Saturday, July 28, 2012

Yes Ma'am... the Philippines Dude!

Vacation time baby!
Two weeks
+ Paradise
+ Friends     
=A total bummer to find out that we're returning to Korea to be lesson planning in the office/teaching for 11 hours/day... over-time $ yay... freedom nay...

Luckily, I've been keeping a travel journal of the past few trips I've gone on.. and as the 11 hours a day suggests.. I haven't exactly had the time to blog or update about what has been happening the last few trips/with the Philippines.  So I'm going to pick and choose a few of my favorite things from the Philippines.


Where was I?? In South America?? I haven't loved people this much since I met latinos!  The Filipinos absolutely rocked my socks off.. they went out of their way to talk to us, help us, feed us and love us.  Some of my favorite moments from my trip are the simple conversations I had with Filipinos while riding buses or chatting on the beach.  They were so joyful and hilarious.  We like totally bonded.. witty humor, laughter, smiling all of the time.. love.


Ali and I visited  a huge organic farm on the sea, and I still can't get this place out of my mind.  We went because of all of the rave reviews I had read on the internet about it.  To get there, we each hopped on a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) and off we went on a 30 minute ride through Panglao Island.  When we arrived we were just amazed at all of the detail and random things that decorated the accomodation/pool/restaurant area.  The place was huge! And all outdoors.  It was absolutely precious.. once we walked to the edge of the restaurant area and noticed that we would have a gorgeous view of the crystal blue ocean, we were ecstatic.  And once the fresh flowers touched our mouths, dreams of heaven began.  No really, we went there with the main purpose of eating flowers :).  We ordered two dishes and shared them Korean style.  1.)  Spicy Flower Salad (stir-fried chicken, nuts, flower petals (hibiscus, cosmos..) & chili-ginger dressing  2.)  Tropical Pasta (served cold, mangoes, banana, pineapple, basil, dill, honey mustard & coconut milk).  Combined.. these two dishes created a fiesta in our mouths.  We were ooh-ing and ah-ing the entire time.. does life get any better?


TRUDIIIIIIIIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Ali and I spent 73.5% of our time at Trudi's Place.  A restaurant overlooking/on the beach.. nothing fancy, extremely simple actually, with delicious food & wonderful ocean/people watching.  I can't even count how many Red Horses, San Miguels, Margaritas, Hamburgers, desserts and laughs we encountered while staying at Alona Beach for three days.  

We made new dog friends.. Choco Latte and fam.. who always blessed us with their presence so we could love on them, scratch them & feed them with our spoons.  Because we're so pet deprived in Korea, our souls smiled every time they pranced about.

We also made new human friends.. Rotem (an Israeli guy) who taught us about the difference between a Red Horse and a happy horse.. I thought it was a great pick-up line, but I fully believe him that my Red Horse was indeed a Happy Horse and he did convince me that it secretly and luckily had more alcohol in it than the normal ones (of course that isn't written on the label.. nor was the Alc. % written on the bottles.. ever).  Rum Rum (Filipino) the magical sand sculpture 'wow'ed Ali and I every night as he carved and patted and smoothed away the sand to discover mermaids, dolphins, dragons & inspiration.  He was SUCH a sweet guy, he talked to Ali and I about his inspirations, life, future dreams, his current side jobs as a dance instructor and artist.  We were sad to say our last goodbyes to him, but it was time for us to move on to new islands.

Alona Grove Tourist Inn was one of our favorite places to stay while in the Philippines.  The lady and her family who ran the place were the nicest people ever.. we shared stories about our lives and I admired her for running such a great mom & pop business.  I really hope she does well, it is one of the only budget places so close to the beach & with resorts starting to cover the place... I hope it holds strong through the wind!  It was the first room I've stayed in that the toilets were only flushable using buckets of water... of all of the traveling I've done... I can only imagine the things I have yet to experience.  And you know what?! Even though that wasn't the most pleasant thing to do every time, especially when dropping the aliens off at the pool, I became even more thankful for everything I've been blessed with in life.. running water.. flushing toilets.. using CLEAN water to flush toilets, even though some people don't even have clean water to DRINK!  It was great!


