Originally I had planned to write this blog about our travels, but upon further reflection we decided that the kid’s should do it instead. What better home-schooling could one ask for, each child alternating day’s and writing about our adventures! Yes I helped with editing, but all of it was done while teaching them, as such, the poor grammar and spelling can be blamed on me! I did try to keep their writing style as unchanged as possible in order to better reflect the views and emotions of an 11 year old.
Our goal is to submit new entries about once a week. We hope you enjoy our stories and pictures!
February 10th , 2015
Our big day started with my Auntie Sandra dropping us off at the Vancouver International Airport.
We said goodbye and gave her a hug then headed to the the check-in counter.
It took us awhile to make sure everything was okay for the flight, but the lady at the check-in counter was very helpful. We then headed to the Business Class lounge to wait for our flight. They had a decent amount of food there, it was kind of like a Mini buffet, plus a full bar and coffee center. It was a real nice way to wait for our flight.
After we ate we waited for our flight to be called. Once it was called we headed over to gate 64 and waited to board. What started as a 10 minute delay, turned into a 20 minute delay. When it was time to board we gave the lady our boarding passes and started to walk on the plane. We said bye to our parents because they were seated in Business Class, and headed to the Premium Economy seats. We had a little trouble finding our seats, but the flight attendant was very helpful and showed us the way. We stored our carry-on’s under the seats and buckled up our seat belts. We were ready to fly!
My sister was nervous because she’s afraid of heights and unfortunately had the window seat. Being the awesome sister that I am, I traded seats with her and she was happy again. The Premium seats were very nice; they reclined, had a little foot rest, wider seats with a side table, and a little TV with a remote control and headphones. We got comfortable with pillows and blankets and settled in for a long 13 hour flight.
As our flight came to an end we quickly grabbed our carry-on’s and left the plane. We met our parents inside the airport and slowly made our way to the lounge as we were all very tired and needed a rest. We ordered some drinks and snacks and waited for our second flight. One hour passed and we were ready to board. This was only going to be a two hour flight to Manila in the Philippines, and my sister and I were flying in economy this time(Oh, the horror! Just kidding!), and my parents in business class (Again!).
It was not very comfortable, I had a window seat and my sister had the one beside me. The plane was having a lot of turbulence so I was feeling motion sick but I took deep breaths and started to feel better. Halfway through the flight, a male flight attendant came and asked, “Are you the Jones girl’s?” We replied, “Yes”, he then asked us to grab our carry-on’s and follow him to business class. We were puzzled, but did what he asked.
Well the puzzle was soon solved because he wanted us to have the experience of flying in Business class, oh my god! So we took a seat in front of my parents and he immediately served us some drinks and put our bags in the overhead bin. Thirty minutes passed and we arrived at our destination. What a great surprise and special treat, I could get used to this! It was a fast exit from the plane and we headed to collect our luggage.
We felt lucky that all of our luggage arrived safely. We left the building and got a taxi to the Microtel, our home for the night. We were all very tired and went straight to our room and opened up the door and went to turn the light on, but it didn’t work. So we called the front desk and asked for help. A man came and said you need to turn your light on using your room card and sliding it in a special reader near the door. Well that was new, time for bed!
FEBUARY 12th, 2015
A Day in Manila
The first day was pretty cool. We went down to have breakfast and the food was really quite good. For breakfast I had rice with a fried egg on top, shredded pork, some peas with bacon and onion, and for fruit, a yellow watermelon.
After breakfast we went to the third biggest mall in the world! It was called The Mall of Asia, DUN DUN DUH! It was huge, confusing and had an amazing food court. There was so many different kinds of food it was so hard to pick, but eventually we picked the one that looked the busiest. We brought the food back to our hotel and ate pork belly, a salad that tasted like bok choy, and pork terriyaki with rice.
After we ate we headed to the rooftop pool to suntan, swim and relax. We could see the boardwalk, the ocean, the liveaboard’s on their boats, and the big mall. We were all tired, jet lagged, and undecided on what to eat for dinner. We ventured back to the mall and walked aimlessly like zombies and finally decided on the worst choice of all! We brought back a bucket of KFC chicken! While we were waiting for the shuttle at the mall, I looked around and was wondering why everyone was dressed so fancy, apparently Manila comes alive at night! It was so busy with traffic, people, honking horns, and nightlife!
I have never seen Tyla so tired in my life, she could barely keep her eyes open long enough to eat a drumstick. We ate our chicken and all fell asleep like babies. What a day!
FEBRUARY 13th, 2015
Departure day to Puerto Princessa on Palawan Island
We had another amazing breakfast of pancakes, whipped cream, maple syrup and bacon.
