Home 1 Week And Wishing To Be In The Philippines!

Trip Start May 11, 2006
Trip End May 05, 2006

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Thursday, June 15, 2006

After my last entry in Cebu, Dan and I ended up being the only two to go out that night. I got him to sing karaoke. It was hilarious!! The next day we got up early and headed out to the airport to catch our airbus to Boracay. We arrived in mid-afternoon and got all settled into the hotel before hitting the beach. Boracay is an island of amazing white sand beaches, palm trees and hotels/restaurants/bars on the beach. The water is crystal clear, but the coral reefs are not so hot. There is a lot of sediment in the water and I haven't quite figured out why. There used to be a sewage outflow off the beach, but it's supposedly not there anymore... so, I still don't really know why the water was so turbid. Turbidity creates a difficult environment for coral to survive, so the diving was a bit disappointing. I only did 1 dive because I wanted to spend more time with the other people on the trip, in addition to my disappointment from the first dive. We arrived Wednesday night, went out for some food and drinks and ended up finding these great dance clubs right of the beach way down the beach. It was probably a mile's walk, if not more at 2AM! ha. On Thursday, we did our dive. I did see some big red bass (that are color changing when aggravated), a lionfish and a defaced coral! Someone had engaged a coral with "Roy The Legend". It was a sad thing to see. We thought about doing an afternoon wreck dive, but I was so pooped from the morning dive that I opted to just spend time on the beach and go jewelry shopping. Pearls are a BIG item that are very inexpensive! I was buying necklaces, bracelets and earrings for US$10! They are real, but they're just not perfectly round and polished. Thursday evening we had a group dinner on the beach and then went out to the same dance clubs. On Friday, we had a HOT morning hike to the other side of the island. It's amazing to see what a change it was from the from tourist side of the island to where the locals live... it's just like the rest of the Philippines: poverty. I was glad to go on this hike, despite the overwhelming heat of the day and the fact that none of us had eaten breakfast made for an irritable group. Remembering that this paradise still had it's underlying poverty was a refreshing wake-up call to bring me out of this fantasy. That afternoon Dan, Jill and I did a "Detox" session... you put your feet in this tub of hot water and then an Ionizer is placed on the edge of the tub... Within 30 mintues, lots of grime comes out of your body through your feet... I don't really get the science, but I've become a believer because all of the things coming of my body into the water were relevant to what I had been consuming... fat from fried food, greenfrom vitamins, etc etc. Oddly enough I had the nastiest water out of the 3 of us and I was probably the, seemingly, healthiest of the bunch! I enjoyed a nice leg massage afterwards, as well :). That evening, we enjoyed our last night in Boracay. Everyone was just completely tired and only 6 of us went out. We had a great time, but it was also so bittersweet because we knew our days were numbered together... 1 day was left. Saturday morning we slept late and then frantically tried to get our plane tickets changed with Cathay Pacific in order to go to Hong Kong. Jenna, Eileen, Julianne and Justin had no problem changing their tickets, but they said I had to come to the office on Monday to change my ticket (1 day after our original departure date), so I agreed to do so because I knew Dan would be left by himself (because of the whole Passport issue) and we could fix our tickets together. We flew back to Manila and enjoyed a lazy afternoon at the Makati Palace hotel. Some people went to the mall 1 last time. Jenna and I hopped in a taxi and went to Malate Pensionne to pick up a bag of souveniers we left there in order to save our backs from carrying it around everywhere. It was amazing to see that the Starbucks had moved next door... construction workers hammered day and night and a new Starbucks had been erected in a matter of 3 weeks since our arrival! So, she and I went in to enjoy some coffee :)
That evening, only Jill, Juliet, Johnathan, Kyle, Dan and I went out. Our group was burnt out and ready to go home. We went to a "girly" bar that had THE BEST french fries of my life.. and REAL Heinz ketchup! It was a good way to end the trip, haha. The next morning, everyone groggily packed up and left for the airport. It was so strange that Dan and I were staying behind in this country by ourselves... picking up his Passport and finding our way to the Cathay Pacific office to change our flights. After everyone left, we napped again, picked up laundry, checked email and went to seek out dinner. I played phone tag with my family that I'd been trying to see in the Philippines and, with no luck of getting in touch with them, Dan and I ended up sleeping for 14 hours. We must have been just so exhausted from the trip!! The next morning, we got up at 8AM and headed for the Cathay office before noon check-out at Makati. We waited in line and FINALLY got our tickets changed. Dan was able to use a photocopy of his old passport to get his tickets. It seemed to take