"People are in your life for a reason others are there for a season and it's important to realize when those seasons are over..."
As I continue to go through different phases in life I realize just how true the meaning of that quote is. I've came across some amazing individuals that are no longer part of my life. Although it saddens me to grow apart from certain individuals I know that it's normal to outgrow relationships and not everyone is meant to be permanent. The idea of change and moving on tends to scare some of us.. but change is necessary in order to grow.
Examples of seasonal people (include but not limit to):
PEOPLE YOU MEET ON A DATING APP or BAR .... etc.
This is the individual who you have zero expectations for.. but the first date ends up going incredibly well. Y'all continue to casually date to "see where things go..." But things eventually fizzle out and neither one of you puts in effort to reach out and you never hear from them again. But deep down you always knew they were seasonal so it's not much of a letdown when it comes to an end. (nonetheless it still sucks when it's over... especially if someone grew attached). They served their purpose during their time which was essentially to; make you laugh, fun date nights, and casual cool conversations.
It was all a lie when we wrote on each others Yearbooks "STAY COOL. NEVR CHANGE" We obviously all changed... (except the cool part, I'd like to think I kept that promise). We share some of the best years of our life with our childhood friends (when we're allowed to be young and carless). Sadly, majority of those friendships don't survive past college .... everyone eventually goes on different paths and before you know it, it's been years since you've last seen these individuals. (Luckily, now with social media it's a lot easier to keep up with the people we care to keep up with... but of course things will never be the same. Their purpose during their time was to help shape you into adulthood. You share some of the greatest/ darkest memories with these people. Even though new friendships will evolve nothing will ever compare to the bond that you have with your childhood besties.
It's crucial to have a work bestie.... in order to survive a 9-5 corporate work life (or a work life in general). They're the only ones who truly understand your work frustrations and whom you can share tons of inside jokes with. They've probably never even met your family members or significant other but it's as if they have (because lets face it we alllll talk about our home problems at work... the good and the bad. When your work bestie is on vacation time at the office goes painfully slow. However, most people don't keep the same job forever. Once a new job comes around it becomes hard to keep the ex-work bestie relationship alive.... even if you say you will. Purpose served: tons of inside jokes, venting in the office, shift coverings, and a couple of happy hours ... that always end up going way past the hour.
You think you'll be together *forever* ... but forever sometimes has an end season attached to it. Love is something that we all hope lasts but sometimes it doesn't survive the obstacles and that's okay. Love is full of seasons. Seasons change.
Purpose served: if it once brought you happiness it will always be worth it ... even if it was short lived.
---------------------------------------------- Why the heck am I writing about seasons?
Well because I live in Minnesota where we basically have two seasons: summer/winter. I've had time to put the quote into perspective.
Also, when I write about things it's usually because it's been bothering me... Not too long ago I lost a good friend of mine (not lost in the forever kinda way, but the seasonal type of way). I didn't think of him as a seasonal person in my life which is why it was difficult to see it end.... But I have come to an understanding that even those people who you want to keep in your life forever, can't be kept.
Which brings me to my main point: How the HECK do we accept the idea of losing someone who is still very much alive and who you believed would be permanent? Easy, it's HARD. and you need time. Lot's of time.
We all hate that response .. because we want something fast. Something more efficient. But that is truly the only advice I have. Time, Patience, and acceptance.
If any of y'all have better ideas... LET A GIRL KNOW. ----------------------------------------------
In the meantime ... let's embrace all the seasons and take all the life lessons from all the beautiful individuals who've crossed our paths.
As most of you know ... I am ADDICTED to going to Playa del Carmen. It's basically my second home. Many of you guys come to me asking for travel advice when it comes to Playa. Which is why I am trying something new here and putting together a list of helpful tips and tricks that may or may not help you with your vacation (along with personal experiences... because as y'all know, I love getting personal).
HOW DO I GET THERE?
Easy... just swim there. Just keep swimming, ask the fishes and sea turtles for directions, avoid the sharks and you'll eventually make it to Playa. haha, just kidding. There's two different ways that I know of: 1. Flying into CUN airport. Avoid the mob of taxi men standing outside. Keep walking to the right side passing Margaritaville and eventually you'll see a tiny stand that says ADO. You buy a bus ticket from the lady (you can pay in pesos or dollars) and the bus comes every 15/20 minutes. The bus ride is about 1hr20min.. but don't worry they keep you entertained by playing a really outdated movie. Makes you feel like you're in 5th grade again going on a field trip. Or you can take that time to sleep.... as you won't be getting any of it when you get to Playa. The ADO takes you right to the heart of Playa, 5th Ave. so most of the time depending on where your hotel is located ... you can always just walk directly to it. (Use this option on the way back to the airport).
Option 2: Fly into CZM (Conzumel) and take a ferry ride to Playa. I've personally never gone this route ... so I can't give you painful step by step details.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY?! Outside... on the beach. Why waste precious weather by being inside. Get hot? just jump into the ocean. Jusssst kidding. I've tried both Airbnb and hotels. I personally like both.... the only thing that really matters to me when booking a hotel in Playa is that it is located ON 5th avenue not NEAR 5th ave. but ON. There is a huge difference (based on my experience). I love the convenience of not having to take a taxi anywhere especially after a long night of dancing and drinking. The beach is also convientenly one block down from 5th and the the street itself has a million food options and shopping. (Pro tip: if you go one street up from 5th there's also a million food options but at a much lower rate).
