As a part of our Asia tour, Hans and I agreed to spend a week in the Philippines. To those of you who don’t know me, I was born and raised in the Philippines and I visit family and friends once every two years. Why every two? The budget might not be enough or I might have planned other places to visit. 🙂
As soon as we stepped foot outside the airport, we already felt the humid temperature. It was like standing in front of an oven. I am not kidding. It must have been around 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit), even at 2:00 in the morning! I don’t remember Philippines being that hot in the summer. It must be the global warming. Either that or I have been used to the mild weather in Hawaii.
Anyways, hot or not, we were ready to experience Philippines!
Let me give you a brief rundown of our itinerary.
We stayed in Manila for two days, four days in La Union (my province), and one more day in Manila. We decided not to go to any tourist spots, with the exception of Baguio, because our vacation was short. I just wanted to show Hans where I grew up and for him to experience the country life even for a brief moment.
Fast forward to our last day in Manila. I asked him what did he think of La Union. He thought of La Union as a beautiful place and it reminded him of Vietnam. Vietnam??
Anyways, the entire trip was fun with few dramas along the way.
Now, let me share with you the things that we enjoyed and the things that were eeehhh.
- PEOPLE – This might be a little bit biased but Filipinos, for the most part, are friendly and can speak good English. Now, when you are traveling, these two things can be really helpful especially when you’re navigating places.
- FOOD – There is a plethora of food of any kind everywhere! You can find high end restaurants in major cities, local eateries everywhere, and BBQ chicken feet and balut in the streets and markets! How about that?! And then, there’s JOLLIBEE. If you are not familiar with Jollibee, it is a Filipino fast food restaurant that is a hybrid between Mc Donald’s and KFC. They serve the best fried chicken in the world! Take my word for it. Also, we went to River Farms on our first night in the province for dinner with my folks. River Farms is a floating restaurant that mainly serves fresh seafood from their pond. The food was, of course, delicious.
- SCENIC VIEWS – Again, this might be a little biased but Philippines, with the exception of typhoons and the high humidity, is a beautiful country. Though we didn’t roam around that much while in PI, we went to Baguio, which is one of the many tourist spots. It is also called the Summer Capital of the Philippines. It is a city on top of the mountain. We rode the bus for two hours from my place to go there. The mountain sights were just spectacular. The climate in Baguio was close to Hawaii. It was nice to have a break from the heat. While we were there, we checked out the Burnham Park (a family park) and SM shopping mall. Click here to learn more about the places to visit while in the Philippines.
- MALL OF ASIA – We went to the Mall of Asia in Manila and we were just overwhelmed with how huge the shopping mall was. I mean, they even have a skating ring inside the mall! There was just so much variety of stores, restaurants, and other stuff. No wonder it’s called the third biggest mall in the world.
- ECONOMY – While in Manila, I can’t help but notice constructions everywhere. Buildings are being built left and right. To me, that is a good sign of a growing economy. I am wondering how Manila will look like when I visit again.
- COUNTRY LIVING – The life is simple in my province. You wake up to the crow of roosters at 4:00 in the morning and then, you start your day. You get fresh air, fresh food, and good company. You go outside the house and you can see mountains and fields after fields of tobacco, rice, or corn, depending on the season. You can see farm animals like chicken, cows, goats, and carabaos (water buffalo) everywhere. Now that I am talking about it, I miss home again.
- TRANSPORTATION – The public transportation in the Philippines is cheap and convenient. Hans particularly enjoyed riding the tricycle and the jeepney. Taxis charge by the distance which saves you a lot of money. Imagine if they charged by the minute and you get stuck in the traffic for hours? Budget pal loves cheap transports.
- TAXI ATTENDANT – The drama happened when we just arrived in Manila. This taxi attendant wrote my name on his log sheet and after writing my name, let me repeat that, after writing my name, HE ASKED ME FOR MONEY!! The guy was dressed nice and is an employee of the airport. I mean, come on! Of course, budget pal here didn’t give him any money.
- NAIA TERMINAL FEE – I have been to eight different countries and only in the Philippines that they charge P550 (around $12) terminal fee at the airport when you go out of the country. Why? This has been going on since 2002. This is not a major concern since it’s a mandatory fee anyway but to nickel-and-dime every passenger irks me. You know what I mean?
- CONGESTION – I guess this is a given to any major city which we don’t have control over. The traffic, the growth of the economy, and overpopulation all contribute to this problem.
After enjoying Philippines for a week 🙂 🙂 🙂 , we were ready for the last leg of our Asia trip– CHINA! Our visit to the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, and some more on my next blog.