Really, I have no idea how to condense one of the most amazing trips of my life in to one blog post, so I'll just give you bare bones and a few pictures and then if you have questions and/or want more details, feel free to ask. I know, it's really long, but I have 35 pages of writing that I did while I was there (And I still haven't gotten in the last couple of days). I promise I'm doing the shortened version!

Day 1--Manila/American Memorial Cemetary--one of the most stunningly beautiful places I've ever been and very emotional. I think they do a better job of remembering past wars there than we do here. I was also slammed by the heat and humidity. The weather forecast said thunder storms all around. The weather was sunny, hot and beautiful pretty much the whole time we were there.
We also went to The Manila Ocean Park. The aquarium was fabulous and the amazing kinds of fishes there were awesome. Utah (or anywhere in the states that I've been for that matter) needs to import some. :) I love rays, just in case you are wondering!

Day 2-We left very early and took a ferry to Corregidor island and stayed the night there. The tour was amazing. My only complaint was that there were a couple of stops on the tour where they gave us 15 minutes to look around and I needed an hour or more to take it all in. I love the Pacific War Memorial. Corregidor was really beautiful, but really dirty. The people there (in the country in general) haven't quite made the environmental/cleanliness strides that America has and it broke my heart to walk along the beach there and worry about where to put my feet because of the garbage that just washes up on the shore. (I know we still have a long ways to go here, but it was 10 times worse there.) We had all of our meals at the Inn that we stayed in and I immensely enjoyed eating on the veranda.

Day 3-The morning was spent doing some more exploring of Corregidor, which was difficult. They have the tours but they do not have the ability for you to pay someone to take you anywhere aside from that and as we were crunched on time, we didn't have time to walk/hike to where we wanted to go. But we still found some beautiful spots, and picked up lots of shells to bring home, along with some blood rocks--white rocks with red coloring--amazingly symbolic considering what this one island has endured over the last 100 plus years. We are hoping they polish up well.

The ferry ride back to Manila was horrible, in part from having to sit in diesel fumes for about 2 hours. I was sick by the time we got back to our hotel. We showered and tried to make it to the Manila temple for the last session, but were unsuccessful. I was feeling rather gross by that time and it took me about an hour and a half to get to the point that I could travel back to the hotel. I think it was the emotional stress of the whole trip combined with the diesel that did me in.

Day 4--up early and a quick plane ride to Cebu. The temple was an adventure to find because the taxi driver didn't know where it was, but we got there and took the tour. Our poor tour guide was a little uncomfortable, I think, because he felt like he had to do the whole tour in English. We tried to tell him that we didn't need it, but everyone else there voted for English. It was a very emotional experience for Faramir. I was groggy from Dramamine (since I can't fly without it). It looks like all the other ones they are building on the outside. The world room, however, had palm trees and a rooster and lizards in it. There are chickens everywhere in the Philippines. Cock-fighting is the national sport (I'm not sure if that's literal or not, but the arena we saw in Bacolod was huge). Then a plane ride to Bacolod where we were met by some friends of Faramirs. They took us to dinner (yummy barbecued chicken) and then to our hotel.

Day 5--We went to the mission home to drop off a package for a missionary from our stake (He's five or six hours away so we couldn't take it to him personally). Then we went and cruised one of the local malls. It's an odd mix of the Western world and the Eastern world. (there were no malls in Bacolod when Faramir was there.) The Philippines in general is that odd mix. In some places it felt like Utah. In some places it definitely didn't.

Day 6--Sightseeing day with the friends that picked us up at the airport. And oh, the sights we saw. Have you ever seen a picture and thought, "That couldn't possibly be real. They must have touched it up."? Yeah, I saw some of those places. I was literally speechless in one place. We went to a falls. We could only hike two, which I was sad about. I would have liked to see all 7. Then we went driving to see some rice terraces. So spectacular. We toured around Bacolod for a bit too. (Incidentally, drivers in the Philippines are crazy, just so you know.)

