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    The Voyage

    ***Hello all! Wow! Took all of February off to refresh – literally! Been on vacation and still currently out of the country. I am so excited to start blogging again but first I want to take these first two weeks in March to update you all on our travels! I may have stopped WORK but I haven’t stopped taking my camera around. Looking forward to sharing all the memories we’ve been collecting. Some posts will be mainly photos, some I may choose to write a little more. Either way, thank you for following along!

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    Vacation time. I love America for many aspects, but one of the things I don’t care for is the vacation/time off that is considered “the norm”.

    TWO WEEKS A YEAR?!

    Are you kidding me? I know more and more companies are starting to understand that people need at least two months after working all year long to truly experience a vacation. Two weeks is ridiculous, especially when so many other countries take months off and it’s acceptable. You know who truly gets to enjoy California? People who aren’t from it. Apart from stay-at-home-mothers, it’s the tourists who are the ones that are always at the beach, amusements parks, sight-seeing, museums, landmarks… granted, tourists are usually at those places, but I have expressed in recent blogs that you can certainly enjoy where you live to the fullest, you can get that “tourist feel” without having to buy a plane ticket. Some times the best things are indeed, around the corner.

    I work a LOT. Yes I work from home, yes I do get to enjoy (scattered) time with my children, but to fully turn everything off? I have to physically get away. I’m talking… to a place where even my wifi is limited. A place where my phone is just on airplane mode so no texts or calls can get through or be made. I decided to vacation again in the Philippines because:

    1.) I have family there… lots. Over 30 first cousins on just my mom’s side.
    2.) I am from there – moved away at 6, but still have the strongest affinity towards things that tickle my senses… mainly taste and smell.. okay, I’m talking about FOOD.
    3.) From all the cousins come a bunch of second cousins, for my children. Second cousins who all have “yayas” aka: maids. No really, as I type this my daughter is having a play date. Play dates in this country? The kid comes over to your place… WITH a yaya.
    4.) Everyone has a driver. Yep. Drivers for every household, some more than one. The traffic in this country is insanity.. ever driven in Mexico? It’s at least 5x worse, you HAVE to be aggressive to get around. I have a lot of cousins who have never driven, and heck! If you grew up with only drivers, perhaps you wouldn’t know how to either. It’s indeed like Grand Theft Auto meets Super Mario Kart out there. I got my license at 16 and have been driving in the states for over 15 years.. I could NEVER drive in this country. Well, never say never.
    5.) Vacation homes. It’s very common for people to have beach homes or homes in the mountains to get away from the city on weekends. And those homes are staffed as well, and they make for great times and bonding with family. There are also so many HOLIDAYS celebrated in this country! Random holidays during the week where people are just off.. many extended weekends. People here LOVE to vacation, and they understand me when I say, “I’m here for two months.”
    6.) Because of all the help, it really is one of the only countries where I get to have alone time, time out with Jeff, and experience “vacation” as it should be. I would LOVE to take my kids to Paris, but I know I would be the type to want to have a few nights out with just my husband and not worrying about kids and their many needs. Until I can bring a nanny along, I just don’t see family European vacations happening any time soon. I applaud families who go to those places, and I am sure they know exactly what I mean by this. You can’t just leave your kids in the hotel room for the entire evening. I can see it now, “Amelia, Mommy and Daddy are going to check out a museum and then have a lovely wine pairing and dinner and go gaze at the stars and talk about all our wildest dreams… see you in the morning, don’t leave the hotel!” Haha! Could you imagine?

    7.) There is truly so much of the country I have yet to see. And being able to get guides there quickly and be around friendly faces works best for me. I am determined to get my kids used to different cultures and traveling.

    This year’s trek started from San Francisco. We took PAL (Philippine Airlines) because I wanted a one-way. I know many of you read through our flight details from last year, so this year I just couldn’t deal with the same since once again, Jeff was not going to be flying out with us. He had a few things to finish up and he was taking a flight a few days after. SO! I booked a flight that was ONE-WAY and it left at 9:30pm, arrived at 4:30am (Manila time).

