Bucket Lists and Travel

In my last blog entry, I mentioned that I find bucket lists meaningless if we don’t start acting on it now. A few days after I wrote that blog, I was going through the old posts of one of my favorite bloggers, Adventurous Kate. Kate is definitely an inspiration to me. She is currently in her 20s and has established herself as a female solo traveler. I had found her blog while I was searching on solo female travel before going to the United Kingdom. I mainly did the search to prove to my parents that it is normal and safe for girls to travel by themselves. One day I would love to be as well-traveled as her!

Anyway, while I was going through her blog, I saw that she had written a post about bucket lists and I completely agree with it. Her main problem with bucket lists is that: “If your deadline is death – you’re not making it a priority.” And it’s true! A lot of people, myself included, express our desires to go to a certain place or do a certain thing “before we die”. But none of us really know when that is going to happen so rather than saying I want to do this before I die, I will now start saying I want to do this as soon as I can.

What she says is true, if we want to travel it should definitely be our priority. I have been lucky these past few years because I don’t pay any living expenses and I was able to pay for my own travel, but I know that once I start living on my own I would have to practice more self-discipline. Recently, my best friend Vida has been helping me in keeping my expenses (read: shopping) to a minimum because of all the trips I have planned out for this year. I was talking to one of my good friends yesterday and he mentioned I was rich because I spent a large amount of money on my plane ticket for my upcoming trip and I told him that I’m not rich, I just spend my money on travel. I want that to be a continuing trend in my life. I want to prioritize travel. At this age, I am old enough to set my own priorities and young enough to make it happen. I want to get married and have kids one day and although I know I never want to stop traveling, I know that my priorities will be shifting by then.

I thought it would be a good idea to list down my travel priorities just like what Kate did. So here goes:

  • See the sun rise behind Angkor Wat, Cambodia – I have already made plans to go here this year and I hope it pushes through!

http://www.warwickphotographer.com.au

  • Witness the Northern Lights – Also known as the Aurora Borealis. It looks so majestic in pictures and to witness it in person would just be so enchanting!

  • See the Cherry Blossoms of Japan – Who wouldn’t wanna see this? Nature is so beautiful.

  • Visit Russia – Just looking at the pictures, you could see that it’s full of culture. I just wanna walk those streets and just take in the beautiful architecture in the area

http://www.worldwidehomestay.com/

  • Tour the temples of Turkey – Greece is popular for their temples but there are also many beautiful temples in Turkey. The world’s oldest temple, Gobekli Tepe, is located in Turkey.

www.sithsonianmag.com

How about you? Where do you want to go? What are your travel priorities?

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Retrospect and Prospects

PicCollageA bucket list is just a bunch of meaningless words if you don’t start acting on it while you still can. I think that is the biggest lesson that I learned this year. I would like to think of 2012 as the year I started trying to take control of my own life – as the year I decided to get out of my comfort zone and actually start acting towards my dreams. I’m not there yet, I haven’t accomplished a tenth of what I thought I would by the time I reached this age but I’m getting there. A few years ago I kept my life on hold because I thought that the world didn’t want me to succeed. Upon much introspection, I realized that the reason I’m lagging behind on my aspirations is that I’ve never given myself the chance to try getting away from my self-imposed misery. I would spend days and nights sulking at how much better my life would be somewhere else instead of working on ways on how I can get myself out. I think it’s because I’m actually really scared that I won’t actually be able to do it.

By keeping myself stagnant, I ensured that I won’t walk into any failures, I secured myself from any damning mistakes that I would eventually regret but I was also keeping myself from any possibilities of success. I wouldn’t try because I was too afraid to fail but I would never succeed because I never tried. Out of my own fear to make mistakes, I was making the biggest mistake I could ever make and it was hampering my own growth. There was no one else to blame for that but myself. Thank God I realized that now.

