Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Philippines

If you have been wondering where I have been (judging from the grand total of one e-mail I got over the past week, you haven't). We took a nice little vacation- a vacation of errors, but it still managed to come out fun.

Day One- We left our house at noonish and drove to Narita Airport, where we met out traveling companion. My Mother-in-law. Need I say more? Anyhow, she and our daughter were traveling on JAL (MIL had enough miles for two tickets) and we (wife, sons and I) flew Delta (where we had the miles). I forgot to get my re-entry permit to Japan, and had to get an emergency one. That sucked. And gave me a huge panic attack when the officer first looked at my passport and said- "Where is your permit?" The daughter and M.I.L. arrived earlier and went to our hotel first, and we followed about an hour later. However, we were freaking out about the Manila airport, but for no real reason. All the tourist reports were that it was the most dangerous, conman filled airport in the world. It wasn't that bad. We finally got to our hotel at about 1:00AM.

Day Two- Woke up at sixish to catch the airport shuttle for our flight to Cebu. We had the world's slowest clerk check our bags and process us, then we got on the big bird for the flight. The big, HOT bird. They never came out and said what was wrong with the plane, but after sitting there sweltering at the gate for an hour past our takeoff time, they had us deplane while they fixed something. When we got back on another hour later, the AC was working. Anyone want to guess what was broken? After that, an uneventful flight to Cebu, where the hotel bus met us and whisked us to The Plantation Bay Resort. Wow. Luxury.

Lapu Lapu city scene. Mactan Island, Cebu
Day Three- Snorkeling! All Day! Our guide How was so great! He helped my son get over his fear of the water and discover how much fun snorkeling is. If you go to Cebu, use S2 Club and ask for How. You won't regret it. And give him a good tip. I was in the restroom when the wife and M.I.L. tried to calculate a tip and ended up low by a decimal place. Sorry How! Next time I'll do the tipping.
At night, dinner at Bondai Grill and Seafood, next to the resort. Very good food, very good price (good as in local prices, not resort prices)
Going snorkeling with S2 club
Day Four- Shopping! Unfortunately not at the locals shops, but instead at Gaisano Grand Mall Mactan (wife's choice). Which was pretty cool too. Got mangoes, bananas, and bread. Man, I love mangoes! And so cheap!

Snorkeling Sweet Spot.

Apparently S&M is big in Manila...
Day Five- Back to Manila. Not the most exciting day, we got back to Manila and sent the daughter and Mother in law home to Japan. That was sad and worrisome, but they made it OK. The boys, wife and I went to the Mabuhay Manor. A nice place. They had a good pool, nice rooms, and an excellent buffet! You can choose all sorts of seafood, chicken, or pork, and they will grill it up for you. The catfish was so good! Once we checked in and dumped our bags, we took a taxi to the Mall of Asia. Kind of like the Mall of America, but in Asia.
Ummm.... Buffet.....

Day Six- Back to Japan. Our wakeup call was at 3:30, with a 4:30 shuttle to the airport. Even at 4:30AM Manila streets are full of Jeepneys, taxis, and buses. A very uneventful trip home. That is how I like trips home. Uneventful.

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