When I found out that I was going to California I made an agenda to be certain that I did everything that I wanted to. Once my siblings found out that the kids and I would be in California a couple of them made the trip out to see us from Utah. We were feeling very loved and special!
When we moved to the Philippines we had decided that we would use our vacation days in Asia, only returning to the U.S. for sibling weddings. And even then, only the person who is the actual sibling would go back for the wedding since plane tickets are expensive. So, when Matt’s sister said she was getting married we knew Matt would fly back to attend. Then she emailed us and requested that I attend as well. We checked out the dates and flights and our frequent flyer miles and things just worked out. Kalani didn’t have school for the following week of the wedding and we scored killer deals on airfare using our miles for me and the kids to go to California. So, it turned out to be our 10 day vacation in California with family…at least for me and the kids. Matt was only in California for about 24 hours before he flew back to the Philippines to conserve vacation days (and he had just recently spent time with family in California as part of a business trip).
We noticed that there was a holiday where Matt wouldn’t have to work and Kalani didn’t have school, so that was a perfect time to plan a vacation! Matt booked us tickets, a hotel room, and tour guide for 3 days in Ho Chi Minh City. We were all set and ready to say, “Good Morning Vietnam!” However that almost didn’t happen. As we were clearing immigration in Vietnam we realized we had a problem. We didn’t realize that we needed a visa, even for a short vacation. No one from the hotel, airlines, or friends / tour guide mentioned it. Luckily we brought US dollars with us since we had to pay $160 USD for each of us to obtain an “Emergency” visa on the spot. If we didn’t have the cash on hand we would have had to get on a plane and head back to the Philippines. After 2-3 hours at the airport we headed to Asiana Intercontinental Hotel…the hotel car shuttle waited for us at the airport all that time we waited for our visa!
More photos of Vietnam here.
A couple of months ago a friend told me about the group The Piano Guys and said they were coming to Manila. I had never heard of them before, but after watching some YouTube videos they produced I quickly ordered 2 tickets. It turned out to be a mother/daughter date and we had so much fun! It is made up of a guy on the piano and another on the cello…and sometimes other friends help out. They are very talented and very funny. We were thoroughly entertained and the crowd was great that they came back 2-3 times for an encore performance.
10 days after school started this year there was a holiday on a Wednesday and then the following Monday. We decided to pull Kalani out of school for 2 days and go on another vacation! We headed up north to Baguio where there were trees that resembled pine trees and reminded us of Tahoe in California. The only down side to our trip was that there was a monsoon…good thing we have a driver who took care of us and all of the driving.
Since we had our own car and driver we created our own itinerary of things to see on our first day in Baguio. Thanks to the hotel for their recommendations and TripAdivsor for other people’s experiences, we put together a nice day of activities.
The next day we decided to drive from Baguio to Banaue to see the 2000 year old rice terraces. It was a beautiful drive that took 6 hours to reach our destination. We only looked at the rice terraces for about 10 minutes because of a downpour. So we took a longer, safer way home that took 8 hours. The kids and adults did very well on that 14 hour car ride!
We stayed at The Manor at Camp John Hay and had a wonderful time. Matt and I worked out every day and then got a massage. The kids loved exploring the place (when it wasn’t raining) and they also had art classes at the hotel. We met up with a co-worker/basketball teammate of Matt’s for dinner on Saturday night. Also on Saturday, 4 families from our church arrived in Baguio but stayed at another hotel. We actually didn’t get to see any of our church friends until church on Sunday…before we headed back to Manila.
Before we return home to the states, I want to go back to Baguio when it isn’t raining and we can pick local strawberries! More Baguio photos here.