2012 was the year I finally threw caution to the wind – when I took my first risk – and it was deliciously rewarding. Early this year, I decided I wanted to tour the United Kingdom. This was something big for me because for one, I don’t have a stable enough savings account that would allow me to get through this without it taking a huge hit. Flash forward to a few months later, I sit here typing on my computer, proud of myself for being able to do it ALL BY MYSELF. From the first step to the last, I managed to hold my own and fulfill one of my biggest wishes in life. I had always wanted to go the the United Kingdom as it was the birth place of my favorites, Harry Potter and Doctor Who, and my fan girl fantasies finally came to a fruition.

The whole experience gave me a huge stepping stone towards accomplishing my future plans of continuing to check off things off my bucket list. This mainly consists of travel destinations. I promise myself that 2013 will be a year of travel, that I will be able to go to at least 3 new international destinations next year and many more local destinations. I promise that in 2013 I will take more risks. I won’t stay in my comfort zone. I promise in 2013 I will start living my dreams instead of dreaming of a life I’d want to live. This is it 2013, you’re full of potential and I’m ready for you! Thank you for the amazing year, 2012! You were a good teacher. Now it’s time for me to live up to my promises to the new year. Happy New Year, everyone!

 

UK Day 3 – Cardiff and the Doctor Who Experience


Since I’m already in the United Kingdom I decided I might as well go to Cardiff and see the Doctor Who Experience! I love Doctor Who but I encountered so many problems before actually getting to the experience! First, I realized that I booked my ticket for 12:00 – 13:00 which was a bad idea because it takes around 3 – 4 hours just to get to Cardiff from the Victoria Coach Station. I decided to take the train which ended up costing more than 3 times more! Also, on my way to London Paddington, some lines in the Underground were being maintained so I had to reroute which added to my worries of being late for my too early time slot for my entry.

But there really was not much to worry about! I got to Cardiff at 10:30 am! Just  in time to get to Cardiff Bay and be there a few minutes before my time slot started. Makes me think I should have just taken the coach to save money. Then again, the scenic route that the train passed by was really beautiful and I did not feel the 3 hours I was on the train. Time seemed to pass by so quickly even if  was alone.

It was so cold even animals needed extra layers

It was a sunny day when I got to Cardiff which was a beautiful sight to see as I have not seen the sun since I got to London and I’m incredibly used to the sun. The Doctor Who Experience was AMAZING! Fans of the show will really enjoy the first part which was really a pleasant surprise. I won’t spoil it anymore but we weren’t allowed to take pictures during that event because they didn’t want to spoil it for those who will  attend in the future. It really was an experience.

The exhibit part of the experience was really cool. It showcased the different Doctors, Companions, and Aliens that were featured on the show since 1963! It was amazing that even the most recent companion, Oswin, who has not even appeared as companion (only as a guest character at that time) had her own display amongst the companions!

It was smaller than the Harry Potter Studio Tour but there was still a  lot to see that would make any fan explode with excitement.

After I was done with the Doctor Who Experience, which took my approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, I went off to Cardiff Bay. It was the perfect opportunity to visit the Wales Millennium Center, which is the front of TORCHWOOD 3, and the Ianto Jones Shrine which seems to still be receiving a healthy number of visitors since there are still flowers there that look fairly recent.

After going around the Doctor Who and Torchwood related sites, I jumped on a bus to the city. Funny story. I rode the bus to the city and had no idea where to go down so I ended up riding the bus all the way to is next route which was in Sports  City. It’s pretty cool though since I was still able to tour around Cardiff with the fare of a simple bus rather than paying a hefty amount to ride one of those tour buses.

Finally, I got down at Cardiff Castle, which is a beautiful castle that is well maintained inside and outside! The interior of the Castle remains to be beautiful. Sadly, I wasn’t able to take pictures because my camera battery died and I was preserving my phone battery for my 3 hour trip going back to London.

I was considering staying back in Cardiff for a night and returning the next day but I accidentally left my iPhone charger in my accommodations and so had no way to charge my phone when it died. It’s funny now that I think about it that  was more concerned about the battery of my iPhone than with the fact that I had no change of clothes with me that would allow me to stay in Cardiff for a night.

