My aunt is a nut-so driver. I think I saw my life flash before my eyes at almost every turn she made. So on my trip, I told my grandparents that I would let them take me to Kamay Ni Hesus, which translates into the Hand of Jesus. It was a perfect way to end my week in the Philippines since it's Holy Week. I would have imagined there would be more people, but I guess they were there the day after I went. I won't complain. Having a lot of people in an area like that where it's already extremely hot wouldn't have been a fun day for me.
To get to this area, we had to pass through the mountains. I took a lot of footage of the areas we passed through so I could show a bunch of my classmates what it looks like in a third world country. The drive up the mountain was beautiful. Everything was green and luscious. On the side of the road, there would be tinderas that sold food and drinks, but we never stopped at any of those places. I don't know if my stomach could take that kind of cooking.
When you get there, you have to climb over 260 steps to get to the statue of Jesus. At each level, there are different scenes from the 12 Stations of the Cross. I passed a lot of prayer groups on the way up. Many of which were praying a different prayer at each station. It was interesting to see after being in America. I feel like a lot of the friends that I've made aren't very religious, or they don't show it like the typical Filipino families do. So seeing the strength in faith that these Filipinos have was astounding. I didn't stay at the top for very long. I felt like the sun was beaming down on me trying to melt me where I stood. I said a short prayer and left. I'm not one to pray for very long, or often. When I do pray, I pray for usually 4 things: my family, Michael & his family, my friends, and if I have any patients, I pray for them too. It's not a long ordeal, but enough to let Him know that those are my wishes.
Claire and I made it down and were looking for the rest of my family. We ate Halo Halo from Laila's Canteen. Then we all grouped up to go to our next stop. We ended up waiting awhile because my Lolo (grandfather) had disappeared and we didn't know how to reach him. He ended up coming back 15 minutes later with an ice cream cone in his hand and was like, "Oh boy, I finally got my freaking ice cream!"
For lunch we went to Isdaan Floating Restaurant. I remember coming here when I was younger with my cousins, and it was just as I remembered it. You walk on floating bamboo to a hut. They lay out giant banana leaves on the table, and that's where they put the food. You pretty much order a feast for your family, and it's kamayan (when you eat with your hands). We ordered so much food there! While we were eating, there was an act going on behind us. A group of dancers were performing, and then a group of what I could only call "acrobats" performed. I wouldn't really say they were acrobats, more like, poorly trained stuntmen (and woman). After them, there were two guys on stilts who came out to perform. One of the guys on the stilts actually fell because he got caught in the bamboo. No one was hurt, but that ended the show pretty quickly.
All in all, it was a pretty good trip. I wouldn't have gone to it if it weren't for my grandparents though. But it was worth it go see what my grandparent's lives are all about in the Philippines. I guess it was good to see something that could strengthen my faith as well, so definitely worth it.
I've been blessed with the opportunity to be able to travel halfway across the world from America to the Philippines so I could visit my family. My grandparents and auntie made this trip even more exciting by planning a trip to visit Cebu, a southern area of the Philippines. It was beautiful to say the least. I've never been more awed by natural beauty than I was by the clear waters, palm trees, and white sands of Cebu and Bohol. Although my time was short here, I'd gotten to see and experience so much.
Exploring is something that is difficult in a person's life when they become busy. In just a short 1.5 months I'm going to be commissioning into the Army as a Nurse. Two goals that I have been working hard towards for the past four years. I have never dedicated myself so much to two goals, and to graduate with honors is something that I will definitely hold my head up high for. Day after day, night after night, I would spend countless hours studying and preparing myself for exams, reports, research, and clinical rotations. Countless cups of caffeine consumed, a worrisome amount of pizza and tacos eaten , and all the hours of sleep that I'd lost... all paid off. Well, they will.
So I just decided to treat myself to something even bigger. A getaway. A getaway from anything that . could cause me any worry. Yes, I keep bringing it up like I haven't talked about it before, but it's just something that's really amazed me. I finally took time for myself. When I say myself, I really mean myself. I'm here with my grandparents, but they are more like the financers in the background just watching me go out and doing the exploring. Which I am extremely grateful for by the way.
