What a crazy few days. I have gone from feeling stress, anxiety, a sense of adrenalin, excitement and then mentally exhausted, deflated and disappointed. Where do I begin……

This past weekend Simon, Myself, Bro-in-Law Alex and friend Katrina participated in the Oxfam Trailwalker this past weekend.

Simon and I first participated back in October 2011. We got to the 60km mark (which we think is an achievement) but had to retire due to various injuries.

IMG_0134*Photo of Simon, Amber (our friend) and Myself at the 59.5km mark where we finished in 2011

For those that don’t know, the Oxfam walk is an event where teams of 4 people walk 100km within 48 hours, in the attempt to raise money for the charity. Its an endurance event and team building experience.

This year we did the walk with our bro-in-law Alex and good friend Katrina.

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*Alex, myself, Katrina and Simon before the start – 2013

Starting the walk is an adrenaline rush – its fantastic. There are so many teams and so many people anxious, nervous and excited about what they are about to do. Its an amazing sensation!

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The walk begins at the Jells Park (Wheelers Hill) and finishes at Wesburn Park (In the hills). There are some amazing views along the way. Its a great way to see all the tracks through the dandenongs and the gorgeous views through out the day.

IMG_3348This is the team after we had just left checkpoint 2 – evidence that we are still wearing our moose hats. Not too sure why Simon looks vague, but at this stage, we’re all in great form!

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Just to put the ‘walk’ into context – its not a walk, its a hike. There are so many hills – you are climbing up the Dandenongs – the below diagram shows the inclines. See what I mean?! Its vicious in parts!

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Everything went well up until check point 3. The team was doing great. But then night time hit, it was cold and the section between 3 and 4 was all hills which I was not prepared for. I knew being in Manila would hamper my success of doing this walk and this became all true once we started the night time sections.

The minute we started this section I knew mentally I was gone. Not coping, not liking the hills, not liking the night time. Section 3 to 4 is hills, hills and more hills. I HATE hills. I can cope with hills during the day, night time not so much. And not having trained on that section hampered me! Damn Manila!

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Mentally I cracked and couldn’t cope which slowed us down. I feel bad! Physically It was hurting and sadly both Katrina and myself injured our knee’s in the down hill sections. Torture!

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This section killed me and I knew I was done. I wasn’t mentally coping and my knee was painful. Katrina and I went to the physio the minute we arrived at checkpoint 4 and the disappointing decision was made to retire – we still had another 55km’s to go which we knew wasn’t possible on our injured knee’s. Simon retired also as his existing knee injuries flared up. This left 1 man standing, our awesome bro-in-law Alex. Alex continued on and was successful in reaching checkpoint 6 finishing at 72.3km’s – Fantastic result! 

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I’m disappointed I didn’t continue. I’m sad that I didn’t cope. I guess I couldn’t have the best of both worlds – Manila and doing the walk. I am disappointed I let my team down.

The one thing I should be proud of was that we raised much needed funds for Oxfam – that is a brilliant achievement in itself. So far we have raised $1,296 which is fantastic. Our goal is $1500 so if you’d like to donate, go to our team page:

https://trailwalker.oxfam.org.au/team/home/13490

I need to make mention that an event like this doesn’t happen with out the support crew. We had the best support crew anyone could ask for. My Sister Michelle took the ropes and did majority of the planning – she is well thought, a careful planner and took the best care of us (her lasagna at checkpoint 3 was heaven!). She is beautiful and I am so grateful for her.

My friend Sally sacrificed her sleep to support us over night (with her good friend Janine) – a tough job but she did it. I’m glad she was there when we needed to retire because she had been through this herself before and knew what we were all going through and feeling. She was a big help!

And it was so nice coming home to our mother Dot who instantly looked after us and made sure we treated our injuries. Coming home to mothering is exactly what you want after injuring yourself and having just walked 45km’s. 

Couldn’t have asked for a better support crew!

I had a great team. Simon is my best friend and I’m glad he was by my side the whole way. Katrina is my dear friend who amazes me in every way and I love her to bits. And Alex, well, I couldn’t ask for a better brother in law.