I am not picky when it comes to hotel rooms because I am just there to sleep (barely) and shower (always). Which is why I only care about the location and the cost. I always look for the super cheap deals (that's how I am able to afford vacations almost every month). That being said here is a few recommended places for you guys.
Hotel Maria Candelaria:
- Rate is usually under 40$ a night.
- Located across the street from CocoBongo (club) and taco shops!! One street up from 5th ave. - Hotel room itself isn't glamorous but the lobby is cute.
Maya Del Mar:
-Rate under 70$. -Located ON 5th ave. Across the street from the new iHop (where the Frida Kahlo museum used to be). 2 blocks down from the clubs. -Hotel lobby is also super cute and the rooms itself are very basic but very clean.
!SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST!
- Rate depending on the time of year under 70$. - Located ON 5th ave inside one of my favorite live music restaurant bars. (if you don't enjoy live music this isn't the place for you as the music is on from like 5pm-2am). The clubs are convienently located one block away. -Hotel lobby is the restaurant itself and my favorite part is that BREAKFAST IS INCLUDED and it's very delicious. You also get a discount if you eat/drink there at other times of the day. The rooms are spacious and super clean as well. 10/20 recommend.
WHAT SHOULD I DO WHEN I GET THERE?
EAT. BEACH. DRINKKK. SHOWER. PARTY.REPEAT (and maybe sleep... butttt at the beach). This time I'm not kidding.
Never have I ever experienced an awful time in Playa. I've gone with a guy, I've gone by myself, I've gone with a group of girls, I've gone with my favorite sister friends. Point is... I've gone numerous times with different types of people and I have always enjoyed it. Best of all the people I've taken have ended up loving Playa just as much as I have.
But first things first ... you must ALWAYS drink a Chelada (beer w/ lime juice and salt) and eat Aguachiles (delicious spicy shrimp dish that has avocado) on the beach with your feet touching the sand. It's the perfect start to a Playa vacation. It's the only way to start your Playa Vacation.
Playa is the perfect place to go if you are a person who doesn't like to plan much (like me)... because you can literally plan anything a day before/ same day. There's tour companies located all across 5th ave. and for the most part the tour rates are all very similar. If you want to book a last minute tour ... you can! They're usually out on the streets till 10pm every day. 90% of the tours usually include food and about 60% of them also include free drinks. You seriously cannot beat that! Depending on the location of your hotel they tend to pick you up around 8am and drop you off around 6/7pm.
WHAT TOURS DO I RECOMMEND?
(if you don't care I'll tell you always, because I know deep inside you do care).
We originally wanted to go to Xcaret but the travel agent lady told us about Xel-Ha and sold us on the idea. It was cheaper than Xcaret and was very similar to it (it also included food and drinks).
I instantly fell in love with Xel-Ha. It was breathtaking and filled with an endless amount of things to do. It's like a life size obstacle course. They have biking, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins, lazy river, zip lining, cenotes, a beautiful forest, cliff diving, etc. The food is AMAZING and they have different restaurant options to choose from. It's also great for people who just want to relax they have hammocks located throughout the entire park. 10/10 recommend this tour.
Cenote tour/ Coba/Tulum:
What is a cenote? a natural pit or sinkhole that is filled with both fresh and salt water. They are typically located underground and it's the most refreshing place to swim in. There is a lot of different cenotoes you can choose from. I've gone to a few different ones and they're all just as amazing... Just pick one and GO!!!
Coba is also a fun place to tour. It's an ancient Mayan city and you're able to climb the main pyramid (left picture). There's other pyramids along the way and you can rent a bike at the entrance to ride to around (100% recommend doing that instead of walking like I did). A lot of people also enjoy visiting Chichen Itza it's also an archeological site, but I've personally never been.
Visiting the Tulum ruins is also a favorite of mine. The site itself is beautiful and runs along the beautiful ocean blue water. Before running off to take a billion pictures I 1000% recommend you to listen to the tour guides explanation. Most of the tour guides are incredibly knowledgeable and it makes you appreciate the landmarks so much more.
Tour boat to ISLA MUJERES:
By far one of my favorite tours EVER. The tour company picked us up from our hotel and we took a bus to Cancun where we boarded our cute little boat. It includes a "snorkeling excursion" which me and Maureen skipped out on because we aren't the worlds greatest swimmers and.... it didn't look too fun. Everyone who participated on this part of the tour said it was "eh". So I don't regret my decision of not doing it. However, we did stay on the boat and enjoyed the UNLIMITED drinks and of course worked on our tan (ps. WEAR SUNSCREEN). The tour also included a meal which was located in a sweet little private island where we got to stay for about an 1hr and a half. Food is always necessary when day drinking ... so that was great. Lastly, the boat takes you to Isla Mujeres which is a tiny island with water as clear as could be. It's very crowded (depending on the time of year) but the beauty of the water and amazing weather make up for it. They also have a ton of beach bars so that's a huge plus. My only complaint is that I wish we could have stayed there longer but we made the best of our short time..... I'll be back for more.
