Phuket in 5

I must say, 2014 is becoming one of the nicest years for me, in terms of travel. It’s only the middle of the year and already I’ve been to so many places. For the last 5 days, I was in Phuket, Thailand. I’d been to Thailand before; 10 years ago my friend and I went to Bangkok. But we did nothing but shop all day (#NotComplaining). Well, we visited some temples and saw some elephants, too, but this was the first time that IΒ got to go to the beach in this country. And I must say, their beaches areΒ spectacular. πŸ™‚

I haven’t changed my opinion of Thailand, which I formed when I first went there. To me, it’s like the “What if” country of the Philippines. Alternate history. As in, what if we weren’t colonized by Spain/America and happened to be ruled by a monarch? I think we would be just like Thailand. Or at least be very similar to it. The weather in our countries are more or less the same; the landscape, the mountains, the beaches are also very similar; we even sort of look alike with our black hair, not exactly chinky eyes and brown skin. But our religions are very different, our languages don’t have anything in common (we don’t even use the same alphabet!), and there are no elephants in the Philippines. Hence, our cultures are very different, and our food, too.

I must say that I enjoyed eating seafood in Phuket, even though I’m used to eating seafood here in my home country. I think that’s one example of what I’ve been talking about–the basic ingredient is the same, like shrimp for example, but it’s cooked very differently. Here, cooking shrimp in garlic, butter and chili is the norm. At the restaurants over there, they paired garlic with pepper and butter’s not automatically included. I guess that’s not a big difference, really, but I think you get what I mean.

Anyway, regarding the beaches that we went to, and we went to several areas (Patong beach, Kata beach, Karon beach, Phi Phi Islands), I would say that it felt like exploring some of the best of the Philippine islands, except that they were all within a few minutes (except for the Phi Phi Islands, which were a grueling hour of a boat ride away) of each other. But each area reminded me of another beach I’d been to in the Philippines. Patong beach was like stations 2&3 of Boracay, Kata beach was sort of like Bohol, and the Phi Phi Islands looked and felt so much like Coron, Palawan that I was only able to tell that I was in a different country because the people around me were speaking another language. And we were in a speedboat instead of an outrigger boat, which I have to say is one of the differences between the two countries that I’m not so crazy about. Speedboats just make you so much sicker than outrigger boats do, and for someone who suffers from motion sickness as badly as I do, this is a really important detail.

Since we went there during rainy season, the waves were strong, the wind was strong and there were times when it rained, so unfortunately we didn’t see the islands, or experience the boat ride under the best of circumstances, but I still had a good time because we still saw a lot of nice places and it was only raining half the time anyway.

The hotels we stayed at were also all pretty great in their own ways. We stayed at The Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa, Kata Beach Resort & Spa and Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort. If I find some free time, I’ll probably write a more detailed comparison of these three hotels, but for now this shortcut version will have to do: The Royal Paradise Hotel & Spa is like a city hotel but quite old but it’s the cheapest, Kata Beach Resort & Spa is where you can get the most-Phuket experience (I’ll explain this in more detail, too), but their service could be better, and Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort is the place for the ultimate beach getaway, except that it’s so ultimate you’ll feel a bit removed from civilization (this isn’t always a good thing).

I really did enjoy my 5 days in Phuket and perhaps if/when I write the other entry about the hotels I’ll talk more about our itinerary (that we only made when we were already there), but for now, these pictures will have to do.

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Wedding Weekend

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And a mere three and a half days after going to Boracay, I went to yet another one of the best summer destinations in the Philippines, Bohol! This year is starting out really really well. πŸ˜€

I went to Bohol for a very important reason, though. One of my sister’s best friends got married! Her family is from Bohol so they had the wedding there. I’m actually really flattered that she invited me to her wedding since it was a very intimate affair (only 50 guests!) and it’s really my sister who’s her friend. But my sister’s friends are nice enough to treat me like their little sister, too. πŸ™‚

I left Manila early Saturday morning and got back Monday afternoon. This I think is one of the best advantages of being in the night shift. It was a 3-day 2-night trip, but I didn’t have to file any leaves for work! Lucky me. I was also able to get discounted tickets from Air Asia. And good deals re: my accommodations because my sister’s friends and my sister and her husband were kind enough to allow me to sleep on an extra bed in the rooms that they booked. πŸ™‚

For the first night, I stayed with my sister’s friends at Dubay Panglao Beachfront Resort. It’s a simple resort with basic amenities (i.e. shampoo, soap, towel, hot/cold shower) but it’s along a beach so beautiful that the basics are really all that you need. On the second night, I stayed with my sister and her husband at Amarela Resort. This resort, on the other hand, is very pretty and classy. It has a library, a room with a view, an infinity pool and everything! Although, the beach near it is smaller and the waves are stronger in the area so it’s more difficult to swim there. I guess all resorts have their advantages and disadvantages.