Would I do it again? ask me another day!

Love Kathleen XO

 

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Its hard to believe I spent 5 months in Manila. Time went so fast yet so slow. My last few days in Manila were good. My staff were sweet and threw me a mini farewell afternoon tea – was very nice!

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They gave me some lovely gifts, a purple scarf, hand written card that quoted all the funny sayings I had said to them, a parker pen and a ring with a shoe on it. They also got me a big chocolate cake that was suppose to say BRC but the cake company wrote RBC instead………welcome to the Philippines, pretty fun!

IMG_3277The group are great, some quirky, others quiet, all funny – I will miss them! And my dear friend Sarah (fellow Aussie expat) – had some good times! I will also miss my other aussie expats including my manager. Manila was good!

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The flight home went quick, flying at night is heaps better. But tiring! I am super happy to be home with Simon and my pups!

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It is freezing in Melbourne. And its not even winter yet. I’ve come from 30 degree days with humidity to cold rainy days of 16 to 20 degree’s. Come’n Melbourne, Seriously!!

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I have 2 weeks off work which I desperately needed. I need a break, some sleep ins, and to reclaim my house. Simon has done a great job living on his own these past 5 months but I’m ready to put things back into order. Plus, love spending time with these 2, they keep me on my toes!

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Jemima won!

I have the oxfam walk this weekend – Myself, Simon, my Bro in law Alex and good friend Katrina are braving it. Far out, why did I commit to it again. But I’m excited. I probably haven’t done enough training but really, there is nothing you can do to prepare for 100km. Mind over matter. So think of us this weekend as we are walking, it will be cold and painful (eventually!) so fingers crossed for me and my team.

Thanks for following my blog, I may not reply to the comments but I always appreciate them and get exited when someone comments – means people are actually reading!

Love Kathleen XO

 

Its D day!! 😀 Its Departure day. Time to go home to my hubby. I’m ready. Having been here for 5 months, life has literally been on hold. And honestly I haven’t minded it mostly. It is more being away from Simon that has been the negative.

But Manila has been good to me. Yesterday a colleague asked me what I was thinking the Philippines was like prior to first coming here – to be honest, I have no idea. I had never traveled overseas before so my expectations were not high. I did however get a bit of a shock when I first saw the traffic. I arrived towards the end of November and Filippino’s start celebrating Christmas in the ‘ber’ months. That’s right, from September on-wards  So by the time November/December arrived, Traffic was CRAZY! And the road rules – well I still have quiet worked them out!

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Some of the things I wont miss about the Philippines are – the way everyone walks so SLOW! Or the way they all hold hands (a group of friends) and walk down the street, or the fact that they still cant understand my accent and I have to repeat things 20 times and hope I get what I actually asked for.

One thing I will miss seeing around though is the Jeepneys. Melbourne has Trams but gosh I wish we could have Jeepneys too. They look super cool and even though I didn’t get the opportunity to ride one, one day I hope to experience it just once.

IMG_3267I will also miss all the friends I have made. People are so nice here and I have really appreciated how welcoming and accepting they are. Thank-goodness for Facebook because that is most likely how we’ll keep in contact.

IMG_3262*Gorgeous Melody from the Business Lounge

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*Cute little Myra from work!

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*My staff (mostly on the left) and my work colleagues (also aussie expats!)

 

Its time – time to go home, return to normal life, be back with my hubby and puppies. I’m super excited about seeing them! And my family and friends who I have missed incredibly (I hope they remember who I am 😉 ).

But most of all, the best reward, is getting to come home to this person –

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Fingers crossed my flight is on time, no delays or problems, Australia I’m ready to come home!

Love Kathleen XO

PS: Cant wait to see these little faces!

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For my final weekend in Manila, I had the opportunity to go to Singapore. I haven’t been able to fly to other parts of Asia since I’ve been here due to limitations with my Visa but as I only had a week left of my time here, a trip to Singapore presented itself so I went!

I went with 2 friends from work and we flew over for the weekend.

