Ohhhhhhhh The Philippines, the Philippines.
A country I never gave too much thought about until I noticed it was on route between my home in Sydney and my home in Los Angeles.
Could this be the perfect place for some culture and solo adventures before heading home for Christmas?
Originated by Spanish rule and located in the far distance from their SE neighbours.
Could these majestic islands allow for a completely unique Asian holiday experience?
Well.. the answers were…
HELL YES! YOU GENIUS WOMAN, YES!
So if you are anything like me and crave a bit of chaos and excitement in a modern city filled with history, with a balance of relaxing in paradise and embracing culture…
After hearing my stories you will agree…
Visiting the Philippines is a definite MUST!
It’s 4am!! Off to the airport to get this show on the road!
After 2 horrendous hours of trying to check in with Philippine Airlines, I finally found myself on the plane sitting next to a lovely British boy on my left and the window to the world on my right.
We spent the glorious 9-hour flight laughing and telling each other jokes. We even shared food together and even watched a movie off my laptop sharing headphones.
It was adorable..one might even say,”Lady and the Tramp-estic”…
What perfect way to begin my trip!
Well, that was until his girlfriend from the isle over came over and asked me to move.
Once I landed in Manila all I saw was pure chaos! People were everywhere as well as police with very, very large guns. I was almost going to take a picture with them but being ignorant of Manila laws I thought ..
Nahhh let’s not get shot on your first day Michelle… on the last day, we can revisit this idea.
With only one full day in Manila to see all the sights, it sadly was a day of rain rain rain rain. Regardless of the weather, I told my driver..
Take me everywhere! I want some history! I want some animals! I want some black jack! and I want some FOOD!
Fort Santiago was built by the spunky Spanish when they first established the city of Manila.
I was the only person in this HUGE fortress due to the rain, which gave me the freedom to “nerd out” and act out my interpretation of each battle.. as one does.. of course 😉
I imagined what it would have been like back when the Spanish were battling the British, but by the time I got to act out the Americans conquering, the rain decided to start its own battle…
A battle with ME..
and it won (and totally cheated)
Next up in Intramuros was Manila’s oldest Church, San Agustin Church.
This place was massive and with the use of stone walls made it angelic to gaze at. It was crazy to think that when the Japanese took over the church during WW2 they used it as a concentration camp for prisoners and many residents were held hostage and killed. Seems very un-church like… or.. many not?
Who knows! All I know is that I kept getting distracted during these “deep thoughts” because the whole freaking place was covered with little baby Jesus WEE WEES!! SERIOUSLY EVERYWHERE!!!
I am sure baby Jesus wore some type of diaper right?
Next up was Ocean Park, a very large aquarium park mall hotel thing?
Though there was much entertainment, the part of this aquarium that stood out was the amazing jellyfish exhibit.
Oh….and then there was that one time..
…..I almost threw up at the restaurant..
There was this dish that all my Filipino friends dared me to try, BALUT.
Knowing they have never even tried it, and not fully comprehending what it was, I opened my silly mouth and ordered it anyway.
Once placed in front me, it is safe to say I was confused on what I was looking at. It looked like eggs, but had a weird looking black inside to it. I start poking it with my fork to see what was inside but I was stumped. I finally slowly cut it open, digging out the black middle with my fork before almost gagging.
It was a full blown baby duck chick in there! FUR, FEET, BEAK AND ALL!
This is something I would have as friend a pal a buddy.. not something I was able to put in my mouth.
And I also thought.. it’s only day two, let’s not have a beak slice our throat open, yeah?
One place of course I had the driver take me was the casino –
Where else are you supposed to go when it’s raining!??! It’s just science 😉
From the moment I took my first step in, I knew these people in the casino were alllll business!!! Nothing but older Filipino men and women with straight faces and money hungry eyes.
- When I first sat down at a machine, a mean man came over screaming at me to get off his machine.
- When I walked over to the blackjack table everyone at the table instantly got up and left.
- When I went to the players club to get a card, they sent me somewhere else..and then somewhere else.. before finally telling me that they ran out of plastic!?
It’s safe to this chirpy blonde was not welcomed with open arms. I ended up quickly winning 200o pesos on a slot machine, pounding my scotch and making a run for it! 😉
For my final stop in Manila, I headed to the Insider Sports Bar in Makati to experience a bit of chill nightlife. I spent the evening hanging out Santa’s little helpers, chatting to locals and getting way too friendly with my good old pal, tequila.
I met so many lovely people that night it made me wish I had more time in this crazy city. Manila was far from as “scary” as people tried to make it out to be. It was a bit chaotic but it had a lot of character, and that my friends are what makes it so captivating.
Once I arrived at the friendly little airport of Coron, Palawan, I went straight to my hostel to relax before heading out to see what trouble I could get myself into.
A minute from the water and placed in the heart of the town, The Seahorse Guesthouse was some prime real estate for only paying 15 bucks a night! Given, I had to share a room with an English guy, an Argentinian guy and a Scottish guy…
But hey, things could have been worse 🙂
FINALLY – time to see the beautiful sights of Coron. I skipped my way onto an adventure day tour with 8 other people AKA 4 couples….because being the 9th wheel is always a blast..
The first stop was some snorkelling in the ocean. It was here, where I jumped off the wrong side of the boat and stabbed my foot on some coral, which was obviously stupid. After the self-inflicted wound, we headed to a lake that was like no lake I have ever seen before. Hidden within the rocks and hills of an island, Kayangan Lake really knew how to take your breath away.
Next, we were off to a private island to enjoy some
good ole communal food. Full fish, fresh fruit, and enough rice to feed the whole country, literally. We all got to know each other’s cultures and bonded easily regardless of our religious differences. Though admitting to leaving the Catholic church as a teenager, they still accepted me 🙂 Allowing for the final 2 spots to be even more enjoyable.
I arrived at the Coron Underwater Garden Resort to the warm friendly faces and the greetings of two cute puppies that just didn’t even KNOW how much love they had coming their way.
They already knew me so well.
STREETS OF CORON
Even though I made little to no planning on this trip, I somehow experienced one of the most perfect weeks of my life. And even though I barely made a dent in seeing all the 7,000 possible islands to visit, I saw enough to know it is by far one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. The people were warm, loving and open. Undeniably one of the friendliest cultures I have ever encountered. The food was flavourful and made with love and the beaches and natural wonders are any wanderstluster’s dream.
I fell in love with these unique islands and left a little piece of this crazy American with everyone I met. After my trip to the Philippines, I feel like a more beautiful person inside and out… well.. mostly inside, as I am still trying to lose the extra chins I gained from eating all that damn rice.
The Philippines awarded me with a week of amazing memories and will forever hold a special place for that remarkable county in my heart.
Visit the Philippines – I promise you won’t regret it 🙂
<3 Hot Mess
Questions about my trip or need advice on going?