I will say though I think my FAVORITE, FAVORITEEEE thing about this tour (and tours in general) is all the people you meet. We met two groups of guys (from Barcelona/ Australia/ Canada) who danced along with us and we all had the best time...
Basically my point here is no matter what tour you decide to go on (whether it's last minute or not) you'll have the time of your life. ----------------------------------------------- Even if the tour ends up being super shitty. Short story coming up: When I took my sister and my sister friend Belinda we went on one of the crappiest tours with a company called "Adventure Tour". It was said to have ATVs, zip lining, a cenote, and a Mayan ritual cleansing. They had all the activities mentioned above, however, it was all super crappy and made up. The ATV motorcycle ride was to and from the parking area LOL. The zip lining was two seconds long. The Mayan cleansing ritual was a joke... but the cenote was BEAUTIFUL. The only thing that was worthy of the tour. We still had a blast and enjoyed the tour... but I would never recommend this place to anyone. If you get stuck on a crappy tour like this one.... I hope you have great company like I did;).
Lastly, this is my absolute FAVORITE thing to do in Playa and ultimate suggestion.
Spend an ENTIRE day dedicated to being a BEACH BUM
!!IT'S A MUST!!!
Step one: Wake up early (around 7/8am) ... depending on how late you stayed up the night before. Or maybe you didn't sleep (has happened). Eat a filling breakfast .... it'll come in handy throughout the day.
Step two: Find the perfect layout spot. My perfect spot happens to be near a beach bar. I prefer to lay out on the sand rather than renting out a chair/umbrella but that's also an option for people who don't like to get as sunburnt as I do.
Step three: Go inside the water... or sleep (if you didn't get much of it at night) .. or read and relax... or do all three, after all, it is an ALL day affair.
Step four: Don't check the time (ever). Just grab a chelada from the bar or better yet just ask the beach server to bring you one. It's 5o'clock somewhere in the world. Eventually someone will walk around selling mangos ... make sure to BUY SOME! They are amazing and only 20pesos!
REPEAT steps three and four as many times needed.
Step five: If you've followed all the steps correctly by this time the sun is starting to go down... which means it's BEACH MASSAGE time! This step is crucial as there is NOTHING more perfect and relaxing than having a beach massage at sunset after a full day of doing the bare minimum. Also, who doesn't enjoy closing their eyes and hearing the sound of the waves.... JUST DO IT.
Once you come back from massage heaven you'll be relaxed enough to conquer another night in Playa. (and you'll get addicted to the beach bum life).
I do have to add that the beaches in Playa have NOT been as beautiful as they were two years ago which makes me sad... so if you do visit sometime soon just beware. The good thing is that there's endless amount of things that make up for the lack of beautiful water.
HOW's THE NIGHTLIFE?
Two words: Never-ending and a FREAKIN'BLAST. What do I mean by never-ending? Just that... it never ends... If the clubs are packed and people are still dancing and drinking the party will continue (in most places). If the party ends there are plenty of other options that are open way past the time. In fact one of my good friends who lives there works at a place Murcielago that doesn't open till 10pm.. and the party doesn't really start till 4am... so like I said, never-ending.
My go to spot is La Vaquita. They play mostly reggeaton which is what I like to dance to. If you like techno music I recommend you check out Mandala. CocoBongo is also a very well known club in Playa/Cancun that I've never been to. Most people who have been there really enjoy it. But my personal opinion is that it's an overpriced tourist trap. I'd rather just stick to the other places that don't have an entry fee. Either way.. if you go out in Playa I guarantee you'll have a unforgettable night. Even if all you do is go out to eat tacos at 4am.....
because "nothing good happens after 12am... --------------------------------------------
WHY DO YOU LOVE PLAYA SO MUCH?
Well, if everything I wrote above didn't inspire you to hop on a plane and visit Playa .... I don't know what else to tell you. I can travel anywhere in the world and find it amazing but nothing compares to the feeling of being in Playa...
From taking the ADO bus ride ... to walking down 5th ave struggling with my overly packed suit case... to having the street vendors constantly ask me to shop... or if I wanna go to Conzumel to drinking the cheladas and eating more aguachiles and tacos than my body can handle... to walking barefoot on the beach ... to dancing my toes away... to meeting people from across the world ...
in short, I love everything about Playa. --------------------------------------------------
My first time in Playa January,2017. I went on a tour that included a stop in Playa.
I went back with a boy and automatically fell in love ... Peep how green the water was. Feb2017
went back for more... but this time I took a group of girls. March2017
couldn't leave my sister out ... so I went again with her and my sister friend Belinda... April2017
Decided last minute I needed a beach getaway so I went solo this time.. Aug2017
took my good friend Janelle with me this time (couldn't find a picture of us) and we had a blast. March2018
couldn't leave Maureen out so I had to take her the following month .. April2018
my roomie was in need of a beach vacay... so I couldn't say no... Nov2018
we didn't get to go to the beach in the Philippines so this happened..... March2019
.......................To be continued.................. I hope this blog was helpful for those of you who are planning a Playa vacation and if you weren't planning a Playa vacay... I hope I have inspired you to book your trip to my favorite place in the entire planet.
