Friday, January 2, 2009

12/14 – 12/15 Travel to Bicol

We got a little backlogged with our blog. When we returned, it seemed there was so much to say that we set it aside until we could give it more attention. Now that our latest update is complete, we can turn our attention back to the blog. (We have over 12,000 picture files for the year, so it took a lot of work to sort through them for the letter.) If you did not receive our update and would like to, please send us an email and we will add you to our list.

We left Sunday, December 14, leaving on the bus to Manila. The Dramamine didn't kick in soon enough for Alexie and she spent the first hour of our 12 hour bus ride on the windy mountain roads vomiting. (Philippine traveling tip: Always have a plastic bag handy.) Alayna had a plastic bag ready, but did not end up needing it.

The bus leaves at 3 in the afternoon from Bontoc and arrives at 3 a.m. in Quezon City (Manila). It is a really long ride and by the time we arrived we were ready to not be in a seat for a little while. But there was not much time for rest. The bus terminal is a dark lot in the city – not the best place to hang out. Fortunately, we were able to get a taxi without much effort and made our way to the airport.

The airport adventure was relatively smooth. Traveling tip #2, although a multi-tool is incredibly valuable when traveling away from home, airport security will not let you carry it on the plane. Always tuck it into your checked luggage before trying to board. Okay, I was stupid and forgot about it. But Lisa’s smile got her past security with several shampoo, conditioner, and probably other diabolical girl liquids with just a comment of, “next time, these need to be in checked luggage.”

When we arrived in Naga, the Hagens were there to meet us. The kids were friends within minutes. In all there were 12 of us that packed into their vehicle and left the airport. They took us to this incredibly beautiful hot springs. The surroundings were gorgeous. They had a great setup with pools of various temperatures and depths. They even had one pool with a slide for the kids. On top of that, we were the only people there. It was the perfect way to unwind from our trip. In nearly every respect, where we now live is more remote and undeveloped than our home. Yet we spend less time in nature and most of our time is spent with concrete under our feet. This made the time at the hot springs that much more of a treat.
Alayna loving the water slide!
Adriana between pools.
Lisa and Annalise
Mikayla and Alexie
Alexie, Alayna, Mikayla, and Zach
In the afternoon, we went to their house and spent some time getting to know each other more. The kids loved having a yard with grass to run in. They enjoyed the swing outside. Inside, each of the kids, including me, had to give the climbing wall a try.

Zach (Prince Charming?) and Annalise

Alexie on the wall - how cool is that!
Steve reading the kids a Bible story before bedtime

It had been a good day, but we were ready to get to bed. Lisa and I both felt we had slept about as much on the 50 minute flight from Manila to Naga as we did on the 12 hour drive from Bontoc to Manila the night before.



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