Philippines, Taiwan · 16 Days · 78 Moments · August 2017

it's more fun in the philippines + taiwan

21 August 2017

it's time to say goodbye to the philippines. until we meet again 🇵🇭❤️✨
I spent the day with my cousins. we watched more netflix while my aunty prepared lunch. we had sesame broccoli and vegetable lumpia which is their version of a spring roll. it had been raining all day so we left a little earlier to get to the airport but there was no traffic as it was a public holiday celebrating their national heroes.

20 August 2017

my uncle badong dropped me off to uncle raffy's place. I was peckish so decided to walk down to jollibee which is the philippines most popular fast food. I got some flavoured fries and a coke float. my aunty made some wonderful dinner and afterwards I watched netflix with my cousins.
we left at 7am to head back to manila. the drive didn't seem as long as the way up. we stopped for some native food for lunch. the only thing I could have was eggplant but I seasoned it in soy, chilli and lime so I was happy. everything cost just over $5.

19 August 2017

for the rest of the afternoon we relaxed and took in the beautiful rainbow from our balcony. in the evening I got the kitchen to make me a vegetarian version of a filipino dish named pinkabet. we had massages in our room at 8pm so we could go to sleep straight after. my uncle snores very loudly though so I had to wear my noise cancelling headphones!
when we got to the restaurant I couldn't see my uncle. I found out that he was in one of the rooms sleeping. he came out and we had lunch. a had a very sweet pineapple and tomato pizza. as we finished lunch and were waiting for our food to digest it started to pour down rain. it never fully stopped but when it was light that's when we left and made our way back up. we got back in the jeepney and made our way back to the hotel. as we passed the spot where the pig was getting butchered I saw on the table now laid all his meat.
we walked along the rice terraces to the other side and from there made our way down a very long and steep hill. as we were going down I was trying not to think about the fact that we had to make our way all the way back up! as we descended it became cooler and we made it to tapiya falls. many people were swimming but I didn't want to walk back up all wet so I just sat by the edge of the rocks and watched. I could feel the splash back from the falls even though I wasn't super close. the walk back was very steep and there was about 1000 steps. I definitely got my workout for the day.
after walking down hill for awhile we reached the batad rice terraces. they also call them the amphitheatre rice terraces. they harvest in july and august so that's why they looked brown. apparently it's very green and lush in march and april. it was still a wonderful sight. beyond the rice terraces were some waterfalls but the walk was difficult so my uncle stayed back and went to the restaurant where we would eat lunch to wait for us.
we left in the morning to do a guided tour to the batad rice terraces. we got picked up from the hotel in a jeepney. our guide's name was ding. it was about a 45 minute drive north. a man jumped at the back of the jeepney holding on with one hand and a chicken in the other. we stopped to let him jump off but unfortunately I could hear a pig screaming and when I looked on the other side of the road I saw it being butchered. it was so traumatic I started crying! my uncle went in 2012 and said that they had to walk 5km but since then they have expanded the road. they're still in the process of making the road all the way to the village so we parked and had to walk down. as we were walking we saw people running towards us as they yelled dynamite. next second there was a boom. no one was wearing any protective gear nor the area closed off neither. only on the philippines!

18 August 2017

we decided to drive up to the view point which was close by. as we were driving there were signs for many different spots so we stopped at some along the way. I can't get over the view. these terraces aren't even the most amazing ones. the rice terraces in this region are unesco world heritage listed. it's believed that they are over 2000 years old.
it truly was 10 hours by the time we got to the hotel. it's really big but it's the only real hotel in the town. we have a view of some of the rice terraces from our room.
we left at 4am to head up north to the banaue rice terraces. it's less than 300km away but takes 10 hours to get to. the roads are in good condition, the problem is that you get stuck behind slow jeepneys and trucks. we stopped for lunch about halfway there in a town named santa fe. we drove through san jose and past mexico - the signs made it seem like we were passing through california.

17 August 2017

because we were leaving at 4am I had to say goodbye to lolo as I wouldn't see him again. he's such a beautiful man. I hope that I get to see him again. his words always 'prayer is power'.
I spent the whole day resting mainly watching gordon ramsay videos on youtube. in the evening we went to some food trucks which were in a yard. it was very cute with lots of fairy lights and street art. it was like a miniature eat street. we had wedges, pasta, beer and burgers.

16 August 2017

the flight was on time from taipei back to manila. uncle badong came to pick me up but it took us 40 minutes just to get out of the parking lot. hello manila traffic!
we got a car to to the airport. I was flying with taiwanese airline eva air. their check in kiosks were all pink and hello kitty themed and even some of their planes have hello kitty all over them. it's too cute. erin needed to go to the other terminal as she was flying to malaysia. I took her to the air train where we had a tearful goodbye.
we were told about a raw food vegan restaurant named nakedfood which was just down the road from us. it was very sophisticated and some real interesting flavours. the lady explained our dishes when she brought them out. we had jalapeño watermelon, kimchi & chive dumplings and asparagus mushroom pizza. everything was uncooked but tasted amazing.
our last morning in taiwan. after packing we wandered to the park across from our hotel and quickly stopped by taiwan's first mosque.

