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Monday, January 16, 2012

Chúc mừng năm mới!

Waiting to board the boat for the Underground River.
Happy Blessed New Year!
I had a great time with moms this past Christmas season. She built up the courage to fly all the way to Asia to check on her baby and make sure I was alright. Since Christmas time is crazy in Saigon, I thought it'd be best if we head to a peaceful place where the people speak more English. On Christmas day we flew to Palawan, into Puerto Princesa City. The main attraction of visiting Palawan is diving, but also viewing one of the new 7 wonders of the world, then Underground River. The river runs about 12 km. We saw 4 of the 12. There's a photo of us waiting patiently to board the boat which will take us to the island which holds this beautiful work of nature. Moms couldn't quite get adjusted to the rural-ness of Palawan. No TV in our hotel room, no hair dryer, no radio and too many bugs was too much for her to deal with. I loved only hearing the sound of the ocean to put me to sleep. If you love adventure and connecting with nature I would recommend Palawan, Philippines to travelers of Southeast Asia. After our Post-Christmas adventure we flew to Manila to visit with my friends from work. Almost every time you want to fly to a different Philippine island you must fly back to Manila. Of course our flight was delayed and we only had time to chow down on the Micky D's of Manila. however we had lots of Filipino food at the hotel in Palawan. Chicken adobo is great, some sort of green papaya soup with chicken and there is a citrus fruit called Calamansi that makes a great drink.

Our second destination was Boracay. Boracay is a wrench-shaped island off the coast of Panay Island. When you travel to Boracay you must fly into Panay Island to the city of Caticlan. You could also fly into Kalibo, which is what we did, because it is cheaper. But, you will have to sit on a bus for 2 hours to reach the Caticlan jetty. All of the flying and Southwest bus rides were a bit much, but once we arrived to Boracay we realized it was worth the wait. What a beautiful place!

Similar to our Caribbean paradises like Bahamas, Boracay is a haven of powdery white sand beaches. You can do almost anything you want. Any water sport, horse back riding, go-carts, lots of shopping and plenty of great places to eat especially seafood. Don't forget to check out the Obama Grill. The prices were high, but it's worth seeing. My favorite thing to do was swim, snorkel in the crystal clear water, and shop. You don't have to bring any beach fashion to Boracay, just do all your shopping there. I even found two fashionable swimsuits my size. I wasted soo much time driving around Saigon arguing to get a swimsuit custom made! Almost every hotel in Boracay sits directly on White Beach. No shoes required, till you get on the main road. I booked through Agoda.com and found a great hotel that happened to be right next to a night club in Boat Station 2, White Beach. Since this was New Year's Eve weekend in Boracay, the island was packed. It seemed like every culture from around the world was there. We managed to befriend some young South Africans. I even had a "Stella Got Her Groove Back" moment, when one of the SA guys bought me a drink as I sunbathed solo. Of course I kept in touch and moms and I met up with them on NYE. I also loved visiting Puka Beach. You take a tricycle up the main and only road to Puka Beach. If you go, buy Puka shell jewelry, it's a beach fashion must have! With soo many things to do, little time and a strict budget moms and I could't do everything. We did manage snorkeling, and we tried helmet diving but the company canceled on us at the last minute.Then, on NYE, we ended the day with a "Crazy Crepe" and sailed across the Sulu Sea, up and down the Boracay coastline. At night every club/lounge on the island was lit up, and ready for a party. 12:00 AM struck and a parade of fireworks ensued from Boat Station 1, 2 and 3.. I'd have to say it was the best fireworks show I've ever seen. I definitely recommend Boracay Island to anyone who can't live without water!

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