The wedding itself was in another resort in the area, Panglao Island Nature Resort and Spa. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the biggest resort in Panglao island. It’s one of the nicest ones, too. The function room made for some really pretty pictures and we enjoyed the coffee and snacks that we ordered at the restaurant after the wedding. And yes, we went to the restaurant to eat again after the wedding. I don’t think that’s strange at all. πŸ˜›

Actually there was another eating event at the bride’s house the day after the wedding. And I say eating event because we really didn’t do anything else there but tell stories and eat (and, ok, drink tequila hehehe). I had lechon three times in one weekend! I guess it’s not good for me, but the lechon in Cebu/Bohol is really delicious! I don’t know why lechon places in Manila can’t make lechon that good.

It occurred to me as I was going home that this was my 4th visit to Bohol. When I went to Boracay this year, it was my 4th time there, too. There are many other places I’ve never been to, but I think these are two places that I’ll never get tired of.

And best wishes to X and U. May you guys continue to live happily ever after. πŸ˜€

Starting Summer

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My first trip of 2014 was to one of the best beaches in the world! πŸ˜€

My sister and her husband are home to attend a friend’s wedding and since my brother-in-law had never been to Boracay, that’s where we went! I think he liked it though he said that he enjoyed Bantayan Island more. I’m not going to contradict that, I think Bantayan Island is the best beach I’ve been to as well. πŸ™‚ It’s a lot quieter there and I prefer that kind of atmosphere to the metropolitan-like Boracay.

Nonetheless, I still enjoyed our trip because Boracay is still one of the best beaches in the world. I do feel bad that it isn’t as pretty as it used to be. But I guess you can say that about many other places. Anyway, I’m glad that we were able to swim in the ocean, drink yummy fruit shakes, watch the sunset, and do my favorite thing to do in Boracay — walk barefoot on the beach. πŸ˜€

My sister said that now that her husband’s been to Boracay, she’s definitely not going back there ever again. It’s too crowded and too far from Manila. My mom, on the other hand, said that she wanted to go back there once a year every year from now on since it has the best beach for swimming. As for me, I’d say that going back isn’t a requirement/priority, but I sure wouldn’t pass up the opportunity if I get another one.

Happy summer, everyone! πŸ˜€

Summer!

Blame it on the fun!

I wasn’t really able to take photos when my friends and I went to the beach. Or, maybe I was but they’re in my camera and not my phone and I’m too lazy to transfer and edit and blah blah blah. Maybe I will later on when I find lots of free time, oh wait, I’m sorry, I mean, when I make lots of free time πŸ˜‰ . But for now, this collage (and the story) will have to do:

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My friends and I went to Alabat, Quezon on account of that’s where my friend’s Aunt A is from. And so, even though it was sooo difficult to get to, it cost us way way lesser than if we’d gone anywhere else. I.e. It cost us less than P1800 each—that’s for food, transpo and accommodations, for three days and two nights! Of course, they weren’t fancy accommodations, but the air conditioner worked and there was running water, which makes it all OK by me! πŸ˜€

Our travel time was 6 hours from Alabang. We took a bus to Lucena, another bus to Atimonan and the boat ride from Atimonan to Alabat island was for around 45 minutes. From the port of Alabat, we took a tricycle and it was another 45 minutes to Essay Resort. As I said, it’s not the most convenient of places to go to, but I think it was worth it.

I liked the place because it was clean and quiet. Considering it was the holy weekend, beaches should’ve been crawling with vacationists, right? But I guess this is too out of the way of the normal local tourist circuit. So, it was very relaxing and we stayed there the whole time. We didn’t hassle ourselves with touring the island or going wherever else because we were on vacation! And I really should stop confusing “vacation” with “exhausting trip”.

I guess we saved some money because my friend B, cooked all our food. πŸ˜€ Note: Buy everything you need once you get to the port. There aren’t really stores around the resort where you can buy cooking oil and rice and bottled water and whatever else you’ll probably need.

We really had lots of fun. Just hanging out at the beach or in the air conditioned room, listening to music (thanks to K for bringing her awesome speakers), drinking, answering trivia questions, telling stories, sharing feelings and embarrassing ourselves.

I do love summer, not just because it’s the best time to go to the beach but because it all gives us a reason to go bonding with our friends at the beach! Imagine asking people you want to bond with (I’m not calling them your friends yet because you’re still not that close) to go to the beach with you sometime in July or August. They’d think you were crazy and they’d ask why. And if it’s not your birthday or you’re not sick with cancer, what good reason can you give? But if it’s March or April or May and they ask why you want to go to the beach with them, you can actually say, “Because it’s summer! What’s wrong with you?” 😎 πŸ˜‰