo.

I still highly recommend Sonya’s Garden if you want a relaxing weekend away from Manila, just make sure they aren’t hosting any events when you’re there.  We had dinner on our way out, and I was disappointed with the food.  Though the menu is the same, lunch was way better the few times we’ve eaten there, so if you just go for one meal, do lunch, not dinner.  (The food for the guests at the B&B is different though, but we never got to try it.)

Now hoping relaxation will finally happen in a few hours!  Boracay, here we come!

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Shanghai!

It feels like ages ago that we went to Shanghai, probably because it really was.  Who knew it would take me this long to share the pictures?  (Can I keep blaming this procrastination on pregnancy?)

I loved the city, it was great to be in a big city with lots of green space and parks (something we miss the most here in Manila). 

We stayed at the Pudi Boutique Hotel, and I highly recommend it!  It was amazingly comfortable and convenient to a lot of restaurants.

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We pretty much walked everywhere from our hotel, Shanghai wasn’t nearly as crowded as I was expecting.  And seeing trees everywhere was quite the novelty after living so long in Manila.

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Believe it or not, despite being pregnant and dying to pee, it’s amazing your body’s capacity to hold *just a little longer* so you can avoid a smelly squat toilet (I’m leaving Asia in a little over 3 months, and have been successful in avoiding them completely!  It helps that they’re not the norm here in the Philippines).

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It was a short trip, but we had a great time!  I definitely hope to be able to visit again someday!

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Filed under Asia, Pictures, Travel, Traveling in Asia, Trips!

Where I’ve Been–Updated!

After months and months and months of procrastination, I have finally updated my Where I’ve Been page!   I was a bit sad deleting the line “Trips planned for this year” and not replacing it with actual trips planned but there is nothing, since I’m officially banned from air travel until this baby gets here – and then who knows if we’ll get a chance to travel with baby in the last two months, considering she won’t get a passport until the birth certificate arrives, and just that takes 6 weeks!  (Have I mentioned we’re moving 2 months after baby, so just the thought of that stresses me out a *tad* – and yes, that is a total understatement).

But anyway, up to 33 countries/territories, not bad considering I arrived in the Philippines with those numbers in the teens!

Here are some of the pictures I added from recent trips – I may have gone overboard with a few of them, but sometimes it’s hard to choose favorites.  (And yep, still planning on blogging all about the trips I haven’t shared yet, it will be nice reminiscing about them!)

Australia:  Sydney and Blue Mountains

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Vietnam:  Hanoi (can you tell the weather was very gloomy?)

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MalaysiaKota Kinabalu

Blog - Kota Kinabalu

Marshall Islands:  Majuro

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Cambodia:  Phnom Penh

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Federal States of Micronesia:  Pohnpei

Blog - Pohnpei

China: Shanghai

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This one from right here in the Philippines, our weekend trip to Subic to swim with dolphins!

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Laos:  Vientiane

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I also added some pictures to much older trips (pre-blog), like my trips to Greece, Spain, etc.  (Pretty much anything I had digital pictures for were finally included!)

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Filed under Asia, Philippines, Pictures, Travel, Traveling in Asia, Trips!