Even if my life gets busy in the next couple of months, and it's busy for the next couple of years whether it be more schooling, work, family life, or starting a family of my own... I hope that I continue to have the opportunity to explore this world to a greater extent. Who said that one quote? "The world is a book, and those who don't travel only read one page." Well, whoever said that, props to them. This book is probably the only book I want to continue to read.
This vacation has been a long time coming. For the past few years, I'd been feeling like I'd been drowning in one thing or another. Whether it was emotions, school, family life, social life, or anything else that could possibly cause me to have an anxiety attack. Lately, I've been getting out doing things that I enjoy like hanging out with friends, spending weekends away from home, and now, traveling abroad. I came to the Philippines to hang out with my family, and I'm spending three days in Cebu with my grandparents. My grandparents are getting pretty old, and they don't really do the things that I'm here to do, so I'm going to be doing a lot of the exploring alone.
My Lola (grandmother) made a statement today that made me think, "Jakki is going to be lonely going out there." At first, that's kind of what I felt like. I felt a little lonely. I had wanted to be hanging with someone, anyone. Preferably Michael, lol. Then I just said "screw it." I went out to the lagoons and swam for a little bit. I laid out in the sun for a little bit. Then I went to the beach. I went to the beach and started feeding fish day old bread. There were three older adults at the beach who were kind of including me in their little hangout session with the fishies. When they left, I felt better about being alone. I spent a few more minutes at the beach, and then I went back to the lagoons.
I let myself go. I let my self just float. Then this funny thought came to me head as I was in the lagoon floating. Back before I started teaching swimming, the one thing I couldn't do was relax enough to let myself float. Yet here I was, three years later, floating halfway across the world. Some metaphorical aspect hit me as I was staring at the sky. I was floating there, and the feeling of loneliness left me. I felt this peaceful feeling of being able to just be there with myself, detached from the world, alone with my thoughts, yet still feel loved by those in my life.
My life is at a point where there is nothing that is weighing me down. I'm doing great with my academics, the problems that I've had with my family have finally been fixed, Michael and I are completely happy with each other's company, I have an amazing group of friends, and I'm about to embark on a career path that'll definitely offer more opportunities.
Wave after wave of problems, I managed to stay afloat. Just like those lyrics from Kehlani's Be Alright song. "Someone once told me babe, when the tide gets high, you just get low. Hold your breath and take it slow. Yes I might get wet, I might get thrown, but I'll resurface on my own."
During my stay in the Philippines, I went out with my mom's family. We rented this big van to go to Bato Springs. The drive took about 2.5 hours with traffic, even though we left "early" in the morning. It's located in the middle of what seemed to be a jungle. There were so many people there! It's never occurred to me how different the "cost" of something could be to two different people. I think it was either 75 or 100 pesos to enter the entire park. That's almost $3.00 here in the United States. That is a complete steal for us as Americans, but for most Filipinos, it's considered a luxury to be able to go to a place like this.
When we got there, I wasn't anticipating on being the only Filipina in a bathing suit. In the United States, people will shoot you funny looks if you go to the lake in jean shorts and a t-shirt and jump in. In the Philippines, all eyes were in me because I seemed to be the only female there without a t-shirt on. I heard cat-calls, and saw people trying to deliberately take a selfie with me in the background. I felt very strange, but I tried to think nothing of it. I just made sure that I was very aware of who was around me, and that I was never walking alone.
The springs were FREEZING. I felt like there was enough shade to be comfortable in the heat, so stepping into the water wasn't very relaxing. It actually hurt my body how cold the water was. I could only stay in the water for a short period of time. Me, my cousins, and my God son walked along the entire springs. My suggestion for coming here is to bring a pair of those slip-on shoes that you can wear in the water so you don't have to hassle with slippers. The sidewalk was really hot, and there were rocks everywhere. My God son Jakki had the time of his life splashing water all over us. There were waterfalls that we were able to sit and stand in. The water felt like a free aqua-massage!
When we were tired from swimming and taking a bunch of videos, we sat down for lunch. My auntie cooked fish and packed rice. We also had a lot of snackies. Renting a table was about $10.00. This included securing the area, the tables, and the chairs. As you can see, there's a lot of us, so $10.00 went a long way with what we received for it. I wish my cousin Marsean wasn't so busy with schoolwork, but I'm glad he came out anyways. I also wish my older cousins were able to come out with us, but sadly they had to work. It was an overall fun time with my mom's side of the family. I'm glad we were all able to enjoy the day together.
