It seems that a whole year has passed since Nate and I left for Taiwan and promised our mothers we would start a blog. Oops - sorry! It's now up and running and we promise to do our best to do some writing over the next 4 months.
Since we are a few weeks into our trip, I will do a quick recap for you all. We began our trip with a short but busy trip to Bocolod to visit Nate's sister, Rachael. After spending a sleepless night in the Manila airport, we arrived to Rachael's small but cozy one room pad in a boarding house. She left us a very informative note, ensuring us that yes, that little futon is indeed her bed and that the big trash bucket in the bathroom is her shower. Oh, and if her brother needs to go #2 (she knows him well) that he must dump water into the toilet to flush it manually. We were a bit blown away by her accommodations! We spent two nights there, slumber party style, and then were off to Dumaguete to visit Harold a.k.a Mr. Nice ;)
Once in Dumaguete, we were treated like royalty by Harold. For those of you who don't know H, he is a friend of Rachael's and truly one of the kindest and most generous men I have ever met. H runs a very cool hostel where you get to enjoy grilled seafood on the rooftop on Wed nights and free oysters on Friday nights. But did we stay at Harold's Mansion Hostel? Oohhh no, we were VIPs staying at his house. We were spoiled with privacy, our own bathroom, a motor bike and cheap, cheap beer. During this time, I completed my Open Water Diver and Nate did his Advanced. I was incredibly nervous about diving and when Nate preferred to stay out and drink the $1 San Miguels, I insisted on going home to study my book... yes, still a nerd, I know. However, this plan backfired on me when I saw that the book H left for me was in Danish! Needless to say, I passed and had a great time doing the course! On my last day, we joined a group going to the famous Apo Island where I was able to dive with Nate. We saw all kinds of things from sea turtles to beautiful fish to poisonous sea snakes!
When our courses were over, Rachael arrived, we relaxed and then the four of us went to Siquijor Island for a few days where we stayed in cute little rooms over-looking the ocean. Siquijor is a witch craft island so we figured a trip to the local Shaman. This woman may have been the most adorable person I've ever seen... 86 years old, shiny gray hair, dressed from head to toe in pink. Her job is to rid you of all your bad spirits and we are believers! We witnessed her cure two guys before us and were then blown away by her work on Nate. I forgot to mention that Nate had a very upset stomach when we arrived to the island due to a day old hamburger he thought was a good idea to eat at the ferry terminal. When the Shaman did her trick, she told us that his belly was very sick with a bad spirit and she was sucking it out of him with her magic stone and water. She giggled throughout Nate's treatment because she had never seen so much junk come out of someone. (The glass of water turns cloudy and fills with particles) She even gave Nate a piece to keep (gross) but I wouldn't let him take it home with us. Nate has vowed to never eat a bad spirited hamburger like that again! We witnessed the water turn from cloudy and with particles to absolutely clear water! Visiting the Shaman was a great new cultural experience for the both of us.
When leaving Duma, we had to connect in Clark before flying to Singapore. We were not very surprised when our Cebu Pacific, world's worst airline ever, was cancelled. We changed our plans, took a boat and a van and arrived in Clark where we were disgusted. When booking these flights, we were unaware that Clark is one of the cities in the Phils best known for the sex trade. We all know it's hard seeing women in situations, but trying seeing children. The city was creepy and we only left our over-priced, somewhat gross hotel room once to get some chicken and beer and run right back up to our room. It was truly an eye opening day and makes you really appreciate the work that volunteers are doing over here to help fight this.
Okay, on a more positive note, we arrived in Singapore without a problem and had beautiful weather for 3 of the 4 days. We spent the majority of our stay walking around the city, spending time in Little India and Chinatown. Singapore is beautiful. There is so much green here... we have forgotten what 1st world countries are like! We spent a day in the Botanical Gardens and a day on Sentosa Island, which has a surprisingly nice man-made beach where the sand and palm trees are all imported! We were a bit scared of the prices here, as our hostel dorm rooms were costing us the majority of our daily budget. We focused on seeing the sites as cheaply as possible and walking, walking, walking. I am proud to report we have both lost around 5lbs and feel much better about ourselves without that extra Taiwan chunk we had after living it up our last few weeks there! :) We may have slightly starved ourselves here (not because we wanted to lose weight - $$$) and we cut out beer. We each enjoyed one Tiger Beer on Saturday night and that was it! I suppose a little detox is good now and then.
As we head to Bali tonight, we are looking forward to beaches, bungalows, relaxing and reading, cheap beer and food... but we will certainly miss hot showers, amazing public transportation, and high speed internet!!
Much love to all our friends and family!