Saigon by day

02.19.11 | Comment?

We left the Philippines with a pinch in our hearts at the end of January. We had such a good time there. It was time to move on and get back on a continent (we’ve been on islands for the last 4 months).

We arrived in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam right before the Tết Holiday which forced us to stay put for extra days. It was a blessing in disguise, we needed rest and time to plan our next moves. In between long periods of time just lazing around in our hotel, eating at nearby restaurants and spending time on the interwebs, we actually walked around a little.

We learned that crossing the streets was a bit of a sport… while there is the rare lit crosswalk, most of the time, you just pick a spot, engage in traffic, walk slowly, never stop or move abruptly and make your way across as motorcycles and cars dodge you. It’s actually quite fun! This is what it looks like (although it’s not the “worst” we’ve crossed).

Continuing on the scary stuff… this was the view from our hotel window on Chinese New Year day. Yikes! I guess it didn’t start real well for the building behind the Crazy Buffalo.

It was also the day we changed hotels (not for that reason, just to experience a different neighborhood). When the power went out and we saw the scene, we accelerated our packing and got the hell outta there, taking a detour to avoid the thick smoke in the air. Thankfully, the fire was controlled fairly quickly and we weren’t in the tiny hotel elevator when the power went out. Phew, all ended fine.

On crochet, carabao and dance

02.06.11 | 3 Comments

While at our friend Jeoffrey’s house in San Dionisio, we spent a good deal of time playing and interacting with the kids. Here’s the cast of characters of the three stories to come:

This is Jina, she’s 3. She is the sweetest girl in the whole wide world.

This is Joseph, he’s 5. He knows how to write his name… and a few other English things (like nose, eyes, mouth, hands, etc..) after a writing session with Justin. He liked Justin so much that he wrote his name as Joseph Watt.

This is Jan-Jan, he’s 13. He was my buddy. He was also my bodyguard. He would hang out with me pretty much everywhere I’d go. I introduced him to the iPhone (good idea? I’m still debating) and he became quite good at Angry Birds and Ninja Jump.

This is Jun-Jun, he’s a teenager. He doesn’t like to be told what to do, especially when it involves carrying two very large and heavy humans on his back.


Island hopping fun

02.04.11 | 2 Comments

The whole point of us going to the Philippines was to visit our good friend from the Cap Cleveland, Jeoffrey (and his fiancée Fatima). He graciously invited us into his home about 100km north of Iloilo to spend four incredible days. Aside from tasting all the delicious food, one of the major highlights was to go island hopping with his family and friends on a fishing boat. What a memorable day! Here’s a little photo series to complement Justin’s post.

The four of us chillin’ on the fishing net.

Justin taking a photo on the outrigger while we were moving.

There was lots of action on the boat like all the men pulling the thick rope together to start the engine.

Or this guy pumping water out (ugh yeah… good idea).


A few days in “paradise”

02.02.11 | Comment?

It’s funny how the image of paradise is stereotypically a white sand beach on a tiny island with crystal clear water and a coconut tree. I well know that paradise is not about where you are but rather how you feel. However, since all these things were accessible to us, we decided to go to “paradise” for a few days.

Justin is way ahead of me on blog updates (what’s new?) so I’ll spare you some details. Rather, I wanted to illustrate our trip to the Coconut Garden Resort in Palawan with a few more pictures and a video. It took a bit of traveling from Puerto Princesa to Cacnipa Island… here’s the route:

View Palawan in a larger map

We took a (very crowded) bus from Puerto Princesa to near Roxas…

… where we hired a tricycle to drive us the rest of the way to Port Barton. It was a dirt, or rather muddy, bumpy road on which we bounced around with half butt cheeks sliding off the Filipino-sized seat. This is a glimpse of what that hour-long ride was like. The adventure factor was pretty great, but we were glad when it was over.


Into the underground river

01.30.11 | 2 Comments

Continuing the video-posting. After the rice terraces exploration we flew to the island of Palawan, the western most island of the Philippines. We couldn’t miss the world famous underground river near Puerto Princesa (even if it made me nervous). To get there, we had to take a 2 hour packed van ride to a big boat to a little boat and back.

The “big” boat was a 6 person outrigger. I love these boats, they’re so exotic to me. The only down side is the loudness of the motor… we’ve learned to just wear earplugs.

After a 20 minute ride, we transfered to the little boat, which was not motorized. It was a small paddle boat with a battery powered light in the front. The front 2 people were in charge of lighting the way. At some point (0:56) the guide asked them to highlight a snake in the wall which neither them or us understood… which triggered Justin to make a comment that will forever make me giggle (at the end of the video). Hehehe.

Tricyle and Jeepney – Banaue

01.29.11 | 2 Comments

We have pretty good internet right now, so I’m taking advantage of the bandwidth to post some videos we’ve taken in the Philippines.

Our first day in Banaue, we took an afternoon guided hike around the pyramid-shaped rice terraces. To get to the trail head, we had to ride a tricycle which eventually became my favorite mode of transport in the Philippines.

The next day, we chartered a Jeepney with a Slovenian couple and a Dutch girl to go see the Batad terraces in the shape of an amphitheater. 2/3 of the drive was on a relatively decent paved road. The last 1/3 however was an uphill, muddy, potholed road. No wonder the SUV in the video is parked… watch us get (briefly) stuck in the mud around 1:07. The video is ended by me being bumped around so much I loose the camera. Fun times!

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