Left Cardiff Central Station at about 5:30 pm and got home by 9:00pm. It was an incredibly tiring (and expensive!!) day trip! I enjoyed every second of it and i don’t regret spending so much money on the tour. Not may people are able to say that they have ridden a TARDIS!

UK Day 2 – Harry Potter Studio Tour

Being a huge and long time Harry Potter fan, the Studio tour was the first thing I booked after my flight, and i booked it for the day after I arrived because I know I needed as much energy I can use to maximize my visit. My accommodation is at the East side of London while Leavesden, where the Warner Brother Studios is located, is on the West so it was a bit of a long travel. I feel like I’ve already mastered the art of riding the tube in the two days that I have been here.

I got to Watford Junction just in time to catch the bus headed to the Warner Brothers Studios. It’s the easiest way to get there and you can’t miss the bus! It’s covered in Harry Potter!!

When you enter the studios, you’re greeted by giant portraits of the actors, a cafe to the left and the gift shop to the right (where I spent so much money on!!!) I joined the queue to enter and in no time I got in. You first have to go through two video showings before actually seeing the real studio. The first movie was mainly about the general success of Harry Potter with the fans. The second one got me crying, where the three main actors explained the purpose behind the studio tours and how it’s like a tribute to everyone behind the films who made the success possible. I think I reached my breaking point when Emma Watson said “(The crew) made the magic world real and our real world magical.”

 

Coffee and Harry Potter… two of my favorite things

 

After the film viewings we’re finally allowed into the studios. The first set that we see is the Great Hall which is indeed great. Although it does look smaller as compared to how it looks in the films, I really felt like I was in Hogwarts getting ready for supper with my house (Ravenclaw!!)

 

 

Once you get past the Great Hall, you enter a really big studio which contains the other sets used in the movie such as Dumbledore’s Office, the Gryffindor dorm and Common Room, the interior of the Burrow, Umbridge’s Office, Hagrid’s Hut, etc. It also cotained several displays of props such as Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Rita Skeeter’s quill, the Goblet of Fire and some brooms! There was actually an area where you can ride a broom and fly around Hogwarts, the streets of London, the Great Lake (of course all via green screen).

 

The Studio Tour has two main studios indoor studios and is separated by an open area which contains even more of the props and scenes! This is where you can see the Hogwarts Bridge, #4 Privet Drive, Godric Hollow, the Knight Bus, the Grave of Tom Riddle Sr., and Sirius’ motorbike. They also serve butterbeer, which is really sweet and frothy, in this area and I really enjoyed it! I made friends with another solo traveler, a really sweet Korean girl and we decided we would take each other’s pictures around this area since we were allowed to pose on the props in this area.

 

 

The next area was the Monsters area! They showed the many different creatures that were made for the film and some videos on how they were made.   We got to pass through the actual Diagon Alley! I wish it was real so that I could go into each shop, get a wand, adopt a pet owl,  buy a broom, fit a robe. They also featured some of the paintings and scale models used to imagine how the scenes would look like.

 

 

 

Finally, and this was one of the most majestic sights I’ve seen, there was a really big and pretty model of the entire Hogwarts Castle! It’s really beautiful and you know that they’ve done a lot of work to perfect it! Wow.

 

The tour ends in the gift shop where I got some things for myself and for my Harry Potter fan friends. A lot of wonderful things to see. I wanted to buy a stuffed Hippogriff but I wouldn’t have any space for it in my baggage!

I really think every Potter fan should make it a point to visit the Harry Potter Studio at least once in their lifetime. It’s an amazing experience and you could really see all the hard work everyone put into making the amazing world of Harry Potter come to life! It took me almost four hours just to go through the entire thing! There was so many things to see! I would definitely want to go back if given the chance!! But for now I’m just happy I was given the chance to actually experience the whole thing first hand!

