Off the land of thousands islands again...

My flight was delayed which was going to cause me to miss my connecting flight to Tokyo. It also cost me a day of vacation and hotel room for the day. After being rerouted on a flight 14 hours later in LA then to Hong Kong, I finally arrived in Manila. It was around noon by the time I got my luggage and made it through entry and customs. I grabbed a white and head to my hotel.

I should probably confess at this point that the reason for this trip was to meet up with my girlfriend Pam and get introduced to her family. We had kind of kept things under wraps but it was time for us to announce it to all of our family members and friends. We are planning on making this a permanent relationship.

Anyways, Pam was coming down from Angeles City to join me. I arrived at Best Western La Corona expecting her to already be there since she left for the bus as I was boarding the plane in Hong Kong. She wasn't there yet, so I got checked in and went up to the room. As I opened the door the phone rang. Pam had arrived. Excellent timing.

There was a J. Co Donuts just down the street so we decided on a little treat for the afternoon. A six pack of mixed donuts and ice coffee. I must tell you the hype of this place is for real. One of the best donuts I have ever tasted.
J. Co Donuts
 As the evening came it was time for dinner. We ended up at a rather unique resto/bart called The Hobbit House. I actually planned this out because of the outstanding beer selection they have from around the world, mainly Europe. But Pam doesn't shy away from a drink now and then either. The entire establishment is themed in the style of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. And the place is ran by litttle people. The beer selection was great for the Philippines and the food was plentiful. We got stuffed. It was also open talent night so we were entertained by several musicians.

Hobbit House

After a couple of hours we left and went back the hotel for the night. I was rather exhausted from my crazy travel schedule and had not hardly slept in several days.

The next morning we had the buffet with many choices, packed, and left for the bus stop. La Corona was a nice hotel for the right price and in a good area of town. If I ever need to spend time at the US Embassy or want to check out this part of Manila in more detail , which is what I wanted to do originally before my delay because of all the parks and museums in the area, then I would stay here again.

We had a two hour bus ride to Angeles City then jumped on a jeepney from terminals in Malacabat to Walking Street, where we grabbed a trike to take us to Elyseah Condotel. We decided on this place because of the price and it's an apartment style hotel with a small kitchen/dining area. Since this whole trip was sort of not planned in my budget, we were trying to save money. Figured cooking a few of our own meals would help. Plus a studio style apartment is better than a congested hotel room. The pool is also kick ass! We ended up really enjoying this place. We will try to stay here again. It's a hotel with limited rooms and it always seemed to be full.

Elyseah Condotel
After getting checked in and chatting with the owner for awhile we decided to walk to SM Clark Mall for supplies. Another bonus of the hotel is the mall being a five minute walk away. Pam and myself grabbed some lunch, walked around in the AC as it is super hot and humid this time of year in the PI, and went shopping. We cooked a nice dinner then watched a little television before falling to sleep early like an old couple.

Truth be told, I was a tad nervous as the next day I would meet her immediate family. Her mother, her two older brothers with wives and kids, and her older sister with husband and kids. Pam thought going to a water park would be a great idea and something the whole family would enjoy. They all rearranged their work schedules to come spend the day.

We went to Villa Alfredo's for the day. Pam's brother Asper and wife Rochelle (and son) picked us up at the hotel. We waited for her brother Spencer and Irene's family, her sister Lany and husband Marvin's family, and her mother Mel to arrive (I wont attempt the nieces and nephews names... though I believe that I name them all with ease). I paid for the gazebo and the family brought a feast of food. We spent some time getting to know each other and eating. Then the kids excitedly went out to the one of several different pools.  Pam and me walked around for awhile to check out the animals, fish, the banzai trees, look at all the different pools, and have ice cream.

The Big Wave Pool

Did I mention how hot it is during the Philippine summer. I was a sweat box. So eventually we got into The Big Wave pool near our gazebo. Most of her family was already enjoying it. The Big Wave pool simulated ocean waves once every 90 minutes. It's a fun time and I stuck out as a mismatch. Bright white skin from being covered all winter long in a seas of colorful brown Filipino skin. One old guy was poking friendly jabs at me.

