Back to the Philippines again

The second part of my vacation was returning to the Philippines once again. This would be my third trip with in a year's time. I'd be lying if the reason wasn't because my girlfriend Pam. After four months, I missed her and was already in that part of the world. We made plans to go to a place she always wanted to visit and I had a surprise up my sleeve.

After already being in Japan for a few days, it was a much shorter travel time. I had an early afternoon flight and arrived in Manila around 8pm. I went through the usual processes after arriving, got way over charged for a taxi who got lost on the way to the hotel, and was pleasantly surprised when the hotel let Pam in the room before I arrived at 10pm.

We stayed over night in Makati area at Artina Suites Hotel. Didn't really explore anything as I was tired. The hotel was very affordable, clean, and had a good layout. The next morning we had a breakfast, packed up, and headed to the bus terminal bound for Angeles City.

A couple hours later we arrived at Marquee Mall stop and got a trike to the Elyseah Condotel. We stayed here the last time and liked it. This time I got the larger room for us which had a downstairs kitchen, bathroom, living room and an upstairs bedroom and bathroom. We spent little time unpacking and heading down the street to SM Clark Mall for food supplies and lunch.

I didn't wait long for my surprise. The next morning, August 15, we were making breakfastr and sat my Grandmother's wedding ring on her plate. Pam walked over to dish out the garlic rice she made and saw the ring. Her face lit up as I asked her to marry me. She put down the rice, grabbed the ring, and said yes. Marriage was something we had talked about in the past few months. Because of the legal process we will need to go through, it will take several months before she can get to the US. Still, the first step was asking.

We spent a day in the Clark Freeport Zone. We went walked by the famous K9 Cemetery on teh way to Nayong Pilipino Park. There's a lot of history to see here like the different village replications from the past, Barasoain Church, Dr. Jose Rizal's House, wild orchid garden, and cultural dance presentation. It was a fun and education day.

We didn't do much else in Angeles City in our few short days there. I did take Mama Mel, my future mother in law, to dinner along with Lany and Marvin (Pam's sister and brother in law). And went to her brother's Asper one day and to the Marquee Mall. Also managed to squeeze in going to the theater for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Finally it was off to Puerto Princesa, Palawan Island. We took the bus to Manila, grabbed a cab to the airport, and took a short hour long flight. It was Pam's first time on a plane. She was eager with excitement. We arrived at the small airport and found an awesome trike driver with an extra wide cab. This was the first time my big ass wasn't crowded in a trike.

We got checked in to the Puerto Pension Bed and Breakfast. We had a small mix up in the room reservation because they had not got the updated days after I switched booking, but luckily the still had rooms for our time. It was a smaller room but it worked for us. The hotel was very cool place with an onsite restaurant and bar and plenty of outside tables for relaxing. And it's right behind the City Baywalk, which overlooks a bay and is full of places to eat. We just hung around this area for the rest of the afternoon and evening.

The second day we called the trike driver to drive us around all the sites in Puerto Princesa. We went to the WWII Museum, Crocodile Farm, Butterfly Garden, Mitra's House, and Baker's Hill. It was a jammed packed day and we only scratched the surface of the cool things to do in the area.

 The next day we booked a tour for Ugong Rock and The Underground River. The van picked us up in the morning. We were two of ten on the trip (2 Filipina ladies with their 2 kids, 2 guys from Argentina, and a female Canadian). The drive was up and down winding mountains with a lot of stop and go. I do not do well in these situations. I ended up getting dizzy and sick. Luckily Pam noticed and was able to hand me a bad to puke in. Shorty after we stopped at Ugong Rock. Which was a cave to hike and then you zipline down. In my state of queasiness and with a bad knee, the two of us opted to stay in the village area and chill out. There were a few neat things. After about an hour the group left and continued the journey. Shortly we arrived at the Underground River where lunch was provided for us. I was starting to feel better and ate a little before we hurried off to our sail boat to get to the site. The underground river is a just what it sounds like... miles of river in a cave system. The tour was really cool. Though more than once I thought we would take on water as our boat was low. After the tour it was hopping back on the boat to get dropped off and then into the van. I was dreading the trip back. I did not get sick on the return, but the two little kids did. I felt for them. We got dropped off at the hotel and was wiped out for the day. We did go back to the Baywalk that night for dinner where Pam had a grilled lobster for the first time (another first for her).

Our last day in town we decided to stay close and see some more sites in the city. With Plaza Cuerto. Immaculate Conception. Palawan Heritage Center were on today's tour, we both ending up learning a lot of history about this amazing island..

Puerto Princesa was my favorite place of the destinations I have been in the Philippines so far. There is an effort to keep things cleaner here. Trash cans everywhere and not the litter I have seen in other cities. All kinds of activities and things to do and see (we only did a few). It's an area which relies heavily on tourism and the city seems to take a lot of pride making things easy. And did I mention the extra wide trikes.

We both talked about the city being a great place to retire to down the road. We definitely want to return.

We had an afternoon flight back Manila where I had two days before returning to the United States. We got the Guijiro Suites Hotel in the Makati area in the late afternoon. It was kind of hard to find but for the price, a very nice hotel. We walked around for awhile and found food to eat before going back to the hotel for the night.

The next day we decided to go to Ayala Museum. We went through all four floors. Each had something very neat to offer. One floor was dedicated to the paintings of Filipino artists particularly Fernando Zobel, one floor was a diorama representing a detailed history of the Philippines, and one was an exhibit of ancient artifacts (including ceramics, gold, and jewelry). After the museum we went to Greenbelt Mall for food and ended up at the Burger Bar. Then it was off to Global Beer Exchange for craft beer. Here I met and conversed with the owner while Pam patiently sipped her soda putting up my indulges. We got back to the hotel, A few hours later I started to feel sick. This makes the three times getting ill in three times traveling to the Philippines.

The next morning, we had breakfast and checked out of the hotel. Pam went with me to the airport. I said goodbye to my beautiful fiancee and went inside to get tickets. After standing in line for about twenty minutes, I realized the line wasn't for my flight. In fact, I was in the completely wrong terminal. This is a big complaint of mine about the Manila airport. Nothing is easy to find and the terminals are spread out. One has to take a taxi and go off property to get between them. So I did, and hauled ass through ticketing and security just as we started to board.

It was a long flight home, especially with an aching stomach. Eventually I arrived in Chicago and my flight back to Fort Wayne.

The more I go to the Philippines, the more I enjoy it. Sure, there are good and bad things, like every place. But it is the country of soon to be wife and her family. More than likely, it will the place we live once retirement happens. Until then, it's time for Visa paperwork so Pam cant get to the US and we can be married.

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