Tuesday, January 27, 2009

returning home. ..

on the 21st, josh and i flew out of thailand, spent a night in malaysia and landed in the philippines -- the first time my feet have been on the soil of my birthland since i was 12 years old. we spent a relaxing night in malate and randomly looked up an old friend of the family, tita patis (famous for her fashion designs: patistesoro.com), who whisked us away to southern luzon for the long weekend. we stayed in her lovely home near the town of san pablo, sleeping in the open air bamboo house and being treated to traditional filipino cuisine (conveniently, her downstairs has been converted into a restaurant!).

on day one, we took a long drive to see an 100-year old house she purchased, passing through small towns and a national park. it was refreshing to be out of the city and in the provinces, away from fast food and buildings and modern american-icities.

the next day we visited an old botanical gardens. we got to explore the place which must have been beautiful when it was upkept and bustling. even now, it was amazing to see -- wonderfully organized, beautifully arranged and housing exquisite plants. there was even a playground -- now old and kind of creepy -- that had giraffe and elephant slides!

finally, we took a trip to this new land that patis and a bunch of other people are cooperatively developing. they are working on planning a road and are currently in the middle of constructing a bridge. we hiked up the mountain on the top of the land and the view was breathtaking. we saw a few of the villages, a lake and the sacred mount banahaw.

we are now back in manila and are headed up to northern luzon (hopefully) tomorrow. i am excited to see the rice terraces!

miss you all!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

heaven.. i'm in heaven...

ah, yes, i sit here in an internet cafe on the east side of railay beach where the song "heaven, i'm in heaven" is playing.. and yes, i feel so much like it is.

we have been back on tonsai in our qaint bungalow at the lovely andaman resort since our side trips to phi phi and lanta and have been loving it.

we spent a nice christmas evening at a beach bar watching fireworks and the obligatory fireshow with some people from california. we even went to this one place where they had a guy who can twirl poi and the firestick WHILE being on the slackrope. amazing! spent a quiet christmas day relaxing and going out for a nice dinner.

since then, we have been climbing and hanging out with bruce and smithy again (yay! they came back to tonsai for the holidays too!). i have been doing well and liking it. and i even did my first lead climb today! :) one day, we took a steep hike to the lagoon in the middle of railay. we also went to the viewpoint where you could see both beaches and, in the distance, tonsai as well!

for new year's we hung out with the boys and a swedish couple we met at wee's climbing shop and ended up on the beach where this really good semi-reggae band played the night away. we ended up seeing everyone we knew and it was a lovely way to ring in the new year.

we are thinking about headed back to koh phangan for a while to run out our visas and then heading on to laos or malaysia... or maybe to the phillipines.

side tripping...

after tonsai, we took a few side trips to koh phi phi and koh lanta. koh phi phi wasn't very interesting to either of us but we stayed there overnight to take advantage of the snorkeling there. we took a longboat in the morning to phi phi ley (the smaller of the phi phi islands) and snorkeled at the infamous "the beach" beach (from the film about the secluded beautiful stretch of beach -- you know the movie; the one with the guy from titanic.. . :) ). we saw some really beautiful fishes, coral and a moray eel! we also tried to go looking for sharks, but due to poor visibility in the water (it was a bit choppy that day), we didn't get to see any.

at night, we checked out the nightlife and found it was a bit reminiscent of a fraternity party. :-/ one highlight was the bar where they give a free bucket (see: picture below) to anyone who will "muay thai" fight in the ring. i use the word "muay thai" in quotes since it was more like drunken bouts.

after phi phi, we spent a few days on koh lanta. this was a nice big island with a long stretch of beach for relaxing and reading (oh, we have read SO many books!). we also went elephant trekking which was a tad kitschy but fun. we got to feed him bananas and pineapples whole!

as the holidays approached, we found that we wanted to spend them where we felt the most comfortable so back to tonsai we headed. :)