I hope you enjoyed this style of blog because I sure as heck enjoyed writing it.
As always THANKU for the constant support. I enjoy getting random messages from you guys giving me feedback, means the world. If you've ever gone to playa I'd love to hear feedback and suggestions from y'all as well (for my future trips).
Beautiful country, beautiful people. Manila has my heart...
I am known to travel without doing any type of research. I like it that way, it works for me (so far). However, it almost backfired in Manila. I'm not sure what we were expecting .... but things definitely did not go how we imagined. But that's the beauty of traveling. Of going to new places. So let's travel to Manila... it's become one of my favorite stories.
"It's notwhere you go ... but who you go with" -
My travel partner in this case (my gorgeous friend Maureen) was amazing. We got a whole row to ourselves and prior to the flight we stocked up on all the Hot Cheetos and popcorn we'd need for a 14 hour flight. I also happened to know one of the flight attendants working the ATL/NRT flight so she spoiled us with an endless supply of red wine. Philippines was off to the perfect start.
Traveling to the other side of the world is exhausting but I am here for it. That's the only kind of exhausted I always aim to be. We survived the first portion of the flight and made it to Japan. As Non-Revenue travelers we had three backup flights to make it to Manila. The first two were full so it left us with only one option and Vietnam and Taiwan as our backup destinations. Eventually after having a misunderstanding with a gate agent about the checkin process we were finally on our way the the Philippines! We were exhausted, overjoyed... and scrambling through hotels.com with crappy internet looking for a place to stay.
Okay, yes, how irresponsible to not have a hotel booked by that point .. but may I remind you we almost ended up in Vietnam. I did however have a list of saved hotels in my profile so we quickly looked over the options and I made the reservation as the plane was taxing off the runway... (I was not on airplane mode... Oops). The flight NRT/MNL was about 4 hours long. I stocked up on Facemasks during the wait in Japan and I had a window seat so I was ready for deep sleep. (Yep, I'm that girl who wears scary facemasks in flight when possible). Maureen on the other hand had the middle seat next to me and based on all the moving around she was doing I could tell she was not in for deep sleep like me. Towards the end of the flight I could hear Maureen chatting it up with the guy sitting next to her. I was too tired to chime in so I continued to sleep. When we landed I was introduced to Maureen's new friend Jedrick. He was incredibly friendly and offered to give Maureen a box of KitKats that he had purchased I'm assuming for his family as a parting gift. I thought that was super sweet but she declined the offer (I told her she should have taken them and I would have ate them, haha). We all walked and talked to customs together. During the walk I learned that Jedrick studies in Japan and was just in Manila to visit his family. Once we were done with the customs line and picking up our luggage it was almost midnight. Jedrick offered to have his family drive us to our hotel.... but we graciously declined because that's how a horror movie starts. We took a taxi instead. Maureen had already shared Facebook information with him so I figured they could keep contact if she wanted to.
We were stoked to finally make it to our hotel... showering and sleeping on a bed sounded so exciting after a full day of traveling. But as soon as we walked into our hotel room we walked right back out of it. The room itself looked as if it was part of an old horror film. The bathroom looked moldy and the toilet struggled to flush. We didn't even have windows!! I am not picky when it comes to hotel rooms ... but this place.. this place was unlivable and depressing. The wifi didn't work inside the rooms only the lobby. So we went downstairs to call the booking agency to cancel. Since we came in so late we'd have to stay the night but first thing in the morning we were OUT!
My plan was to sleep in.. but my body was confused. I was up and hungry by 5am. I couldn't tell if the sun was out or not due to the no window situation but I could feel it. I waited for Maureen to wake up and eventually we got ready to explore and grab some breakfast before our 12pm checkout of our nightmare hotel. The neighborhood was not a tourist neighborhood.. which was great because I love to experience the local life.. but the vibe felt off and weird. We walked around for a while encountering all sorts of things such as; people sleeping on their bikes/ kids walking around asking for money with no parents in sight, lot's of traffic. At one point on our walk back to the hotel we stopped by a bubble tea shop and got some boba. Mine lasted all but two seconds because I wanted to take a picture of it for the "gram" and it fell in the process. Which meant no boba for me and no picture for the gram. Maureen was smarter than me ... she took no picture she just drank hers. But as we walked past a 7eleven there was a group of kids who surrounded us and in a matter of seconds Maureen was left bobaless'. One of the bigger kids took the drink right out of her hands...we thought it was pretty hilarious and sad at the same time. These kids weren't out here trying to steal purses/ electronics ... they wanted food. These kids were hungry.. and sadly they weren't the only ones.
12pm hit and we were out of that hotel as fast as you could said 'Philippines'. Our next hotel choice was still not in a tourist infested area but there was a lot more surrounding it. The check in wasn't until 3pm so we had time to kill. Right next door was the cutest coffee shop so we went in there for some of the best matcha tea I've ever had and a couple of selfies.
