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In June, Jacob and I traveled to Northern California for a wedding. While we were driving to the wedding destination, we realized that we were in the middle of Napa Valley and stopped at a delicious and beautiful winery: www.vsattui.com
If you are ever in the Napa Valley area, I highly recommend V. Sattui Winery. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Their Pinot Noir is excellent and the picnic area is beautiful. The area where they have weddings is amazing as well.
In July, Jacob, me and his family went to Cancun, Mexico for a week vacation. Jacob and his family have been going there for the past 25 years since they have a timeshare in the Royal Resorts: www.royalresorts.com
Our Cancun vacation was AMAZING! We did so many different things. We went para sailing (my first time), sailing, jet skiing (my first time), kayaking, snorkeling on a boat with a local guide for way cheaper than the tour boats, laid by the pool, relaxed and ate and cooked some really delicious food. We ate mangoes for breakfast every day and avocados for lunch. It was super hot every day and I got a sweet tan but it is already disappearing since I sit inside on a computer all day. Also, the weather in Boston is pretty raining and cloudy (still).
Our next vacation is a surf vacation to Sayulita, Mexico during Christmas time. I am excited that we are going to be trying a whole new surf break! It is also not that well-known so there won’t be too many other surfers to battle with.
I really want to go back to Costa Rica again and see how the area has changed since we haven’t been back since 2006 – wow 3 years! Maybe when Jacob and I hit the jackpot (haha!), we will buy some land in Costa Rica and build a beach villa – that would be amazing but it’s only a dream for now!
Jacob and I decided to go to the Philippines for our honeymoon. I was born in the Philippines, but I didn’t have any recollection of the Philippines. I was adopted at a very young age and grew up in the United States. This was my first experience back to my “motherland” and now I have so many great memories.
Aug. 25 at 3:30am:
Our long trip started at 3:30am from Arlington, MA (our new residence). Our first flight was from Boston to Toronto which was only 1.5 hours. Our second flight was from Toronto to Hong Kong (HK) which was our longest flight 15 hours. We had a 6 hour layover in HK which was ok because we didn’t have to rush and we were able to walk around after sitting in the same place for 15 hours. Our last flight was 1.5 hours from HK to Manila, THE PHILIPPINES!
side note: When Jacob and I travel together, we usually don’t have concrete plans. The only 2 days we knew we had a place to stay was the first and last night in Manila at a Holiday Inn. My parents were really worried about us. The Philippines is known to be a very dangerous country, but when we were there we never felt that we were in danger. Everyone was extremely nice and polite to us.
Aug 27th (I think – I kind of lost track of time after the long flight and the time change):
Jacob and I arrived in Manila and had some confusion, but finally figured our hotel and rental car. We had a nice hotel room overlooking Manila. Personally, I am not a fan of Manila. It is not very pretty, too crowded, and too much traffic! In the morning, our plan was to get to Pili, where I was born and then to Legaspi City, where I resided for about 1 year before I was adopted.
We drove from Manila to Caluag which was about a 7 hour drive south of Manila. We lost some time due to the fact that Manila is a very confusing city to drive around. The roads in the Philippines are nicely paved but people drive like nut jobs over there! Jacob adjusted right away! He said he felt like he was driving in a video game!
On our way to Caluag, we noticed the public transportation. Throughout the Philippines, they use public transportation because barely anyone has their own car. For their transportation they use vehicles called, Jeepneys and Tricycles.
A Jeepney is a vehicle that was utilized during WW2 and the Filipinos transformed them into a mode of transportation. They are really cheap to ride. They pack the Jeepneys to their full capacity. People even ride on top of the vehicle if there isn’t any room in the inside. They are also intricately decorated and spray painted with different types of artwork, quotes, and names. In the past, they have held a contest called, “The Jeepney King” which was judging who had the best decorated Jeepney. Jeepney’s maximum speed is probably around 40-50mph.
