We basically stayed in Manila for the whole summer. There were a few days spent in Thailand as a family, and Matt and I had a get-away to Indonesia. I tried to take the kids out to play with friends and do something active at least once a week (besides swimming at our place). I think that they had a pretty fun summer; and they didn’t kill each other. They were definitely ready to go back to school when it resumed.
A fellow Chevron expat family booked a vacation to El Nido, Palawan in the Philippines the first weekend in May. They invited others to join them for the three-day weekend get-away. El Nido has been on our list of places to visit, so we quickly agreed to join and booked our tickets. We stayed at Apulit Island in El Nido and had our own bungalow over the coral reef, with private stairs in the back leading right to the water. We had to take an hour plane ride to get to El Nido. Then a two hour car ride to the boat port. And then another hour or so on a boat to get to Apulit island. It was a lot of traveling before we got to enjoy the island.
More photo of El Nido here.
After spending three full days in Tokyo, we took the bullet train to Kyoto and spent two full days there with another tour guide. (Our fabulous tour guide in Tokyo helped us purchase the correct train tickets) The tour guide we wanted couldn’t show us around for both days we were in Kyoto. But, Matt was able to book a private van and have the driver be our tour guide. It all worked out well and the driver then drove us the next day with our tour guide too. While in Kyoto we stayed at Ikumatsu Ryoken which is a 200 year old famous traditional Shogun home that has been turned into a traditional hotel.
If we are ever asked to live in Japan, we would be okay with that! We loved the people, the food and the beauty of the land. More photos of Kyoto here.
After spending two full days in South Korea, we took a two hour flight to Tokyo during our Easter break. Last year we wanted to go see the Cherry Blossoms in Japan, but we decided too late in the year and all hotels and flights were full. This year Matt made our reservations early and we were able to travel to Tokyo and also Kyoto. While in Tokyo we stayed at the Hyatt in Shinjuku and had a superb tour guide that we found through Viator.com. Yuka was fantastic with the kids and had everything lined up for us. She even made changes last minute to our itinerary since the weather was bad. We highly recommend her to anyone wanting to visit Tokyo. She use to work for an Australian tour company, so she has an Australian accent when she speaks English!
(can’t remember everything we did on this day)
More photos of Tokyo here.
For Easter break we visited Korea and had 2 full days to explore. The flight from the Philippines to Korea was only four hours which is fantastic, especially since we were traveling with nine month old Blake. We stayed at The Classic 500 which was large and spacious, like a serviced apartment. And as always, we hired a tour guide to show us around. Our first impression of Korea wasn’t fantastic. We were stuck in traffic for over two hours trying to get to our hotel. And we had the misconception that Korea would be very clean and orderly, like how we imagined Japan to be. Our tour guide said, “Korea is in the middle of many things with China and Japan…China is dirty/poor and Japan is clean, orderly, and well-off. And Korea falls somewhere between the two.”
Photos of our Korean Vacation here.