Singapore is AMAZING! It is so clean and green and beautiful. I’m going to quote my friend when I say ïts like going from the 3rd world to the 1st world’.

Our first little adventure was to get lunch. We went to a buffet restaurant which was so yummy. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the desert table – it had so many deserts – Chocolate souffle, sticky date, cheesecake, cream puff’s, ice cream, plus my absolute favorite – a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit and marsh-mellows. Off course we pigged out on the desert! Heaven!!

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After lunch, the aim was to go to one shop to buy a card for my friends new camera but 5 stores later and many $$$ spent (ouch!!) we still hadn’t gone to get the one thing we needed. Lets just said I did a good amount of shopping in Singapore and like to think the fact I got the tax refunded means the shopping doesn’t count right?! Finally, after getting what we needed (and somethings we may not have needed but wanted!) we head up to the Sky Bar to see the view of Singapore.

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Its breath taking at first, but don’t worry, I know, its just a city. But I have never traveled before and its been fantastic seeing different places. Can you spot the ANZ building in the photo above?

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The bar on the roof (57th floor to be exact) is really nice. It was good to be able to see the view and relax.

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Later that night we went to the Singapore Zoo Night Safari. This was really really good. I’d love to go back and see the zoo during the day as I was really impressed with it at night. You can hardly see the cages, the enclosures are designed to look natural which definitely gives that Safari feel. Because it was at night, it was quiet hard getting decent photos given we couldn’t use a flash. But in person, you could see the animals so clearly. It was great!

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It has been suggested to me many times to try a fish spa. They are not in Manila (and that’s probably a good thing!) but everywhere in Singapore. So the minute I realized I had the opportunity to go, I wanted to try out this fish spa for myself.

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It involves little fish who love to eat dead skin – you put your feet in the water and the little fish eat away at any dead skin you may have on your feet – sounds great right?!

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I’d seen one at the Zoo the night before but it was a pretty ugly fish tank and the water looked dirty so that sort of put me off and I didnt know what to expect. But this fish spa (at the airport) was a lot nicer and cleaner.

IMG_3258And the verdict? My friends loved it. I hated it. Its just too weird and I freaked out at first putting my feet in, not knowing what to expect etc (Big baby I know!). I tried it briefly but just didn’t like the sensation of feeling little creatures crawl along my feet. It didn’t hurt and I can understand why people like it. But its just not my thing. Too……weird!

Singapore was great!

The count down is well and truly on now! 4 more nights and I will be home. I had to go buy a suitcase today just to bring all my extra shopping home. I cant wait to go home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love Kathleen XO

 

Its almost time for me to leave the Philippines. 1 more week – totaling 5 months. Its gone fast but slow. If that makes any sense.

Lately food has been on my mind constantly, there are some good reasons for this, but more so bad reasons. I’ve been pretty lucky living here. There is a lot of great food. Or maybe this is just because I have to eat out everyday versus making everything back at home myself. The luxury of eating out everyday quickly wore off within the first month but thankfully there are so many good places to get food here, i’m not bored of it.

The main reason for having food on the brain is I’ve been sick…..bad sick….running to the loo sick……vomiting in a bin at work sick……..because of eating something that was probably not quiet right. I’m not surprised. I was told i’d experience it. I thought I was pretty lucky haven gotten away with it for the first 4 months. But alas, I was struck! And seem to have experienced some dodgy tummy rumblings 2-3 times now! Bring on home!!

So if food blogs are not your type of thing, you’d probably want to stop reading now. I felt it only fitting given my history with the food here, I share some pics of my absolute fav’s!!

IMG_3122Its only fitting that I declare my love for the fruit in the Philippines. It is always so fresh, sweet and colourful. For the first 2 months, this was my breakfast waiting for me every morning. Isn’t it gorgeous! I am obsessed with the pineapple. I have eaten pineapple EVERYDAY I have been here – even bought a pandora charm shaped as a pineapple as a quick memory of my pineapple eating days in Manila.