I've gone snorkeling in parts of Thailand and the Galapagos Islands.. but this experience was BY FAR the most amazing I've had.  It was like a Disney wonderland down there... there were heaps of different types of healthy corals, lots of fish I'd never seen before and so many crazy colors.  It was like my brain was on some sort of drug.. everyone needs to experience that feeling while looking at schools of fish!


Ali & I discovered a new way of watching fireflies... while practically being eye level with the tree canopies in the jungle.  Seriously, that's where the magic happens!  We peered over the restaurant balcony at Nuts Huts (our accommodation for the night) only to discover fireflies roaming about in their playground of leaves.  We took a minute to be thankful for the moment.. let it soak in.. then a high five ensued.  

The rest of our evening was spent journaling and reading on our goddess-style pillowed platform on the balcony.   Heaven?  At last.

It definitely wasn't heaven leaving though.. 300 steps + a 15 minute walk through the jungle & jungle heat to get to the highway... at least we got to pet some goats and see some baby chicks on the way though :).


It was SO awesome seeing the tarsiers in their natural habitat.  We visited the Tarsier Sanctuary and walked around some trails to find them.  They're nocturnal, so they weren't moving very much.. just sitting there.. staring at us with those ginormous eyes of theirs.  CUUUUTE!

Some interesting facts:
-they can't move their eyes so they have to move their heads when they hunt.. and they can turn their heads around 180 degrees making it easy for them to jump backwards with precision
-one tarsier needs about a hectare of space, they're extremely solitary
-it can leap over 3 meters in length
-they eat lots of insects, as well as lizards and small birds
-they can kill themselves if they get too stressed (especially when in captivity) by banging their heads up against a tree.. so sad!


Never in my life would I have thought I would enjoy a butterfly sanctuary as much as I did at the one in Bohol.  Ali and I had an absolute riot.  Our guide was hilarious, two of his jokes that we'll never forget:  1.)  As he was telling us about how some butterflies are accidentally born half male and half female (one of their wings is a male version, the other looks like a female).. "We call these LadyBoys.. just like that guide over there (SE Asia humor)"  2.)  "We also have lesbian butterflies, but you won't find any in the sanctuary.. they're all in the kitchen doing the dishes."  Ali and I were almost crying his jokes cracked us up so much.  Such a fun time!

It's surreal saying goodbye to people in one country, and then saying 'HEEEYYY!' in a different country a week later.  Ali and I were on our own the first week.. discovering Bohol, Panglao & Cebu City together.  Then we flew to Boracay, arrived at Frendz Resort.. and found our FRIENDS!!!  It was just so exciting.. even though we hadn't seen each other in 1 week.. we had so many stories to share with each other!


Boracay is famous for a.) having one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, b.) having heaps of international restaurants, c.) some of the best nightlife in SE Asia (next to Thailand).  And luckily, we got to experience every bit of it!  Minus the few days of rain, since we were there during rainy season.. we lived up every moment we could!  There were awesome backpackers at Frendz Resort that we went out to play with.. Ali and I ended up at Bamboo Bungalow, an awesome dive bar on the beach.. mingled, met a JMU alumni (LOVE those moments!), partied with the hotel staff whom I love, and had many great nights!  One of the nights was spent getting down on the dance floor, latina style... LOVE... I was elated, there is absolutely nothing I adore more!  And boy could those boys dance.. holla :).

The Philippine Islands are an AMAZING place to visit... I can't wait to go back and spend more time there!!

The Year of the Dragon Lesson

As I sit here in a coffee shop in Korea.. looking back on my vacation to the Philippines, I can't help but feel at peace.  I rediscovered myself in the Philippines.  I hadn't lost myself per say.  Well, maybe?  This year in Korea was a mental challenge for me.. I went through my first semester very unhappy.  I don't want to say that I regretted coming back to Korea, regret is a strong word, but I think that I was meant to move to Jeonju for a lesson more than an experience.