We took advantage of the wifi from the coffee shop to look up tours/ things to do in Manila. One of the first tours that came up was "Sariago Island hopping tour". We booked it right away for the following day! It was an all day event that picked us up straight from our hotel and it looked so dreamy...... that is until the booking company realized the location of our hotel. Turns out... Sariago is an Island and we had to hop on a plane to get to there to make it to our tour. WOW. That was a bummer. On the bright side the booking company was very understanding. They refunded me the money right away. Unfortunately, for us we discovered that there is absolutely no beaches in Manila that we could get to without having to hop on a plane. (As flight attendants we were really trying to avoid having to take another plane ride during our vacation).
Not planning ahead was really catching up to us...
We spent the rest of that day exploring our new area, Malate. Our new hotel had the best lighting and a huge window with a slight view of the Manila Bay. Just what we needed to lift our spirts from our previous let downs. Manila is known for it's outside markets so we found the most recommended one by google and booked a "GRAB" (uber for taxi's) and headed over to Divisoria mall in metro Manila. When the taxi driver informed us that we had arrived we both looked outside and saw no signs of a market.. so we made him drive us further down until we were certain that it was the market we were looking for. As he dropped us off he told us to be careful as the area was not known to be the safest. Not exactly the words you want to hear. The mall/market was HUGE. It consisted of an indoor area that was more of a flea market and then there was the outside portion that stretched out for miles. They had all sorts of things from fruit stands, to clothing, fabrics, shoes, electronics, .... a little bit of everything. We stood out like a sore thumb and we could not escape the stares. We stopped by at one of the shops where Maureen bought an outfit and the salesman wanted to take a selfie with us. It was pretty funny to get so much attention from strangers. As we continued with our walk I met eyes with the sweetest little girl with short wavy brown hair. She smiled at me and said "so beautiful"... I swear I cannot make this up... I must have looked very different to her but it was such a pure moment and it was probably one of the most innocent compliments I've ever received.
It was starting to get dark and some of the shops were starting to close down ... at that point things started to feel very creepy. The stares felt stronger ... and we started walking faster. The taxi drivers words "it's not a safe area" echoed in my mind. I led us back to the indoor mall and just as we were about to take a detour to another outside shop I caught glances of a group of guys looking our way and we automatically decided it was go home time. We waited for our taxi near the security guards and jumped into the car as soon as the driver arrived. I felt like I was part of a thriller movie and we were the lucky ones who survived. (okay, I know it sounds a bit exaggerated... but even thinking about it now my heart beat accelerates and not in the good way.)
Our jet lag was an interesting one ... we'd wake up everyday by 6am and by 8/9pm we were in bed snoozing away. I am not an early riser by choice so this came as a nice surprise since we could enjoy our entire day. The following day we had our hearts set off to go to a beautiful waterfall Daranak Falls in Tanay. We couldn't find an official tour for it so we'd figured we'd wake up early take a taxi and spend our day there ...... WRONG. No taxi driver from the app wanted to take us there (I may add that the drive was almost 2hours long).. but it's not as if we were looking for a free ride. Plan B was to book a taxi right out of the hotel since they were always out there lingering. To our surprise language hadn't been a barrier, everyone we encountered spoke English which was a nice surprise.... that is until we met this taxi driver. He was an older man ... seemed sweet. We told him where we wanted to go and he didn't understand us so we showed him a picture of it but he couldn't read it. Maureen's dad spoke Filipino so she called him and he still couldn't seem to understand him. We ended up causing a commotion right outside the hotel with all kinds of bystanders trying to explain to this taxi driver where the heck we wanted to go (I'm laughing just thinking about it now). I was even starting to think google lied and the waterfalls didn't actually exist.
That is until a girl our age came out of nowhere and asked us where it was that we wanted to go. She was finally able to get him to understand. He did the funniest expression when he finally understood where the heck he was taking us and he waved us down and was like "ok I take you".. Just as I was about to open the door to take a seat I asked this man how much he was going to charge us ... he nonchalantly says "8,000php". The girl helping us overhead that and was like "heckno he's definitely trying to take advantage".. She told us she would be more than happy to drive us to the falls herself but she wouldn't be available till Sunday/monday (it was Friday) .. I wasn't too thrilled about having to wait but It did seem like a better idea to wait and go with someone who would be familiar with the area. Meanwhile we were having this conversation the taxi driver was still waiting for us to get in his car.... he didn't understand that we were no longer interested. We went back up our hotel room to search for a plan C ... and to take off our swim suits that were no longer necessary. At this point Philippines was REALLY kicking our butts... again... I'll take full responsibility for not planning ahead.
We ended up going to the place we said we didn't want to go too... Mall of Asia. Don't get me wrong I love to shop.... but not while I'm on vacation. I'm one of those people who think it's a waste of time to spend your vacation stuck in a mall somewhere... with the same stores you'd find back home. But it was Mall of Asia after all ... it was huge and had an outdoor section with tons of carnival games. We used this time to have a photoshoot of course and I was able to satisfy my craving for Oysters.
We ended the day by going to get Thai Massages at a place near our hotel. If you've never experienced a Thai massage ... YOU MUST. they are the most relaxing things ever... and weird too. They use pretty much every body part to massage you and it almost feels like you're doing a couples yoga at some point but you end up feeling brand new. It was perfect. Also, I may add that the place smelled amazing ... essential oils filled my nostrils and made me feel calm and relaxed. One of my other favorite things from this experience was the people. They were incredibly sweet ... the lady at the counter wanted to take a picture of us and with us and soon after all the workers were in on the picture. We seriously felt like celebrities at this point.... (I'm not sure how Kylie Jenner does it.) PS. Maureen was convinced that this man pictured below was in love with me.
