Niqui Visits Part 2: Off The Grid

Niqui and I dropped Em off at the airport then looked for a van to El Nido.  After much delay/negotiation/arguments we finally headed off in a packed van.  We picked up random people along the way and dropped them off in fields, so that was interesting.  We finally arrived in El Nido town around dinner time and grabbed a quick bite then looked for a trike to our resort Duli Beach.

As we set off the sun began to set, pretty soon it was pitch black and out of nowhere the road dropped off without warning for construction.  We headed down a dirt road with no street lights.  About 45 minutes later we began a slow trek up a steep incline before the trike began moving backwards, down the hill.  Without hesitation, I jumped out, then Niqui got out and the trike driver went back down the hill…with our suitcases.  I knew he was just going back down to get speed, but there was a part of me that wondered if he would just drive off.  Thankfully, he didn’t.  A few minutes later we arrived at a walking path, the trike driver apologized incessantly for not being able to drive farther, but he would likely break is trike in the dark.

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Fun times on a trike…in daylight this time.

 

I tried calling our resort, but I had no signal except to show me where we were on google maps – which I was sure to load before we arrived.  So, either we walk in the dark, or we get back on the trike and look for a room in town.  I had already notified the resort we were on our way when we left – we decided to walk.  Thank god for flashlights on cell phones.  Off we went through the dark in the middle of nowhere Philippines.  We arrived at the beach and were “greeted” by barking dogs and a couple asking if we had lodging.  “Yes, Duli Beach Resort.” They pointed towards the only lights we could see for miles.  Dragging our suitcases through the sand, we made the last of the 1km trek to the resort where we received a warm welcome from the owners and a beer.

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Our bungalow on the beach.

We fell asleep and woke up to the sound of the ocean.  We were the only guests for the first two nights at our private beach resort.  It was exactly what I had been searching for in all of my trips.  I wanted to get away from the crowds and vendors constantly trying to sell me something, and boy did I.  We swam in the warm ocean, ran on the empty beach, read books in peace, and played cards while it rained.  It was the perfect get away.

On our third day, we did a private island hopping tour.  After the failure that was the Underground River Tour, we figured a private one would best.  There were three people working the boat and two of us.  They took us to the lagoons when all the other tours were leaving and set us up with a huge lunch on a small, private beach.  An amazing way to see the lagoons without the crowds of tourists.

Niqui was such a trooper on this crazy trip through the back country of the Philippines.  I don’t know many women who would walk through the dark with me in search of a peaceful paradise, but she did.  I won’t lie and say neither of us were scared, but the crazy trip on the dirt road was 100% worth it. I was hesitant to even post the name of the resort where we stayed because, honestly, I want to keep it a secret.  They run on 100% solar power, they’re completely off the grid, the owners are welcoming and friendly, they help to save the baby turtles when they hatch, and they hire locals.  I hope to go back.

 

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Thailand Part 1: Bangkok

Two friends from DC (I may or may not have played a small role in getting them out on a first date) came to visit!  They landed in Manila after a day traveling and were happily welcomed by Xena and our newly adopted puppy, Conan.

We went to breakfast at Sofitel the next morning to eat our faces in delicious food and indulge in the cheese room.  Then headed to Wildflour for a late lunch/dinner before sending them on their way to Bangkok.

Part 1: Bangkok (hehehehe)

We booked a room at the iCheck Inn Silom, which turned out to be a perfect place to stay.  It was off the main road a bit, so didn’t have the noise of the busy street, was reasonably priced, easy to grab a cab, walking distance to lots of food, AND the bar from the Hangover!

 


We grabbed a delicious dinner for only a couple bucks and set to bed early so we could explore the temples the next day.

I woke up early to hit the gym, which was an easy 10 minute walk away.  Crossfit Ten500 had open gym from 8-10 and even let me start a little early.  They were very welcoming, I almost came back the next day for class, but I’d be cutting it close for catching my flight.

After working out I met up with Mark, Alex, and Tory at a cute coffee shop, The Hobbyest, with delicious drinks and food.  Then we set out to explore.

First Stop: Wat Phra Kaew

The temple was huge, and beautiful.  We had to be fully covered, so in the heat I threw on some pants and a sweater, but it was totally worth it.  Even with the crowd.  We wandered around enjoying the architecture, then took off our shoes to see the Emerald Buddha.

Second Stop: Wat Pho

A bit less crowded than the first temple and boasting the huge reclining Buddha. This temple felt a little more peaceful without the crowd.

 

Third Stop: Thai Massage

We went to the school of medicine for our massage.  It was a mix between the hell of myotherapy (that I endure often at Pace Prehab and Recovery) and a feel good massage.

Fourth Stop: Dinner

We found a delicious Indian restaurant and tried to figure out what we would do for the rest of the evening.  We decided on…

Fifth and Final Stop: Muay Thai

We weren’t sure what to expect, but there were fights going on at Ratchadamnoen, so we figured when in Rome…err Bangkok.  We paid for the seats right next to the ring, because we wanted to sit.  There was a Thai price and a foreigner price, but we managed to get a little bit off the foreigner price.  There was some kind of point system, 5 rounds per fight, and we stayed for 8 fights.  One which ended early because of a K.O.  I have no idea what was going on, but it was fun.

Then we headed back to the hotel for bed, early start the next day.

 

‘Murica

I am supposed to be writing about a lovely trip to Boracay, but two weeks before the trip I received an email inviting me to interview for a place in George Washington University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. So, I booked a flight to DC and headed off to America.

I got sick before the plane trip, but thankfully I flew Emirates so it wasn’t completely awful. I got extra legroom and even three seats to myself. They gave me warm towels to wash my hands, pretty good food for a plane, free red wine to help me sleep, and more than enough movies. After the 27 hour journey from 90 degrees and humid, I landed in DC in the middle of winter. I was nervous I would be freezing the entire trip and not prepared clothing wise to handle the cold. Thanks to global warming and El Niño it was a surprising 65 degrees when I landed. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G

I spent my first week working out at CrossFit Balance Georgetown and laying low because I was sick, then headed off to my interview at GW on Saturday morning.

It was so easy to be back in DC. I was able to stay shockingly busy for having nothing to do but an interview. I met up like old times for lunches, happy hours, and trivia.

 

Back with the gang for a night of Trivia.

I even got to spend time being a tourist. I visited the Renwick Gallery for the Wonder exhibit (which I highly recommend), and walked around the monuments…in a tee shirt, in December.

Renwick Gallery, Wonder Exhibit.

I got back on the plane ready for Manila, knowing that at the end of our post I would officially become a Physical Therapist.  I was accepted to GWU.