Tricycles are a motorcycle or a bike attached to a side car. The driver sits on the motorcycle or bike while people sit on the side car. The side car can carry up to 4-5 people along with all their stuff. It is quite comical to see. Tricycles probably go up to 10-15mph.
Anyway, we found a random hotel to stay at in Caluag for the night. I was pretty jet lag so I woke up to see a beautiful Filipino sunrise and I also woke up Jacob to see it too. It was beautiful and right over the ocean and mountains.
We drove for about 6 hours to get to the city of Daet. We were able to catch some small surf in Bagasbas, which is a town close to Daet. We found some people that let us rent their surfboard. We had a short surf session and continued on to Naga. Naga is a large city close to Pili.
Thankfully we bought the Lonely Planet Guide Book for the Philippines. This book was our saving grace throughout the trip. It told us about different places to eat, sleep, and visit. With that said, we were able to find a place to sleep right outside of Naga for the night. Naga is known to be dangerous.
We finally made it to Pili! We drove through the town and stopped at at little stand that had coconuts, jack fruits, and we also tried these native nuts called, Pili Nuts. They were delicious! It was pretty busy and looked much like a lot of the towns that we had already driven through. I took a picture of the arch that said, “Welcome to Pili” It was a pretty surreal feeling when we we drove through Pili.
We continued on to Legaspi City where I spent the majority of my time before I was adopted. We drove down to Donsol, which is a couple of towns south of Legaspi. We thought we might have been able to see some whale sharks while snorkeling, but apparently they don’t come around until January.
We drove back to Legaspi City and found a really nice hotel right outside of the city called “Hotel Venezia” Legaspi City has a very active volcano called, Mt. Mayon. The whole time that we were in the area, the volcano had some type of smoke coming out of the top at all times. 2006 was the last time Mt. Mayon erupted. Also, when I was in the Philippines, Mt. Mayon erupted and we had to evacuate and this caused a delay in my arrival to the United States.
Something that both Jacob and I noticed throughout our trip was that the Filipino people thought that I was a native. They spoke to me in Tagalog (which is the native language but has many different dialects), but I would have to tell them that I could only speak English. They also didn’t like interacting with Jacob and would always come up to me first. The interactions and reactions to Jacob was really interesting. For the first time in my life, I was with people that all looked like me. It was actually a really weird experience. I fit in really well and was barely noticed. I think I kind of like being unique looking here in the USA!
Our first day in Legaspi, we had a tour guide bring us to Busay Waterfalls and to Hoyop-Hoyopan caves. Both the waterfalls and caves were really beautiful. Busay Waterfalls consists of 7 different levels of falls. We hiked up each level in the rain! It was really fun and the guy that showed us the way had a machete to cut the path through the jungle. He also had us use banana leaves as umbrellas. We were able to drink straight from the waterfalls.
After the falls, we went back to the hotel to change and ate at a local restaurant that the tour guides suggested. We had a delicious stir fried crab. It was probably the best crab I have ever had. It actually had meat in it!
After lunch, we went to the Hoyop-Hoyopan caves and a local woman that lives near the caves gave us a tour through the cave. She had a gas lantern and it took her quite awhile to get the lantern lit. It took us about 20-30 mins. to get through the cave. My favorite part was called the “fat man squeeze” It was a super tiny opening that you can barely crawl through.
We saw bats and stalagmites throughout the cave. The woman told us it has been there before 200BC because an archicologist had found bones and fossils from around 200BC. The other really cool thing about the cave is that there was a disco dance floor. In the 70s, the President was against dancing and banned it. In response to that, the people of the village came together and built a hidden dance floor so they could continue to boogy down! It was pretty sweet! The cave was a great experience.
We drove up to Mt. Mayon Skyline Hotel which was destroyed by one of Mt. Mayon’s eruptions. The trusty Lonely Planet book told us that if we wanted to hike the volcano we would have to find a local Filipino that knew the volcano. If we didn’t do this, there was a large chance we would get completely lost.