If you followed my blog/life while I was in Korea the first year, you know it was a bit of a .. mm .. crazy-party-circus-happy-fun-loving good time!  I realize now, that it is probably a good thing that I didn't return to the same sort of life (even though that was what I was expecting).  I had the best time of my life there.. but I needed to grow up a little (a LITTLE, let's not get carried away).   That year was an experience.  This year has been more of a lesson.  

When I first moved here, I was upset about having to say goodbye to my family and friends AGAIN (when I returned from Korea, it was hello for 2 months, goodbye for 4 months as I backpacked S.America, then hello & goodbye for 2 weeks.. back to Korea), I hated teaching old grumpy university professors, I hated that I lived so far away from my school, I hated that most of my girlfriends had moved back to Jinju and I was stuck in Jeonju, I hated that Jeonju was such a horrible city (although, I've grown to love it more now.. I still hate it, I'm merely lying to myself until I escape), I hated how cliquey everyone was in this city.. I just wasn't happy.  

I was good at acting happy though.. unless you were one of the unfortunate souls who truly knew me really well and talked to me often on Skype during my first few months (my parents, Maw-Maw, Ashley, Lindsay..).. you saw me cry, you saw me laugh and cry at how stupid I was, you heard me go on and ON and ON about everything that was driving me crazy.  I'm so thankful for that, because living abroad has its ups and its downs.. you guys kept me sane and motivated.

For the most part I think I kept a positive attitude about it.  I had to learn to tell myself that everything DOES happen for a reason.  You make your life what it will be... I'm choosing to look at this past year as a time of growing.  A time of making yourself happy.. choosing happiness.. finding happiness in an unfriendly city.  

Early on I met a Canook who would end up being one of my bestest friends in Jeonju,  Chelsea.  I thank God for her.. she hated Jeonju just as much as I did and she knew how unhappy I was, no need to hide it or sugar coat.  She was the first person I found (and one of the only ones in the end) that LOVES traveling, loves experiencing, enjoys discovering new parts of Korea, can get down on the dance floor and still be SO chill.  We bonded immediately, she had lived in Korea for months.. being bored to tears, experiencing the same feelings of loneliness, and cursing Jeonju's name every time it was mentioned just like I did.  We vented to each other, discovered friend rice and saved each other from ninjas in Japan.  Our reunion is already in the making!

When I first started working at the university, I was given a desk in the office right across from two amazing ladies, Vida (Ali) & Noxema (Rehana) .  Fate had us sitting across from each other so we could talk too much and plan exciting things in our lives together.. however unfortunately for the other teachers, our voices (Rehana & I's) didn't always adjust.. sometimes you would think we were screaming at each other from opposite sides of the room.  And we always have to explain, it's not screaming.. it's uncontrollable excitement.  We share every part of our lives together (unfortunately for Kerry, sometimes it's a bit too much.. turtle.. woopsies.. tourettes moment..), we build each other up, we support each other, we laugh and wine and dine together... I think some may call us inseparable.  We encouraged each other through the Vagina Monologues and we will never ever EVER forget each other.  The three of us will re-unite again, I'm 100% positive of it.  These girls showed me that it IS possible to like Jeonju, the word love would push it a bit too far.  They've lived here for 4 years and have never left.  Well, Rehana is moving back to the states at the same time as I am.. but Ali is staying behind, being amazing and instructing away!  I'm prepared for the tears to flow for hours when I leave..

Jeonju, I'm going to have to break up with you.  It didn't work out, I'm sorry.. I think we just weren't a good fit together.  It was you, not me.. and that's just how it's going to have to be.

I have 3 weeks left.. my soul feels elated, my mind is clear, I am open and ready for everything the universe has on offer.  I'm scooping up all of the love I have received this year and keeping it in my heart forever.  I'm moving home, I will get to be around my family and friends for more than a hello/goodbye session, and I am ready to figure out my future.

To conclude: WOOHOO!