Sunday, November 04, 2007

Manila and Palawan

My trip to the Philippines was amazing in many ways. I think the best way to go about explaining it to you is in highs and lows.

We danced and drank all night with "little people" at the Hobbit House in Manila. It's a bar that's modeled after "The Shire" from Lord of the Rings, complete with a complete staff of "hobbits".

We were upgraded from a beach cottage to "the Villa" (one and only) on Sangat Island. Our 3-story villa was made out of all natural materials found on the island, had 3 hammocks on the porch, and our shower was a cave! Did I mention we had our own private beach?

We did in fact see monkeys. They even took over our porch for awhile. Geoff was surrounded by about 10 of them at one point, but luckily they were nice enough monkeys to back off.

Kayaks were included with our villa (since there are no roads or motorized vehicles on the islands-only walking paths and the ocean). We snorkeled, relaxed in natural hotsprings, took boat rides to neighboring islands (one of which had a freshwater lake!), and napped in hammocks. Truly paradise.

The weather in Manila was crap. It rained most of the time. Dirty, dirty rain.

Manila was very dangerous. The gap between the rich and the poor is astounding.

We all got sick at some point. I thought it could be malaria (there is a risk of that). But I was wrong. So technically, this could go in the "high" section.

We had some transportation issues. Almost missed our once a day island flight (14 row plane) and our jeepney (cross between a bus and a jeep) ride through semi-flooded dirt roads was terrifying.

Overall, the trip was fantastic. I would recommend going to Palawan, and specifically Sangat Island. It is very eco-friendly, and not overrun by tourists. There are only 11 cottages on the entire island, and the staff was amazing. Their motto was "Anything is possible". I don't normally say this, because there are too many places I want to travel to, but I plan on going back.

These were the boats that we traveled in. I'm the boat model. Yikes. That pose isn't going to sell anything.
Monkey business on our porch! (you may have to double-click and enlarge the image to see the little guys)
A view of our villa, private beach, and kayaks! This was taken from a stilted over-water walkway used to reach our beach.
Our villa up-close.
Dancin' with a hobbit...just another Saturday night in Manila.
Geoff and I showing off our mad kayaking skills!
Courtney and I taking a shower in our "grotto" after a long day of relaxing.


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