This year I headed to the Philippines for my week vacation. Many had suggested that I should visit the country since I got to Gwangju. It was a well-deserved week of relaxation.
I arrived in a drizzly Manila at two in the morning. The metered taxi from the airport to the hotel took around 30 minutes. I only stayed in Manila one full day and two nights at the Leesons Residences Hotel in Malate. The whole time I was in the city it did not stop raining. I did very little sightseeing, starting first with a trip to the National Museum. Just outside of Intramuros, the museum exhibits wonderful historical, archaeological, and ethnographic material on the Philippines. After spending the morning in the museum, I made my way to Intramuros, the oldest district in the city, which the Spanish fortified. The walk in this area was nice and quiet. I ate fried calamari and cow tongue and tried my first San Miguel at Mitre, across the street from San Agustin Church. I spent the rest of the day exploring Intramuros, heading up to Manila Cathedral-Basilica and the Plaza Roma. After I dried out a bit over a cup of
coffee at the northern end of Intramuros, I headed back to my hotel to go to bed early.
The next morning I made a very early trip to the airport to catch a flight down to Iloilo City. The flight was just around an hour, and, after touchdown, I headed to the Midtown Hotel for the night. I walked around the hotel’s neighborhood for a little bit and had dinner at the Chinese/Philippine restaurant at the hotel’s lobby. Again, I went to bed early so I could catch the 7am ferry to Bacolod City.
After arriving in Bacolod City, I took a taxi over to the bus terminal to catch a bus heading south to Sipalay City. The ride was relaxing and provided great sights of Negros Island. Five hours later, I jumped on a habal habal (motorcycle taxi) to Artistic Diving Resort in Punta Ballo Beach. My three days on the resort and beach were wonderful. There was great weather the first two days, with only Thursday providing some amazing rainstorms. The sunset was beautiful on this beach. I felt like I had a private beach of my own since the resorts on the beach
had barely any guests. The resort also served delicious food. I spent my time in Sipalay walking the beach, taking swims in its waters and at the resort’s great pool, and catching up on my reading.
I started my trip back to Gwangju with a predawn, 11-km motorcycle ride to Sipalay City through the jungles of Negros Island, followed by: a crowded and friendly 6-hour bus ride through the beautiful Philippine countryside to Bacolod City; a peaceful, 1.5-hour ferry ride across the Guimaras Strait to Iloilo City; a long and rainy taxi ride through the flooded streets of Iloilo City to the city’s airport; a quiet 3-flight (Iloilo-Manila, Manila-Beijing, Beijing-Seoul), 24-hour (including layovers) voyage to Incheon airport; and finally a quick 4-hour bus ride south to Gwangju. The continuous forty-hour trip was a definite highlight of the vacation.
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