Being able to study abroad is one blessing that I have been able to experience. The other is being able to travel to Asian countries that I have always wanted to visit since I was younger. My dream has always been to be able to travel to as many countries as I can, and my dream is slowing coming true. Traveling helps with self-awareness, relaxation, and appreciation of other cultures. Since I am in closer proximity to these countries it is easier for me to get tickets to spend less money to travel there. Even though I still have so much to explore in Hong Kong, it is important to travel and experience the other countries around me. So far, my friends and I have been planning trips to different countries and we were finally able to make one trip happen!
This past weekend my friends and I went to Manila, Philippines to explore some local sites and eat amazing foods. Before the trip started, there was a lot of things I needed to finish before the flight on Friday night. My Friday is the worst of the whole week because I have classes back to back, so I am always busy running around between classes. I thought that I was going to miss my flight because I got out of class 2 hours before the flight. To get to the airport from UST is about an hour. My exchange buddy helped me out by getting me the contact information for a taxi service in Hong Kong that would get me to the airport on time.
When I finally arrived at the airport and met up with my friends, the trip was ready to begin! The flight was two hours from Hong Kong to Manila and when we arrived it was pouring rain and the airport was packed. We had to stay together and find a way to get to the Airbnb in Makati. From reading a lot of blogs, we knew three safe ways to get to where we needed to be. There were two different taxis that we could take or the Philippines version of Uber and Lyft, Grab. We ended up signing up to take the Grab because there was a longer wait time for the taxis, since there was a lot of traffic due to the rain. While we waited for the Grab we went to a traditional Filipino restaurant and got dinner since we were starving. The food was amazing and I was really excited to try more.
After getting the Grab and sitting in traffic for a little bit, we got to the Airbnb. It was in such a beautiful location and was such a nice place to stay. The condo was very cozy and we all were able to spread out and relax. Since we got into Manila very late, we stayed up late to plan what we would do on Saturday. On Saturday, we went to a local market for brunch and bought some goods from the vendors. The vendors were really nice and gave out free samples of their food. Since the Filipino peso stretches a lot compared to the US Dollar, everything we bought was very cheap. After the market, we went to a park, but because it was daytime we couldn’t see the light display. We walked around the park for a bit and talked to some of the officers who were in the stores. Afterwards, we took a Grab to Chinatown and went through the mall to shop and get more food. We walked around the main part of Chinatown, but it started to rain again, so we walked back to the Chinatown entrance to go to the Intramuros.
We went to dinner at Chow King, which is a local fast food restaurant, to get the traditional Filipino dessert Halo Halo because a friend from high school told me that was the best place to get it. It was the greatest dessert that I have ever eaten. It was very sweet and the serving was huge! I think it was so much better than ice cream. After dinner, we went outside to get the Grab to Mall of Asia, which is a massive mall. It is bigger than any mall I have ever been to in the US. The experience was very overwhelming because we got lost a couple of times. We bought a lot of souvenirs for family and friends back home.
We went back to the Airbnb when the mall closed and prepared for our flight back to Hong Kong Sunday morning. When we woke up in the morning, we got an email from AirAsia saying that our flight was delayed for 8 hours due to Typhoon Khanun that hit Hong Kong. Luckily, the owner of the Airbnb let us stay until 12am, so that we didn’t have to lug our bags around with us all day. Since we didn’t really look up other things to do for Sunday, we ended up going to another market for lunch and to buy more souvenirs. Ada, Julie, and I wanted to treat ourselves to a spa day since we read that the spas there were great. We got a Deep Sea Kelp Scrub manicure and pedicure and it was definitely worth it. After the spa treatment, we packed up to head to the airport. It was a short trip, but it was definitely worth it!
The Philippines was a totally different experience than Hong Kong and the United States. There were a lot of aspects of the city that we had to take into account while we were there, but we did a great job of handling ourselves. I always wanted to go to the Philippines and the fact that I was able to be there was unbelievable. The whole weekend was like a dream and I still cannot believe that I was able to go there. It was an amazing experience and I enjoyed every second of it. I feel that we all grew a little closer as friends and got comfortable with one another’s humor. I cannot wait to see what the other trips bring for us!