Much like the waterfall, the guide that we found brought a machete to bushwhack through the thick jungle to get the volcanic and rocky path. Halfway through the jungle, I made Jacob switch into my shorts while I wore his pants. I was getting cut up everywhere. In the long run this was a very wise choice as some of my cuts on my arms got infected.
We climbed aka scaled up and down Mt. Mayon for 6 hours and finally got to Alert Level 2. It would be too dangerous to go any further than this level. Throughout the hike, it was raining on and off creating slippery volcanic rock. On the way down from the peak, my foot got stuck in a crack and I tried to get it out and ended up falling off the wrong side down a 10 foot cliff. It was terrifying!!! However, I didn’t get hurt too badly. I got some scratches on my left arm and on the bottom of my right foot. At the end of the hike, I was exhausted and scraped my arm on a some type of vegetation that made my left arm puff up. Right after the hike we went to the pharmacy to get some medicine for my arm to make the pain go away.
Our adventurous hike up Mt. Mayon was absolutely the most treacherous hike I have ever done. I would only recommend the hike if you are prepared to get your butt kicked by a volcano.
We decided that we were going to leave the island of Luzon and go to the island of Catanduanes. We wanted to Catanduanes to surf at Puraran Bay; an infamous surfing spot in the Philippines. We left at 5am to catch the7am car ferry to Catanduanes. The ferry was a 2 hour ride with beautiful ocean views.
We had a smooth ride and the scenery was much like the Island of Luzon. Busy streets then small villages with beautiful rice terraces. The drive to Puraran Bay was great until we hit the dirt roads. They are in the process of paving the roads. Jacob bottomed out the car a couple times – whoops!
To get to Puraran Bay, you have to drive down a long windy road. We were set on staying at this placed called, "Elena"but it proved to be underwhelming. Jacob saw a place that was up the windy road called, Angie’s Bed and Breakfast. We checked it out and it had just opened 2 months ago. It was a concrete building that was 3 floors and nicely built.
We stayed on the top floor called the â€œpent houseâ€. The pent house was a large room that was equipped with AC, hot water, a little kitchen, and a bathroom with see through glass right next to the bed. It had an amazing 360 degree view of the bay. The room was only $25 a night! It was a pretty sweet deal. The owner of the place was an American guy named, Lacey, that grew up in Ohio moved to Hawaii and the decided to relocate to the Philippines. His wife was Filipina and they had a young girl named Lesley Ann. She was so cute!
We had lunch and then broke out our new snorkeling gear since the surf wasn’t up. The water was so clear, blue and felt like bath water. We took a lot of pictures with Jacob’s waterproof camera and then it malfunctioned and lost some pictures from Mt. Mayon and all the snorkeling pictures!
We had mixed feelings on whether to stay another night at Puraran Bay since the surf wasn’t really happening. But, Lacey encouraged us to check the surf anyway. Thankfully, he had some longboard surfboards that he let us borrow!
The surf looks much smaller from a hill than in the water. It wasn’t that big, but it was really fun chest high surf. Since it is a reef break, we had to paddle FOREVER to get to the surf. The surf was really easy to catch so we didn’t have to waste much energy on paddling. We also had to be aware of the reef since it is alive and if you get cut it can create some intense infection. Jacob was able to get his waterproof camera working again so we got some surf pictures!
We left Catanduanes for Luzon because we were leaving on Sept. 6 from Manila to HK. We took the ferry back, but this time it wasn’t as smooth. Apparently, the 1pm ferry is much busier than the 7am ferry. We arrived an hour early and got everything that we needed to board the ferry. However, the ferry director told us that we were too late and we had to be put on a waiting list.
For the next hour, we watched all the cars and trucks pack and disappear onto the ferry. The ferry director came up to us and said, we have no more room, you can not go on the ferry today. Jacob immediately disagreed and told them that he wanted to see the situation. The only way that the car was going to fit on to the ferry was if it was put it on sideways rather than parallel with all the other vehicles. Thankfully, we had a small car and we were able to finagle the car onto the ferry! We were relieved because we had to travel all the way back to Manila for the next 2 days! When we got off the ferry, we headed straight to Naga and stayed in the same hotel that we did on the way to Legaspi.
