Adventure!, Trips

Day 5 – Philippine Trip

I don’t have enough time in the Internet cafe today so I’ll try to make this short.

I had a facial the day before yesterday. My first time. Facial establishments seem to be popular here as they can be seen everywhere. It was a very interesting, somewhat painful experience, but then I had fun because Luci had one too, as well as my sister.

People here, though they know how to speak English, have a hard time understanding us. For example, when I asked the front desk of the hotel if I had any messages, the front desk said something about check-out time. Wha? And one time when Luci asked if they did any laundry service, the guy said that the restaurant was open at such and such time. Eh? It’s totally hilarious. I keep telling Luci to speak slower so they can understand his words more, but it seems to be of no avail. Ah well.

Coffee shops are in abundance here, too. Everywhere you turn, you see one. It’s just weird to me why people like to drink hot coffee when it’s almost 100 degrees outside. It boggles the mind. Speaking of temperature, you rarely see anyone not wear jeans and a shirt. Some of them even wear long sleeves, and it’s scorching! Just looking at them made me sweat, hehehe.

Pollution is bad here, too. When Luci and I checked out the rooftop swimming pool, the skyline was engulfed in hazy gray. It would be advisable to bring a face towel with you if you are riding out in the open air. Actually, bring a face towel anywhere.

Cash is more often the preferred way of payment. You can see some places that accept credit cards, but be ready to pay cash mostly. And when you buy something from the malls, they will put it in a bag and meticulously staple theĀ receiptĀ on the bag.

There are lots of security, too. Almost every establishment you go, you’ll see a uniformed man/woman screening each person and if you have a bag, they have to look into it. Good thing, the security check is quick, though.

Well, gotta run. Today should be the start of our busy 2 weeks as we make preparations for my grandparents’ anniversary. You probably won’t hear for me too much from now on. I’ll try to keep y’all updated, though! :)

Adventure!, Trips

Day 3 – Philippine Trip

Did I mention it’s so hot here? By the time I get outside the hotel, smoldering heat hits me like a jagged knife. No matter, it’s a way to lose weight, hehehe! In fact, I think I might have lost a pound or two already.

Anyway, I was able to get my cell phone activated here without even tampering with Cingular’s programming. Good thing for SIM cards! Now, I’ve been sending text messages like crazy around here. It’s so popular, almost every store in the mall sell cell phones and pre-paid subscriptions. It’s almost to the point of ridiculous, but then I’m glad that it’s readily available.

Luci and I also walked around yesterday and went grocery shopping for essentials we needed at the suite. We were so wiped out later on, we conked out at 6:30pm and woke up at 2:30am! And now, I’m still wide awake. I wish we could’ve slept longer so we don’t get too tired early. We’ll try to hold off on sleeping early if we can.

Things I forgot about this place: you have to provide your own toilet paper in the public restrooms (the seats are filthy, too – ugh – and your have to sometimes pay to go in there), there are malls almost all over the place, there are a lot of food stalls around the area, soliciting can be done but discreetly in different establishments, there is no such thing as free refills (there may be some, but just ONE free refill), Internet cafes are all over the place, and the list goes on and on. Ah, I miss it. ROFL! Also, my siblings keep saying that we should play badminton sometime as it’s all the rage here lately.

It’s also sad that I am sometimes having trouble finding some Tagalog phrases I used to know way back when. And, the different street slangs! I had to keep asking my sister what each word meant.

I ate some squid balls yesterday. I missed them so much, but not like the barbecue they have in the street corners that sell cut-up pig intestines. I know it sounds a little gross, but they are certainly good. :) I still haven’t eaten all of the food I want to eat, but there’s still time. We are also making sure we don’t drink the tap water here or we’ll get sick with diarrhea. Luckily, there’s a grocery store just across the street, so we can refill our water bottles if need be.

That’s it for now, I guess. Till then! :)

Adventure!, Family, Trips

Day 2 – Philippine Trip

Hi, gang! As you know, I just arrived in the Philippines. Locally it’s May 11th, 11:31 AM instead of the time that’s on here.

Luci and I left for NY on Saturday to be able to catch a plane to Taipei from there. You may think that’s a little far to be taking a plane since its route goes from east to west (Anchorage, Alaska) and then further west towards Taiwan. Well, we learned earlier in the week that the flights going out from LA, San Francisco, and Houston were booked due to a holiday in Taipei. There were less people coming from NY so that’s what we took.

When we were checking in for our flight to NY, we learned that flights going to Taipei didn’t leave until Sunday! *groan* Fortunately, I called around and got a hold of my great-aunt Nati and great-uncle Mariano. They took us in for the night, bless their hearts, amidst their packing as they were moving to Indiana with their son and his family close to Memorial Day. God was certainly good to us!

We attended church that following day (Sunday) and later on went to Burger King to eat a late lunch. Lola Nati reasoned that since it was Mother’s Day, all the restaurants would be crowded. Burger King was almost deserted. :P After that, they dropped us off at the airport and we were on our way.

We had to check in to China Airlines to catch the flight going to Taipei, but we were told that they couldn’t find our reservations! Good thing, though, that Lucien is a China Airlines employee and we were accommodated to go in the flight. All we had to pay was the taxes.

So, after a few hours, we were on our way. Our first stop was Anchorage, Alaska where they did a crew change and re-fuel. It took us about 6 hours to get from NY to Anchorage. It’s so funny how people like to be first in the line to get on the plane, but they are told later that other people have to go in before them, hehehe. Anyways, we left Anchorage an hour later.

Our 10-hour trip to Taipei went without a hitch, but the flight to Manila was cutting our time a little close. Our arrival time was 7:05 AM and our flight to Manila was 7:55 AM. What was worse was that we haven’t gotten our boarding passes to the flight yet, AND the economy seats were fully booked, AND we still had to get our boxes (they weren’t going on to Manila as we had to check-in again). God again intervened (He’s so good!). :) The person on the ticket counter offered us business class seats but we had to pay for the upgrade. We were up for anything so we agreed. Another blessing was that they got our boxes for us and was put in the plane. Also, since we were running out of time (it was almost 7:40), the guy from the counter called ahead and said that we were coming. When we got to the boarding gate, we were fortunate enough to find that there were still a lot of people boarding. Since we were in business class now, we were able to go ahead of them, whee!

So, after 2 hours, we arrived in the Philippines at 10:10 AM. My brother mentioned before that he was going to meet me in the baggage claim area, but when we got there I couldn’t find him. So we went ahead and got into customs. The customs agent was nice enough not to check our boxes (we only had mostly clothes in there anyway), and we were on our way outside. I was a little worried because we didn’t see my brother’s van yet, but as soon as I looked for a place to get a phone card, there they were, pulling up on the side. My eldest sister and her husband were there with my brother. It has been so long since I’ve seen them that I almost cried from happiness there on the spot. We went to meet the others later on for dinner and gave them their gifts. It was fun seeing them all again.

And that was my adventure so far. :) I’ll try to write more later…this one is getting too long. :)