Our first day in Palawan was the best of our entire trip! We took a quick flight via Cebu Pacific Air first thing in the morning, and brought (almost) the entire fam. After our arrival to our hotel, we had to leave quickly. Though we had originally booked a city tour of Puerto Princessa, our new found love of diving led us to contact someone local the day prior to see what the waters of Palawan had to offer.
And oh, did it offer a lot. We broke away from the rest of the group, picked up the dive equipment from the dive instructors’ gorgeous home, took a short ride, picked up some lunch and water, and arrived at Pristine Beach. Literally–that’s the name of the beach. And for good reason.
Unfortunately, Mark had me leave my phone and camera behind. So I don’t have any photos!
The dives were great, we did one for forty five minutes, ate lunch, then did another dive for the same amount of time. We went down as deep as 18 meters during the first dive, but during the second we didn’t have to go nearly as far: there was a full wall of reef going down as deep as we could see.
After diving, we rested at the hotel, played some foozeball, and I discovered banoffe. BANANA IN MY FROZEN COFFEE.
That night, all 12 of us piled in a van and headed to go firefly watching.
They fed us a traditional Filipino dinner, and then we got on boats for the tour. The boats were row boats, and only four people, including the guide, were allowed on each boat.
During the tour, the guide asked if we see fireflies where we come from, then asked us if we see them less often now than we used to. Growing up and spending time in my cousin’s neighborhood in northern Corpus Christi, I saw many. But it really has been a long time.
The guide explained to us that fireflies are a sign of a healthy environment, free of pollution. They’re a sign of good air. No wonder it’s been a while. Kind of sad.
Fireflies were everywhere, and he would use a simple red light to make them shine more brightly: with his light, he looked to them to be a firefly as well. The stars shined brightly. It was gorgeous.
THEN, the tour guide threw us for a loop. “You may notice the stars shining brightly, and of course the fireflies. But they aren’t the only things that shine here in this river. If you put your hand in the water–”
We woke up at 3 a.m. our first day in Manila to head back to the airport we arrived at less than a day prior. On the first flight of the day, we headed to Boracay.
Lately, Boracay has gotten a bad rep for being overcrowded and overrated. The week before we arrived was the Easter holiday–the busiest weekend of the year, so we may have gotten a different side of the island. We really enjoyed it.
You can’t just fly into Boracay. We had to take a van to a speedboat to another van to get to our hotel. Mark’s dad, who we were there with, along with his girlfriend, told us that it wasn’t too long ago when you had to take a tricycle, get in a ROW boat, then take another tricycle to get to white beach. Which is a little like… But for partying, which is amazing and when I started to understand why the Philippine Department of Tourism has declared their tagline, “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Continue reading “Honeymooners: Boracay’s White Beach”→
After visiting Fushimi-Inari, we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for a traditional tea ceremony. It was downtown and near rush hour, so we were able to see the hustle and bustle of the city on our way.
Our first order of business on day three was to get our butts over to Fushimi Inari Shrine. This shrine is in honor of Shinto, the God of Rice, and if you’re married to an Asian like I am, you’d totally understand why this shrine would just HAVE to be a big deal. It’s one of several thousand shrines dedicated to the god, but by far the most important. Though we arrived early, it was crowded right away.
Our second day in Kyoto, we again woke up far before the crack of dawn. After we ate and it was late enough for us to begin our day, we headed toward Arashiyama to see the bamboo groves and monkey park. Arashiyama is a ways away from downtown Kyoto, so we had to take a subway and a train.
Technically, day one of our honeymoon was when we arrived at Kansai International Airport in Osaka. We were completely disconnected from the modern luxuries that allow us to stay out of panic and not get lost when Mark and I realized that I completely failed to write down the address of our hotel–in English or Japanese–which was a good 102 kilometers away. (To Americans like me, I’ll save you the Googling: 63 miles!) We took the train according to my half-finished notes, found ourselves in Kyoto station, and I found myself nearly hyperventilating as we tried to figure out how we were going to navigate this city based on my half-finished notes. Always a problem solver, I managed to find tourist information and a shuttle service to Westin Miyako Kyoto.
It was about 6 p.m. Kyoto time when we were in our hotel room, but about 4 a.m. Houston time. Though I had slept for hours upon hours on the plane, I still was exhausted and promptly PASSED OUT with the lights on.