IMG_3126In the beginning when I didn’t quiet know the area and didn’t feel completely comfortable walking around outside Makati by myself, room service became my friend. And I quickly discovered the lasagna  I was addicted to it. And the serving was HUGE! Now days Its taken a tragic turn for the worse and the chef’s seem to forget it requires a tomato sauce so it comes all dried out with brown mince – yuk!!! But good memories here!

IMG_3125Work friends introduced me to a beautiful restaurant called Aubergine. It serves the yummiest food and i’m proud to say makes a great Aussie Steak!

IMG_3121There is this little cheap Indian restaurant, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel, called New Bombay. And I LOVE it. This will be THE thing I will miss the most coming home. Every time I go, its always ‘Butter chicken, garlic Naan, and plain rice’. Soooo AdIcTiVe!!!! I will miss you butter chicken!

IMG_3120For a while there I had the Love/Love relationship with a Mexican chain called Agave. They make the best chicken fajitas with the best spicy salsa. I’d have them once a week but once work became busier I couldn’t go as often. Sadly my relationship with the fajita’s has developed into a Hate/Hate relationship as I ordered them for take out (its called ‘take out’ here, not take away), thoroughly enjoyed them then became horribly sick the next day at work. Lets just say paracetamol+ blue power aid+a rubbish bin became a not so friendly sight at work (vomiting, ewww!!).

IMG_3123The gorgeous treats from the business lounge will be sadly missed by my tummy. They always make the cutest little tarts. Not so good for the figure!

Food was one of my worries coming here. But I obviously have loved it a lot! Sorry about all the pic’s, just wanted to keep a yummy record!

But off course, the one thing that was the absolute best food item in the Philippines was…….

IMG_2992Good ole’ Vegemite on toast!

Love Kathleen xo

Simon has arrived, and i’m super happy about that! The week with him here will go super fast and will then leave me with 10 more days till home time!

Given we had the 4 day Easter break in Manila, we decided to go do something fun and relaxing. Boracay is suppose to be one of the best beaches in Asia and everyone who asks me about my time in Manila always asks me if I’d been to Boracay yet – i’m happy to say now I have! We booked this trip a while ago so I’ve been really looking forward to it.

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Boracay is an Island in the Philippines and is a 1 hr flight from Manila. Once you land in Manila, you have to take a very short drive to the boats.

IMG_3112The little boat’s are gorgeous (and old!)

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Off course, getting on is a bit of a balancing act up the plank and the engine sounds as though its about to explode at any moment but it was a quick trip – only 10 minutes to sail across to Boracay Island.

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Whilst sailing over, I noticed the water was incredibly clear and a beautiful crystal blue colour. It looks amazing! I’ve never been on a beach holiday before so seeing this made my heart skip a beat!

IMG_3088Once we arrived on the Island, we had to take another 10 minute drive to get to our resort. It was a quick process but felt long given the amount of steps involved getting to this place – car/plane/car/boat/car………you get what I mean!

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The beach is gorgeous, beautiful, amazing, warm! It was a breath taking view. Simon and I loved it.

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Everyday was spent swimming in the beach in the morning then by our hotel pool in the afternoon. It was constant warm weather and the sea water was so clear and perfectly warm.

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We stayed in a new hotel called The District. It was really nice and stood out among-st the other hotels. They had lounges on the beach that we used everyday – first day was spent on the lounges (with umbrella’s off-course reading the latest magazines from Aus (thanks sims!). Heaven!

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The view from the hotel is breath taking as well. Every morning at breakfast we were always greeted by the sea.

IMG_3115One night, we went to an outdoor bar that had a fire show. Its a popular thing to see in Boracay and the locals who perform do a great job. A couple of times they came up close to us (happy to watch from a distance, definitely not up close) and danced around the tables. It was a good show!

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We loved Boracay. It was beautiful and nice and relaxing. We had a great time swimming (not normally a beach goer) and enjoying the pool. We also rode the ‘fly fish’ – its a big blow up floaty that you sit on whilst a speed boat pulls you. They aim to go super fast to tip you off. Off course, I came off, Simon stayed, our 2 friends came off as well – it was so hilarious.  Google it and you’ll see what I mean!