    My parents dropped us off at the airport after dinner and stayed with us for another hour before we went through security. Ohhh the sympathy at the airport you receive when people realize you’re traveling alone on a long flight, the pity they show you. But! You get to bypass long lines, people let you go first, and once first class boards you get to follow right behind. It’s actually something I miss when I have to fly without them.

    The flight is about 15-16 hours and keep in mind, since they are ahead by a day, you skip a day as you fly out. Meaning if you fly out on a Friday, you arrive in Manila on a Sunday.

    The flight was delayed by only 45 minutes this time, any my kids looked tired. I didn’t get them a nap that day so they could sleep. We had another row to ourselves. This time for the take off I offered Amelia gum because (I’ve been told) that you chew gum during take off so that your ears won’t be popping. I’ve been doing that for years and it must work because I never have problems. So as I am giving gum secretly to Amelia, of course she shows her brother and he throws a bit of a fit. I make him promise ten times not to swallow it. To those who don’t know, Sebastian has been speaking in full sentences for several months now so he was very convincing… of course 20 seconds in he swallowed it because he said it tasted so good. That’s it! Back to plan A. Gummy worms! That’s what I wanted to do from the beginning. Gummy worms and they worked. We were on the runway… forever. The anticipation was crazy and we kept thinking lift-off was soon, so I miscalculated about 6 times. 6 gummy worms for each kid later, we were finally taking off. No popping ears… but now the sugar high.

    What’s wrong with me? Okay okay so it took Seb about 3 more hours to fall asleep. Kept him entertained with a movie on the flight and some crayons. In that timeframe he managed to spill an entire cup of water on my leggings, so yes, wet pants the entire flight (but I was thankful it was water!) and an whole tapioca pudding on my right foot. Through my shoes and socks.. tapioca pudding. Amelia slept after the first 90 minutes. I knew she would have a long sleep, and Sebastian has no regard for anyone when he sleeps, he will kick and push his way in to the comfiest spot, even if it means you have zero comfort completely. He’s a bit of a brut, but we love him. I once again layered 3 airline blankets on the floor in front of our seats, gave Amelia a couple mini airplane pillows, and she slept through for over 10 hours. When Seb finally slept, he was also out for about 12 hours. Yay! Only a couple hours left to go and Seb is asleep! All was well until we noticed the plane was taking a u-turn… to Guam! The pilot explained that all the lavatories on the flight weren’t working and he didn’t want us to be on the plane for two hours with none of them working… buuuuut explain to me why the detour to Guam was 90 minutes long and then we were stuck there for 3 hours? -_- I knew it was something else, everyone knew it was something else… but you know what? Better safe than sorry! Still though, we all paid so much extra for a one-way. 😀 Just saying!

    Instead of arriving at 4am we were there by almost 9am. So the last 4-5 hours I had to entertain the kids with their coloring books and movies… Sebastian changes his mind about the movie selection every 20 minutes. By the third change, I said no more. We got to Manila and immediately came to my Tita’s (aunt’s) and showered. All of us. Showered! I unpacked and we had lunch and then the kids (since they had been awake since Guam), were ready on Manila time for a nap between 1-3! We went to their cousins place for some play and dinner, and I just couldn’t make it. 7pm came around and I crashed. The exhaustion just hits you, jet lag is real. I woke up by 3am and couldn’t sleep .. While the kids were good to go by Day 1, it took me close to 5 days this time around to get over the jet lag. This would be another reason to add to why two weeks of vacation is just ridiculous. Almost a week had passed and with travel time and my jet lag, we would have lost half the trip if we had to be back in 8 days! I do not recommend coming out to Manila unless you give yourself at least 3 weeks.. 4 weeks ideally. Anywhere in Southeast Asia actually, and those who only get 1-2 weeks will all tell you, it wasn’t enough time. Looking forward to sharing more later! 🙂

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    ^snaps from the drive from the airport.

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    ^On request most mornings: mango, papaya, and a cappuccino!

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    ^barely keeping it together to stay awake..

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    ^Not even there 24 hours and Amelia gets her mani-pedi. She has had one every Monday since arriving… this kid.

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    ^I’ve taken the kids on so many of these rooftop swims I can’t count. I wanna say it’s at least 4x a week. We swim for an hour, shower up, then have lunch and they get a nap!

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