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February 11, 2018

My Travel Diary | Philippines 2017 & 2018

2017 has been one for the books. I was able to adventure half way across the world for work with Asurion for 3 weeks to the Philippines and I absolutely adored it. We left on June 16th and came back on July 7th. 

Our initial flights there went a little like this : 
Moncton > Toronto > Hong Kong > Manila, PH

Our return flight : 
Manila, PH > Tokyo, Japan > Toronto > Moncton

The flights were fun and definitely a great experience. We had the sleeping "pods" on our 16 hour flight between Toronto and Hong Kong and we flew over Nunavut and saw some amazing ice bergs! The food on the Air Canada flights were so delicious and they had great movie and TV options too. I watched "Table 19" and laughed so hard. 

On the return flights I actually slept for 12 hours on the long flight and missed all the goodness. I had barely any sleep in PH and I think I caught up on it on the flight back. 

In Hong Kong I fell in love with a girl's yellow raincoat and it was all I could think about it. I also purchased the cutest Mickey Mouse Paris tote bag from Hong Kong DisneyLand. 

When we landed in Manila, it was a definite culture shock. People from every which way trying to get us into their taxi cabs. Thankfully, after being firm with my "no" and finding our shuttle to the hotel - we were on our way to Nuvali, Santa Rosa Laguna where we spent majority of our time. 

We stayed at Seda, Nuvali and it was such a cute and fun hotel. It was a minute walk away from our offices, and had great food and a pool. My room was 823 - on the 8th floor way at the top. I had a great view of the lagoon, shopping and nature. One evening there was a crazy thunder and lightening storm and I was able to capture some video/photos from my open hotel window. I had a group of Australian's staying on my floor and it was so fun to connect and listen to their accents. 

I was in awe the entire trip and soaked up as much as I could. I became addicted to mango, dried mango and croissants. As well as DIY pina colada's - It's fresh blended pineapple, with a shot or two of malibu coconut rum. We had quite the experience with food and drinks while there. Filipino's eat everything - I mean everything. Our Filipino friends brought us to "Gerry's" in Manila and they gave us mystery dishes to try. I did not adventure with this at all. I stuck to the plain rice and refused to eat anything else. I discovered a strange looking hair in my food and it turned me off completely. So I ate my plain rice and drank Mango smoothie's. Turned out that hairy dish was pig head and I have never been so glad I didn't try something before. We also became regulars at the local Starbucks around the corner from the hotel. They called me "Anastasia Alberta" because they thought I looked like Anastasia Steele from Fifty Shades of Grey, which I have heard so many times! It was pretty funny though - they would write Anastasia on my cup and knew my order by heart. I became addicted to Americano's with a shot of hazelnut and two brown sugar. It's like my go-to coffee now! 

I met some really wonderful people on my visit and hope someday to return! 

I climbed Taal Volcano and was the first of my group to reach the crater. It was gorgeous. There were yellow butterflies all around me, and it was worth the 3 hour hike. It was not an easy feat! 3 people from my group of 5 didn't make it to the top and had to turn around. It felt like a definite bucket list moment when I got there and had no issue paying extra for the professional photos at the top. Our guide was fantastic, she explained everything and helped so much. She took photos on our journey and made us feel comfortable. 

We also went to Green Hills Market in Manila. Green Hills is where a lot of people can buy replica handbags and shoes - I avoided this and went straight for the locally made goods. I purchased pearls, turquoise and coral necklaces, handwoven purses and bread baskets. I tried to purchase a jade bracelet but I couldn't get it on my wrist. A lot of Filipino's are quite small - I don't have a large wrist either so I was very sad I couldn't get a beautiful jade bracelet. One of the vendors tried to force one on my wrist and it got stuck on a bone - it was not fun. On our Green Hills adventure we also stopped at Starbucks where I spilled my Nick's Juice from Australia all over Kelly. I had been drinking these juices daily, and one day I purchased 3 of them and they were in a paper bag and one started to leak. My comment when the juice was leaking down my leg was "Am I peeing myself or is it raining?" I didn't even think that it was green juice all over my legs. It was a hysterical and classic Hillary moment. We actually went to Green Hill's twice. The second time we stopped at a cute little french inspired restaurant and I was able to (finally!) find Parisian Macaron. I bought 60 of them. SIXTY. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and had a 5 hour drive back to our hotel in back to back traffic. This is the trip that gave me such a kink in my neck that I couldn't turn my head to the left. 

I was able to farm dragon fruit and pineapples, visit the best restaurants (Bag of Beans and Classic Confections) and live my best life in the Philippines!


For my second trip, it was a lot more casual. We didn't have close to as much fun as the first trip! I was luckily able to revisit a couple of my favourite restaurants and eat enough salmon that I am probably 50% fish now. I enjoyed copious amounts of fresh mango juice, which was a definite plus. On my first trip I had a support network the entire time, and on the second trip I mostly was alone and kept to myself which is strange for me - but nonetheless, enjoyable.

I was able to visit Classic Confections three times and I ate the most delicious cakes and drank the best caramel mocha I've ever had. My hair was big and curly, and I got a little bit of a tan which was nice. I was able to adventure to Batangas and see the beach. It was glorious. I was born a beach baby, and forever will be a beach bum - so it was no surprise that I didn't go into the pool once and stayed on the lovely beach. I found coral, and filled up a water bottle full of sand. It was delightful.

I only had 2 weeks in the PH this round, but I always cherish the opportunity for worldwide travel. It has started a fire within me to travel each year. I've already been to NYC in December 2017, and I plan on going back in April, 2018. Plus a trip to Paris in June! What places are on your bucket list?

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