Tag Archives: philippines

Boracay: Booked!

Every Filipino I meet outside of the Philippines, or anytime I chat with one locally, I always get the same question:  “Have you been to Boracay yet?”

Yes, we have traveled extensively in the Philippines, visiting Bohol, Cebu, Moalboal, Coron, Siquijor, Apo Island, Subic, Mt Pinatubo (still need to blog about these last two…), Batangas, Tagaytay, El Nido…  Considering we’ve had less than two years to travel around here, I think we did pretty well.

But despite El Nido being gorgeous…


The diving in Apo Island…


…and Moalboal being spectacular…

Hiking Mt Pinatubo being an unique experience…


…and Bohol having the famous tarsier monkeys…

No one ever asks me if I’ve been to any of those places.  Nope, they’re only interested in knowing if I have been to the famous white beaches of Boracay…

I was convinced we were going to leave the Philippines without stepping foot there.  I do hear mixed reviews:  I have friends that love it and been multiple times, and others that hated how crowded the beach is (and I am not one for crowded beaches).  And when I’ve been to other white beaches here, like Malcapuya Island during a beach hopping boat trip in Coron…


…I had no immediate desire to go to Boracay, a place I can’t ever find a good fare deal for.

But I still felt like we couldn’t leave the Philippines without checking that box.  Who knows if we will ever be back here?

So in late April, Ellie will be going on her first plane ride, and spending a weekend with us at the most famous beach in the Philippines…  And as it’s our first trip with baby, and our last trip here, we went for a bit of a splurge:  we’ll be hanging out at the Shangri-la!


It wasn’t cheap by any means, but after I found out they offer resident rates, the prices became much more affordable (though still a huge splurge). But after staying put since NYE in Australia, when we usually travel at least once a month, and considering we’re dragging a newborn around for the first time, this sounds like the best way to end our time in the Philippines!  Plus, it will be a great way to travel with baby AND relax (we even splurged for the seaview room, in case we need to be cooped up in the room, at least we have something nice to look at).

Now let’s hope I can make Ellie be just as much as a water baby as her mom…  I don’t know what I’ll do if she doesn’t grow up to love the beach like I do!


Filed under Baby, Foreign Service, Philippines, Pictures, Travel, Traveling in Asia

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

Blog - Australia

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

Blog - Hanoi

MalaysiaKota Kinabalu

Blog - Kota Kinabalu

Marshall Islands:  Majuro

Blog - Majuro

Cambodia:  Phnom Penh

Blog - Phnom Penh

Federal States of Micronesia:  Pohnpei

Blog - Pohnpei

China: Shanghai

Blog - Shanghai

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

Blog - Subic

Laos:  Vientiane

Blog - Vientiane

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!

Ooops, I did it again…

Remember the day we moved to Makati, and I showed up at home with this


Well, last night after dinner at the Ayala Park, Karl was ahead of me as he was stopping by McDonalds to get us sundaes (another oops…), and as I walked with Lily I spotted this scared gray kitten, completely terrified and alone.

I don’t need to tell you that when I waved my husband back across the street that I was not his favorite person then.  But how can I leave a tiny kitten left to die like that?  (And I think 2 kittens in 2 years in a city where there are strays everywhere is a pretty good number, no?)

So we brought him home, and under the light I saw how filthy he really was.  Off to the sink with some pet soap he went, and after lots (and lots) of scrubbing, and a total of three wash-rinse cycles (for real!), we got all the fleas and dirt out, and turns out the gray kitten was actually white…


And he might look well fed, thanks to his longer than usual fur, but he’s a skinny little thing once you touch him – you can feel every single rib and spine bone.  But we solved that problem by quickly feeding him after the bath (yay for not having to bottle feed again!), and boy, was he starving!


And I even cuddled with him a bit on the couch.  He purrs like no cat I’ve ever seen, and loves to cuddle and knead.  So different than the other kitten who was a feisty little thing!


Karl’s mean cold heart finally softened too, and he snuggled with the kitten today.


Of course, we can’t keep him.  Not only a newborn is entering our lives soon, but Lucas made it clear to us (again!) that he is in a one-cat family (nothing like seeing your sweet grown cat madly hiss at a tiny kitten).

