Arrival in Paradise
Changes were ahead for our family and we weren't sure what was going to happen. Carl's company was losing their contract and we knew he could very possibly lose his job. We had so many places we still wanted to see while we lived overseas. We know that when our time here is done we will not have seen everything but I am so glad we took this trip to the Philippines.
It was vacation time and Feddie was getting married. We decided to combine the two and attend her wedding, then explore the Philippines.
Feddie and Noriel met us at the airport.
We made sure to pick up buco (young coconut) pie. It was different but really great.
Look at that smile, he loves buco pie!
We were tired and a bit cranky (it took longer than we thought to reach our destination, doesn't it always). Seeing the beautiful place that we had rented really lifted our spirits.
We arrived in Tagatay to find our beautiful paradise home. The amazing mountains and view of the lake were breathtaking. I was a little terrified of the large space between the bars on the balcony as it was a straight drop down.
The girls couldn't get enough of the beauty.
I usually like people in all of my pictures but I wanted one of just the view.
Most of their time was spent outside.
She loves silly faces.
I guess it is catching.
Loving the view together. I really did find them out here like this. Some pictures can't be staged.
MJ was determined to climb the coconut palms and get a coconut. Along the trip Lissy would point out each time she saw a palm. She actually pointed out everything she saw, she really loved everything about the Philippines.
We went on a zip-line in the area. The kids had been planning on doing the zip-lines from the moment we looked into the trip.
Carl supermaned it and had a blast.
Lissy took a ride up and thought we were all nuts going on the ziplines.
Day trip to Laguna
We planned a river trip to the waterfalls. The helmets are to protect our heads from the things the monkeys may throw at us. We did see monkeys but they weren't armed with any nefarious items.
The guides would get out and actually carry our boats, with us in them, over the rocks. I was impressed with their stregnth.
It was breathtaking and exotic. There were many small waterfalls and Ha-Na loved the dragonflies that were everywhere.
They rafted us across to the cave behind the waterfall.
Inside the cave the kids were having a blast climbing and playing in the water. All we could hear was the waterfall so we just enjoyed the experience with little conversation.
Lots of smiles
We felt small.
We had one more night in our place in Tagatay. We were trying to soak in the beauty before we returned to Manila.
Unfortunately, the place we rented through airbnb in Manila was not suitable for us. It was an apartment that was pretty close to the temple but the air conditioning was torn out of the walls with the wires hanging out and the beds were just foams or mattresses that were so hard we might as well have been on the floor. The last straw was when we got up to get ready in the morning, there was no hot water. Since we had to go to a wedding, we had to take showers and wow were they cold. We stayed one night but canceled the rest of our reservation. We reported it to Airbnb and they returned our money.
Wedding day at the beautiful Manila Temple
Wedding Day!! Ha-Na looks beautiful at the temple.
MJ is dressed perfect for the country she is in. She loved all the flowers she was given to wear at the wedding.
Happy together, he loves his fedora and bow tie.
With the happy couple. We were so happy to be able to share this day with them.
After the wedding there was a reception at Dad's buffet. Lissy was so happy to see her dear friend Xander. They have known each other since they were born. He moved back to the Philippines a few months before this.
Sipalay city, 7 days of bathing suits
We wanted to get away from the world and completely relax together.
Our landlord met us at the airport and had our driver take us to a local restaurant. We loved the food, especially the grilled fish and meat. I have to admit that it was the only meal that we really loved while there. The rest of the time the caretakers at the rental cooked for us and it was not great. Way to much oil. I pretty much survived on rice, mango, pineapple, and bananas. The fruit was amazing.
It was a long drive, made longer by our driver. We had been advised to get drivers while in the Philippines but up to this point Carl had done all the driving. I was nervous about getting lost so here we got a driver. We will not do that again. Carl is a great driver and has always been awesome getting us to where we need to go without making me completely ill.
This is one of the many villages we drove through.
Here is an example local transportation. That is a motorbike on the left and it has a carriage attached to carry as many as will fit.
We took a chance on renting a place that was new on airbnb. The owner had contacted us to let us know she has never rented to westerners. When we arrived I had mixed feelings about the place. It was open to the air so many, many bugs could get in. There was some netting but then there was also the open slats in the roof. The kids had bug bites all over after one night. After that we would slather them with bug repellent before they went to bed. I was surprised how hard it was to find bug repellent in the town. We had a real bed in a room with an ac but the kids had mattresses. It had great potential but was not as clean as we expect and needed some care.
On the plus side the private beach was amazing and we had our own coral reef and no one in sight unless we really wanted to see someone. It was actually on an aquatic reserve so the pluses for this helped make up for the lack in the other areas. We said we wouldn't return but now looking at pictures I am tempted.