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Loved Boracay – was a great Easter. But looking forward to next Easter hopefully being with family!

14 days till home time!

Love Kathleen xo

 

 

 

My staff had been telling me about these little tiny monkeys calls Tarsier – one of the worlds smallest primates. They also have the tendency to kill themselves if they get unhappy, just a twist of the neck and there gone! Off course, I had to see this. We’ve probably all seen them in cartoons or TV shows/Movies so getting the chance to see them in real life was a must!

IMG_2866To see the monkeys, it involved a 1hr flight to a little place called Bohol. The airport is tiny, i’m surprised a plane hasn’t crashed into it yet. Literally stepped off the plan and straight inside to meet our driver. A friend from work and I went together and after having been living in the same hotel for the past 4 months, I was ready for a change in scenery and to stay somewhere nice – so we did! (More on the later!)

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*Chocolate Hills (aka Green)

 

After checking into our awesome resort, we went on a tour – first stop was the Chocolate Hills. It wasn’t quiet the right time of year as the hills were more Green Hills rather than Chocolate hills but it was a nice view. (PS: Could my sunnies look any bigger on my face!)

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*Tarsier (aka Little suicidal monkeys)

We got to do other things on the tour such as visit an old church (holes in floor boards that show the ground when your a story or more up high is not comforting!) and a butterfly en-closer  Loved the butterfly’s and the little tour guide who showed us around, super cute and funny! Last thing we did was visit the Tarsier – the main reason I came to Bohol. You have to be very quiet and cant touch them. But you can get pretty close to take a photo. They are no taller then a soft drink can (At most!) and their tales are the longest part. But aren’t they super cute!!

IMG_2888The resort we stayed in was amazing. To get around the resort you use a golf buggy (didn’t actually get to drive it though) and the Villa’s are spread apart so you’d struggle to hear your neighbors if the resort was full. We booked a Villa with a private infinity pool, sadly our pool was always cold so spent majority of our pool time in the main part of the resort.

IMG_2973It was a very nice Villa and was a welcome change to the Mandarin (My other hotel!). Having a private infinity pool was awesome, only downside of the Villa was that the bathroom was outdoors. Not my favorite part given there were spiders and lizards at night. Besides the regular shower, it also had a bamboo shower but we didn’t get a chance to use it.

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Now, don’t get too jealous when you see the next photo’s. It was a 1 night, 2 day event of luxury and I’ve never done this before in all my life.  But it was AMAZING!

IMG_2974We had dinner by the pool at night which was so nice.

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The pool even had a swim up bar (not that I drink!) which was pretty cool. It look amazing!

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I’m not a pool person, just didn’t do it as a kid. My extent of water was running through the water sprinkler on the grass as a child. But boy did I love this pool. It was exactly the right temperature and the sun made it look amazing. An infinity pool is so attractive!

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I loved it. Even though it was one night of luxury – it was sooo good. The view from the pool was also fabulous. The resort is on the beach so you can see plenty of boats and locals working. Loved the view!

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After seeing this beach, I am fully excited for the Easter Long Weekend. Simon arrives on Thursday (Que the excitement ) and on the Friday we fly up to Boracay (In the Philippines) for a beach holiday with a couple of my work colleagues/friends. It will be amazing if the beach is to look just like this or better!

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I loved Bohol. Its a little country town and is so green and beautiful. As for the airport, well, not the best place I’ve been too. Lets just say the service is not at the usual standards.

Hope you enjoyed the pics!

Love Kathleen xo

 

I’m in training for Oxfam in April. I’ve been going to the gym most days, sticking mainly to the treadmill and using the incline. It is safe to walk around Makati but I prefer not too. Plus being at work all day means I’m home when its dark so the gym is convenient – I can go whenever I want. But whenever I can, I will try and do activities outside for my training. The other week I participated in a fun run. I’m not a runner, never will be, but it was good training and i’m planning on doing another one whilst i’m here.

