Tag Archives: Travel

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!

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…

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The diving in Apo Island…

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…and Moalboal being spectacular…

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Hiking Mt Pinatubo being an unique experience…

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…and Bohol having the famous tarsier monkeys…

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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…

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…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!

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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!

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

Life in the Philippines: Stuff My Staff Says

I have shared these on Facebook, but realized I haven’t really blogged about any of it.  Call it “third world problems” because, really, in the first world, we’re nowhere near the right income to be able to afford staff! 

So here are a few recovered gems, thanks to my Facebook’s timeline…

My driver said I look sexy today. FML.

So after I posted that, I was told that it turns out here in the Philippines, sexy means pretty – who knew?  Even then, having my 60+ year old driver telling me I looks sexy still creeped me out.

And another senseless conversation in the Philippines:
Me: “ugh, traffic”
Driver: “stoplight”
Me: “I don’t know, the driver of the bus next to us got out and is smoking a cigarette. He can probably see something we can’t.”
Driver: “Buses here are diesel, ma’am”
Me: …


The Philippines is really an interesting place.  Because people here speak English, but yet, they don’t.  A lot of the local expressions make no sense in English, or just annoys us. (Like using “wait a while” anytime they want you to wait a bit.  Or saying “enjoying” even when there’s nothing joyful about it, such as “you’re currently enjoying a one hour delay on your flight.”  Or using avail for everything “Are you going to avail of this promo?”  Or starting every sentence with “Actually…”)  I think it makes it specially frustrating for English speaking expats, more so than if you go to a country where English is not widely spoken – at least then you’re expecting some communication issues.

Here, people will rarely tell you “what, I don’t understand, can you repeat that?”  They’ll either give a reply for something totally random – like my driver above – or most often they will laugh.  Yep, just laugh in your face.  Now I know that when my driver starts laughing and I wasn’t telling a joke is that he has no clue what I said, so I just repeat it. 

Ah, life in the Philippines…. Conversation w my driver:
“On my way back from (working in) Libya I stopped in Thailand. But the women came to my room!”
“Rudy, I don’t need to know this!”
“Only U$24! But I don’t like. Afraid of AIDS”

No excuses for the conversation above.  Totally inappropriate if he was talking like that to Karl, much less to his female employer!  But Filipinos have no filter sometimes of what is really a boundary that you do not cross in the workplace.

I guess you realize your driver is too old for the job when at least once a week he totally forgets where you’re going. Less than 5 minutes after you told him and he repeated it back to you. Good thing I know my way around enough to go “uh, which way are you going?” “Hahahaha” “Rudy, it’s not funny, did you forget?” “Yes, ma’am, I forget!” *sigh*

Ok, so obviously my driver IS getting too old for the job (a friend even wondered if he ever gets somewhere then thinks “why am I here again?”), but the laughing as a reply?  A very very very Filipino reaction to avoid conflict.  It got to the point that I started saying “it’s not funny” or “do you see me laughing?” when I encounter that.  You can say I’m over this avoiding conflict thing, I just need to get things done!

Now those are my driver’s gems.  Our maid hasn’t had as many of those, thankfully.

“Ma’am, my husband complains I’m not sweet anymore, but it hurts!  I just do kissy-kissy now.  I told him to find a young girl instead.”

I totally nipped that one in the bud, and change the subject.  I’m so not going to be having a sex talk with my 56-year old maid!

My maid asked me today if milk comes out when I squeeze my boobs. What is wrong with our staff? I guess I should at least be relieved it wasn’t our male driver who asked the question?

A friend even commented “my doctor asked me that when I was pregnant, you’d be surprised!”  But my point was not the question that was asked, but who asked it – crossing a boundary here again, no?

And unrelated to the Philippines, but I posted this status during our trip in Laos:

Nothing like having the 3rd world slap you in the face, by ordering a coconut shake and having it arrive with a straw that has red lipstick marks on it. The straw that was already in my drink! Not only are they reusing straws but not even washing it first? So grossed out.

Yeah, it still grosses me out thinking about it. 

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Filed under Foreign Service, Manila, Philippines, Traveling in Asia

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!