As soon as we arrived the kids wanted to get in the water. The tide was out though and since it is a coral reef it was tough to walk in the water without standing on coral. We were exhausted and needed to do a little shopping for food. That was another adventure.
You can just see the underside of our place. Our place was actually up among the treetops. The road down to our place was down the side of a mountain and our driver took what seemed hours trying to get down as it was quite steep and had rained so it was muddy. It took him several tries.
MJ is up in the coconut palms again. This time she got much higher. If it looks like it can be climbed then she will try and try and try again.
Every morning the kids were right out in the the water. In the afternoons or when it was raining we would go in the house and read, play games or watch a show.
It was a very natural beach side paradise and we truly felt lost in our own world.
Carl is ready to battle the waves.
They could not stay out of the water.
She is ready to hit the water.
Actually, she was apprehensive at first and mostly wanted to stay on the sand chasing crabs.
Our paradise cove. There was also a hammock that the kids would fight for turns to lie in.
This little, actually very big guy, kept showing up in our room. The first time I saw him I shut the door and he was right there, shocking me, I screamed. Carl came running in and then could not stop laughing at me that I had been frightened by a lizard. Very unlike me.
We then spent the next 30 minutes trying to shoo him out as I didn't want it to crawl on me in the night. This guy was cranky and did a lot of hissing.
Kayaking quickly became a favorite activity and Ha-Na could be seen going all over the bay. Lissy loved being in the boat and would jump out every once in a while and then jump back in the boat.
Mountain Day Hike
We took an excursion to some of the sites in the mountainous village.
It was a really hot day and we did stop for some mango smoothies and a moment to sit by a fan.
The kids took every opportunity to sit on the hammocks and seats all along the hike.
The view was worth the hot weather and the hike.
She was a trooper, ok actually Carl carried her almost the whole way.
Underground caves and BATS!
They said there were caves so of course I agreed to go. When we arrived I saw a roped off area and a hole in the ground. This is not what I thought I was agreeing to when I said I would go to the caves. I am a little claustrophobic so I let Carl know he could take the kids and I would stay with Lissy up top. Carl encouraged me by challenging me and reminding me I would regret it if I didn't go.
The cave was beautiful. There were parts where the stalactites were so low that we had to go in the water to get past them.
We did go in two groups. Carl went with the girls and I took little Carl. What really cracked me up is they said we had to wear helmets and then they showed up with a variety of different ones including motorcycle helmets. I guess you use whatever is available.
While Carl and I were waiting a women across the street invited us to sit on her porch and chatted with us. Many of the homes also are a business. Most every house has goods for sale set out in the windows. She told me that the whole family, her mom and dad, siblings and their kids all like in one tiny place. I asked about why every home seemed to have goods to sell and she told me that it was a way to earn a little money. She stated that every time they go to town they pick up goods and bring it back to town to sell at a little profit.
I took more pictures than Carl while in the caves. I didn't get any pictures of the bats but they were there. Carl couldn't have been happier. He has always been slightly obsessed with bats.
Carl has been certified to dive for several years and has only done a few dives. We wanted to be sure to take advantage of the reserve that we were on and dive in the underwater world.
My dive buddy
This was our little buddy, he swam around us for a while.
These blue starfish were everywhere.
He is ok on air. He was so good about the rules. He was checking Carl's and my air on a regular basis.
These reminded me of vases, I wanted to find some flowers to put inside.
Boat tour of the aquatic reserve
We rented a boat to take us all over to the local snorkeling spots. The kids had a great time, even
Lissy. This picture shows what she thought about snorkeling at first. She isn't used to the salt water and she was not a fan.
The boat ride was so fun and the views were gorgeous. The snorkeling was an added plus.
Lissy finally started enjoying the water when Carl would hand her his finds such as this blue starfish.
Mommy, daughter time on the boat. She started getting really tired.
These kids have had the best time.
She became braver and braver as she started hanging over the side of the boat.
I was worried about being seasick but I felt awesome.
Lovebirds in paradise. I think we were really exhausted by this time.
Snorkeling face, he looks angry.
After snorkeling and swimming they are exhausted and a bit sun burnt.
Family Fun. I am not sure where Lissy is, I think she may have fallen asleep and we laid her down on the boat.
Leaving our oasis
We were sad to leave our beautiful cove.
Return to Manila and the temple
We got one more day in Manila. Carl did baptisms in the temple while the rest of us enjoyed the grounds. It was lovely to be back at the temple.
Love this man.
When we returned home Carl was given notice at work and we weren't sure if we would be staying overseas. With much prayer and many blessings he found another position.
It is now a year later and we are again at a crossroads. His position is ending and we are faced again with changing companies. Although it is hard we are comforted in knowing that following God and being with family are what brings true joy in our life. We loved this trip because of the time we were able to spend together.