Day Three in the Philippines:
We arrived safe and sound, though a bit haggard, two days ago in Manila. The 13 hour flight was a doozy, but China Airlines does a pretty good job of taking care of you. They had blankets and pillows and served two meals, and there was one of those personal TVs in the back of the seat with a bunch of movies. The movies probably saved my life on that flight because I could only sleep for so long.
Once we got into the air port at Manila customs was a breeze. We got a taxi to take us to the hostel that Alex had booked before we left. Like most big cities Manila has many sections, our hostel was in a section called BF Homes. This is not where we wanted to be. Not that it was unsafe, it was just a very poor neighborhood, that NEVER sees tourists, let alone white tourists.. Coming straight from the crowded air port to that neighbor hood where people didn't just look they stared (for extended periods of time) was way more than culture shock. We got a lot of kids looking at us saying "ooh Ameicano" with wide eyes and gaping mouths So my advice when traveling into the Philippines is to stay in a section called Ermita or Baywok (I think that is how you spell it) these are the more "touristy areas" you will definitely feel more comfortable. In fact the taxi driver we had taking us from the airport was very kind and knew a lot about the area and some good value places to stay. You can always ask them for help.
After our uncomfortable first night in Manila we took a bus to Batangus and then a small boat to Puerto Galera on the island of Midoro. We spent last night in the city of Puerto Galera at a place called Coco Point. It was alright, I think there is probably better around for the same price. After getting our room we took a jeepny (which is a Filipino Bus basically) to Sebang (another beachside city). There was a lot more tourists there, so we started to fell less out of place, though I don't think we will ever be in place. We wondered, bought a souvenir and a really good pineapple, had a really good lunch at a little beachside restaurant and bar then made out way back to our room for the night. There was supposed to be good snorkeling at the beaches in Sebang, but we didn't like the look of the beaches and they seemed a bit crowded, plus it was pretty over cast and we got hit by a couple warm showers so it wasn't an ideal time to go snorkeling, I think we are going to put that off until Boracay.
This morning we got up at 5:00 am and decided to move on to what our travel guide book said was a more secluded "private" area to maybe relax and not feel so out of place for a couple days. Side note: did I mention we are waking up ridiculously early and going to bed by like 8 or 9. Woo-hoo how crazy is my summer vacation J?! In the opposite direction of Sebang there are some more beach areas including White Beach, Aniunan , and Talipanin. These areas don't have great snorkeling but they are nicer sandy beaches and the swimming is great. We had a tricycle (which is a motorcycle with a side car and one of the main means of transport around here) drop us off at Aniunan beach and then we walked along the shore to Talipanin to find a place to stay. Talipanin is the farthest out of the three beaches and it has a number of nice resorts type places to stay. We found a good deal on a room at a place called Mountain Beach Resort so we are going to spend tonight and tomorrow night here before moving on to Boracy on Saturday. We went swimming on the beach, walked along the beach to White Beach to get some lunch, wonder and buy some water (past White Beach there is no more groceries or markets to buy water) then walked back, swam some more and took a nap. Swimming-wise the water is super warm, not that I am complaining. It is just so much warmer than the beaches in Oregon that I have swam on in the past; it was quite a pleasant shock the system. We did get a little sun burned today, just a touch, but I am proud of myself that it took three days to get burned instead of just one. Now here I am.
Other general remarks:
People are over all pretty friendly, most say hello as you pass or at the very least smile. Yeah we've been getting stared at, but not in a disapproving way, just a "wow we never see your kind around here" way. In the areas we have been in the last two days there is always someone trying to sell us something or offer us a boat ride or a number of other things. However, if you say "no thank you, not interested" right off the bat they say "thanks" and leave you along. Warning though, if you show the least bit of interest they will be all over you and you will have a small bit of difficulty shaking them.
Well that is all for now. We will probably get to a computer again in a few days. I hope everyone is doing well.