By Mummy B.
I promised you, you’ve been waiting for them (maybe?) … Here it is! “Travel” articles are back! I really have to tell you about the amazing and unforgettable experiences that we lived in Seoul and in the Philippines. I start with them. The trip is more recent (late June-early July) and scored our last getaway in South-Eastern Asia before leaving Singapore for a summer in France and arriving in California in early October.
Why the Philippines, while some mythical and unknown countries were so close? And why the island of Luzon, the least talked about in the guides rather than Bohol or Visayas which seem to be dream islands?
Actually, it was not our first choice for this final trip before leaving the city-state of Singapore. We dreamed of Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam …
This is the reason more than the heart, which led us to conclude that Asian parenthesis there.
First for financial reasons. With a move to the other side of the world expected, we could not afford too large budget. With Flights (for 3 : since Mimi turned 2 years old, we need a ticket for her too), visas (to Vietnam, for instance), hotels and tourism, most destinations were off-budget.
Then, Daddy B’s holidays were limited. We wanted to enjoy our stay in France and therefore could not afford to take too many days off which could allow us to discover the countries that we heard so much about.
We began to seriously drop the idea of a last getaway in Asia …
And then an opportunity presented itself: Daddy B. had a business trip to Manila. His flight would be paid by the company. After checking his loyalty program with Singapore Airlines (best company in the world that I had then not yet tested) and we had confirmation that we had enough miles for having two free tickets for Mimi B. and me. The hotel and Daddy B’s meals in weekdays would also be paid by the company. For the rest, we knew that a minimal budget would be necessary, as you will see in future articles. Daddy B. could take two days off ensuring a long weekend to explore the area together, and during his working days I could focus on Manila.
Our two main concerns for this trip were therefore adjusted. But… Manila, really ???
After searching on forums and tour guides, I began to doubt. Dangerous, unattractive, noisy and dirty … I was less and less sure to be willing to go there and it seemed difficult to find activities to do. Most of the travelers seemed to spend there only a short day (if any) before heading quickly towards more popular islands. Despite that, I needed to spend four days there … And the weather was about to finally discourage us : we were going right in the beginning of the rainy season! Fortunately, motivated by the rice terraces of the Ifugao region, we didn’t drop the project and confirmed our flights. I reassure you immediately, even if you you will read it in future articles, the weather has not been too capricious.
Finally we won’t regret a thing. Really… because :
That’s their slogan. We saw it everywhere, including on arrival at the airport. But also almost on all tourist brochures. And it’s so true!
If Malaysia stay in our minds like the country of simplicity, Cambodia the country of smile (much more than Thailand, which was rather the country of contrasts), the Philippines will remain for us the country where we really shared and laughed with the locals. They spoke english very well which helped to communicate, of course. But the Filipino temperament helped too! They are warm and talkative people, always ready to share a little slice of their life, willing to know more about us and also tell us some jokes or amusing stories.
We came back with stars in our eyes, heart and mind full of all those special moments spent with Romeo, Dagoul, Randy, Pol, Armie, Jomari and all the others … These men and women who crossed our road, at the corner of a street, in a park, in a taxi, in the middle of the rice terrace …
We arrived without too much expectations (except for the rice terraces that made us dream, but also a little scared with pitchoune of just 2 years) and the fascinating people, history and landscapes of this region just blew our minds. A desire to return has taken root in us. The Philippines are large, we’ve seen a little bit of this country and fell in love with it.
If you want to know more about this amazing trip in a country where smiling and lughing are part of the local culture, have a look on our “day after day” articles :
Walk inside Intramuros, the historic district of Manila
Visit Ocean Park, because we always try to plan a kid-friendly day
Meet the orphans of the Asociacion de Damas de Filipinas
Admire the fountains in Rizal Park
Then we will take a night bus to Banaue, in the heart of the Ifugao warriors region
Walk in the middle of the rice terraces of Batad and Hapao
And finish this amazing week above the Taal volcano.