Sunday, February 8, 2009

White Sand and Mango Smoothies

I headed down to the Philippines for our Chinese New Year holiday. We got a week off so a few teachers and I decided to go someplace sunny and warm. This was my first trip to the Philippines and I found the beach in Boracay to be gorgeous. We left very early in the morning on Saturday, January 24th, to fly to Manila via Hong Kong. During our short stop in the airport in Hong Kong, we all stocked up on some books.

(I miss book stores. I miss going to a bookstore and hanging out for hours. I used to go to a bookstore, get a chai tea, find a quiet place and just sit all afternoon. When I heard that there was a huge bookstore called the Foreign Languages Bookstore here in Beijing, I was so excited! I was tired and a bit hungry from walking all around one day so I decided to go check out the bookstore. I figured they'd have a little coffee shop, some comfy chairs to sit in, and I'd just spend a couple hours leafing through magazines and seeing what new books had made it to China. When I saw the enormous building, I could hardly wait to see all those titles! I walked up the steps and split the heavy plastic sheeting that so many doors in China have and had to nearly blink away my tears when I saw several floors of books I couldn't read and people I couldn't talk to and no coffee shop and no comfy chairs and it wasn't even quiet or calm. In fact, it was like a book warehouse with so many people in every corner on every floor. I was able to find a few cookbooks in English and a section on learning Chinese. I even looked at the books teaching Spanish because it was familiar to me. I bought a book with maps of Beijing and a book on learning Chinese and made my way out the door. And I was still hungry and not quite sure what had even happened.)

So, the bookstore in the Hong Kong airport was lovely.

We arrived in Manila in the evening and after checking into our hotel, went out for dinner in what seemed like an expat area of town. I met a few teachers who work at the school in Manila that had offered me a job. The whole (short) time I was in Manila, I thought about what it might have been like if I had made a different choice. I think I made the right one for me at the time and I am happy with where I am.

Early the next morning, we headed to the airport in the hotel's shuttle, a bit late, and rushed to get in the door where we were told that we had gone to the wrong airport. Our shuttle had already left so we rushed back to a taxi and made our way to the other airport and found the rest of our group who had also just arrived. After waiting in line for a while, we were told, "Sorry. You are too late." which later turned out to mean, "Sorry, we canceled your flight and you will have to wait a little longer."

We made it onto our little dual prop plane for the short flight to Boracay from Manila and then to two little motorbike taxis to a little boat to a van/pickup taxi and finally to our hotel. And I think it was only around 8:30 in the morning.

We got changed into our bathers (if you are Australian), our costumes (if you are South African), and our swimsuits (for the Americans). We actually had all of these nationalities represented, plus a Canadian, in our group of five. I think it was a swimsuit for the Canadian as well.

It was beautiful.

We spent the whole week lying in the sun, swimming in the warm water, walking on the beach, and reading books.

And I think we had a mango smoothie every single day. They were delicious.

We also had a few spa treatments (seaweed wraps, facials, floral baths, pedicures) and I did three scuba dives.

Here I am with lots of little fish and the beautiful face of the stone fish.

A couple clown fish in their anemone and a ghost pipefish.

It was very relaxing.

Then we had to head home. We left on Sunday, February 1st, early in the morning. A van taxi picked us up and took us to the dock where we got on a little boat to the next dock. There, we took two motorbike taxis to the small airport. Next the dual prop plane to the Manila airport. Again, wouldn't you know it, we were at the wrong airport, so we had to take two taxis to the other airport where we waited for too long in line and missed our flight. It wasn't our fault though, so they bumped us up to Business Class for our flight to Hong Kong. After arriving in Hong Kong, we visited the bookstore again and bought more books. (I told you I missed bookstores!) Then a flight to Beijing and a car ride back to our apartments. I think it was a total of about 16 hours of travel, four airports, and 7 different vehicles. But now we all have flip flop tans so it was all worth it.



Mariah and Gary Schmidt said...

It is truly amazing all the adventures you are taking! You are a lucky girl Sarah! I wish I could have gone to Manila to see where my mom grew up. Someday! Miss you!!

Catherine said...

Ahhh those beaches!! Looks like just what the doctor ordered after all the cold winteryness. :)

Anonymous said...

This looks like it was a fantastic trip! (sorry, I've been lax in blog-checking)

I love the stone fish. Those are tough to get!