Sunday, January 16, 2011
(Boracay's White Beach)
In two weeks time I’ll witness the culture and chaos of Manila followed by the beaches of Boracay. I am Philippines bound!
One goal in moving to the other side of the world was to see what it has to offer – to travel. Just as it would be at home, our travel is dictated by our jobs and our time off. However, at home I request vacation days. As teachers in Korea we go by the school’s schedule. The first week in February marks the Lunar New Year holiday. While most will travel to see their families, we will be hopping on a plane.
Deciding where to go for our week off was a fun challenge. There are so many places to see and we want to see them all! When our time in Korea is finished, our plan is to take a tour of Southeast Asia…most of which is connected. So, you can move on from one country to another by land. However, the Philippines sits out to sea, alone. Logistically, it just made sense to go now.
Okay, so we’re going to the Philippines…now what? It’s an archipelago of 7,000 islands! I’ve got 9 days including travel, so we can’t see it all. We did our research and hemmed and hawed over what we wanted to see most and what places were the easiest to get too.
We fly into Manila, a city that most just pass through. It’s supposed to be a bit intimidating and have terrible traffic. But, it also has the beautiful Manila Bay, the oldest Chinatown in the world, and the old walled Spanish city of Intramurous. The travel gurus we read for advice say it’s worth seeing, so we will see it.
(The Fortress Wall at Intramuros, Manila)
Then it’s off to Lake Taal and Taal Volcano. It's a day trip from Manila to spend a day boating on a lake that surrounds the volcano's 47 craters. From the town of Talisay we hop on a bangka for the boat ride out to Taal Vocano's main crater. It's then an hour hike up to the top where we can look down into the crater at the simmering yellow sulfurous lake within. This is still an active volcano and there were dramatic eruptions here in the 1960's and 70's. At peace, Lake Taal and Taal Volcano are said to be a marvel to behold.
(The view from above of Taal Volcano)
With some days of sightseeing under our belt, it’s off to the beach. Boracay’s White Beach has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful in the world. The pictures are certainly gorgeous. I’ll be more than willing to weigh in with my review! Yes, we’ll laze on the beach a bit. But, we like activity. A boat trip around the island to see the various beaches and test out the waters snorkeling is on the agenda. The Philippines is a popular scuba diving destination. I’ve gone twice before at the beginning level. My husband has never gone diving. Maybe we’ll make a go of it together.
You know what feeling I love? It’s when you have a vacation on the horizon. No matter how crazy or chaotic a day is….you think to yourself only 13 more days until the Philippines!
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You should love The Philippines. It is a very beautiful country, and the people are really friendly. It is a lot poorer than South Korea or Japan, but I guess you understand that.
Intramuros includes a very old church. Close by is Lunetta, official Rizal Park. And the old Spanish prison where the Japanese crammed American and Filipinos soldiers. And don't miss the Chinese cemetery.
I don't know about how old their Chinatown is, but the Chinese cemetery is the largest in the world, because in China there're far too many people to allow them to be buried as they wish. It's quite a glimpse into Chinese culture. The wealthiest have small houses, one with gold leaf that the family hires security guards to protect at night. And they have room for three coffins. The man, his first wife and his second wife.
People not so wealthy but still well off get little concrete dog houses with dome roofs, and a little oven where relatives can burn ghost money for their relatives to spend in Heaven.
You want volcanoes - just go a little north of Manila to Mt Pinatubo. Much of the land still looks like the moon, and you can see where houses were buried in the lava.
Anyway, have fun.
Thank you for all the information about the Philippines. Yes, we visited the Chinese Cemetery and I will post about that soon! I found Manila fascinating, the beaches beautiful and the people truly friendly. If only my trip could have been longer!