So I have been non-stop on planning this trip for me and my friends. I have been going on this for a couple of weeks now, and I was so happy when details were finalized. My friend Madison and I wanted to take our boyfriends out snowboarding because the school was offering $20 tickets to Silver Mountain for College Daze. I love this deal, and I'm so happy that I was able to take advantage of it for the second time around. We left the house around 06:00 AM, and it's about a 45 minute drive from Spokane. When we got there, we convinced Ryan to rent a snowboard instead of skis, and we're glad he did, because he did so well on the mountain.
Of course Michael wasn't going to let Ryan or any of us show him up, so he decided to snowboard in his hedgehog onesie. Leave it to my boyfriend to be the center of attention on the mountain. We were supposed to meet up with another group of people, but they ended up doing their own thing, and to be honest, I'm glad they did. It was hard enough to keep four of us together when we're all at different skill sets.
I had improved so much this winter in my snowboarding. I think all it took was Michael to get me a board that was just for me. Fitted to my feet, set at my stance, and had my awesome doughnut on it. It was here at Silver Mountain that I was able to take on my first Black Diamond run. I forgot what it was called, but we somehow ended up there, and we wanted to go down because you could just see all of the fresh powder calling out to us. It wasn't the easiest boarding down it, but it was definitely fun falling in all of the powder. I think going down harder slopes like that really challenge you to pull yourself together and learn how to carve.
The runs on Silver Mountain seemed shorter compared to the mountains I've been to before, but it could be due to the fact that I'm going down them faster. I really liked the runs on this mountain. They weren't too hard, and they weren't too easy. It was just right, and if you did want to step up your game like we did, there are always runs to do that. I would definitely go back if I had the chance.
We got a lot of good footage on the GoPro, but I think I'll get around to editing that at another time. We ended our day and retreated to the hotel I booked. There were supposed to be more of us staying there, but like I said, I'm glad it ended up just being us four (Michael, Madison, and Ryan). We grabbed some liquor from the store, and we spent the rest of our night hanging out in the hot tub to relax, and going up to the room and playing Rotten Apples. It was actually really funny to play with everyone, and even though it's the "step down" from Cards Against Humanity, it was still fun to play.
It didn't take long for all of us to knock out after the game. We woke up the next morning and got free continental breakfast in the lobby, and we hung out until it was time for us to check out. I'm so happy that we found a winter hobby that everyone is into, and a way to relax during our stressful senior year.
Of course I don't mind starting my day off with cookies from Milk! It's actually the best way to start one's day! So today we started with Haizel and went with her to work, and this time we had an extra person with us, My Chip! Chip was with us so he could surprise the guys since they were just getting to NYC too. We met them at Trump Tower, and I think that was probably my favorite part of the day. When we were all together, we me up with some of Haizel's friends and went to brunch at Jane. I have always envied those in NYC on Snapchat when they post brunch snaps. I definitely came back to Washington and tried to make brunch a thing in Spokane. I was successful most Sundays.
We all went to the Crown Plaza where Home Alone was at. It was just a pit stop for a small photo session, where we also picked up some delicious black and white cookies. (I was sad because the black and white cookie I brought back with me from NYC got ruined by a red bull, and I didn't get to eat it.)
We walked around Central Park, and Michael and I finally made it to the area he was trying to find on Day 1! It's funny how the trip came around in full circle right? I'm glad we found it with our friends, thanks to Haizel. We pretty much went home to pack after this, and then went out for the night. Michael got tickets for Wicked, and it was our first Broadway show together. It was such a funny show! It was better than I had expected it to be, but then again, I didn't really know what to expect. After Wicked, we grabbed Shake Shack for the last time, and went bar hopping. It was a fun way to end our stay in NYC. I chose to feature this photo because when I look at it, it makes me happy. These five people have come to be some of the greatest people that I know, and I'm glad to have met all of them. New York City was a great trip, but it definitely is the first of many.
So thanks to this lady right here, Haizel, for housing us, guiding us, and saving us countless subway rides. You made such a big difference in NYC with your job at Sonia Rykiel, and I'm so glad we got to see what your life was all about. Thanks for letting us visit!
