Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Birthday fun and pictures!

Hey guys! I know it's been a week or two, but we've just gotten in that same 'ol same 'ol routine...

This weekend we celebrated my 25th birthday! Ahhh! It sounds so old, which makes me feel old! Haha! Jordan cooked breakfast for me and then we headed over to hang out with our friends Emily and Murray. We killed time Saturday afternoon by going to a nice mall nearby their apartment and then went out for dinner to The Terrace. It's a great Western restaurant and I had an amazing bacon cheeseburger and I ordered some Thai spring rolls. Jordan went for the pepperoni pizza (with amazing cheese...a rarity here) and spinach artichoke dip! YUMMMM!!!! We were stuffed!!!! Sunday we went to church and enjoyed meeting some new people and enjoyed their fellowship for a bit afterwards. I tutor on Sunday afternoons, so we left around two and headed back into Yantian (YAN-ti-an). Overall a great birthday weekend! =)

I put some pictures up on Facebook of our Philippine travels... if you don't have Facebook, just click on the link below or you might have to copy and paste it! =)


Lots of love,
Tyler (and Jordan) =)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Philippines Trip!

We’re back from the Philippines! While we were hesitant to travel there after the typhoon that hit Manila, we decided to go and get the heck out of Manila asap! The trip was an absolute blast and everything went very smoothly…here are a couple of highlights of the trip:

After arriving in Manila, we had to buy plane tickets to Palawan- where we wanted to go for majority of the week. Palawan is an island south west of Manila which has lots of beaches and great places to relax! So we started at the Philippine Air desk, since that’s what we flew on our way there. We had looked up prices ahead of time, but the cheaper airline wouldn’t let us purchase online. So after being quoted about $50 more than the other airline we decided to try and go to that particular airline’s desk. The guy actually went ahead and reserved our ticket for Philippine Air just in case we came back…We hopped in a cab and had the funniest experience in search for cheaper tickets. Our driver Mike was super nice and spoke great English. English is the country’s language along with Tagalog. Anytime we’d ask him a question he’d end it in, “Yes, that’s right Boss.” We laughed the whole time we were with him. Since he was an airport taxi driver he was much more legit than the other street cabs and he was able to show us around. The Manila airport isn’t set up well and there are 3 separate parts of the airport so we were on our way to another when we told him why we were going there. So he thought he could make it easier and take us to just a street ticket office. Well that wasn’t the best idea…after realizing that it wasn’t very “maintained” by that I mean the computer wasn’t set up and they didn’t have a phone, were having to call the airlines by going next door, and the price was $50 more than what was quoted we headed BACK to the Philippine Air at the airport. Thank goodness we had reserved the seats because in the hour we were gone, the price went up by about $75! Mike was great and stayed with us the whole night taking us wherever we needed. He ended up helping us find a hotel close to the airport since we would be leaving Manila at 8 am. So we stayed at this hotel…which was ok, but I didn’t want to walk around barefoot… =)

When we arrived in Palawan on Friday morning, we found a great little bed and breakfast. They took us from the airport, which by the way had a single strip airport but our huge 777 jet landed on… and we booked our rooms for the week. It was a great place, only two weeks old, super nice employees, and only cost $22 USD a night! We had air conditioning, hot showers, double bed, lock safe in the room, and free WiFi! We were definitely satisfied! After settling in, we took a city tour of Puerto Princesa and went to a crocodile farm, butterfly garden, saw a very old Cathedral, and enjoyed the afternoon.

The biggest thing about Palawan right now for tourists is the longest underground river in the world. It is currently in the top 20 of the new 7 Wonders of the World that is being voted on by the world. Saturday we took the tour and it was really cool. We had to drive about 2 hours before arriving, but we were able to see some very rural areas of the country. Thatch houses and areas without any electricity…it just seemed to foreign especially since about two hours away they had everything…The river tour was really neat. The whole river is in this cave which is about 8 km long. The tour is only about 1.5 km and we saw lots of stalagmites, stalactites, and a lot of bats- which I could have really done without! I was just waiting for one to fall on my head…even with a helmet! After the river tour we had lunch and then went swimming. It was absolutely gorgeous! One of the best views I have ever seen! Beautiful mountains all around, gorgeous white sand, green palm trees, and crystal clear water! You wish you were there don’t you?? =) If it’s any consolation, we didn’t want to leave… After we got back we went to this great seafood restaurant where you had to take off your shoes before walking on the beautiful hardwood floors. Next, we decided to go to a little restaurant for some dessert and we met a group of girls who lived on the island. They told us about this place we could go dancing and hear a band so headed off there. We had a blast and enjoyed meeting some new friends.

Sunday we went island hopping on Honda Bay. The tour included snorkeling, lunch, and three gorgeous islands. The weather was absolutely wonderful and had the sunburn to prove it! Yes, Mom I did wear sunscreen…I just forgot to reapply! =) Sunday night was low key and we had dinner close by and came back and played UNO.

Monday we took it easy and slept late since we had been waking up early for the tours. A little before lunch we decided that we wanted to go to this waterfall called Estrella Falls. Our hotel has a van and driver that we rented for the afternoon. After about a 2 hour bus ride through absolutely no where, we made it to the falls. It was nice, not anything grand, but it was fun just playing in the river for a couple of hours.

I don’t think I’ve given the roads in Palawan the description they deserve. First, while they may be paved, it has ruts and huge holes. There is a ton of road work, but none of it seems like there’s any rhyme or reason to it all. The road would have a newly paved road and then out of no where it would just end. No one drives on a particular side of the road either. Needless, it’s always an adventure.

We left Puerto Princesa and headed back to Manila on Wednesday morning. When we got the airport, our friends Emily and Murray decided to change their flight and head back to China. Jordan and I stayed because we had plans to meet up with Abi, who was in Jordan’s class in Beijing when he was there in 2007. Abi was so great to us while we were there for the night. She picked us up at our hotel and took us to this great Philippino restaurant and to an amazing dessert cafĂ© called, Chocolate. Jordan and I split the best dark chocolate, thick, milkshake! It was to die for!! Jordan and I had been craving a good chocolate milkshake which is IMPOSSIBLE to find in China. Thursday morning Abi graciously picked us up first thing and took us to breakfast and then showed us the family business which she works for. The business is in Manila’s China Town and of course we took a walk through! It was a lot of fun and Jordan really enjoyed hanging out with Abi. After a fun morning, she took us back to the airport. Our flight was delayed about an hour, but we made it back to China without any problems.

I know this ended up being another long novel, but thank you for your prayers and concerns during our travels. Our break overall was very relaxing and to top it off we got to add another stamp to our passports!

Lots of love,
Tyler & Jordan