Vet is coming tomorrow, and hope to advertise him for adoption soon once he gets a clean bill of health.  He’s such a little snuggly thing, that hopefully won’t be too hard for him to find a good home!  (Anyone in Manila reading this wants to adopt a kitty?)



Filed under Manila, Pictures, Random

The Many Advantages of Being Pregnant in Manila

We’re hoping to have another baby after this one, and I can’t even imagine how different of an experience it will be.  Because being pregnant in Manila has many many advantages!

-Affordable Prenatal Care!  A doctor’s appointment here, before my insurance even kicks in, costs me $60, and that includes an ultrasound.  Oh, and that also includes going to one of the top hospitals and top doctors in the city.  Not bad right?

-Ultrasounds!  Every single appointment I have I get to see the baby.  No measuring my belly to see how things are going, ultrasound right away for the measurements.  Sure, they’re not necessary, but aside from getting another chance to see baby, the doctor measures all the body parts to make sure they’re growing ok, and also checks the other things that are important:  Is the baby in the right position?  Is there enough fluid around the baby?  Is the placenta up high?  Is the umbilical cord not wrapped around the baby?  Is the cervix high and closed?  And I get to take home a bunch of (let’s face it: creepy) pictures of the baby’s ultrasounds!  Looks like baby girl is sporting some chubby cheeks…

-Affordable Prenatal Massages!  I have talked about the great cheap massages I get here in Manila many many times before, and though it’s not easy to find a place that does prenatal massage, when you do find one, they’re affordable!  My favorite is still QiWellness, where a 90 minute prenatal massage is a little over P1,000 (about $25), there’s also Neo Spa (P1,150 for 60 minutes – about $28), and the cheapest, though I haven’t tried it yet, is Spaholics, a home massage service (P500/hour).  I have also heard of MomMassage, which is the most expensive specially for a home service at P1,200/hour, but they do lactation and post natal massages as well so I might try it after the baby is here (because postnatal massage at home would be convenient, no?).

-Chiropractor!  Sadly, the price for chiropractor here is not much cheaper than the US (about $60/session), probably because they’re so hard to find.  Luckily our (very very expensive) insurance covers a good chunk of that, so I have also been taking advantage to keep the back pain at a minimum (I got to N8).  I can’t even imagine how my back would be like without the weekly massages and chiropractor appointments, considering in how much pain I was in Australia, when I had none of that.

-Household Help!  Yep, another advantage of having a maid is that when things are all painful and uncomfortable, I don’t have to worry about laundry, cooking, cleaning…  And though I washed the baby’s clothes myself (I’m excited, what can I say?), I’m really relieved I don’t have to do anything else.  I guess a not very funny 1st World Problem is definitely “I’m pregnant, and have to clean the house on my own!” 

-Cute Baby Clothes!  If you go to the mall, you do pay a small fortune for anything baby, after all, it’s all imported.  But go off to Greenhills and Divisoria and you can buy some adorable little outfits.  Case in point, this whole bunch from Divisoria cost me a total of $50:


-Cute Baby Handicrafts!  Today I went to the AWCP Bazaar, and among other things, I came home with these super cute fabric toys (yes, the bunny house is furnished, and the furniture is also fabric and removable):


-The MADS Group!  MADS is an expat moms group, but they have a pregnancy/newborn group too, and it’s so much fun meeting other pregnant folks!  I have only been a member for a few weeks, and already met some amazing women and made good friends from it!

There may even be more things I’m forgetting about (so if you’ve been pregnant here, please remind me of it!).  Of course, there are many disadvantages as well – being stuck in daily traffic when you’re already uncomfortable, if you don’t have DPO you’re stuck buying all baby gear locally and that’s super expensive (things like strollers can be twice the price of the US!), the stuff you crave for might not be available, there’s no such thing as maternity clothes (the one time I asked,  I was sent to the plus sized section of the store! WTF!) and many more.  But when things get me down, I go off to my massage and I’m all good again…


Filed under Foreign Service, Manila, Philippines, Pregnancy