Last weekend, A fellow work colleague went on a hike with a tour group and loved it. He suggested I give it a go this weekend. So off course, given oxfam in April, I said yes.

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*Tour guides – they really helped me a lot!!

I had to get up at 2:45am so that we could meet our guides at an agreed place by 3:30. The tour group runs every weekend and likes to do the hikes first thing in the morning. The Philippines is hot and humid, the humidity can be very unbearable if you are hiking late afternoon so the earlier the better. We left at 4am and arrived at the national part about 5:45. We had to wait for the sun to come up which didn’t take long, then we were off!

IMG_2846The hike was through a national park. It was so amazing walking up the mountain whilst the sun came up. Such a beautiful experience. It was nice and cool too!

IMG_2847We climbed a mountain called Mt. Pico de Loro which is in a national park, situated in Batangis. I found this hike so incredibly hard that when I got back, I google’d for some info and learnt it is considered the highest mountain in the Cavite Provence. (Note to self: ask more questions before agreeing to do a hike I know nothing about)

IMG_2845It took about 2 hours to hike to the top but once we got there, it was an amazing view! The climb up absolutely killed me. I am not a mountain climber, yes i’m training to do a 100km walk which involves hills but nothing like this! You had to climb up boulders and rocks, it was a tad scary but obviously manageable given I did it. Once we reached the top (pic above) it was so refreshing and inspiring. Manila at its finest. I thought that was it, no more hiking, just sit back, relax, enjoy the view – boy was I wrong!

IMG_2844The tour guide then pointed and said we are climbing up this peak (pictured above). Yeah, the photo doesn’t really do it justice. But if you look closely enough, the little tiny dots are people. I wanted to cry, I hate hills. But I figured so many people have done it and are doing it, surely its manageable. Right? hmmmm. So off we went!

IMG_2843After a terrifying 15 minutes of climbing (terrifying for me because it was slippery and so so steep) we finally made it to the top and this was the view! It was amazing. Its only a small peak and I felt safer when I was sitting down as the slightest trip and you’d probably fall off the mountain into infinity. But my gosh, I have never seen anything like it before!

The main attraction in climbing this first peak, is this one! (As seen below)

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This is called the ‘Parrots Peak’, the giant rock formation right hand side of the photo (Can you see the people on top?). Yep, that’s right, my tour guide pointed at the parrots peak and then said “now we’re going to climb that”. My reaction “NO WAY!” Climbing the mountain was hard enough, reaching the main peak was worse, the last thing I was going to do was risk my life on the Parrots Peak. Other members of our group climbed it. It involves letting people go one by one, and using a rope to pull yourself along the trail which is so narrow. I felt nervous watching people standing on the top. There is literally nothing stopping people from falling off! But people love it! I was quiet happy enjoying the view from where I was! Isn’t she a beauty!

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Not the best photo of me (really, what photo is!) but see how my hair is flying back – yep it was windy, hence sitting down felt safer! Oh and notice the guy behind be sitting on the edge, yep, thats right, the EDGE! And the Parrot’s peak in the background with people on it, crazy!

Off course what goes up, must come down….the hike down the peak was an experience that made my heart race. There was absolutely nothing to grip on and the tour guide plus a group of locals had to help me slide down on my bum. They were preventing me from sliding too fast and hurting myself. They were so good looking after me.

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Again the photo does no justice but this is everyone on their bums trying to get down! Needless to say when I got back to the hotel, I had dirt in places one should never get dirt! 😉

It was super hard climbing back down the whole mountain. By this time we’d already had lunch so were reaching the warmest part of the day. For me, it was the humidity that was affecting me the most. I have never sweated so much before in all my life. And I had to stop so many times to catch my breath. Not an experience I want to repeat! In all, it was a 5 hour round trip. And as much as there was the risk of falling down the mountain and being MIA, it was a rewarding experience. I will never forget it (both the good and the bad) and realize I am so lucky I get to do these things whilst i’m here.

Would I recommend this hike to those visiting Manila?, maybe not! But boy wasn’t the view gorgeous!