UK Day 1

After months of anticipation, the date of my trip to the United Kingdom had finally arrived! I had been incredibly paranoid and anxious about the trip for the past week and I’m just glad that everything worked out well. I was the first person to line up in the UK Border. I had read so many horror stories about being denied entry even if you have a visa. Thank God that went smoothly and I managed to get through border control and out of the airport by 10:30am!

The first adventure I experienced today was riding the tube for the first time! I took the tube going to my accommodations since taking a taxi would cost too much.

I got to the house at 12:30 pm and finally met Victoria! She’s really sweet and accommodating! The house is pretty and comfortable (and not at all expensive!). Victoria gave me a lot of tips on how to get around the area and where the good places to eat are! She left some pamphlets from restaurants in my room so I can go through them. I guess the reviews on Airbnb were accurate!

After settling in, I went out again to explore the city! It’s freezing cold and my sweater and boots still didn’t give me enough warmth! I was hungry so I decided to go to Borough Market.

I ended up buying dessert there instead because I couldn’t choose from all the good food in the area! I ended up having stuffed chicken with bleu cheese from a restaurant called Tapas Brindisa. Yum.

After eating, I decided to do some more walking. There was so many to explore and I’m sure my 12 days here won’t be enough for that! I decided to hop on the tube and just decide where I’m going once I’m inside.  I decided to go to Green Park and visit Buckingham Palace!

I found a couple that was struggling to take a picture of the two of them with Green Park as the background so I offered to help them and so they offered to take my picture in return! Reciprocity is nice! (Note: I don’t exactly like what I was wearing today. I was a bit excited to start exploring so I just threw anything on!)
I kept walking until I realized I was already in West End and that’s when I
really felt that my feet were aching already. I decided to go home. I forgot it was rush hour so I experienced  my first London rush hour in the tube! It wasn’t as bad as people claim it is. Then again, I experienced the MRT in the Philippines during rush hour so I guess large crowds in trains don’t faze me anymore.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Leavesden for the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It’s on the other side of London so I have to go to sleep early. I’m incredibly tired from my walk home. I got so lost on my way home. Lesson learned. Will take the cab from Walthamstow station every day now!

Ilocos 2012

I love the fact that I have amazing friends who are willing to brave the rainy days of July and go on an out of town trip of me when they can very well just travel around without me on months with better weather. Last year, we went to Puerto Princesa. This year, we decided to explore Ilocos!

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Laoag Airport with Cheston, Camille, Raisa, Benise, me, Kath, Tam and Mar!

We stayed in the Palacio de Laoag Hotel for our entire trip. The hotel was very comfortable. The people were very friendly and hospitable. I wish we could say the same about their in house restaurant! They were just bad news for the entire trip! Tsk. But I’d rather not go into that… Look at how pretty the lobby is!

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Lobby of Palacio de Laoag: Cheston, Camille, me, Kath, Tam, Benise, Raisa, Mar

Day 1: Vigan

Our first destination in our Ilocos adventure was Vigan, where one of the country’s few UNESCO Heritage sites, Calle Crisologo, is located. Before we reached Vigan, we stopped by the Juan Luna Shrine where we were treated to beautiful paintings and a very interesting history lesson!

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The story behind Juan Luna’s The Parisian Life was one of our favorite take-aways from the tour!

The first place we went to in Vigan was the Bantay Lighthouse. One thing that I am proud of myself for during the entire trip was that I actually survived all the climbing and walking! I’m not fond of going up stairs because of my asthma but fortunately, it didn’t act up the entire trip 🙂 Anyway, the steps leading up to the bell tower and the stairs going to the top of the bell tower were very much worth the climb! The view was beautiful and the interior was as well!

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Next was lunch! We ate in Cafe Leona where we tried the Longganiza Pizza. It was surprisingly good and the taste of Longganiza was not at all overwhelming. Definitely worth the try 🙂

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After lunch, we visited the Syquia Mansion, where we were greeted by an interesting caretaker who briefed us on the history (and gossip!) that surrounded the mansion and its family. The mansion was beautiful and huge! We then went to the Pagburnayan Jar Factory where the amazing god of pottery mesmerized us with his pottery skills. He made it look so easy! Finally we visited Calle Crisologo. It was definitely my most anticipated location to go to and it did not disappoint at all! It was beautiful. I felt like I was transported back to the Spanish era. Mar and I went ahead and walked along the road just observing the calesas that were passing by. I swear I could just walk back and forth all day.

