First, hi & hugs to Karen31.
Maryea: re Philippines - We flew in to Manila of course, but after a few days around there (visited Taal Volcano, Tagaytay), we went north to Panagbenga flower festival (lucky fluke of timing...) in Baguio City. We struck up a conversation on the bus (took 5 hours just getting out of Manila since it was a holiday and EVERYONE was headed to Baguio City) and when we got to Baguio City, there was NO PLACE to stay, seriously. We thought we might have to bed down in a park under a tree... Our new friend tried helping us look for a place, but no luck... He phoned his parents and they said come and stay at their place, sorry but they only had a mattress on the floor for us as it was packed with family coming for the parade & festival. We enjoyed our visit with them immensely; they were so kind and made us breakfast in the morning and would not take any money for our stay. We got up at dawn along with everyone else and walked the back streets taking pictures of everyone readying their floats - covering them with fresh flowers in amazing designs. A great experience, then we left for Sagada and caving, arriving there in time (again by fluke) for a serious fertility festival procession for the local rice god to bless the harvest. Everyone (locals & us) along the roads & paths had to turn their backs and not witness the actual passage of the statue to the fields (and the other locals asked us not to turn & take photos after they had passed - which we complied with of course.) Then on to Banaue, where we hired a local private guide to take us through the UNESCO rice terraces in Ifugao country. We also went to Malapascua Island (famous for thresher sharks and diving) and Cebu City and then on to Bohol to see the Chocolate Hills where we met people from Tagbilaran City and decided to do a side trip to their town. We have stayed good friends and still correspond with her & her daughter (her daughter is the same age as my nephew.)
We didn't head further south due to Muslim insurgents/gov't fighting. Everyone local suggested it was safer just to stay away from those areas as they had been kidnapping tourists there for international attention & money. Some had been killed, too.
Love to go back...
At goal or below since March 5, 2014