Love Kathleen XO

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I’ve fallen in love with Manila. And the biggest reason for this is the people. Off course I’ve shared with you my hotel experience, I’ve had some issues with the room’s but the staff here make my stay special. As a business customer, I get access to the business lounge. And boy am I grateful for that! The business lounge is a place where I can have breakfast, relax on a couch, catch up with other work colleagues and have drinks after work (Ginger Ale for me!). It gives me another space to relax in other then my room.

The Ladies in the business lounge look after everyone! They are the sweetest, kindest, most gorgeous people I have met in the Philippines.

IMG_2751When you walk into the lounge, you are greeted instantly by the ladies at the desk. Anything I need, they will do. They help me with exchanging cash, room service requests, sight seeing plans, plus much much more. They make my stay great. I know all the ladies but off course I have a few favorites.

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*Hersey

Excuse the poor pic of me, however the main beauty in this pic is Hersey. She is very smart and gorgeous and has a beautiful smile (Pic doesn’t do it justice). She mans the desk at the front and whatever I need she organizes. I love her name! She is named after the chocolate Hersey, she also has a sister called Nestle. Cracks me up! Hersey is being promoted and will be moving downstairs to one of the restaurants as a manager. I’ll miss seeing her everyday but at least she’ll still be in the hotel!

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*Ivy

This is Ivy – she is always so happy and makes me feel happier just being around her. Sometimes she works in the lounge, other times she’s at the desk. She is always so accommodating and treats me like a friend. She is expecting her first child (see the little bump!) so is moving to a different role somewhere in the hotel where she can sit down more. Gosh I’ll miss this lady, she’s so cute!

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*Jeira

Jeira is a little angel. She serves all the business guests in the lounge. Without me even needing to ask, by the time I’ve picked a table and sat down – the minute my bum hits the seat she already has my ginger ale and chips, so efficient!. We also have a “I love your hair” relationship. She has beautiful straight black hair in a bob which suits her perfectly which I love. She also loves my hair. She is obsessed with the colour of my hair and wants to dye it the same. Because she cant, she went and bought a wig that is the same hair colour as mine! Gosh she cracks me up! I feel a bit obsessed over! Jeira is like the little friend everyone wants, a real angel!

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*Melody

Then there is Melody, I absolutely love this woman! She is my favorite and i miss her when she’s not working. She is sooo beautiful, inside and out. She is my friend & my confidant. She works so hard serving all the business customers and she always makes sure i’m looked after first. She is adorable! I got to know Melody really well as I was often visiting the lounge to just sit and relax and she could tell I was missing Simon. Her and I have had great conversations and her life completely inspires me. Her husband works far away for 8 months out of the year. She misses him a lot but they talk whenever they can and they both work so hard to provide a good life for their little daughter. Everything Melody does is for her daughter, the same applies for her husband. If he could work closer to home, he would, but the type of work he does is out of town. To be apart 8 months out of the year – every year – is soooo hard!

IMG_2752So there I was one day whinging about missing Simon who I’ve been lucky to see on average every 4-6 weeks – and yet Melody has to wait 8 months. She helps me realize how lucky I truly am and we both have a whinge together about missing our husbands. She is so strong! Her and her husband have a true love! We also muck around sometimes, laugh, chat and carry on. We get a few strange looks from other guests but I don’t care. Melody is my friend and I will miss her terribly when I leave but we’ve made great plans to facebook and email!

These ladies make my stay so much more comfortable. If I was stuck in a hotel room with just my bed and TV i’d go in sane. These ladies keep me sane. Filipino people are the nicest people you will ever meet. They do not like confrontation (not always a good thing) and are the experts when it comes to customer service. I love these ladies – my day is not complete without saying hi to at least one of them during my day.

I absolutely love Manila and the people.