We traveled for 9 hours from Naga to Manila in one day! We stopped in Liago city to get some food. Apparently, Jacob parked in an illegal spot. I stayed in the car when Jacob went to get the food, The tricycle drivers were NOT happy and started pounding on the car windows. A police man also came up to the car and started knocking on the window. I finally decided to make a move and drive the car away, but was nervous that Jacob wasn’t going to know where I was. I decided to pull a 360 in the middle of the road blocking everyone and their tricycles. I was on a mission to find Jacob in the food market. Thankfully I found him and yelled out to him. He came running over with the food and jumped into the car. It was a pretty crazy experience!
We got to Manila around 4pm and found the hotel pretty quickly. We were pretty exhausted from the whole trip so we decided to relax in the hotel watched tv and movies until our departure. We knew that we need to rest up since we planned on meeting up with our friends, Viv and Matt. We all went to college together and they move to Hong Kong after graduation. They have been living in Hong Kong for the past 3 years. At night, we went to one of the best buffets we have ever had! It had unlimited crabs, lobsters, oysters, muscles, chicken, beef, pork, veggies, desserts, drinks…basically the whole works. It was amazing.
Sept. 6 (night): We flew out of the Philippines to Hong Kong around 6pm to meet up with Viv and Matt. When we landed, we caught a taxi and thought we were on the way to Viv and Matt’s apartment, but they ended up getting us a really nice hotel room on the 27th floor at the Court Yard Marriot! We dropped off our bags and went to a really nice sushi restaurant with some really yummy sushi and plum wine.
After dinner, we went across the bay on a ferry and went to the Avenue of the Stars. The only stars we knew were Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Everyone else was obscure Chinese actors/actresses that we had never heard of. We headed back to our hotel room and crashed around 12:30am.
We met up with met Viv and Matt at 10am. We went on a traditional trolley ride to get to Dim Sum (which was delicious!). After Dim Sum, we went on the metro which was the cleanest station I have ever been in. We took a cable car that went over the ocean and by the airport to get to the Big Buddha on the hill. The view was stunning from the cable car and the ride was about a 25 min. long.
Once we got to the top we climbed a large staircase to get to the top of where Buddha sat. On the way up, there were tons of dragons flies everywhere. When we got to the top of the stairs, we went inside the museum and saw all the offerings and plaques that were given in people’s names.
After coming down from the Buddha, we went into the Monastery. It was highly decorated and had some beautiful orchids. Then we went to the chopstick store and Jacob bought a really nice set of mahogany chopsticks.
We returned from the Buddha via cable car and took a bus up to the highest part of Hong Kong called, â€œThe Peakâ€. This is suppose to be the best view of financial downtown of Hong Kong. It was a beautiful view! Viv and Matt made reservations at a restaurant called, “Cafe Deco” at the top of the peak and we watched the light show that they have every night at 8pm.
After dinner, we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. We got packed and ready to fly back to the USA in the early morning.
Hong Kong was probably one of the cleanest and most futuristic cities I have ever been to. It was a beautiful city, well built and well run.
Our flight from Hong Kong to Toronto was 14 hours long. The flight from Toronto was 2 hours and we arrived safely in Arlington, MA around 11pm.
All in All:
Going back to the Philippines was a great experience for me. To share this experience with Jacob, my husband and best friend, was even more special and amazing. I will NEVER forget our adventures and can not wait to go back!
So, our wedding and honeymoon are over. I loved every minute of our wedding (even if it flew by!) I loved every minute of our honeymoon (even when I was in danger!) I loved going back to my motherland to see how the Filipino people live and to see where I come from. When I find time, I would love to to take a class to learn the Filipino language, Tagalog. When we go back, I want to be able to say some basic phrases.
A great wedding and a great honeymoon…now back to reality.