Monday, 21 April 2014

Philippines Trip

Apologies as this post has been a long time coming and will be a long post.

In the early hours of Valentines day, I set off for the Philippines (with a 6hr stop in Singapore.) I can't say The Philippines is a place I ever imagined myself visiting, even though I have some relatives and friends there, but I am so glad I did.

This trip was made for a specific reason. After 3 months apart, I got to see my lover boy again!! (yay) And what a perfect day for it.

I flew with Singapore airlines, and for the most they were pretty good. There was a small hiccup with the vegan food. They didn't know the difference between vegetarian and vegan, but it was all very quickly rectified.


DAY 1:

  As soon as my feet touched the ground, I was whisked away for a valentines meal at Corner Tree Cafe. They had a special Valentines menu that night, including wine, an entrĂ©e, main, and dessert for $20 each . The restaurant is fully vegetarian, but does cater to vegans. As it was a while ago, I can't fully remember what it was that I ate, but I remember it was good. (Sorry I can't give much more info) It is a cute restaurant with a homely feel. Very friendly staff and great vegan food. I was really impressed. I definitely recommend it.


DAY 2:

This was the day that I was meant to see two friends that I had met near on 4 years ago, over this lovely thing we call the internet. 

Slice was the restaurant of choice. Although not actually vegan, they were very helpful and happily adapted a meal to suit. 

Without access to the internet while out, I was unable to contact friends, Maia and Alex. Instead I had no option but to sit in Slice for over an hour waiting. (Next time I will make sure I get data of some sort while traveling.) 

Right when I was beginning to feel forgotten about and unloved, :( (i am a drama queen, yes) Maia walked through the door. Though I knew her and her face, it was so strange to put a living, 3D person to the friend I had had for 4 years. 
Unfortunately, only Maia could make it, though I am sure I will get a chance to meet Alex sometime in the near future. 

Some may call me reckless to meet up with people over the internet, but I can, hand on heart, say that I have made the most amazing, genuine friends I have ever had.

In the end, we had a wonderful afternoon, lunch then cocktails. The meet up definitely had the opportunity to be awkward but it was honestly like talking and hanging out with an old and dear friend. And that is truly what Maia is to me, her and all my friends I have made over the years on the web (you know who you are.) 

It was a sad moment when we had to part, knowing I might not see her again. 

If you read this Maia, thank you for meeting with me, you are a wonderful woman.

DAY 3: 

Up at 5am. 5am!!!

Had a bus to catch at 6am to go to Batangas port. 
We were off on an romantic island get away. 

After the 2 hour bus trip filled with needing a wee and people starring at my pale white skin and bright blonde hair (something I only started getting used to, 2 days before I was due to leave The Philippines) we arrived at Batangas. Straight onto a boat to take us to Puerto Galera.

I have to say, Manila isn't the most attractive place. No sunshine, no blue sky, it seems quite a dreary place. But not far out of the city, you're in paradise.  
 After an hour on the banca, we hopped straight onto White Beach. People absolutely everywhere, coming up to us from every angle, bombarding me with questions. All in all, making me feel very overwhelmed and uncomfortable. Quickly we found a bar to have a drink, and wait for our ride to take us to our hotel.

I won't deny, when we first stepped foot on White Beach, I became very worried about the standard of living we would have to endure for our trip (I can't help it, I like my home comforts.) From what I saw, most hotels looked like shacks or hotels that's hay day was over 20 years ago. But luckily, we stayed at Amihan Villa

Picked up at the bar by a very smiley gentleman, we were driven about 5-10mins up a rather large hill. Got out of the car to be greeted by a meeping goat, that we later named Charles. Up some steps and we reached the most perfect villa. Surrounded by greenery, and the bluest of oceans. 

This place is perfect. It feels so secluded, isolated from the rest of the world. A great place to relax.

The villa itself consists of 5 guest rooms, a pool, kitchen and communal lounge area. We stayed on the first floor, in room 5. I think all the rooms are the same, beautiful, airy, and light. 


