So… Here we are, pretty much three weeks into our adventure and boy, it sure has been that! Though not exactly what we had in mind I must say. I’ll go back to the beginning and will do my best not to bore you….
Monday 19th December we landed in Cebu, Philippines after a pretty good flight via Hong Kong and were greeted by our contact there, Romel who drove us to his family’s house we were staying at (they live elsewhere though). There we were welcomed by the whole family and a much appreciated dinner. I don’t know why I still insist on ordering vegetarian meals when I fly as I don’t like most of it and end up starving. Anyhow, they were all very helpful and welcoming and when they left, informed us that their head maid, Inday, would be staying with us…..hmmm! Now as decadent as this sounds, we found it rather awkward, not being 100% sure of her role. However she insisted on cooking and washing up after us as well as doing our washing – not all bad 🙂 she even climbed the papaya tree to pick a papaya when we told her how much we liked them. Nothing was too much trouble for her and she even taught us some Filipino, much to her amusement.
Rather concerned in a Cebu cab
Unfortunately Cebu wasn’t what we hoped it might be. We quickly established that the house was too far out of the city and wouldn’t work for us. It was a 10min walk to get a cab and then once we finally got a cab the traffic is so full on there, it took 40mins to get into town. This would be fine if the house was in a picturesque area but it was far from that, just a nice house with nothing too exciting nearby. So we checked out the town and if I’m brutally honest, didn’t think too much of it. They have huge malls there which one had to go through a metal detector and bag check upon entering – brought up a few questions in my head, that’s for sure. Anyhow, these malls and the IT park were the nicest things about the place, which says a lot really. Outside most western style shops, restaurants and banks stands a security guy with a loaded gun and funnily enough this didn’t make us feel safe. Still, we didn’t let all of this stand in our way as we had a bigger plan to use Cebu as a base and then travel around the picturesque islands that make up the Philippines. So we went about finding accommodation close to the IT park after speaking to a few Westerners in Starbucks (unfortunately this was our haven with wifi) and people who worked in the park. What a shock….in a fairly new build apartment block, the apartments were 20sq metres, don’t know what that is in feet but it is tiny tiny tiny!! Craziest of all is that they weren’t cheap as chips. It seemed our other option was a much bigger apartment but soooo ugly I couldn’t bare to be in the place for more than a minute. On top of all this, we were discovering that the internet wasn’t so great, which is far from optimum for Michael’s web based business.
Christmas at Shangri-La
Now what I have omitted to say is that my dear husband somewhat struggles with change and ugliness. He was quietly freaking out and with no one to blame as Cebu was his destination of choice. I was Miss Chipper doing my best, determined that we could make it all work but then came 3am on Thursday night, or really Friday morning…it was jet lag that was waking us up at this lovely hour for regular chats before falling asleep again. Michael was starting to be a little more relaxed so I came out with it – ” This place is awful! Get me out now.” ( I was a little more expressive than that but you don’t need to be exposed to my darker side). Once we found our saner selves again, we calmly talked through the options and on Friday had a crazy day of researching our next destination as well as flights and accommodation. It seemed our Christmas Day present to ourselves was to be flying to Chiang Mai, Thailand and arriving to a lovely serviced apartment. Before leaving Cebu we did stay on Mactan Island for the last night and got ourselves to the Shangri-La hotel for some drinks and Christmas cheer. If only we could have stayed there for 3months it would have been fine 🙂
Arriving in Chiang Mai we immediately felt calmer, liking the energy of the place a lot more. The Internet seemed to work very well and, because I’m in charge of food and events, we went about discovering some of the vegetarian, organic and health food places as well as the night bazaar which is great! There we ate for the first few nights at some of the food stalls for £1 each, nice veggie stir fry with a bit of meat if we desired, this certainly helped us warm to the place. Day 3 saw us venturing to the University area which is a little more hip and upmarket without so many tourists around – of course we liked it straight away. Through chatting to some Westerners at yet another hippie cafe I dragged Michael to, we found a real estate agent and got cracking with finding some accommodation. The following day we’d found the apartment we are now living in and signed a three month contract on New Years Eve….yippee! It’s a very new apartment block that has a gorgeous swimming pool along with gym and it’s own small cafe and most importantly our apartment is a nice 67sq metres on the fifth floor, spacious and bright from all the sunshine there is (sorry Londoners, couldn’t resist;)).
Offering up our new year dreams
Our New Years Eve celebrations we had to make up for Christmas, so I booked a beautiful French restaurant on the Ping River which didn’t disappoint. The food was delicious and the grounds were just lovely, we were letting off huge lanterns into the sky during the evening and of course at midnight, along with them having their own little firework display. Actually the whole of Chiang Mai was letting off these lanterns so the sky was filled with them which was a truly magical sight….the whole evening was just perfect! The restaurant also picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel which was an added bonus. During the evening we met a couple of expats who’ve been here for a couple of years and gave us a few tips which is always helpful.
So on the 2nd January we moved into our apartment and since the we’ve been buying bits to cook in the kitchen and make it feel a little more homely, as well as
Our pool, gym and cafe complex
discovering markets for shopping (my is it cheap!) drinking lots of fruit smoothies and getting addicted to papaya. There’s a wonderful salad restaurant that serves huge salads that you make up the ingredients for which is quickly becoming a favourite of ours given that it’s a 10min walk from our place and once again, the prices are laughable for what you get.
So I shall leave it there and get on with my research of visas, temples, mountains and elephants.
Happy New Year to you all and welcome back to work for many.
Till next time V 🙂