At this point Jedrick and Maureen have been keeping up with each other through Facebook. He offered to take us to Tagaytay City to see the Taal Volcano which is super tiny and known to be the second most active volcano in the Philippines. We'd been through enough the last few days so I agreed ... only after stalking his instagram and facebook to see how "normal" he seemed (because that's safe, no?). He was set to pick us up at 8am Saturday morning. So by 8:04 we were ready to go. As I'm getting in the car I realize we aren't alone... there's two men sitting up front, one guy our age sitting in the middle row and a nice lady in the back. I'm sure we look confused at this point but we play it off ... so off we go in a car with strangers to go see a volcano ... no big deal.
You'd think it would be a awkward ride but it was all but awkward. The man in the passenger seat was Jedrick's dad. He was the funniest man ever and the guy sitting in the middle row was his brother Jerwin. He was super shy at first but very talkative. We later found out that the man driving them was their driver and the lady in the backseat was their cleaning lady. Why was the cleaning lady with us? ... we weren't sure either at first (not that there's anything wrong with it .. just seemed odd) but we didn't ask. Turns out they have an Airbnb rental in that city so they were dropping her off first. It was all making sense... sorta.
We finally made it to Tagaytay city and we were just in awe of the views. It was breathtaking. Our first stop was at a restaurant where we made reservations for lunch (that we later missed and had to make again). The second stop was a coffee shop that had the greatest coffee selection. Jerwin is also a coffee shop fanatic like myself so we were both geeking out on how cute the place was. On top of that the views from that area were phenomenal. We took so many pictures. At one point we were crying and laughing because the sun was so bright and I was the only one who could actually keep my eyes open for the picture *inserts appropriate chinky joke here*.
(if you look closely you can see the tears in Maureens face)
The restaurant's waiting area was filled with hungry individuals (including us). However, they also had one of the best views/ patio area located in the back so we waited there... until the sun kicked us back inside. As we got our table their dad and driver joined us. The dad ordered the meal (thank god because I had no clue what the heck I'd want). To our delight everything was delicious. We had fresh mango juice which was perfect for the hot weather. I don't remember the name of everything we ate .. I just know it was A LOT .. and it kept coming. Every time I looked up the waiters were headed our direction with even more food. Luckily, I am always hungry so I was in fat girl heaven. I was trying everything, having seconds, just constantly chewing....living my best life. Our next stop was a cute area that was very chic and modern. I was starting to realize that no matter where we went in this city the view was phenomenal.. if anything it only got better. This place had one of the cutest bars I've ever seen. It was still early on in the day where it wasn't full. We went in and had some beers while playing Jenga and giant UNO. Followed by a million ugly laughs (mostly from my part). Strangers walking by probably thought we'd known each other for years.
A few drinks and hours later the driver, cleaning lady, and dad came to pick us up. It was 'go home time'.... or so we thought. The drive back was 3x's as long because of the standstill traffic. There was sooo much traffic. Only difference is that in the Philippines they don't care too much about the lanes, what is a lane? Plus credits to the driver who was a freaking beast!!He was driving like a true professional .... so reckless but doing it so well. Me and Maureen were amazed.
It was late in the day now and almost past our 8pm bedtime ... and we thought we were headed home... until we pulled up to a fancy casino hotel. I had fallen asleep and woke up super confused... but we got out of the car anyway. The casino was beau-tttiiii-fullll and PINK! So much pink. I loved every inch of it. I thought we were there because maybe dad and driver wanted to gamble... but no.. we were just there because they wanted us to see the water show. It was kind of like the Vegas water/light show with music ... and they thought we'd enjoy seeing it. How freakin' sweet is that? The show was so beautiful and the music that followed along was my favorite part. I instantly felt so much gratitude for the universe and our new friends. There was also someone who screamed to the top of their lungs every time the beat went up... so that was a bit hilarious. Especially because I later realized it wasn't a kid doing it, it was an adult!!
Not long after the show was over Maureen and myself almost burst out screaming like the adult during the show.... because as it turns out we still had one more stop to go. Don't get me wrong here ... we were having a blast and enjoying the company. It was the fact that we were STILL full from lunchtime and we were on our way to have dinner to a street known for its fresh seafood. I am a sucker for seafood so although I had absolutely no room for food I was going to sacrifice and find some space.
I knew we had arrived when I could smell the fresh fish in the air. It looked somewhat like an alley. To the left of it were all the fish markets where you could pick the swimming fish straight out of the tanks and all sorts of other live things. To the right were all the restaurants where you take what you've purchased and tell them how you want it to be cooked. My stomach was like no.. but my heart and eyes couldn't wait to indulge. We sipped on fresh coconut juice while waiting for our food to cook. Meanwhile my nostrils were pleased to be in seafood heaven.