(Apologies for my lazy arse in that 2nd photo)  Unfortunately I didn't think ahead and take any proper photos of the room.  

I cannot enthuse enough about the staff at Amihan Villa. Gemma and the rest of the team are so helpful and clearly love what they do. Gemma gave us a tip about a private beach less than 5 mins away from where we were. After the overwhelming experience earlier that day of White Beach, a private one sounded amazing.

Perfect white sand, blue sea.  

I'm not one for the ocean, I have a fear of fish. But the sea is so crystal clear, I took my fear head on, and went for a paddle.....for about 2 minutes. IT STILL COUNTS.

 Could a day spent in paradise be ended any other way??? 

I discovered a great appreciation for pina coladas while at Puerto Galera. Rupert Homles Escape became our holiday theme tune.

DAY 4:


After a good nights sleep I was ready to face the chaos of White Beach.  Maybe walking there in 30+ heat was a bad idea though...


As beautiful as the island is, things like this do open your eyes and make it quite clear the sort of poverty a lot of the people live in.  But even though they live in shanty towns like this, everyone I met was so cheerful and friendly.

 Compered to Manila, Puerto Galera is so colourful. It's cheerfulness is almost infectious.

I think I saw more goats in the Philippines than I ever have in my life. This guy was just taking a stroll on the beach.

We spent the majority of the day at the beach, sunning ourselves and jet skiing.   
Went back to the hotel via a tricycle and hung around the pool with pina coladas.

Amihan Villa were very understanding about my food requirements. We ate dinner there twice and both times the food was great and no fuss was made about having to change parts of the meal.
 I also found a deep love for mango while staying here, I must have had 8-9 in a 4 days.

DAY 5:

Time to go back to Manila. But first. PIZZA.

After saying our goodbyes to Gemma and the rest of the staff at Amihan, thanking them for everything. It really was a perfect stay. We headed 5 minutes down the road to Casamia. 

After discovering this restaurant on the first day, it became a favourite. The food was great and the staff amazing.  One quick word with the chef about veganism and they created me the best pizza I've had. I 100% recommend this place if you ever find yourself in the area.

We thought we would just go straight to the boat but I guess we couldn't leave before having another go on a jet ski.

Fully covered in sea salt, eyes burning, we headed to the boat and said goodbye to a wonderful holiday within a holiday.

Bye Charles the Goat.

DAY 6: 

We went shopping.

The malls are ginormous, the crowds ridiculous, and the security... a shock. I never expected to ever need to go through a metal detector and have my bag looked through just to get into a mall. 

But, even still,  a lot of shopping was done at Green Hills and hardly any money spent. 

Even in the normal malls, everything is so much cheaper. I could have totally restocked my wardrobe, cosmetics, home ware.... but that would have been silly. Next time.

DAY 7:

The day I did some learning. 

I think, like most people outside of The Philippines, I don't know much about the country. So I felt like I needed to visit the national museum. 

We got told off after this was taken...
Went back to Alex's, babysat his sister and her friend then got ready to see one of the best shows I've ever seen. 

Alex's parents took us to Club Mwah

I can't say I had ever been to a show like it before. Based on the cabarets of Las Vagas and a cast of transvestites, Club Mwah was great. The costumes are all hand made, as are the sets. It's loud, glitzy, and mesmerizing. I really enjoyed my night at Club Mwah. I wish I was able to get some photos of the show itself but we weren't allowed.  

DAY 8: 

More shopping. 

Then lots and lots of booze. 

DAY 9:

My head paid for the heavy night of drinking.

I went with Alex and his family for lunch then more shopping. 

I can't stress enough how cheap everything is.  

DAY 10:

This was a sad day. Nobody likes it when a holiday is over. 

Going to The Philippines was an adventure I never thought I'd go on, but I am beyond happy that I got the opportunity to.
I'm so grateful to Alex's family  for everything they did for me.
I got to meet some amazing people and see some wonderful things. It was truly a holiday I will not forget any time soon. 

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