I'm a little salty to be back from vacation, quite literally as there is still sand pouring from random crevices, nooks and crannies. But I'm really grateful that I got to celebrate my 25th birthday in paradise. We spent the first and last night in Manila. It's a really busy, crowded city with a good amount of pollution. We definitely got stared at but, unlike Korea where people seem to be wondering what in the hell you're doing in their country, it was somewhat welcoming. Curiously interested. Now, I know absolutely nothing about crime rates in Manila, but when there are signs outside of department stores requesting that you leave your firearms at the door, you can infer that it's not the safest place. And I could feel it instantly when the little hairs on the back on my neck were standing up. Being in Korea is really nice for the simple fact that only military and police officers carry guns. You're never concerned about some random person unleashing his day's frustration on you with guns. I surely wouldn't mind exploring Manila another time, but for this visit, I was pretty okay just hanging around the hotel room.
Naturally, this trip had some bumps! Aeja's luggage was on the wrong flight and we actually arrived in Manila without our friend, Kayla. When she hadn't shown up on our connecting flight in Hong Kong, we just knew something wasn't right. We spent all night in Manila trying to track her down. We almost gave up hope as we were waiting for our flight to Boracay when we saw her come running through the airport. We were all screaming and shouting so loud that everyone in the whole place just stopped and stared. It's also important to note that when traveling to, in, and around the Philippines, there are a lot of additional fees. Entrance fees, exit fees, environmental fees, maintenance fees, breathing fees...and then tips! Tips galore! So, this really adds to the overall cost of the trip, but it was still a very reasonable vacation considering everything.
Onward to Boracay!!
So our first day, my birthday, we arrived around 2pm and were greeted with welcoming drinks at the hotel. Anyone who contributes to my blood-alcohol content increasing is alright with me! We had a really great beachfront suite. Our beach view was blocked a little bit by the outdoor bar and restaurant but it was still pretty nice. We went off in search of food and stumbled upon Big Mouth, a Filipino restaurant. We ended up eating there pretty much everyday because the food was so good and the owner, Erick, was super nice.
After eating, we decided to hang out on the beach. The weather was heaven and starting to cool down. I noticed Aeja chatting with an adorable little girl named Noeme. Noeme is 9 or 10 and she wanted to braid all of Aeja's hair for like 250 pesos (about $5 US). And every night, Noeme would be out until about 10pm just trying to make money by braiding hair. I informed her that she should be charging waaaaaaaaay more, but I guess that's just how the business goes here. So we hung out with her a lot actually. She took charge of all our cameras and had mini photo shoots! Here are some of her better shots:
Later in the evening, we had dinner at Ole, a Cuban/Mexican/Spanish restaurant. Literally, they just had everything on the menu, including my favorite Cuban dish, Ropa Vieja - shredded steak with rice and plantain. And they made the BOMB sangria which we were more than happy to drink! I think I actually drank the most because it was my birthday AND I was caught licking my plate. These are pretty good indications of my true state of mind.
We were all feeling pretty nice, but Kayla and Aeja couldn't take it. They passed out by like 8 or 9pm. What kinda crazy person goes to sleep at 9pm during a vacation?! They got clowned for that! So Margot and I went out with Ritchie, the cute waiter from our hotel, and his friends. We ended up at Cocomangas, a popular night spot. It was disgustingly spacious and we scored a seating area with big, fluffy pillows. We danced and chatted and drank some lemonade concoction that tasted like pink Kool-Aid. All we kept saying was, "Wow, you can't even taste the alcohol!!" Those are famous last words, aren't they?? Yup. So we all danced the night away and I crawled back around 4am or something. There are like 2 clocks on the entire island so I never knew what time it was. I suppose that was intentional...anyway, on to Day 2...and a new post. :)