15 August 2017

after getting nice cream we headed back to the miniature exhibit to buy some postcards and posters. we went back to the hotel to have a nap then carried onto dinner at a vegan restaurant named blossom rena. the menu was all in chinese but the owner sophie explained every item and was so helpful. we got peso risotto, kimchi tofu bowl, fried eggplant, and a tempeh salad. we mentioned we found out about her restaurant at nice cream and nice cream actually creates a gelato for them they made up of chocolate and banana. she was so sweet and gave me some cookies that they bake themselves too.
we realised that we hadn't had any dumplings yet so stopped to get some. the place we went is michelin started but very cheap. the line to dine in was long so we got the dumplings to go. they were so good. I got vegetable and mushroom ones.
we climbed up elephant mountain to see the sunset over taipei 101. the walk up was tough but mainly because it was so humid. the view was definitely worth it though.
we were after dessert and found a vegan gelato shop. it was the creamiest vegan ice cream I've ever had.
for lunch we went to a vegan restaurant named miss green which we tried to go to the night before. I loved the ceiling as it was decorated in dried flowers and leaves hanging down. we got soup, salad, wraps, juices and risotto. they were yummy but needed more flavour. one chef was so lovely coming out to check on us. he was like a cute panda bear!
a perk of going early to taipei 101 is that you can get an early bird combination ticket to the national palace museum which is where we were planning to go to next. it's in greater taipei so took about an hour to get to by metro and bus. the museum is over three levels and has exhibits of taiwanese antiquities, jewellery, calligraphy, furniture and more.
the day before we tried to visit taipei 101 but the line was huge. we read that it's not busy when it opens so we went just after 9am and there was no line at all. it's the 8th tallest building in the world and until 2015 had the fastest elevator in the world. the observation deck was on the 89th floor. in the distance you could see the mountains the city is surrounded by.

14 August 2017

after three cocktails we realised that we needed dinner and walked to two restaurants we wanted to try but they both closed early. so we decided the best thing to do is have more drinks. we headed to frank which is a rooftop bar right next to taipei 101. after a couple of drinks and fries we decided to call it a night and head back to the hotel.
I read about a speakeasy bar named ounce. we couldn't find it and there was a taiwanese couple trying to find it too. we had to walk into a restaurant and what looked like the wall was actually the door. you had to press a button and someone let you in. it was very cosy and moody. they don't have a cocktail menu but instead you tell them what spirit and flavours you like and they make a cocktail based on that. I said gin and fresh and got some really nice ones with elderflower and jasmine. erin went for tequila and spicy. would definitely recommend ounce to anyone who loves cocktails.
we went to the linjiang night market which was this street filled with stalls of food and shopping. there were so many wonderful and bizarre things to look at. I got myself a nice dress and top.
we needed some proper lunch so headed to a vegan cafe named canteen by plants. the food was so colourful and delicious. we had pumpkin & lentil stew, roasted veggies, mung bean hummus, turmeric latte, sauerkraut, green juice and an acai bowl. there was also a store attached so I bought a glass jar for my smoothies.
on my 1000 travel list was a place called modern toilet. the restaurant is completely toilet themed from sitting on toilets to food and drinks being served in urinals. it was so bizarre but I loved it. I ordered a strawberry shaved ice and was shocked at how big it was. I couldn't finish it.
we stopped by longshan temple which was founded in 1738. it was very colourful and had beautiful architecture. a lot of locals were praying.
we went to a fun miniature life exhibit by a japanese artist named tanaka tatsuya. he creates miniature installations using everyday objects as larger things.
we bought a two day pass to use on the metro and buses. first stop was chiang kai-she memorial hall. we weren't expecting it to be as big as it was. in the same area is the national theatre and concert hall.
we woke up just before breakfast ended. it was a buffet but there wasn't much we could eat so the chef made us this really yummy rice dish.
when we got to the airport we found out that our flight was delayed until 12:15am so we had six hours to kill in the airport. we reminded ourselves that our airasia flights were only $35 so it was okay. we were picked up at taipei airport by the hotel which was good because it was a 40 minute drive into the city.