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We stayed in Calle Crisologo until dark. We attended Mass in the nearby Church then had dinner in a pretty restaurant in the Mestizo district called Leila’s Cafe.

Day 2: Pagudpud

I think one of the most fun moments in our Pagudpud trip was when we were in the van and using “Pagudpud” in a sentence. “Mag-pagudpud ka naman dyan!”. According to some stories, the name “Pagudpud” comes from the tagalog phrase “Ako’y pagud na pagud at ang sapatos ko’y pudpud” uttered by a Batangenyo peddler back in the day. This day was really a treat for the eyes! We visited beautiful sites with beautiful sights: Cape Bojeador Lighthouse, Bangui Windmills, Kapurpurawan Rock Formation, Blue Lagoon, Bantay Abot Cave, Patapat Viaduct and the Ilocos sunset in Saud Beach.

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Of course no vacation is complete without me being a complete clutz. In our Kapurpurawan Rock Formation tour, I managed to survive the horseback ride and not break my neck while riding or getting on or off the horse but I did manage to trip over a rock which led me to plummet to the ground and giving me scars to add to the collection that I already have. Good thing our tour guide had betadine and I was prepared with band aids. So with Mar’s help, the wounds were quickly attended to. If there’s one goal for me next vacation, it’s to survive the entire trip unscathed.

Day 3: Laoag City Tour

This day was definitely the most exciting day of the tour! We started the day with Sandboarding and a 4×4 ride in the lone desert of the Philippines. We didn’t expect the 4×4 ride to be CRAZY. We all ended up covered in bruises but it was completely worth it! It wasn’t an ordinary 4×4 ride. We were told to stand at the back and the driver sped through all the sand dunes freaking us out by going faster at steeper slopes. It was a bit scary because we get worried that we might lose grip and fall off the vehicle. O_o Despite that, it was so FUN! Probably one of the most extreme things I have done! Initially, I was worried about going sand boarding. I felt like I might not be able to maintain my balance and fall off the board, but after having gone through the intense 4×4 sand dune ride I felt that I could surely be successful in sand boarding, and I was! Although not as exciting as the sand dune ride, it was worth the experience!

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Survivors!

We went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and have breakfast then we went around Laoag and Paoay to visit the tourist destinations there. We managed to go to the Sinking Bell Tower, the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum, the Paoay Church (which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site under the Five Baroque Churches of the Philippines), and Paoay Lake. Raisa, Tam and I also got to make our own Batac empanadas! Yum!!

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With that we ended our Ilocos trip. It was such an awesome trip in that it wasn’t a usual barkada get away where we would go to a beach and chill. It was a trip where we learned so much new information not only about Ilocos, but about our own history as Filipinos. We experienced so much culture in this trip, from the stories from the caretakers of the heritage homes that we visited to the well-preserved landmarks that have lasted the centuries. I hope that our next trip will be as satisfying and as stimulating as this trip was!

Palawan 2011

My friends and I went on a trip to Puerto Princesa, Palawan last month and I must say it was an amazing amazing amazing experience! Great company, great activities, great food, and great place to stay in! The flight had been booked since March so we’d been excited about the trip for a while, and I’m glad the trip reached a greater peak than the anticipation ever did!

Day 1

We met up at the airport at around 2pm. Kath, Enzo, Nikko, Camille and I fell in line at the Cebu Pacific counter. Camille and I jumped up and down from the excitement! It was the first time we would go beyond Batangas together.

Enzo and Kath in line

Camille Nikko and me, with excited looks on our faces!