Day 7--Shopping and wandering around Bacolod. We saw Central Market and spent money at Central Market and got Faramir some material to have some pants made. It cost us about 10 dollars a pair to have them made. This was one of the things that we were sure we were going to do. We just wandered around a bit and enjoyed ourselves.

Day 8--Church in Manapla (an hour north) with the same friends, then lunch (more barbecued chicken and some Sinigang--yum) and then a walk along the beach, seeing little crabs and enjoying the coconut grove. We also had some fruit salad ice cream. Yum. Then we came back to Bacolod.

Day 9--In the morning we just traveled around Bacolod. We stopped at a Taoist temple, but they wouldn't let us beyond the entrance gate for some reason. Then we wandered around and ended up visiting with some members. In the afternoon we went duckpin bowling--which I was horribly bad at--so much so that another friend that met us there was laughing at me. I was laughing at me too. I was really bad at it. Then we picked up Faramir's pants and ran a couple of other small errands (like picking up a suitcase to pack all of the stuff we bought home in). Then we went to dinner with some members that Faramir knew really well while there. It was the best meal by far and the company was great. We laughed a lot because Faramir was in fine form.

Then we traveled for 29 hours to get home.

Things I struggled with:

The language barrier. Faramir couldn't translate everything and while some people made an effort to talk to me (almost everyone knows English) some didn't and there were times when I wanted to be more a part of what was going on.

The lack of cleanliness. We never went about in bare feet, not even in our hotel rooms or in the shower. We lived off of bottled water whenever possible. (In fact, there were days when my stomach was so iffy that I survived on Gatorade.) It was amazing to me to see.

The humid heat. I didn't try to push myself and felt guilty for not, but also felt like if I didn't take breaks and try to acclimatize slowly, I would have spent more than just one night completely undone. It was strange to be out for two hours and come back to the hotel feeling like I had just done heavy exercise the whole time. Sweaty and hot were the words of the trip.

Two-inch Cockroaches.

Things I loved:

The scenery. It was beautiful, sometimes calmly so, sometimes spectacularly so. I loved just looking around.

The relaxed atmosphere. I rode on jeepneys, tricycles, and all sorts of other forms of transportation, all of which would have been a lawsuit in the making in the states. And I loved it. I loved feeling like I had more access to the world around me by being out there than I do when I'm driving around Utah in my air conditioned car with the windows rolled up. They will also burst in to song at the drop of a hat. They love karaoke in the Philippines and no-one feels self conscious about singing along to whatever song happens to be on the radio. I loved it.

Central Market--I loved, except for the meat hanging around.

The friends we met. So very fun. We laughed a lot. All of them were fun.

The cheap prices.

The food that I could eat. (My stomach went back and forth, sometimes I could eat and sometimes I couldn't, It depended entirely on the day.)

The World War II stuff that we got to see. I loved every minute of it. It was truly amazing.

Over all, a really spectacular trip.

Pictures to come since I need to go make dinner.
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10 Responses
  1. Kazzy Says:

    Sounds so exotic and cool! I'll bet it was emotional for your husband, being there again. And to see the temple? Terrific! Looking forward to photos!

  2. Emily Says:

    what a great summary! So hard to do that over such a wonderful trip! Glad you're home!

  3. So awesome! I look forward to many, many more details!

  4. Kimberly Says:

    I just ate this post up with a spoon. I'm going to read it again now.

    I am SO glad there was so much wonder and beauty and fabulousness to your trip, heat and bugs and iffy tummy notwithstanding.

  5. Catherine Says:

    I don't have time to read the whole thing, but I'm glad to know this is here...I've been wondering! :)

  6. WOW! What a jam packed and amazing trip! And I have always wanted to see all the WWII things there.

  7. adkinsra Says:
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  8. charrette Says:

    I read this in the car on the way home from Oakley, so I couldn't leave a comment, but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the personal details...what you struggled with, and what you loved.

    Welcome home!

  9. Melanie J Says:

    The sounds so awesome! Yay for you for getting to have this experience.

  10. ARgh! I wanna see pics! So sorry about your stomach and the humidity! I guess I can relate b/c those are the 2 things that would totally do me in if I had been there. This is why i want to see pics and live vicariously through you.