After battling the waves most of us went back to rest and eat some food. The kids wanted one more go at the water before leaving. I sat and talked to Mama Mel for a bit as myself and the ladies started cleaning up the gazebo. Around five, it was time to leave. The family said goodbye and thanked me for the great day. To which I thanked them all back. Asper took us back to the condotel. And battled tremendous traffic on the way there and even worse on his way home.

Pam has a close family who spends much time together. I was honored to be a part and accepted into the fold as I will be seeing much more of them all in the years to come.

The next morning we decided to go to Magalang, which is where Pam lives along with Spencer's family. She wanted to show me her house, Asper's business OneTrueSolutions, and go the local tiangge or bizarre/market since it is right down the street from One True Solutions. Off on a jeepney we went.

The market has lots of seasfood, fruits, and vegetables as well as many clothes and supplies. It is table after table and stall after stall for blocks. It happens every Saturday and is a cool thing to witness and walk through. And you can find great deals. Dont forgot to haggle!

Afterwards we spent some time with Asper and Rochelle. Then decided to head to her home. We jumped another jeepney to get close. Irene and the kids were home. Her and Pam made lunch and we spent some time there before heading back to the city. We decided to stop at Marquee Mall to waste some time and get out of the heat for a couple of hours. We got back to the condotel and relaxed in the pool for awhile. We decided to have a lazy night watching movies and eat the remaining food we had left in the fridge.

The next day we were heading back to Manila. It was my last day of a short trip. Pam asked me if her best friend Jen could come and join us for the day. I didn't care so we met her at the bus terminal and caught a bus to Manila. This time I wanted to stay in the Makati area. A lot of this area seemed to be much nicer and cleaner. Maybe because it's in the middle of the business district. It's known as a party district too with lots of bars. We got to the Makati Palace Hotel and luckily a room was ready for us. We decided to go to the Greenbelt Mall to walk around and eat lunch. Part of it is an upscale mall with several different buildings. The other part of it is a normal mall.

view from Makati Palace Hotel
 After a few hours we went back to the hotel and hung out for a bit before Jen had to leave and get back to Angeles. Jen gave me a gift. Two pairs of hand knitted socks. They are very comfortable.

At some point during the afternoon I started to feel not so good. I went to the 7-11 across the street in hopes of finding meds. Success! To my dismay though, it did not help. I laid on the bed sweating and not able to cool down. I must have been running a fever. On both of my trips to Philippines these same symptoms have happened. As much as I wanted to go out and explore the area and treat Pam to a nice resto meal, we laid bed all night while I was ill. And ordered room service which was decent.

The next morning I still did not feel great but it was time to go. We grabbed a cab and headed to the airport. I waited and delayed as long as could as me and Pam stood outside the entry both not wanting to leave each or say goodbye. She watched as I walked inside the airport and she left in a cab for the bus terminal. After I got through the long lines of ticketing and existing, we were able to chat via facbook as we normally do while I waited to board.

It was another long flight back to the US and I could not shake this cold and was out of medicine. I landed in Chicago and got through customs in decent time. While I walked around O'Hare like a zombie it started snowing. Hard. My immediate thought, due to all the other troubles I had the week before, was my flight better not be canceled. I found the arrival/departure board. My flight was canceled.

I was steamed. Both flights back to Fort Wayne that night were canceled. I found a booth and asked the attendant what was happening. I was rebooked for 9am flight the next day. It was 6pm. My choices were to battle Chicago traffic and snow and drive back, if I could get a rental car, which would out me home maybe around midnight or get a hotel and 1/2 off voucher from the airline. As angry as I was, the hotel won out. Only because I was exhausted and the cold was kicking my ass. And I could not get my luggage because it was in being stored until the next day.

I managed to get one to the hotels listed on the voucher and catch their shuttle. Roads were getting back. I would have rather been home but staying over was the correct call. I grabbed meds and food then headed to my room. I called work to inform my manager of the situation. A long, hot shower later and I was off to sleep in a comfy bed.

The next morning, I got up early and put on my dirty clothes. Off to the airport I went for the usual process. Much to my surprise the flight landed and took off on time. I arrived back in Fort Wayne around noon and headed home. Finally.

Now I get to battle with American Airlines about all the delays and cancellations and broke luggage which occurred on my travel. But that's a different post...

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