We headed to the airport and noticed that it was cloudy and raining so it felt a bit like we were back in Vancouver, except for humidity! When we arrived at the airport we noticed that this domestic flight to Palawan was going to be packed like sardines. So many people, intercoms blaring, the noise was crazy! We got our boarding passes and waited an hour and a half to board Cebu Pacific Airlines. While waiting I enjoyed my smoothie and wrote in my blog. We gave the nice lady our boarding passes, headed to the plane, sat in our seats, and after an hour and a half, finally arrived in lush Puerto Princessa on Palawan.
We grabbed our luggage and rode on a tricycle car thing that was unique, small, and nothing like I have seen before. We looked pretty funny with all of our suitcases and the four of us crammed into two of them. It was so much fun that I asked my dad how much extra it cost for these special rides, he laughed and told me it was only $2!!! Fifteen minutes later we arrived at our hotel called Dolce Vita (Sweet Life!), were given a welcome drink, settled into our room, and then enjoyed the warm pool and waterfall. By the pool side we enjoyed tuna sashimi, french fries, spring rolls, and calamari. It was so delicious and inexpensive. With the beers and drinks we had, the total bill for lunch was under $30. We played around in the pool, relaxed some more and then needed to get supplies for our house rental in Port Barton. Because there are no stores in Port Barton, we shopped for some fresh produce, some treats for the kid’s we met, and some local rum and wine for my parent’s.
We went back to our room, rinsed off in the shower and got dressed to go out for dinner at Kalui’s. This seafood restaurant was pretty cool, they asked us to take our shoes off, so we did and followed the waiter to our table. The food was incredible! There was so much food; fish, shrimp, stuffed squid, authentic sea kelp salad, and a refreshing fruit dessert. Another fabulous day in paradise!
FEBRURARY 14th, 2015
Villa Marguerita, Port Barton
I woke up exited to drive to the house we’re renting. So I got up and immediately packed my bags. After I finished packing, I took a shower and was ready for the day!During breakfast, the owner of the hotel came bye and said “Hello! I bought every girl here flowers for Valentines day! So here you go!.” That was very kind of him to do that.
After we finished breakfast we walked back to our room grabbed our bags and headed to the to the Van we had rented for our 3 hour drive to Port Barton. The drive was very beautiful and lush jungle, and I was surprised how mountainous it was. In some area;s it looked like we were in the movie Jurassic Park! The last half of the ride was on a very rough road through the jungle and over a mountain. I was a little nervous but excited at the same time.
When we arrived in Port Barton, I was surprised at how small it was, no stores other than little candy shops, no banks, and no big hotels. It was a beautiful setting and we arrived at Villa Marguerita I couldn’t believe how nice it was. We had the whole place to ourselves even though the house could sleep nine people. There was a bar and dining area at the front with pool table, ping pong, darts and a big bar. They also had a pet monkey and a 12′ albino Python as pets! We were greeted by Arnold and Marilyn auntie Eva, shown our rooms, and then headed to the beach for a walk. What a beautiful little bay! We were served a great lunch, relaxed and unpacked during the afternoon and then finished with an awesome dinner. This week was going to be fun!
FEBUARY 15th, 2015
I woke up to the sound of the crashing waves and the sun rising, I felt refreshed and excited. Once I was finished getting ready I went to have breakfast down at the dining area/bar. We had an omelet, sweetbread, and tang. The local’s think it’s orange juice but it’s just sugar water.
After breakfast, we went on a boat trip up the coast to a waterfall. You had to hike a half an hour from the beach to get there, and when we arrived we went swimming, and went under the water fall. It was beautiful, cool and refreshing.
After the falls we went to a place called Gilligan’s Island, another place owned by the same people that own the place we had rented. We met some people from Alberta, and they were really nice, and my dad actually knew a friend of theirs. What a small world. After we hung out for a little bit, it was time to go eat lunch, so we headed back to our place. When we arrived, our host and chef, Marilyn had lunch ready. We ate sashimi, soup, rice, and some grilled pork. She is an amazing cook and everything was delicious. When we finished eating we went swimming in the ocean, paddle boarding, and had so much fun laughing and getting dumped in the water by dad. When we got out we had Buko coconut, which is a young coconut with lots of water and a super soft meat inside. They are so delicious and refreshing, and my favorite drink in the whole world. When I finished my coconut I learned how to play billiards and I guess I did a pretty good job.
After I played for a little bit it was time to eat dinner. We had shrimp, potatoes, meat, and rice, and once again I was so stuffed. Another fun and exciting day!