forever and Dan nearly broke the bank paying for his change of ticket. We headed back to Makati to get our bags and headed across town to Malate Pensionne to check into a much cheaper hotel. We then went to the US Embassy to pick up his new Passport, successfully! Everything was going quite smoothly. That afteroon I was finally able to get in touch with my Filipino family! They picked Dan and I up that evening and took us out to a WONDERFUL dinner on Manila Bay. We enjoyed big plates of food and it was really fun to meet my family halfway around the world! They took us on a more personal tour of Manila after dinner. We drove by the newly-opened Mall of Asia, which I think is the largest mall in the world now. They dropped us off and we napped before getting up at 3AM to head to the airport for our 6AM flight. Getting to the airport was no problem, but standing in a 2 hour line was not exactly fun. We got up to the desk and checked in, went through Immigration and paid our departure tax, then they discovered that Dan did not have a VISA... thus not having proof of entry into the country... They sent us back to the desk (this was about 30 min before the flight) and we had to wait and wait and wait for someone to type up a letter saying which flight Dan was on, so he could leave the country. It's a good thing I was there to affirm that he'd been travelling with me the whole time and what flight we were on. So, we had to run to the gate and made our flight at the last minute. We arrived in Hong Kong around 9AM and caught an $80 cab ride to where Jenna, Justin, Julianne and Eileen were staying. Dan was out of money and mine was quite limited, so this cab ride hurt our wallets greatly. Nobody knew Dan was coming along, so I went into the room first and 5 minutes later he knocked on the door, giving everyone a GREAT surprise!! He and I were dog tired, but everyone wanted to go out and get food, so we followed along anyway. We had expensive pizza and then walked around downtown Hong Kong, using the subway for travel, as well. We saw a Buddhist Temple and LOTS of antique shops. It felt like a regular city for the msot part. It turns out that Hong Kong is currently the 4th most expensive city in the WORLD, so it was no wonder I was splitting french fries and tiny bottles of Coke as a FULL MEAL. Jenna, Justin, Dan and I took a tram to the highest pointin Hong Kong and spent an hour or so just gazing over this magnificent city. It was a depressing day again because we were dreading the goodbyes. We made the most of it and enjoyed our last days together. That evening we ate a Chinese restaurant called The JUMBO. You had to take a little boat to get there and everything was SUPER expensive. So, Dan and I were again splitting food. No biggie, it all worked out. Instead of going to the bars that night, we picked up some drinks and just hung out at the hotel and had a great time!! The next morning we had a continental breakfast and packed up to head to the airport. We left around noon for our 4PM flight. Check in was no problem and then Jenna, Justin, Dan and I had lunch at a Chinese place in the airport. The flight was good. I drank of the airplane for the first time in my life and it was a good ol' time!! haha. Cathay Pacific is a GREAT airline! They give you free drinks, fresh fruit, good meals and good service overall. I highly recommend flying with them! After getting to LAX, it took forever to get through Immigration and Customs. We saw a man trying to get a bear through customs... it was just a ball of fur and a skull. Then we checked our e-ticket and saw our flight was 2 hours EARLIER than we originally thought! Panic set in as we waited in these lines. We finally got through Customs and they told us to go all the way to the United desk to check in because we had such little time before our flight. So we RAN 4 terminal gates (which is a pretty big distance at the LAX airport) to get to the United desk. Trying to check in there was not fun either. They said Dan's ticket had been cancelled and mine was going to Atlanta... but after a good 10 or 15min or standing at this desk, they fixed everything and we ran to our gate... again, boarding at the last minute. The flight was pretty empty coming home and we got in at 12:30PM. My Dad and Dan's Mom greeted us at the baggage claim.
So, there ends my journey to the Philippines. I've been home 3 weeks now and the culture shock or sadness from my goodbyes has still not left. I miss it so much. I can't wait to go back next year, but it won't be the same because my group will consist of all different people. I'm sure it'll be an amazing trip next year, anyway. Now I'll also know where I'm going and what everything is! I have been able to keep in touch with Jenna, Dan and Justin. I'll be seeing Jenna in July before she heads to Japan for 1 year of teaching English. Dan came by to repay his debts, so it was good to see him. I have talked to a few of the others through email, but I still feel at a loss for not seeing these people everyday. It's such an overwhelming feeling of sadness, but I would never trade any of my memories from this trip for anything. I love the Philippines and will always keep this journey close to my heart. Thank you for following along and sharing this journey with me, as well!
Until next year!! :)

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