If only I could tell you how tired I was today, but I can't say that it wasn't worth the hustle. Our day consisted of tours today. We toured the infamous Lady Liberty herself. I was actually really amazed with the Statue of Liberty. I think the memory that sticks out the most is that Michael was so proud that he pooped here. Sorry, TMI, but it's still funny. The ferry also took us to Ellis Island. I felt so creeped out being there after knowing it was a hospital and stuff for immigrants coming into the United States. We reenacted a photo from Hitch where she finds out that Hitch found her grandfather or something, but that's just about how exciting that got.
Then we took the subway to the Charging Bull. It didn't take me long to think of how I could possibly make me photo inappropriate. "Eatin' the booty like groceries" was definitely the caption of my Instagram post this day. Whatever. Everyone around me was laughing, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one who thought of doing it.
We didn't get many photos of the Human Body exhibit from Discovery, because cameras were not allowed. But my guy ended up taking me to this amazing exhibit where they showcase the human body. I thought the most interesting part of the exhibit was the layout of all the arteries in a human body, even to the smallest capillaries. I was really nerding out at this exhibit, and it makes me so happy that I have someone who supports my nerdiness. After we did all of that, we worked up an appetite and went to the Nutella place in a building next to the Daily Bugle (aka the Flat Iron). We got Nutella lattes, Nutella crepes, and Nutella Belgian waffles. It was Nutella overload, and I was in heaven. Of course, we had to make our pit stop at the Lego store to get our passports stamped.
And our day pretty much ended on a high note. We went to the Top of the Rock at night. We were really hoping to run into Jimmy Fallon or something, but maybe next time... NYC is something else. The lights of the city were spectacular. And even though the city was amazing, this guy is always going to be my favorite view.
We learned our lesson from yesterday after waking up today with sore feet and aching legs: Take the subway every time you can, or you will regret it. So we started our day pretty late in the morning. We did a straight shot to Brooklyn where we thought we would be waiting in line for Grimaldi's, but we were seated once we got there. Apparently this pizza place is famous for their pies, and there's only one thing that I love (almost) more than Michael, and that's pizza pie. I give them a 10/10, especially after one of the workers chase after me to give me my cellphone back.
After we ate at Grimaldi's, it wasn't a far walk to get a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. NYC looked just like it did in the photos. I felt like there were so many possibilities waiting in the skyline of skyscrapers. None for me obviously because my path has been laid out for me, but for so many others. I know that I'm looking at NYC with blinded sight of glamour and fame, and I'm failing to see how hard the hustle is in the concrete jungle, but DAMN.
Our next stop was the World Trade Center area. This place really pulled at my heart strings. What happened at the World Trade Center changed my life as a military brat. It took my mom away from me during my childhood years when I really needed her. The events that followed this act of terror has somehow shaped the person I am today with all the lessons I had to learn along the way. It was only right to go there and pay respect to those who lost their lives in this tragedy.
We made a lot of pit stops along the way. Most of those pit stops were in dessert bars where we picked up some goodies to go. We stopped at Dominique Ansel Bakery, but sadly did not get the original cronut. What we did get though was a S'more on a stick and it was such a weird thing to eat. We stopped at Lauderee where we spent more money on little macarons that we would have liked, but they were worth it. It didn't help that we felt completely under dressed walking into the shop...
... but it got even worse when we stopped by to visit Haizel at her work... There I stood, in a room full of things that I would never own. I mean, high fashion was never my calling. Fashion in general was never my calling. If I could stay in my pajamas all day, then I would. Why do you think I went into Nursing? DUH, the scrub life rules everything around me. It was cool though seeing what the fashion industry brought and all of Haizel's hard work. Cool beans, girl.
Thus completing our day with a visit to the Flat Iron building and burgers and shakes at Black Tap. We tried one of the infamous milkshakes that are taking over social media, but I think we were less than impressed with it. Trust me, people do it for the Instagram. But the Flat Iron (ahem, the Daily Bugle) was more appealing than that, so that's what I'll end this post with.
Day 2 = Success, but still got sore feet.