Just as it had been during lunch time the food kept on coming. We ate everything from shrimp tempura to fresh baked fish to scallops to this stew that had the most amazing sauce with the perfect amount of spice and other things I cannot remember... (I wish I would have taken pictures) but trust me when I say it was worth the over eating. We ended the meal with sweet delicious mangos (they laughed and could not believe that I like to put spices on my fruits (Tajin). After we were done eating the entire ocean we were REALLY full for the week... and a bit sick. We promised ourself we'd pace our eating for the next day. The following day the driver was set to pick us up at 10am and he was as punctual as could be. He drove us to meet Jedrick and Jerwin at their home where we met their adorable sweet pup who instantly fell in love with us. We had a whole day planned with activities. But first we practically met their whole family who was in town for the weekend (mom, auntie, uncle grandma, grandpa, and other driver (this one wasn't as cool as the first one). They were all so warm hearted and greeted us with sweet smiles and handshakes. They dropped us off at our first location which was another market that resembled Divisoria Mall but felt less dangerous. We had breakfast at this lovely coffee bar that I wish I lived nearby. Once we devoured our breakfast and coffee we walked to the market to look for souvenirs and authentic Filipino desserts.
When we were all over the market (it was never-ending). We took a taxi to Intramuros a city known as the oldest district in Manila. The city reeked of history... I was instantly in love. It slightly reminded me of my birth place Jalisco. Beautiful from left to right. The taxi dropped us off at the Cathedral where we were lucky enough to witness a strangers wedding ceremony. It was every brides dream (mine included). The cathedral was impeccable and filled with so much detail if you blinked for a second you were already missing out. While me and Maureen were gushing about the wedding ceremony the guys were setting up a tour deal with a local. He was an older man who had more character than any tour guide I've ever met. His chosen name was "Ronald Reagan". He mentioned that he had his "Lamborghini" out waiting for us and that he would give us the best tour of the entire city ... as he's lived there his entire life ... and he has 13 kids with 5 different woman to prove it (not sure why he thought the last comment was a selling point). We went along with it and booked two Lambos and off we went letting him pedal us away.
We stopped at many different locations where he would tell us the history and importance of the landmark. Best of all he considered himself to be the best tour guide photographer so he took all of our pictures getting all the best angels. He was quite the gem, that Ronald Reagan. We laughed and cried our way through that tour which ended up being almost two hours long.
Once we'd explored all of Intramuros we took a motorcycle taxi to Chinawown which was nearby. The Chinatown in Manila is the oldest Chinatown to exist which was pretty cool considering I've visited my fair share of Chinatowns around the world. We stopped for a Jasmine tea at one of the brothers favorite spot. At this point everything we'd ate around them was perfect so I trusted their tastebud judgments and the Jasmine tea did not disappoint. It was perfect after being outside all day.
We spent the better part of that day exploring other Malls (at this point I'm sure you have realized the Philippines is known for it's grand shopping malls.... and I am here to tell you it is a real thing) they love their malls. But instead of shopping we ate around.
Eventually, the driver and their dad came to pick us up to head over to have dinner with the family. But not before we were able to experience a ride in a Jeepney. What is a Jeepney? It's the cheapest way of transportation in the Philippines. It kind of resembles a bus... but you just hop on the back of the Jeepney and gather around to sit with a bunch of strangers. You pay the driver by handing your money to the neighbor till it reaches the person driving .... (I wonder if the money always makes it to the driver). And we discovered that even when the Jeepney is full.... people still manage to hang on (literally) and go on with the ride( I wonder if the people who hang on like this get a discounted rate). Nonetheless, It was all fascinating to me.
The driver found an empty Jeepney and signaled for it to stop. All four of us jumped in and enjoyed the ride around the block. I am sure bystanders were looking at as with puzzled faces because of all the pictures we were taking *ugh, tourists*! No regrets though... it was a blast... and it helped us feel safe by having the dad and driver follow along.
I don't think you've ever seen happier passengers...
Prior to dinner and after our Jeepney experience we took a detour to checkout the Manila Hotel. I didn't understand why dad thought it would be a good idea to check it out... until we got there. It was the definition of timeless and sophisticated. I was mesmerized by all the chandeliers and automatically felt somewhat Royale... except I wasn't dressed like a Royal so that feeling didn't last long. We walked around for a while taking in the views and not really taking many pictures because it was one of those places pictures do not do it justice..
We arrived to dinner at this beautiful traditional Chinese restaurant. The family was already there waiting for us. We met a couple more family members who again greeted us as if we were their own. I have never met a family more welcoming than this one... especially after knowing them only for a day. Besides the delight of having such great company the food once again did not disappoint! I am not the biggest fan of Chinese food.. but this was another level, or may I say "the real deal". One of my favorite things was the dessert ... the dessert was one of the most perfect things I've ever tasted. I don't know what it was called but I snagged a picture before I devoured it ...
Picture doesn't do it justice.... so just close your eyes and imagine you're eating the dessert of your dreams.
Once dinner was over we said our goodbyes/thank you's to our sweet new family. They were going to stay at the restaurant and the driver was taking us out to the Makati City.
Makati City was the polar opposite of Malate (where we were staying). It was as if we had flown to a different side of the world. There were skyscrapers, endless high end stores, and zero signs of poverty nor starving children.
It's crazy how different a city can be by just crossing over a bridge. One side starving the other side with plenty of left overs.... Sadly, that's a worldwide issue (but I'll save all of those emotions for a different post).