FEBRUARY 16TH, 2015
I knew today was going to be a relaxing day with no excursions planned. Lots of reading, swimming, and paddle boarding! I just recently learned how to paddle board and I love it! The other day, my family and I took a boat to see a waterfall here. The people we met at Gilligan’s Island were going to stop by for a visit today, which worked out because we didn’t have any plans. They arrived and we showed them around the property and showed them the snake and the monkey. The young adults asked Mikayla and I if we wanted to go to the store with them. Mom and Dad told us to go and get some snacks so we showed them where the store was. When we got back to the house, we had a few snacks and went for a swim. the people we met had to leave so we said our goodbye’s and off they went. the rest of the evening was lots relaxing.
FEBRUARY 17th, 2015
I woke up to the sun shining through my blinds, another nice sunny day. I went down to go have breakfast. My dad planned for us to go scuba diving today and I was a little nervous but also very excited. This would be our first dives since we were certified in Mexico last month. So we gathered our gear and walked two doors down to Aquaholics , a dive center. We borrowed BCD’s, regulators, weights, and went on their boat to do our first dive at Exotic Island. It was nice because there was a couple on the boat being certified and we got to listen in on our way to the dive spot. It was a nice refresher.
Our first dive was a reef dive with visibility at 25 ft,our dive to 45ft, which lasted for 45 minutes. We saw some cool things like a lion fish, clown fish, parrot fish, and a lot of other fish too. There was a lot of different colors of coral, yellow, blue, orange, and green. Some of the corals looked like huge tables, some looked like brains, spikes, volcanoes, mushrooms, and white stacks. We also saw blue starfish as big as my hand, and a prickly blue sea-star. Our dive master Irene was very helpful and nice.
Our second dive was a wreck dive at Albaguen Island. The visibility was 20ft and we went down 67ft for 32 minutes. We jumped in the water from the boat and went down using the anchor line as a visual reference. We had to swim down a little bit to get to the wreck which was 100ft long. We arrived at the bow of the wreck and looked around. The ship was on a slope and went much deeper but we just looked in the first hold and around the bow. We went to go see some striped shrimp that Irene told us about. She told us to take our gloves off and put our hands on the wreck so we did. Once we put our hands down the shrimp came and cleaned our hands, it was so cool! When we were heading back up to our boat we saw a lion fish, a white fish with black poka dots, and a sea cucumber that looked like a snake.
Our last dive would be a turtle dive going off the beach. We needed to eat lunch and have a longer surface interval for our third dive, so we went to a beach called German island. It was so beautiful, just like a postcard. There was palm trees, a nice sandy beach, and lots of people. We had a very tasty lunch of chicken curry, a different fish curry, and some vegetables. It was time for our third dive. We had visibility of 30ft, dove to 64ft, and lasted 44minutes. We saw four turtles and my sister touched one, it was so amazing! We saw clown fish in their anemone homes, scorpion fish, and colorful seaweeds.
We arrived back at Villa Marguerita exhausted and had dinner of pizza with pineapple and ham, and another pizza with mushrooms, peppers, and onion. I enjoyed the evening playing billiards with Chezka, Arnold’s 14 year old daughter. Another glorious and exciting day in paradise!.
FEBRUARY 19th, 2015
Island Hopping and Photo shoot
Today was going to be filled with a lot of activities. I woke up and packed my bag for snorkeling and island hopping trip. We headed to our first destination called Twin Reef. We arrived, put on all our snorkeling gear, and jumped into the water! The visibility was great, lots of fish and coral, I even saw a turtle!
We went to one more snorkeling spot but the visibility was not as great as the other place, but still good.
After we finished Snorkeling we headed to Paradise Island. The owner of the property we were staying at had hired a professional photographer t take some new promotional video and pictures for him. He asked us if we would like to model on the paddle boards and we said yes! It was actually pretty fun, I fell off a few times, but we ended up getting some great shots and video. After we finished the photo shoot we headed over to a picnic table under thee coconut tree and had another great lunch.
After lunch we got on the boat and headed home. We were all exhausted and ready to relax and read a good book. After about an hour of reading and napping, we took a seat at the dinning table and were served a delicious a platter of crabs and shrimp, with a side of seafood noodles. None of it went to waste! We finished dinner and went straight to our rooms for a good nights sleep.
FEBUARY 20th, 2015
We got up early, finished eating, and left for another snorkeling trip, this time to Aquarium Reef. The name of this reef truly describes it’s name, it had the clearest water, and the most variety of fish I have ever seen. We saw so many types of fish; clown fish, parrot fish, coral, anemone, starfish, and my mom saw a giant squid that was 4ft. Long!
