Sunday, January 9, 2011

Oh, for the love of jeepneys!

Happy 2011! (Yes, I am aware it's a bit late, but I have my excuses) I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas and New Year; unwanted gift returns should have been made by now and hangovers should have subdued. In case you're interested I went on yet another little jet set: this time to my mother's homeland of the Philippines.

FIRST STOP: This happened by accident (or luck, depending on how you want to look at it) as a result of our airline cancelling a flight, we ended up staying a day in Brunei fully paid for. Now, this was good because we haven't yet been to Brunei, but it was also bad because we soon found out there is absolutely nothing to do! Not that I'm hating on the place or anything, but for an Asian country it's a bit too quiet for my liking.. No crazy driving, no market stalls, nada. Good thing it was just one day and lack of activities meant that I could spend most of the day sleeping off my gastro.

SECOND STOP: Manila. We arrived at our hotel at midnight so we could get some beauty sleep before our flight the next morning. I'm sure the hotel we was located in some sort of "red light" district, but at least the gentle humming of the aircon was enough to buffer both the "doof-doof" music of the clubs and the leaky shower in the bathroom. The room was 'cozy' but the bed was super comfy.

THIRD STOP: Cagayan de Oro City. After the third flight in 3 days we finally reached our destination. After a longer-than-it-should-have-taken ride in a taxi that sounded like the rear axle would fall off any second, we finally made it to my grandma's place (which has been heavily renovated since last I'd been there). Considering I am used to staying in hotels and have been previously prone to bouts of home-sickness (and the odd tantrum) I found her place quite nice. Even though my grandma doesn't speak much English and I cannot speak Filipino, it was nice to just be able to see her and sit with her and observe the mother-daughter chats she has with mum and the relationship that they have.

I met like a million family members and friends. On New Years Eve people in the Philippines basically have firework competitions like we do Christmas lights here, it was insane! Also slightly scary since you see the odd firework that doesn't fly in the direction it should, or bounces off/lands on a roof. I stuck to throwing those little popping things on the ground and lighting sparklers haha, the neighbourhood kids are much more game than I am.

I took many many jeepney rides, you can't really go to the Philippines and not ride in one, it's like going to Bali and not buying a Bintang singlet or some fake Ray-Bans. Although I think I have inhaled enough carcinogens to last me a lifetime!

FOURTH STOP: Back to Manila (yes, again, but for more of a shopping experience). We took a trip to Tagaytay and had a crazy boat ride out to an island where a volcano lies dormant. A local tour guide told mum the last time the volcano erupted was 1911 and we made jokes about how it's been 100 years and it's due for an encore so we'd better skidaddle! Also spent some time in the Mall of Asia which is huge (and almost the only place I could find with free wi-fi). This is where mum and I killed her credit card. Drivers in the Philippines are pretty crazy, but since they're all like that it kind of works in some strange way- crazy minds think alike.

FIFTH STOP: Brunei. This time I only had to be bored to death in the confines of the well-airconditioned airport. At least there was some good coffee.

I always find that the choice of airline food that you get is almost comparable to the questions you get in an exam. You know how you have a choice of two or so questions that are broken up into different parts and you only really know the answer to one part of each question and its like if they combined this part from this question and this from another I would totally ace this! But it almost never turns out that way. Airline food is the same, like a choice of beef with rice or chicken with potatoes? And its like oh if only I could have beef with potatoes this meal would be perfect!

SIXTH STOP: Home-Sweet-Fricken'-Home. The only thing better than getting out of your little world and exploring a foreign one is being able to dump your bags and dirty clothes on the floor as soon as you step in the door and get straight back into the familiarity that you went on holiday to get away from (and of course wrap your arms around the amazing boy that you had to leave behind for 2 weeks).

As much as I don't speak Filipino or like eating raw fish or meat off the bone, it was still nice to see and meet family and where my mother grew up and appreciate just how good I have things back home (this epiphany usually lasts about a day before I go back to complaining about how little wardrobe space I have or obsessing about my split ends) I can't wait for my next adventure, mum's already planning :)

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