Catch up time!
18.12.2011 - 09.01.2012 30 °C
So I've been really rubbish at updating this... I could come up with a load of excuses, & I have been really busy with work, exploring Shenzhen, travelling when I can & socialising, but to be quite honest I've just been lazy!
I will (at some point!) add proper entries, at least about my trips (which are half written), but for now here's a summary...
For the Christmas holidays I ended up making a reasonably last minute decision to spend Christmas in Thailand with Caroline& Emma (who I work with) & Pablo (Emma's boyfriend). Definitely the right decision, & much better than spending Christmas by myself in chilly Shenzhen! We were in Bangkok for 8 days, & in that time we rode in a tuk tuk, went to the Grand Palace, went to quite a few temples, saw a giant lying down Buddha, saw a giant standing up Buddha, saw lots of Wats, had a massage on Khao San Road (& accidentally slid down the stairs afterwards!), went to Ayutthaya, rode elephants, did lots of shopping at street markets, went to a floating market, saw a snake show at a snake farm, stroked tigers, took a tiger cub for a walk, walked over the bridge over the River Kwai, went to the enormous Chaduchak market for more shopping, had Christmas dinner buffet at Anantara resort accompanied by lots of mai tais, did more shopping at Patpong night market where we admired the ladyboy parade & ate lots of pad thai. It was brilliant!
I then spent a wonderfully boring 10 hours overnight in Hong Kong airport, the only highlight of which was Skyping my family (this was on Boxing Day), before flying to the Philippines to go to Rhoda's wedding & meet up with Sam (my good friend & the maid of honour). We had an action packed itinerary for the 12 days there... We started in Manilla, where we met Andy (Rhoda's now husband) & Alisdair (the best man) & stayed in the Mandarin Oriental hotel where I enjoyed the luxury of a bath (not many apartments in China have baths, most just have showers, including mine). The next day we flew to Dumaguete where we were met at the tiny airport by Rhoda & Enting (a good friend of Rhoda's), after which we went to Rhoda's house for tea & met her family, then went to Thalatta Resort where we were staying for dinner, drinks & a chill out by the salt water pool overlooking the ocean. Bliss! The following few days were filled with swimming, manicures, lots of food & drink, some shopping, meeting more new people (the Kilty family & Stephen), going to Cebu to see/dive with/go out on a boat with whale sharks, lying in a hammock & looking at the stars, New Year in Dumaguete city at a Mexican restaurant with a scary Tina Turner wannabe & lots of great fireworks & great company followed by Grand Marnier & dancing on the balcony, walks along the seafront & around the city, looking at a half-sunken ship, a feast at Rhoda's house including a whole pig & Magic Sing.
This was followed by two days on Danjugan Island (a private tropical island) where we wandered around, watched bats in their cave & flying at dusk, gazed at the stars, saw tabons, starfish, hermit crabs, clown fish, anemones & many other sea creatures, watched the sun set over the ocean, swam in crystal clear lagoons, slept in cabanas, played the Roxanne drinking game, got taken around Danjugan & Turtle islands on a yacht, ate very fresh fish & got very wet on the trip back to the mainland.
The wedding details started in earnest then, with a dress fitting for the bridesmaid & maid of honour on the way to our next destination, Antulang Resort, where the wedding was held. That evening we had dinner & cocktails with everyone followed by Rhoda's hen do with me & Sam, during which a fair amount of Glenfiddich & Grand Marnier were drunk & a few drunken phone were calls made by the bride! The next 2 days were chill out days for those not in the wedding party; I spent the first morning playing card games with Rosy & little Alisdair while their mum Anne was ill with a migraine, then chilled out in the afternoon & had a nice relaxing massage in the evening, followed by a day of manicures & pedicures, lots of reading & watching the wedding rehearsal.
The climax of this holiday was of course the wedding - the whole thing was absolutely stunning. I had the very important job of tying the groomsmen's ties!
The following day was time to head home - or so I thought. When I got to the airport my flight was not only overbooked but also delayed for 2 hours, which would have meant getting back to Hong Kong at around midnight & home probably around 2am - with work in the morning. The airline offered to put me up in a hotel for the night if I took a flight the next day instead, so after checking with my headteacher that they could cope without me for one more day, I accepted. I ended up in a 5 star hotel with a suite all to myself & dinner & breakfast included plus a free return flight to Manilla valid for a year! It's just a shame I didn't have more time to enjoy my suite or the hotel facilities, as it was 10.30pm by the time I got there & I was picked up at 7am by the airport shuttle to catch my new flight. After finally arriving home around 4pm, I then had to go straight to the bank to get my card unblocked - I hadn't been able to use it the whole time I was in the Philippines, but lucky for me Sam is a very good friend & she paid for everything for me (I did of course pay her back as soon as I got back! & the grand total for 12 nights in the Philippines including internal flights, all food & drink, shopping, 2 nights on a private island & all accommodation was just over £500!).
I absolutely loved the Philippines & can't wait to go back there again, although it'll probably be in the October half term holiday now as my summer is completely booked up.
Ok, so this has turned into a rather long summary, so I think I'm going to stop there for now & do another summary for the rest of it another day!