13 August 2017

we got a tricycle to the airport to catch a flight back to manila. we were the only one seated in seats which faced the back of the plane so it felt very weird taking off, almost like we were going to fall onto everyone else. we got beautiful views of the islands and as we got closer to manila saw the aerial view of tagaytay and lake taal that we visited with uncle badong a few days earlier.
we went back to the happiness bar to get falafel and salad for lunch. an israeli family were on the boat with us so we took them there too as they were craving israeli food. erin speaks hebrew which I didn't know.
we tried to find a place to get waxing and manicures. we went to six places and nowhere could do waxing even though it was on every single sign. we got manicures and they really weren't good. but I guess for $5 we couldn't complain too much.
after breakfast we kayaked to the beach around the corner where a puppy lept onto us as soon as we arrived on the beach. we named him marcel the sixth. soon after we got back we packed our things and caught the boat back into el nido town.
we got up early to watch our last sunrise in palawan. we had the perfect view from our balcony. afterwards we had breakfast which was a buffet.

12 August 2017

we lounged about by the pool in the morning. it started to rain so we went inside and watched it from the window. I had a yummy chilli tomato pasta for lunch. erin is vegan and gluten free so all she could eat off the menu was salad but we got the chef to come talk to us and he made her a delicious vegetable curry. the idea of vegetarianism really confuses filipinos! in the afternoon we swam at the beach and in the evening watched a film in our room. it was a perfect relaxed day.
we arrived at mantinloc resort where we were welcomed with a shell necklace and cool towel. our room is right above reception looking over the water. we felt so lucky to have such a great view.
we decided for our last night that would stay at another island resort. we left at 8am for the boat. we had to kayak out to the bunka which was interesting with our luggage but we made it. it was about a 40 minute trip.

11 August 2017

our last stop was big lagoon. there were no kayaks available so they took the bunka through instead. I know I've said the words stunning and beautiful so many times but this. uh. so pretty. on the way back it started to rain and gave us a rainbow to end the trip.
we went to our bonus spot just south of miniloc island for snorkelling. when we got in the water just dropped off into an abyss of blue. we saw pretty blue starfish and lots and lots of colourful fish.
our next stop was secret lagoon. we had to wait for a lot of people to come out through this cave but it was worth it. it was this pool of water surrounded by the cliffs and you could see the sky. the water was so much cooler. we didn't take any photos as we were still not 100% convinced how water proof erin's phone was.
we stopped at this little beach named shimizu named after a japanese lady that was enjoying the beauty of the island so much she forgot that she didn't have diving equipment and died. well that's what they say anyway. while we were waiting for lunch to be cooked on the boat we had fresh coconuts on the beach. as we were looking out at all the other boats we noticed one of them was name kristyl. what a coincidence that there were boats with both our names!
our next stop was small lagoon. we didn't feel like kayaking so we swam to it. you had to go under this little rock archway which opened up to amazingness. I can't even describe how beautiful it was. erin's phone is apparently water resistant so we took it with us. time will tell if it really is!
we booked an island hopping tour. it's funny because all the places in el nido do exactly the same tours a, b, c or d. we decided to do tour a as it visited lagoons. we got picked up at 9am. it was funny because the boat we were on name was erren. our first stop was seven commando beach where we snorkelled.
erin was craving pineapple for breakfast so I suggested we eat at the hotel restaurant but she said that we walked past some fruit places the night before. after circling the block to find a lot of places closed we ended back at the hotel where they served us pineapple. but at least we got to see the town in the day time.

10 August 2017

we caught a tricycle back into town and found the happiness bar for dinner. we had a delicious falafel plate and some yummy chilli tequila margaritas. we were pretty tired after dinner so headed home to have a good nights rest.
as the name suggests we went to republic sunset bar to see the sunset and have drinks. the service and drinks were not so great but you couldn't fault the view.
in the afternoon we caught a boat back to el nido town and moved into our new accommodation at bulskamp inn hotel. it's definitely not as fancy as where we stayed but super cheap and in the centre of town. a friend recommended that we head to next beach over for sunset so we caught a tricycle there.
we kayaked to a secluded beach from the resort. it was so pretty and it was fun to have a beach to ourselves. we did a mini photoshoot and recreated one of our favourite pictures of us we took in haiti seven years ago.
we had lots of fruit for breakfast. there's one drink they call a cauayan cooler which is pineapple, mango and mint which is so delicious. going to make that one at home.
we woke up at 5:30am to see the sunrise from the beach. we were the only ones.