Love Kathleen xo

 

 

I’m back! My quick trip home to Melbourne went so fast! And I have heaps of blog posts I want to write but thought the main issue i’m experiencing this week is the drama’s of living in a hotel. Yep, I know what a lot of you are thinking – 5 star luxury, sipping cocktails by the pool, fabulous room service, people to clean up after me, the list is endless. Sounds great right? Yeah, that’s what I thought. But after living in the hotel for the past 3 months, the novelty has totally warn off. 1 week, 2 weeks, a month, its all great, but 3 months……i’d rather be living at home!

IMG_2696I’m staying at a hotel called the Mandarin Oriental Hotel – its a large international hotel chain. It is in the center of Makati (City) so I can easily walk to the shops, restaurants etc.

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When you look at the outside of the building…..it looks terrible. It looks like its got a million cracks in the building and you have no idea how it is still standing. I guess there is a bit of hope that because its an international hotel, its checked regularly and is sound structurally, but then again, this is Manila…….

IMG_2691At least the inside looks much better. It has a nice lobby and is constantly busy. Although one time, the lobby roof had water leaking through a light fitting so they just simply put a pot plant under it to catch the drip. No concern for safety (given it was in the middle of the floor) or concerns water was coming out of a light (electricity, hello!). It made me laugh, typical reminder that i’m in an Asian country! The hotel is always full – a very popular place to stay for workers like me. There are always heaps of bell boys, assistants, security officers and receptionists. Because I’ve been here so long, I know majority of them. They are the nicest people. BUT after a while, the ‘hello ma’am` every time I walk past is so annoying!!! But they are so polite so I guess I shouldn’t complain :S As I am a business customer, I get to stay on the upper floors and get breakfast every morning plus access to the business lounge.

IMG_2692As I’ve been back and forth to Australia, I’ve stayed in a few different rooms. BUT since I’ve been back, which has only been a week, I’ve had 3 different rooms. This is where the novelty of living in a hotel has completely warn off. Because extending my time in Manila was organised last minute, the hotel was very full when I returned so they had to put me in a room on a regular floor temporarily. Off course I didn’t mind. Except for when the 2nd or 3rd night came round and the room’s lights began flicking on and off at random times. I tried to deal with it but once it started flicking on/off like a disco at all hours of the night I was well and truly over it. I got the electrician to come and test my lights but off course, all was fine when he was in the room. Typical. After 30 minutes he finally found the problem and believed me and I was told i’d have to move out of the room (which was fine anyway given I was moving up to the business floors soon).

IMG_2693 So the following day I had my bags moved to a new room. When I got back from work, as i entered my new room, I knew instantly there was a problem! The toilet was constantly running, and it was so LOUD! Again I rang house keeping to fix the toilet. In comes the plumber. Now, when I looked at the plumber, I knew for some reason he just wouldn’t be able to fix it. Dont ask me why, I just knew! I stayed in the main part of the room whilst he worked away on the toilet in the bathroom. I was hearing a lot of banging and water sloshing which is not a good sign. Eventually he comes back out, tells me its fixed (even though I can hear it running still) and says there is a little bit of water on the floor but he’ll send house keeping to clean it for me and left. I went and looked at the bathroom and the toilet was not only still running, but it was now OVERFLOWING over the toilet bowl and onto the floor. It was like a wave of water flooding towards the carpeted area, EEWWW!!! So now i am in room number 3 in less than a week and thankfully so far so good. *Touch wood!

IMG_2695See what I mean when I say living in a hotel isn’t as great as it sounds?! Another common thing people believe is that everything is cheap. Yes, in Manila, in the Philippines it is, not in the hotel though! The prices in the hotel are just as expensive as prices back home in Melbourne 😦 But this actually is a good thing, otherwise i’d be indulging in room service and be at least 20kgs over weight by now!

All in all, the hotel has done a great job looking after me.  And the ladies in the business lounge treat me like a friend which makes my tenure here much more bearable. There is some very yummy room service meals plus the deli downstairs makes fantastic little cakes. What ever I need, I can ask. I love being a long term guest here!

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But I do miss home. I miss my bed, my pillow’s, my chase lounge, all my favorite foods, my friends, my family, my dogs and most of all, my best friend Simon.

Love Kathleen XO