But wait! Who took these paparazzi pictures? There was a surprise in the works. As far as Kath, Nikko, and Enzo knew, there were only 5 of us going on the trip together. I wasn’t supposed to know, but Camille was worried I wouldn’t be comfortable with the surprise so she told me the very day it was planned.

While we were waiting for boarding time, Camille excused herself to go to the bathroom. As she returned, I noticed two people walking on the other side of the aisle. Ah the surprise! I had to pretend I was surprised since the ‘surprisers” did not know of my awareness of the surprise. Alas, epic fail. I just stared at them. But I guess they got their expected reactions from Kath, Enzo, and Nikko! So who were these picture taking paparazzi surprise planning additional members to our now seven person Puerto Princesa tour group? Mar and Kris!

Funny thing, Mar would, on occasion, chat me up on Facebook and tell me how bad he felt for not joining us and promised he’d join us next time, and I just sat there fighting the urge to tell him I knew of the secret surprise plan.

Anyway, after all the added excitement from the expansion of our group, we got on the plane ready for the adventure of Palawan!

We got to Palo Alto Bed and Breakfast, and WOW. It was such a beautiful place!

Palo Alto

Palo Alto at night

our room

at the viewing deck!

It was already 6PM when we were done settling in in the two-floor room we reserved for the group so we decided to go out, explore the city, and find a nice place to eat.

After walking around, entering restaurants only to leave them after seeing the menu and avoiding sketchy looking establishments, we decided to eat in Nokinoks, a small restaurant in the middle of the city that made some of the best halo-halo and mais con hiejo that I have ever tasted.

Nokinoks!

From Kris' Camera

We went home and had some drinks. While the others decided to sleep a bit early since our van would pick us up at 7am, Mar, Camille, and I decided to stay up to watch the Azkals game. We didn’t stay up for long though, Mar went up to the guys’ sleeping area and Camille and I decided to turn the TV off to let Kath sleep in peace.

Day 2

Since I’m not good at sleeping on beds that aren’t mine, despite being the last to go to sleep, I was the first to wake up. After waking the girls up (Kris was in charge of waking the boys up), having some really good breakfast c/o Palo Alto and getting in the van, we headed to the port for our Honda Bay Island Hopping tour!

at the port

boat to pandan island

Pandan Island!

Hut

Our first stop was Pandan Island, named for the prevalence of pandan trees on the island, which had a beautiful underwater view! It was my, as well as Camille’s and Kath’s, first time to go snorkeling so Enzo and Kris had to give us some tips.

a view underwater!

Kath!

Me!

After snorkeling, it started to rain but that didn’t stop me, Kath and Enzo from running around like crazy in the rain and playing in the water. Mar,  Nikko, Camille, and Kris decided to stay at the hut and wait for lunch to be served. During lunch, I experienced one of my firsts again! It was how to remove the shell from shrimp. (I’m used to them served to me in pastas and in other forms where the shell is already removed). Nikko and Enzo tried to teach me and I eventually got it after a couple of tries. Enzo was nice enough to offer to peel the rest of my shrimp, but I did not want to give up!

Our next stop was Snake Island, which, thankfully, was not named such due to the prevalence of snakes. It was an S-shaped island that we were unfortunately unable to explore due to the sudden downpour of HEAVY rain. We remained in our hut the whole time telling stories, which wasn’t really a bad way to spend time but we would have preferred there to be sun.

We got back to the hut, and the attendants were nice enough to open two more bathrooms for our use. See, we had to wake up really early that morning to be able to allow 7 people get showered before 7am and we only had one bathroom to do that. So we now had 3 bathrooms to use. After getting dressed, we attended Mass in the beautiful Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Enzo lighting a candle

We decided not to ask the driver to pick us up so we could explore the city more. We divided ourselves into two groups (Nikko, Camille, Mar, Me / Kris, Kath, Enzo) and we took a tricycle to the city center. From there, we followed the advice of the second group’s tricycle driver. He told us that there was a good Chicken Inato place not far from where he dropped them off. We started to walk and walk and walk until we realized that it was not as near as the tricycle driver made it seem to be. So we then took a tricycle again to the place which was definitely not a distance we could walk to and not watch me faint in the middle of the road from exhaustion.

tricycle ride

Still, we were glad we followed the tricycle driver’s suggestion to try the place out because they served delicious chicken. Best.chicken.ever. Not bad, Mr. Tricycle Driver, not bad. I did some research and apparently the restaurant is called “Haim Chicken Inato”. The girls all ordered the regular, unspicy chicken inato, while the boys all ordered the spicy inato. Perhaps to show their manly ability to withstand the spicyness of the chicken, more likely because they just actually like spicy chicken.