9 August 2017

we got a guide and walked up to the sky deck to watch the sunset. the walk was a little harder than we were expecting especially because it rained so the mud was slippery. the view was magnificent looking out to the front and the back of the island.
it was still raining so we headed to the spa deck. a yoga store named yogi spirit sent me some clothes to do up a blog post so I took some yoga photos for it.
we went to the bar to have lunch. the prices are western prices but they can charge that because it's the only place to eat on this island. we had papaya salad and sinigang which is a traditional filipino soup that is sour and savoury. it started raining which made the scenery nice and moody.
we headed straight to the beach straight in front of our villa. the water was so clear and a beautiful temperature. we grabbed snorkels and swam from one side to the other. we saw a baby reef shark, lots of sea cucumbers, pretty coral and schools of fishes.
we arrived at cauyan island resort. it's the only place on the whole island. after getting a welcome drink they took us to our villa. we had a tray waiting for us with ginger tea, mango and bananas. they also have a bucket list of things to do on this island which is awesome.
we got picked up from the airport by the resort and took a short drive into town. there a boat was waiting for us to take us to the island. the scenery was breathtaking. so many beautiful shades of blue and green.
we flew with air swift from manila to el nido which is is the palawan islands. the flight was about an hour. it was gorgeous flying in seeing all the limestone cliffs and palm trees. the airport was the nicest and prettiest airport I have ever been in.
we left at 4am to the airport for an early morning flight. I couldn't believe how much traffic there was so early in the morning still. I'm not really sure how or why but after we checked in and went through security someone told us to follow them and took us to the vip lounge. it worked out well as we were there two hours early so we watched pirates of the caribbean.

8 August 2017

we got home late in the afternoon so just chilled out. we went up to the terrace to watch the beautiful sunset before having a lovely home cooked meal. we have an early flight so headed to bed early.
we headed down the road to sky ranch which is an amusement park. there were lots of rides, games, food and shopping. it also has beautiful views of the lake.
we headed downstairs to get a better look at the view of taal lake. it's the third largest lake in the philippines and in the centre of the lake is taal volcano which is the second most active volcano in the philippines.
we headed down to a city named tagaytay for lunch. we found this lovely filipino restaurant and got a table overlooking lake taal. we got vegetarian versions of classic filipino dishes like kare kare which is a peanut purée stew with eggplant, string beans, and chinese cabbage and also a dish named pinakbet from the region my mum and uncle are from which is stewed eggplant, tomatoes, okra, string beans, and bittercord.
in the morning we went to visit the aguinaldo shrine which is where the declaration of independence from spain was declared. it was the home of emilio aguinaldo who was the first president but it's now a museum. the house is very beautiful and had a bowling alley, indoor pool and lots of secret passageways.

7 August 2017

we had some time before heading to the airport to pick up my friend erin who was travelling from the states. we visited my uncle raffy's house. it was so lovely to see my cousins all grown up. he still has his art gallery and my cousin joyce had one of her paintings up.
on my list of 1000 things to do was a place called the hobbit house. it is lord of the rings themed but the interesting thing was that all the staff were little people. I'm not sure how politically correct this place is but definitely a novelty. we got some dinner and listed to the live music. oh and I had my first philippine beer for the trip.
we took a horse and carriage tour around intramuros which is a historic walled city. it's a very pretty part of the city with all the old spanish colonial buildings. a lot of it has been rebuilt because in 1945 it was bombed in the battle of manila.
uncle and I drove into manila and headed to fort santiago. it was built in 1593 by the spanish as a defense fortress. there's a museum for one of philippines national heroes jose rizal who was imprisoned there before his execution. I had always heard his name before but never knew anything about him. I loved how nature has started to grow all over the structure. it was this little bit of peace in the very busy and noisy city.
I had my morning coffee with lolo. he recently turned 97 and looks great. he's got dodgy knees so can't walk but had a chair. he loves to talk and we reminisced about when he last came to australia with lola and built my cubby house in the backyard. he was a carpenter and learnt from an early age. he had never seen power tools before so was amazed when he got to use them whilst building my cubby house. he wishes mum and dad came to but we face timed mum and we could chat all together. honestly, my heart when I see much love for this dear man.

6 August 2017

in the afternoon we went to the big mall. because it was sunday it was so busy with lots of people getting out of the heat into the aircon. they have a lot of the same stores but the prices are so much cheaper. I didn't need anything so we just wandered around and grabbed some juice.
aunty maru has been freaking out about cooking vegetarian but she's done well! for lunch she made me eggplant with tomatoes and onions and also cooked gabi leaves in coconut milk. gabi leaves I found out are the leaves from taro. apparently they are quite toxic uncooked but she cooked them for two hours.
I woke up to the sound of roosters next door. my uncle badong and aunty maru's place is over three levels and has a beautiful terrace up the top. also living here is their son (my cousin) ghiboy, my lolo (grandfather), and my mum's & uncle badong's cousin caloy who takes care of lolo. they also have five dogs - two are cute fluffy things that live in the house and the other three are guard dogs outside.

5 August 2017

I flew from brisbane to sydney at 9am and then sydney to manila at 12pm with qantas. we arrived 7pm at the airport my uncle badong picked me up and we drove back to his place in cavite which is a province just outside of manila. it was funny as soon as I stepped out of the airport the familiarity of the heat, sounds and smells. when we arrived my aunty maru made me dinner and I headed to bed straight after.