Friday, December 12, 2008

Since we accidentally fell asleep so early last night, we woke up this morning at 4am. We decided we’d go ahead and get ready for the day, then head down to our little gas station cafe that we have been visiting every morning to get on the internet. The only problem was that it was raining outside. We searched the house up and down for an umbrella, but no luck. Nate really needed to be able to send some emails and make phone calls during the US business hours, so we decided we’d just walk in the rain.

We decided to go ahead and purchase some Skype minutes so that we could call cell phones and landlines instead of just other computers, and we were able to surprise our parents with a phone call! My mom was the only one who answered her phone, so she was the only one we talked to.

Afterwards, we went to breakfast at Leslie’s, which is right down the street. We had seen advertisements for it and heard it was nice, so we decided to give it a try. We were the only people in the entire restaurant, but they still had a full staff available. The restaurant was amazing! It was built for weddings and big events to be held there, and it was absolutely beautiful. There were big stone archways and columns, 2 stories with a balcony, and gorgeous tile. There were a few pictures up of weddings that have been held there, and they look like a fairy tale!

We ordered eggs and bacon, and it came with rice…. no surprise here! Everything comes with rice. Nate also ordered something with “chicken” in the title, just to see what it was. He asked the waiter, who couldn’t describe it in English, but he ordered it anyway. It ended up being a really thick soup-type dish with big chunks of chicken in it, still on the bone. It was kind of chunky looking and had a weird texture, but he said it was good and tasted like a really thick chicken broth. I didn’t have any, because my stomach was already feeling a little strange and I didn’t want to push it. After breakfast, we walked back home in the rain.

Manny was planning to pick us up at 8am to take us to Tagaytay, but we got a phone call from him just before 8 saying that we needed to move our outing to the afternoon because of the rain. (We’d heard that a typhoon might be moving in, but don’t worry, it never came.) We made plans to go visit Tagaytay in the afternoon if it cleared up, and he would pick us up around 1pm.

By about 9am, it was starting to catch up with us that we had been up since 4am. We decided to take a quick nap and were awakened around 11am by Sandra’s voice downstairs. She was there with several Filipinos to pick up one of the refrigerators In the guest house. (I’m not sure why there were 2 in there.) They had quite a time trying to get that refrigerator in the back of the little SUV they had brought with them, and when we left awhile later, they were still hammering away at the back seats of the vehicle trying to get them to come out.

We headed on over to the mall across the street to eat lunch and look for an alarm clock that we could actually hear. After testing out multiple alarm clocks to see how loud they were, we finally found 1 that would work. Except it’s bright pink with Hello Kitty on it. It was made in China and the English translation on it isn’t so great. It says “Benediction you friend. Happy to you.” Not sure what that means. And it was only P140, which is a little less than $3 I think. Maybe we’ll give the clock to Jane Bradley when we get home. She loves pink and kitties, and she can’t read. I think she’ll like it.

Manny picked us up at the mall and we made our way to Tagaytay, which is a little town on the ridge of a volcano. The altitude is a good bit higher there, so the temperature was significantly lower….which was kind of nice after all of the heat!! The great thing about Tagaytay is that you can see amazing views from there, and you can see the smallest volcano in the world. It’s actually a volcano in a lake inside a volcano inside another lake. Confusing enough for you?

Here’s a picture to clear it up:

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In this picture, we’re on the ridge of a big volcano. In the middle of that volcano is a lake, which you can see here, and a little volcano, which is in the center of the picture. It’s actually still active and they’re expecting another eruption at any time.

The first time we tried to get a glimpse of it, we were at Taal Resort, which normally has an outstanding view, but there were too many clouds.   We left there and went to a little market where Nate could buy some pineapple, in hopes that it would begin to clear up.

 It did, and we were so excited to catch a glimpse of Taal Volcano! Manny said that we could head up to People’s Park, where we could ride a shuttle to the highest point and get an even better view. But when we made it up there, the fog had settled back in. Oh well, that one little glimpse will have to do until we can come back to the Philippines next time!

We headed back down to Alabang (our barangay, or community inside the city of Muntinlupa), and we were able to see lots of smaller villages along the way. All of them were really poor little communities. One even had a sign when you entered that said “The village where love is all there is.” I took a picture of that sign, but I can’t find it right now…. hmm. I wonder where it went.

Anyway, we made it back to the guest house and decided we’d go see a movie. We walked over to the mall across the street again, which has several movies playing inside. I wish the Filipino movies were in English or had subtitles, because I would have loved to see a local movie. Unfortunately, they’re all in Tagalog, so we decided we’d just stick to a regular one. We decided to see “The Day the Earth Stood Still” because we recognized several of the actors in it (Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connally, Jaden Smith) and had heard a little about it in the media. I didn’t know the plot beforehand though, and if I had, I doubt we would have seen it. I won’t ruin it for you, but suffice it to say IT WAS TERRIBLE. Pick another movie.

Do you want to know something interesting about movies in the Philippines? First of all, they’re super cheap. Both of us went for about $5 or so. The movie started at 7:45, and we found out really quickly why they’re so cheap. 30 minutes of commercials. And we’re not talking about movie previews. Straight commercials. Apparently we were the only ones who weren’t aware of this trend, because we got to the theater right at 7:45, and we were the only ones in there. Nobody else even arrived until after 8pm, and most people didn’t show up until 8:15, right when the movie was beginning. So if you ever find yourself planning to go to a movie in the Philippines, remember this little tip: Go 30 minutes late.

When we got out of the theater at 10pm, the mall was FILLED with people. Well, it’s always filled with people, but it was even MORE full than usual. And this time, it was lots of teenagers and young people. Usually, the kids are in school when we’re there and it’s lots of moms with toddlers. This time, it was the younger crowd getting ready to go out for the night. I hear it doesn’t start slowing down until around 2am here, but we’re never awake late enough to see it! We walked back home in the dark and were surprised to find so many people out and about on the main streets and in our neighborhood. I guess it’s true that Filipinos know how to party and don’t ever go to sleep!

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