Boys!

girls!

Chicken Inato

Seaweed in Soy Sauce

Grilled Tuna

We got back home and they played some sungka. I was sure I would lose so I didn’t join in. After that, everyone else went to sleep. I couldn’t sleep yet so I went on facebook (the B&B had really fast WiFi! I guess it’s because we were the only guests left) and chatted with some people until I felt ready to fall asleep.

Kath vs. Enzo

Camille vs. Mar

Day 3

On our third day, we went on the tour that i didn’t tell my mom about until after I got back: The Dos Palmas Day Tour. I knew my mom would flip because if the history of the place, but it did happen more than a decade ago so I wasn’t as worried.

Thank God the weather was cooperative that day! We took pictures on the boat. We were brave to stand at the end because the waves didn’t look like they were about to topple us off the edge.

we on a boat

🙂

When we got to the resort, Mar and I went ahead to secure a hut while the rest of the group took pictures. Apparently, the drummers were to not stop drumming until everyone has crossed the bridge and it took them a good 10 minutes before they decided to cross. Oops.

Since we wanted to maximize the sun’s presence, Mar and I signed up for kayaking while the others were fixing up the hut. It was my first time to kayak so I had no idea what I was doing. Yep, definitely a vacation full of firsts! As it was my first time to ride a kayak, it was also my first time to fall off it. (My mom thinks it’s because Mar was unable to handle my weight. Thanks mom, my self-esteem is gone.) My foot started bleeding and my legs are now scratched (the marks are what I now refer to as my battle scars) since we fell on rocks. On second thought, I fell on rocks and Mar fell on water since he apparently did not get any scratch on his body.

Nonetheless, I had so much fun kayaking! I did lose my sunglasses and my scrunchie when the kayak overturned but I still had fun learning how to do it! When we left shore, Mar already warned me that I shouldn’t panic in case the kayak decided to overturn. Maybe he, like my mom, questioned his ability to handle my weight. Haha.

After that, I decided to let my foot rest so I stayed at the hut while the rest made their rounds around the resort. Kath stayed with me and we talked about how much we were enjoying the trip. We then watched Nikko attempt to teach Camille how to ride a bike and you can guess what happened. Enzo, who claimed he didn’t know how to ride a bike, took his “first ride” and went around the whole resort on bike like a pro.

The buffet lunch was part of the tour so we happily went to the clubhouse to get  an early start on the food. Once everyone got there, we attacked the buffet table. I have never felt so full in my life. I felt so full I didn’t even want to move. I just wanted to throw up. So while the others went around to take pictures, I decided to go to the hut and rest for a while. A few minutes later, I see Mar walk back to the hut. Apparently he fell asleep on one of the hammocks and when he woke up they left him (Oh Mar!). He sat beside me, we talked a bit, then he proceeded to go back to sleep.

Dos Palmas Buffet!

While he was sleeping, the lady from the neighboring hut approached me and we talked for a bit. I walked around the area of the hut to try to help melt the food in my stomach and I guess it worked because by the time the others got back I was feeling a bit better but I was unsure if I could manage to snorkel again given that I still wanted to throw up.

Eventually, I decided to join them snorkeling. It was amazing tho because there were some fish that were amazing to look at that weren’t around in the first time we snorkeled, but then I got a bit dizzy. As we were going back to the floating hut, I started feeling dizzier and dizzier and water started to creep into my mask. I also didn’t realize that I had blood coming out of my foot and leg. I apparently had scratched myself somewhere while swimming.