We walked around the city enjoying the night breeze while letting the food settle. I mentioned wanting to Karaoke so they found the perfect place and we headed over. The Karaoke bar had a wait line so we happily waited around the corner enjoying the perfect skyline view of Manila while having a perfect glass of sangria. We cheered to the new friendships that blossomed within the last two days. (It was the last night with our new friends as they were leaving Manila the following morning). We vowed to come together again someday in a new city ... and y'all know I do not play around when it comes to travel and friends.
When we finally had access to our Karaoke room ...we went all out with our signing. Maureen's and I had a theme song during the start of our trip "I wanna dance with somebody" Whitney Houston so that was the first of many songs we butchered. We all sounded so awful but we were buzzed and carless. It was a night of bad singing and laughter... the kind that makes your belly hurt.
After an eventful day it was time for us to say "hasta luego" to our friends. We all hugged goodbye (driver included) and left with full hearts and a tremendous amount of happy memories (and pictures to show).
It's not everyday that you get to meet and experience a new city with people who have kind and genuine intentions. I'm not saying that you should hop on strangers cars in foreign countries... but I'm grateful for everything that came afterwards. ------------------------------------------------ If you somehow happen to be reading this Jedrick and Jerwin.... once again from the bottom of my heart, GRACIAS. Thank you to you and your beautiful family for being kind souls. You guys have a special place in my heart, forever. ---------------------------------------------------
Our last day in Manila was not as eventful as the previous days. We made it out to another outdoor shopping area and enjoyed Oysters and beers. We ended our day by going to our favorite massage place where we were once again greeted with warm smiles and actual bear hugs. This time we opted for a 2hour massage Thai/Swedish. It was our first time trying the Swedish massage and it was everything I never knew I needed. My entire body thanked me for the special treat.
The next morning we took a taxi to the airport and waved goodbye to Manila and thanked it for all the beautiful and not so beautiful memories.
------------------------------------------------- Maureen and I ended up having to go separate ways... and by that I mean the flight MNL/NRT only had one available seat. Maureen was the greatest person alive to let me take it. I felt like the world's worst friend hugging her goodbye at that moment but I had to make it back to Atlanta to baby sit my little nephew. So shoutout to her for being the greatest friend ever, I love you! (and I got my karma a few weeks ago when we were in Mexico... but I insisted she take the seat this time because my heart couldn't leave her behind twice!!).
WOAH, if you've made it this far.... I absolutely adore you! Thank you for traveling to Manila with me... I hope you were able to somehow feel what I felt, smell what I ate, see what I saw... through my writing and pictures. As I've said many times I have this blog not to recommend places to go... or things to do... but rather for you to really experience what it's like to travel with me... one huge mess haha.
ps. I can't wait for the next adventure.... stay tuned.
You, I have gotten better at not thinking of you. Some days I truly forget about your existence. Some days I wake up thinking about you... and other days I go to sleep thinking of what could have been.
No, it's not that I want you back in my life. I don't. I'm doing good without you. I'm moving on. I am happy.
It bothers me that you still make appearances in my mind. How long will it take for you to completely leave my mind? How long will the thoughts of you haunt me?
I've forgiven you without getting an apology. I've deleted you completely from my life and have no desire to ever cross paths with you. But it seems like my mind and I dare even say heart don't appear to be in line with my desires.
Why am I writing this, I honestly do not know. I've been sitting at the coffee shop writing about the topic of men who cheat and I can't get my thoughts together... because of you.
I am doing this for myself because you don't deserve my time of day and truth be told you've probably long forgotten about my existence. Which is fine ... because in a way so have I. Maybe I'm writing this as a way to purge my remaining emotions. ----------------------------------------------
Emotions sometimes frighten me. But I am human and I am allowed to feel. Which is why I'm slowly starting to embrace all of them. I cannot be mad at the fact that you come up to my mind every once in a while... all I can do is ask myself why? and process my feelings and move on. Shoving emotions away just like avoiding "tough" conversations only leads to bigger conflicts in the long run. So why not just crush it from the start...
If you are like me and truly give your heart away, it takes a while to fully get it back ... it takes a little longer to forgive... and even when you thought you'd already forgotten.. it takes a little bit longer to finally erase. Not because of the other person but because of what you gave. The pieces of you that you shared.. and the parts that you have to accept you'll never get back.
The beautiful thing about love is that you can find it again. You can start over. Time and experiences help you figure out who you truly are and what it is that you're looking for. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a better version of the love you never knew existed but always wanted.
If you are one to celebrate the day of love, I hope you enjoy it... because you deserve it. I personally think Valentines day was better when I was in elementary school and I'd get the coolest V-day cards/candy. But I might just be biased.
Love should be celebrated, everyday...!
If you're one of the lucky ones to have the kind of love everyone hopes to find.. cherish it. I promise you there's nothing out here. I'm not saying that all of the good guys/girls are taken.... but there is definitely a shortage. ----------------------------------------------
To answer my own question: Do all men cheat? NO, of course not! Only the idiots do.
Love always, A
PS. Thank you for reading... I hope this post wasn't too weird for you... because if I am being honest it was weird for me to put into words.