When we finished snorkeling we went to another reef called Twin Reef Two. My sister, my dad, and I didn’t go in but my mom did. She spent an hour in the water poking her head up and telling us to come in. She said she saw an eel, a huge jelly fish with twin arms that curled up which was about two feet in size. She saw another jelly fish that had a square type head , colored white and had long tentacles about 1 ft. When my mom got out she found the three of us snoozing on the boat, she woke us up and we headed back to German island to have lunch. We had barbecued fish, chicken, salad, rice, and bananas. With full bellies we suntanned, read, and relaxed in the hot sun. We went back to Villa Marguerita just in time to watch the python snake eat a chicken. We cooled down in the water and enjoyed our time paddle boarding. A great dinner, then another early night of reading.
FEBRUARY 21st, 2015
Last Day in Port Barton
Well, today started of with a delicious breakfast. It was our last day and I am sad to leave this place. After breakfast,we got our books and headed to the loungers for the start of a relaxing day. After a good amount of reading, I decided to go for a walk down the beach with my sister and mom. It was nice to have some girl’s time.
By the time we got back, lunch was already ready. Wow time sure flew bye! We had chicken curry, squid, rice, and a delicious salad. Marilyn the manager is such an amazing cook. I haven’t eaten one thing here that I didn’t like. The people that work here Arnold, Auntie Eva, and Assur are so friendly and kind, in fact all the Philippino’s we have met are like that.
Also, the rooms were always nice and clean, they even had a small fan right bye the bed to keep you cool at night under the mosquito netting. But there is no power here until 6:00pm to 12:00am, so everyone is on solar. Later on I did some paddle boarding (which I am now really loving!), and the water was crystal clear, you could see all the little fish and jellyfish under the board!
When I got back I played a little bit of soccer with my sister and then dinner was served! Wow there was so much delicious food! We were having dinner with the family that works here as a farewell feast. There was a platter of fish, shrimp, crab, and mudbugs. There was also a salad, rice, and some leftover curry. After we finished eating we were all stuffed, but we stayed up and played pool with the family and had a great last night together. I will miss them all.
FEBRUARY 22nd, 2015
Port Barton to El Nido
Our last breakfast in Port Barton was eggs, bacon, and rice, dad’s favorite! What a great last meal Marilyn prepared for us. When we finished eating I played billiards with Arron, Arnold’s nine year old son. We said good bye to moi moi, Arnold’s pet monkey who was as cute as a button. We gave hugs to everyone else, Aunty Eva started crying and said I’m gonna miss your family.
When we got in the van I immediately turned the air conditioning on, yay! Cold air. Now were taking a new route to El Nido. The weather was sunny with a little bit of clouds. We saw lots of cool stuff on the way there. We saw egrets eating in the rice fields, water buffalo being used to flatten out dirt to plant rice, and a person walking their buffalo on the side of the road with a rope. We saw other water buffalo pulling cement blocks, and bamboo poles in carriages.
On the side of the road people were drying out rice and other people selling it in big sacs. We drove three and a half hours to get to El Nido. In the middle of that we stopped to go to the restroom in Tay Tay, you had to pay 5 pesos to go to the bathroom and the attendant gave you a few squares of toilet paper, can you believe it! After we did our duty we went to get ice cream, yay! We haven’t had ice cream since our trip from Vancouver to Hong Kong.
I was so tired in the van that I fell asleep. My mom woke me up and said for me to go in the back to sleep, so I did. Sound asleep I fell off one of the chairs that was removable when we turned a sharp corner. My mom had to fix it, it was quite funny and all of us had a good laugh.
While we were driving I noticed that there were no cars but there were motorcycles, trikes, vans, and buses. I saw that someone was riding on the roof top of a bus, I guess there’s no seatbelt law. We finally arrived at Ashok Hotel in El Nido, which was located in the middle of town. We were lucky my dad got a room because it was Chinese New Year and people were sleeping on the beach because there were no rooms available.
We met Ashok, his wife and baby, the owners of the hotel. Our room had one bed, a cute bathroom, the room was very small, the only decorated thing on the wall was a fan. We walked around and I noticed that it was very busy, people everywhere, trikes honking, people trying to sell things, it was crazy. We went to the Art Cafe to have lunch. I had a citrus drink, bread with melted cheese, garlic and tomato on top. After we ate we looked around for a little bit. Then we went back to our hotel and relaxed for a while, reading and doing some homework . Everyone started getting hungry after a while so we went to go find a place to eat. We went to an Italian restaurant called Little Italy. I had lasagna, my mom had pizza, dad and my sister had hamburgers that were out of this world, sadly the caesar salad was a disappointment. What a great meal and a nice change from the local food we had eaten all week.
Next Blog……..El Nido diving, snorkeling and island hopping!