Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Philippines

Ahhh, the Philippines. It was warm, tropical, relaxing...all the good words. We stayed in El Nido, which is 2 planes and a van ride away from Japan, which I did not realize until we were in Japan. Thao says she told me - she probably did and I just blocked it out. So that was an unhappy surprise, but it was completely worth it once we got there. El Nido has really beautiful beaches but not many tourists go there because it's so hard to get to. It was nice to not see a million people everywhere we went. El Nido is a very small town, and every day the entire city loses power from 6-2:30. It didn't really bother us until we got to restaurants and they couldn't blend anything and they were out of tons of stuff and they didn't have was weird, but it was fine. Everybody speaks English, but they also speak different Filipino dialects, and sometimes it would take me a second to figure out which language they were speaking.. They assumed Thao was Filipino, so they'd usually start speaking to us not in English, then get very confused and have to switch. There is party music playing all the time. It was like constantly being in a club. Even at 5am fishing we were listening to rap and remixes. Someone has made a remix for My Heart Will Go On, that one was probably my favorite.
Day 1 we got off the plane, changed into summer clothes, and got straight in the van. They crammed us in there and Katherine and I ended up in the front seat with the driver. I was half asleep when I heard this conversation:
Katherine: There's a lot of dead animals in the road.
Driver: Yeah.
Katherine: Have you ever hit one?
Driver: A pig and a few dogs.
Driver: Are you worried?
Katherine: Yeah.
Driver: It's ok, we have a bumper.
Aside from the road kill, the ride was beautiful. It was like driving through the jungle. Once we made it to El Nido we hopped on a tricycle and drove over to our hotel. Immediately we put our swimsuits on and went for a sunset swim. It was warm and perfect.
One very early morning we went fishing. We were walking out to the boat and the guys told us there was low tide, and man they weren't kidding. We probably walked 400 feet into the ocean before we hit water. Once we got to the spot they have us our fishing "poles" - spools of line with a few hooks and weights. Squid was the bait, and we just dropped it in and waited. Us girls did not have the technique the guys had, because we caught 5 fish and the 2 of them caught at least 10. There was a little octopus on the boat, I think as backup bait, and it kept escaping from its bucket. Later that day we went island hopping. They took us to a few lagoons, a cave, we did some awesome snorkeling, and some laying on the beach. The only downer was the jellyfish. Everywhere we swam there were these little clear jellyfish and you almost never saw them until it was too late. Everybody came out of the water with little stings all over their body, but they didn't hurt for too long.

The last 2 days the weather wasn't perfect. It was still warm, but it rained off and on. It didn't bother us too much though, we hung out on balconies and read and played games and relaxed. There was lots of eating and drinking and picture taking. We bought some mangoes and pineapple from the market and ate those every night. Thao and I got massages one afternoon.

We wanted to break up all the vans and planes on the way out of the Philippines, so we took the van to a city and spent the night there. On the way we stopped for lunch at this shack on the side of the road. We had  also stopped there on the way up to El Nido, so none of us thought twice about eating the food. We should have. It must have been sitting out for too long because everybody got sick. We got to the hotel and ate pepto bismol and took a "nap" that lasted all night. Our room had 4 beds and we all fell asleep on one. For breakfast the next morning they served us bread with ketchup, and then we were off to the airport.

We flew to Cebu and spent 2 days shopping and sightseeing. There was a giant mall where we bought lots of clothes. Things are pretty cheap down there. Most people in the Philippines are Catholic, and in Cebu they have the first Catholic church on the island and a wooden cross that was built by Magellan. The church is beautiful and the cross is just a cross, but it's cool that it's been around for so long. Once again, we had just enough money to get ourselves to the airport. We were standing in a line after security but before the gate, and I realized we were waiting to pay an airport fee that nobody told us existed and that we could not afford. Thank goodness Katherine had some Korean won they accepted. It was a great vacation with really fun friends!

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