I can't even figure out how to start! I've been dreaming of going to NYC for as long as I could remember. Growing up outside of the country and seeing how everyone wanted to move there... It's a dream come true. We started our day early so we could ride with Haizel to work. We grabbed coffee and took a stroll on the High Line. It was awful, yet beautiful at the same time. It was only awful because I felt like I needed 3 more jackets to be comfortable walking up there. It was such a great sight when we came to a street where the sunrise made it look like a photograph.
We were on our way to Time Square when we decided that we would stop at Uni Qlo to buy cold weather stuff. We ended up buying gloves, sweaters, heat tech, and beanies. I think that was my best purchase of the trip because I definitely made use of it. We walked around Time Square and took a bunch of silly touristy videos. Michael made me stand with my hands out while he circled around me, and it was just funny because everyone thought it was great. When we got tired and hungry, we decided to stop at a ramen place. I can't remember the name of the place, but I do remember the ramen, and it was amazing.
I'm so happy that we stopped for ramen, because shortly after that, Michael decided that he wanted me to walk all of Central Park. It was definitely the hardest walk of my life. Not because it was long, but because my extremities were frozen, my feet were aching, and I was hungry by the time we got to the middle. Every time he said, "it should be right there," we were actually getting further and further away from where he wanted to go. I think the only reason I couldn't be mad at him was because when he realized that we had walked to the opposite side, his face looked like he was so sad.
He definitely made up for it though by bringing me to the places I've always wanted to visit. He started by taking me to Sprinkles, where they have a Cupcake ATM right outside of their bakery. Our second stop was Rockefeller. This was another destination that we had trouble getting to, but when we got there it was amazing. We took photos by the Rockefeller Tree and by the big, red Christmas ornaments. We didn't go ice skating or anything, but we did go into the Lego Store when they were giving our Lego Passports! If you know Michael and I, then you know that this was a big deal for us.
After a long day of being in the city, we headed towards Grand Central Station. I have always wanted to stand in the middle of Grand Central Station and watch all of the people just going about their business. We found a Shake Shack there! It was my very first time having Shake Shack, and I think I may have found love in a cheeseburger there, or found more love in the person devouring it.
After Christmas, Haizel organized an outing for all of us to get together in Seattle. Michael and I started out the day by dropping off our new baby girl to my house. It was probably the hardest see you later ever. She was just so cute and I could barely handle her cuteness. My cuteness aggression with Okami is insane. I feel like squeezing her every time I see her. I cannot believe that I got a Shiba Inu for Christmas! Michael really overdid himself this time, but I am so happy that he thinks we are ready to expand our little family. I hope Oshwald loves her just as much as Michael and I do.
Anyways, we headed out to Seattle with John and met up with everyone at Serious Pie. It was our second time at the Starbucks Roastery, and Michael and I were so excited for pizza. I can't remember what the pizza was called, but I know we got it because Michael wanted the pizza with eggs on top. We also tried out this grapefruit beer called Schofferhofer. It is a grapefruit beer that didn't even taste like beer. I think it's one of my new go-tos. I'm pretty sure I tried this beer in Spokane though. After pizza, we all grabbed ourselves some warm coffee from Starbucks, and headed to the Underground Tour of Seattle.
I've done this tour one time already with my mom. We did it when I first moved to Seattle in 2011, and it hadn't changed one bit. They still told the same corny "crapper" jokes and everything. It was fun to be with friends this time though, and it was fun to be with Michael. The Bill Speidel's Underground Tour of Seattle costs $20 for an adult, and $17 if you're a student. So it's a relatively cheap tourist attraction that you shouldn't miss if you're visiting Seattle. The history is actually pretty interesting, and it makes you wonder how life would have been in Seattle if we still had the same infrastructure they had back then.
I won't go into detail about what you see throughout the tour, I'll leave that up to you guys to find out and experience on your own. Just know that it's a lot of walking, it is kind of chilly underground, and you may get dripped on. When we were on the tour, our tour guide was telling us about ghost stories and "ghost hunting" tours at night where they have all the lights off and they give you a flashlight. As soon as he finished talking about it, all the lights went off and turned back on almost immediately. I kid you not, I almost peed myself because I was so scared. I was ecstatic when we made it to the end of the tour.
After the tour, we went to a bar to get some food and a few people got some drinks. We didn't really do much after that though. We all went back to the apartment to hang out. It was a day well spent in Seattle with some really cool people.