We washed up and rushed to the boat that was ready to leave. It was a bit difficult for me since I now had three different scratches on my left foot which made it hard to walk with sand trying to get in the wounds. With all that had happened that day I fell asleep so soundly on the boat that Camille and Kris were worried I wasn’t breathing. Haha I love you guys.

On the way back to the boat

When we got back to the room, Dr. Nikko and Nurse Camille fought a battle with me while they were trying to put betadine on my wounds. I kept fidgeting around because I worried of how much it would sting me. It was such a sight with Camille holding my foot down, Nikko trying to drop some betadine on the wound and me screaming and flailing my arms and the others laughing at how I was reacting.

After fixing up, we went to Ka Lui, one of the hardest restaurants to get a table in due to the demand. Mar and I had read about it beforehand so we made reservations the minute we got to Palo Alto. They had delicious food. We all ordered the same thing, which was the daily special. I regret now not writing down the names of the dishes but what i do remember is that there was Steamed Fish in Mango Sauce, Fish Steak, and Crunchy Eggplant.

Ka Lui!

what to eat??

They also gave us complementary dessert which was fruit salad in half a buko! It was so good. After eating, we spent an hour taking pictures inside the restaurant. They had this beautifully lit area which was probably built for the purpose of having pictures taken in it.

outside Ka Lui

We got home and everyone was tired. Kath, Kris, Mar and I were the last ones standing and we played cards (and I kept losing)  while drinking some of the leftover drinks. It was our last night so we had to consume everything we bought from the previous days. Nikko, Camille, and Enzo were sleeping soundly but Nikko woke up after a while and had a drink as well. Then we all went to sleep.

Day 4

It was our last day in Palawan. How sad. We woke up early to pack our stuff because we would have to rush to the airport right after our Underground River tour. We rode the van which we shared with four other tourists and set off to Sabang where the Underground River is located. The Underground River is in the running to be declared as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and rightfully so! It is a definite must see for anyone who plans to go to Puerto Princesa. It goes to show how brilliant nature truly is and how it is able to create something magnificent.

ready for the underground river!

The rock formations in the Underground River were truly amazing! All you need is some imagination and a story can just be brought into life while you’re in the cave. Even if you don’t try hard, you can still visualize what the tour guide is saying. Amazing. I was just staring and listening and staying quiet the whole time so I can take in the whole experience.

Even the outside of the Underground River was really pretty.

"wacky" shot

After that we had a buffet lunch by the beach. The food wasn’t as great as the food in Dos Palmas. It kindov reminds me of those family picnics that we used to have when I was younger. There was one dish that was made of nothing but fat. Was it the liempo? I can’t remember. But every time I would go and get some it would be all 98% fat 2% meat. I complained about the omnipresence of fat on my plate and Mar tells me to eat it anyway since the fat tastes good and a good five minutes later he makes the same remark that I did that he countered himself. Very good.

On the way home, I was a bit freaked out by the way the van was just speeding through the turns on the road. I think Enzo noticed it because we started talking a bit while everyone else was fast asleep in the van.

When we got back, we quickly collected our things and then left. We had little time the previous day to buy some presents for our friends so we had little shopping left for the airport. While waiting for the plane, we got key chains as our reminder for the trip. Kath, Nikko, Camille and I got the Starfish, Kris and Mar got the turtle, and Enzo got the Crocodile.

With the Palo Alto staff!

We got back to Manila safely and we knew everything would go back to normal. They would all go back to work and I will carry on with the rest of my vacation in Manila. I would have to say it is the most fun I’ve ever had in a while. Looking at the pictures make me sad that we’re no longer there but at the same time I’m glad that we got to experience an amazing almost hassle free vacation together! I’m hoping we have one for next year as well! Thanks guys, for the amazing Palawan experience!

Goodbye, Palawan! 😦

** Photos (except underwater shots) courtesy of Kris and Kath. You guys have such beautiful cameras.